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OB, If a gunman came into your emergency room bleeding profusely and in grave danger of bleeding to death, and he began shooting people, you wouldn't disregard the gunfire and rush to his side to give him life saving care. You'd take cover, like everyone else, because the first instinct of every living creature, as far as I know, is self preservation. If he bled to death while you were hiding from his bullets, you wouldn't feel morally or legally responsible for his death. Your duty to help suffering humanity doesn't require you to sacrifice your own life to do so. I'm guessing that your oath doesn't say you can't, under any circumstances, let a patient bleed to death. It allows you to first see to your own survival, and then, if there's still time, to attend to the shooter. That's what this case is all about. The captain was confronted with life and death choices, not only for Pontious, but for himself and his two crew. He made a choice. One died and three lived. It's unclear whether the one died by suicide or because he wasn't pulled from the water.

A crime of negligence is a crime in which the accused's judgment is called into question. He made a decision that resulted in a person's death. A negligence case asks the question, "Was his judgment as sound as we might realistically expect of any average person under the same or similar circumstances?"

When a negligence case goes to a jury, the jurors, in the privacy of their own minds, all think of themselves as being that "average person," and they ask themselves, "What would I have done in that situation?" If they believe that his decision was reasonable after considering all the exigencies of the moment, they'll probably acquit him. They aren't likely to expect the kind of perfect judgment that can only be achieved on the Monday morning after the event.

In a jury trial, the jurors try to balance all the competing interests. I think many of you are putting too much emphasis on the sanctity of one life and too little on the sanctity of the other three, and you're putting too little emphasis on all the exigencies of the situation.

The Coast Guard investigator, who is trained and experienced in dealing with these issues, thought the captain had done as well as could be reasonably expected under the circumstances. In his opinion, the captain committed no offense, but if the captain had chosen to bring the man aboard, that would also be acceptable.

But consider this. If he brought the man aboard and the man broke free of his bonds and killed the crew, would the captain be negligent in the death of crew for having knowingly brought a homicidal maniac on board? Suppose Pontious died while bound up. Would the captain be negligent by keeping him in bonds? The "what ifs" are endless.
 

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When on a surgical rotation in med school was at the E.D. bedside of a stabbing victim. A gang member. Rival gang member came in and shot him. Cops were assigned to that E.D. They subdued shooter and in process injured him. Blunt trauma and dislocations. The shooter was treated as well. All parties were what ER docs call gomers. Low fliers. “Get Out of My Emergency Room.” That has no impact on duty to treat.
Still, don’t know the details in this case. Still, don’t see the deceased as a threat once in the water. Maybe I’m wicked out of shape but chatted with folks doing the rya program and have done sas. If you’re in the water for awhile and trying to keep your head up seriously doubt you’re in any shape to strangle a chicken let alone present a real danger. Don’t find that argument holds up. You’re on the boat. He’s in the water. I would think you’re in control. If you can’t bind a person and monitor to determine they remain restrained you don’t belong on a boat. Stick them in a sleeping bag and duck tape them in. Or use a few sailties if you don’t have a sleeping bag. If he dies don’t see negligence being in play and would doubt a jury would either but defer to your greater experience. Still, only agree the “what ifs” are endless .
 

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BTW I scrambled on the floor to get away from the shooter. Even though there was only one shot didn’t peak until the all safe was called. Now a days believe lots of big city ERs have metal detectors and much more security.
Agree you have the first obligation to your safety, then others then the perp. Even if the perp is in an irrational state for any reason. But can’t get my head around your position. Sorry.
 

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Also, despite the title of this thread, let's quit calling it a suicide.

Pontious did not commit suicide. He was delusional and was doing what he thought was necessary to save himself, the very opposite of suicide.

Although perhaps that doesn't matter, sine I believe people who attempt suicide should also be helped as most think differently later.
 

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Minnie agree with your sentiment but coming increasingly aware what’s legal or illegal isn’t equivalent to what you or I might think is right or wrong. We’ve been trying to get custody of my wife’s grandson for several years now. It’s pretty obvious what common sense, DCF and the literature says is in the child’s best interest but that isn’t sufficient for the court to act. Have had the same experience when serving as an expert witness. Amazed at times with the outcomes. However, when you do the equivalent of a post mortum with an attorney they make a cogent argument for why things go the way they go so you have to accept that and the outcome. They can even convince you that they agree justice wasn’t done but the system functioned well.
Also think we all (self included) misspeak at times when shooting the breeze on this site. I know I’ve done it time to time. Have some posts I truly regret.I was taken aback by some of posts by people I think are good souls. It’s hard to back down and hard to stand back so would cut them slack.
 

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Back in post #705 I asked the question of what the legal basis was for the judge's dismissal of charges. If this report: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/01/09/camden-charter-boat-acquitted-in-seamans-manslaughter-case/ is to be believed, the answer is case law
The motion cited a case from 1974 in which a captain was acquitted in the deaths of two crew members during a voyage from Connecticut to Florida that was deemed non-commercial and therefore not subject to the seaman’s manslaughter statute.
If this is true, I'm astounded that a US attorney's office would have brought the charges. Maybe the lawyers here see it differently.
 

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Minnie agree with your sentiment but coming increasingly aware what’s legal or illegal isn’t equivalent to what you or I might think is right or wrong.
Exactly! Criminal laws don't necessarily reflect our individual sense of morality. They establish a society's bare minimum standards of behavior.
 

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Back in post #705 I asked the question of what the legal basis was for the judge's dismissal of charges. If this report: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/01/09/camden-charter-boat-acquitted-in-seamans-manslaughter-case/ is to be believed, the answer is case law
If this is true, I'm astounded that a US attorney's office would have brought the charges. Maybe the lawyers here see it differently.
I'm not astounded or even surprised. Without looking at that 1974 case (and I'm not going to), it's impossible to know if the facts of that case are different enough from our case at hand to make it, as we used to say, "inapposite". In plain English: so different that the holding in the prior case doesn't apply. Or, it could be that the 1974 case was from a different jurisdiction than the one in question, which means that it is not mandatory for this court to follow it. Or it could be that the 1974 case was just so poorly reasoned that this prosecutor thought that he had a good chance of having this court not follow it. So no, this lawyer doesn't see anything terribly unusual about a prosecutor filing a case even though there is a precedent that is harmful.
 

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Kind of think it’s not a minimal standard but rather what’s definable and actionable at the time the statute is passed has a lot to do with it. We may know what’s right or wrong but not have the forensic,discovery and enforcement tools to be able to concretely define this person did ....which is wrong and therefore is subject to .....penalty.
You can even look at it from a philosophical point of view. Is right innate ( Rousseau/ Spinoza) or externally brought to bear (Hobbes). What’s disturbing to the laity like me to to become aware an unjust outcome which does not meet the minimal standard of that society but deemed legal. Or a perversity of that society (think Pol Pot, Hitler) where clearly reprehensible actions are considered legal and in fact those actions are encouraged by the law( think Buddhist actions against Muslims in Myanmar or Muslim against Christian in Egypt). No have no reassurance even in our country( internment of Japanese, the long March, strange fruit) the law is the minimal standard of the society. Think it’s a lot more complex than that.
Have the liberatarian paranoia about the law which one of the thoughtful lawyers here expressed. He noted with any law there’s concern it will do more harm than good. See crafting good law and interpreting it to achieve justice as a difficult task. But in my ignorance see it as two different things.
 

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Outbound,

You bring up interesting philosophical questions that have been argued since man could argue. We each have our personal answer depending upon our culture and our own disposition. There is that old Supreme Court quote “I can’t define porn but I know it when I see it.”

That’s why we need laws which define the unacceptable behavior in some reasonable fashion. The laws are defining societies minimum acceptable standards. For most of us most of the time simple common sense and manners suffice to keep us within bounds.

When we go to court expecting something other than a decision based on these minimum standards we are often setting ourselves up for dissapointment. That’s why I say:

You go to court looking for justice, you get a decision.
 

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That’s why we need laws which define the unacceptable behavior in some reasonable fashion.
There maybe no law... but there must be a rule.

The US Navy in searching for the downed KC130 Tanker a few weeks ago kept searching for many days, until FAR after those people could have possibly survived.
They must have some rule, say, estimated maximum survival time x 2.

I will give you my newly formulated rule: Any Crew of mine going overboard will have me searching for them for Estimated Survival Time x 2... during which I will fire every EPIRB and call everyone on my sat phone till there is help in the search, no matter what.

If you get on my boat the only way off is the Gang Plank in a safe port.

I guarantee it!
 

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So basically acquitted, not because no wrong was done, but due to a legal technicality the judge had with the statute he was charged under.

This still does not make the entire event morally or ethically correct. How many times do we hear that even though it was wrong it was legal? Really way too many times.

Hard cases will likely be further em-brazened by this to keep on trucking without changing their ways while good captains who care for their people will become more cautious about the welfare of those they bring on-board.
 

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So basically acquitted, not because no wrong was done, but due to a legal technicality the judge had with the statute he was charged under.
Sorry, but this propensity to blame "legal technicalities" for the outcome here really grates my cookies.

These "technicalities" are not bugs in the system, they are a feature of the system. And if you ask me, they are the most important feature. They are limits on the almost unlimited power of the state to deprive anyone of the most precious asset we have: our freedom.

YOU think the Captain is a reprehensible human being who deserves to rot in jail; YOU think that the system failed here because he was not convicted. Well, what you or I individually think is irrelevant.

What matters is what the law says. And in this case, the law says that the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute doesn't apply. End of story. If you want it to apply, change the law. If you want a different law (and you can put me in this camp), write your Senator or Congressman (they've got lots of free time now) and get it changed.

This case wasn't dismissed because someone on the prosecution side made an innocent mistake; it was dismissed because he was being charged with a crime he didn't commit. 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!"

I rejoice that I live in a country where the state can't just gin up some charges against me and throw me in jail.
 

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... So, would anyone here like to help Captain Smith bring his boat back to Maine?
just askin'...
 

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Sorry, but this propensity to blame "legal technicalities" for the outcome here really grates my cookies.

These "technicalities" are not bugs in the system, they are a feature of the system. And if you ask me, they are the most important feature. They are limits on the almost unlimited power of the state to deprive anyone of the most precious asset we have: our freedom.

YOU think the Captain is a reprehensible human being who deserves to rot in jail; YOU think that the system failed here because he was not convicted. Well, what you or I individually think is irrelevant.

What matters is what the law says. And in this case, the law says that the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute doesn't apply. End of story. If you want it to apply, change the law. If you want a different law (and you can put me in this camp), write your Senator or Congressman (they've got lots of free time now) and get it changed.

This case wasn't dismissed because someone on the prosecution side made an innocent mistake; it was dismissed because he was being charged with a crime he didn't commit. 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!"

I rejoice that I live in a country where the state can't just gin up some charges against me and throw me in jail.
I think that the matter was not given the scrutiny that was warranted because of a technicality. The matter should have been opened up to review as a person died under highly questionable circumstances. Driving a man to insanity to the end that he jumped overboard and died potentially because you just shrugged off days of warnings and then just assumed that he was dead, sailed off and made jokes about it afterwards such as the offer to throw out a life ring a day later is just so unbelievable and is no small thing.

Nothing was ginned up here. A man did die under unusual circumstances and statements from those present did not jive. Even in the case of the infamous Captain of the Bounty his actions while lawful were held up to a hearing and the truth revealed showed that while he was within the law he did not behave properly. He was not imprisoned for it however he was reprimanded or if you prefer scolded for his failing in his duty. This captain should have been held up to scrutiny in the courts and at least reprimanded for his part in all this even if he ended up with was just the time already served under house arrest.

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?
 

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These "technicalities" are not bugs in the system, they are a feature of the system.
And I hang my glove on that one!

:)
 
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The Coast Guard could have proceeded against the license of a (this) mariner for negligence or violation of regulation (among other things), but evidently they did not do so in this case. The report from their investigator (which report had not been given to the jury pending a decision by the judge whether to disclose it--defense wanted it disclosed, prosecution didn't) likely sets out why not. Might its contents have influenced the judge in granting the acquittal motion on technical grounds? Who's to say.

US courts (UK also) operate on the adversarial model, rather than the investigative model one sees in some other European systems. So continuing a trial in order to give everthing a full hearing so to speak, isn't going to happen if there is a valid reason to conclude the prosecution can't meet its burden of proof, such as where it tries to apply an inapplicable statute. Public boards of investigation do go into such detail, as do civil lawsuits.
 
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