A case I tried: Joe Smith is driving his full-size van down a public street. Suddenly he decides to make a u-turn. But, in order to do so, he has to climb the lane divider that is 9 inches high. He guns his engine, turns the wheel, hits the divider—and then jumps to the opposite sidewalk, going diagonally across the street against traffic. He jumps the curb, and slams into Juan Gomez, smashing Juan into the wall and dragging him 25 feet down the block. Joe then turns the wheel of his van, dropping Juan to the sidewalk. Joe then runs over Juan’s legs and turns back onto the street, facing the wrong way. Joe stops. The police arrive and find him sitting on the sidewalk. Juan is dead, his internal organs exploding from the impact. The officer (whose real name is Johnny Walker), smells Joe’s breath. Drunk. A blood alcohol test reveals a .24 BAC, three times the legal limit.
Joe is an alcoholic because a serious accident severed the fingers of one hand and he drinks to ease the pain. He drives his van using the palm of his hand on a knob on the steering wheel.
Joe was charged with two different types of homicide: involuntary manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Based on the readings and your view of the case, if you were a juror deciding this case, which verdict would you reach: guilty of involuntary manslaughter, guilty of criminally negligent homicide, or not guilty of all counts? Defend your answer as you would have to during jury deliberations.
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