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Chapter HW#3

CRM/LAW C144 Chapter Notes - Chapter HW#3: Harvard Step Test, Aneurysm, Res Ipsa Loquitur

Criminology, Law and Society
Course Code
James Meeker

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C144 Criminal Law – Homework Assignment #3
1. Explain the difference between “but-for” causation and proximate causation and provide
an example of each.
a. “But-for” causation is also known as cause-in-fact. This is determined with the “but-
for” test, which can be stated with, “But for the defendant’s actions, the result would not
have happened.” For example, “But for running the red light, the collision would not
have occurred.” Proximate cause means that the act, in addition to be a but-for cause,
must bear a sufficiently close relationship to the resulting harm. It can be explained if
the harm resulted is the foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. An example would
be People v. Acosta (1991) where the defendant’s conduct was a proximate cause of the
helicopter collision since it was a foreseeable consequence that he might have caused it
to occur.
2. Why should the low likelihood of the harm that actually occurred be relevant in
determining whether Acosta (pg. 510) acted with a culpable mens rea? Explain.
a. I think that the low likelihood of the harm that actually occurred be relevant in
determining whether Acosta acted with a culpable mens rea since the collision of two
police helicopters is a highly extraordinary outcome, and Acosta was not guilty of
murder since he did not possess the required mens rea. Acosta could not control or have
the culpable mens rea of having the two helicopters crash into each other resulting in
the death of three people. It couldn’t be found that he “consciously disregarded a risk
which was barely objectively cognizable.”
3. Why is People v. Warner-Lambert Co. (pg. 516) different from People v. Kibbe (discussed
in the Arzon case on pg. 515)? In other words, why is the explosion in Warner-Lambert
different from the harm suffered in Kibbe? Might there be a non-legal explanation for
the differences between these two cases? Explain.
a. In People v. Kibbe, Kibbe robbed Stafford of all his money and his car, and he left
Stafford on the side of the road with his pants around his ankles and without his glasses.
Although Kibbe himself did not kill Stafford, Stafford was left in freezing cold
temperature with low visibility due to wind gusts, thus leading to his being hit and
killed. The Court held that the evidence showed that Kibbe left helplessly the drunken
man at the side of a dark highway where he was struck by a vehicle and killed was
foreseeable sufficient to sustain a murder conviction. In People v. Warner-Lambert Co.,
defendant corporation and its officers were charged with manslaughter and negligent
homicide arising out of an explosion and fire out of one of their facilities in which six
employees were killed. Although there was evidence of a highly flammable chemical in
the air and on the equipment, the court reversed the decision and dismissed the
indictment due to the fact that there was no legally sufficient evidence that the
triggering event of the explosion, which resulted in the death of the employees, was
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