Category: The Law Is A Ass

The Law Is A Ass #424: Arkham Makes An Asylum Of You And Me

Albert Einstein once said, “Glix sptzl glaah,” then he turned one and developed his first working model of the Theory of Relativity; “that lady who feeds me is Mama.” Einstein also reportedly said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By this definition, I am insane, because I keep reading Batman comics and expecting the writers to know the difference between criminal activity and criminal insanity.

In Batman vol. 3, # 9, Batman agreed to do a mission for Amanda Waller and formed his own version of the Suicide Squad. So he went to Arkham Asylum, which, based on the ratio of escapes to days of the week, must have biggest Open Door Policy since John Hay. (Go ahead, look it up. I know, “Homework, bleech!) and recruited his recruits. Said recruits were a veritable who’s who of Gotham City’s finest worst.

Arnold Weskler, the Ventriloquist, found guilty of “Eight counts of murder” and sentenced to “life without parole.” Ben Turner, the Bronze Tiger, “Two counts manslaughter. Twenty years without parole.” Jewelee, “Four counts of murder. Life without parole.” Punch, Jewelee’s partner in crime and lover, who wasn’t actually in Arkham but broke into Arkham to try and free Jewelee while Batman was there; which is pretty crazy so maybe he was right where he should have been. Finally, Selina Kyle, Catwoman, “two hundred and thirty-seven counts of murder. Death by lethal injection.” These were the people Batman recruited out of Arkham Asylum. And I had to ask myself, “Why?”

Not “why did Batman recruit them?” Why were most of them in Arkham Asylum?

Arkham Asylum is an asylum. Even if we didn’t know that already from its name, Batman was right in the story. It is not a prison. There is a difference.

A prison is where criminals who are convicted of crimes are sent to serve out their sentences. An asylum is where criminals who were found not guilty by reason of insanity are involuntarily committed so that they can be treated.

None of the people Batman recruited from Arkham Asylum were found not guilty by reason of insanity. I know this for a fact and I can prove it. Arnold Weskler was sentenced to life without parole. Ben Turner was sentenced to twenty years without parole. Jewelee was sentenced to life without parole. Selina Kyle was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Do you see the common link? All four of them were sentenced to terms of imprisonment. That can only mean that they were found guilty because only people who were found guilty of crimes can be sentenced.

People who are found not guilty are released. Why? Because they were found not guilty. And they can’t be imprisoned for the crimes for which they were found not guilty; at least now without violating the hell out of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

In the same way, people who were found not guilty by reason of insanity can’t be sentenced to imprisonment, life imprisonment, or death by lethal injection, because – all together now – they were found not guilty.

If they were convicted – and they were it said so right in the story and I’m taking the story’s words at their word – what were these convicted criminals doing in Arkham?

There is a way that convicted criminals who were sentenced to prison can be sent to an asylum. When people develop a mental illness that impairs their cognitive ability to such an extent that they cannot make decisions for themselves or they present a danger to themselves or to others, a judge can civilly commit them and order they be sent to a mental health facility for treatment.

If a convict in prison develops a mental illness, a judge can the inmate be civilly committed to a mental health facility. Then, when the inmate no longer meets the criteria for civil commitment, the inmate is returned to prison to serve out the remainder of the sentences. The question remains, was there a viable reason for any of Batman’s team to have been transferred to Arkham?

Arnold Weskler had multiple personalty disorder. He thought he was two people; himself and his ventriloquist dummy, Scarface. Only the story said Weskler had “forsesworn his ‘little friend’ and had become an ideal inmate. Sounds like Weskler’s treatment had brought his MPD under control. If that were the case, then as long as he continued to take his medications, he would not meet the criteria for civil commitment. He would have been returned to Blackgate Penitentiary, where the prison hospital would have made sure he continued to take his medication. So Weskler shouldn’t have been in Arkham any longer, but maybe the doctors were keeping him there just to be sure. After all, we wouldn’t want a multiple murderer in prison, now would we?

Ben Turner was diagnosed with delusions of grandeur. He believed he was a former member of the League of Assassins and an agent of various intelligence agencies. A claim these agencies deny. The story didn’t really give us enough information about his mental condition for us to make a definitive assessment of whether he should be in Arkham. In his one conversation in the story he didn’t see irrational, but, as I said, I have insufficient information. So I’ll give Arkham the benefit of the doubt and say he was committed and deserved to be there.

Jewelee’s lover/partner Punch disappeared two years earlier, since then she had been in a catatonic state. She sat on her bed without moving. As such, she wasn’t really a danger to either herself or to others and could have been treated in the hospital in Blackgate prison just as easily as she could have been treated in Arkham. She would not have been committed to Arkham. However, if a court or the prison authorities determined that the hospital at Arkham was better equipped to treat her catatonia that the hospital at Blackgate, she might have transferred to Arkham for that reason.

Selina Kyle, not even going to go there. Why not? Because Selina clearly wasn’t mentally ill. She knew it, Batman knew it, even we knew it. Everything about her presence in Arkham Asylum – from her being in a cell to her wearing a straightjacket and a full-face version of a Hannibal Lecter mask – was nothing more than a plot device used to set up a surprise ending. Oh, and because I’ve reached the end of my column.

– THE END –

See?

The Law Is A Ass # 423: Cyborg Clunks The Parole Evidence Rule

I have a mutant power. (One mutant power; don’t believe any lies Tony Isabella tells about a different power and the silly codename Shattertoy.) I have one power; I get things right for the wrong reason.

And, it seems, my power is catching. Because in Cyborg vol. 2, number 1, the book’s eponymous hero showed the same power. (Sure, the guy’s a half-human/half-robot super hero with gadgets and gizmos aplenty, and you’ve got to go and give him my power, too?)

In the comic in question, Cyborg was stopping an armored car hijacking. The hijackers were speeding their wannabe tank through downtown Detroit with a full cadre of police cars in hot pursuit. That’s when Cyborg used his robotic strength to stop the armored car with a force so masterfully applied that it crumpled the car’s front end without even registering a sound effect in the panel. Now that’s skill! As part of his Spider-Man-approved catch-the-crooks banter, Cyborg explained that the hijackers were likely to hurt someone with their reckless driving and he couldn’t allow that.

Cyborg shook the armored car like he was in a low-budget Mariachi band that could only afford one maraca. The two criminals came tumbling out of the car and immediately started shooting AR-15s. Uh, Cyborg, if you’re really interested in not letting the bad guys hurt anyone, you might try disarming them before you dump them out of the nice car with nice armored sides that bullets can’t get through.

Cyborg used his on-board internet connection to scan the hijackers’ cell phones and learned one was a parolee named Dante Morris. So he continued his banter with, “Dante, Dante, Dante… You do realize that each one of these shots is a violation of your parole, don’t you? You’re probably looking at a year behind bars for each bullet.”

Then Cyborg disarmed and subdued the hijackers, which ended his involvement in the matter. And started mine. Cause now I get to explain that while Cyborg’s ultimate conclusion might have been correct, his reasoning was dead wrong. Er, considering how much lead was flying around, I guess we should be glad Cyborg wasn’t dead wrong. But he was wrong nonetheless.

Not about the part that hijacking an armored car would violate Dante’s parole. Cyborg was wrong in saying that each separate bullet that Dante and his co-conspirator fired was a separate parole violation that would add a year to Dante’s sentence. That’s not how parole violations work.

Parole is an early release from prison. When inmates are granted parole, they are released before serving their entire sentence. Parole comes with conditions attached. Some of these conditions vary, but the ones that are almost always imposed include: a stable place to live, steady employment, reporting to the parole officer, and not consorting with other criminals. Oh yeah, and the biggie; while you’re on parole, don’t break the law.

If a parolee violates parole, the parolee’s parole officer files a notice listing all of the reasons why the officer believes the parolee has violated parole. Then someone, either the parole authority or a judge, holds a hearing which will determine whether the parolee has violated parole. If the person presiding over the hearing rules that the parolee did violate parole, the parolee’s parole can be revoked and the parolee sent back to prison to serve the remainder the original sentence. If a parolee commits armed robbery, not to mention armored car robbery, I can pretty much guarantee the parolee will be going back to prison.

But parole violations don’t involve multiple sentences. Even if the parolee did several different things and each separate act constituted a different parole violation, each act does not add additional time to the parolee’s sentence. Parole violators serve out the remainder of the original sentence. They don’t get additional time for violating their parole.

Dante violated his parole by obtaining a firearm, hijacking an armored car, consorting with another criminal, participating in a high-speed chase with the police, and shooting at Cyborg and the police. Each act was a separate parole violation, but, despite what Cyborg said, each bullet will not add more years to Dante’s time in prison.

However, a parole violation does not end the story of Dante’s problems with the law. You see, by buying the guns, hijacking the armored car, participating in the high-speed chase, and shooting at the police and Cyborg, Dante wasn’t just violating his parole; he was also committing new crimes. Crimes for which he could – no, would – be put on trial. And after he was convicted of those crimes he would be sentenced to new prison terms for his new crimes.

Many jurisdictions have laws requiring that if a parolee violates parole by committing new crimes, not only will the parolee be required to finish the original sentence, but any sentence the parolee receives for the new crimes must be imposed consecutively to the parolee’s original sentence. In addition, if the judge was in a particularly “tough on crime” mood, the judge can order the sentence on each new count to be served consecutively.

If that happened to Dante, he would serve out the remainder of his original sentence, then start serving the sentences for his new crimes. And if the judge ran everything consecutively, Dante would serve out the original sentence followed by his sentence for having a weapon while under the disability of being a convicted felon on parole, followed by his sentence for hijacking the armored car, followed by his sentence for fleeing and eluding while in the high-speed chase, followed by his convictions for attempted murder for shooting at Cyborg and the police officers.

Note I said attempted murder convictions. While each individual shot would not constitute a separate count of attempted murder, each person that Dante was shooting at would be a separate victim. And each victim would be the subject of a different attempted murder count. There were three police cars in the chase, each probably had two officers. That’s six police officers and one Cyborg, or seven attempted murder victims. That’s seven counts of attempted murder and seven more consecutive sentences that would be stacked on top of all the other sentences.

Dante will get a long sentence. Maybe not as long as some of Charles Dickens’s more-famous run-on constructions, but a long sentence. So Cyborg was right in thinking Dante would get a long sentence, but wrong in thinking it would be for multiple parole violations. It will be for his multiple new crimes.

And that leaves us with just one more question: how long a sentence will Dante receive? I don’t know. But I am pretty sure that to Mr. Morris it will look like Dante’s eternal.

The Law Is A Ass #422: Penguin Issues A License To Kill… Logic

Like I said before, well if they’re gonna make it easy for me…

Seriously, the season premiere of Gotham, “Pax Penguina,” didn’t even get out of the teaser before I was thinking, “Well, that’s not right.” It didn’t get three scenes into its first act before the episode confirmed it wasn’t just not right, it was wronger than a sentence using the word, “wronger.” And take it from someone whose grammar wasn’t run over by a reindeer, that’s wrong.

What did we learn in the teaser of the episode? We learned that the Penguin was issuing Licenses of Misconduct in Gotham City. What did we learn in the first scene of the episode? That criminals in Gotham City were paying Penguin half their take to get their Licenses of Misconduct. We also learned that criminals with licenses were fully sanctioned by Penguin to commit crimes in Gotham City and that criminals who were operating without licenses were physically, and violently, stopped from committing crimes by Penguin’s henchmen led by Victor Zsasz. What did we learn in the second scene of the episode? That Penguin had reached a deal with the Mayor of Gotham City and its Police Commissioner. By only allowing licensed and sanctioned crime in Gotham City, Penguin had reduced violent crime rate in the pre-Batman and crime-ridden city by fifty-seven percent. And in order to keep those crime numbers low, the Mayor and Police Commissioner permitted Penguin’s licensed and sanctioned criminals to commit crimes without any police interference. Unlicensed criminals they could apprehend, but licensed criminals were to be left alone. Oh yeah, and that the Mayor and Police Commissioner weren’t doing this just to keep Gotham’s crime numbers low. They were also getting a percentage of Penguin’s action; a small percentage, but a percentage nonetheless. What did we learn in the third scene of the episode? That when criminals flashed their License of Misconduct to police officers, said police officers were supposed to let them continue their criminal acts without interference.

And what did I learn from three years of law school and twenty-eight years of practicing criminal law? (The first one of you who says, “nothing,” will get such a pinch!) I learned that the odds of such an arrangement between a crime boss and the city government actually existing are about the same as the odds of getting in to see the Great Oz; as in, “Not nobody, not nohow!”

Oh, I’m not saying that crime bosses won’t bribe local governmental officials to look the other way when their operatives commit crimes. Hell, any city, town, village, or burg big enough to have an organized government will likely have such an arrangement with the local crime bosses. Hell, even the ones with unorganized governments will have such an arrangement.

What I am saying is that it defies logic that any government regardless of size would have the type of arrangement with their local crime bosses that the city fathers of Gotham City had with the Penguin. Not one that involved actual, physical Licenses of Misconduct.

Oh, did I forget to mention that part? Penguin wasn’t issuing metaphorical or symbolic licenses. He wasn’t telling people, if you pay me half you’re take, you’re free to commit crimes in Gotham City and the police won’t bother you. No Penguin was issuing actual, physical pieces of card stock that were called License of Misconduct and made that promise.

How do I know this? Because I screen capped one of the licenses when Bruce Wayne held it for its Mr. DeMille-sanctioned close-up and studied it. So I can tell you this actual, physical card, suitable for lamination, had the actual words “License of Misconduct” printed on it, a number indicating which license it was and the name and address of the licensee. It contained a checklist of crimes: “Smuggle, Loot, Rob, Murder, Blackmail, Grand Theft, Larceny, Kidnapping, Arson,” with actual boxes to be checked to indicate which crimes the bearer was licensed to commit. The bottom of the license contained the following promise, “This license entitles bearer permission to commit criminal offenses without repercussions or punishment from issuing authority and its affiliates.” The license was signed in ink (not by Pierre Andre) and stamped with the Penguin’s official umbrella seal. Then just to show that the license was comprehensive, it indicated whether the licensee was an organ donor. (You’ll be glad to know that the license Bruce took off some mugger indicated he was an organ donor. Nice to know the guy was socially-conscious scum and not just common scum.)

Okay, I know that the organ donor thing was a sight gag. But the License of Misconduct thing, that’s a joke.

No crime boss would issue such an actual, physical License of Misconduct. No mayor or police commissioner would honor such a thing. And no police officer encountering such a thing would let the bearer go unimpeded in his criminal activities. Not if they wanted to keep on being crime bosses, mayors, police commissioners, or police officers.

How do I know this? I know this because previous seasons of Gotham have established that Gotham City has a District Attorney’s office. And what do all district attorney offices in TV shows, movies, comic books, novels, or any other work of fiction that supports our tropes have? A crusading DA who wants to become mayor or judge or governor or even President. Seriously, this cliché is so old, I think it’s the actual clich A.

Now you know what would a crusading district attorney who wanted to become mayor or judge or governor or even President love to be able to do? Prosecute the mayor, police commissioner, police officers, and local crime boss for corruption and R.I.C.O. violations.

And what’s the only piece of evidence that a crusading district attorney would need to prosecute the mayor, police commissioner, police officers, and local crime boss for corruption and R.I.C.O. violations? If you didn’t say an actual, physical License of Misconduct issued by the local crime boss which promises that the bearer was free to commit crimes without fear of being arrested, then what column have you been reading?

No, crime boss would print an actual physical License of Misconduct and no city official would honor such a thing because its mere existence would land all parties involved in the hoosegow. See, a License of Misconduct wouldn’t just be suitable for lamination, it would also be suitable for lamentation.

The Law Is A Ass #421: Daredevil Ends The Art Show, Mural Less

The Law Is A Ass #421: Daredevil Ends The Art Show, Mural Less

Well, since they’re going to make it easy for me…

In Daredevil vol 5 # 11, there was a new villain in town, Muse, a deranged artist who painted a mural on a wall. Given that we’re talking about a comic book, I think you can Banksy on the fact that there’s more to this villain than meets the eye. Not just Daredevil’s eye, which is blind after all, but even more than meets the eye of an eagle with 20/10 vision. See, it’s not that Muse was using other people’s walls for his paintings; that would only make him guilty of vandalism. Muse was also using other people’s blood.

Yes, while some artists paint in oils and others in watercolors, Muse used the blood of his victims. I think for Muse, his medium is the message.

Muse painted a mural on the wall of a warehouse owned by one Freddy Durnin using the blood of over one hundred and twelve different missing persons. Freddy wanted to display the painting to the public for ten dollars a head. Did the public want to see this corpuscular – or should I say corpse-puscular – work of art? I think the idea grue on them, because there was already a line that went “around the block.”

Personally, I’m not too sanguinary about Freddy’s chances. DNA tests established that one of the victims whose blood was used in the painting was the niece of Andrea Pearson, Speaker of the New York City City Council. And Ms. Pearson did not want the painting displayed to the public.

Now, given that there was the blood of over one hundred victims in the painting, I’m not sure how any DNA sample wouldn’t have been so hopelessly contaminated that it would have been impossible to positively identify any one victim’s DNA. But I’ll give the story that one. After all, this is the Marvel Comics Universe. Reed Richards probably killed an hour one afternoon when the Internet was down by developing a highly efficient method of separating cross-contaminated DNA samples that’s used by whatever DNAgency operates in the MCU.

Anyway, back to Councilwoman Pearson. When Freddy rebuffed her, she went to the District Attorney’s office to get him to shut the display down. And DA Hochberg turned the matter over to assistant DA Matt Murdock. Hochberg was mad at Matt, who had been shirking his duties as an assistant DA. Seems Matt was out protecting the streets of Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil when he should have been attending to his ADA duties. So Hochberg dropped the case, and a sarcasm bomb in Matt’s lap, “You are supposed to be one of best attorneys of your generation, Matt. Please… do us both a favor. Prove it.”

Wow, some punishment. Hochberg punishes Matt by giving him a job that was so easy even a first year law student intern assigned to filing duties because the alphabet was at the upper end of his competence could accomplish in half an hour? Yes, punish the guy by giving him punishment that basically amounts to a paid afternoon off, that’ll show him.

Seriously, while I was writing these words, I came up with three arguments Matt could use to shut down Freddy’s nightmare. And I wasn’t even giving any thought to the problem.

  1. Have the police say they’ve only finished their initial investigation and that the warehouse is still an active crime scene that has to be kept free of outside contamination. So no visitors allowed.
  2. Have it declared a public nuisance. After all, that blood will attract flies and rats and other vermin to the area.
  3. And, hey, human blood is biological material. Some of that blood may have AIDS or hepatitis or some other infectious disease. That means the mural is a health hazard which is too dangerous to be open to the public. Even more so when you consider that this is blood from one hundred twelve people in the Marvel Universe. So one of them probably had radioactive spider venom or cosmic Gamma rays or Terragin mists or just plain, old New York City water coursing through their blood. That makes it even more of a biohazard.

Once Matt had a theory or five he would petition the court for either a preliminary injunction, an ex parte proceeding in which the person or persons who wanted to enjoin – or prevent – an action from happening appear before a judge without the other party to the case also appearing. To get a preliminary injunction, Matt would have to convince the court both that allowing the act he wanted to enjoin – here Freddy operating his art gallery – to occur would cause some sort of damage and that Matt’s argument would more than likely prevail when the case came to an actual trial. If the judge agreed, the judge would grant the preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking Freddy from running his gallery and setting the case for a immediate hearing in which both sides could argue their cases.

And seeing as how several pages after Hochberg palmed this problem off on Matt, the police presented Freddy with a preliminary injunction, that must have been exactly what Matt did. See, I told you they made it easy for me. Matt did everything right, so all I had to do was explain what he did and why it worked without the extra step I usually have to include of explaining what Matt should have done but didn’t do and why he should have done it.

Still all I said was that Matt made it easy for me, I didn’t say he made it painless. There was that extra scene when Matt complained to Foggy about his possible moral conflict. The DA’s office is supposed to promote justice, not shut down some guy’s business “because it gets on City Hall’s nerves.” Matt, baby, don’t invite problems. You weren’t shutting a business down because it got on Andrea’s nerves, you were shutting it down because it presented a legitimate health hazard. That’s a good thing and what you’re supposed to do as a DA. Don’t go worrying about problems that don’t exist yet.

If Hochberg tells you do to something at a later date which you think is wrong, then you can have your moral crisis. Don’t worry about it now, before he’s asked you to do that thing, whatever it is, worry about it later when he actually asks you to do it.

And considering how loose your legal ethics have been the past few years, I’m not so sure you’ll worry about it all that much later, either.

The Law Is A Ass: Aquaman Has Problems With His Immunity System

The Law Is A Ass: Aquaman Has Problems With His Immunity System

Aquaman has seen better days. He was king of Atlantis and his subjects actually liked him. He was married to Mera and his wife actually liked him. His villains were so lame not even Jesus could make them walk. Even the Fifth Dimensional imp that appeared in his book was an ally named Quisp and not a prankster that would make Aquaman Quake in his boots. Why, Atlantis even got along with the United States of America.

Now, Aquaman’s life is like a bad cover of a Bob Dylan song, the times they are a changin’ but not in a good way. He and Mera were never married. He’s been deposed as king. Quisp’s now named Qwsp and is malevolent. Oh, and the United States and Atlantis were at war, meaning Aquaman’s life wasn’t just a changin’, it was a changin’ into Sub-Mariner’s.

And for the better part of last year, Aquaman was in one of those Asian bootleg versions of a Pixar movie, because he spent his time finding N.E.M.O.

What’s N.E.M.O.? The Nautical Enforcement of Macrocosmic Order was a clandestine organization of rich people that’s been secretly trying to rule the world through control of the oceans since 1872. Which means it’s the Court of Owls but with bad mortgages; cause it’s under water. After all, what’s a comic book series without a super-secret shadow agency that’s operating right under the very nose of the super hero who should know about it?

(Seriously, Batman didn’t know the Court of Owls was operating in Gotham City? Maybe the New 52 Batman, but the Batman I grew up with would have infiltrated the Court before its second board meeting. And Aquaman one-ups Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon; he talks to the seas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn8YubD01sk. Not one fish in the entire world noticed the increased activity of surface dwellers dating back to the 19th century and reported it to Aquaman?)

N.E.M.O. knew it had to deal with Aquaman so it sent operatives pretending to be Atlantian soldiers to attack a United States war ship, the U.S.S. Ponchartrain. Result: Aquaman was arrested under the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act for crimes against the United States. (Crud! I think I just wore out the period key on my computer.)

Yes, in Aquaman # 3, the United States arrested Aquaman, the King of Atlantis. Hey, there had to be some law in the story somewhere to justify my writing about it. This is it.

Back in the day, the day being back when Marvel was allowed to print Fantastic Four comics, there were Fantastic Four comics in which they fought Doctor Doom. Lots of them. And, because Doom’s appearance on a cover could spike sales, there were also stories in which the other heroes in the Marvel super heroes fought Doctor Doom in their books. Many of these stories ended the same way; the heroes stopped Doom’s plan, but wouldn’t be able to arrest him, because Victor von Doom was also the king of Latveria. So Doom claimed diplomatic immunity to prevent his being arrested.

While I’m not sure diplomatic immunity works in real life quite the same way it works in comics, it is real. It gives diplomats safe passage in the countries they visit and renders them not susceptible to either lawsuits or criminal prosecution under the host country’s laws. The concept of diplomatic immunity dates back centuries. Then it was codified into international law in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and has been ratified by all but a handful of nations. And if you think diplomatic immunity isn’t real, just ask New York City how much fun it’s been having trying to collect the almost one million dollars in unpaid parking tickets it has from countries like North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Russia.

So when I saw the scene of Aquaman being arrested, my first thought was: As king of Atlantis, wouldn’t Aquaman have diplomatic immunity from prosecution, just like Doctor Doom had? Then I found the answer to the question in the place where I find the answer to so many of life’s questions, Columbo.

Yes, the TV show starring Peter Falk. That Columbo. There was an episode of the show called “A Case of Immunity” from October 12, 1975 – so almost exactly 42 years ago; god I’m old – where Hector Elizondo  played a chief diplomat from the Arabian nation of Suari. As part of a plot to usurp power, he killed an embassy security officer. Columbo knew Elizondo was the murderer, but couldn’t prosecute him, because Elizondo enjoyed diplomatic immunity. You’d enjoy it, too, if it meant you could get away with murder. Ultimately Columbo prevailed because Columbo always prevailed. Oh, and because he goaded the diplomat, who had no fear of being prosecuted, into confessing to the crime.

But Columbo had arranged for the new king of Suari to be in the next room. The king heard the confession and ordered Elizondo to be taken back to Suari and tried for the murder. As Suari had the death penalty and in 1975, America did not, Elizondo waived his diplomatic immunity so that he would be tried in the United States.

So, as I learned from Columbo, diplomats and kings can waive their diplomatic immunity if they so choose. Aquaman chose to do just that so that he could prove that Atlantis did not attack the Ponchartrain and make sure that US-Atlantis relations were not damaged any further.

See, Columbo is good for giving you the answers to your questions. Unfortunately, not for important questions. He’s mostly good for getting the answers to just one little thing.

Could S.H.I.E.L.D. Have Gotten That Warrant? Search Me.

Could S.H.I.E.L.D. Have Gotten That Warrant? Search Me.

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I no longer remember what Jane Foster did to make S.H.I.E.L.D. agents go all the way to Asgardia to look for her back in The Mighty Thor vol 2 # 9. But, to be honest, it probably no longer matters.

Whatever it was that Jane had done might to attract S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attention have been undone, when Kobik , those fragments of a Cosmic Cube that had coalesced into a little girl, changed the back story of the entire Marvel Universe to make Captain America an agent of Hydra. So it’s possible that whatever Jane had done, she didn’t do anymore.

Moreover, the people that were interested in Jane Foster were agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But we’re talking about agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. under the old regime. You know, back when S.H.I.E.L.D. thought restraint was something you found in a BDSM club and overreach was what you did to get the salt at a crowded table. We’re hoping it no longer feels that way under the new regime or that it would still care about Jane Foster.

Att the time, it mattered to S.H.I.E.L.D., however, so we got this nonsensical scene in The Mighty Thor vol 2 # 9. (Boy will I be glad when Marvel goes back to legacy numbering. Cubes and supermodels’ hair should have volume, not comic books.) S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to know what Jane Foster’s relationship was to the new Thor and, rather than simply reading the recap page of any issue of the comic, it obtained a warrant to search Jane’s quarters in Asgardia. S.H.I.E.L.D., presented its warrant to the officials of Asgardia, and tole them they intended to execute said warrant and search Jane Foster’s quarters with Asgardia’s permission or without it.

Whether S.H.I.E.L.D. actually conducted the search or what they found – the comic cut away from the agents and never returned to them – is the little question. But big question is how the hell did S.H.I.E.L.D. to get that warrant in the first place?

See there’s this little thing called jurisdiction. Jurisdiction isn’t the question of whether a judge has a stuttering problem, it’s the question of in what geographical areas the judge has the authority to issue rulings that would be binding. State court have the authority to issue rulings that cover the state in which they sit. Federal courts can issue rulings covering the districts or circuits in which they sit. The United States Supreme Court can issue rulings covering the entire country. And a tennis court can only make rulings on no-fault matters.

The problem with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s warrant is that Asgardia is a foreign country or realm or whatever it is. And whatever it is, it certainly isn’t the United States. United States courts have the jurisdiction over the United States not over foreign countries.

Look at extradition, which isn’t some Christmas custom you gave up for Lent. If United States courts could issue arrest warrants that were valid in other countries, we wouldn’t have to rely on foreign countries arresting people within their borders then extraditing them back to the USA. But we can’t, because our courts have no jurisdiction over foreign countries, so we do.

Better yet, look at nuclear proliferation treaties and the verification problem. The United States wants the ability to be able to search countries like Iran and North Korea to verify whether nuclear weapons are being built there. If the United States courts had jurisdiction over these foreign countries, they could issue and enforce search warrants. Verification wouldn’t be a problem. That verification has to be negotiated into a treaty leads one to the inevitable conclusion that United States Courts don’t have jurisdiction over foreign countries.

But what about the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court? Does it issue search warrants? I don’t know. But if it does, could S.H.I.E.L.D. have gone to the World Court to obtain a search warrant for Asgardia? Maybe once, but not now.

If Asgardia were still sitting above Broxton, Oklahoma, then S.H.I.E.L.D. could have gone to a the World Court to get a search warrant, because Broxton and Oklahoma are both part of the world. (True some of the states have been talking about secession, but they only want to secede from the country not the world.) However, Asgardia isn’t in Broxton anymore. It moved. First, bang zoom, to the Moon and then into orbit around Saturn. People who visited Asgardia said it was out of this world. Now it actually is.

Asgardia isn’t part of the planet Earth anymore. Which means that the World Court would lack jurisdiction over it, because Asgardia isn’t just a foreign country, it’s an extra-terrestrial country.

I know of no judge on the planet Earth that would have had sufficient jurisdiction over Asgardia to issue a valid search warrant. And I know of no extra-terrestrial judge who could have issued the warrant either.

Please don’t start telling me about all the extra-terrestrial judges in the Marvel Universe such as Ronan the Accuser or Judge Kray-Tor. Maybe they could only have issued the warrant, but they could only have done it if S.H.I.E.L.D. had gone to them requesting it. And do you think S.H.I.E.L.D. went to one of them to get the warrant?

I don’t. But I cheated. I examined the actual search warrant those S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were flashing using the low-tech equivalent of that tired TV trope, “zoom and enhance”, a magnifying glass. I read the small print that was actually on the warrant. It was issued by a New York state court in Westchester County. Not Ronan or Judge Kray-Tor or Diana Ross and the Supreme Intelligence. So, case closed.

And that leaves only one remaining question. Why the frak didn’t I think to examine that search warrant under a magnifying glass several paragraphs ago, before I started to write about the World Court or extra-terrestrial courts, and spare myself all that typing?

The Law Is A Ass #418: HELLCAT IS NOT HEDY’S PATSY

The Law Is A Ass #418: HELLCAT IS NOT HEDY’S PATSY

Childhood friends turned bitter enemies. Sounds like the stuff of soap operas, not to mention more than a few recent comic books. And so we have former childhood frenimies and comic book characters Patsy Walker and Hedy – not Hedley – Wolfe. Nowadays, when they think about their shared past it’s angst for the memories.

All because of Patsy’s mother. When Patsy was a teen, her mother, Dorothy Walker, exploited Patsy by writing a series of teen humor comic books starring Patsy and Hedy. Patsy was embarrassed by them, but her mother wouldn’t stop writing them. That caused a rift between Patsy and her mother. Of course, the fact that when Patsy’s mother was dying she tried to sell Patsy to the Devil so that Patsy would die instead of her probably didn’t help their mother-daughter relationship. It makes Joan Crawford’s hanger management issues look like Mother-of-the-Year stuff.

Dorothy and Patsy didn’t get along. Hedy, on the other hand visited Dorothy frequently and paid Dorothy’s hospital bills. So Dorothy asked Hedy to write up a contract granting Hedy all the rights to the Patsy and Hedy comic books, which Hedy did. Now Hedy is reprinting all those comics, much to the rekindled embarrassment of Patsy. And her re-Nooked embarrassment, too.

Patsy, who is also the super heroine Hellcat, hired Jennifer Walters, attorney-at-law when she’s not being the super heroine She-Hulk, to represent her against Hedy and recover the rights to the comic books. Jennifer, in turn, hired former super heroine and now owner/operator of the Alias Detective Agency, Jessica Jones to investigate the case. (Hellcat? She-Hulk? Jessica Jones? I think this book has a heroine addiction.)

Jessica’s investigations led her to believe that a dresser Hedy had in her living room deserved to be checked out. So in Patsy Walker, A.K.A. HELLCAT! # 7, Jessica and Hellcat broke into Hedy’s apartment and found Dorothy’s medical records in the dresser.

Jessica took a picture of the records and texted it to Jennifer. From those records Jennifer learned that when Dorothy signed the contract with Hedy, Dorothy was on a heavy morphine drip and mentally incapacitated. How incapacitated? Well, let’s just say she tried to sell her own daughter to a demon so she was like a mint tablet that couldn’t be turned into fertilizer; non-compost Mentos.

Because Dorothy’s morphine drip prevented her from having the mental capacity to form a contract, her contract with Hedy was null and void. A contract is a meeting of the minds and you can’t have a meeting of the minds when one of the minds isn’t there because it isn’t all there.

That was Jennifer’s legal argument, anyway. Hedy’s counter argument was that the evidence was obtained illegally so wasn’t admissible. As this is Patsy’s comic book, guess which argument won. If you guessed Patsy, then you won.

Evidence that’s obtained illegally is perfectly admissible in court. Iago famously said, “He who steals my purse steals trash,” but if they were prosecuting Othello for stealing said purse, do you think they’d introduce trash as evidence or the purse? Evidence that was illegally obtained by theft is admissible in theft prosecutions. So, yes, evidence that is obtained illegally is admissible.

Okay, our case isn’t a theft case, it’s a civil suit over contract and copyright issues. And my stolen property argument is a more of a straw man than Ray Bolger. The question is, if someone in a civil trial obtains evidence illegally and gives it to one of the lawyers, can that lawyer use the evidence in the case?

The general rule is that if the lawyer wasn’t involved in obtaining the evidence and didn’t know how it was obtained, the lawyer can introduce it. The story clearly established that Jennifer had no idea what Patsy and Jessica were doing. So in most cases, Jennifer would have been able to introduce the evidence against Hedy even though it was obtained illegally.

There is, however, a wrinkle to the general rule that would have some bearing on admissibility in this case. Jennifer hired the Alias Detective Agency to obtain evidence in the case, so there are agency problems.

No, not problems with the Alias Detective Agency, problems with the fact that Jessica was Jennifer’s agent. When Jessica and Patsy broke into Hedy’s home, they were acting on the behalf of Jennifer. The fact that Jennifer didn’t order them to do this doesn’t matter, they were still acting as Jennifer’s agents because she had hired Jessica to obtain evidence in the case.

Under agency law Jessica’s illegal act can be imputed back to Jennifer and make it as if Jennifer, herself, broken into Hedy’s apartment. If Jessica’s illegal act were to be imputed back to Jennifer, then Jennifer wouldn’t be able to admit the evidence.

Don’t think that settles the matter, though. We need to break out the starch, because there is a wrinkle to this wrinkle. Jessica and Patsy didn’t actually take the hospital bills, they just photographed them. So they didn’t obtain any evidence illegally, they only found evidence illegally. The evidence was obtainable through perfectly legal avenues. All Jennifer had to do was have Patsy, Dorothy’s next-of-kin, request Dorothy’s records from the hospital. After the hospital supplied the records, Jennifer would have obtained the evidence legally and it would probably have been admissible. When Jessica pointed this out, Hedy made like the Carlsbad Caverns and caved.

The fact that Jennifer needed Jessica to find this evidence in the first place makes me wonder how good of a lawyer Jennifer is. If I had a client who wanted to void a contract signed by a mother who was in the hospital and dying, the second thing I would have done was have the client request the mother’s medical records to see whether the mother was on any mentally-incapacitating drugs. The first thing I would have done is make sure the client’s check cleared.

Still, all’s well that ends well. One page and three days (according to a caption) later, Hedy settled out of court and surrendered all the rights to the comics back to Patsy and the Patsy-Hedy childhood rivalry story finally ended. And it was about time, if you want my fr-angst opinion.

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #417

HE’S NOT RUNNING A LOKI CAMPAIGN

It wasn’t funny the first time, okay?

The recent mini-series Vote Loki had the Asgardian god running for President. The series was a political satire with Loki running on the platform that he would lie to America’s face and they would love it. Here’s what followed.

Nisa Contreras, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, attempted to uncover information to discredit Loki. However, every time that she did – Loki’s followers were brainwashed cult members or Loki orchestrated political unrest in Latveria– her efforts backfired. Information which would have torpedoed any other candidate’s chances didn’t discrediting Loki, it made him more popular. The same joke was in issue 2 and repeated in issue 3.

Fortunately for Vote Loki, political satire doesn’t have to be funny. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is political satire and it’s about as funny as a Pauly Shore movie. Every Pauly Shore movie. Combined.

If you’ve been paying attention, you probably gathered that I didn’t find Vote Loki very funny; mostly because the joke Vote Loki kept repeating wasn’t funny the first time; the first time being when I actually lived said joke last year. But, I’m not here to offer my critique of humor. After all, my column isn’t called “The Laugh Is a Ass.” So you’re probably wondering where’s the law in all of this.

It’s here. In Vote Loki #1, J. Jonah Jameson asked Loki how he could run for President. After all, Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution says, “No person except a natural born citizen… shall be eligible to the office of President.” Loki explained that as a mythical figure he was a “manifestation of stories… I have lived and died hundreds of times, retelling some version of the story of what is Loki.” Loki further explained that the current version of his back story was that he was born to an American couple in Accident, Maryland and that Odin then “quickly took me from them to ‘put the baby in its rightful place in Asgard.’ ” So he was a natural-born citizen and eligible to run for President.

Even if we believe this preposterous claim that basically allows Loki to alter his back story to suit his needs – a talent as useful for comic-book editors infatuated with retcons as it is for politicians who have something to hide; which is just about all of them – Loki’s new back story doesn’t help him as much as he thinks.

First there’s the question of whether Loki is still an American Citizen? Remember, he’s served as the ruler of Asgard on a few occasions. Usually by usurping the throne while Odin was in the Odinsleep or some other convenient plot device, but Loki has ruled Asgard.

Article 8, Section 1481 of The United States Code spells out several ways in which a citizen of the United States can lose his citizenship. Subsection (a)(4) of the code says a citizen shall “lose his nationality by voluntarily… accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state.” So Loki’s stints as ruler of Asgard may be enough, under the United States Code, to say Loki lost his citizenship. And if he’s not a citizen of the United States, he can’t run for President.

There is a complication to this argument, the case of Afroyim v. Rusk  which we’ve talked about before. In that case, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the Constitution does not grant Congress the authority to strip a person of his citizenship through a legislative act. Congress has the right to confer citizenship not take it away. The only way a citizen can lose citizenship is if the citizen voluntarily renounces it.

Some might argue that by voluntarily accepting the rulership of a foreign realm, an act Loki knew would result in him being expatriated, he also implicitly renounced his American citizenship. Doing something you know will cost you your citizenship is the same as saying you don’t want it. Others, including the Afroyim case, seem to disagree. The issue isn’t completely settled.

If the United States Code’s dictates cannot strip citizenship unless the citizen both accepts the foreign post and says he or she is renouncing his or her citizenship, Loki’s still a citizen. Loki didn’t even know he was an American Citizen until recently so he wouldn’t have known that he had any citizenship to renounce. Loki could still run for President.

Except that he couldn’t.

Even if Loki is still a natural-born citizen of the United States, he is not eligible to run for President. Jonah Jameson’s question concentrated on the first half of the paragraph in Article II Section 1 of the Constitution which sets out the necessary qualifications to be President. J.J.J. didn’t read far enough. After the paragraph gets done talking about natural-born citizens, it adds, “neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty five years [at several millennia, I think Loki’s more than meets that requirement] and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.” [Emphasis added] (By the way, that Y in Years was capitalized in the original. What can I say, English usage was different back in the days when they made the letter S look like the letter F.)

We’ll skip over the attained the age part. Loki’s millennia old, he just lies about his age. He’s more than old enough to be President. But fourteen years a resident? Now we’ve got him!

Remember in Loki’s new continuity he may have been born in the USA but he didn’t stay long. Odin “quickly came” and took the baby Loki up to Asgard. Since then Loki’s spent time in Asgard, he’s been banished to Hades, he’s been imprisoned in an Asgardian tree. He has, in fact, been banished to lots of places, and imprisoned in lots of other places.

Loki has spent some time on Earth and in America, frequently fighting Thor. But there were other stays in America; like when he was a member of the Young Avengers. That trip to America only lasted 15 issues; less than a month and one-half real-world time and probably only a fraction of that time in Marvel Universe time.

So, yes, Loki has spent some time on Earth, but is it enough time? Is it fourteen years? The entire modern Marvel universe beginning with Fantastic Four #1– Marvel may be forbidden from publishing the book but we can still talk about it – has only been ten years. Maybe a few more. Let’s say it’s been as much as fourteen years. But Loki – whichever version of the myth has come out to play this month – has not spent most of that time on Earth, let alone in the United States. So he hasn’t lived in the United States for 14 years and isn’t eligible to be President.

I wish someone from Earth 616 had come to me and talked out their Loki problem. I could have told them that if they just read a little farther in the Constitution they could have found the clause dictating that Loki couldn’t run for President. I couldn’t do anything to prevent the circus that was last year’s presidential election process here on our Earth. But it’s nice to think that, had they but asked, I could have helped the Marvel Universe avoid their own version of the Cirque du Soiled.

The Law Is A Ass #416: The Metal Men Are In Cogito

René Descartes once said, “cogito ergo sum,” which, for those of us not fluent in dead languages means, “I think, therefore I am.” René’s observation was pithy, but it leaves one question unanswered. I understand that because I think, I am; but what, exactly, am I?

What am I also happens to be the question raised in the Metal Men story in Legends of Tomorrow #4, “Everything Old Is New Again!” Or, more precisely, What are the Metal Men?

Technically speaking, and speaking technically, the Metal Men are androids. They were created by Dr. Will Magnus when he put advanced thinking devices called Responsometers into some vats of molten metal, one Responsometer per vat, and vat’s a lot of metal. The Responsometers caused the metal in the vats to form metallic bodies around themselves. The resulting bodies – one for each of the vats of metal used – had the properties of the metal which formed them. The bodies were also, thanks to the A.I. properties of the Responosmeters, “self-actualizing entities capable of making their own decision and independent thought.”

Magnus made several of these Metal Men – Gold, Iron, Tin, Mercury, Lead, and Platinum– all of whom had artificial intelligence thanks to their Responsometers and incredible metal-based powers. The Metal Man had the potential to be agents of incredible good, so naturally Army General Thelma Scarletti wanted to dismantle the Metal Men and harvest their Responsometers for her own purposes. Because what’s a general in a comic book if not self-interested; obsessed; lacking any morality; and, you know, basically evil? Seriously, is there any high-ranking military officer in a comic book who isn’t an offal sir not a gentleman? I shudder to think how Amos Halftrack would behave if DC were ever to license Beetle Bailey.

Because it was Chapter 4, “Everything Old Is New Again!” opened with a dangling cliffhanger; Dr. Magnus and the Metal Men surrounded by General Scarletti and more solders than you could shake a stick at, provided you ever wanted to shake a stick at some soldiers. Scarletti demanded that Dr. Magnus turn the Metal Men over to her or there would be dire consequences. The Metal Men wanted to fight. Dr. Magnus wouldn’t allow that, as he considered the dire consequences would be death and destruction. His and the Metal Men’s, respectively. Magnus was preparing to surrender the Metal Men to General Scarletti, when Cliff Steele showed up.

Only Cliff didn’t show up as Robotman, former daredevil who had nanomachines injected into himself which created a new robotic body around his still-living brain when his old body died in a car crash and who became a freelance super hero. Instead he showed up as Clifford Steele, attorney-at-law. Not just an attorney, but an attorney who found a sympathetic judge who issued a writ of habeas corpus releasing the Metal Men into Cliff’s custody until a court case could resolve the issue of whether the Metal Men were robots with artificial intelligence or living beings with the full panoply of constitutional rights.

Now this revelation raises a couple of questions. First, when did Cliff become a lawyer. No, seriously, when? I’m not saying that Cliff couldn’t have gone out and secured himself a law degree at some point, I just don’t remember him ever doing it. Was this something he did while he was still an adventurer and daredevil before he got his robot body or something he did to fill those idle hours while he was sitting around waiting for clients to hire Robotman, freelance super hero? Okay, it’s not an important question, but it’s still one I wondered about.

The important question is where did Cliff find a judge who was so sympathetic he or she would willing to grant the Metal Men a habeas writ before the trial which was to decide their legal status? The Fourth Amendment says that “The right of the people [emphasis added] to be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” So the Fourth Amendment only applies to people. You couldn’t, for example, get a writ of habeas corpus to force the police to return your Mr. Coffee if it had been illegally seized during a warrantless search. The Mr Coffee is a mister in name only; it’s not a person.

For the same reason, until some court had a trial and ruled that the Metal Men were people, who were protected by the Bill of Rights, and not machines, which were not, I don’t think any judge would grant the Metal Men a habeas. By granting the Metal Men a habeas the judge basically settled the ultimate issue of the pending trial. The judge granted a writ intended only for people, so the judge implicitly ruled that the Metal Men were people.

That doesn’t mean there was nothing Cliff could have done. There is a perfectly good writ that can be used to return property that has been illegally seized. It’s called the writ of replevin. Cliff could have filed one of those saying the Metal Men should be returned to Dr. Magnus as his property, until such time as a court could determine whether they were property or people.

Wouldn’t that also mean that the judge issuing the replevin writ is deciding the ultimate issue? After all, wouldn’t he be implicitly ruling that the Metal Men were property by granting a replevin on their behalf?

No.

The Metal Men are androids. They are presently regarded as machines and the law would presume that they are machines until such time as a court ruled them to be people. Thus a judge could grant a replevin because of the Metal Men’s current presumptive status as machines without any ruling, implicit or otherwise, on the ultimate question of the trial; are the Metal Men actually living beings?

So what do you think, are the Metal Men simply robots? Or are they living beings and greater than the ergo sum of their parts?

The Law Is A Ass #415: The Green Hornet Throws A Tamper Tantrum

I think the Green Hornet is starting to believe his own press clippings.

The Green Hornet is a hero who pretends to be a villain. By day he’s Britt Reid, publisher of Chicago’s The Daily Sentinel newspaper. At night, Britt dresses up as the Green Hornet and pretends to be the secret crime boss of Chicago. He uses his guise as a villain to infiltrate criminal organizations and thwart them. And get the bad guys arrested. So sometimes he does some bad things but for the right reasons. Only now I think he’s starting to believe he is a criminal, because in The Green Hornet: Reign of the Demon #1, he started doing bad things for the wrong reasons.

According to the back story of Reign of the Demon, several months ago the Green Hornet took down crime lord Vito Cerelli. Apparently, the Hornet indicated that he was going to retire and some people believed that nonsense. I called it nonsense because, like nature, organized crime in comic books abhors a vacuum. As soon as one crime boss is overthrown, another comes in to take over. Making the Green Hornet needed all over again. Let’s face it, The Green Hornet had about as much chance of retiring as all 5’7” of me has of slam dunking on Dikembe Mutombo. Britt Reid’s former secretary, Lenore Case, was one of those people who believed he was going to retire the Green Hornet and she didn’t think that was a good idea. So she set out to change his mind. By robbing a bank as the Green Hornet.

Yes, you read that right. Lenore Case took her boss’s Green Hornet costume and equipment and used it to rob a bank. Then she allowed herself to get arrested with the Green Hornet costume. All this to “make [Britt] see that giving up being the Green Hornet was a bad idea.” How Lenore expected that to convince Britt not to retire the Green Hornet, I’m not sure and that’s a problem. Green Hornet’s chauffeur, Kato, is the Asian member of the group. He’s the one who’s supposed to be inscrutable.

Britt didn’t want Lenore to “rot in prison” so he devised a plan to spring her. The Green Hornet and Kato broke into police headquarters. They stole the Green Hornet costume Lenore used from its box in the Evidence Room and replaced it. When the district attorney took what he thought was a Green Hornet costume out of the box to show the jury, he pulled out a clown costume instead.

The trial judge gave the prosecutor a one-hour continuance to try to find the physical evidence, which, obviously, the prosecutor couldn’t do. So one hour later, because, “the state has evidently misplaced all of its supposed evidence against Miss Case,” the judge dismissed all the charges against her. Moreover, given that the trial had started when the judge dismissed the case, Lenore couldn’t be tried again. Once a trial has started, jeopardy has attached for double jeopardy purposes and if the case is dismissed, the defendant can’t be tried again. So Lenore walked on the bank robbing charges, not just then but for all time.

Usually when the Green Hornet does something bad, it’s to stop a criminal operation and bring the criminals to justice. Here the Green Hornet tampered with evidence and obstructed justice – both felonies so I’d call them bad things – to keep a bank robber from being convicted and punished. That’s not a good thing, that’s another bad thing.

If it’s not bad enough that the Green Hornet let a bank robber escape justice, he also hurt other people in the process. Remember, Lenore did rob the bank. So the prosecutor wasn’t doing anything wrong when he prosecuted her. And the police officer in charge of the evidence room was doing what he was supposed to do by storing Lenore’s Green Hornet costume as evidence to be used against her in trial. But the Green Hornet made these two innocent officers of the law look incompetent and have probably ruined their careers in the process. And all to help a guilty bank robber. So, yay!

Of course, the Green Hornet had help in obstructing justice in Lenore’s case from the least likely source. The judge presiding over the trial.

The judge felt that because the state had misplaced all of its evidence against Lenore, he had “no choice but to dismiss all charges.” Which was a bit precipitous on his part. A bit? It was a whole monsoon of precipitous. The judge shouldn’t have dismissed the charges, because there is no way that box contained all the evidence the state had against Lenore.

The chief of police didn’t say, “Someone wearing a Green Hornet costume just robbed a bank, round up the usual suspects. Oh, and while you’re at it, better bring all the secretaries in the city for good measure.” No, the police have to have followed some trail of evidence which led them to Lenore. The story didn’t say what that evidence was but it doesn’t matter what it was. What matters is that there had to have been some evidence which led the police to Lenore Case. Evidence other than that Green Hornet costume which disappeared.

The prosecutor could still have tried the case against Lenore. He could have introduced all of the other evidence that led the police to Lenore in the first place. He could then have introduced the testimony of the officers who arrested Lenore and found the Green Hornet costume in her possession. There was enough other evidence that the case could – should – have gone forward.

Sure the defense attorney could have attacked the credibility of the state’s case, because someone misplaced the Green Hornet costume. And maybe the jury would have found her not guilty for that reason. But that was no reason for the judge not to let the trial continue. The state had other evidence and it should have been allowed to make its case as best it could.

Makes me wonder what they taught that judge in judging school. Other than how to be snarky, that is.