Is a Punishment for Crime Automatically Lawful?
If a person commits a crime, say murder, and the victim’s family kills the murderer is that Justice? Or would the killing be an unjust punishment? What if a Judge pulled out a gun and shot the murderer, would that be a just punishment?
In both cases where the murdered was killed the punishment would not be just and would be an act of vengeance. Why? The victim’s family does not have the right to punish the murderer. They have the right to stop the murderer in the form a citizen’s arrest. But an arrest is not a punishment, because the victim’s family can be sued for wrongful arrest and pay all damages. It is pretty clear too that the Judge does not have the right to punish the murderer by pulling out a gun and shooting him. In modern day law, if the Judge held immunity for this act it would be a punishment because the Judge could not be sued. Yet pretty clearly the Judge’s act would be vengeance and not just.
Does the Law Define who can justly impose a Punishment?
I will argue that the answer as to whom can justly impose a punishment lies in the extortion laws. To understand the extortion laws, we should start by defining what is a threat and what is coercion.
A threat simply means “or else.” So an example would be pay me, or else I will …. So you can utter threats that are clearly unlawful, like pay me or else I will inflict violence upon your body. But you can also utter threats that are clearly lawful, like pay me, or else I will stop working for you. So the first threat is the crime of robbery and clearly lacks justification. The second threat is just because a person has the right to negotiate with their labor.
Coercion is anything that alters or changes your behavior. So an example of coercion would be a gun. If a robber says pay me, or else I will shoot you; I will change my behavior and pay the robber. Another coercive act would be an accusation of crime. If a person said pay me or else I will call the police and report you for crime, out of fear of having the police arrest and charge me I may pay the blackmailer. Another form of coercion is property. If a person said pay me, or else you cannot have my house. I may change my behavior and pay the negotiator.
What is robbery?
Robbery is where a person threatens violence or uses violence to obtain another person’s property. Robbery is negotiating with violence. If there is no violence, then the act is not robbery, but rather something else. So an example of robbery would be where I say pay me or else I will shoot you.
What if instead I say pay my friend or else I will shoot you?
Threatening a person with violence unless they pay a third-party would still be an act of robbery. Exchanging, or negotiating, violence for property is not justified. It does not matter if the robber receives a personal benefit or not.
What is blackmail?
Blackmail is when a private person negotiates with something they are not entitled to. For example an act of blackmail would be to say pay me or else I will call the police and report you for crime. This is blackmail because a private person is not entitled to negotiate with police acts. Only the police can negotiate with their acts.
What if instead a person said pay my friend or else I will call the police and report you for crime?
Threatening a person with police acts unless the person pays a third party would still be an act of blackmail because the blackmailer is not justified in negotiating with police acts. It does not matter if the person threatening police acts receives a personal benefit or not.
What is extortion?
Historically the crime of extortion was known as extortion under the color of official right. Extortion was and is an anti-corruption crime that forbids public officials from threatening to use or using official acts to obtain property that is not solely for the benefit of the Government. The crime bans selling influence in official acts. So for example it would be extortion for a prosecutor to say pay me or else I will prosecute you for crime. Why? Because public officials are entitled to obtain their salary with official acts, but nothing more.
What if instead the prosecutor said pay my friend or else I will prosecute you for crime?
Threatening a person with official acts unless they pay a third party would still be an act of extortion because the extortionist is not entitled to negotiate with official acts unless the benefit is solely for the Government. The threat of using official acts to obtain property for private third party benefit is an unjustifiable threat. It does not matter if the extortionist receives a personal benefit or not.
What if a Judge orders you to pay him in his personal capacity?
A Judge would be committing the crime of extortion by issuing an order to be paid in his personal capacity. The Judge is using coercion, official acts. After all, official acts alter or change a person’s behavior. The Judge would not be justified because he would be using official acts to obtain property for his private personal benefit. This would be a pretty classic case of corruption. The Judge would be justified in issuing an order to obtain property when the benefit is exclusively for the Government.
Can a Judge order you to pay his friend?
No. The Judge cannot order a person to pay his friend because that would still be threatening to use or using official acts for private third-party benefit. The act would still be corrupt and would lack justification. It does not matter if the extortionist receives a personal benefit or not.
What is the Supreme Court of the United States’ opinion?
The Supreme Court of the United States said in Wilkie v. Robbins, 551 U.S. 537 (2007):
Whaley was about a charge of extortion against a justice of the peace who wrongfully ordered a litigant to pay compensation to the other party as well as a small administrative fee to the court. Because the case involved illegally obtaining property for the benefit of a private third party, it does not stand for the proposition that an act for the benefit of the Government alone can be extortion.
What is Just?
A person is just when they are negotiating with something they are entitled to, like their own labor or property. A person is also just to negotiate with another person’s labor or property when they hold both a license to do so and have permission from the owner. Examples of a license and permission are lawyers and real estate agents.
How does society justly punish somebody and obtain their life, liberty, or property?
Justice requires a Judge to make determinations of law and jury to make determinations of fact before a punishment is just. A Judge alone trial, or worse no trial at all like plea deals, is the same as a mafia boss punishing his underlings. The crime is extortion because a private third-party (the alleged vicitim) person benefits from the punishment. The act is vengeance.
When you have a judge making determinations of law (that are subject to appeal) with a jury making determinations of fact you get justice. Anything less is crime!!!