Legal Paper

Legal Paper,

Your legal paper will be a progressive paper, double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins, of no more than 8 pages (any text beyond the 8th page will NOT be read) in which you must consider the following facts in State v. Lanning:

Derek Ballamo, a 25-year old Detroit man, was injured in a fight with Wayne Lanning in a bar parking lot.  Ballamo was semiconscious when police arrived at the scene of the fight.  He was taken to the hospital and later transferred to a detoxification center, where he lapsed into a coma.  After two days, he died.
The incident occurred around bar closing time in the early morning hours of March 20, 2011.  The fight started when Lanning got out of his car to confront Ballamo in the parking lot next to Mickey’s Bar along 8 Mile Road in Crimeville, a city in the State of Patel-Lippman.  The two had been in the bar earlier in the night with acquaintances but had not argued or fought until the parking lot confrontation, witnesses said.
Many of the witnesses had been drinking, and their accounts of the incident varied.  Most witnesses agreed on the following facts.  Ballamo was intoxicated and challenged Lanning to a fight.  Lanning got out of his car and faced Ballamo who took his shirt off.  Lanning punched Ballamo once on the side of the head or around the cheek.  Ballamo took a step or two back and landed flat on his back, striking his head on the pavement.
Beyond this, a variety of versions emerged.  Four witnesses said Lanning straddled Ballamo to deliver a second round of lighter blows, but they disagreed over whether Ballamo’s head was flat on the ground or lifted by Lanning.  Three witnesses said that after the punches, Lanning slammed Ballamo’s head against the pavement.  Others said that did not happen.
Matters also were complicated by what happened after police responded.  Ballamo was first taken to Mercy Hospital, where his blood alcohol level was measured at .328 percent.  He apparently was still combative, forcing staff to restrain him before he could be treated.  He was transferred to the Turner detoxification center at about 4:30 A.M.  A nurse said that at 8:30 A.M., she found Ballamo on the floor near his bed, apparently after a fall.  He was transferred back to the hospital, where he died two days later.
Medical examination confirmed that death was caused by massive bleeding in the brain.  Medical evidence was not conclusive on what caused the brain damage, but it was the kind that would be expected to be caused by a fall rather than by a hard punch to the head.

Is Lanning guilty of any crimes, and does he have any defenses?  (See back side of this sheet for assessment criteria)

Quality and quantity of use of facts.  You must marshal the facts given in this assignment to illustrate your conclusion on each potential charge, aggravating/mitigating factor, justification, and excuse.  You should draw NO conclusion without reference to the facts of the case.  You also always should consider discussing plausible interpretations of facts from the perspective of both the prosecution and defendant.  See the other criteria below for more guidance.

Quantity & selectiveness of relevant crimes and quality of determination of guilt/innocence.  To write this assignment effectively, you must consider all relevant crimes one-at-a-time and decide whether Lanning is guilty or not guilty of each crime.  However, do NOT go through a grocery list of all the crimes we have studied this semester.  Students with strong papers will select crimes with which Lanning potentially could be charged, examine the elements of each crime in light of the facts (see the next criterion on the elements of crimes), and then decide whether the jury would find the defendant guilty or innocent on each crime.  Assume the jury is a rational trier of fact.

Quantity and quality of consideration of elements of crimes.  Determining guilt or innocence requires considering all the elements of every crime you discuss.  Omitting elements of a crime that you are considering constitutes an incomplete consideration of that crime.  A complete consideration of a crime requires discussion of every element in light of the facts, with deep and thorough application of the facts to the most debatable elements of the crime.  For Negligent Manslaughter, you must use the Legal Equation I provided on Canvas.  Legal Equations for all other crimes are in your Lippman textbook and Lecture slides on Canvas.

Quantity, selectiveness, and depth of consideration of relevant aggravating/mitigating factors, justifications, and excuses.  Do NOT go through a grocery list of all the aggravating/mitigating factors, justifications, and excuses we have studied this semester.  Instead, select those that apply to this case, and for each of them, consider all of its elements in light of the facts of the case.  For Adequate Provocation, you must use the Legal Equation I provided on Canvas.  If there is no Legal Equation in your Lippman textbook for an aggravating/mitigating factor you are considering, then you must use the Lippman textbook’s definition.

Quality and quantity of use of precedent.  You must use the cases we have examined in this course and the case State v. Pray on the Canvas site as precedent to add credibility to your conclusions about the relevant crimes, aggravating/mitigating factors, justifications, and excuses.  To help determine Lanning’s guilt or innocence, you should use comparable cases to illustrate your conclusions on relevant crimes & their elements and likely jury decisions on relevant aggravating/mitigating factors, justifications, and excuses.  Look at how judges use prior cases in their court opinions in your Lippman textbook for examples of how precedent can be used effectively.  When you refer to a case, cite the case and include the relevant page numbers (for example, People v. Davis, p.374).

If you choose to submit a first draft for my comments, you must submit your draft by 11:59 PM on Friday, November 14.  The optional first draft must be submitted on Canvas under the link in ‘Assignments’ titled “OPTIONAL: Progressive Paper ROUGH DRAFT”.  The required final draft must be submitted on Canvas under the link in ‘Assignments’ titled “PROGRESSIVE PAPER: FINAL DRAFT”, as instructed in class.  ATTENTION MAC USERS: All submissions MUST be in PC-compatible Microsoft Word or Rich Text format!  Any submission not in this format by the due date will be considered late!  Have fun!
Point assessment:
4 points:  Quality and quantity of use of facts
5 points:  Quantity & selectiveness of relevant crimes and quality of determination of guilt/innocence
6 points:  Quantity and quality of consideration of elements of crimes
6 points:  Quantity, selectiveness, and depth of consideration of relevant aggravating/mitigating factors,
justifications, and excuses
7 points:  Quality and quantity of use of precedent
2 points:  Style (Use of argument/counter-argument structure, Clarity, Paragraphs, Grammar, Spelling,
Citations)
30 points: TOTAL

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