|United States v. Moore|
|Court||United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
|Full case name||United States of America v. Raymond Moore|
|Argued||September 10, 1971|
|Decided||May 14, 1973|
|Citation(s)||486 F.2d 1139|
|Subsequent action(s)||Certiorari denied, 94 S. Ct. 298 (1973).|
|Judge(s) sitting||David L. Bazelon, J. Skelly Wright, Carl E. McGowan, Edward Allen Tamm, Harold Leventhal, Spottswood William Robinson III, George MacKinnon, Roger Robb, Malcolm Richard Wilkey (en banc)|
|Concurrence||Wilkey, joined by MacKinnon, Robb|
|Concurrence||Leventhal, joined by McGowan|
|Dissent||Wright, joined by Bazelon, Tamm, Robinson|
United States v. Moore, 486 F.2d 1139 (D.C. Cir. 1973),was a case decided by the D.C. Circuit that refused to recognize a common law affirmative defense of addiction in a criminal prosecution for the possession of heroin.
In law, common law is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals. The defining characteristic of “common law” is that it arises as precedent. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, and synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, and legislative statutes are either silent or ambiguous on the question, judges have the authority and duty to resolve the issue. The court states an opinion that gives reasons for the decision, and those reasons agglomerate with past decisions as precedent to bind future judges and litigants. Common law, as the body of law made by judges, stands in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes which are adopted through the legislative process, and regulations which are promulgated by the executive branch. Stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems.
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The defendant Moore was charged with the possession of heroin, and in his defense sought to introduce psychiatric testimony that because of his heroin addiction he lacked substantial capacity to conform his behavior to the standards of the criminal law. The court refused to recognize Moore's proposed common law defense of addiction because of difficulties in administration and inconsistency with the Model Penal Code.
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