Podcasts/Episode X-4

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The Letters Page: Extrasode 4

Original Source

Intro

First things first: we're not lawyers and no one should ever take our advice! That aside, we're gonna give advice anyway!

Show Notes:

Run Time: 57:15

We start off with a bunch of disclaimers, because boy howdy are we NOT lawyers.

Then, we jump right into the lies.

The questions begin at five and a half minutes in.

Join us next week for an episode about EVERYTHING SPAAACE!!!

Characters Mentioned

Summary

[Like with the Food Podcast episode, I had planned on not doing a summary for this one, but it turned out that there was quite a bit of Sentinel Comics-related info in here. I'm still skipping stuff unrelated to GTG/Sentinel Comics (or at least superhero/villain activity), although after having started this I realize that most of it falls into this category and maybe I shouldn't have skipped parts. It's also possible/likely that at least some of the "legal" advice here may be questionable even in-setting.]

Questions

  • What options are available to recoup losses that result from superhero activity/damages? Is there legislation that would allow people to sue heroes with secret identities? Is there precedent for fire insurance not covering Ra burning down your house in the course of a battle (as an "act of god")? It depends on your insurer - some offer a blanket "superhero" policy, but many require separate coverage for specific entities (often with categories - like in Megalopolis you can get "Freedom Five insurance" which is a pretty good thing to have, but then if Dark Watch happens to be in town and get into a tussle with some villain you're out of luck). If you've got Ra insurance it might be tough to prove to your insurer that it wasn't just a normal house fire, though. There isn't legislation that would allow people to sue people with secret identities (how do you track them down?), but if you managed to track them down and reveal their identities there would likely be a lot of lawsuits brought very quickly (imagine if Wraith were revealed to be Maia Montgomery - the Mist Storm Universe reveal only really works because of everything else that's going on and the fact that they're all basically on the run already). It's also likely due to the Freedom Five being affiliated with the government already that there's some provision in place to help with repairs. If you're in a place that doesn't normally have much superhero/villain activity there are also a number of charities available that help with this stuff too.
  • HOW CAN GRUUM BECOME EARTH CITIZEN? CAN GRUUM MARRY NICE EARTH GIRL? They wouldn't recommend marrying somebody for citizenship of Earth as that's illegal (individual countries have different laws regarding citizenship-by-marriage, but for Earth as a whole, don't do it). There was an older program that allowed this, and cases got grandfathered in (which has led to this confusion). It's been off the books for over a decade now, and if you get caught they'll deport you to the vacuum of space, so I wouldn't risk it. Even worse, if you get caught the "nice Earth girl" would lose her Earth citizenship as well and you'd both have to leave. You should become a citizen first and then get married to avoid this. There is a path to citizenship (pro tip: if you become a citizen of the Moon first it makes the transition to Earth easier as you can get an Earth Work Visa or even marry that nice Earth girl without getting you both kicked out). Now, there are a lot of Moon citizenship things that might put you off of this (there are a lot of rules and some steep up-front fees), but it really is the easier way in the long run and in 20 or 30 years you can complete the Earth citizenship process.
  • I've accidentally taken over a small inland city (look, I was just trying to rob the Third National Bank and then some hero showed up and one thing led to another) and it's become a real pain to run this place [insert long list of things they've had to worry about since the takeover]; how can I turn this place back over to the US government while avoiding further legal problems (like, not being arrested or getting to abscond with some of the municipal funds)? Well, it sounds like you're actually doing some good work running the place and thinking things through, maybe you've found your calling. Anyway, to answer your question Adam has the following take: The bad news is you're not likely to get out of there ahead of the game - raiding the municipal coffers on your way out is probably off the table. There's going to be a protracted court process involved and your legal fees will eat into any personal wealth you've accumulated since taking over, plus reparations to the town, plus giving back whatever money you stole. Christopher counters with the fact that since it doesn't sound like you're interested in actually taking over a town and aren't likely to do it again in the future, you can probably "declare sovereignty bankruptcy" and rather than go through the process outlined above, just leave. The government should be able to take over again just fine if you're not there keeping them out. This would at least keep you from racking up those fees and penalties, but would undercut your claim on any hostile takeover in the future, so if you think that this is ever going to be something you'd be interested in further down the line, you should probably take the first option. Option three, of course, is to set a doomsday device and retreat to your private lair. There's no need to turn the town over to the government if there's no town. Even if the heroes come in and stop it at this point, it's already clear that you've abdicated. If you choose to take the initial advice and just keep the place (and why not, you've got a city protected by a force field for crying out loud - why not just pull a Mordengrad), you'd probably want to do some rebranding, though, and get some bureaucracy in place. Give the UN some ultimatum to get them to back off.)
  • What would somebody have to do to get listed as an heir in your wills? Christopher (becoming more arch and melodramatic as he says it): "they'd have to prove they deserve to the next person to run the empire of Sentinel Comics!". Adam: "I'd have an escalating series of trials, a 'gauntlet' if you will. Like, and ancient Greco-Roman style gauntlet (or Egyptian maybe) of traps and puzzles. You'd have to survive my tomb." The situation is then expanded to be that the dozen or two people who might have a claim would be brought to the center of the tomb where he's buried and the first one to escape wins (and is the only one to escape, once somebody gets out the door seals shut even if there are more survivors inside at the time). If there are no survivors, the tomb remains open and anyone can enter in and try to pass the test (although it's not easy to get to the "starting point" - the initial set of potential heirs just get a leg up to start). Christopher (reconsidering after the above): he's decided that everybody is equally unworthy and therefore everybody is equally included in the inheritance - to the point where everybody on Earth gets and equal share of his half of the SC intellectual property (which, apparently means the legs of every character as Adam gets them from the waist up - for characters like Balarian he gets the tentacles).
  • What legal recourse do letter writers to the podcast have against the imposters (presumably Flesh-Children) that have been writing in as well? Could you represent them in a class-action suit? Unless a large enough group of listeners is aggrieved by the situation you wouldn't want a class-action. Maybe a defamation or impersonation suit or some other minor civil suit. You could also try trial by combat, but that's not recommended against flesh-children as they've got metal bones and nothing to lose (and if you were taking this option against Biomancer, how would you even track him down?). In terms of taking things up against letter writers, it's kind of the same situation as with the secret identity people in the earlier question - Mask Doctrine stipulates that you can bring the suit against them if you can positively identify them, but it cuts both ways - given the anonymity of letter writing, there's nothing preventing other people from using the same pseudonym and you'd not only have to prove that they're impersonating you but that you are you. C&A would be willing to represent listeners in this matter, but their fees are pretty high [some discussion of what kinds of clientele they cater to and whether "killing" a flesh-child would count as murder or destruction of property].
  • Were any laws broken by Maggie with her influence in the Patreon voting process for Extrasode topic and what legal action will be taken? Maggie Taylor Elizabeth Guinevere Clayton III, born ca. 1995, 1999, or 2012 (accounts vary) is seen as a felon in this court for having abused her power as marketing manager in calling for Patrons to vote for this episode topic over the other choices. This is equivalent to political campaigning/soliciting near a polling place, which is rightly illegal in all jurisdictions. They are merciful, however, and are trying to have her tried locally rather than by the Celestial Tribunal as, per the 2012 d.o.b. listed above, she's a minor. Not only that, but she's a goth minor, which has reduced sentencing to the point where she could get off scott free if she just pleads being a goth minor (or miner - there's some mention of her doing her community service down in the goth mines, digging up eye shadow, boots, belts, and other accoutrements).
  • Who is legally held responsible for the damage to various cities that villains like Baron Blade or Grand Warlord Voss cause? How about hero-caused damage? The villains are "responsible", but good luck serving them a subpoena. Villains that are actually captured are tried and the property damage stuff is part of the pile of charges against them. Heroes usually aren't tried for that as the damaged caused during the fight is considered collateral damage and is put on the villains rather than the heroes attempting to stop them. Heroes operating in countries where they aren't citizens can run into some issues, though. Baron Blade, for one example, operates in a country with very specific extradition laws, though (i.e. "No." [they go on to say that Mordengrad won't let him be tried anywhere else than Mordengrad]). The authorities would love to be able to put Voss on trial, but good luck getting him involved in something at petty as court proceedings. This is why government programs and those charities mentioned earlier exist because there's no recourse to the party responsible.
  • Is destroying a flesh-child considered murder (either in the comics or in our world)? If the flesh-child has applied for a grant of personhood, it's considered murder (that is, once the application is submitted they have to be considered a person at least until the investigation into their claim is complete - it could be ruled that they're not a person, but until that point they have to be given the benefit of the doubt). If they haven't applied for personhood or have had their application denied, then they're just property and destroying one would just be destruction of property, which could be a charge on its own. Here's where we start getting into the weeds on what constitutes a "thinking feeling being" (would Omnitron or Omnitron-X count? etc.). [There's also a throw-away comment about Omnitron-XV "who's covered in flesh" but they also clarify that this iteration certainly doesn't look like a human, just like a robot that's also covered in meat and is pretty gross.]
  • Hypothetically speaking, if you made a voodoo doll to murder somebody, put a pin through the doll's heart, and the subject died of a heart attack, could you be found guilty of murder? Well, now that you've written down your intention with the doll, yeah. Don't go around telling people why you're making the doll. Otherwise a decent lawyer could make the argument about how the dolls are innocuous and that the fact that there are pins in them and the resemblance to the deceased coincidental and inconsequential. Plus, the prosecution is arguing that magic is real?!? Might even be able to get a defamation counter-suit out of this.
  • Let's say a person killed another, but had the means and intention of reversing that death somehow - would they be tried for murder? Well, they can't try somebody for their intent, but once there are actions that can be tried the intent can be taken into consideration. The timing is important too - if the "victim" is back up and walking around again as a living person, how are they a murder victim? So, if the alleged culprit is your client, I'd have you advise them to get going on the resurrection thing already. If you're the prosecutor, then file the case immediately.
  • Can Adam (as a member/ally) provide any advice for the Cult of Gloom in a defamation counter-suit against An Angry Taxpayer in response to the latter's claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress that's currently going through the Rook City district courts (the defamation being that any emotional distress would have been intentional not negligent)? See if you can get "emotional distress" reclassified as a commodity. At that point it's something being produced for society (although at that point it'd probably be taxed, but in the long run it'd be better for your client as Mr. Taxpayer's case falls apart and he would likely need to pay back taxes on the emotional distress already received).
  • I've heard that RevoCorp has sued the two of you for defamation, do you need legal representation? Sure, you could help out, but there's not much to the defamation case as everything they've said about RevoCorp is true (given that everything the two of them say about Sentinel Comics is ipso facto true - in fact, they've just eliminated RevoCorp's entire legal team).