Discuss about the Criminal Law for Jurisprudence Annual Lecture.
The best way to study law is to read cases. In the greatest fictitious case of the speluncean Explorers by Professor L. Fuller, there was evident that various theories clash with each other. He explained skillfully the law through symbolic representation. This case is in many ways similar to Professors Fullers Speluncean explorer’s theory. According to the professor, purposive jurisprudence sees courts activities as purposly subjecting human conduct to the control of rules. Morality and law are intertwined and law which is separated and divorced from morality is not law. There is a conflict between natural law and legal positivism. In this case, the prisoners D and S would not have survived if they had not killed the boy. Suggesting that morality and law are not connected is such an affront to scientific thinking.
This case like professors Fuller’s has some stiff competition. This case illustrates a number of theories about legal reasoning and natural law. There are two jurisprudential philosophies which are natural law and posivitism. Natural law philosophy states inclines on the fact that the two sailers D and S were in a moral , or a state of nature which was geographical. This contradict N.C.S.A statute Section 12-A which expressly states that whoever willfully commits murder shall be punished by death.
After the facts are mentioned , and basing this case on the fact that we are in a jurisdiction where the law states that whoever willfully commits murder shall be punished by death.
It is on one side advisable that we may apply the letter of the law instead of interpreting it. In Professor Fullers case, Chief Justice Truepenny thought that the jury was wise and fair to follow the only course open to them under the law. This advocates for Institutionalism and Textualism and also embodies the positivist perspective. This case according to the Chief justice should be given a literal interpretation and therefore the defendants D and S should be punished by death and no clemency should be given.
The law is what it is rather than what it ought. It should be free from any moral considerations. In a jurisdiction that is under the statute that whoever willfully kills shall be punished by death, the law is plainly and directly applied rather than being interpreted. The lingo of the statute directly applies to what the defendants D and S did to the boy. Thus, the defendants should be punished by death as the existing law states. There is no argument about that. There is no question that the defendants did the act willfully and they took the life of the boy as had been admitted in the court. However, in this case, the defendant D suggested to S that someone should be killed to save their lives and on the twentieth day they thought that the boy should be killed. Unlike in Professors Fullers case where Roger Whetmore had agreed on a modality in which they would chose who to be killed, the boy did not seem to have any say on how to choose who to be killed. Therefore, the Defendants D and S should be held fully responsible for the crime. Unlike Professor Fullers case where there were questions of whether Roger Whetmore’s death is solely blamed on the defendants alone, in this case the death of the defendant fully resides on the two defendants. This is because it has not been said that the boy agreed to the decision that determined his fate.
It would be unrealistic to employ the statute on the grounds of disregarding the basic foundations of why the law has become law. In any case, there should use prudence to decide the merits of the case. The law should be intelligently applied not idiotic adherence. The defendants D and S should be punished by death without any clemency but there should be reflection or consideration of the statute5. It should be free from any moral considerations. In a jurisdiction that is under the statute that whoever willfully kills shall be punished by death, the law is plainly and directly applied rather than being interpreted.
On the other hand, there was compelling reasons to suggest that the defendants had a murder charge to answer and that they were murderers. The judge can declare the defendants innocent on humanitarian grounds or what is called the law of nature. In this law which is mostly practiced outside the jurisdiction of commonwealth, it states that if and when a circumstance arises that makes the coexistence of men impossible the law may be used. When the situation therein arises then all the statutes and the judicial precedents may cease to exist.
It is argued why one life cannot be sacrificed to save many. The exception is always accepted in the law. The law is not absolute since it has exceptions. The condition makes the law of nature or the natural law take its course. The situation is similar in which the criminal activity occurred outside the jurisdiction of the state. It is true to say that the crime occurred outside the states jurisdiction and by this commonwealth law ceases to take effect. The consequences of the commonwealth law disappears with it. When applying this principle the judge may notice that the defendants are not guilty of the crime in question. This is based on the circumstances prevailing at that time, for example, the defendants D and S and the boy could all have died if such a decision was not made.
It may also be argued that due to lack of consent, the natural laws take effect and therefore the laws of nature are true to be followed this time. Positive laws are territorial inherently. When the accused are outside the territorial jurisdiction, the law cease to be applicable in this case. The defendants are separated from the applicable territory that is the lands by their geographical location and that is the sea. The state according to the defendants and the judge was not even able to social contract to them.
The other ground in which the judge may argue in this case is the ancient bits of wisdom which may be legally binding. The law states that in such a case, without breaking the law itself, a man may be allowed to break the latter of the law. In light of the purpose intended, the positive law should be reasonably interpreted. Killing for self-defense is and was excusable. It is out of purpose that the defendants committed a crime.
A person cannot be responsibly held if the act intended is anything beyond the control of a man. When thy committed the murder, the defendants were trying to survive in the harsh conditions and in this case, one of them had to be sacrificed in order for the other two. There is a reason why a certain law was made first before it was broken. A specific law should be purposely construed. This is gotten from the case of Commonwealth v. Staymore. It is argued why one life cannot be sacrificed to save many. The exception is always accepted in the law. The law is not absolute since it has exceptions. In this case, saving many by sacrificing one is better that sacrificing all by saving none. A case is only considered if it happens or takes place in territories that are far away from the limits of the state. The law of the state is argued that it is not applicable due to proximity and distance that is provided. The predication of the law is possible if only there is coexistence of men in the society8. When survival of a man becomes almost impossible, the statutes and precedents ceases to exist. The situation is similar in which the criminal activity occurred outside the jurisdiction of the state9. When the condition, in this case because the crime occurred in the high waters, then it is true to say that the crime occurred outside the states jurisdiction and by this commonwealth law ceases to take effect.
In conclusion, It would be impractical to apply the statute on the grounds of ignoring the basic foundations of why the law has become law. In any case, there should be use of prudence to decide the merits of the case. The law should be intelligently applied not idiotic adherence. The defendants D and S should be punished by death without any clemency but there should be reflection or consideration of the statute.
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