Friday, May 12, 2006

Ever hear of mitigating circumstances?

It seems that Captain's Quarters is taking umbrage at a British court decision involving some people who took desperate measures to flee the Taliban regime. Would these people send a woman back to the People's Republic of China, where she would face that country's brutal forced abortion practices, just because she wants to have a second child?

This is one of the reasons that I take offense when supporting the McCain-Kennedy plea-bargain legislation is derided as amnesty or undermining the rule of law. It seems that unless the letter of the law is strictly followed, then somehow, the rule of law has been compromised. There is no allowance for mitigating circumstances, the doctrine of competing harms, or even the notion that the law has gone wrong. "The law is the law" is all the justification they require.

I don't buy that. For instance, how does one define an "unreasonable" search, which is forbidden by the 4th Amendment? It's a judgement call. What was unreasonable on 9/10/01 became very reasonable on 9/12/01 based on new facts and information - and a new way of looking at the facts that were already present.

That is why we have lawyers, juries, and judges - all of whom are human beings. If things were as simple as Captain's Quarters pretends they are, then we'd just need computers to make those calls.

3 comments:

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

"I can certainly, categorically state that when you find five knives, four handguns, one knuckle duster, two detonators and two grenades without fuses, in my view that is a hijack." -- Essex police chief constable David Stevens

Taking up for airline hijackers is about as popular as taking up for the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Hijack timetable

The UK's longest hijack stretched into five days, four of which were spent on British soil at Stansted Airport.

Day 1: Sunday 6 Feb

The 0530 GMT Ariana Airlines Boeing 727 takes off from Kabul, Afghanistan, on a flight to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Radio contact is lost shortly after take-off. The plane lands in Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent and remains at the airport for about four hours. Ten passengers are allowed off.

Two passengers released in Moscow face the media

1200 GMT: The plane leaves Uzbekistan for an undisclosed destination.

1349 GMT: The aircraft lands in the remote north-western Kazakhstan town of Aktyubinsk where three more passengers are allowed off.

1617 GMT: The plane takes off again, heading for Russian air space. About three hours later, it lands at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Nine passengers are released.

2224 GMT: The plane leaves Moscow for an undisclosed European destination, after hijackers demand European flight maps.

Day 2: Monday 7 Feb

In the early hours of the morning, British authorities learn the plane is heading for UK airspace. Prime Minister Tony Blair is informed.

0201 GMT: The plane lands at Stansted Airport in Essex.

Day 4: Wednesday 9 Feb

In the early hours of the morning, a flight attendant is apparently pushed down some steps at the back of the plane.

Harold C. Hutchison said...

Perhaps, but again, at a bare minimum, mitigating circumstances, if not extenuating circumstances, were quite clearly present in this case.