Thursday, January 27, 2005

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SCENE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SCENE
Item. Albuquerque, NM. January 27, 2005. A twenty-eight year old man was convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of 14 year old boy bicyclist. The accused admitted DWI, but argued that negligence of the child was the sole significant cause of the accident and death. Supreme Court approved jury instructions say ". . . if you find that the negligence of a person other than the defendant was the only significant cause of death, then the defendant is not guilty . . . " Uniform Jury Instructions, Criminal, 14-252. The jury undoubtedly found that the negligence of the boy bicyclist was a significant cause of the accident, but under the instructions of District Judge James Blackmer, the jury was allowed to find guilt if the DWI conduct of the accused was also a "significant cause" of the accident.

Item. Los Lunas, NM. July 11, 1993. The headline read, "Ruling in Fatal Crash Case May Force Plea Bargain." Albuquerque Journal. It was the case of Roger Bishop, accused of vehicular homicide in the death of three Albuquerque residents. Three passengers in a van, returning to Albuquerque from the opera in Santa Fe, were killed. The accused claimed that the driver of the van was negligent, and obtained a ruling from District Judge Martin Pearl to the effect that for the accused to be found guilty, the unlawful conduct of the accused must be the sole cause of the accident and deaths. The Judge’s instruction, announced before trial after arguments by the prosecutor and defense lawyer, caused the District Attorney to commence work on a plea agreement. The Judge's proposed instruction stated, "In the event you find the victim or another person contributed to the death or great bodily harm, you must find for the defendant."
Item. Santa Fe, NM, January 2, 1970. The Court of Appeals today ruled that an Albuquerque man was wrongfully convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 14 year old boy bicyclist in Albuquerque. The Court ruled that the prosecutor had proved that the accused had killed the 14 year old boy bicyclist, but that the prosecutor had failed to prove the name of the child. The Court pointed out that the indictment alleged that the defendant killed a boy named [naming him], but that in the trial the prosecutor failed to ask the police officers and pathologist what the name of the deceased boy was. The Court of Appeals ruled that such a failure of proof, that is, a lack of evidence, required that the conviction not only be reversed, but that the accused be set free and was not to be tried again for the same offense. State v. Vallo, 81 N.M. 148 (1970). [Note, the reported case does not state that the boy was a bicyclist; that is the writer's recollection from news reports at the time.]

You may ask why this 1993 case and this 1970 case are dredged up and reviewed. The writer has never had any interest in any one of these three cases, other than a general interest in criminal justice. These are cases of "criminal justice seen."

1 comment:

shocklane said...

Is justice for sale in New Mexicon? How upsetting.