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Landmark Cases


Date, Location, Cite: 1996 MT
518 U.S. 37, 116 S. Ct. 2013
US Supreme Court

On trial for 2 counts of deliberate homicide -- defined by Montana law as "purposely" or "knowingly" causing another's death -- defendant claimed that extreme intoxication had rendered him "physically incapable" of murder. Jury was told to ignore, as voluntary intoxication is non-exculpatory. He was found guilty.
MT Supreme Ct. reversed, said Due Process required jury to consider "all evidence."
US Supreme Court said voluntary intoxication was long established in common law as not providing any excuse for a crime, but they filed all kinds of opinions - 4 JJ in the major opinion, 1 separate concurring, and 3 separate dissents with overlapping concurrences, all focusing on his mental state, not his physical incapacity.
Bottom line: Don't kill anyone while you're drunk.