DAREDEVIL SHOULD KNOW THE LAWS OF TEXAS AREN’T UPON YOU
Either the Punisher’s even crazier than I thought he was – and he once gunned down some litterbugs because “littering is a crime against society,” so I don’t just think he’s as crazy as a bedbug; I think he’s what bedbugs point to when they talk about crazy – or Matt Murdock http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Matthew_Murdock_(Earth-616) is the worst lawyer of all time. Or both; they’re not mutually exclusive.
I wrote last time about the first issue of Daredevil/Punisher: Seventh Circle #1 . In that story Matt Murdock, assistant Manhattan district attorney and secret identity of super hero Daredevil, was trying to get the trial for a hated gangster, Sergey Antonov, changed to a new venue, because Antonov couldn’t get a fair trial in New York City. Fair enough, that happens. The venue Matt wanted was Texas. Not fair. Not even constitutional and it couldn’t happen. Like I said before, the Constitution commands that a criminal trial must take place in the state where the crime occurred.
What I didn’t tell you was that crazed ex-marine Frank Castle, who was so traumatized when he saw his family gunned down by mobsters that he adopted the name The Punisher and started a one-man war against crime, didn’t want Antonov moved to Texas. It wasn’t that Punisher wanted to keep Antonov in New York, because he didn’t want Antonov to have a fair trial; he didn’t want Antonov to have any trial. He wanted to kill Antonov before there was a trial.
Look, Frank, I realize your name implies that you’re not exactly a spare the rod – or gat or roscoe, or heater – kind of guy. But don’t you think killing a gangster who’s been arrested and is facing trial is a little excessive? If you wait for the trial to be over, he’ll get punished just fine. Meantime you can get on with your important work; like shooting jaywalkers.
So for the next four issues of this mini-series – or eight issues of it’s on-line presentation in Marvel’s Infinite Comics – Daredevil tried to keep Punisher from killing Antonov. Then, in issue #4 somewhere toward the end of their battle, Punisher told Daredevil that the only reason Matt wanted Antonov’s trial moved to Texas is because Texas is a death penalty state. Murdock wanted Antonov tried in Texas, because he wanted Antonov to be executed; something which couldn’t happen in New York because it hasn’t had the death penalty since 2004. And Daredevil, who is Matt Murdock under that horned masked and supposed to know the law, doesn’t deny Punisher’s claim.
So I guess it’s up to me.
Unless Matt knows less about the law than a drama major who scored a big fat 0 on the LSAT, he wouldn’t have been sending Antonov down to Texas to be executed. Because he’d know Antonov couldn’t be executed in Texas anymore than he could in New York.
Yes, I know Texas has the death penalty. Yes I know they use it in Texas. I even know they use it a lot. Doesn’t matter. They couldn’t use it against Antonov.
Let’s ignore what I wrote last time about how Matt couldn’t get the venue of Antonov’s trial changed from New York to Texas and pretend that Matt did get the trial transferred to Texas (try saying that ten times fast), what then? Well, you’d have the trial and, assuming Antonov was found guilty, the sentence. But you’re trying a man in Texas for a crime committed in New York, so whose laws would apply Texas’s or New York’s?
During that trial, the laws and procedures of the state where the crime was committed would apply, not the laws and procedures of the state where the trial was being held. So in Antonov’s trial, the laws of New York would apply, not the laws of Texas. Any defense that was available in the original venue – here New York – would be available in the new venue state – Texas – even if that defense didn’t exist in the new venue.
And what do the laws of New York say about the death penalty? You can probably guess, but seeing as how I’m a stickler for details in this column, I’ll stick to the details. In the 2004 case People v. LaValle, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, ruled that the state’s death penalty violated the New York Constitution. That case abolished the death penalty in New York. Since then New York’s death penalty statute hasn’t been amended so the death penalty has never been reinstated. In fact in 2008, then Governor David Patterson issued an executive order that the state’s prisons should remove all their capital punishment equipment.
All of which means, as you probably guessed, New York doesn’t have the death penalty. In his trial, Antonov would argue that as New York, whose laws and defenses apply in the trial, doesn’t permit the death penalty, Texas would not be able to use it against him. Not only could he argue it, he would win the argument. Texas wouldn’t be able to fry him, hang him, inject him, or even chainsaw massacre him.
Unless Matt Murdock was the Dr. Nick Riviera of lawyers, he’d know that Texas couldn’t execute Antonov. Which means he wasn’t sending Antonov to Texas so that Texas could execute him. He was sending Antonov there for some other reason. Maybe Matt wanted to take a side trip to LBJ’s spittoon or the Yogi Bear statue or the Dr. Seuss park or visit the house where they filmed the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which has been turned into a restaurant – and that certainly isn’t in bad taste.
I don’t know what the reason is, but I do know one thing: It wasn’t so that Antonov could be executed. Or Texecuted. Or even wrapped up in a tortilla and – Hey, someone’s got to say it – Tex-Mexecuted.