Monday, April 28, 2008

Accidents and Punishments

I've mentioned here before I question how proper it is to charge someone criminally for an accident. One example being the guy that accidentally shot his nephew(?) a little while ago, killing him. He thought his nephew was a bear. Wouldn't you feel bad enough about doing something like that without criminal charges being filed?

Is there anything to be gained by charging someone for a tragic accident? I don't know.

Then there's traffic accidents. Leaving aside the Rodoni crash, at least for now, what about this one? Elderly lady hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk in Eureka. Fortunately, no serious harm done. I'm sure the driver feels like a fool, or at least we should hope she does. Hey, accidents can happen to anyone. We're all capable of blowing it at some time or another.

I can't believe the driver wasn't cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, though. Accident though it may have been, she blew it big time.

I also can't believe what the cop is quoted as saying:
“It seems like she’s a competent driver, she just made an error in judgment,” he said. An error in judgement??? Makes it sound like she intended to hit the pedestrian. Poor use of words on the officer's part.

She had an accident because she seems to have not been paying close enough attention. As Judge Wapner once said on that TV show: He who looks, but does not see, is negligent. Sure, it could happen to any of us, but the driver should have gotten a ticket for hitting the girl in the crosswalk.

Is there anything to be gained by that? Not sure, but at least it would establish whose fault the accident was.

17 Comments:

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Joe Blow said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Joe Blow said...

Who says it is an ACCIDENT?

Life is valuable! At the least it is a wreak.

When you drive 35 or more in a 25 MPH zone with marked school crossing, consistently run stop signs and red lights, tail gate and refuse to yield to pedestrian in crosswalks, just to name a few crimes, and then someone gets hurt because you happened to NOT be paying attention, THAT'S NO INCIDENTAL ACCIDENT!

That's a personal assault.

By the way, why is it important to establish fault for an accident?

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Fred said...

"That's a personal assault.".

I don't know that I'd go that far with it. No indication that the driver was speeding or ran any stop signs. She just wasn't paying enough attention, as best I can determine. I'd hardly call that an assault.

Why is it important to establish fault? Good question. I suppose the only real reason would be to see how gets in trouble for it, or to determine liability, although liability might well be determined in court regardless of who got ticketed.

In this case it seems pretty cut and dried. No mention of the pedestrian jumping out from behind a car into the street, so the driver seems at fault.

But it still begs the question: I feel she should get a ticket for a violation that caused an accident- a potentially tragic accident. But will a ticket do any good if she feels bad enough, it wasn't a deliberate act on her part and she certainly doesn't want it to happen again?

But I have to wonder what her driving record is like? If cops keep letting people slide on accidents, someone could have a been involved in a number of accidents and there might not be a record of it.

I can't help wonder about the Rodoni crash, as well. I'm sure this was a horrific experience for the lady that hit Rodoni and her family, yet news reports say the CHP hasn't decided whether to file charges yet.

I would think a ticket would be in order for illegally crossing the center divider and causing the crash, but is she in enough trouble already.

As an aside, one of the commenters to the Eureka Reporter story on the crash says the driver was reported to have been driving recklessly before the crash. Don't know if this might be another hoax by an anon regarding the crash, or not.

Probably shouldn't pass this on, but since it's already online, here's what one anon says:

"Other drivers reported Diane Johnson for driving recklessly at a very high rate of speed, bouncing from lane to lane, scaring other motorists. She was reported as a danger to other vehicles before and after the fatal crash. This is a case of vehicular homicide. If you saw her vehicle speeding right before the crash, please report to CHP."

Sounds like a hoax to me. If true, you'd think we'd be hearing more about it by now.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Note the anon says "before and after the fatal crash...".

She wasn't driving after the crash, I don't believe, so he's either making it up or he miswrote it.

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger samoasoftball said...

My neighbor Mike Goth was the accidental shooting victim. His mother Flo moved out of state and their house is now empty and for rent out here in Samoa. They were good quite people. Some couple were checking the place out with two huge dogs. I hope to have decient neighbors again.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

joe blow: "...At the least it is a wreak. [we must assume you meant wreck?] When you drive 35 or more in a 25 MPH zone with marked school crossing, consistently run stop signs and red lights, tail gate and refuse to yield to pedestrian in crosswalks...That's a personal assault."

WRONG! It's called reckless driving. 23103. CVC
An assault (240-245 PC) is a crime requiring specific intent.

 
At 1:50 PM, Blogger Joe Blow said...

Your initial premise, as best as I can gather, is valid. You can’t jaywalk today without criminal felony prosecution.

My observation was, however, that life is valuable and that there are consequences for whatever you do or do not do. Mr. Rodoni’s life was valuable too. Do to no consequences of his doing he died a violent death. He and his family were denied his god-given right to die peacefully in God’s good time.

Feeling bad hardly answers or serves the needs of one’s responsibilities to his neighbor. My point was, if you break the law and cause injury to someone it is NOT an accident. My thoughts, feelings and good intentions do not justify deliberate conduct that produces harm.

 
At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think if you reread the "before and after" part you will believe as I do that she got reported before the crash to the cops. And then -- some drivers may have decided to report her a little later - which was then actually after the crash had happened. Doesn't mean she was driving after the crash at all.

 
At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

assault under the 240-245 range is a general intent crime, for the most part, according to the mandatory criminal instructions handbook.

 
At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, 1:26, assault under 240-245 of the penal code is a general intent crime, not a specific intent crime, according to the "Mandatory Criminal Jury Instructions Handbook" 12th edition.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Regardless of the law, we have to look at the circumstances.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Counselors 4:51PM and 4:54PM, You are technically correct. Why not post your business cards in order that we may properly credit y'all?

"Under the common law there is a distinction between specific and general intent crimes. The basic difference between the two is that specific intent crimes require the individual who commits the crime to have a certain intent or purpose when the crime was committed, where as general intent crimes don't. Some jurisdictions have done away with this distinction." From a lay person's viewpoint it is a distinction without a difference.

joe blow: "You can’t jaywalk today without criminal felony prosecution."

In Humbboldt County that is probably true if you are a cop.

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice try, but "some jurisdictions"
don't have assault crimes under penal code sections 240-245, which you cited.

There are some specific intent assaults, such as PC 220, assault with intent to commit rape.

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last name Goth and its variant Guth originated at least three hundred years ago in central Europe.

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Counselor 8:05AM. Likewise nice try. I conceded your leagalese point with regard to the hair splitting distinction between "specific and general" intent in case you failed to notice. You apparently additionally failed to view the link quoted which had nothing to do with sections 240-245 CPC. You also omitted 209a as an example of a "specific" intent felony. An additional question you will probably decline to answer is your hourly fee for legal representation and the location of your office. Is it the Burger King in Fortuna? Won any cases recently before Judge Brown?
Just askin'.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Robin Shelley said...

How about reckless assault?

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Joe Blow said...

Robin Shelley said...
How about reckless assault?

There you go!

 

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