Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Decina case brief

People v. Decina case brief summary
138 N.E.2d 799 (1956)

Prosecution appealed a judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, in the Fourth Judicial Department, which reversed a judgment against criminal defendant for violating N.Y. Penal Law § 1053-a.

Criminal defendant struck and killed a number of children after allegedly suffering a seizure while driving. Defendant was placed under arrest and taken to a hospital for treatment. While at the hospital, defendant related his medical history to a physician who diagnosed defendant as suffering from epilepsy. Defendant was charged with violating N.Y. Penal Law § 1053-a. At trial, the physician testified as to his conversation with defendant. Defendant argued that his actions were not sufficiently culpable to violate § 1053-a and that the physician's testimony should have been inadmissible.


  • The court first held that defendant's conduct arguably fell within the statute's requirement that defendant exhibit a disregard for the consequences that would ensue from his actions. 
  • The court then held that, as the physician diagnosed defendant and defendant was given no reason to believe their communication was not confidential, the conversation was barred under N.Y. Civ. Prac. Act § 352.

The court affirmed the reversal of the judgment against criminal defendant in fatal automobile accident, because physician's testimony at trial was inadmissible.

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