Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Legal No-Man's Land

I came across this news story a few weeks ago. I couldn't blog about it then because the future ex-Mrs Fantastic was still in town and she's demanding of my time.

So the upshot of that article is that a US Army civilian threatened to kill his neighbor with an ax. The neighbor had been blowing a vuvuzela during a World Cup game. This threat took place in the city of Weiden, the lovely German city I live in. So coupled with that I'm also an attorney for the Army, I can offer insight as well as geographic proximity to this story.

Here is that insight: The US Army civilian is an a unique place legally. If the Germans do not prosecute a US civilian criminally then the civilian faces no criminal sanction. The US authorities may bar a civilian from post or from receiving a stay beyond a tourist visa. And of course those can be punishments and/or annoyances, but they don't go on your permanent record the same way a conviction does. The only blemish to one's permanent record is that a MP report is created with the civilian's name as the subject. If that civilian later seeks a job with the government the report will be available during the background check, making employment harder to come by. And of course, this civilian who threatened Germans with an ax may lose his or her current job. However, considering the amount of US civilians out here, especially the number of children to servicemembers, one does not have to think too hard about situations in which criminal acts may go unpunished, especially since this is a much more decriminalized society than ours. So if a crime is simply at a minimum level where the Germans do not care to prosecute, then even if an American district attorney or Army Judge Advocate would prosecute the case if they could, the US civilian will face no criminal sanction.

Any who, the main point of this post is that I was in a unique position to discuss this case a few weeks ago when it happened. That's Weiden on the right. The young Germans blow vuvuzelas all the time here and it's annoying enough to drive a person to threaten murder. And since I couldn't blog about this story when it happened I had to settle for comments on other websites, where I tried to make the points made above, although much briefer, on my new favorite website, Deadspin. But the authors/editors of Deadspin deleted two of my attempts to share these valuable insights. And what's even more enraging, is that something similiar happened at Gawker a week prior to the Deadspin deletions, except that at Gawker another commenter stole the joke I had made in a subsequent comment of his own.

So essentially the entire point of this post is that I spend too much time making internet comments and checking on the responses, only to see the jokes stolen and the comments deleted. It's a ridiculous state of affairs. If it were not for the power of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice to punish me, I would ax chop every last one of them.

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