Georgia v. OgilvieAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to consider whether the Court of Appeals properly stated and applied the law governing accident and proximate cause in a "strict liability" offense. Appellee Shirley Ogilvie struck and killed a seven-year-old boy with her car as she drove through a crosswalk while the child was crossing the street. The trial court had declined to give Ogilvie's requested jury charge on the defense of accident. On appeal, she contended that the accident charge was authorized by her testimony that she could not stop before hitting the child because he ran across the street in front of her car, giving her only a second or two to avoid hitting him. The Court of Appeals concluded that Ogilvie's testimony that she could not avoid hitting the child warranted an accident charge. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded that Ogilvie's defense at trial was not that she acted involuntarily, and thus without the required criminal intent, where her car struck the child. Her defense was that the act (or failure to act) of another person – the child in running into the crosswalk (or the crossing guard in failing to stop him) – was the proximate cause of the deadly collision. "That is a proximate cause defense, not an accident defense, regardless of how she tried to characterize it." The trial court therefore was not required to give an accident instruction, and the properly charged jury rejected her proximate cause defense.