Repost from 8 January 2008 [LINK]
Regarding "a Pre-existing Medical Condition"
[I've changed the gender of the victim to female, but her age (for example, say 87 years old) is not explicitly mentioned. I've resisted the temptation to replace 'thin skull' with 'heart condition' - after all, it's called The Thin Skull Doctrine, one of the foundations of Common Law.]
Once upon a time:
You're walking along the sidewalk, and decide to punch someone in the face just because it's been a lousy day. Okay, here comes someone... POW! Ah, that felt good.
Oh dear, she appears to have coincidentally died. The death occurred sometime after you punched her, but evidently before her lifeless corpse hit the sidewalk in a heap.
How strange that she died, because you really didn't punch her any harder than all the other people you've been punching over the years. It's very strange that this one would die so easily. But you did notice that her head felt quite a bit softer than normal. Very unusual.
At this point Inspector Plod of The Yard fingers your collar and drags you up before The Beak. (Translation from UK English into normal English: At this point a police officer arrests you and takes you to see the judge.)
The judge demands, "How did the victim die?"
You tentatively offer the suggestion, "Why, it twas Excited Delirium, m'Lord."
Sometime later that day, after everyone recovers from laughing-their-asses-off, the court reconvenes. The judge, still wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, tries again, "Okay, let's ask the coroner what's what."
The coroner explains that the victim has had, for her entire life, a very thin skull. The thin skull was adequate for day-to-day living and never caused the victim any problems. At least not until the defendant punched her in the face - then she died. The coroner, giving you a quick wink, then concludes, "Such punches are not normally fatal, therefore the primary cause of death was obviously the victim's thin skull." [Sound familiar?]
You exchange imperceptible smiles with the coroner.
Your defense attorney leaps to his feet and says, "See? It isn't the fault of the defendant. The victim had a, ahem, ah, yes, here it is: a Pre-ex-is-ting Med-i-cal Con-di-tion."
The judge slowly pushes his glasses down to the very end of his nose and then fixes you and your attorney with a hard stare that pierces your very souls. You turn slightly pale and quiver; the room suddenly seems 10 degrees colder. Even the ceiling fan with the noisy bearing instantly and inexplicably spins in perfect silence; perhaps it knows what is about to happen.
The judge clears his throat.
"Idiots! It's Common Law and common sense...
You take your victims as you find them.
Guilty as hell."
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