People v. Casassa
of Appeals of
49 N.Y.2d 668, 427 N.Y.S.2d 769, 404 N.E.2d 1310.
Dressler, pp. 256-260
Facts: The defendantís girlfriend broke off their relationship.† He stalked and later killed her.† In a bench trial, the defendant argued the partial excuse of extreme emotional distress.† The judge found him guilty of murder.† The defendant appealed on the basis that he wasnít allowed the extreme emotional disturbance defense.
Issue: Did the defendant establish the ďextreme emotional disturbanceĒ defense?
Analysis: The court says that the statute was properly applied because the trial judge, as the finder of fact, made an effort to empathize and be understanding of the defendantís situation.
Conclusion: The court upheld the trial courtís verdict.
Notes and Questions
1. The defendant would have to demonstrate that he acted under extreme emotional disturbance and that the emotional disturbance was subjectively reasonable.† I think he defendant would have to present evidence that in the milieu of the drug dealer, touching someoneís dinner plate is an incredibly provocative insult.† It would be very hard to put the fact finder in a drug dealerís shoes.† It would be next to impossible to make a judge or jury sympathetic to the subjective state of mind of the defendant that would cause him to kill another drug dealer over some money and a plate.
2. I suppose C can get the instruction if he makes the case for this excuse in court, but the jury can only consider the effects of Cís past experiences on his psyche rather than any political or moral beliefs.
3. According to the Model Penal Code, that evidence should be permissible, because someone from a different culture will subjectively experience emotional disturbance differently.
4. So the Model Penal Code makes this a broader area of defense with more leeway for the jury.
5. †If someone really has some kind of emotional response that may or may not cause them to commit a crime, why is it important to have a hard and fast rule and notice?† Why canít we just go case-by-case?
Special Bonus Question
Based on the plain language of the statute,