Every action has consequences. Cause and effect, action and reaction, basic laws of physics, nature and human stupidity.
Both expose the mercenary approach of the legal profession.
Both incidents involved fatalities and my condolences go to the families of those killed.
In the first, a black teenager was shot by a white policeman in Chicago, allegedly because he attacked the policeman with a baseball bat. Tragically, an innocent bystander was also killed. It’s not my intention to analyse the incident, just the consequences. The police department has put the policeman on desk duty. However, so far there is no sign that he will be charged with any offence.
The incident came to my attention because of the headline on an Internet news summary, “Cop sues estate of teenager he killed” Here’s a link to a report on the incident in Time . I have never seen that headline before, it’s a bit like “Man bites Dog.”
The second incident concerns the tragic death of twin brothers after a midnight adventure on the bobsleigh run at the Winter Olympics venue in British Columbia as reported in the Toronto Star
In this incident, it appears that a group of young men broke into the venue to gain access to the sliding track, slid down the track on home-made sleds and hit a barrier wall.
Two incidents with tragic consequences.
Two incidents full of potential for avaricious lawyers and a warped justice system to get in on the act.
In the first, my interpretation is that the policeman’s lawyer has launched a counter suit to the victim’s family’s attempt to sue him for wrongful death in a civil suit.
As distasteful as his action might seem, it may be his only defence as it seems the police department will not support him even though he has not been found guilty of any wrong doing.
Within days of the second incident, a lawyer was quoted on our local news as saying there could be a case against the Olympic Park operator for negligence. I could almost hear the sound of lawyers rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of lengthy and expensive court cases with the potential for huge fees.
Most Western legal systems are based to some degree on Roman – Dutch law. A basic tenet of which stated that: (my interpretation)
- A person suffering injury (physical, material or financial) as a result of committing a criminal act, has no recourse to the law to seek compensation for, or protection from, the consequences of that illegal act.
That principle was adopted by English Law and the common, criminal and civil law systems used in most Western countries. It was certainly practiced in the late 20th Century in many countries that had later adopted a legal system in line with English Law.
Sadly, as shown by the two cases mentioned here, that no longer seems to be the case.
In the first, the policeman should be protected from a civil suit by the immunity accorded law enforcement officers until he is found guilty of a criminal offence and possibly indefinitely, depending on the nature of that offence.
In the second case, boys will be boys. Throughout history young men and women have tested themselves and one another by doing dangerous things. From our ancestors hunting dangerous animals to our modern equivalents in cars, on motor bikes, horses or rodeo bulls, diving off cliffs, stealing traffic signs or any number of pranks which seem fun at the time.
When we hear of tragic accidents like this, who among us cannot say:
There but for the grace of God go I.
Most of us escape with minor cuts, bruises, dents to our egos and wallets or minor brushes with the law.
I am not condoning criminal and stupidly dangerous behaviour, but that spirit of adventure, risk of breaking the rules, leads to many of the innovations and successes we enjoy in later life.
Most of us either knew the potential unintended consequences of our acts and chose to go ahead anyway, or we were too stupid to think about them. Whatever the result, those acts all became learning experiences.
As tragic as the outcome of that sled ride was, the fact is that those young men were trespassing. They should not have been on that slide. Their deaths and their friend’s injuries were a direct result of their illegal acts.
Too often, we hear of people and organisations incurring huge legal fees and being forced to pay ridiculous amounts of compensation because the legal system is being abused to protect people from the consequences of their own stupidity and illegal activities.
Equally as serious, when victims of theft, home invasions and assault attempt to defend themselves or their properties, they are charged with more serious crimes than the perpetrators. This example in a neighbouring city concerns a home owner charged with murder for shooting a thief attempting to steal his vehicle. That a victim of crime should be imprisoned and awaiting trial for attempting to prevent a crime and protect his property is ludicrous.
That is not justice.
The last case has attracted massive support in social media, indicating that I am not the only one who feels this way, sometimes social media can be useful.
Time for a return of common sense and accountability for one’s actions.
cause and effect graphic courtesy Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net