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In other words, he said, before Baldi can be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, "there has to be a causal connection between the drugs that Dr. Baldi prescribed and the deaths of these patients."
Rigg said the Iowa Supreme Court has made similar rulings. He also said the principle is written into Iowa's definition of involuntary manslaughter, the charge Baldi faces. The state law says a defendant can be convicted of the charge if "the person unintentionally causes the death of another person by the commission of an act in a manner likely to cause death or serious injury."
The Supreme Court ruling came in the case of Marcus Burrage of Ames. Burrage sold a gram of heroin to longtime addict Joshua Banka of Nevada in 2010, court records show. Banka, 32, was later found at home, dead of "mixed drug intoxication."
said. It involves "willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others."
Neither law professor is involved in the Baldi case, but they and many other Iowa lawyers are interested to see how the unusual trial plays out.
Testimony began last week in the Polk County District Court trial, which is expected to take up to four weeks.
So far, prosecution witnesses responding to Cook's questioning have testified that the drugs three patients overdosed on were not prescribed to them by Baldi. In two of those instances, the witnesses said the medications were prescribed by other health care providers. In the third instance, the patient's boyfriend testified that the woman took three of his narcotic delivery patches, placed them on her own chest, and then died of an overdose.
Drake University law professor Robert Rigg said the recent Supreme Court ruling is one of several precedents stating that prosecutors in such cases must prove a defendant's actions were the direct cause of a death. It isn't enough, he said, to show a defendant's actions contributed to a death.
Tests found that Banka took several drugs, including painkilling pills, sedatives and heroin. Medical experts testified that he might have died even without the heroin, court records show.
Burrage was convicted of distribution of heroin causing death. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. But the Supreme Court unanimously ruled this January that Burrage should not have been held liable for the death because prosecutors did not prove the heroin was the primary cause of it.
Supreme Court ruling may boost Baldi's defense
Dr. Daniel Baldi is charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter. Supreme Court ruling in an Iowa heroin dealer's case, two law professors said last week.
Prosecutors have not yet offered evidence to counter Cook's contentions about the source of medications in those deaths.
They also will have to prove the doctor's actions were reckless, Rigg said.
not of reckless driving.
"Recklessness is not just negligence," he Vans Era White Black
The court's main opinion, written by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, said it wasn't enough for prosecutors to contend that Burrage's sale of heroin to Banka contributed to the death.
"Is it sufficient that use of a drug made the victim's death 50 percent more likely?" Scalia wrote. "Fifteen percent? Five? Who knows. Supreme Court decision focused on the wording of a federal drug law. However, Rigg and University of Iowa law professor Emily Hughes said the ruling's principle could be applied to similar cases under other laws.
lower courts to consider the issue of direct cause of death, she said.
"I think Burrage could make a huge difference, because it's a very recent and very thorough analysis," Hughes said. The Supreme Court's ruling gave clear directions on how the justices want Skechers Black Memory Foam
Defense lawyer Guy Cook has hammered away at his contention that none of the patients died solely from overdoses of drugs Baldi prescribed for them. Cook has told jurors that tests found several of the patients had no Baldi prescribed drugs in their systems when they died.
Rigg cautioned that prosecutors have just started presenting their case against the Skechers Go Walk 2 doctor. They may have evidence to refute the defense's claims. But for prosecutors to succeed, he said, "they have to have somebody get up on that stand and say the patient's death was caused by ingestion of a drug prescribed by Dr. Baldi."
For example, Rigg said, a person who causes a traffic accident while driving 40 mph in a 35 mph zone could be found guilty of speeding but Mbt Shoes Amazon Usa
Rigg noted the law says "unintentionally causes the death" not "unintentionally contributes to the death."
The Supreme Court unanimously declared in the heroin case that the defendant could not be held criminally responsible for a customer's overdose death unless prosecutors could prove the drug that the dealer provided was the main cause of the death.
The defense in that case has striking similarities to the defense in Dr. Daniel Baldi's current trial on nine counts of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say his careless prescriptions of pain medications led to patients' overdose deaths, which the doctor denies.
Cook, Baldi's lawyer, has cited the Burrage ruling in motions filed in the doctor's case.
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