A case of semi-accidental death…

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A case of semi-accidental death…

  • Kirsten Tynan

    A real-world case is on my radar this week:
    An unnamed teen is being tried in Texas in connection with the death of a classmate. Witnesses in the case reportedly testified that the defendant was repeatedly picked on by fellow classmates who were throwing things at him and at other students. The defendant testified that he warned one of them that if he didn’t stop it, he was going to hit him back. When the behavior continued, the defendant apparently waited outside his classroom for the bully to come out, punched the classmate (who had continued to throw things at him post-warning) twice, and knocked him unconscious. The classmate was declared brain dead the next day.

    In Statislavia the prosecutor has put forth charges of murder and manslaughter for the jury to consider. The defense attorney and judge agree that the jury may also consider simple assault, but the prosecutor has appealed the jury instructions allowing this to a higher court (more details about that at this link). Some folks I have run this by say this is simply a case of self-defense, even though he was retaliating during a lull in the bullying rather than actively defending himself from it. The defendant maintains that he didn’t intend to kill his classmate, but only get the behavior to stop.

    In Ancapistan, the odds would be somewhat less that this kid would have been a captive audience for a bully in the first place, but it could still theoretically happen. Assuming that this actually did transpire, what are some healthy ways to handle it?

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    • Táborszki Bálint

      Call me cruel, but I aswell would classify this case as self-defense. The victim was physically and emotionally abused to the utmost degree, and it must have been an anguish to him. I believe he has the right to stop this destruction targeted to his body and soul. Also note that he gave his tormentors a choice to stop.

      Look, if you argue against the state from an NAP standpoint, you are in a very similar situation. The state is very rarely initiates force, rather it threatens with it and bullies you endlessly until you give up and bow.

       

      He didn’t bow.

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      Brad Moore

      I don’t think this is a case of self-defense at all. The immediate threat had ceased. The student lied in wait after the fact, and took his vengeance out.
      Was the threat ongoing?  Quite possibly, but assault as a preventative measure isn’t acceptable to me.

      I wouldn’t accept a position of ‘self-defense’ as valid in this case.

       

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        Táborszki Bálint

        The reason I see it as a self-defense is that I think there was no other way for him to defend himself. He had nno chance of action during his humiliation since he was outnumbered. Also this act of abuse was not unprecedented. He had no teachers, parents or friends to ask for help appearently. So basically the only choice for him was either to execute a preventive display of physical superiority or endure the abuse for ever.

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          Brad Moore

          But he wasn’t defending himself at the time. I assume he was trying to send a message to prevent being assaulted in the future. That’s not “self-defense.”

          He had no chance of action during his humiliation since he was outnumbered

          So, if I get jumped in an alley by 6 guys, I can claim self-defense the next afternoon when I find the guy and assault him?  I don’t think so.

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          • Táborszki Bálint

            No, but its a strawman. If they seek you – and others – out in your working place and continue the abuse for months and months, and you can’t do anything about in in that situation, nor will you get any help from law enforcement, then it is a fairly similar case, and I would beat the fuck out of one of them if I were to see him/her alone. Or maybe not. I dont know what I would do actually.

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          • Brad Moore

            Just because you would “beat the fuck out of them” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be held accountable.
            There were alternatives – stay home, contact police, talk to the other student’s parents.

            If this is justified, what’s the expiration date?  If I’m attacked today, can I respond, with violence, in 2 days?  A week?  6 months?
            What do you think?

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          • Táborszki Bálint

            Now I’ve been thinking and came to the conclusion – thanks to the question regarding expiration date – that I was wrong. I think this case rests in the border of self-defense and the initiation of force. The motive was to be free from future attacks, but there was no violence ongoing. The outcome is terrible and I cannot imagine the kid’s future life, who will be cursed with the burden of murdering someone by accident. I think this punishment is worse than any social retribution a stateless society could bestow upon him. I think what he did was a terrible accident and the punishment should be as small as possible, given his age and mental capabilities – or lack thereof – that led him to this decision. I see him as not guilty.

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      Wesley Bruce

      Courts are created not just to prosecute criminals but as a means of preventing the need for vigilante justice, feuding and revenge attacks. If this kid had a means to appeal to some entity in the school above his obviously useless teacher then the attack would not have happened. Regardless of the court out come the school should be sued by him and his parents for not curtailing the bullies earlier. The school is probably immune from such prosecutions, that’s the real flaw here.

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        Brad Moore

        “Regardless of the court out come the school should be sued by him and his parents for not curtailing the bullies earlier. The school is probably immune from such prosecutions, that’s the real flaw here.”

        I agree that the responsibility should fall on the school, but should that not work both ways?
        A persons life has ended. Not during a defensive struggle, but out of planned vengeance. I think the ‘puncher’ is absolutely liable.

         

         

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      Adam Hoisington

      I lean toward this being proper self-defense. It’s not incumbent upon victims to arrange for a fair fight. Using tools and tactics to defend yourself that are superior to your aggressor’s is not criminal, I think everyone would agree. So then the question becomes, did the kid who was bullied have a reasonable belief that he was going to be attacked by the bully in the future? If he really was bullied on regular occasion, then I think an arbitrator would agree that the bullied kid’s belief was in fact reasonable, and his actions, therefore, justified.

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      Kirsten Tynan

      Well, I’m not sure we’re any closer to how we would handle this in Ancapistan, but I do have an update on how it’s being handled in the Texas this week:
      Texas Appeals Court Upholds Jury Instructions
      http://fija.org/2015/04/27/texas-appeals-court-upholds-jury-instructions/
      For the moment at least, the simple assault option remains. Whether or not the prosecutor will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court to try again to get it removed remains to be seen.

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      Wesley Bruce

      I think the solution would be largely the same as a modern system of civil law. The Anacap system is still very much a legal system the only difference is that you have a competing network of judiciaries. The best example of a polycentric system is international legal situations where someone is accused of a crime in another country to his own. The local law would apply but his or her country comes to aid the person in that case.

      If both countries agree its a crime then the offender is in deep trouble though there may be disagreements on the severity of the penalty. If the crime is a crime in one country but not the other then it will be a battle of will with the two legal entities pressuring each other to revise their law. Often when its state verses state then that is only resolved by war, the taking of enemy agents and doing a swap, or stalemate with the ‘criminal’ languishing for years.

      In the anacap model the separate nations become separate legal provision networks deciding the issue. They may find a dispute adjudicator but would radically differing law codes find someone they agree is neutral?

      In the case of a true accidental death there may be some damages payable and movement restrictions on the offending killer. The circumstances of the action that lead to the death would not effect the verdict of guilt or innocence but may effect the compensation price and the restrictions on the killer.
      That said there are a few cases where a person has been acquitted of accidental manslaughter and gone on to see him/her self as immune from the law or exempt from the law. This leniency has lead to the person testing that immunity repeatedly and eventually killing again.
      In the case described the boy is guilty of assault not self defense. Self defence must, definitionally, be immediate.  I would expect both significant damages and significant restrictions, the anacap equivalent of jail.

      However in this Texas case the penalties may be mitigated by both the fact of prior assault on the killer and the absence in the school of an alternative remedy and the fact that the boy is not likely to re-offend.

      It is highly likely that no anacap system will acquit the killer fully because that leaves a large number of costs, including all the legal and court costs unpaid. So the boy would probably face a huge fine, a ban from the school since the liability risk of retaining him would be high and probable exile from the community lest he run into a relative of the victim and in that event trigger more conflict.

      It should be noted that another tool may come into play. I expect crowdfunding to play a big part in anacap law with people raising funds for both defence, prosecution and in some cases even to cover damages and penalties. This has already happened several time over in legal defences cases of religious rights, wedding cakes versus homosexual marriage, where the christian parties have generally raised large funds to fight all the way to the top of the court system or in one case to pay all the damages.

       

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