Criminal Law

Superhero Immortality and the Law

by on Oct.14, 2009, under Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Intellectual Property, Property

Many of the laws of our society are drafted with our mortality in mind, some are even written because we’re mortal. The interplay between death and the law has been studied by scholars and philosophers for centuries, gaining increasing attention with advances in medical science. The certainty of death is one constant not present in the lives of many superheroes. Was Dostoyevsky right, can there be no virtue without immortality, or do these invincible beings create an unnecessary complication in our lives and laws?
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Superhero Plaintiffs — This looks like a job for…my attorney!

by on Sep.23, 2009, under Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts

“There’s been a mix up in the lab!” “The experiment can’t be stopped!” “Who’s that on the test field?!” “Are we missing a spider?” “Watch out for that kid!” So many superheroes start their crime fighting careers as accident prone individuals who fall victim to an industrial waste spill or a top-secret experiment gone awry. These accidents could lead to more than just superhuman abilities as toxic torts could mean big bucks for our heroes.
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Superheroes – All for one, vicarious liability for all

by on Sep.09, 2009, under Criminal Law, Torts

“Each of you bring something different to the table: strength, speed, stealth,whatever, but we’re all equal in at least one way, each of us is willing to make the sacrifices a hero needs to make, even the ultimate one . . . We can be proactive, we can do some real good in the world, but we’re gonna have to be organized. J’onn1 will be up here keeping an eye on everything, he’ll be the one deciding who goes where and when. I know a lot of you are used to making those decisions by yourself [sic], but from now on we have to be more coordinated than that. We can’t be cowboys anymore…or cowgirls.” – Superman’s address to the Justice League
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“Self” Defense of Others – “Here I come to save the day!”

by on Aug.19, 2009, under Criminal Law, Torts

In a dark alley behind a theater a wealthy couple is walking with their son. Two figures emerge from the shadows; one man with a gun demands money and jewelry while the other stands watch by the street. There’s a struggle; two shots ring out and the couple fall to the ground. Just as the robber is about to pull the trigger on the boy a costumed superhero intervenes deftly subduing the man with the gun. After making sure the boy is alright he gives chase to the lookout and apprehends him a few blocks away. In situations like these there is no question that our hero saved a life but what right did he have to do so? What amount of force was he privileged in using, and can the criminal now bring a lawsuit against him for assault or battery?
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Privacy Chapter I – Or why a phone booth is a terrible place to change clothes

by on Aug.02, 2009, under Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts

Batman plants a tracker on your car as you make your getaway; Superman uses his x-ray vision to find stolen goods in your house; and Professor Xavier telepathically extracts your confession; if you’re a criminal Superheros are constantly invading your privacy in the name of “justice.” What’s worse is that some of the citizens who have their privacy invaded aren’t criminals they’re just caught in the crossfire. Assuming you could serve a subpoena on the Hall of Justice or the Xavier School (and actually enforce a summons) what would your remedy be for these intrusions? If you weren’t able to go after the heroes themselves would there be any legal redress in your impending court case or could you even have a case against the government?

Your course of action in these matters depends on the nature of the crime-fighter as either a government actor or a vigilante. If your captor was a government actor the invasion of your privacy may lead to the exclusion of evidence from your criminal case; if a vigilante was involved your next step is a private tort action against the hero.
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