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October 8, 2018

Ohio's approach to provocation in its version of Berry case, Ohio v. Shane, 63 Ohio St. 3d 630 (1992)

As mentioned in class, Ohio has its own case somewhat similar to the Berry case from California in our casebook.  This case, Ohio v. Shane, 63 Ohio St. 3d 630 (1992), is worth a full read and it starts and ends this way:

The issue certified for our review is the proper allocation of the burden of proof when a judge gives an instruction on voluntary manslaughter in a murder prosecution. However, for the reasons which follow, we do not reach the certified issue, but affirm the judgment of the court of appeals on different grounds.

The trial judge instructed the jury on voluntary manslaughter prior to its deliberations. Because we determine that the evidence of provocation presented by Shane was insufficient, as a matter of law, to warrant an instruction on voluntary manslaughter, we find that the trial judge should have refused to give the jury an instruction on that offense.  The fact that the trial judge did give the instruction was harmless error....

When reasonably sufficient evidence of provocation has not been presented, no jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter should be given.  In this case, the provocation that allegedly caused Shane to act under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage was not reasonably sufficient, as a matter of law, to incite him to use deadly force.  We find that no reasonable jury could have found Shane not guilty of murder, but guilty of voluntary manslaughter.  Accordingly, the judgment of the court of appeals upholding defendant's murder conviction is affirmed.

October 8, 2018 in Notable real cases | Permalink

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