Weird American law

A medical examiner has notified the police that this week’s death of former White House press secretary James Brady has been ruled a homicide, a spokeswoman said.

Brady was shot in the head during the 1981 assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. of President Ronald Reagan

Normal Common Law rule is a year and a day isn’t it? 30 odd years is a pretty long time to have a murder/not murder decision waiting……

11 comments on “Weird American law

  1. I think they may be allowed their own rules now; it’s been more than two hundred years, after all.

  2. Wouldn’t surprise me if sections of the American left didn’t consider an attempt on Reagan’s life a crime at all. I’m positive had their been an attempt on Dubya’s life – as one TV station gleefully depicted in a drama at some point – lefties worldwide would have rushed to “understand” the perpetrator.

  3. The year-and-a-day rule no longer applies in Britain either. It was changed by The Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996.

  4. The coroner is angling for Brady’s job as figurehead of an anti-gun ownership clique.

    Coroners are elected here. Hence, they do political things.

  5. File under “weird ‘merkinisms”. As Gamecock suggests, this story is about USA politicians playing games.

  6. Not all homicide is murder though, is it?

    The target was Reagan. Had he died that would be premeditated murder pretty much everywhere, but I think you’d have a case that any deaths of those who took bullets for him was not murder but some lesser degree of manslaughter.

  7. I recall a newspaper report in about 1964 of a WW1 veteran who had died of lung complications stemming from his gas king been gassed in the trenches.
    The verdict was “Died of wounds sustained in action against the King’s enemies”.
    But that was sentiment for one who had lived 50 years in a nursing home.

  8. BIG

    It seems you are arguing that the mens rea isn’t there for murder because the “wrong person” was killed. But for a crime as serious as murder the common law has long been very (sensibly) harsh, and inventive, at inferring or “constructing” the mens rea.

  9. Correction: It has been pointed out to me that autopsies in Virginia are performed by “medical examiners,” who are not elected. Still, ordering an autopsy on an old man with known health problems is absurd, and obviously political. The refusal to release the details of the cause of death after declaring homicide is also absurd.

    There is no statute of limitations for murder in the U.S.

  10. Hinckley was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Reagan by reason of insanity. Insanity defences negate mens rea, and cannot be retrospectively nullified if the perpetrator subsequently get his marbles back (as Hinckley is alleged to have done). Thus there is no case to answer. This is probably grandstanding by some pissant DA who wants to get his name in the papers, coupled with the prosecutorial overreach that is now a hallmark of the US ‘justice’ system.

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