Pushing the Limits of Legal Responsibility

There was trial in Hampden County Superior Court that I’d been monitoring carefully because of what I felt was dangerous overreaching by the prosecution.  In summary, a woman named Maureen Healy was driving drunk and plowed into a parked car.   A good samaritan named Thomas Monahan ran outside to help Healy out of her car, which had come to rest on its roof.  To Mr. Monahan’s misfortune, another (possibly distracted) driver struck Healy’s car,  resulting in his death.

The prosecution charged Ms. Healy with motor vehicle homicide, which I thought was a definite stretch.  Despite the fact that she was illegally impaired, to hold her responsible for the actions of two other parties (Monahan’s intervention and the third driver’s inattention) was absurd.  Ms. Healy did nothing to force Mr. Monahan to intervene, and while it is tragic that he died trying to help another person, his decision to place himself in that position was solely his responsibility.

Fortunately, the jury came to the same conclusion.  Ms. Healy was sentenced to probation for an alcohol-related driving charge instead of being sent to prison for motor vehicle homicide.  I feel strongly that the court cannot hold someone, even someone in the process of breaking the law, responsible for the independent and voluntary actions of another.

~ by schlippo on January 28, 2014.

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