Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Etzweiler case brief

State v. Etzweiler case brief summary
480 A.2d 870 (N.H. 1984)


CASE SYNOPSIS
The Superior Court (New Hampshire) transferred questions of law relating to the applicability of certain laws to the specific facts of a case. Defendant driver was indicted for manslaughter and defendant car owner was indicted for negligent homicide after a fatal accident occurred. The owner sought to quash the indictments. The driver filed an interlocutory appeal from the denial of his motion to dismiss the indictments.

CASE FACTS
The vehicle owner allowed the intoxicated driver to use his vehicle while he was at work. The driver was involved in a fatal collision. The owner was indicted for negligent homicide and as an accomplice to such, and the driver was charged with manslaughter and reckless driving. The owner filed motions to quash all indictments and the trial court transferred the questions of law raised by the motions. The trial court denied the driver's motion to dismiss the indictments against him and granted him an interlocutory appeal.

DISCUSSION

  • The court held that the deaths occurred as the result of the driver's conduct. 
  • The court held that the imposition of criminal liability on these facts was a legislative policy decision. 
  • The court held that no one could be an accomplice to negligent homicide and quashed all indictments against the owner. 
  • The court affirmed the trial court's denial of the driver's motion to dismiss the indictments. 
  • The court held that the laws under which he was indicted were not duplicitous. 
  • The court held that the driver had been indicted on the lesser-included offense of reckless driving, death resulting, as well as manslaughter. 
  • The court remanded the case to the trial court.

CONCLUSION
The court held that the underlying issue of the owner's criminal liability for negligent homicide was a societal policy issue best determined by the legislature. The court dismissed all indictments against the owner. The court affirmed the trial court's decision that denied the driver's motion to dismiss the indictments against him. The court remanded the case to the trial court for further action.

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