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case analysis: Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Manslaughter�Criminal Procedure�Direction Clarifying how the jury should be directed in a motor manslaughter cases in the countries which causing death by reckless driving has not been abolished: Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 Introduction Brown (Uriah) v The Queen1 was a case appealed from the Jamaica Court of Appeal to the Judicial Committee of Privy Council, and the Privy Council clarified a significant legal issue that how the jury should be directed in motor manslaughter cases in the countries which causing death by reckless driving has not been abolished in its judgment. Privy Council faced two arguments: (1) In trials of motor manslaughter cases in some jurisdictions, in which causing death by reckless driving is still a statutory offence and has not yet been abolished, such as Jamaica, the jury should be directed under the principles in R v Lawrence (Stephen)2 decided by the House of Lords. (2) The statutory offence causing death by reckless driving ought to be left to the jury as an alternative of manslaughter in direction given by judge even if causing death by dangerous driving has been left. Both of the arguments were accepted, and it was held that the direction given by the trial judge was misleading since he failed to pay any attention to the defendant's state of mind, which is an essential element of the formulation given in Lawrence, and ignored the alternative verdict causing death by reckless driving. Therefore, the appeal was allowed, and the verdict of manslaughter was quashed by the Privy Council. Facts The appellant, a police officer of Jamaica, was driving a police car on 4 March 2000 in the direction of St Ann's Bay and caused a serious accident. Michael McKennon, an eye witness of the accident, was driving on the same road as the appellant at the speed of 76 kilometers per hour, which was a little bit slower than the speed limit, 80 kilometers per hour, and the weather of that day was good. ...read more.

Middle

This Section defines the statuary offences causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by reckless driving, which is almost the same, except punishment, as these offences defined in the Road Traffic Act of UK before 1991. However, this act in UK has been changed several times since 1956 while the Jamaican version remains the same. In 1977, the statutory offence dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving was abolished in UK, but in the Road Traffic Act 1991, following the report of the Road Traffic Law Review in 1988, dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving were restored and reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving were omitted from the criminal calendar.18 In R v Seymour19, House of Lords held that the recklessness of the statutory offence causing death by reckless driving and the common law offence motor manslaughter were the same except degree. Therefore, if manslaughter cannot be convicted, causing death by reckless driving can be an alternative. However, since causing death by reckless driving had been abolished in UK and Seymour was overruled by Adomako, the respondent alleged that the principle set out in Seymour should no longer be applied. Reasoning of the Court Issue of Meaning of Recklessness in Motor Manslaughter It was held that the Lawrence should still be applied in the jurisdiction of Jamaica and the jury should be directed under the standard formulated in Lawrence. Adomako was regarded as good law in its relation to motor manslaughter in UK, and both the Adomako and Seymour test contained a very high degree of risk of the defendant's act before the accused's act classed as manslaughter. However, Adomako cannot be applied in those jurisdictions in which causing death by reckless driving is a possible alternative offence, such as Jamaica because "its application to motor manslaughter was predicated upon the disappearance of the statutory offences of reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving."20 In those jurisdictions where the statutory offence remains, there should be some difference between involuntary motor manslaughter and causing death by reckless driving, otherwise it will be meaningless to have two different offences. ...read more.

Conclusion

1 [2006] 1 AC 1 2 [1982] AC 510 3 Under this section, a person indicted for motor manslaughter may be found guilty instead of one of the lesser statutory offence under section 30(1). 4 Brown v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 at 6 5 For the full text of Road Traffic Act of Jamaica Section 30(1) please refer to page 6 6 [1982] AC 510 7 [1995] 1 AC 171 8 Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 at 9 9 [1982] AC 314 10 [1981] 1 All ER at 967 11 R v Lawrence [1982] AC 510 at 526-527 12 [1983] 2 All ER 1058 13 82 Cr App R 18 14 R v Adomako, [1995] 1 AC 171 at 188 15 (1925) 19 Cr App R 8 16 [1937] AC 576 17 R v Adomako, [1995] 1 AC 171 18 The reform of Road Traffic Act in UK was given in Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 at 8 19 [1983] 2 AC 493 20 Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 at 17 21 R v Seymour [1983] 2 AC 493 at 500 22 Brown (Uriah) v The Queen [2006] 1 AC 1 at 10 23 See Bakhshuwen v Bakhshuwen [1952] AC 1 24 See Australian Consolidated Press Ltd v Uren [1967] 3 All ER 523 25 Blackstone 1809 I:69 26 [1966] 3 All ER 77 27 AV Dicey's definition of rule of law includes three elements: 1. An absence of arbitrary power on the part of the State, 2 Equality before the law, 3 Supremacy of ordinary law, see Gary Slapper and David Kelly, English Legal System, (7th edition, Cavendish Publishing Limited, 2004 London) p 15 28 See Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Article 84 29 However, it must be noted that the statutory offense reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving have already been abolished in Hong Kong. ?? ?? ?? ?? Common Law Legal Method Case Comment November 28, 2007 Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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