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Criminal Law Keyed to Lee
People v. Knoller
Citation:41 Cal.4th 139, 158 P.3d 731 (2007)
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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:
Knoller and her husband were attorneys representing a prison guard at Pelican State Prison. Through their work, they met an inmate named Schneider. Schneider was a member of a prison gang that sought to engage in a business of buying, raising, and breeding Presa Canario dogs, which tend to be very large dogs. They are typically used for combat and guard.
Schneider used outside contacts, Coumbs and Storey, to carry out his business. Coumbs acquired four dogs of the desired breed, named Bane, Isis, Hera, and Fury. Hera and Fury escaped from a fenced backyard one day and proceeded to kill sheep. Shortly thereafter, Storey brought a lawsuit against Coumbs to acquire ownership and custody of the dogs. Defendant Knoller and her husband assisted Storey in this lawsuit. Coumbs decided not to contest the lawsuit and turned the dogs over to Knoller. Coumbs warned Knoller that the dogs had killd his sheep, but Knoller did not seem to care.
Knoller contacted Dr. Marin, a vet, to exam the dogs. He wrote a letter to Knoller, which stated that the dogs are huge and have had no training or discipline. He told her that these animals would be a liability in any household. Knoller thanked Dr. Martin and told him that she would pass on the information to her client.
Knoller took custody of the dogs from Coumbs. Coumbs once again told Knoller that he was worried about the dogs, and that Hera and Fury should be shot. Knoller ended up registering herself as the dogs’ owners and brought the dogs to her sixth floor apartment. There were about thirty incidents in the span of a year in which the dogs displayed violent behavior. One day, the dogs attacked and killed a neighbor, Diane Whipple. An autopsy revealed over 77 discrete injuries covering Whipple’s body “from head to toe.”
A jury found Knoller guilty of second degree murder. She requested a new trial, and the court granted on the grounds that second degree murder required a finding that Knoller was aware of the high probability that her actions would cause another’s death. Because Knoller testified that she was not aware that the dogs were violent, that she did not research the breed, and that she did not receive warnings about their threatening behavior, the court ruled that Knoller lacked the required awareness.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order granting Knoller a new trial. It held that a second degree murder conviction can be based on a defendant’s “subjective appreciation and conscious disregard of a likely risk of. . . serious bodily injury.”
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
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- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
- Court Direction: Shares where the Court went from here for this case.