having trouble thinking like a law student should

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sangr
Posts: 459
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:45 pm

having trouble thinking like a law student should

Postby sangr » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:40 am

hello

class has gone on for three weeks, and i think i havent really caught on yet. im working hard on the readings
but as the adept students would say its more important to get whats important ... and i feel im struggling quite a bit.

so basically the most important thing is: to find the rule, and applicable fact patterns...so that u can apply this ability on the final exam

i am just a bit confused.

1. is the rule the ultimate "holding" of each case that we would see? or is it the law that the court uses to resolve the issue?
2. i would really appreciate it if someone could just really quickly tell me what im supposed to derive out of a example question:

guy A gets drunk, and sets fire to a place that grows to dangerous proportions.
He is tried for arson and a few lesser crimes.
trial court rejects his defense of voluntary intoxication negating the mental state required for arson.
the court of appeals reverses b/c he didnt get to prove his mental state.
supreme court reviews the issue of whether or not his getting drunk negates mental requirement or not under section 22 of the statute:

section 22:
a) no act commited by a person while in a state of voluntary intoxication is less criminal by of his having been drunk voluntarily
b) evidence of voluntary intoxication is admissible solely on the issue of whether or not the defendant actually formed a required specific intent...

the court concludes that evidence of voluntary intoxication is NOT enough to erase the existence of general intent. arson is a general intent crime.
arson only requires that the guy only intends to start the fire, not to cause some harm
THUS, defendant cannot use voluntary intoxication as a negation of the mental state required for arson.

so....

is the "rule" that i derive from this reading...the conclusion of the supreme court? "involuntary intoxication is not a defense to the mental state required for
arson because arson is a general intent crime, and intoxication does not negate general intent".

and the "fact pattern" whether this guy intended specifically to cause harm or just the fire when he was drunk?


PLEASE if anyone could just clear things up for me a bit itd be great.....

OH and this ones not as important but
"evidence of voluntary intoxication is admissible solely on the issue of whether or not the defendent actually formed a required specific intent"
then the court concludes that intoxication cannot negate general criminal intent.

wtheck? how did they just conclude it from that info? or were other words just omitted from the casebook? court language kinda confuses me sometimes
it says nothing about negating general intent, or is general intent just implied?

Guys it would help so much if someone could gimme their input! thanks!

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Wily
Posts: 280
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:35 pm

Re: having trouble thinking like a law student should

Postby Wily » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:31 pm

I just read this case too. Here was my brief of it, I don't know if it's correct on the "rule," but it's the best I came up with.

People v Atkins (Cal Sup Ct 2001)

Issue: Whether an intoxicated person can be charged with arson when lacking the “specific intent” to cause damage from a fire.

Rule: Defendant can be convicted of arson because it only requires the “general intent” to start the fire that led to the damage.

Application: Atkins, while drunk, started a fire near the house of someone he said he hated. He claimed later that he did not intend to cause the resulting damage. Appeals Court agreed with Defendant that he lacked the specific intent to cause damage when starting the fire, because he was intoxicated. But the Supreme Court held that the specific intent defense for intoxicated defendants does not apply here, because arson requires only a general intent to cause the fire that resulted in damage.

Conclusion: Court of Appeals decision reversing guilty verdict is itself reversed.

ninereal
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:39 pm

Re: having trouble thinking like a law student should

Postby ninereal » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:18 pm

The rule isn't as important as how you approach the problem and your ability to show that you understand both sides. So, if something about voluntary intoxication came up on the final, you would approach it by saying "on the one hand, in Case 1, the court held that voluntary intoxication is not a defense to arson. This rule likely applies here. However, this situation is different from that case for Reasons A, B, and C, which might affect the analysis in Ways X, Y, and Z." If you're feeling feisty, you could also throw in some policy reasons why voluntary intoxication should generally be a defense in that situation.

sangr
Posts: 459
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:45 pm

Re: having trouble thinking like a law student should

Postby sangr » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:15 pm

thanks guys

so,

in your particular example.

whats going on is. we take the holding/rule of that case "involuntary intoxication is DOES suffice for the general intent standard of arson", b/c in that case blah blah blah

however, in THIS case (the exam situation), involuntary intoxication does NOT (i guess we would mention both sides?) necessarily fit the standard for general intent of arson? or something of the sort

is statute 22 (the thing about involuntary intoxication not negating general intent), irrelevant for exams and such? and only the rule above is important?




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