Fisher v. United States
328 U.S. 463 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fisher v. United States, 328 U.S. 463 (1946)

Fisher v. United States

No. 122

Argued December 5, 1945

Decided June 10, 1946

328 U.S. 463

Syllabus

1. In a trial in the District of Columbia for murder in the first degree, as defined in D.C.Code, 1940, Title 22, § 2401, which makes deliberation and premeditation essential elements of the crime, it was not error for the court to refuse to instruct the jury that they should consider evidence of the defendant's mental deficiency, concededly not amounting to legal insanity, to determine whether he was guilty of murder in the first or second degree. Pp. 328 U. S. 464, 328 U. S. 470, 328 U. S. 473.

2. This Court may notice material error in the instructions in a criminal case even though the error is not specifically challenged, and the Court should do so when life is at stake, even in cases from the District of Columbia. Pp. 328 U. S. 467-468.

3. Matters relating to law enforcement in the District of Columbia being entrusted to the courts of the District, the policy of this Court is not to interfere with the local rules of law which they fashion, save in exceptional situations where egregious error has been committed. P. 328 U. S. 476.

80 U.S.App.D.C. 96, 149 F.2d 28, affirmed.

Petitioner was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed. 80 U.S.App.D.C. 96, 149 F.2d 28. This Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 705. Affirmed, p. 328 U. S. 477.

Page 328 U. S. 464

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