Category: Entertainment law


Police Misconduct – Solicitation in “Burn Notice”

The USA Network’s spy-drama series, Burn Notice, has resumed airing episodes for its sixth season. The series focuses on the life of Michael Westen, a former CIA spy who was “blacklisted” because of a burn notice. Due to his inactive status in the CIA, Michael was forced to move back to his hometown of Miami, Florida. Furthermore, in order to earn money Westen helps citizens of Miami deal with issues that they cannot handle themselves. These issues include, but are not limited to: going undercover to thwart crimes, attorneys having their children kidnapped, and neighborhoods being terrorized by gangs. In order to complete these tasks, Westen enlists the help of: Sam (Westen’s best friend/ex-Navy SEAL), Fiona  (Westen’s girlfriend/former Irish Republican Army agent) and Jesse (Westen’s friend/ex-spy).

In the mid-season premiere episode, Desperate Measures (which aired on November 8, 2012), Ayn, an ex-convict, requests Westen’s help to deal with a crooked detective, Detective Garza, who planted false evidence on her. Furthermore, Ayn informs Westen that Garza looks for gang members to help him plant false evidence on ex-convicts, who Garza believes should not have been released from prison. Thus, Westen gets Jesse to pose as a gang member and approach Garza. Jesse subsequently approaches Garza and, after interviewing Jesse, Garza tells him that he needs help planting false evidence on a local crime boss. Garza further explains to Jesse that he wants to question the crime boss about his involvement in a recent string of crimes committed in the city, but that he has no justifiable reason to take the crime boss into custody. Thus, Garza wants Jesse to plant the false evidence on him. Additionally, Garza meets with Jesse a second time to tell Jesse what he has planned. Garza tells Jesse that he will give Jesse some marijuana to give to the crime boss, and Garza will subsequently pat down and arrest the crime boss, upon finding the marijuana. However, when Jesse meets Garza to obtain the marijuana, Garza tells him that he can’t go against his morals as a police officer. Thus, Garza decides against having Jesse plant the false evidence on the crime boss and tells Jesse that he never wants to see him again.

The legal issue raised by the above events is whether Detective Garza solicited Jesse to commit a crime. Burn Notice is set in Miami, Florida. Thus, Florida law applies.

In Florida, statute 777.04(2) states: “A person who solicits another to commit an offense prohibited by law and in the course of such solicitation commands, encourages, hires, or requests another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such offense or an attempt to commit such offense commits the offense of criminal solicitation…”

The first element of the crime is soliciting another to commit an offense prohibited by law. In the episode, Garza told Jesse that he would give him marijuana and have Jesse deliver the marijuana to the crime boss. Under Florida’s statute 893.13(1)(a), it is unlawful for any person to sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance. Furthermore, one of the controlled substances listed by Florida statute 893.03(1)(c) is Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element of cannabis/marijuana. Thus, when Garza asked Jesse to deliver the marijuana to the crime boss, Garza was soliciting Jesse to commit an offense prohibited by law.

Moreover, the second element of the crime is that the solicitor must command, encourage, hire or request another to engage in specific conduct that would constitute the offense. The second element is met because in Garza’s initial meeting with Jesse, Garza requested that Jesse help him plant marijuana on the crime boss. Furthermore, Garza had a second meeting with Jesse in which he told Jesse specific actions to take in delivering the marijuana to the crime boss. In each of these meetings, Garza communicated his desire to have Jesse deliver the marijuana to the crime boss. Garza explicitly requested Jesse to deliver marijuana to the crime boss, on more than one occasion. Hence, the second element of requesting another person to engage in speficic conduct, which constitutes a crime, is met.

However, the fact that Garza ultimately thwarted the crime from being committed works in favor of a defense to solicitation. According to Florida’s statute 777.04(5)(b), if the solicitor solicits another to commit a crime, but the solicitor completely and voluntarily renounces his/her criminal intent and persuaded the other person not to commit the crime or prevented the crime, the solicitor has a defense to criminal solicitation. When Garza and Jesse met up to execute the plan, Garza stated that he could not have the crime committed because it goes against his morals. Furthermore, Garza told Jesse that he never wanted to see him again, and Jesse complied. Thus, it is possible that Garza’s actions may have made the defense, to solicitation, available to him.

The Desperate Measures episode sheds light on a real world problem. In contemporary news, police officers have been accused of planting false evidence to make arrests. Two of the most recent cases involve Illinois police. The first case, taking place in Chicago, involves a police officer that allegedly planted weapons at a residence and subsequently arrested the tenants for making bombs. The Chicago police involved in this case deny that they planted evidence.  Additionally, a police officer in Elgin confessed to planting a cell phone at the scene of a crime, in which the suspect was arrested for battery and robbery of a wallet and cell phone. Moreover, the Elgin officer acted as if he had discovered the cell phone at the scene, and alerted other investigators of his discovery. The officer involved in the Elgin case confessed that he planted the false evidence, so that he could repair his reputation as a police officer. These real world cases show the desperate actions that some police officers will take, in order to prove guilt or make an arrest (as Detective Garza did). Although, Burn Notice is a fictional show, the show’s writers may have attempted to make the audience aware that these issues really do occur.

 

Setting Fire in the Snow? – Arson in “South Park”

Comedy Central’s controversial animated series – “South Park” – has resumed airing episodes of its 16th season. The show is set in the eternally snowy fictional town of South Park, Colorado and centers around the antics of four elementary school aged boys: Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick. South Park’s latest episode “A Nightmare on Face Time” , which aired on October 24, 2012, was a Halloween themed episode. The episode revolved around Stan’s father – Randy – purchasing a Blockbuster Video franchise. Randy enlists the help of Stan, Sharon (Randy’s wife/Stan’s mother)  and Shelly (Randy’s daughter/Stan’s sister)  to run the franchise’s daily operations. However, the family detests working at Blockbuster because it is a failing business, and never has any customers. Additionally, the family explains to Randy that few people rent movies from Blockbuster because of the advent of RedBox, Netflix, Hulu and other methods of streaming movies online. The failure of the business has a negative effect on Randy, who begins to see, and converse with, ghosts. The family’s hatred for their Blockbuster franchise culminates in Shelly burning down the building. Shelly’s actions raise the issue of whether she committed an act of arson? Because “South Park” is set in Colorado, Colorado law applies.

The Colorado Supreme Court stated, in Copeland v. People, that: “The statute punished [Fourth Degree] arson endangering a person as a felony, and arson endangering only property as a misdemeanor: (1) A person who starts or maintains a fire or causes an explosion on his own property or that of another, and by so doing places another in danger of death or serious bodily injury or places any building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage, commits fourth degree arson. (2) Fourth degree arson is a class 4 felony if a person is thus endangered. (3) Fourth degree arson is a class 2 misdemeanor if only property is thus endangered and the value of the property is one hundred dollars or more. (4) Fourth degree arson is a class 3 misdemeanor if only property is thus endangered and the value of such property is less than one hundred dollars.”

The first element, of starting a fire placing another person in danger of death or serious injury or placing in building in danger, is met because of the circumstances surrounding Shelly’s actions. Immediately prior to Shelly’s setting fire to the building, she is seen pouring gasoline onto the movie shelves in the Blockbuster. Randy then walks up behind Shelly and questions her actions, but Shelly claims that she is doing nothing. Additionally, Shelly subsequently lights a match and throws the match onto the gasoline. After setting the fire, Shelly continues to pour gasoline onto the fire, enhancing the fire’s strength. The aggregation of these actions shows Shelly’s intent to cause damage to the building, and perhaps injure her father.

The second, third and fourth sections of the arson statute are used to determine the severity of the punishment for committing the offense. In this instance, the third and fourth elements are unlikely to be applicable.

The third and fourth sections of the statute apply to situations in which the arsonist only places property in danger of being damaged. As the Colorado Supreme Court states in People v. Garcia, the language of the arson statute is not vague and not difficult to interpret. Additionally, the Colorado Supreme Court stated that the third and fourth sections, of the fourth degree arson statute, apply in situations where only a danger to property exists and there is no danger to human life. Additionally, if there is no danger to human life, and only danger to property, then the arsonist shall be charged with a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. When applying these principles to Shelly’s burning of the Blockbuster franchise, it is unlikely that Shelly will be charged with misdemeanor arson. The fact that Randy was still present within the building, when Shelly set the fire, shows that Randy’s life was placed in danger by Shelly’s actions. Thus, because Randy’s life, as well as the Blockbuster franchise, was endangered the third and fourth sections cannot be applied to Shelly’s actions.

Finally, the second section of the statute is likely applicable because Shelly placed Randy’s life in danger. The Copeland case states that for fourth degree arson, intent to endanger the safety of another is not necessary. However, it is sufficient if the safety of another is endangered by conduct that is dangerous. Once Shelly set the fire to the Blockbuster building, while Randy was still inside of the building, she placed his life in danger. Furthermore, even if it was not Shelly’s intent to cause harm to Randy, the fact that she placed his life in danger is sufficient to find guilt under the arson statute. Additionally, it is possible that Stan and Sharon were still present in the building, although those facts are not known for certain because Shelly only interacted with Randy prior to setting the fire.  Thus, because Shelly knowingly set fire to the Blockbuster franchise building, and subsequently placed Randy’s life in danger, it is likely that she is liable for arson in the fourth degree.

The issue of arson is raised because Shelly intentionally started a fire, and property was damaged as a result of the fire. Furthermore, human life was endangered as a result of the fire. The burning of the Blockbuster franchise is likely a message, to the viewing public, that video/DVD rentals are becoming obsolete in this new age of technology. Websites like Netflix and Hulu, allow users to view movies and television shows on their computers, cell phones or gaming systems, which eliminates the need for physical copies of movies. Additionally, pricing has become a problem for Blockbuster. Blockbuster charges more for video/DVD rentals than RedBox (Blockbuster charges $1.99 or $2.99 for the first day/ RedBox charges $1.20 for the first day). As a result, more people may rent movies from RedBox because of the less expensive price. Thus, the creators of South Park are relaying a crude message that there is very little, if any, necessity for Blockbuster in this new age of technology.

Lebanon Considering Legal Action Against Homeland Television Show

The Lebanese government is considering taking legal action against the television series Homeland for the show’s unflattering portrayal of Beirut. Homeland is an award-winning American television fictional series on Showtime that focuses on international affairs and terrorism. The threat of legal action stems from the second episode of the second season entitled “Beirut is Back” which aired on October 7, 2012. Specifically, the episode portrays Hamra Street as a war-torn narrow alleyway infested with terrorist activity. The episode features militants armed with assault weapons shouting commands in Arabic and harassing terrified women. In truth, Hamra Street is a vibrant business district packed with Western-style shops. The episode also features women wearing hair-covering hijabs; however, this is uncommon in this particular area. Furthermore, the episode was filmed in neighboring Israel, not in Beirut. For these reasons, Lebanon’s minister of tourism, Fady Abboud, called the episode a “serious misrepresentation” of the country’s capital and has threatened legal action.

The Lebanese legal threat raises some interesting issues over whether there is even a viable legal claim. At this time, Abboud has not specified what type of legal action Lebanon will pursue. Abboud said, “We are following the case legally. I raised this at the cabinet meeting and the president asked the minister for justice and the minister of communications to see what can be done.” Showtime and Twentieth Century Fox, which produces Homeland, have declined to comment. Similar legal threats were made by Kazakhstan against actor Sacha Baron Cohen over his fictional character Borat featured in the film Borat and the television series Da Ali G Show. In the film and television show, Cohen, a British comedian, pretended to be a foreign journalist from Kazakhstan named Borat. The Borat character depicts the country of Kazakhstan as anti-Semitic and claims that Kazakh citizens enjoy drinking horse urine, shooting dogs, and regard rape and incest as enjoyable pastimes. In 2005, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry threatened to sue Borat for portraying Kazakhstan in a derogatory way. Kazakh officials never specified what legal theory they would base any legal action on.

The Lebanese legal threat also allows us to examine the prevalence of stereotypes in television shows and movies. Middle Eastern countries have long complained that the Arab terrorist stereotype has been allowed to flourish in Western popular culture. Professor Jad Melki, director of the Media Studies Program at the American University of Beirut, explains, “the portrayal of Arabs in the US is that we are all Islamists living in the desert, evil and angry all the time…If you look at US media, racist stereotypes of African Americans have all but disappeared but it is still acceptable to stereotype Arabs.” Indeed, the Homeland episode reinforces negative stereotypes about progressive and Westernized Arab areas like the commercial business district where Hamra Street is located. Lebanon certainly has a reasonable fear that this stereotype will deter tourism.

Because it remains unclear where the Lebanese government would sue Homeland and what legal theory they would base the lawsuit on, a full legal analysis is difficult.  Joseph Peter Drennan, an international lawyer, explains that the Lebanese government would have a lot of problems suing the show’s producers for defamation in an American court because there would be a lot of difficulty finding a plaintiff that would have standing. Drennan believes that the Lebanese government is likely considering a group libel claim which he believes would not be successful in American courts because it would be difficult to show that an individual suffered actual damages. In addition, the fact that Homeland is a fictional show makes any legal claim by the Lebanese government or an individual extraordinarily difficult. Furthermore, it will be very difficult for Lebanese officials to argue that the filming of the show constitutes a misrepresentation because it is a common practice in the film industry to film fictional shows in a location that portrays a different location. Interestingly, it also is possible that the Lebanese government may sue outside of the United States. Ultimately, where the suit is filed and the legal theory used by the Lebanese government matters. Regardless, a better solution for Lebanon is to turn to free market forces to effectuate change. Abboud has said, “I am calling on all young Lebanese adults to do what they need to do; to write blogs, to call the BBC and CNN to try to raise awareness that Beirut is not a city of Kalashnikov and war.” Indeed, the best course of action is for Lebanon to use the negative publicity in a positive way. Again, Borat can serve as an interesting example. In response to Borat, the Kazakhstani government ran advertisements promoting Kazakstan in major U.S. newspapers and commercials on major U.S. television stations. Kazakhistan’s foreign minister, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, now claims that Borat increased tourist visa applications ten-fold. “It was a great triumph for us,” the foreign minister said, “and I am grateful to Borat for helping to attract tourists to Kazakhstan.”

When Good Guys Do Bad Things – Trespassing in “Young Justice”

After a three-month hiatus, Cartoon Network’s “Young Justice” returned to the air on September 29, 2012. Young Justice is a superhero television show based on the DC Comics Universe and its characters. Additionally, Young Justice focuses on The Team. The Team is a team of sidekicks of Justice League superheroes who fulfill tasks/missions delegated by the Justice League.  Moreover, the members of The Team include, but are not limited to Night Wing/Tim Drake (sidekick of Batman), Kid Flash/Wally West (sidekick of The Flash), Miss Martian/M’Gann M’Orzz (sidekick/niece of Martian Manhunter) and Aqua Lad/Kaldur’ahm (sidekick of Aqua Man).

In the most recent episode (air date October 13), entitled Before The Dawn, The Team had some of its members kidnapped by a group of aliens known as The Reach. Additionally, The Reach’s motive in kidnapping the members of The Team was to conduct experiments on the members who possessed superpowers and the members who lacked superpowers. Thus, with some of their members being held captive by The Reach, The Team (Night Wing, Miss Martian, and Wonder Girl) embarks on a covert mission to save their comrades.

Miss Martian, who is able to walk through walls undetected, flies through the outer wall of The Reach’s ship and rescues her captive teammates. Subsequently, Miss Martian unlocks the door to the ship allowing her other teammates to assist with the rescue. The legal issue that arises, from the incident described above, is whether The Team trespassed into The Reach’s ship? The Reach’s ship is underwater in the fictional city of Metropolis. Thus, because Metropolis is analogized to New York, New York’s ordinances will be applied.

New York Penal Code Article 140.17 states, in pertinent part, that:  “A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building, and when, in the course of committing such crime, he: (1) Possesses, or knows that another participant in the crime possesses, an explosive or a deadly weapon…” Additionally, New York Penal Code Article 140.00 states that a “Building, in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes any structure, vehicle or watercraft used for overnight lodging of persons, or used by persons for carrying on business therein…” Furthermore, under Article 140.00, a person “‘enters or remains unlawfully’ in or upon premises when he is not licensed or privileged to do so.”

In the episode, Before The Dawn, it is likely that Miss Martian, and the other members of The Team, commit first degree criminal trespassing. The element of knowledge is satisfied, because the rescuing members of The Team devised, and prepared, an intricate plan to break into the ship and rescue their captive teammates. The amount of planning The Team did, and the subsequent execution of that plan, shows knowledge/intent.

Additionally, The Team was not licensed or privileged to enter The Reach’s ship. This lack of license, or privilege, is illustrated by the fact that The Team had to devise a plan that would allow them access to the ship without being detected. Furthermore, Miss Martian used her power of invisibility to enter the ship, because she knew that she could possibly be harmed if she entered the ship and was detected. Thus, the element of unlawful entry is met.

Moreover, The Reach’s ship would be considered a “building” under New York law. The Reach’s ship was a watercraft, which the statute explicitly states is a building. Additionally, while no one was ever shown sleeping on the ship, The Reach conducted business on the ship. Although The Reach was involved in an unsavory manner of business, human experimentation, there actions still constitute business nonetheless.

Finally, the last element of the crime is the element that most lends itself to ambiguity. Night Wing always carries explosives and uses them in most of his fights. Night Wing is Batman’s protégé, and follows Batman’s maxim of never killing an opponent. Although Night Wing never kills his opponents, he often uses smoke bombs, gas bombs, and other explosive weaponry, to subdue his opponents. Furthermore, as soon as Night Wing entered the ship he threw an explosive at one of his attackers, causing the attackers body to be launched across the room. While Miss Martian did not possess any explosives or deadly weapons herself, it is likely that she knew Night Wing possessed explosives. However, it cannot be said with certainty that the other members of The Team knew that Night Wing possessed explosives.

Alternatively, The Team may claim that their actions were justified and not criminal. Under New York Penal Code Article 35.05(2), and under People v. Maher, 79 N.Y.2d 978, conduct which would normally result in a criminal offense is justifiable when “necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue”. The rescuing Team members may argue that because their teammates, and other humans, were being held captive  by The Reach, a malicious and violent alien race, that trespassing was necessary. Moreover, the Team may be able to prove necessity because the captive Team members were going to be experimented on, and killed by The Reach. Thus, in order to save the lives of The Reach’s prisoners, The Team had no other reasonable option but to break into the ship and rescue the prisoners.

In conclusion, it is likely that the elements of criminal trespassing were satisfied in this incident. However, the analysis turns on the fact of whether Night Wing possessed explosives. Thus, if Night Wing possessed explosives and The Team knew about these explosives, then they would all be liable for criminal trespassing in the first degree. Conversely, if Night Wing possessed the explosives and the other Team members had no knowledge of the explosives, then Night Wing would liable for criminal trespassing in the first degree, and the other Team members would be liable for a lesser crime. Alternatively, The Team may attempt to invoke a justification defense and claim that their actions were necessary to save the lives of their comrades, and prevent grave injury.

 

Stop the Presses…or Not: Scandal Gives Rise to Competing Legal Interests

Courts often engage in the practice of balancing the interests of an individual’s right to privacy with the right of the press to disseminate what may be newsworthy information about that individual, particularly when publicizing information pertaining to a public official.  In the second season premiere of the ABC’s hit television show Scandal, a Rhode Island congressman by the name of Jacob Shaw was changing the batteries to his desktop clock in his office when he discovered a hidden motion-activated camera.  The video contained footage of the congressman engaging in sexual activity.  The video footage was obtained unlawfully by an unknown source and subsequently leaked to a right wing website that planned on releasing the sex tape on the internet.   An effort to get an injunction to stop the release of the sex tape failed even though the congressman believed that allowing the release of this video footage violated his right to privacy.  Thus the issue at bar is why a court would refuse to grant an injunction thus allowing a media entity to release unlawfully acquired video footage of a public official’s private sexual conduct in the privacy of his own office.

The United States Supreme Court noted in Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan that any prior restraint on speech, such as an injunction, bears a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.  Thus an individual seeking a court injunction enjoining speech carries a heavy burden of showing justification for imposition of such restraint in addition to a showing that the individual will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is denied.  Although public officials have a diminished expectation of privacy as it relates to matters of public concern, it surely could be argued there is justification for a court to enjoin the release, by the media, of an unlawfully obtained sex tape recorded in a place where one has a reasonable expectation of privacy and that a public official’s sex life is not a matter of public concern.  Thus, congressman Shaw could bring a cause of action for intrusion, one of the four tort elements under a breach of the right of privacy, where he could show that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy that was breached in a manner that is highly offensive to any reasonable person.  The problem Shaw faces is that the media entity planning the release the video footage took no part in any breach of his privacy.

It has been well established by the United States Supreme Court that the press has freedom to expose and criticize information regarding public officials as it relates to matters of public concern.  Thus the other side of the argument is that the private lives of public officials are indeed matters of public concern if citizens are to entrust them in running their government.  The effect of the media entity not having any part in the illegal conduct as it pertains to its acquisition of the tape is illustrated in Bartnicki v. Vopper, where the United States Supreme Court noted its consistency in holding that where a media defendant “lawfully obtains truthful information about a matter of public significance then state officials may not constitutionally punish publication of the information, absent a need … of the highest order.”  In Bartnicki, conversations between a teacher’s union and local school board attempting to negotiate contracts was intercepted by an unknown source.  The recorded conversation was leaked to a radio host who aired the tape on his radio show.  Even though the conversation had been illegally intercepted, and the radio host had knowledge the tape was a product of illegal conduct prior to airing it, the Court held a stranger’s illegal conduct does not remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.  Where a media entity has taken no part in the illegal conduct used to obtain the information it seeks to disseminate a court will not grant an injunction, particularly where the information pertains to a public official on matters of legitimate public concern.

Thus it appears that even though congressman Shaw’s sex life was a private matter to him, this fact was not enough of a justification for the court to restrain the right of the press to disseminate information it obtained through no illegal conduct on its part as it pertains to the congressman’s conduct due to his status as a public official, and the implications this status has on what parts of his life are now a matter of public concern.

Hero Behind Bars – False Imprisonment in “Alphas”

The Sy-Fy channel’s, television show, “Alphas” focuses on the lives of superheroes known as Alphas. Alphas are not the indestructible , flight-capable , otherworldly type of superheroes that exist in comic books. However, Alphas are human beings who were born with something in their genetic makeup that grants them certain abilities not possessed by normal humans. These abilities include, but are not limited to, enhancement of the five senses, super strength (for limited periods of time) and mind control.  Furthermore, the main characters are a team of good Alphas, led by a psychiatrist (Dr. Rosen), who fight to save the world from bad Alphas. The objective of the bad Alphas is to create a world in which normal humans are subservient to Alphas. Conversely, the objective of the good Alphas is to protect humanity, and prevent world domination, by finding and capturing the bad Alphas.

In the most recent episode (air-date Sept. 24), Dani Rosen (Dr. Rosen’s daughter) – an Alpha – is sent undercover to help the police catch Stanton Parish, the show’s main antagonist.  Once Dani arrives at Stanton’s hideout, she is taken to a secluded room. The door to the room is locked and a guard is seen standing outside of the door, blocking the room’s only entrance and exit.

The legal issue that stems from this incident is, whether Dani was subject to false imprisonment due to the actions of Stanton Parish’s guards? “Alphas” is set in New York, so New York law controls this incident.  According to Curry v. City of Syracuse, 316 F.3d 324, “The elements of false arrest under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 are substantially the same as the elements under New York law. The elements of false arrest and false imprisonment claims are identical: (1) the defendant intended to confine the plaintiff, (2) the plaintiff was conscious of the confinement, (3) the plaintiff did not consent to the confinement and (4) the confinement was not otherwise privileged.”

The first element of false imprisonment, under New York law, is that the defendant intended to confine the plaintiff. In the episode, before Dani was taken to the secluded room, Stanton Parish commanded his guards to take her away. Thus, the language used by Parish showed his intention to confine Dani.

Moreover, the second element – that the plaintiff must be conscious of the confinement – was met because Dani was aware of the fact that she was locked in the secluded room. Additionally, Dani declared numerous times that she wanted to be let out of the room, once she was locked in. These events meet the requirements of consciousness.

Furthermore, according to the Curry case, a confinement is privileged when the individual, who has imprisoned another, has the legal authority to imprison another. Stanton is not a police officer, nor does he work for any law enforcement agency. Likewise, Stanton’s guards are not law enforcement agents. Therefore, because the confinement was not privileged, the fourth element of false imprisonment is met.

Finally, the element of consent is ambiguous and uncertain, when applied to this incident. In the episode, once Stanton Parish told the guard to take Dani away, Dani calmly walked away with the guard. The fact that Dani just walked away with the guard, without putting up a fight or resisting in any manner, appears to show consent. However, Dani may not have resisted because Stanton Parish and his guards (armed with guns) outnumbered her, and resistance may have led to her demise. Thus, if it is determined that Dani’s inaction was consent to the confinement, then that third element is not met. Conversely, if the surrounding circumstances are considered, then Dani may not have consented, and the third element would be met.

Upon analyzing the issue of false imprisonment it is more likely, than not, that Stanton Parish’s guards falsely imprisoned Dani. Furthermore, false imprisonment is likely met because: the guards intended to confine Dani, Dani was conscious of her confinement, the confinement was not privileged and, considering the surrounding circumstances, Dani did not consent to being confined.




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