Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Thought on The Trial of Oliver Queen

Ollie should never have gone to trial for the same reason Barry Allen should have never gone to trial according to legal expert and comic geek, Bob Ingersoll.

"Go back and examine exactly what happened in Flash #324. Flash was racing to save a life. Reverse-Flash had already stated his intention to kill Fiona Webb, and Flash was saving her life. Unfortunately, in saving Fiona Webb's life, Flash broke Reverse-Flash's neck and killed him.

That, readers, is called self-defense A.K.A. justifiable homicide. The legal doctrine of self-defense is not limited solely to the defense of one's self. One is also allowed to defend others.

More specifically Flash could defend Fiona Webb and invoke self-defense to protect himself. And in defending Fiona, Flash would be permitted to use exactly the same amount of force Fiona could have used, if she were defending herself.

Reverse-Flash was going to kill Fiona. Legally she could have used any amount of force in defending herself, even deadly force, force sufficient to kill the attacker. If Fiona could have used deadly force against Reverse-Flash, then Flash could have used the same deadly force in defending Fiona. Thus, even though Flash did kill Reverse-Flash, he committed no crime. His act was a justifiable homicide. "

The same logic should apply to Ollie and Prometheus, right? He had killed. He was ready to kill again. And there was nothing to stop him from killing again.


  1. Hmm. Now, I'm no lawyer, BUT. I would say the circumstances are different.
    Didn't Barry attack Zoom as Zoom was attacking Fiona? Therefore, it was more of a direct threat. Spur of the moment, even. Then again, this in turn makes me wonder- if the Flash sees time move slower, wouldn't any action he did count as pre-meditated? But I digress.
    Ollie, on the other hand, infiltrated Prometheus' base and capped him (thwanged him?) while he was flat-footed. Of course, one could argue that Prometheus, being a supervillain, would be bound to kill again, but still. Really, it could be argued either way.
    ...shoot. All this talk about Superhero law is surprisingly interesting. Makes me wanna write She Hulk. (Well that, and the ridiculous green-skinned cheesecake).

  2. The circumstances are different but, I think, the law is still on Ollie's side.
    As you say, Barry's actions were committed in the heat of the moment whereas Ollie had time to plan what he was doing... but so do Police Officers entering the hideouts of known criminals.
    If you go back and look at the original comic, you'll note that there are a few seconds where Prometheus notices Ollie and asks how there and that his hand, when he is shot, is raised up like he was going for a weapon or aiming some weapon built into his armor. So he wasn't quite flat-footed. He also had enough time to turn around completely since, when he first notices Ollie, he is looking over his shoulder.
    Heck, Ollie shot him in the face when he could have done a lethal shot from behind a lot easier.
    So while Ollie's actions weren't a spur-of-the-moment killing, one could easily make a case that he was using lethal force in the line duty/in self defense while attempting to apprehend a dangerous fugitive... even if Ollie's intent was to go in and kill the bastard.

  3. Well, it is different. Barry was doing "defense of others," in the moment. Ollie went after Prometheus with intent to execute.
    I find the jurisdictional argument interesting, but mostly Ollie's assassination of Prometheus falls in the, "No prosecutor would plausibly press charges," area.

  4. I may have been unclear.
    Ollie was going after Prometheus in a place where it's unclear what jurisdiction even applies. But DC USA may have laws for this, so OK. Never mind the loopholes.
    What's absurd is the idea of a prosecutor in Star City charging anyone with a crime for assassinating the man who bombed Star City. Presumably even the editors at DC can understand this analogy, since they live in NYC: If anyone, let alone the mayor of New York, had tracked down & killed Osama Binladen in early 2002, ain't no way in hell he'd face criminal charges in a NYC court.

  5. Arguing "intent" is always a tricky thing, though. There's no real way to prove Ollie went in planning to kill Prometheus regardless of the outcome of the fight. Being ready to kill, yes, but that is technically a different thing.
    Of course we, as the all knowing audience, know that had always been Ollie's intention. But good luck proving that as a prosecutor without The Shade testifying that he and Ollie spoke before-hand about what Ollie was going to do.
    And, as you say, even if a prosecutor COULD file charges on a murder that took place within an interspacial realm, odds are they would not if it came down to "word of superhero" vs. "letting known terrorist go free".

  6. looking2dastars
    2010-04-23 05:15 pm (local) (link) Select
    Yes, I've seen the following metaphor used elsewhere.
    A child is killed in the collapse of the WTC.
    Her father is an air-marshal who survives a struggle on one of the airplanes used in the attack but loses the use of his arm.
    His father, an old soldier, goes to Afghanistan, tracks down Osama Bin Laden and kills him.
    The grandfather returns home to New York and is immediately charged with murdering the man who was responsible for planning the attack that killed his granddaughter and crippled his son.
    As I said in my original review of the comic, the District Attorneys in Star City have GOT to be appointed...
    ...because there is no way in Hell that any elected official - no matter how well-connected they are with the mob, the gangs and the crooked Police Commissioner - is going to go anywhere near a case involving putting a man on trial for killing the terrorist who destroyed the major city in the area they represent. It would be political suicide.

  7. This has nothing to do with the subject at hand... but.. you gonna talk the Doctor?

  8. I was just discussing that with someone else yesterday, in fact.
    I know this blog is mostly about comics... but what the hell? That didn't stop me from reviewing Heroes and I see no reason why it should stop me from talking Doctor Who.