From: Charles Greenlaw <cgreenlaw(--nospam--at)speedlink.com>
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 11:09:56 -0700
At 07:53 PM 5/21/99 -0700, you wrote:
>About a year and a half ago, one of a college freshman in UC Berkeley
>saw a little girl murdered in a public rest room by his friend and he
>did not say a word to the police.
There may be a self-incrimination exemption for this witnessing friend, if
he is potentially considered an accomplice to the murder. He has the right
to remain silent, etc. The circumstances make a big difference.
That mid- 1980's Cal. Atty General Opinion on an engineer's "duty to warn"
considered many appellate court decisions on that subject, including
Tarasoff vs. UC, which was another connection of UC Berkeley to a murder. As
I recall from reading the appellate decision some years ago, a UC
psychiatrist was treating a "client" patient, and the patient revealed in
the course of treatment that he had intentions to murder a certain person.
The UC doctor kept that remark to himself, following his understanding of
doctor/patient confidentiality ethics. The patient then committed the
murder, and the question of duty to warn came up in a liability lawsuit.
Ultimately the duty to warn was determined to override the ethic on
confidentiality, as to the particular circumstances at issue.
That's my point: Circumstances make a huge difference, even after a single
specific occurrence when assigning non-criminal blame. Here, we are to
answer a question that aims at very generalized future occurrences, with
intent to unearth among engineers a policy that would control everyone's
conduct then by criminalizing the "wrong" choice. Maybe not so easy as it
Charles O. Greenlaw, SE Sacramento CA