Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 1

(Update: we have discovered  a case on point for one of the issues raised in the post.  Check out section II of the post for more.)

Torchwood: Miracle Day is the fourth “season” of the British sci-fi series Torchwood, itself a 2006 spin-off of the ever-popular Doctor Who revival. The basic premise is that, all of a sudden, people stop dying. This is not as much fun as it sounds.

Interestingly enough for the purposes of Law and the Multiverse, the series so far has more than its fair share of legal issues. So we’re going to take a look at each episode as it comes out. We’ll leave reviews of the episodes for others, as always, but hope to be your source for legal analysis for the series. Spoilers will follow. You have been warned.

I. The Execution

The episode begins with the attempted execution of Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman, oddly enough), a convicted rapist and pedophile, by lethal injection. The execution… does not go as planned, as this is the day that people all over the world stop dying.

But another thing didn’t go as planned: Danes struggles and fights during the execution. This is not how it happens. The lethal injection protocol currently in use in the United States is actually a multi-step process, the first of which is the injection of about 5g of sodium thiopental. The drug is a fast-acting, powerful barbituate, and a clinical dose is approximately 3-5mg/kg of body weight, i.e. about 0.3-0.5g/kg, this is ten times the normal clinical dose. Many states then follow up with a powerful anti-seizure and narcotic combo, just to make sure. Needless to say, an injection of this magnitude will put your lights out right quick. No struggling, no fighting, nothing, just out. Like forever.

The reason is actually referenced later in the episode: The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Long story short, the Supreme Court has basically outlawed any method of execution which causes much in the way of discomfort. Whether or not this makes any sense–since when is execution supposed to be painless anyway?–is beside the point: the infliction of physical pain is deliberately avoided. So an execution scene like the one depicted in the episode would indicate something gone severely wrong.

Of course, something did go pretty wrong, so it’s not entirely clear what the deal is there. All they really gave him is drugs with a side effect of massive respiratory repression. They’re narcotics, for crying out loud. He should feel just fine, once his heart gets going again.

So far, the show is 0 for 1 in getting the law right. That is not how we execute people anymore. Still, the creators are Brits, so maybe we can forgive them that one.

II. The Aftermath

But what then? The show does pick up on the fact that if we execute someone and he somehow doesn’t die, we’ve got a problem on our hands, legal and otherwise. Here, they completely botch it. Danes actually quotes the Fifth Amendment. He says “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense twice.” That’s a fragment, so even standing on its own it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But it’s actually a misquotation. The relevant line reads “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” That would seem to be more to the point, as it includes the thing being prohibited as well as the persons to whom the prohibition applies. In any case, Danes argues that this means that, his execution having been carried out and he having “died,” the Fifth and Eighth Amendments act to make his continued incarceration unconstitutional. He threatens to sue the state and the governor, in his personal capacity (we’ll get to that one in a minute), for violating his constitutional rights, saying that every minute he’s kept in jail is another million in damages (we’ll get to that in a minute too).

This is, to put it bluntly, absolute rubbish. Here’s the thing: the Fifth Amendment says that a person shall not be put in jeopardy more than once for the same offense. But Danes has already been convicted. His life is not in jeopardy, it is forfeit. “Jeopardy,” as the courts would interpret it, means “danger” or “risk.” The way this is used in the legal system basically means that a person cannot be tried for the same offense more than once if a jury enters a not-guilty verdict. That’s the danger: that one might be convicted, not that a sentence might be carried out. While Danes is certainly correct that the Eighth Amendment probably prohibits further attempts to execute him, as such would doubtless cause him great pain with no real odds of killing him, the fact that he survived one execution does not, in fact, change the fact that he is still a convict. And no court is going to uphold the proposition that the fact that the sentence was carried out means that, in the face of his continued survival, continuing to hold him is illegal. No, Danes may not be on death row anymore–no one would be, really–but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be kept in solitary. Of course, the fact that he isn’t going to die raises its own issues, which we’ve already talked about.

Update: In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a very similar issue in Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459 (1947), a case involving a botched execution by electric chair.  The Court held that it did not violate double jeopardy or constitute cruel or unusual punishment to reattempt the execution.  Here, reattempting the execution would be futile, but Danes could simply be held until people started dying again, or his sentence could be commuted to life in prison.

That’s 0 for 2. Not looking good.

III. Suing State Officials

Then there’s the issue of whether or not Danes can sue the governor directly. Clearly he can sue the state under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to test the theory of whether or not his continued incarceration constitutes a violation of his constitutional rights (again: not likely). But can he sue the governor directly?

Yes. Sort of. In Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Supreme Court ruled that the Attorney General of Minnesota–and by extension any state official–could be sued in his personal capacity for alleged violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case essentially created a cause of action directly against state officials, again, in their personal capacity, whenever a potential plaintiff believes that his rights are being violated. The fiction is that 1) the official cannot be acting on behalf of the state if his actions violate the Constitution, but 2) he’s acting under color of law, so we’ll call him a state actor for constitutional purposes. So he gets the downside of state actor status without the upside of sovereign immunity. Kind of sucks.

But Ex parte Young only created a cause of action for injunctive relief, i.e. an order prohibiting the official from engaging in a particular course of conduct. Money damages aren’t on the table. At least, not until Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991) where the Court held that a state official could be sued for money damages in his personal capacity under § 1983… but if you bring that suit, you can’t also sue the state, as Kentucky v. Graham 473 U.S. 159 (1985) is still good law.

The other major related case is Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), where the Supreme Court held that federal officers can be sued for monetary damages when they violate someone’s constitutional rights. But that only applies to federal officers.

Two things here. First, it is exceptionally unlikely that the governor would be held liable–see section II, supra–and even if he were, damages would be far, far less than implied by the show. Millions of dollars? Not likely. The § 1983 action could be worth something, but damages in the five- to low-six-figure range seem far more likely than Danes’ exaggerated claims. By comparison–a comparison the court would almost certainly make–the federal statute providing compensation for wrongful imprisonment in federal prison is 28 U.S.C § 2513, and provides for a maximum of $50,000/year in damages. So if you’re behind bars for twenty years, you get a maximum of $1 million.

Second, Danes threatens a suit for wrongful imprisonment. This would have to come under state law, as wrongful imprisonment is a separate action from violation of one’s constitutional rights. Unfortunately, Kentucky, the state where Danes was imprisoned, doesn’t have such a statute, so the independent tort of wrongful imprisonment just won’t lie, and if brought in the absence of such a statute, the governor would be immune anyway.

So the show is right that the governor can be sued in his personal capacity, but wrong about the damages, and wrong that he can be sued for a tort independent of the constitutional claims. That’s a subtle piece of business, so we’ll split the difference and call it 0-2-1.

IV: Rendition

Then, at the end of the episode, Rex Matheson subjects the whole team to extraordinary rendition. Extraordinary rendition is, essentially, the extra-judicial abduction and transfer of a person across international boundaries. It is legal? That’s one of the hot-button legal questions of the last decade. Can Matheson do it? Almost certainly, particularly as the British government is likely to cooperate. We’ll have to see where that leads though, as the episode basically ends there.

However, Matheson says that his authority comes from “the 456 Amendments to US Code 3184.” Umm… no. “The 456 Amendments” are almost certainly a reference to Children of Earth (and what a particularly chilling little miniseries that was), and it’s plausible that the could have been a statute with an official short name along those lines. but “US Code 3184” doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s missing the first part of the citation, the title number. It could be Title 50, War and National Defense, but that section number would put it several hundred sections (they don’t have to be consecutive, but still) after the end of the last chapter. If it were Title 10, Armed Forces, that’d put it in Subtitle B, relating to the Army, right between parts I and II. Basically, they just made something up which sounded semi-official and left it at that. Oh well.

Still, that bit about the citations is pretty well within artistic license as far as law is concerned. It’s more important that writers and directors get the substance of the law over its arcane forms, so we’ll let that one slide. They’re right about the renditions, so the score is 1-2-1. Not horrible, all things considered.

V: Conclusion

Thus far, the show isn’t faring very well as far as its handling of legal issues. But it’s looking to be pretty good otherwise. Check back next Monday for analysis of the next episode!

35 responses to “Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode 1

  1. Will "scifantasy" Frank

    Maybe (well, almost certainly) it’s that I’m studying this very summer for the New York bar exam (two weeks to go–gulp!), but my reaction to _Torchwood_ was about on par with your “absolute rubbish” comment. Everything about the Oswald Danes storyline, especially the legal junk, actively detracted from my enjoyment of the show.

    Though I was even less forgiving than you were–I thought the “renditions” were also complete rubbish, and would have awarded no points for simply saying the word “rendition” (especially because the US’s renditions have mostly been taking people _away_ from the US, not towards, as I recall). I disagree that the British government would just roll over for Matheson, especially because he is, by all accounts, acting with little to no authority.

    Matheson walked–well, staggered–out of his hospital bed, had his request for a handgun on a plane is turned down, and has only been in contact with a single junior analyst; are we really supposed to believe that his superiors will back his play when he asks his bosses to tell the British government to turn over several British citizens, even ones they don’t like too much? Maybe, _maybe_, if he had the full backing of the President, and quoted some actual US-UK treaties (such as, perhaps, extradition), I could buy it, but as far as we’re shown, the entire British government from the Welsh police department up to the Prime Minister himself rolled over simply because Matheson flashed a CIA badge. (And it was a Brit writing this!) Pull the other one.

    • Mister Andersen

      Just remember how season 3 ended: the British Prime Minister makes an apparant unilateral treaty with an alien power that at Saxon’s behalf assassinates the US President (elect?) on global television.

      Combined with the “Obama is going to save us” attitude of the Brits in the final Tennant story, and the way that the UN and the US steamrole over the government once the truth about 456 comes out, I have no doubt that by this point in the Whoniverse the UK is totally the US’ prison bitch.

  2. Danes’s legal theory is indeed nonsense. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection, not just to have drugs injected into him. A botched execution attempt is not a basis for voiding a conviction or letting the condemned go free.

    There’s also a simple practical end-run around Danes’s lawsuit: the governor can commute his death sentence to life in prison.

    I haven’t see this episode (my co-author wrote this post). Did Danes commit any kind of homicide? The death penalty is unconstitutional in cases of rape, even the rape of a child, at least where the victim’s death did not occur and was not intended. Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008); Eberheart v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 917 (1977). If Danes didn’t kill anybody (or try to), then putting him on death row is a pretty fundamental problem.

  3. Dennis Castello

    Anyone remember a show called The Agency that was on CBS from 2001-2002? This was a fantastic show that took pains to portray the CIA as accurately as possible — unlike every other spy show that’s ever been on TV — and one thing The Agency was careful to illustrate was that CIA operatives never openly identify themselves as being with the CIA.

    It is a clandestine service, they don’t flash badges and they don’t throw their weight around in public. CIA operatives will basically masquerade as whatever Federal agency best suits their needs at the moment, from NTSB investigators to US Marshals.

    And while the CIA might well be capable of convincing a foreign country to arrest certain individuals and turn them over — Will is absolutely right — it’s not going to happen by flashing a badge and ordering the local bobbies around. And if Matheson did convince his boss to get on the phone to the Brits and go through official channels I can only imagine the nightmare turf war that would result between the British intelligence agencies and the Americans.

    It would have been so much more believable if Matheson had just called in some rendition team to scoop them up in the middle of the night and spirit them away without any official fuss and bother. They could make the case that Matheson was acting on his own in the hopes that a fait accompli would convince his bosses to retroactively back his play.

  4. Will "scifantasy" Frank

    James: Yeah, Dawes raped and murdered a 12-year-old girl, and it was played as fully intentional and no remorse–his comment when he’s captured is “she should have run faster.” Davies wasn’t taking any chances on us sympathizing.

    (And then, of course, Davies is a Brit, like I said. Given the general European views on the fact that Americans have the death penalty at all…but I digress.)

    Another point that occurred to me at the time that I forgot to mention is, there is no way in any level of Hell that this happens within that time frame. We see Dawes give a menacing, rubbish speech to a governor’s aide, and within the day he’s released. That’s, I suppose, why the whole “million dollars a minute” bit got thrown in–because in reality, by the time Dawes’s legal challenge got heard, the show would be over.

    For weeks.

    Oh, one more thing–Dawes claimed a “force majeure” argument to get out of prison. Um, what? OK, I suppose that if you’re going with “act of God,” someone looked up a legal argument about acts of God. But…really? Why not at least try habeas corpus? Sure, it’s rubbish, but at least it’s rubbish that people in the US know that has something to do with criminal law.

    Gah. Compared to this, bar exam studying is relaxing.

    • Habeas corpus was my thought, too. Sure, it’s rubbish, but it’s at least somewhat related to actual legal theory.

  5. The shows (both this one and Dr. Who) play fast and loose with law a lot. (especially with their portrayal of the UN) My favorite part may be in Children of Earth when someone shows up and says to the British Prime Minister something along the lines of: “You have shown yourself incapable of handling this situation. The United Nations will take over now.” Despite how chilling that mini-series was, I could not help but chuckle at that. (And every time the UN takes over in Dr. Who) The UN can only pass “legally binding” (and I am bing generous) resolutions is in the Security Council where the UK has veto power and would certainly not acquiesce. Furthermore, the people from the UN in both Dr. Who and Torchwood always wear grandiose military uniforms. Last I checked the UN does not have a military force.

    • Abigail Brady

      Those are not mere writing mistakes, and as such that criticism is unfounded. Doctor Who is pretty clearly set in an alternate universe where the UN *does* have such power, and *does* have a military force (UNIT).

    • Mister Andersen

      Remember that at one point, the Whoniverse version of the UN was able to forcibly garner the nuclear launch codes for all the world’s nuclear weapons and handed them over to the Uk for safe keeping (a truly stupid decision that allowed a bunch of rogue scientists to send their robot to steal them in order to force global capitulation to their demands.

      Not to mention they established the “paramilitary” UNIT that even though composed of members of a host country’s armed forces was free to operate outside that national authority at Geneva’s behest.

  6. Well, the UN in Doctor Who has long ago been established as not being remotely related to our world- UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce until our UN claimed copyright and it was changed to Unified Intelligence Taskforce) has a moonbase for crying out loud so really, it has nothing to do with our UN.

    In regards to the “force majeure” point, yeah, while the event is clearly something that can be presumed to be an Act of God (although this is Torchwood, in which case it’s ALIENS BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS ALIENS EXCEPT FOR ONE EPISODE IN SEASON 1*), I don’t know why it’s brought up here.

    You know, what if they’d just have Dawes possessing some kind of blackmail against the governor- something he’d learned on Death Row but simply hadn’t been able to articulate before he was executed. Now that he lived, he can threaten the governor and get what he wants- namely, parole.

    God damnit, Russel T. Davies, once again you go for style over substance, even when the style isn’t very stylish and holds up to no scrutiny. I’m sure the people who funded you had lawyers, or you’ve met a lawyers who you could call and have a friendly chat for five minutes who’d tell you your plot point was stupid. Christ…

    *(Sarah Jane Adventures had this same problem- it’s always god damn aliens! Why even debate?)

  7. Ryan Davidson

    For what it’s worth, we discussed the general misunderstanding surrounding the term “act of God” when we reviewed Thor.

  8. THANK you. [sigh] Neither I nor my husband is a lawyer, nor have we ever played lawyers on TV, but we were sitting through the first chunk of the show — the Danes execution scene and “legal” aftermath — doing a lot more scoffing than cheering. Not a good beginning for a show we’ve both been looking forward to for a very long time. :/ I have to believe that this is all the British writers screwing up because they’re British (and it’s still a screw-up — I’m not a lawyer, but I am a writer, and if you don’t know something then you look it up; these folks couldn’t be arsed) because if two American laymen could sit here on the couch and poke multiple holes in their story line on legal grounds, then they’ve seriously messed up.

    Maybe they got their double jeopardy explanation from the team that wrote the movie…? 🙁


    • Ryan Davidson

      Two American lawyers, thanks. 🙂

      • No, the “two American laymen” in my comment referred to me and my husband. It makes sense that you two lawyers could poke so many holes in their legal plotline, but if my husband and I could poke just as many (and we did) that’s so much worse. 😛


  9. John Kingston

    Speaking as a Brit, I’ll have to admit that we generally have a very distorted view of American legal procedure. For example, our view of American Tort law is based on what gets in the news, so we often regard cases such as the “Judge Fancypants” case (Pearson v. Chung) as normal, instead of an aberation. This probably explains where the tort part of the plot came from. Our views on the CIA are probably even more inaccurate, as they tend to only get in the news when they’re being unusually stupid and/or ‘evil’.

    There was a case in 19th century England, of a John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee who was convicted of murder (on rather shaky grounds), only for the execution to repeatly fail. In this case (according to a BBC website news article and wikipedia) the sentance was commuted to life imprisonment, although he was later released. It’s possible the plot was based a distorted memory of this case.

  10. John McSorley

    Dear Angie

    Just for clarity – this is my personal view.

    Look i really apologise. Torchwood is the horrible by product of allowing Russel T Davies anywhere near a script.

    He is famous for believing drama is more important than accuracy – ok as long as he was writing ‘drama’ about the trials and tribulations of being gay (though as i undestand it the gay community howled with outrage about “queer as folk” as reinforcing every stereotype you could think of) but when he tries to deal with science or the real world he get’s it wrong and DOES NOT CARE.

    Ok i have watched some of his stuff and want my brain scrubbed. Anyone not already harmed by this should just turn away.

  11. I interpreted the execution scene in a completely different way. Despite being from the other side of the pond, I’m aware that the US lethal injection is supposed to be quick and painless. When he started convulsing and being in obvious pain, I saw that as his body reacting to the lethal drugs in his system, rather than shutting down and dying like it is supposed to. I seem to recall that the officials behind the glass reacted fairly quickly when they saw Danes shaking, so it’s obvious that they did not find it to be normal either.

    Regarding the bomber’s body/remains/uncorpse, could the actions of the agents there by seen as murder or attempted murder? Obviously the bomber isn’t going to be complaining to anyone about it, but they even the ‘expert’ doesn’t know for sure whether he is alive, dead, or something else.

    • Ryan Davidson

      Again, even if the drugs didn’t kill him, the drugs themselves aren’t actually toxic, they just stop you from breathing if given in large enough doses. In other words, the drugs themselves are not harmful, it’s the side effects that kill you. It’s not exactly like overdosing on heroin, but it’s something pretty close to it. So when Danes starts struggling in apparent pain, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.

      This is in contrast to, say, a nerve agent or other poison, the effects of which could be acutely painful. Those aren’t used.

      • Yeah. I wasn’t aware of that before the episode, and my knowledge of drugs and medicine is incredibly limited.

        I can think of many reasons why a shaking man is better dramatically than someone simply not breathing, but they don’t explain anything in-universe.

      • Actually, there is some justification for the pain.

        The three drugs typically used (there’s been some recent changes) in lethal injection are:

        Sodium thiopental: This is the sedative used to knock the person out. Pancuronium bromide: This is a strong muscle relaxer to paralize the lungs and the muscles. By itself it does not have any sedative or analgesic effects.
        Potassium chloride: This stops the heart.

        While gradual oxygen depeivation 9due to low oxygen in the air) is usually not painful, studies have shown that not being able to breathe actually is. And of course, your heart stopping is as well.

        So if the sedative wasn’t working for some reason (someone sabotaged it, he got a bad batch, etc.), then pain is a quite reasonable prognosis.

        That is, there’s actually several potential plot points there if they chose to go in that direction.

        Of course, we all know that they just dropped the ball.

  12. Thanks for covering this. I look forward to seeing your comments about the rest of the show, though sadly I don’t see their ratio of getting things to getting things wrong to change for the better.

  13. Yeah. I had problems with the botched execution plot too. There are numerous cases from the early 20th century where executioners botched hangings, gassings, and electrocutions. And they just did it again, the right way. Here, of course, there is a botched execution for unknown reason. The defendant is manifestly not dead — presumably the result is a life imprisonment (and a long one at that). There may be an 8th amendment argument about the cruel and unusual aspects of a life sentence for an immortal, but that’s a different issue — and the hearings on that would realistically take years, maybe decades to resolve. (Fortunately, everyone will now have the time for it to play out.) I don’t know the Kentucky courts, but I’d be very surprised for any sympathy of a civil jury, criminal jury, judge, or appellate panel to Danes’ claims — there’s almost zero legal blackmail here.

  14. Wouldn’t the governor have absolute immunity under section 1983?

  15. Chris Croughton

    Well, DW and Torchwood are fiction. They’ve been getting the science wrong for almost 50 years, as well as numerous cases of international law. As already pointed out, their UN is not ours, it seems to have a lot more independence and authority (and in the 60s many SF writers, especially British ones, were indeed imagining that the UN or a successor would eventually form a “world government” or at least a global police force).

    So, basically, I don’t expect credibility from DW and its spinoffs, especially not with RTD in charge. Heck, some of the plots don’t make sense on any level if looked at critically.

    As for Brit ideas about America — many of those recounted here are representative. We do see the CIA as a visible entity (because the only time we hear of it by definition it’s become visible!), from things like James Bond movies and other US series. We do tend to think that execution is barbaric (and we haven’t had one for over 50 years so don’t know what it’s actually like), and have a (probably exaggerated) idea of the way that everyone in the US can sue each other for vast amounts (again, that’s what we see/hear in the news).

    • Sure they’re fiction. Everything we write about is fiction. And true, they’re fictional works that play faster and looser with rules–even in-universe rules!–than most other works. But it’s still worth looking at what they get right and what they get wrong, and I think both James and I stand by the thesis that fictional works are stronger when they get details like this right, especially when said details constitute major plot points.

      • Chris Croughton

        Oh, certainly they are better when they get the details right. And I’m the last person to complain about fans niggling over those details, I do it a lot myself (from the science/technology angle rather than law, because my background). It’s just that I don’t expect them to get it right, just as I don’t expect NCIS to take a sensible time to get a DNA match or expect Star Trek to be consistent about speed and time.

  16. I have a tendency to lawyer things up too much, but the whole “released unless government shows not Act of God” thing? Put in a throwaway line about a judge signing an order (to show cause) freeing him until a hearing, where the government must prove, yadda, brought by People Against Death Penalty Sentences.

    It’s not realistic that he’d be freed at all, but with some handwaving that at least used legal terms & a much simpler name of the “charity” (which probably should have been ID’d as a “nonprofit advocacy group”) it would at least be closer to suspendable disbelief.

  17. TimothyAWiseman

    In Part one you stated: “Long story short, the Supreme Court has basically outlawed any method of execution which causes much in the way of discomfort.”

    Which is certainly true, but is definitely worthy of some expansion. A relatively recent case on this point is Baze v. Rees, 128 S. Ct. 1520 (2008). There the Supreme Court said that unnecessary pain and suffering in the carrying out of the execution must be avoided, and that pain or disgrace which is superadded to the actual sentence of death must be avoided. But it clarifies that an execution does not need to be painless and certainly does not need to be free of the risk of pain should something go wrong. For instance, it states: “Simply because an execution method may result in pain, either by accident or as an inescapable consequence of death, does not establish the sort of “objectively intolerable risk of harm” that qualifies as cruel and unusual.”

    This opinion goes on to state that the Supreme Court has so far rejected every challenge given to a State’s means of execution based on grounds that it was cruel and unusual. So while the Constitution certainly and clearly prohibits an unnecessarily painful death, it does not require one that avoids the risk of discomfort.

  18. Jamas Enright

    Late to reply to this (been away), but reminded of a comment I saw on another site, something along the lines of “Danes wanted to be set free under blah, however with the law as it is, they could easily have said this thing is terrorist related, and as he was the first person to survive, clearly he’s with the terrorists, goodbye Danes for a long long time…”

    • Ryan Davidson

      That’s not a good legal theory. There would need to be 1) some showing that terrorism was, in fact, involved, and 2) that Danes was somehow involved.

      The first is going to be very difficult, seeing as how it’s affecting every country on Earth, making it presumably above mere politics.

      The second is going to be even harder, because not only do we not have any idea what’s going on, but Danes was on death row in solitary confinement the entire time. Plotting to go to the bathroom was about as sophisticated as he was going to get at that point.

  19. Morgan Hamilton

    I just found this site today when a link for episode 8 was posted on the LJ comm torchwood_three. To say I’m deliriously happy is an understatement because from Danes’ first convulsion I knew we were going to subjected to more of Rusty’s slip-shod ‘research’.
    I mean honestly, even I knew that realistically there was no way Danes could get out of prison that fast, assuming he would be able to get out @ all. I’m a Texan from near Dallas so have been inundated w/ the wrongful imprisonment & cause/effect of lethal injection here lately. That’s the only reason I knew about the whole ‘shut down the respiratory system first’ approach.
    Like others here as long as TW was more sci-fi I was willing to hand-wave a lot but since RTD keeps banging on about how series 3 & 4 are supposed to be more ‘reality based’ I find myself less charitable about the glaring plot hole be they legal, medical or technological.
    So thanks again for explain all the legal ins & outs that I had a feeling were off even if I didn’t know why. I’m looking forward to reading all the Torchwood entries.


  20. I’ve just started watching Torchwood when a friend of mine recommended it to me. I know I’m a little late to the party here, but here’s the legal problem that caused me the most difficulty in episode 1.

    Danes was being executed for the murder of Susie Cabina. He should still have been charged and sentenced for (at least) kidnapping resulting in death (capital felony in KY) and forcible rape (class A felony in KY) of Cabina. If we accept that the questionable force majeure argument would end Danes’ sentences for crimes which he was sentenced to die for, he should still be serving time for his remaining sentences.

    Even if we assume Danes received two death sentences ( one for murder and one for kidnapping resulting in death ) AND that the force majeure argument ended both of those sentences, he should still be serving a 20 to 50 year sentence for forcible rape. Danes should not be eligible for release.

  21. Pretty sure the agent references 18USC3184, “Fugitives from foreign country to United States.” He cites it to support his extradition of the Torchwood team.

  22. It’s worth noting that the threat to sue and the claim he must be released both come from the convict. Frankly, if I had been scheduled for execution, and something like that went wrong, I might have tried it on the basis that it isn’t going to make my situation any worse, and could in theory, if someone actually buys it, get me released.

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