Friday, February 04, 2005

I went to the ECU 'Mardi Gras' celebration last night. At one point, the DJ commented 'We're celebrating Mardi Gras ECU-style!' Yeah: on Thursday. They do this every year. Always on Thursday.

Totally ECU. In addition to this bit of silliness, every semester they'll officially designate a Monday to be a Wednesday or a Tuesday to be a Monday or something like that so that all the classes will have the same number of meetings.

Anyhoo, before that, I went to the Philosophy Club, which was surprisingly interesting. Dr. Wall presented on State v. Guido and one other case. He'd done the case I can't name before, but it was better this time. Bigger crowd, for one.
In the nameless case, some guy killed his grandfather in order to get his inheritance. (Being only fifteen, he was merely sent to juvie.) Later, his sisters sued to prevent him from getting the inheritance. However, at the time the statue specified the certain conditions under which a will is invalid, and murder was not among them. Should he get the money?
(The correct answer, of course, is yes.)
The majority opinion says 'no' and provided several reasons:
* Original intent of the law: surely the legislators would've listed murder if it'd occurred to them.
* Undue influence. (this 'argument' may be strengthened by the fact that the kid murdered his grandfather partly because he thought he was going to be written out of the will soon.)
* Intent of the testator: the grandfather wouldn't have wanted the kid to get the money if he'd known the kid was going to murder him.

Let's consider these arguments:

The original intent of the law

(Specifically either a) they wouldn't have wanted the kid to get the money or b) they wanted it interpreted against a background of justice, to handle any screwups they made.

These both seem semi-reasonable, but if you interpret enough 'original intent' into the law, no one but the judges after the fact can know what is and isn't illegal. It's somewhat post ex facto. That's uncool. Still, a decent view, perhaps.

Undue influence
If I force your hand as you write the will, that invalidates it. But I contend that killing you is different. Consider a will that says (being freely written) 'Luca gets my estate, even if he murders me'. It seems obvious to me that this is a valid will and should be followed (even if they've updated the statute to say murder makes it invalid). Yet if I force you to write in your will 'Luca gets my estate even if he forced me to write this', that clearly isn't a valid will. These things are quite distinct, and it's not clear that they should both fall under the 'undue influence' basis for invalidating the will.

Intent of the testator
Suppose you leave me 100 000USD and I blow it all in Vegas. Maybe you wouldn't have left me the money if you'd known I'd do that, but that doesn't warrant the courts denying me the money. If you don't include the clause '...but you can't blow it all in Vegas', then sure. Same if you say '...unless he murders me'.

But that case isn't my point with this post. I wanted to comment on State v. Guido.
Some guy had the habit of abusing his wife. She ran away, but he caught her and told her he'd kill her if she tries running away again.
One day, she gets his run, and is going to kill herself, but opts not to. Then on the way to put the gun away, she sees her husband sleeping on the couch, and decides to shoot him. She does and he dies.
Because he was asleep, she was unable to get by on a self-defense claim, so she went for neurosis, or something similar. Extreme anxiety, basically.
Anyway, it's obvious to me (not being put in the actual situation) that the optimal solution would be to keep the gun and run away again (theft?), and if he catches her, then shoot him (preferably in the leg or somewhere most likely non-fatal). This brought up the suggestion of poking the sleeping husband and then when he jumps up to beat her, shoot him, arising to a very nice term: Premeditated self-defense.
Should premeditated self-defense be a crime?

(Lack of posts followed by a pathetic ramble. Oh well.)

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