59 Misc.2d 162, People v. Haney

Citation:59 Misc.2d 162, 298 N.Y.S.2d 415
Party Name:People v. Haney
Case Date:March 18, 1969

Page 162

59 Misc.2d 162

298 N.Y.S.2d 415

PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff,


Booker W. HANEY, Defendant.

Supreme Court, Criminal Term, Richmond County.

March 18, 1969.

[298 N.Y.S.2d 417] John M. Braisted, Jr., Dist. Atty., Richmond County (Asst. Dist. Atty. Norman C. Morse, of counsel), for the People.

Joseph Werb, Staten Island, of Richmond County, for defendant.


KOOTA, Judge.

This is a motion by defendant for an Order permitting him to inspect the Minutes of the Grand Jury which presented the Indictment herein. There is an additional prayer for the granting of other and further relief.

This Indictment in substance accuses the defendant of Criminally negligent homicide. (New Penal Law Sec. 125.10). (New Penal Law will hereinafter be referred to as N.P.L.). It is charged Inter alia therein that on April 28, 1968, defendant allegedly operated an automobile at a high, reckless, dangerous and unlawful rate of speed and in the course thereof, passed a red light and struck one, Angela Palazzo, a pedestrian, inflicting injuries upon her which resulted in her subsequent death.

N.P.L. Sec. 125.10 provides that a person is guilty of the crime of 'criminally negligent homicide' when, with criminal negligence, he causes the death of another person. The term 'criminal negligence' is specifically defined in N.P.L. Sec. 15.05 subd. 4 as follows:

'A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.' (Emphasis supplied)

Page 163

Prior to the enactment of the New Penal Law (effective September 1, 1967) the culpable negligence of any person not constituting murder in its first or second degree or the first degree of manslaughter resulting in, but without design to effect death, constituted the crime of Manslaughter [298 N.Y.S.2d 418] in the Second Degree (Penal Law Sec. 1052 subd. 3). It would appear under the prior law that an individual whose automobile, driven by him in a culpably negligent manner, struck another, resulting in the latter's death, could be prosecuted for Manslaughter in the Second Degree. However, 'The legal term 'Manslaughter' was repellant to the average juror with reference to operation of automobiles recklessly. It connoted almost the crime of murder and thereby caused hesitation, confusion and ofttimes serious miscarriages of justice.' (People v. Morrell, 196 Misc. 1016, 1019--1020, 92 N.Y.S.2d 888, 891--892; People v. Decina, 2 N.Y.2d 133, 147, 157 N.Y.S.2d 558, 571, 138 N.E.2d 799, 808, 63 A.L.R.2d 970). Consequently, in 1936 the Legislature enacted Penal Law Sec. 1053--a which refers specifically to Criminal negligence in the operation of a vehicle resulting in death. This statute provided that:

'A person who operates or drives any vehicle of any kind in a reckless or culpably negligent manner, whereby a human being is killed, is guilty of criminal negligence in the operation of a vehicle resulting in death.'

It may be observed that subsequently thereto Penal Law Sections 1053--c and 1053--e were enacted concerning criminal negligence while engaged in hunting or in the operation of a vessel resulting in the death of another. The essence of the three crimes...

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