Massachusetts v. Michelle Carter

In this episode, we look at whether words can kill someone in a very literal sense.  17 year old Michelle Carter encouraged her 18 year old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself.  When Roy's body was discovered in his truck filled with toxic fumes, the investigation uncovered that Carter had been pushing Roy to kill himself for weeks, and was ordering Roy to end his own life as he was potentially changing his mind about doing so.

But Carter was nowhere near Roy when this happened.  She was 35 miles away, speaking to him on the phone.  So the question in this case, when it finally crystalized, was whether Carter committed involuntary manslaughter by advocating for Roy to commit suicide, knowing that he was suicidal and had already attempted to kill himself before.

This case made national headlines in 2014 and sparked a lot of controversy over whether instructing someone to do something means that the person caused it to happen.  What is role of free will if a person's commands are considered so obligatory as to result in criminal liability if they're followed?

Listen as Paul breaks down the arguments for and against imposing liability, explains the role of precedent and how judge's rely on past cases, and gives his thoughts on whether the outcome of this case was actually justice.  If you enjoy the show, subscribe, and check out our website at  

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