back to article I've had it with these mother-fscking slaps on this mother-fscking plane: Flight fight sparks legal brouhaha over mid-air co-ords

In the internet era where people are able to interact across wide geographic areas, the world's legal systems have struggled with the question of where an offence occurred and so where a lawsuit or criminal charges should be lodged. But this month, the most tech-savvy court in America, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, faced …

  1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Here have a can of worms...

    On this basis of this, what jurisdiction would cover this if the plane was in international airspace? Was the international terrorist (played by David Suchet, presumably Poirot was only a cover) in Executive decision breaking a law if the crime was committed outside the bounds of law jurisdiction?

    Increasingly the law of common sense seems to be missing in US law

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      Sadly in this day and age, the absence is far more wide-ranging than just in US law...

    2. Doctor Huh?

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      David Suchet, but only because THE proper choice has gone to the Great Gig in the Sky. RIP, Alan Rickman.

    3. GreggS

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      I suppose that depends where the charge is filed!

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/rape-cruise-ship-italy-suspect-spain-police-valencia-court-a8870211.html

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        Could be interesting, suppose she was flying on emirates or similar and the slap happened over Saudi or Iran - would the US court be happy with her going to trial there?

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          Good point. You win a halal cookie...

          0.0

        2. GrapeBunch Silver badge

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          "Could be interesting, suppose she was flying on emirates or similar and the slap happened over Saudi or Iran - would the US court be happy with her going to trial there?"

          Taking that a baby step further: what happens if a jaded passenger is served an uninteresting meal, and in an unguarded moment, over a jurisdiction where the penalty for Blasphemy is Death, mutters: "Oh cheebuz, another omelette."

          I am surprised that there appears to be no US federal law against assault. Do judicial districts have airspace? I thought only countries had airspace. Obviously, IANAL.

          Finally, if the assault took place these days, over Nebraska, the evidential fish would be rather smelly after five years. Apologies to the Monty Python troupe.

      2. swm Bronze badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        About 50 years ago my father was flying and at one point in the flight they stopped serving drinks. When asked why, they said that in the state they were flying over had a law that said they couldn't serve drinks if someone complained. Who complained? A competing airline.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      Presumably, if the plane is over international waters, it's the Law of the Sea, except the US isn't a signatory to that...

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        Presumably, if the plane is over international waters, it's the Law of the Sea, except the US isn't a signatory to that...

        Admiralty law you say. There's a FMOTL who can undoubtedly help with that. This kind of lawsuit sounds right up their rabbit hole. Note my lower case nick

    5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Common sense in US Law

      Anyone involved with the Law in the USA has IMHO to undergo a mandatory frontal lobotomy or other surgery to remove any trace of Common Sense from their body and mind.

      Common Sense and Precident do not work well together.

      IT is a shame really but Rulez is Rulez and any violation must be punished by 150 years in Gaol even for an offense like slapping a SOB who probably deserved it.

    6. Someone Else Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      Increasingly the law of common sense seems to be missing in US law

      The law of common sense was repealed officially when the Second Bush Regime was inaugurated. Never mind that idiocy of Security Theater that was put into play after 9/11, consider John Ashcroft's cover up of 2 statues he considered too revealing in the Justice Dept as Exhibit A.

    7. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      It's the 9th circuit, most overturned of all, despite the author's claims of adeptness.

      They're the most radical left, not the most adept at anything else - especially including common sense.

      So, no offence can exist over international waters, for example? Way to think things through!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. HausWolf

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        Except that the 9th isn't the most overturned court, that would be the 6th. Of course since the 9th is the largest, it would have a large amount of decisions regardless.

        But it isn't the most overturned, nor has it ever been.

      3. kierenmccarthy

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        Please don't get sucked into the right-wing wormhole.

        All Appeals Courts are equally adept and staffed with very smart people who deal with complex issues. Sometimes a general bias creeps in mostly because of the cases the judges see (the Ninth Circuit deals with the majority of big tech cases for example because of the concentration of tech in California) - but often that is instructive.

        There is a system for resolving differences across circuits. And systems for deciding which cases go where (which partisans have started trying to game, unfortunately).

        It is the best imperfect system we have. But there is no bad egg court. And it is not a party political thing.

        All that said, I have no idea why the majority went this direction in this case.

        1. EveryTime

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          I can see why the majority decided this way, and it's the opposite of judicial activism that the 9th is sometimes accused of.

          This started as an assault charge. The California court of first instance decided that it was indeed an assault. The guilty party wanted a do-over, so their lawyer (twice) appealed the verdict on jurisdiction. Which is technically correct (The Best Kind of Correct -- Hermes). The appeals court reluctantly agreed that the lawyer's assertion was technically correct, while acknowledging that it opened a fresh can of worms.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Here have a can of worms...

            Exactly. The article even quotes the part of the decision which says so. The court found compelling statutory and precedent arguments for a ruling even they felt was unfortunate. Corrective legislation is the remedy.

            I, for one, am not afraid of the "judicial activism" bugbear; but in a case like this I can't fault the 9th for following the rules. Sometimes laws have failed to keep pace with technological change (even when that change is now a century old).

            Fortunately, in this case, we have circuits disagreeing, so there's a chance someone will take a case like this to SCOTUS and they'll hear it. SCOTUS might agree with the 9th, since at first blush their reasoning seems sound; but they might also overturn for the sake of convenience. Wouldn't be the first time.

    8. devTrail Bronze badge

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      On this basis of this, what jurisdiction would cover this if the plane was in international airspace?

      I knew that the international law stated that the jurisdiction once outside the national airpsace is where the plane is registered. More or less as the jurisdiction on a ship outside the 12 km line from the coast.

      Was the international terrorist (played by David Suchet, presumably Poirot was only a cover) in Executive decision breaking a law if the crime was committed outside the bounds of law jurisdiction?

      Increasingly the law of common sense seems to be missing in US law

      I wouldn't worry about the rare terrorist case, I would worry about the Americans pretending to be dumb and suddenly using this story as an excuse to ignore the international law and imposing their own interpretation.

    9. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      At least according to ICAO recommendations, the aircraft's flag has jurisdiction over international flights similar to how in maritime law, the ship's flag has jurisdiction over its passengers. This has been upheld by the ICJ in the cases of crimes aboard aircraft in international airspace.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        But the ICJ doesn't apply here. It's a US-flagged domestic flight completely within US-controlled skies. In which case, the individual states can assert jurisdiction unless there's a standing US law that overrides them re: jurisdiction on board an interstate transit vehicle.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          And since its a US-flagged aircraft, it would be handled by the DC Federal Court as that is the location of the regulatory body governing air travel (FAA) and the location of the agency responsible for the enforcement of law aboard aircraft (TSA / DHS).

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Here have a can of worms...

            DOES it? That's why I'm looking for the actual Act or Order that specifically says the Fed holds overriding jurisdiction over aircraft and/or any other interstate personnel transit vehicle (like trains). Otherwise, wouldn't the courts have already cited them to invoke the Supremacy Clause?

    10. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      Here, have a solution. Plane cops and plane court. Seriously.

      This is how some metropolitan areas handle crime on mass transit - the trains/subways/buses tend to go through multiple jurisdictions so the only workable solution is to make mass transit it's own jurisdiction.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        You mean like the already existing Federal Air Marshal's Service?

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          More like plain, old bus cops

          https://www.metrotransit.org/police

          1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

            Re: Here have a can of worms...

            The problem is that if you wanted actual cops on planes, you are talking about a $15 billion dollar a year expense. There are 43,000 flights operating in the US each day, average ticket cost is $500, so you are looking at $21.5 million per day in just airfare (A cost that is either going to have to be absorbed by taxpayers of other air travelers). Then you have the hourly wages of the cops themselves, plus accommodations when they are away from home, cost of training...

            And all for what? A few minor crimes that are so rare that one makes international news? Especially when its easy enough to just let the port authority cops handle it when the flight lands. For the extremely rare violent passenger, the flight crew does have access to restraints. The perpetrator of a crime isn't going to be able to go anywhere until the plane lands, and even if they do somehow escape, the airline has all the information law enforcement would need to track them down.

      2. devTrail Bronze badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        You, and the other two who replied, are making confusion between law enforcement and the judicial system. Please let's keep them separate.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Here have a can of worms...

          "You, and the other two who replied, are making confusion between law enforcement and the judicial system. Please let's keep them separate."

          You may note that the OP did, in fact, keep them separate - "Plane cops and plane court.". America already has plane cops, why not a plane court as well? Given the size of the country and the number of flights, I'd be surprised if there aren't enough cases to fill one up.

    11. rdhood

      Re: Here have a can of worms...

      "On this basis of this, what jurisdiction would cover this if the plane was in international airspace?"

      I am glad you asked, because just last week an Italian judge let a cruise ship rapist go based on that exact argument... that the event took place in international waters, and that is not his jurisdiction.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Here have a can of worms...

        IOW, the case is supposed to be tried where the ship is flagged, and since ships tend to get flagged in countries with lax enforcement...

  2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "...where in the spacious skies..."

    I see what the judge did there...

    All we know is that the alleged assault occurred somewhere over amber waves of grain...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "...where in the spacious skies..."

      Nice catch!

  3. drand

    Airline seats should be fixed-back

    unless enough room is provided such that a reclined seat in front does not interfere with my legs. I always seem to get sat behind the moron who thrusts their seat back at the first possible opportunity. Yet another reason, along with tedious security theatre and hellish shopping malls masquerading as airpotrs, to avoid air travel.

    1. Neil 32

      Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

      More and more airlines are going down the route of fixed-back seats; especially the short haul budget carriers.

      Just imaging if Ryanair had ever managed to implement their strap-you-to-a-dangling-board-so-you're-basically-standing-the-entire-flight idea!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

        http://www.gadgetduck.com/goods/kneedefender.html

        No need to argue

        1. EveryTime

          Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

          Those are specifically prohibited, as they block egress. As are various other devices that prevent the seat from reclining.

          "But I'll remove them before the crash" is invalid reasoning.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

            But what if they counter "the reclining seat itself blocks egress and can't be relied to be forced up in an emergency"?

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

      It is also polite to ask the people behind you before reclining a seat - especially when it's not night time, and people could be working/eating/watching something. Anyway in this situation I politely tell they are causing me issues, and don't start shaking the seat. But of course you meet a lot of selfish morons.

      But I agree - if there is not enough space to recline seats, it shouldn't be allowed.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

        I just don't recline on short haul or daytime. Even if the selfish person in front does. In any situation of shared resource you need to think about your effect on others before you do anything. But some people, give them a facility and they will use it. Recline immediately, leave seat reclined when they are not in it, when the meals come round etc.

        I do recline on long night flights. However, I just don't expect comfort on cattle class, you get what you pay for.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

        if there is not enough space to recline seats, it shouldn't be allowed.

        No.

        There should be enough room to recline seats. Period. (Yes, I know that is in stark contrast to the Air Travel Oligopoly's Flying-Sardine-Can business model.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

          "(Yes, I know that is in stark contrast to the Air Travel Oligopoly's Flying-Sardine-Can business model.)"

          You ever thought that's the only way the airlines can stay in business? By cramming as many paying customers into each plane as possible? Which would you rather have: less leg room or much higher ticket prices (as in back to the days when air travel was a luxury)? I mean, look at the airlines that are struggling or shutting down in recent months...

          1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

            Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

            Re much higher ticket prices - first of all I think it may be a little bit higher ticket prices at worst. Secondly, I think that the recent airline bankruptcies included more than a fair share of low costs, and I am reluctant to blame minimal legroom or seat width for those.

            I have just been on 2 flights with a budget airline and there were no reclining seats. Even though the flights were not long (say, 3.5h) it was extremely uncomfortable, in particular because I could not adjust the seat position. The final price of the flight, including, among other things, a surcharge for a trolley (not a suitcase, and not checked in), a salad and a small bottle of water brought on board (bought for a fortune at the airport past security controls, but still cheaper and better than buying on board), and even avoiding paying to choose our seats to sit together (swapped places with another passenger - lucky) was not far from a full service flag carrier on the same route. All of these "innovations" are very recent indeed. In fact, I think it was my first flight ever where I could not take a perfectly standard trolley on board by default, and this particular airline introduced the new scheme only last November - I checked.

            So I started thinking that there could be an innovative> business model for an airline that will differentiate itself by offering the "luxuries" of just a couple short years ago. You know, a trolley, a meal, a reclining seat, maybe some in-flight entertainment, and - gosh! - enough leg room for those seats to recline. I am not of unusual dimensions, and I don't recall reclining seats causing any inconvenience before low cost airlines started treating passengers as sardines and major players decided they needed to cut costs by any means. I suspect this could draw smarter passengers to such offerings, even at a somewhat higher price.

            But then I realized that there was a critical piece of infrastructure missing before this could be feasible. And that is my IT angle. Think how the vast majority of people buy airline tickets today. They go to comparison sites such as kayak, kiwi, whatever. That gives scale that an old-fashioned travel agent will be hard pressed to match. Those sites allow you to filter the results in various ways, such as number of stops, overall time, departure/arrival time. But that's about it - the principal sorting criterion is price.

            So airlines try to reduce the base price as much as they can and make the most trivial things such as carry-on trolleys extra. That way their offering climbs up on price comparison sites. I am quite convinced this is the main reason. Airlines don't save anything on this as people still bring trolleys aboard - hardly anyone flies 3.5h one way with only a small backpack. On these two flights last week I looked and didn't anyone without a trolley or a largish carry-on piece, except maybe a couple of people (who probably checked larger suitcases in), which means that most passengers paid the surcharge. But while some price comparison sites allow you to specify checked-in luggage as a filter, nowhere did I see an option to say "please count a trolley in". There is no way, as far as I can judge, to compare the final prices fairly.

            So, unless popular price comparison sites start allowing filters saying "I want basic conveniences during the flight" with a number of options, and unless they allow airlines to provide the necessary information for useful filtering, my "luxury flying" business model has no chance of succeeding.

            By the way, it's possible. I am rather impressed by the variety of filters booking.com allow for hotels, and I use them. I tried alternatives, such as agoda.com, but those guys tend to shave of, say, taxes and other extras and in the end the lack of transparency left me feeling rather cheated. Over many years of using booking.com I don't recall ever paying a penny more. [No, I am not affiliated with them - just an overall satisfied customer. My whole point is transparency that I value.]

            The kayaks and the kiwis of the world: you do what I suggest and I'll use your sites happily!

            To conclude: I suspect I am not alone in willing to pay a bit more - and I don't think it's a lot more - for minimal in-flight conveniences and, crucially, for not having to deal with the incredible hassle - that simply didn't exist before - of figuring out what extras I might need and how much I will have to pay for them and how does this compare to other offers. The low prices airlines push in our faces are not low and are not some kind of benefit, at least not apart from some rather unusual cases. Rather, they are a means of avoiding transparency, at our expense, and riding on the wave of IT innovation of easy price comparison on the web, and that is the biggest deal.

        2. F111F
          Stop

          Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

          Actually, you can blame my wife for the Flying-Sardine-Can business model. She will hunt the cheapest flight, no matter the routing, restrictions, etc. And, she has many, many, many sisters/brethren who only consider cost. I finally put my foot down and took control over bookings. I may not book the cheapest flights, but we get there in one hop, at a convenient time, can check bags, and have decent leg room.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

        "...if there is not enough space to recline seats, it shouldn't be allowed."

        Even on long-hauls where you're expected to sleep? Most people I know can't sleep sitting or standing without falling over and becoming obstacles.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

      I always seem to get sat behind the moron who thrusts their seat back at the first possible opportunity.

      Me too, but thanks to touch screen tetris, they often get the message from the ceaseless tapping should they not get the message from the words "Oww! My legs!".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

        What happens if the reply becomes, "OW! MY BACK!" from a crotchety old person?

        1. Uffish

          Re: Crotchety old person...

          ..that is me, and I have a bad back. The real problem though is that I, along with a good many other people, am taller than average. If the seat in front is reclined my knees get crushed, and up with thatI I will not put.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Airline seats should be fixed-back

      Delta recently announced that they're going to reduce how far their seats recline by about half.

      Personally, I never recline my seat on flights of less than 6 hours, and even on longer flights I rarely do, and if I do, it's only to the first detent (just to avoid slumping into the seat in front if I fall asleep). But I recognize that for some passengers sitting upright for hours is very uncomfortable.

      And, yes, I blame the airlines, who do their best to make air travel unpleasant. My personal complaint is checked-luggage fees, which incentivize carry-on luggage, which makes boarding and disembarking worse for everyone and encourages all sorts of nasty behavior.

  4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Executive Decision

    Notable for Seagal actually dying in a film.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Executive Decision

      He pretty well dies in a dramatic sense in every film hes in

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Executive Decision

        Probably the only reason it got an even halfway decent rating on IMDB! Well, who can not have some respect for a film in which he dies.....

      2. GrapeBunch Silver badge

        Re: Executive Decision

        The regional public library did not have Executive Decision. Further searches revealed that it did not have any Steven Seagal movies whatsoever. Is there hope for Civilisation?

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Is there hope for Civilisation?

          No

  5. big_D Silver badge

    Executive Decision

    Has such a high rating, because it is the only film in which Steven Segal dies in the first act.

    Leaving a nerdy version of Snake Plissken to save the day.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Executive Decision

      It looks we need judges able to board a plane in flight, to settle suits there, or at least assert jurisdiction.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Executive Decision

        It looks we need judges able to board a plane in flight, to settle suits there, or at least assert jurisdiction.

        I'd suggest Judge Dredd... instant justice

  6. d3rrial

    Neo-International Waters

    So this is the new version of killing people in international waters, then. Killing people in unclaimed airspace. Nice.

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Neo-International Waters

      Killing and and other crimes :

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/14/italian-teenager-accused-raping-british-girl-cruise-international/

      (e.g. reading the torygraph)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was the judge high as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Was the judge high as well?"

      Yes, all participants to this appalling matter are pretty high ...

      Drugs, don't do them !

  8. chivo243 Silver badge

    another wrinkle

    So, me and the Mrs and youngin are traveling cross country. We stop in a gas station, the youngin spills his water on some woman while exiting the convenience store, she yells at the youngin, and the Mrs steps in, the woman slaps the Mrs. Nobody lives in that state, who has jurisdiction? What if the Mrs and the woman both jumped in the air at the same time, and the Mrs was slapped, who has jurisdiction?

    I don't think it matters, assault is pretty much against the law across all 50 states? No?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: another wrinkle

      That was what I was wondering too, I wouldn't have expected the law in this respect to be vastly different regardless of where it went to trial along the route. Obligatory IANAL statement at this point notwithstanding.

      Either that or the defendant is just trying to find a way to keep appealing via the back door until she maybe gets the verdict she actually wants (ie not guilty), although so far it just seems like she'll be racking up legal fees that she needs to pay instead as she obviously is.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: another wrinkle

        Either that or the defendant is just trying to find a way to keep appealing via the back door until she maybe gets the verdict she actually wants (ie not guilty), although so far it just seems like she'll be racking up legal fees that she needs to pay instead as she obviously is.

        From the tone of the article and info presented by at least one who knows her, she's one of the "special generation of entitled people".

        Que up old western scene...."Sheriff, hangin' is too good for the likes of them."

    2. LenG

      Re: another wrinkle

      It does matter - in some jurisdiction you get idiots like this on the bench.

    3. 404 Silver badge

      Re: another wrinkle

      They would have to jump like 50 feet or higher in the air - I've read somewhere or other concerning a lawsuit about airplanes flying over a homeowner's airspace lol....

      Found this:

      https://www.dummies.com/education/law/the-property-rights-of-airspace/

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: another wrinkle

      Nobody lives in that state

      Presumably you mean neither of the parties involved lives in that state. I assure you, someone lives in that state. In fact, enough someones for them to have legal districts, which is what matters here.

      What doesn't matter is the fact that the parties involved don't live there. The district where the crime is committed is the venue (in this case). Really, I don't understand why you think it might be otherwise. Courts don't exist for the convenience of defendants, victims, witnesses, or (in civil cases) plaintiffs; they exist to determine justice.

      If you and the Mrs and youngin robbed that gas station during your cross-country trip, and were subsequently caught, what venue do you think you'd be tried in? Or if the other woman robbed it, and you witnessed it, where do you think you'd be called to appear?

      I don't think it matters, assault is pretty much against the law across all 50 states?

      Many things are against the law in all of the US states. That doesn't mean venue is irrelevant. States have many differences in how they deal with common crimes.

      Murder is against the law in all 50 states, but there's a big difference between being convicted of it in Massachusetts and being convicted of it in Texas.

  9. Def Silver badge

    If I were that judge

    I think I would have just thrown them both in jail until they grow the fuck up.

    People need to stop acting like fucking spoilt children all the time.

    1. dbtx Bronze badge

      ...but they are not acting.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Well, quite.

  10. J4

    Tangential pub debate

    Had one of those pub chats recently where we trying to decide if there was anywhere you could be out of all jurisdictions, and bump someone off without consequences. Best we could come up with was standing on the seabed in international waters, with scuba gear and so not attached to a ship.

    As I am having to suffer the idiot Swampy and his unwashed mates in central London this week, I am now thinking of organising a diving holiday for eco-loons this summer.

    1. Chozo

      Re: Tangential pub debate

      Apparently there is a corner of Yellowstone where you can demand a trial by local peers, the loophole being the area is now federal park land with no residents...

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinandrews/2017/11/26/icymi-you-can-get-away-with-murder-in-part-of-yellowstone-national-park/

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Tangential pub debate

      Sealand are pretty open with regards to their interpretation of the law, so you could probably get away with it there. Hell, the owners would probably loan you a gun.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tangential pub debate

      I'm pretty sure in the UK you can be tried for crimes committed anywhere in the world.

    4. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: Tangential pub debate

      If you want to bump someone off with almost no consequences, get in a car and run them over. In the UK at least, you'll probably get just a ban and a fine, especially if you plead that you needed to be in a hurry for reasons.

    5. Def Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Tangential pub debate

      There are only ever consequences if you get caught. ;)

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Start a War!

    With good timing and a GPS, you could hit someone while they are in one jurisdiction, and you are in another. If it's a national border, it could be an act of war.

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Start a War!

      You are technically correct, the best kind of correct.

  12. LDS Silver badge

    I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

    There were already such attempts in the early days of aviation as people tried to hinder planes to fly over their properties - I wouldn't establish a precedent in such direction.

    This is a classic attempt to treat law as a pure logic exercise built on axioms established too many years ago when things like people flying were just mythic tales. A more pragmatic approach would be a better solution.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

      Shoo! Go away now, you and your words of logic and common sense, they have no place in these U.S. courts!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

      "This is a classic attempt to treat law as a pure logic exercise built on axioms established too many years ago when things like people flying were just mythic tales. A more pragmatic approach would be a better solution."

      Maybe, as far as the USA is concerned, Federal law should apply when "in flight", ie above whatever the legal height limit is for landowners claims to "airspace". Likewise for any other country which has a similar local/State law system.

      1. EveryTime

        Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

        > Maybe, as far as the USA is concerned, Federal law should apply when "in flight", ie above whatever the legal height limit is for landowners claims to "airspace".

        It would be cleaner to do that, but it's not supported by the constitution.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

          "It would be cleaner to do that, but it's not supported by the constitution."

          Based on what I've seen US Gov do over recent years, the constitution seems to be an infinitely variable document meaning whatever one wants it to mean depending on the circumstances.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

          "It would be cleaner to do that, but it's not supported by the constitution."

          What about the 14th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause combined with the original document's mandate over interstate commerce (the flight was interstate)? Could these be combined to assert that interstate flights default to federal jurisdiction?

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

            The Commerce Clause has been interpreted ... broadly, shall we say. But I think that would be a step too far even for most federalists.

            (It's not RICO, either.)b

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: I think it's a slippery road to assert the underlying terrain has jurisdiction

              Why would that be a step too far? Trains that cross state lines fall under it. So do trucks. Why not planes? And don't give the cargo excuse because Amtrak and Greyhound are train and road transports for humans.

  13. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    broken agreement

    The assault might have happened in mid-flight, but an agreement was made to reconsider at the end of the flight. So the violent lady did, in fact, break her agreement in california.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: broken agreement

      She wasn't being tried for breaking her agreement.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: broken agreement

        Correct (and I can't imagine what the idiots who downvoted you were thinking). For one thing, that would be a civil matter, not a criminal one.

        Clearly most of the people commenting on this article think the courts should base their decisions on what's 1) convenient and 2) pleasing to them personally. Fortunately, most circuit judges show a little more interest than that in the rule of law.

  14. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Stand your air

    On the basis that Nevada has enacted stand your ground legislation, I suppose they were within their rights to shoot the aggressor, as long as they were over that airspace

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Stand your air

      But then, you'd have to get a gun on the plane, and that's a Federal offense/offence.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: Stand your air

        Well that's just Lefty Pinko thinking.

        If federal marshals are allowed to be armed, well so am I just in case I feel the need to form a well armed militia at 40,000 ft.

        I didn't notice anything in the US constitution which provided a altitude limit. If they had meant to limit it to ground based citizens they would of said so when they wrote it, goddammit.

        I am going to complain to my NRA sponsored congressmen right now

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Stand your air

          Interstate Commerce Clause, which is in the original document. And since airliners at altitude are a pressure vessel (meaning there are safety issues inherent to them), regulating what's allowed inside them can fall within federal permit. While the MythBusters have shown a bullet hole in an airplane wouldn't cause explosive decompression, it would still constitute a compromise of the airplane's integrity (a la Qantas Flight 30 and the exploding oxygen tank) and force a diversion.

          Put it this way. The First Amendment doesn't list any exceptions to the freedom of speech, yet the Supreme Court was able to legally justify one in the Schenck decision (the "fire in a crowded theater" argument: doing so on false pretense compromises others' rights).

  15. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Slapping back could expose one to legal issues unless one is at the time in the airspace above a "Stand Your Ground" state.

    1. baud Bronze badge

      Re: Bah!

      If the plane is flying above your home in a state with castle doctrine, could you use it to defend violence in a plane?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        You can present any argument you like in your defense. Whether it's a good idea to do so is another question.

        However, castle doctrine apparently only applies on personal property. Unless you own the plane, I believe it's out. Let's consider stand-your-ground laws instead.

        AIUI, in principle, if you're accused of an act of violence during a flight, and venue is determined to be in a state with a SYG law or similar, and you choose (probably against advice of counsel) to mount an affirmative defense based on that law, it would be up to the presiding judge to determine whether it was applicable.

        Aggravating circumstances, like choosing to exercise this "right" in among a crowd of innocent bystanders and in an environment where disruption of normal operation could have fatal consequences, might weigh against you.

        It's not a strategy I'd bet on.

        (Also, note that the 9th Circuit's decision only applies to the 9th Circuit. And since there are conflicting decisions from other circuits, there's no clear precedent set here. But it could still come up, since Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Montana have SYG laws, and California, Oregon, and Washington have established it in practice through precedent. It looks like Hawaii is the only part of the 9th which doesn't have SYG.)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          "Also, note that the 9th Circuit's decision only applies to the 9th Circuit. And since there are conflicting decisions from other circuits, there's no clear precedent set here."

          Yes it does, actually. It's called a Circuit Split, and it pretty much means the Supreme Court MUST step in as the only agency capable of resolving a circuit split, provided someone from one of the split circuits appeals. Remember, it was a circuit split that forced the issue of LGBT discrimination in front of them (they usually agree to hear circuit splits). Perhaps the ruling was intentional on the part of the 9th Circuit to create a circuit split and force a final confrontation.

  16. Velv Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Number two: don't smack someone in the face unless they smack you in the face."

    Number two: don't smack someone in the face. unless they smack you in the face.

    FIFY

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      @Velv

      "Number two: don't smack someone in the face. "

      You obviously do not have bad eyesight & wear glasses

      If you are a glasses wearer and someone smacks you in the face - huge potential of your glasses being damaged meaning unable to see properly and preventing you do ebveryday stuff e.g. being able to drive the car you ahve parked at airport in this scenario. More importantly is risk of lens glass shattering, frame impacting eye etc, etc - basically a whole lot of scenarios with risk of eye damage occuring

      So many glasses wearers will retailate (severely and understandably) to a face smack as its a potentially very dangerous scenario for them.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        " risk of lens glass shattering"

        Just for clarification (see what I did there?), how often are "glasses" actually made from glass these days? Is a shattered glass lens really a risk these days?

        Disclaimer: not a glasses wearer, though wifey is and her lenses are polycarbonate or some such form of plastic.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Yes, glass is heavy and especially for extreme prescriptions the lens can have a large thick to thin variation. High refractive index polymer is a better choice.

  17. jtaylor

    Loved this

    What a well-considered and delightfully written news story! Thank you, Kieren McCarthy

  18. Joe Gurman

    A little....

    <OCDnerd>A little _learning_, not a little knowledge.</OCDnerd> Get yer Alexander Pope right, will ya?

  19. N2Liberty

    Its the airlines fault

    The airlines should install seat locks on the back of each seat. The person seated behind you must release the lock for you to recline your seat. This would eliminate the issue. You must ask nicely to recline but if the person behind wants to use his tray then you cannot invade his space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its the airlines fault

      Then someone will sue the airline because a medical condition means they can't stay in that seated position for long, requiring them to recline. Might even let them invoke the ADA if it's a recognized disability.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Its the airlines fault

        Their recline requirement should be declared at the start of the flight and they can be seated accordingly in the row ahead of a door or egress hatch. If they choose to take a flight in a seat where the know they won't be able to recline then they can lump it.

        A seat remote lock mechanism under control of the crew where the seats return to upright for take off, landing, meals and permanently on short haul, but can be released for recline on long sector / night flights would thwart the inconsideratos.

        Of course, Boeing and Airbus would only offer this as a cost option and airlines are not to bothered about passenger comfort won't be interested.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Its the airlines fault

          Too risky. First, the recliner systems are mechanical: no electrics. Second, forcing a seat up can cause Bad Things to happen. Bad Things = Lawsuits since there will certainly be a law out there to counter any law you try to apply as a protection. Thus why I mentioned the ADA: that requires any business to accommodate recognized handicaps (and BTW, putting them in an exit row isn't an option since only physically-fit people can sit there in case of evacuations).

          1. The First Dave Silver badge

            Re: Its the airlines fault

            I'm pretty sure that the ADA only requires _reasonable_ accomodation.

            On the flip side, I don't think it requires that a "handicap" (as you put it) need to be "officially recognised".

  20. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Criminal law

    What would have been the case if the incident had been more serious, and a matter for Plod? A murder or GBH? Still refuse the case?

    I can't imagine Nebraska's courts would have much enthusiasm for the case, either.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Criminal law

      Doesn't matter whether the applicable district court in Nebraska is enthusiastic. What does matter is whether the DA wants to bring it to trial. I think it unlikely.

  21. earl grey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    no smacking allowed

    Last flight I was on there was no room between seats and my knees were right up against the back of the seat in front. They tried to recline - several times - and looked back and i said, sorry...no room. they (thankfully) gave up.

    And yes, you can punch me if you like; but if you smack me i'll choke the life out of you.

  22. wayne 8

    Federal jurisdiction.

    Interstate Commerce clause. Federal jurisdiction for flights that cross state lines.

    Everything about the airlines, the terminals, the crews, the planes, and security screening is Federal.

    The Ninth Circuit is not the most reasonable court in the USA.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Federal jurisdiction.

      They'll counter, "Then do they also apply to Amtrak train trips, which are also interstate?"

  23. HKmk23

    Ban flights altogether.

    Airplanes are killing the planet.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Ban flights altogether.

      Airplanes are killing the planet.

      No, they are making the planet less habitable for humans and a number of other species.

      It's happened before, the planet will go on with adapted species and be just fine without us. It's not all about humans. We have only featured in a fraction of a percent of life on earth.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Ban flights altogether.

        "It's happened before, the planet will go on with adapted species"

        There's always the risk of a "no winner" and ALL life gets wiped out.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Ban flights altogether.

          ALL life gets wiped out

          Thermodynamically unlikely. Something has to dissipate that gradient.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ban flights altogether.

            Why MUST there be something? Look at the core: hot as hell and there's no life there to dissipate it. And what about Venus, which is even hotter on the surface?

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Ban flights altogether.

              They're not in the chemical sweet spot.

              Basically, it works like this: An open system under a flow of energy moves toward more-complex states. Such a system won't discriminate: it will move into states based on the amount of energy those states bind and dissipate, and the probability of those states existing under the current conditions. If the current conditions have too much heat or pressure to allow complex organic molecules to form (or remain for long after forming), then you won't get complex organic molecules. If conditions do permit complex organic molecules, then given energy and time it's highly probable - approaching certain - that they will.

              In effect the system will do a random walk through its state space, and that means it tends to stay in spaces that are more probable (are larger regions of the state space). For Earth, under current solar conditions, the spaces with life are overwhelmingly probable.

              Until the sun heats up enough to make complex organic molecules infeasible on the Earth's surface, there will very likely be some life here.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Ban flights altogether.

                "Until the sun heats up enough to make complex organic molecules infeasible on the Earth's surface, there will very likely be some life here."

                Don't be so sure. The conditions in the Earth when biological life as we know it first began were considerably different from conditions today. The conditions to start life and the conditions to maintain that life need not be the same: sort of like how you need that initial crank to start an internal combustion engine but after that it can putter along on its own power.

                So IOW, if by some catastrophe all life stopped existing on Earth, even for a short time, it's like the engine stalling. Now you have to bet on the long-term state of the Earth to still be able to start that life again, and that's not guaranteed.

  24. itzumee

    Next time I see a fight or altercation on a flight, I'll whip out my iPhone and start taking photos, as the GPS will still be on even if the iPhone is in flight mode and the photos taken will contain geo-location information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Since GPS receivers are mostly passive, it's going to be tricky to detect them in flight. One of those Qstarz loggers would be easy to pack. Get a window seat, place it in your bag on the floor attached to enough battery and let it run. You might even be able to get away with Bluetoothing the data off of it during the flight if you're curious. And since these loggers also record the GPS timestamps, the solution's pretty foolproof.

  25. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    the real crime here

    ... is the lack of copy-editing. "the plot comprises of"? "the person in front of you's fault"? Really, Kieren.

  26. Del_Varner

    9th Circut

    "the most tech-savvy court in America, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals" It is also the court having the greatest number of overturned opinions

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't we just make it the law of wherever the vessel is registered, like we do with cruise liners?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Domestic flight, so it's already US-registered. And no state can assume responsibility since there's only the Federal Aviation Administration. What's missing is a clear declaration of whose jurisdiction within the US holds for a domestic flight incident within the US. Most would point to direct federal jurisdiction under FAA authority via the Commerce and Supremacy Clauses, but no one's directly cited a law or case that can assert this yet.

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