Market Curiosity: Exploring Markets And Systems

May 25, 2011

The unworkability and (un)intended consequences of the felony murder law.

Filed under: Editorials, Systems — Tags: , — Jeff Fitzmyers @ 1:50 pm

I recently participated in a jury selection involving the felony murder law which makes defendants liable for murder if a person is killed, even accidentally, during the commission of certain felonies. Actually the prosecution basically asked if we thought a non shooter was the same is the shooter. I said no since the killer is the one who pulled the trigger, not the other person.

– I was excused which brings up the issue of a jury by peers. Basically anyone who disagreed with the felony murder law was excused, removing an important feedback loop. If juries repeatedly decided for a culpable defendant due to a bogus or misapplied law, the prosecution would quickly learn to make sure the picked just, clear, and appropriate laws. Doug Casey has interesting things to say about this, including this reduces the ability to balance a judges power, and privatizing judges and juries in general Certainly there seems to be no efficient way for unjust and unclear laws to be taken off the books.

– Legislating reality never works. Take “fixing” (who decided it was broken??) the value of the the monetary gold silver ratio at 1 to 15, or that a coin, or a paper dollar is worth a specific value. The very next thing people do work around that legislation by determining the “purchasing power”.

– If the not-shooter is supposedly just as responsible as the shooter, the not-shooter now has their destiny determined not by their actions, but the actions of others. And so they are easier to frame or coerce. If the shooter only maims, misses, or does not shoot, the non-shooter does not get murder even though the non-shooter did nothing different. It is my understanding that if someone is pointing a gun at you, you have to assume you are in mortal danger and can act as such. It would be much clearer if the consequence for pointing a gun, even unloaded, at someone is that same even if the gun is not shot. But in some situations that is unreasonable which is why there are differences between threats, attempted murder, and murder. What if there are 3 perps involved and one shots the other? What if a bystander accidentally shoots another bystander? Trying to make people responsible for the actions of others is a mess.

The rule has two stated purposes. First is to deter people from killing others during the commission of another felony. Second is to deter the commission of the underlying felony itself. I have a masters degree and am self taught in 4 other discrete areas. I have never heard of felony murder”, nor has 90% of the people I queried. FAIL. So what is the real reason? In practice, the law is used to get first degree murder convictions for people who are only minimally connected to a crime.

Other issues.

– It is pretty handy for govs to use force to subjugate citizens via implied contracts. The gov can make and change laws all they want with very little opportunity for challenge and then say, “Well, you live here so you are responsible for all 50 billion laws.” If gov’s and people had to contract for residency, the contracts would necessarily be clear, concise, and fair. Otherwise people would go somewhere else. Direct contracts severely limit gov’s power and control.

+ Efficient tax, regulation and representation systems


  1. Nice post. I don’t think most people realize that as jurors they can effectively nullify unjust laws by refusing to find someone guilty even if the accused technically broke a law on the books. For example, the theft of property by individuals earning income (popularly called “taxation”) would end if those choosing not to be stolen from (popularly called “tax cheats”) were found not guilty in courts. The court is supposed to be a place where individuals find justice, not a place that crushes the meek with the iron fist of the state. Of course they aren’t places of justice not only because most people are too blind to understand they are part of a crime syndicate when they partner with government, but also because as you experienced the system is set up to exclude those who can think for themselves. Needless to say the whole concept of a “jury of your peers” is an absolute farce. Most people are utterly wrong in their world view and I would consider them no more my peer than Pluto is a peer of planet Earth.

    Comment by silverflaunt — May 28, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  2. Agreed. I probably should have given credit to the prosecution because I basically asked if I had to enforce a law I did not agree with and I think he said no. But the point is mute since I was “excused”.

    Comment by Jeff — May 28, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  3. Thanks for the response but would you mind removing the bit at the bottom that lists my email and ip address? :O

    Comment by silverflaunt — May 28, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

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