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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
Commonwealth v. Pestinikas
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
- Case Doctrines, Acts, Statutes, Amendments and Treatises: Identifies and Defines Legal Authority used in this case.
- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
Joseph Kly met Walter and Helen Pestinikas (Defendants) when he contacted them about prearranging his funeral. Kly was living with his stepson and was later hospitalized and diagnosed with a disease that made it difficult for him to swallow food. When he was discharged, Kly said he did not want to return to his stepson’s home, and arrangements were instead made for Defendants to care for Kly in their home. On the day of Kly’s discharge, Defendants were given care instructions and a prescription to fill for Kly. Defendants orally agreed to follow the instructions and provide Kly with food, shelter, care, and the required medicine. According to the evidence at trial, the prescription was never filled. Instead of allowing Kly to live in their home, Defendants placed him in a small, enclosed porch of a distant building, where there was no insulation or bathroom and he was exposed to outside weather conditions. Defendants took Kly to the bank where they had their names added to his account. Over time, Defendants withdrew over $30,000 from the account. About two years after Kly’s discharge from the hospital, he was found dead, and an autopsy revealed starvation and dehydration as the causes of death. Defendants were charged with murder, and at trial, the judge instructed the jury that Defendants could not be found guilty of a malicious killing for failing to supply food, shelter, and medicine, unless a duty to do so had been imposed upon them by contract. The jury charge was based on a state statute, 18 Pa.C.S. § 301(b), which states that liability may not be based on an omission unless the omission is sufficient as defined by the criminal statute or a duty to perform the omitted act was “otherwise imposed by law.” The jury found Defendants guilty of third-degree murder. Defendants appealed, arguing that the jury instructions were incorrect.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
- Holding: Shares the Court's answer to the legal questions raised in the issue.
- Concurring / Dissenting Opinions: Includes valuable concurring or dissenting opinions and their key points.
- Reasoning and Analysis: Identifies the chain of argument(s) which led the judges to rule as they did.
- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
- Court Direction: Shares where the Court went from here for this case.