CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Serious Charges in Fatal Crashes Pose Challenge for Prosecutors"

From the New York Times:

[T]the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, recently reversed the convictions of drivers who were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of their passengers or others on the road. In doing so, the court ruled that the drivers’ actions did not rise to the level of “moral blameworthiness.”

. . .

New York appears to have gone further than other states in adding morality as a component of criminally negligent homicide in car-crash cases.

For example, in Oregon, a defendant argued last year that because the state had modeled its criminal-negligence law on New York’s, that state’s highest court should adopt the new language from the New York Court of Appeals and reverse his conviction. The Oregon Supreme Court rejected that argument, saying New York’s interpretation was too narrow.

Deena Ryerson, an Oregon prosecutor who deals extensively with vehicular crime, said the court found that injecting any kind of language of serious or moral blameworthiness “adds an additional element to what criminal negligence truly is.”

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I would think a reference to moral blameworthiness does more than add an additional element to criminal negligence; it seems to me it utterly obscures the very conception of negligence.

Posted by: ChrisTS | Mar 12, 2013 12:53:12 PM

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