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Sailing, Sailing

by on February 8, 2012

So, I realized I haven’t blogged about pop-culture references in law school for a while. That is partly because I have been phenomenally busy this term, even more so than last term. This term, you see, we have an appellate brief we have to write, plus job interviews and extracurricular signups, plus a whole new additional class. And what is that extra class, you ask? Criminal Law.  Cue the Law and Order theme music.

Actually, CrimLaw (as we in the law school refer to it, because we’re cool like that. Yo.) is quite an interesting class. There’s some awfully disturbing cases in there, to be sure, but there’s some surprisingly comedic moments to balance it out. For example, we had one case which involved two people trying to shoplift cigarettes. And I quote, “Marks [a store clerk] blocked Suratt’s escape by standing directly in front of her path. After unsuccessfully attempting to push Marks out of her way, Suratt tricked Marks into looking the other direction and then fled with the bag.”  ….what I learned from this was a) people really do use the “Hey, look at that!” trick, and b) it actually works. Go figure.

As it turns out, we have had several cases involving British naval ships on the high seas, in ye olde Victorian era. Our very first case, in fact, was the classic “Regina v. Stephens and Dudley” case, which involved cannibalism. Apparently the captain and three other sailors were stranded in a lifeboat, had run out of supplies (two turnip tins and a turtle), and so the captain and one of the other sailors decided to eat the littlest sailor, because he was small and weak. Apparently this was an acceptable practice in British society, with people’s only objection being that they all should’ve drawn lots to randomly pick who was going to be dinner. The court had none of that; their ruling relied on a good bit of philosophy and logic but basically it comes down to this: don’t eat people. It’s bad.  I think we can all agree on that one, yes?

The second case involved a hapless sailor who decided to go and steal some rum from a barrel in the cargo hold. So he drilled a hole in the barrel, the rum was bubbling out nicely, but then the sailor ran into a problem. He wanted to stick a little bit of wood in the barrel to stop the rum running out. But it was dark down there in that cargo hold, and he couldn’t see. So, he lit a match.  ….*Fwoosh*

The ship burned down (or burned up, whichever), and the poor chap was put on trial for destroying the ship. He got off because the court found that he needed to have the intent to burn the ship, and all he intended to do was to steal the rum. So, essentially, he was saved by his own stupidity. And so justice prevailed again. Hooray. 🙂

  1. I love a happy ending…

  2. Nice examples of criminal cases. It’s important to be able to laugh at people’s stupidity at least some of the time! hehe

    • True. Especially when laughter helps to offset the unpleasantness of some of the more disturbing cases. Yipes.

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Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, LC

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