People v. Hall
999 P.2d 207 (2000)

  • Hall was skiing and ran into Cobb. Cobb died from the collision.
    • Hall was probably skiing to fast and not looking where he was going.
  • Hall was arrested and charged with felony reckless manslaughter (aka involuntary manslaughter).
  • At a preliminary hearing, the Trial Judge dismissed the charged. The prosecutor appealed.
    • The Trial Judge found that Hall’s conduct did not rise to the level of dangerousness required under Colorado law.
  • On Appeal, the Trial Court affirmed the dismissal. The prosecutor appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Hall may have been negligent, but that wasn’t enough to make him criminally culpable. For that, his conduct would need to rise to the level of recklessness.
      • The difference, under Colorado law, was that Hall’s conduct would have needed to be “at least more likely than not” to cause a death. Skiing too fast generally does not result in someone dying.
        • “For his conduct to be reckless, the actor must have consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death could result from his actions.”
  • The Colorado Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a trial.
    • The Colorado Supreme Court found that “substantial” did not mean “more likely than not” and so the Trial Judge was in error.
    • The Court found that a reasonable person could have concluded that Hall’s skiing could have a substantial risk of causing death.
    • The Court concluded that, because Hall had no good reason for skiing like a maniac, a reasonable person could have concluded that the risk was unjustifiable.
    • The Court found that a reasonable person could conclude that Hall’s conduct was a “gross deviation from the standard of care” that a reasonable skier would take.
    • The Court found that a reasonable person could conclude that Hall consciously disregarded the risk.
  • On remand, the Trial Court found Hall innocent of reckless manslaughter, but convicted him of the lesser charge of negligent homicide.
  • Basically, this case said that there are four elements to showing the minimum culpability for involuntary manslaughter:
    • The activity has a substantial risk of causing death.
    • The activity has a risk that is not justifiable.
    • The risk must be a gross deviation from the standard of care.
    • The actor must consciously disregard the risk.