The Erroneous Instruction Of State V. Jackson Essay examples

1624 Words Jun 2nd, 2016 null Page
Ted Robert Hunt, in “The Erroneous Instruction of State v. Jackson” (March-April 2016), vigorously argues in favor of a legislative override of the Missouri Supreme Court’s interpretation, in State v. Jackson, of Section 556.046, the statute that specifies when a less-included-offense instruction must be given. To simplify a bit, Jackson holds that a jury’s disbelief of the State’s evidence, in whole or part, suffices to require instructing down on a nested lesser included offense. Practically speaking, the accused is entitled, under the Missouri Supreme Court’s interpretation of Section 556.046, to an instruction on a nested lesser included offense. Mr. Hunt says this interpretation not only embraces an “epistemic” confusion, but also “clearly” defies “common sense” and the “plain wording” of Section 556.046. According to Mr. Hunt, Section 556.046 requires “affirmative evidence” that “by itself” requires both acquittal of the charged (greater) offense and conviction on the nested lesser included offense. Mr. Hunt is mistaken. Jackson embraces a reasonable, textual interpretation of Section 556.046 – an interpretation that, unlike Mr. Hunt’s, furthers the State’s compelling interest in avoiding both wrongful conviction and wrongful acquittals.

Consider two murder cases. In the first, the State presents evidence that establishes, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused killed the victim. But the evidence on mens rea is, at best, equivocal. Based on the State’s evidence,…

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