Suicide at Sea and captain charged - Page 78 - SailNet Community
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post #771 of 790 Old 01-11-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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I never said he should rot in jail only that he be brought to court and the matter fully disclosed under oath.

You rejoice that you live where you can die due to the carelessness of others and the matter will just be shrugged off without a full and complete hearing on the matter?
You are going down a dangerous path here. There are only three avenues to get the "hearing" you want: a criminal trial, a civil trial, or a regulatory proceeding. The state tried the criminal route and found that there was no charge they could bring; the man's estate, for whatever reason, withdrew their civil suit (note, they could have asked the court to hold it in abeyance pending the outcome of the criminal trial, but they didn't), and the Coast Guard has chosen not to proceed with a regulatory licensing enforcement case.

What I rejoice in is not that there was no such hearing, but that I live in a country where the legal system is such that the powers that be can't just make one up and hold me to whatever standard the person in power chooses. The "dangerous path" I referred to above is when you feel the facts are so compelling in your case that you are willing to go outside the system to get the result you want.

I think you did get 90% of what you wanted here anyway. The witnesses to the incident did testify in court, under oath. I think we all know most of what happened here at this point.

And I promise this is the last time I will say it: the case wasn't dismissed on a "technicality". It was dismissed based on a fundamental principle of American criminal justice.
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post #772 of 790 Old 01-11-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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I cannot really get my head around the fact that anyone would support a conviction of a man for a crime he didn't commit because they feel "well, what he did was awful, so he should be guilty of something!"
My dad used to say something to the effect of “He was found not guilty, but worthy of being locked up anyway.”




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You can even look at it from a philosophical point of view. Is right innate ( Rousseau/ Spinoza) or externally brought to bear (Hobbes).
I am currently making my way through Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and his conclusion is that we’re more Hobbes than Rousseau, that we are learning to behave better over time but it’s through law and culture and education, and not because of any primitive goodness.

I think he’s a bit prone to confirmation bias, and his tone is probably too glib for a lot of people, but it’s an interesting book regardless.
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post #773 of 790 Old 01-11-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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My dad used to say something to the effect of “He was found not guilty, but worthy of being locked up anyway.”
I remember one discussion with a police officer, who flat out told me that he's lied in court in order to get a conviction. His rationale: "he may not have done this, but he's done something else that we didn't catch him for..." Fortunately, I don't think that kind of attitude was at all widespread. Most of the cops I worked with were on the straight and narrow. But still, it was quite unnerving to hear that kind of talk, and just one cop like that will poison public confidence in the rest.

That all being said, it was not hard to see where this guy was coming from. Most defendants at this time and place were professional criminals, and had been in the business of crime since they were very young. It would not be a stretch to say that while the lying in court was insupportable (and a crime in and of itself), the defendant probably had done more than one crime that he hadn't been arrested for.
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post #774 of 790 Old 01-11-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

Snort! I was present at the trial of a lady who was admittedly driving under the influence of prescription drugs, extreamly erratically (I witnessed) and who crashed, but was too looped to get out of the car. All the above was stipulated by defense. Who then told the Judge “You cant convict her because her drug test came back negative because the ER was full and it too many hours to do the test.” (Haughty NYC lawyer, his suit cost more than my car new.). The judge declared her guilty anyway. Slick went into a fury about how he was right and he would appeal. The judge said (obviously paraphrasing, but not as much as you think, things were pretty raw.):

“Look Slick, you can appeal my ruling, you will probably win. The appeal will cost her $15,000 and take 6 months minimum. In the meantime she’s off the road and no danger to the public. So guess what, I win!”

Slick made some sarcastic comments, slammed a few things, making a great show, and stormed out of the courtroom. The Judge shook his head and laughed.

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post #775 of 790 Old 01-11-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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Snort! I was present at the trial of a lady who was admittedly driving under the influence of prescription drugs, extreamly erratically (I witnessed) and who crashed, but was too looped to get out of the car. All the above was stipulated by defense. Who then told the Judge “You cant convict her because her drug test came back negative because the ER was full and it too many hours to do the test.” (Haughty NYC lawyer, his suit cost more than my car new.). The judge declared her guilty anyway. Slick went into a fury about how he was right and he would appeal. The judge said (obviously paraphrasing, but not as much as you think, things were pretty raw.):

“Look Slick, you can appeal my ruling, you will probably win. The appeal will cost her $15,000 and take 6 months minimum. In the meantime she’s off the road and no danger to the public. So guess what, I win!”

Slick made some sarcastic comments, slammed a few things, making a great show, and stormed out of the courtroom. The Judge shook his head and laughed.
Sometimes, judges do the right thing. Another case in point:"On The Basis of Sex". Good film.
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post #776 of 790 Old 01-12-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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No he didn't. That decision pertained to the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute at 18 U.S.Code § 1115. The above question relates to the Federal Manslaughter Statute at 18 U.S. Code § 1112. Those are different laws, and the decision you cited has no applicability to the Federal Manslaughter Statute at 18 U.S. Code § 1112.
Please forgive my mistaking that you did not mean the Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute (also federal). My mistake could be because this entire thread began with a discussion of a Captain charged under the Seaman’s Statute.
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post #777 of 790 Old 01-12-2019
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

Interesting that there’s increasing hard scientific data showing we are hard wired to have empathy and altruistic behavior. It’s written into our biology. Sure there are egocentrics, borderline personalities and sociopaths but the average joe isn’t such a bad guy.

Oh, btw the deceased crew didn’t have his day in court. Think he deserved one. Don’t care for what legal semantics are applied. That simple fact persists.
Still don’t know if smith is safe to captain or continues to represent a risk to others or if he was unnecessarily screwed. No closure. Don’t care if due to bad lawyering by prosecutors, delay in pursuing civil case, bad reporting by CG. Net result the same.

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Last edited by outbound; 01-12-2019 at 02:05 AM.
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

I think Lady Justice kind of has it right, if it were only so.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Justice
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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Please forgive my mistaking that you did not mean the Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute (also federal).
No apology necessary. We only caught on to the distinction between the two provisions after about 50 or so pages of discussion.
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Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged

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Oh, btw the deceased crew didn’t have his day in court. Think he deserved one. Don’t care for what legal semantics are applied. That simple fact persists.
I don't know how anyone can realistically expect that Pontious have a "day in court" when he's one of four people in a small boat in the Atlantic Ocean. Likewise, Pontious didn't give the captain his "day in court" when he tried to beat him and choke him to death. I can't imagine anyone venturing out into the wilderness who actually expects a "day in court" if he becomes a victim of a crime in the wilderness. In the real world, you can't pause the video tape of life while you resolve interpersonal issues with a trial and a judge. It doesn't happen that way in a wilderness, and it also doesn't happen that way at 2:00 am on a dark street in a crime ridden city.

Since the birth of this nation, much of it's history took place in a lawless wilderness. It was long ago concluded that, since you can't provide basic legal resolution of disputes to people while in a wilderness, the best we can offer is to provide legal resolution of disputes after they return to civilization. It's an imperfect remedy, but it's the best we can offer. A perfect remedy would be if the courts could simply undo the harm that was inflicted on a party, but that's obviously impossible. Even in the best of situations, once a life is taken, the courts can't restore it. Once bruises are inflicted, the courts can't make the pain go away.

In this case, any grievances Pontious had were litigated unsuccessfully by his family in a civil action, and by the US Attorney in a criminal action. The legal system provided him two opportunities for his "day in court." The system doesn't guarantee that any particular party to the proceedings will like the outcome. Pontious received his day in court, twice.
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