You are selected for a jury in a trial of a 64-year-old mother who killed her two adult sons. The two men were institutionalized and suffered from Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disease. They were certain to die and would endure much pain and suffering before they did. Her husband had also died from this same disease and she had nursed him through his suffering.
She took a gun into the nursing home, kissed her sons goodbye, and then shot them both through the head. She was arrested for first-degree murder.
The prosecutor informs you that there is no "mercy killing" defense in the law as it is written. How would you decide this case? What punishment does she deserve?
* Is the mother legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination? Explain your answer.
The book I'm using for this class is:
Pollock, J. M. (2004). Ethics in crime and justice: Dilemmas and decisions (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Here is your solution. I answered it in an essay that looks into the history of Euthanasia as well and the moral, legal & ethical arguments that the case merits according to current perspectives on Euthansia in the US. Good Luck!
Ethics in Crime: Mercy Killing
Euthanasia or assisted death is illegal in most parts of the world. Mercy Killing as some term it, could happen by the voluntary consent of the person who wishes to die perhaps due to some terminal illness or situation wherein dying would spare the person from far more pain & suffering. Usually in cases like this, it is the person suffering who wishes and urges for assistance in ending his life and while his full consent could be verified, the legal culpability upon the one who assisted him is less although it is still highly debatable that the one who assisted him will be found legally not liable. In most cases of euthanasia, it is nurses & doctors who get attached to their suffering patient that are usually urged by their patients to mercifully end their lives sparing them further pain. Those who do so by mercy do it passively, hence, it is called passive Euthanasia. They withhold a drug or two, a treatment or such and increase painkillers or inject the patient with morphine to hasten death. Passive Euthanasia, as it is referred to, is most accepted and legally defendable even in the U.S. in states like Oregon, Texas and California. The more problematic 'mercy killing' arises in situations of involuntary euthanasia wherein the resulting death could be legally constituted as murder, even if the person who died clearly was suffering from a terminal illness that by continuing on with his daily struggle with the disease suffers greatly and has no hope of recovery but only a sure painful end.
Throughout modern history, Euthanasia or mercy killing had been heavily debated as mercy killings in the advent of anaesthesia became for some a humane choice of ending the suffering of others. During the American Civil War, soldiers decapitated and dying slowly in the battlefield and even those in Medical tents asked for the doctor and fellow soldiers to end their pain by ending their lives. Many who survived but lost appendages and suffered from what we now term as Battle Stress suffered ...
What are the Ethics in place in the Criminal Justice system? This solution is a situational exploration of the ethical duties of a jury member in the judgement of a murderer who resorted to killing for reasons that involve moral & maternal responsibilities. It explores the various ethical responsibilities as well as debates on culpability in light with ethics & legal philosophies.