Friday, November 15, 2013

Commonwealth v. McLaughlin case brief

Commonwealth v. McLaughlin case brief summary
142 A. 213 (1928)

Defendant sought review of the decision of a trial court (Pennsylvania) that convicted him of murder in the second degree after the automobile that he was driving struck and killed a man and his infant child and seriously injured the man's wife.

Defendant contended that the evidence did not support his conviction.


  • The court agreed and reversed defendant's conviction. 
  • The court explained that the crime of murder in the second degree included every element that entered into murder in the first decree except the intention to kill. 
  • As such, the court reasoned that malice was a necessary element of the crime of murder in the second decree. 
  • The court concluded that evidence that defendant did not see the man, his wife, and his infant child walking down the road in time to avoid striking them, negated any specific intent on the part of defendant to injure them. 
  • Without an intention to strike the family or a reckless disregard for their safety, neither of which was established by the testimony, the court opined that defendant could not legally be convicted of murder. 
  • The court did note, however, that the Commonwealth had the right to charge defendant with the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

The court reversed the judgment of the trial court without prejudice to the Commonwealth's right to proceed against defendant for the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

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