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People v. Casassa
49 N.Y.2d 668, 404 N.E.2d 1310 (1980)
The defendant, Casassa, was involved in a romantic relationship with a neighbor going by the
name Victoria. After dating for a while, Victoria broke off the relationship, a decision he was
not pleased with. Casassa would then break into the apartment below Victorias the sole aim
of eavesdropping on her. One day, the defendant broke into Victorias apartment bearing gifts,
and he had brought a knife with him. When Victoria rejected his advances, he stabbed her to
death. Casassa was charged with murder. He argued that Victorias rejection had caused him
significant emotional disturbance.
What type of examination should be conducted to determine whether emotional disturbance
should lessen a murder charge to manslaughter?
To determine whether emotional distress should reduce a murder charge to manslaughter, a
court should use

A subjective test (to find out if the defendant actions were influenced by extreme

emotional disturbance)
An objective test (to find out if there was a rational explanation for such significant
emotional disturbance. Rationality will, however, be determined from the defendants
point of view)

In arriving at its decision, the COA relied on this statute that was developed out of the heat of
passion statute. The determination of whether Casassas, the defendant, actions held
reasonable explanation for significant emotional disturbance was made by the court viewing
the internal subjective state in which the defendant found himself as well as the external
situation as he perceived them at the time of the murder. The statute, therefore, permits jurors

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to pardon behavior that is a reasonable weakness. In this case, the defendants actions were a
result of his malice rather than significant emotional disturbance.
The Supreme Court of New York affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, which was a
United States v. Carroll Towing Co
159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947)
The Connors Company owned a barge that was being towed by a tugboat owned by Carroll
towing but controlled by Grace Line. The towing company then towed the barge in a
seemingly negligent manner. As a result, the tugboat broke free from the pier and rammed into
another ship. The propeller of the vessel then made a hole in the barge causing it to sink. The
plaintiff thus sued for negligence, but the defendant claimed that the plaintiff was supposed to
have a barge on the barge when the accident occurred and that if a bargee had been available,
the damages could have been reduced.
Can someone be held responsible for failing to take a rational precaution against the risk of
injury even when the chances of the injury occurring is negligible?
Yes, an individual may be held liable for failing to take reasonable steps to mitigate against
the great risk of injury irrespective of whether the probability of such injury occurring is
In arriving at such a determination, three variables must be considered:; probability of the
harm occurring, seriousness of the injury in case of injury, and the cost of the adequate
precaution. In case the burden is lower than the product of the probability and the liability,
care has not been exercised and therefore the individual is responsible for any damages. In
this case, the bargee was absent without excuse for 21 hours and he was well aware of the
extent of the damage that would be caused incase the barge broke from the pier. As a result,
the plaintiff is partly responsible for the damage since it did not exercise reasonable

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The Court of Appeal reduced the damages on the defendant since it found that it was
reasonably conceivable that the barge would break free and that Connors should have taken
precautions to reduce potential damages.
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