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Semi Employable Office Drone

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  1. Semi Employable Office Drone

    EPISODE 118 - Furious 7: LIVE

    People have commented that the characters in the Fast and Furious movies have effectively become super heroes, which is probably best exemplified by Jason Statham and Vin Diesel being able to walk away from a head on collision with little more than a neck crack and a shoulder rub, respectively. However, based upon by the fact that Fast 5 opens with Perd Haply, the news anchor from Parks and Rec reporting from the scene of a bus crash, and later in Furious 7, the Rock being taken to Sacred Heart Hospital from Scrubs, I would posit the alternative theory that the Fast and Furious movies exist in the consequence free, crossover facilitating, rubber band reality of NBC sitcoms. Now you might respond by pointing out that they say “shit” a lot in these movies, Furious 7 in particular. I would in turn have to speculate that the franchise exists in some kind of after 10 pm NBC sitcom universe, allowing characters to not only say “shit” but also show tasteful side boob and the occasional less than 1/3 of an asscrack, which they did in spades in the Race Wars scene. I would also be remiss if I failed like to comment on the Vin Diesel impressions done by members of the audience at the live show. Though many were quite good, clearly none of you people went to finishing school, where one is taught that before one does a Vin Diesel impression, one always doubles one’s chin first. I’m simply saying that when I attend a live show at a venue across the street from a strip club, I expect a classier audience.
  2. Semi Employable Office Drone

    EPISODE 108 — Con Air LIVE!

    Somewhere in the three year, Adderall-fueled, financial Gallipoli that was law school, I wrote a paper focusing (to an academically imprudent degree) on Con Air. The relevant section is copied below, but some finer points to note are: First, in addition to having quite possibly the world’s worst criminal defense attorney who urges Poe to plead guilty to manslaughter in the first degree rather than raise a fucking self defense argument, as a jurisdictional matter, it is unclear how an Alabama STATE court trying Poe for the STATE crime of manslaughter could possibly put him in a FEDERAL prison. Further, Poe flies home to be paroled when in fact federal prisons have not offered parole since The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 abolished it. Second, the judge refers to Poe as "deadly weapon" despite the fact that the relevant Alabama state criminal statute, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Alabama, held that the "natural, plain, ordinary, and commonly understood meaning” of the the term clearly indicates that “deadly weapon” applies only to inanimate objects. Third, In absolutely no jurisdiction is martial arts or military training alone determinative that a defendant’s body, or any part thereof, is a weapon; deadly, dangerous or otherwise. Finally, as anyone who has read any of the signs posted at airport security knows, it’s a federal offense to carry a concealed “dangerous weapon” onto an airplane if that weapon is accessible during flight. Now, if that’s the case, and if Cameron Poe’s body was such a weapon wouldn’t that mean that every time he boarded a plane (after release, of course) he would be committing a felony and subjecting himself to a punishment of up to 10 years in prison? This of course raises the question, if Poe wished to comply with the law by preventing the concealment and accessibility of his own body he would be required to fly fully nude and heavily sedated? Also, and I know Jason alluded to this already, jet fuel can't melt steal beams. Excerpt from “Films, Television and Popular Culture as Sources and Perpetuators of Legal Myths and Misconceptions” ©2012: The Human Body as a “Deadly Weapon” One of the most pervasive myths examined in this paper, both in terms of its use in television and film, as well as the sheer prevalence of this belief in the general population, is the idea that someone’s hands or body alone can be a per se “deadly weapon” in the eyes of the law.[1] Though reason and the letter of the law make clear that an act such as “assault with a deadly weapon” necessarily requires a weapon, time and time again storylines hinge upon an unarmed character facing inflated criminal charges simply because they have received special military or martial arts training.[2] One of the best examples of this legal urban legend is the 1997 action film Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe, a recently discharged and highly decorated Army Ranger. Shortly after returning home to civilian life in his native Alabama, Poe kills an intoxicated bar patron in self defense after the man and two others attack Poe and his pregnant wife.[3] In sentencing Poe for manslaughter the sitting judge states, "With your military skills, you are a deadly weapon, and are not subject to the same laws as other people that are provoked because you can respond with deadly force. It is the order of this court that you be remanded to a federal penitentiary where you shall remain incarcerated for a term not less than 7 to 10 years." [4] The law on point makes short work of this legal myth, as the applicable Alabama statute defines a “deadly weapon” as “A firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purposes of inflicting death or serious physical injury. The term includes, but is not limited to, a pistol, rifle, or shotgun; or a switch-blade knife, gravity knife, stiletto, sword, or dagger; or any, black-jack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles.”[5] Furthermore, in 1996 the Supreme Court of Alabama overturned a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, which involved only the use of bare fists, because the “natural, plain, ordinary, and commonly understood meaning” of the above statute clearly indicates that the term “deadly weapon” applies only to inanimate objects.[6] The Court further buttressed its reasoning, stating that even if the definition of “deadly weapon” was ambiguous enough to allow for judicial interpretation the principal of ejusdem generis mandates that only weapons similar to those expressly enumerated within the statute should be considered “deadly weapons.”[7] Accordingly, because human fists, unlike the shotguns and switch-blade knives listed within the code section, are not inanimate objects which are by design created to inflict serious injury or death, they clearly are not a “deadly weapon” contemplated within the meaning of the statute.[8] The Alabama statute examined above is fairly typical, both in terms of its general definition and in its use of examples to illustrate what qualifies as a deadly weapon. Accordingly, the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling is illustrative of both the position held by the majority of courts, and the legal principles underlying such decisions, which, upon closer examination demonstrate why this legal urban legend is utterly asinine.[9] As a precursory matter, it warrants a brief explanation of what exactly a “deadly weapon” is in a legal sense. Statutory language and exact definitions may vary from state to state, however, the purpose of including terms like “deadly weapon” or “dangerous instrument” in criminal statutes is twofold.[10] On one hand, it can be a necessary element of a crime itself.[11] For example a North Carolina statue, which prohibits carrying a “dangerous weapon” during a riot, necessarily requires that an individual (1) be carrying a “dangerous weapon,” and, (2) do so during a riot, in order to be held in violation of the statute; failure to do either does not satisfy the elements of the crime and cannot support a conviction.[12] On the other hand, use or possession of a “dangerous weapon” may serve to enhance the severity or punishment of an underlying crime.[13] For example, the California Penal Code states that any person who uses a “deadly or dangerous weapon” in the commission of a felony shall be punished by an additional one year term of imprisonment.[14] In such a case an individual has already satisfied the elements of a felony, such as assault, but the fact that they have used a “dangerous weapon” to do so enhances the penalty because it has enhanced their ability to inflict harm.[15] Keeping these facts in mind it is easier to illustrate the inherent problems of finding a defendant’s body to be a “deadly weapon.” First, consider a statute where the use of a “deadly weapon” enhances the severity of a crime; for example, battery, defined as willful and unlawful use of force upon the person of another.[16] Now keep in mind that, unlike the weapons commonly listed in “deadly weapon” statutes, which are usually inanimate objects extrinsic to the body, the human body is both living and necessarily composes the entirety of a your physical being.[17] If an individual’s body by itself could be considered a “deadly weapon” it would be impossible for a person like Cameron Poe to commit basic battery because the commission of that crime necessarily requires the use of some part of the human body, and thus any battery, no matter how insignificant, would be battery with a deadly weapon.[18] This not only undermines the legislator’s purpose in making the use of a deadly weapon a factor aggravating the severity of a crime, it is also unnecessary, because many state statutes also include aggravating factors that do not rely on the use of a weapon but can achieve the same or similar enhancement of the applicable punishment, such as battery committed with “deadly force.”[19] The true absurdity of the idea that an individual’s body can be a weapon is far better illustrated when next considering what happens when possession of a weapon is a necessary element of a crime. For example, many states and jurisdictions have criminal statutes where the only necessary elements are: (1) the possession of a weapon, and (2) being present in a particular location. Under such laws Poe’s status as a “deadly weapon” would put him in violation of the law any time he took his daughter to school,[20] or happened to be present during a riot.[21] Further, under an Arizona law he could effectively be barred from voting.[22] My personal favorite illustration comes from a statute making it a federal offense to carry a concealed “dangerous weapon” onto an airplane if that weapon is accessible during flight.[23] If Cameron Poe’s body was such a weapon this would mean that every time he boarded a plane he would be committing a felony and subjecting himself to a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.[24] This of course begs the question, if Poe wished to comply with the law by preventing the concealment and accessibility of his own body he would be required to fly fully nude and heavily sedated? Taking a moment to address the minority view,[25] it should be noted that those courts did not find that a defendants body was itself a weapon, only that part of a defendant’s body, such as fists or teeth, could be a weapon depending on how it was used, and only in the context of the particular crime for which the defendant was on trial. [26] Additionally, these courts have arrived at this tenuous legal determination only after considering all the circumstances surrounding the crime, including the defendant’s conduct, the amount of harm done to the victim, and often only as a result of some special circumstance. [27] Further, even within the minority only a scant handful of courts have even weighed martial arts or military training in considering whether a defendant’s conduct in the particular situation constituting the crime amounted to the use of a weapon.[28] In absolutely no jurisdiction is such training alone determinative that a defendant’s body, or any part thereof, is a weapon; deadly, dangerous or otherwise.[29] Finally, though it is unclear whether screen writers applying “Hollywood Law” view the Supreme Court of California and the Ninth Circuit as binding, or merely persuasive authority, it is worth noting that despite their reputations for decisions out of step with reason and the majority of courts, both have come down on the side of Alabama and the majority, holding that the body alone can never be deadly a “deadly weapon.”[30] ENDNOTES: [1] Statutory language varies from state to state and even within the same set of statutes, and accordingly the terms “deadly weapon” and “dangerous weapon” will be used interchangeably in this section to conform to the statute being discussed. Because the main thrust of this myth is that military or martial arts training alone can transform the human body by itself into a weapon the need to differentiate between the two is not relevant. However, many statutes differentiate between different kinds of weapons, and generally, terms like “deadly weapon” or “deadly instrument” are used to refer to something that is inherently deadly or capable of inflicting severe bodily harm, such as a gun or knife. Conversely, statutory terms like “dangerous instrument” or “dangerous weapon” often refer to objects which may not ordinarily dangerous but are used in a way likely to cause great bodily harm, such as intentionally using an automobile to strike someone, or possibly even using a pillow to smother someone. [2]For example, in the film The Firm it is implied that the only reasons Mitch McDeere’s brother is in prison is because he took boxing lessons and as a result what would otherwise have been self defense was ruled manslaughter. See THE FIRM (Paramount Pictures 1993). [3]Con AIR (Touchstone Pictures 1997). [4]Con Air also features a host of other legal errors. In addition to having quite possibly the world’s worst criminal defense attorney who urges Poe to plead guilty to manslaughter in the first degree rather than raise a self defense argument, as a jurisdictional matter, it is also unclear how an Alabama state court trying Poe for a state crime could put him in federal prison. Further, Poe flies home to be paroled when in fact federal prisons have not offered parole since The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 abolished it. [5] See Ala. Code § 13A-1-2 (2011). [6]See Ex parte Cobb, 703 So. 2d 871, 875 (Ala. 1996). [7]Id at 876. [8]Id. [9]See generally Tracy Bateman Farrell, Annotation, Parts of Human Body, Other Than Feet, as Deadly or Dangerous Weapons or Instrumentalities for Purposes of Statutes Aggravating Offenses such as Assault and Robbery, 67 A.L.R.6th 103 (2011). [10]See Michael D. Cicchini & Amy B. Kushner, BUT THEY DIDN’T READ ME MY RIGHTS! MYTHS, ODDITIES AND LIES ABOUT OUR LEGAL SYSTEM, 93-96 (2010). See also FN 7, supra. [11] Cicchini at 94-95. [12] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–288.7(a) (2011). [13] Cicchini at 94-95. [14] See Cal. Penal Code § 12022(B)/>(1) (West 2011). [15] Cicchini at 94-95. [16] See Cal. Penal Code § 242 (West 2011). [17] See Cicchini at 94-95 (applying a similar argument to hands). [18] Id. [19] See People v. Aguilar, 16 Cal. 4th 1023, 1026-27 (Cal. 1997) (in concluding that mere hands and feet alone cannot qualify as a “weapon,” as used in Cal. Penal Code § 245(a)(1), because the term applies only to objects extrinsic to the body, the court noted that the use of hands or fists alone may still support a conviction of assault “by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury,” which carries the same penalty). [20] See Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 527.070 (West 2011)(criminalizing the conduct of one who “knowingly … possesses, or carries… [a] deadly weapon…on any public or private school campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic field, or any other property owned, used, or operated by any board of education…”)(words omitted). [21] See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–288.7(a). [22] See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-3102(A)(11) (2011) (“criminalizing the act of …entering an election polling place on the day of any election carrying a deadly weapon”)(words omitted). [23] 49 USCS § 46505 [24] Id. [25] See Bateman, (citing to United States v. Rocha, 598 F.3d 1144 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) in stating “The court noted that most states had determined that body parts cannot be considered a dangerous or deadly weapon while other states, although a clear minority, had allowed body parts to be considered dangerous or deadly weapons”). [26] See Rocha at 1156 (citing examples from the minority of states finding that parts of the body can be weapons the court points to State v. Allen, 193 N.C.App. 375, 667 S.E.2d 295 (2008) (hands); State v. Bennett, 328 S.C. 251, 493 S.E.2d 845 (1997) (hands and fists); People v. Ross, 831 P.2d 1310 (Colo.1992) (hands); State v. Grumbles, 104 N.C.App. 766, 411 S.E.2d 407 (1991) (fists); Turner v. State, 664 S.W.2d 86 (Tex.Crim.App.1983) (hands and feet); State v. Zangrilli, 440 A.2d 710 (R.I.1982) (hands); Ellis v. State, 137 Ga.App. 834, 224 S.E.2d 799 (1976) (hands and floor); Pulliam v. State, 298 So.2d 711 (Miss.1974) (fists and teeth); State v. Born, 280 Minn. 306, 159 N.W.2d 283 (1968) (fists and body parts); State v. Heinz, 223 Iowa 1241, 275 N.W. 10 (Iowa 1937) (hands and fists)). [27] See generally Bateman. [28] For example see Id. citing State v. Basting, 572 N.W.2d 281 (Minn. 1997) (court determined that defendant's fist did not constitute a “dangerous weapon,” despite defendant's prior training as professional boxer); Dominguez v. State, 2004 WL 1658350(Tex. App. El Paso 2004)(unpublished opinion) (court upheld a jury conviction for assault with a deadly weapon based on defendant’s use of his fists and knees, given that the record showed that the defendant was a “big guy” with 20 years of martial arts training, the 30 minute duration of the assault and the severity of the victims injuries); Konrad v. State, 763 P.2d 1369 (Alaska Ct. App. 1988), (in holding defendant did not use his bare hands as "dangerous instruments" when he hit his estranged spouse, the court considered the fact that defendant did not inflict serious injury, had never received martial arts training, and was not otherwise skilled in using hands to inflict injury). [29] See generally Bateman. [30] See People v. Aguilar, 16 Cal. 4th 1023, 1034 (Cal. 1997) (holding that a “deadly weapon” within the meaning of California Penal Code § 245 must be an object extrinsic to the human body, and thus bare hands or feet cannot be deadly weapons); Rocha at 1157 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) (holding that the mere use of a body part does not constitute the use of a “dangerous weapon” within meaning of federal assault statute 18 U.S.C.A. § 113(a)(3-6) because the court found that Congress's intent in creating the statute was to differentiate a situation in which defendant utilizes a weapon or some other object to augment force of his physical assault from a situation in which a defendant does not use such an object, even if the assault results in severe bodily harm).
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