Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Commonwealth v. Leno case brief (415 Mass. 835)

Commonwealth v. Leno
415 Mass. 835 (1993), 616 N.E.2d 453Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1993.

-Defendants were involved in needle distribution program created to deal with the growing problem of AIDS. 

-They were charged and convicted under a statute that prohibited distribution of hypodermic needles without a prescription.
-Defendants argue that the trial judge erred by not instructing the jury on the defense of necessity.

: Did the trial court err by not introducing the defense of necessity to the jury?

Holding: No

Rule: The defense of necessity is limited to following circumstances:
(1) Defendant is faced with a clear and imminent danger,
(2) The defendant can reasonably expect that his action will be effective as the direct cause of abating the danger.
(3) There is no legal alternative, or
(4) The Legislature has not acted to preclude the defense by a clear and deliberate choice regarding the values at issue.

In the current case, the Ds were not faced with imminent danger but with speculative or debatable danger. 
-The defendants also could have used legally sound avenues of action to deal with this problem.

Link to case:  415 Mass. 835

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