Thursday, January 30, 2014

This Lawyer Earned His Fee

This story is actually several months old. I must have missed it the first time around.

While I love living in the Great State of Texas, I must admit that we do have certain ... idiosyncrasies in our legal system. This story illustrates one such peculiarity.
Ezekiel Gilbert was acquitted of murder charges in Texas for shooting and killing a prostitute he met on CraigsList who took his $150 in exchange for sex, then refused to have sex with him, and left with his money.
In his defense he wasn't trying to kill her. He just wanted to get his money back.
He attempted to stop her by shooting at the car that contained her and her pimp, and she subsequently died from her injuries...
More to the point, his lawyer made an innovative argument utilizing a law intended to permit Texans to protect their property.
There is a Texas law that permits you to use deadly force to recover property that’s taken during a nighttime theft.
This particular case, however, wasn't that clear cut.
Legally, the case poses some interesting questions.  First of which, generally under the law you can’t enforce an illegal contract.  And a contract for prostitution is illegal.  But it’s not clear, under the gun law in question, whether in fact this money was “stolen.”
Of course, this being Texas, the defense based its case on the long-recognized but seldom articulated "the victim needed killing" premise.
Judging by the fact pattern, that the man was shooting at a prostitute and her pimp, I suspect the jury wasn’t terribly sympathetic to the victim.
An unintended consequence of the verdict might be that it sets precedent for legalizing prostitution in Texas. It does, after all, 'assume' that the contract for sexual favors was legal. It also sets a precedent for shooting a pizza delivery person who collects your money but leaves without giving you your pizza.

Or a politician who takes a bribe but fails to live up to his or her promise.

Of course, shooting a politician would probably be considered justifiable homicide in all 50 states...

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