This post of Nicole’s is disturbing. It’s also about a court case. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I sort of dig reading court cases. I find it all very interesting to see how judges think and reason.
But Nicole doesn’t stop with just this, informing us that it’s “legal” to resist arrest by killing the arresting officer, she goes further.
She puts a silly little disclaimer up about how this will be spun. However, I’m not spinning a thing.
Here’s a link to the video she cites. I am not going to embed it. It’s by that god-damned idiot, Larken Rose, and I don’t want to encourage him.
And it doesn’t matter one bit what the video says or doesn’t say. Nicole is clearly, quite clearly, exploring the idea of resisting arrest by actually shooting and killing the arresting officer.
She needs to rethink it all.
The first case cited is called Plummer v. State. The quote attributed to Plummer is:
Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.
There’s a wee problem. Plummer doesn’t say that.
Here’s the story.
In 1892, Mr. Plummer had some trees. The city where he lived wanted him to trim the trees. Mr. Plummer didn’t want to trim the trees (“muh rights”) and he left his house one day, revolver in his hand, and went looking for the town council members saying he was going to shoot them.
The marshall, named Dorn, attempted to confront Plummer. Plummer told him he was going to kill him. Dorn then hid behind a tree and came up behind Plummer and hit him on the head (I kid you not. Court cases are interesting, I tell you). A brief exchange of gunfire ensued and both men were hit. Only Dorn died.
The issue here was essentially self-defense. Dorn didn’t tell Plummer he was under arrest. He just hit him over the head and then shot at him.
This is not about “wrongful arrest.”
A police officer can come to your house and arrest you wrongfully, but if he does so without using unreasonable force, you cannot lawfully resist him.
The other, later case was called John Bad Elk v. the United States. Here’s what happened.
On March 8, 1899, John Bad Elk fired a gun outside at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where he resided. This was considered a misdemeanor. A policeman came and spoke with him, and asked him to come around to the station “in a little while” and they would “talk about it.”
Bad Elk didn’t show up. More police visited. Bad Elk still didn’t show up. This back and forth went on and after several days, some policemen went to arrest him, without a warrant. But the original policeman did not go to make the arrest. Another guy did, named, ironically, John Kills Back.
Bad Elk just pretty much shot and killed Kills Back, who was armed, when he showed up. Bad Elk was tried, convicted of murder and sentenced to hang.
The SCOTUS overturned the conviction on appeal, arguing that there was no proper reason for arresting the man in the first place, and that the worst he could be convicted of was manslaughter. Here’s what they said:
At common law, if a party resisted arrest by an officer without warrant and who had no right to arrest him, and if in the course of that resistance the officer was killed, the offense of the party resisting arrest would be reduced from what would have been murder if the officer had had the right to arrest, to manslaughter. What would be murder if the officer had the right to arrest might be reduced to manslaughter by the very fact that he had no such right.
What they are citing is “common law.” Common law (as opposed to “statutory law”) is law that develops, not by writing and passing a law in the legislature, but that develops as a result of decades, and even centuries, of court cases decided. It’s unwritten.
A court hears a case, say, Dred Scott v. Sandford. During the case, and in the decision, some principle comes into discussion, and the court makes a ruling which becomes the benchmark from which all similar cases are decided. No law gets passed.
Examples that we’re all familiar with are cases like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges.
I’ll write more about this later on, but I was involved in a case something like this once, regarding North Carolina’s private school laws.
A great deal, maybe most, of America’s legal system originates in common law, but there is a very swift and very real way around it. In the case of Dred Scott, we fought an entire Civil War over it and then amended the Constitution and that ended that.
Nobody cites Dred Scott as viable law anymore.
Something very similar is true of Bad Elk v. the United States. When you don’t like the precedent that a court ruling has established, you can pretty much wipe it out in one fell swoop. Just get a law passed that says the opposite, and make sure it’s defensible before the US Supreme Court. Or alternatively, as with Bad Elk, you can pass laws in various state legislatures and pretty much nullify it bit by bit. (This is, in fact, what the right-wing has been doing slowly to Roe for decades.)
Law actually varies from state to state, so if you think you’re gonna be okay resisting arrest by shooting a policeman, you better check and see which state you’re in, but largely, you pretty much need to submit to arrest regardless and then sue the hell out of the guy and whoever else is involved later. It’s nice if you have a case in the first place, of course, and you’re not just a whack-job yelling “‘Murica! Muh rights! The 4th Amendment!”
It’s a much safer way to go about the whole thing anyway.
When I first saw this, it reminded me immediately of Ruby Ridge. After the debacle at Ruby Ridge, Randy Weaver filed suit against the government, and won a settlement, as did his surviving children. I’m sure that made them all very happy, but it did not do a single thing for his wife and son who were killed, or for the US agent who was killed there.
Randy Weaver may have been “right,” but he was beyond stupid. Without looking it up, do you even know what Ruby Ridge was actually about? What great principle did Vicki Weaver die to uphold? What changed as a result, beyond federal law enforcement becoming a little more savvy about how to deal with lunatics?
The same thing goes for Waco and the Branch Davidians. What great principle did they die for? What great freedom were they being deprived of?
Another thing involved here is that the person who is being wrongly arrested is generally making a decision about the legality of the actions of the arresting officer without really knowing shit about what they are talking about. For a good example, simply go read the transcripts of Nicole’s various encounters with Sheriff Pate. She cites law to him as though she’s a lawyer, when she absolutely hasn’t a clue. You can’t get an attorney to take your wrongful arrest lawsuit case if you weren’t arrested wrongfully in the first place.
Nicole, this is a very bad, very dangerous path. Don’t walk down it.