Category Archives: criminal law

Guest Blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy

This week we will be guest blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy, a fantastic legal blog co-founded by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh and Emory law professor Alexander “Sasha” Volokh.  Over the years the Conspiracy has grown to include a number of contributors, most of whom are law professors.

We’ll be taking this opportunity to address some slightly more down to earth topics, particularly the show Elementary, which we’ve received a number of questions about.  Our first post is The Adventure of the Commandeered Snow Plow.

Potter’s Field

Potter’s Field is the 2011 crime noir comic written by the estimable Mark Waid (previously interviewed here!) with art by Paul Azaceta. It stars an anonymous investigator, who uses the apt moniker “John Doe”, who has taken on a mission: identifying the bodies buried in New York City’s Hart Island. The island is the eastern-most part of the Bronx and has been used as, well, a potter’s field, i.e., a burial ground for the indigent and/or unidentified, since the mid-nineteenth century. As with all stories in the crime genre, it brings a number of interesting legal issues to the fore, and we’ll be looking at both the idea of the potter’s field and a rather unusual species of identity theft. Spoilers within. Continue reading

Iron Man 3: The Crimes of The Mandarin

This post was inspired by an email question from Wayne and a comment from Martin, both of whom asked what crimes The Mandarin could be charged with.  Beware: the answer requires massive spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go see it.

Continue reading

Iron Man 3: Surgery and Homicide

In this, our third post on Iron Man 3, we consider the question of whether Dr. Aldrich Killian could theoretically be criminally liable for the deaths of people injected with Extremis, or certain deaths caused by Extremis patients. The idea here is fairly straightforward. Deliberately doing something that one knows has a reasonable likelihood of killing someone else which actually does result in their deaths definitely constitutes some species of homicide offense in most jurisdictions. But surgeons do precisely that all the time, engaging in acts which, given only minute alterations, can be either life-saving or horrific. Every time someone goes under the knife, there is an at least minor chance that they will die on the operating table, and more serious conditions justify undergoing riskier procedures. Extremis has been shown to possess incredible restorative properties, including the regeneration of lost limbs, but it does carry with it certain risks. As such, which homicide offense, if any, would be the most appropriate to charge Killian with, and would he have any defenses?

Spoilers within, so be forewarned. Continue reading

Iron Man 3 Questions

We’re going to start our coverage of Iron Man 3 with some questions we received almost two weeks ago from Heiki, who saw the movie at a local premiere in Europe.  We had to wait to see it this weekend, but it was well worth it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.  It’s a great movie.  There are some fairly serious spoilers below, though.

Continue reading

Law and the Multiverse Online CLE Programs

For many attorneys it will soon be annual CLE reporting season.  If you need CLE credits, we may be able to help.  We have partnered with Thomson West in the past to produce four online, on-demand programs with CLE credit available in most states:

What Superheroes and Comic Books Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law

Real-Life Superheroes in the World of Criminal Law

Everyday Ethics from Superhero Attorneys

Kapow! What Superheroes and Comic Books Can Teach Us About Torts

For a 20% discount on any or all of these programs, use code KABLAM2013.

And if you missed the IP and the Comic Book Superhero program presented by the ABA IP Section, it is available for pre-order as an audio CD for delivery on May 17th.  It may be available as an on-demand program later, I’m not sure.

Finally, if you’ve already taken these courses or are looking for something different, keep an eye out for a new program (presented by Thomson West) to be announced soon.

Morning Glories

Morning Glories is the ongoing 2010 series from Image about a group of “brilliant but troubled” high school students who enroll in Morning Glory Academy, some kind of exclusive prep school. Very, very bad things happen at MGA, and the series is a kind of supernatural mystery drama somewhat reminiscent of the first season of Lost. The first twelve issues are out in hardcover, the next seven are out in trade, and the most recent trade is available for pre-order and should be out in a week or two.

This post is about a flashback that occurs in issue # 7 and contains some pretty major spoilers, so read with care. But the substance of the post has to do with homicide and related defenses. Continue reading

The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone

The Surrogates is a limited-run 2005-06 comic series about which we did two posts (1, 2) late last year, and which was made into a movie starring Bruce Willis in 2010.

This time we’re writing about the prequel graphic novel, The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone. The entire series is available in hardcover. Flesh and Bone is set fifteen years before the main series and deals with a sensational homicide case: a minor operating his father’s surrogate unit beats a homeless man to death, more or less just to watch him die. The killing has all the hallmarks of a major news event: the accused is white, the victim black; the accused is rich, the victim poor; the accused is operating a surrogate, the victim is a “boner,” the kid’s slang for someone who lives his life in the titular “flesh and bone”.

Like the comic series, Flesh and Bone includes various miscellany in the form of advertising materials, news stories, and scholarly articles, all about surrogates and their impact on the world. One of these involves a fictional Supreme Court case where the court ruled that employers may make owning a surrogate a condition of employment. In this post, we’ll look at both the homicide issue and that labor issue, which we touched on last year. Continue reading

The Law and Psychiatry of The Walking Dead

Following our joint WonderCon panel (Not Guilty by Reason of Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry After the Zombie Apocalypse“), the psychiatrists from Broadcast Thought, Ryan, and I co-wrote an article for Wired focusing on some of the legal and medical issues raised by The Walking Dead.  We think you’ll enjoy it.  Be aware: the article contains spoilers for the most recent season, including the finale.


ECHO is the 2008-11 graphic novel series by Terry Moore about a young woman in the American southwest who gets mixed up in a secret military test and winds up with part of a high-tech battle suit seemingly grafted to her chest. Moore self published it under his own Abstract Studios label. The complete series is available in a single volume on Amazon and from Moore directly. I had the good fortune to meet Moore at WonderCon last weekend, and in addition to being a fantastic author and artist, I can say from experience that he’s also a great guy to be around.

The book ran for some thirty issues, all written, drawn, and lettered by Moore. There are rumors of a movie—it was optioned by a major producer in 2009—but I can’t find any recent confirmation of that project’s status. In any case, this book is totally worth checking out.

In this post we’re going to look at whether anyone (and if so who) might be chargeable with a homicide offense for the death of one of the characters in the first issue. Definite spoilers follow. Continue reading