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People v. Hall

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
557 N.Y.S.2d 879 (1990)


Leonard Hall (defendant) fired a gun at someone in a crowd across the street. He missed and hit a woman who was about 30 weeks pregnant, severing the placenta and with it the baby’s oxygen supply. Hall immediately got rid of the gun and lay low for several days. Meanwhile, doctors performed an emergency C-section and delivered the baby. All the doctors who treated or examined the baby said she was born alive, but she succumbed 36 hours later. Because the baby met all the criteria for a live birth under New York law, a birth certificate was filed. Hall was charged and prosecuted for causing the death of a person born alive, not an unborn fetus. The trial judge never said a fetus qualified as a person under the homicide laws, and the judge did not instruct the jury that Hall could be convicted for causing the death of a fetus as opposed to a person. The jury convicted Hall of second-degree manslaughter. Hall appealed, arguing that the baby did not qualify as a person under the homicide provisions and that the evidence was insufficient to support a manslaughter conviction. Additionally, Hall argued that the penal code did not give him proper notice that his conduct was proscribed, in violation of due process and equal protection.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Milonas, J.)

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