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Criminal Law Keyed to Lee
People v. Atkins
Citation:25 Cal.4th 76, 18 P.3d 660, 104 Cal.Rptr.2d 738 (2001)
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- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
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- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
Atkins, along with his brother David, drove by Oliver Figg’s home in the Ponderosa Sky Ranch on Sepembter 27th. Atkins “flipped the bird” at Figgs as they drove by. Later that day, at 5pm, a neighbor saw David drive a white pickup truck into the Ponderosa Sky Ranch. He could not tell if David had a passenger with him. At 9pm, the same neighbor saw the pick truck drive out of the ranch at a high speed. A half hour later, a fire was reported.
At 9pm or 9:30pm, Atkin’s friends saw him at David’s apartment. Atkins was angrily throwing things around and was heavily intoxicated.
A soil sample collected by the fire marshal revealed the presence of gasoline, and Atkins’s wallet was found near the site where the fire started. Atkins told the firemarshall that he and his brother had been drinking all day and then drove to the ranch. He said that the area was overgrown with weeds, and decided to burn them with gasoline. However, the fire quickly spread, and Atkins panicked and fled. Atkins said that he did not mean any harm.
After a jury trial, Atkins found guilty arson of forest land. The trial court instructed the jury that arson is a general intent crime and that voluntary intoxication is not a defense. Atkins appealed, arguing that evidence of his intoxication should have been allowed to prove that he lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that arson required a specific intent to set a fire and instructing the jury that voluntary intoxication was not a defense to arson “denied the defendant the opportunity to prove he lacked the required mental state.” The Supreme Court of California granted the Government’s petition for review.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
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- Reasoning and Analysis: Identifies the chain of argument(s) which led the judges to rule as they did.
- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
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