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Lynn K. Neuner and William T. Russell Jr. Lynn K. Neuner and William T. Russell Jr.

The Court of Appeals issued a decision at the end of last month arising out of the growing opioid crisis that raises issues concerning the appropriate standards for recklessness and causation in criminal actions. In a near unanimous opinion written by Judge Eugene M. Fahey in People v. Li, the Court of Appeals upheld the manslaughter convictions of a physician who prescribed opioids to two individuals who subsequently died from overdoses. Judge Rowan D. Wilson authored a dissent in which he expressed concern that the majority’s holding would dramatically expand the potential criminal liability of prescribing physicians. Regardless of whether one agrees with the analysis of the majority or the dissent, this case evidences the growing effect that the opioid crisis is having on our society, including with respect to criminal jurisprudence.

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