The future specialists in law require competence regarding the norms and the principles of the judicial system functioning. That is why the courses of law incorporate theoretical lessons, which are enriched with the legal practice. Generally, such practice involves the discussion of cases, which require the implementation of legal norms and their practical application along with the analysis of similar precedents. Thus, the following paper addresses the case State v. L., which involves the notions of negligent manslaughter and adequate provocation. The discussed case is factorial and involves two men, Derek B. and Wayne L. The details indicate that B. died in the hospital after having an argument and a fight with L. Medical evidence indicates that B. was intoxicated, which caused is to visit the detoxification center. At the same time, the man fell two times. The first fall was after the strike of L., and another one was falling from bed at the detoxification center. After the second fall, B. was transferred to a medical hospital, where he died two days later. As a result, the state charges L. with negligent manslaughter. At the same time, the case is regarded as difficult due to the different attended circumstances. Moreover, the witnesses of the fight present controversial pieces of evidence, which involve the discussion of various versions of the fight. Therefore, the current paper addresses the details of the case and analyzes similar cases in order to present the positions of the prosecution and the defendant. The proposed approach allows solving the case with complicated matters and presenting a relevant position on the basis of deep analysis of the evidence.
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The Position of Prosecution
The discussed case, viewed from the position of prosecution, indicates that L. is guilty of committing negligent manslaughter. Thus, scholars define negligent manslaughter as a situation “when an individual commits an act that he or she is unaware creates a high degree of risk of human injury or death under circumstances in which a reasonable person would have been aware of the threat” (Lippman, 352). It is also reasonable to indicate that the details of such a definition vary from court to court. Thus, some courts require the condition, when a defendant is aware of the fact his conduct creates a risk of death or serious injury. Apparently, the details of the case indicate that L.’s conduct caused serious injury, which caused the victim’s hospitalization, coma, and death.
Furthermore, there is a need for a thorough analysis of the incident, which leads to the conclusion of L.’s guilt. Thus, the first detail of the case is that B. had alcohol intoxication, which means that his physical condition was disadvantaged when contrasting with L.’s one. Therefore, the defendant had the possibility of a refusal from the fight, which would not lead to B.’s injury and death. Additionally, the whiteness’ evidence indicates that L. was predisposed to aggression. The reason for such a statement is that most of the witnesses agreed with the enlisted facts of L.’s conduct. Thus, they approved that B. challenged the defendant to a fight being intoxicated. Moreover, L. punched B. once on the side of the head or around the cheek, which caused the victim stepping back and falling on the pavement striking his head. Further actions of the accused indicated that his aggression continued after the fall of the victim. Thus, the witnesses claim that L. straddled B. to deliver additional, though, lighter blows. Despite the witnesses’ disagreement regarding the gravity of the actions of the defendant, his behavior might be only identified as violently exposed aggression, which excludes the fact of negligence. Thus, some of the witnesses claim that L. slammed B.’s head against the pavement, whereas the others disagree. However, the overall pattern of the defendant’s behavior indicates that the hostility expressed in a violent manner caused the injury of the victim. The question, which requires the answer, is whether the defendant was aware of the implications of his behavior. It is not possible to indicate the influence of such fact on the court’s decision because there is no awareness of the requirements for the approval of the recklessness. At the same time, the explicit aggression indicates that the prosecution might change the accusation from involuntary manslaughter to depraved-heart murder. Scholars define the latter as “the commission of an act that exhibits such a gross and obvious indifference to human life that the law implies malice aforethought” (Lippman, 352). Therefore, it is critical to differentiate the fact of recklessness from negligence. Thus, the examples of criminally negligent homicide are the cases of State v. Goodwin (Lippman, 355) or Reed v. State (Lippman, 355). The first one involves the shooting of a shotgun in the woods fifty feet behind the house in a crowded neighborhood (Lippman, 355). As a result, one child was killed, and the other one received a serious injury. The case states that the defendant was not aware of the children and directed a gun toward a potentially human-free zone. At the same time, the defendant of the case State v. L. directed his physical force towards a person, which already was unable to defend oneself due to intoxication. Another example, Reed v. State (Lippman, 355) involves negligent homicide when a person involuntary approached opposing traffic and eventually caused the accident, which resulted in collision and death. In both examples of involuntary manslaughter, the defendants were unaware of the repercussions of their conduct. Moreover, if the court considers intoxication, it should review the example of the case Freeman v. State (Lippman, 355), where the defendant failed to restrict his intoxicated companion from driving the car. Thus, observing the behavior of the intoxicated victim, L. should have refused from confrontation. Likewise, he was aware of the fact that intoxicated people are incapable of performing properly directed actions or even controlling their behavior. At the same time, the witnesses approved that both men were present at Mickey’s Bar along 8 Mile Road in Crimeville earlier. Moreover, they indicated that B. and L. were acquainted before and had no arguments or confrontations until the incident at the parking lot. Such a fact may serve as the evidence supporting the claim that L.’s aggression might be spontaneous, and he might not control his actions. In such a case, his conduct may be considered as involuntary manslaughter.
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Furthermore, the most complicated part of the case is what occurred after the police response. B. did not die immediately after falling on the pavement. Likewise, the level of alcohol in his blood was measured at .328 percent, and he was sent to the detoxification center. Moreover, there was no medical examination of the state of his head or brain, which indicates that the afterward brain bleeding might be in progress during the hospitalization. Consequently, the nurse found B. lying on the floor, which indicated the fact of falling from the couch. After the transfer to the hospital, the victim lapsed into a coma, which might be provoked by the second falling. However, the court should consider the fact that the first falling in the street might cause the initial bleeding in the brain. Eventually, the second falling might stimulate the progression of the injury and serve as an aggravating factor. In general, the prosecution indicates that the primary injury of the victim, which was the punch on the head, did not provoke the trauma of the brain. Instead, it was the fall of intoxicated B. as he hit his head at the pavement. Therefore, the position of the prosecution is that L. is guilty of murder, which is legally interpreted as negligent manslaughter.
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The Position of the Defendant
The paper requires the analysis of the case from the position of the defense in order to assure reasonable and objective consideration of the facts. Thus, the defense indicates that B.’s conduct can be regarded as the case of adequate provocation. Lippman (345) defines adequate provocation as “a provocation that would cause a reasonable person to lose self-control.” The prosecution indicated that both men had a normal relationship before, which was characterized by the absence of violence and aggression. However, the intoxication of the victim caused him to act disrespectfully and provocatively. For instance, the fact of the provocation was that the victim vividly demonstrated his hostility taking one’s shirt off. Such conduct is regarded as provocative, since the man showed that he had serious intentions to fight. As a result, the defendant lost his temper. The latter statement is supported by the witnesses’ claims that L.’s aggression and hostility remained even after the fall of the victim. The definition of the provocative conduct is supported by Lippman’s (345) argument that the participants voluntarily entered the aggravated assault and fight. Thus, as a rational thinking man, L. had to avoid the conflict but the adequate provocation from the side of the victim caused him acting aggressively. Moreover, the case of Girouard v. State (Lippman, 348) serves as an example of an adequate provocation caused by words. The prosecution presumes that the argument with words gradually evolved into a physical confrontation on the basis of adequate provocation. The legal formula of such a statement supports the claim. Thus, such act involves a conduct + that is sufficient to excite an intense person + that makes + a reasonable person to lose control (Lippman, 345). Likewise, the pieces of evidence of the witnesses indicate that the defendant continued his violent actions after the victim fell on the pavement. Such a fact might be regarded as the evidence approving the existence of adequate provocation. Lippman (321) regards the case is caused by the adequate provocation if such conduct, which preceded the killing, caused the previous difficulty between the parties. Moreover, the evidence that the defendant continued dealing lethal blows after the deceased had been rendered helpless proves the actions of L. to be brutal. Thus, some witnesses claim that L. lifted B.’s head after falling and even slammed it against the pavement. Despite some witnesses’ claims that it did not actually occur, there is a presumption that L.’s conduct was out of control and could lead to the indicated brutality. It is reasonable to differentiate brutality caused by the reaction on provocation and the case of an indifferent killing of a person. Thus, the case Midgett v. State (Lippman, 328) discusses the situation when an individual committed a killing of a person manifesting extreme indifference to one’s life. Thus, in the addressed case Midgett deliberately caused serious physical injury to a person knowing that it would lead to death. Therefore, the malice expressed by L. towards B. was an uncontrolled psychic reaction to provocation. Consequently, the defendant’s cognitive processes were hindered by the emotional reaction, which eventually led to aggression and negligent manslaughter.
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Moreover, the prosecution rejects the arguments that B. had problems with movement or lacked physical power. As is presented in the details of the case, the personnel of the hospital had to restrain his aggression as he was combative. Likewise, the combativeness of the victim indicates that his brain functioned normally preserving the ability for movement and cognition. However, his brain was intoxicated, which might aggravate the received injuries. Unfortunately, the court has not presented evidence of any physical examinations done before the death of the victim. That is why the defense considers that B.’s coma was caused by falling from the couch. As a result, the death of the victim was caused by the misconduct of the hospital’s nurse, who had to look after the patient. The revealed bleeding in the brain afterward may have three sources of evolvement. The first of them was a punch in the face, the second was falling on the pavement, and the third one was falling at the hospital. The details of the case indicate that none of the two first cases led to the victim’s coma. Instead, he was even in a combative state and opposed the actions of medical personnel, which requires physical power and brain functions. On the contrary, the evidence shows that B. lapsed into a coma not before but after his fall at the hospital. Moreover, the falling of the victim was discovered only 4 hours after the hospitalization. Therefore, the defense presumes that the victim’s condition seriously aggravated after falling at the hospital. Consequently, though the defendant’s actions were aggressive and resulted in the hospitalization of the victim, his conduct did not directly cause bleeding in the brain. Moreover, medical investigations were not conclusive on what caused the brain damage. However, it should be noted that medical specialists state that the injury was not caused by the punch on the head. Thus, selecting from the two falls and considering the described circumstances the defense stresses that the first fall had no death-leading implications for the victim. Therefore, the defense requires additional evidence presented by the nurses and physicians involved in the addressed case. Consequently, L. is not guilty in negligent manslaughter but it was the victim’s adequate provocation, which caused the defendant’s aggressive conduct. Therefore, the L.’s guilt should be decreased to the degree of physical assault and the cause of serious injury, which caused the hospitalization of the victim.
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Summarizing the presented information, one may conclude that the defendant is not guilty in negligent manslaughter. The reason for such an assumption is the evidence from the witnesses and the nurses of the hospital where the victim died. Thus, the major claims of the prosecution are that the punch given on the face of a victim caused his falling and brain injury. The arguments of such assumptions were partially supported by the provided pieces of evidence. Thus, none of the witnesses argued with the fact that the two men had a fight, which caused B.’s falling and hitting the pavement. However, further events indicate that the victim’s coma occurred after the hospitalization. Such a statement is supported by the fact that the victim opposed the process of hospitalization, which required physical forces and relevant brain functions. At the same time, B. was intoxicated, which caused his falling and loss of consciousness. Therefore, the defense argues that the victim lapsed into a coma after falling and lying without assistance. Such a fact is also supported by confirmation from the nurses. Furthermore, the victim might be accused of adequate provocation, which was approved by the witnesses, who observed B. charging the defendant and taking off his shirt preparing to fight. Therefore, the provocative behavior caused L.’s aggressive reaction and, eventually, the fighting instead of refusing it. Consequently, L. was guilty of uncontrolled actions, which caused the severe injury of the victim.