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-   -   US diplomat's wife kills UK teenager, claims diplomatic immunity (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=883258)

Ravenman 10-10-2019 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21907675)
Please god someone tell me they drive on the left in the base even though it's American.

It’s a British base, just with Americans there.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 08:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SanVito (Post 21908340)
You don't think dangerous driving is criminal? This wasn't a momentary lapse of concentration

She hasn't actually been charged with anything yet. Why are you so sure about whether it was a momentary lapse or not? Do you have details of the accident not in the BBC articles?

Thanks, Ravenman.

squidfood 10-10-2019 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SanVito (Post 21908340)
You don't think dangerous driving is criminal? This wasn't a momentary lapse of concentration

I've got a pretty safe (U.S.) driving record and I visit the UK all the time, but I stopped driving there because I found myself easily driving 100+ ft down the wrong side of the road even after years of off-and-on practice. It usually happens on turns, I just instinctively turn into the wrong lane (that's the "momentary lapse") but everything seems "ok and natural" as I drive along until I see something (like other cars) and think "oh shit". I'm lucky nothing worse happened.

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 10:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cheesesteak (Post 21907256)
I'm ok with people being imprisoned for egregious negligence such as this, but I'd still use the word to describe the crash, rather than force fit the circumstance to a different word.

"Simple negligence" is a term of art, meaning garden-variety negligence as opposed to gross negligence. So when I say "this was more than simple negligence" I'm not force fitting the circumstances to the word; I'm referring to a different standard.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ravenman (Post 21907283)
I may have missed something -- was this woman driving on the wrong side of the road for miles?

Quote:

Originally Posted by carnivorousplant (Post 21907318)
"Reports say she was driving for some distance on the wrong side of the road." I don't know if "some distance" constitutes feet, miles, or furlongs.

Fair enough. I may have made an unwarranted assumption about how far she went on the wrong side.
Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21907549)
Did she mean or want to hurt or kill anyone? Did she have any criminal intent?

If the answer is no, then no jail.

So if Looten Plunder, Doctor Blight and Duke Nukem dispose of toxic waste by pouring it into a river, and they don't intend to kill anyone, should they escape jail time? If I go to a nightclub with a loaded firearm in my sweatpants holster and it goes off, should I escape jail time? If a diplomat's wife gets drunk and runs over an old lady, should she escape jail time?

Ravenman 10-10-2019 10:18 AM

Press got a look at a “secret” paper with talking points for Trump on why he won’t waive immunity. What an asshole.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usa...amp/3927941002

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 10:21 AM

On the bright side, this is helping to show the British public what horseshit Boris Johnson's claims about how Brexit will mean closer ties between the US and UK are.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21908584)
On the bright side, this is helping to show the British public what horseshit Boris Johnson's claims about how Brexit will mean closer ties between the US and UK are.

You'd have to be really not very bright to think closer ties meant disregarding diplomatic immunity.

PatrickLondon 10-10-2019 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cheesesteak (Post 21907256)
Was there some nefarious purpose behind driving on the wrong side of the road? I doubt she was intending to hurt someone or was deliberately driving on the wrong side for thrills.

Surely the point is that no-one can come to any conclusion about any of these questions if she's not actually here to give her explanation.

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21909007)
You'd have to be really not very bright to think closer ties meant disregarding diplomatic immunity.

Ooooh, witty. And yet totally uninformed.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Manda JO (Post 21907071)
Could they though? What federal law did she break? Can she be prosecuted by her home state?

If Russia can do it, surely the US can

We had an episode several years ago in Ottawa where a Russian diplomat was drunk driving. His car mounted the curb and killed a woman and injured her companion, who were just out for a walk.

Russia asserted diplomatic immunity, so the Canadian courts had no jurisdiction. Canada revoked his diplomatic status and he got shipped home to Russia.

As soon as he got home, the Russian government fired him and then charged him with involuntary manslaughter under Russian law. The Russian authorities cooperated with the Canadian police to have the evidence gathered in Canada used at the trial in the Russian courts.

And he was convicted, got sentenced, and was last heard of at a labour camp near Murmansk.

So it can be done.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/former...ghter-1.313443

Elendil's Heir 10-10-2019 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21906671)
...You may think a prisoner exchange to help out Johnson and Trump's approval ratings is a good idea but I don't.

No, I don't either. It was (mostly) a joke.

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 02:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northern Piper (Post 21909075)
If Russia can do it, surely the US can

I wouldn't be quite so sure. Russian criminal law is not federalized; the country has a single criminal code.

carnivorousplant 10-10-2019 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21909007)
You'd have to be really not very bright to think closer ties meant disregarding diplomatic immunity.

Well, Johnson and Trump...

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 03:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21909208)
I wouldn't be quite so sure. Russian criminal law is not federalized; the country has a single criminal code.

True, but the US has a code of military justice that covers individuals in the US military, even though criminal law is mainly state jurisdiction.

Why not a federal law giving the federal courts jurisdiction to try cases of US diplomats for crimes alleged to be committed abroad, using a US equivalent to the alleged foreign offence?

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 03:03 PM

But which US equivalent?

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 03:20 PM

How does it work when a US military person is charged with committing an offence in a foreign country and tried under US law under a visiting forces agreement?

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 03:27 PM

The UCMJ is a criminal code, so they are prosecuted under that.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 03:34 PM

Then why not have a similar code for diplomats? Or just try them in Federal Court under the relevant offence under the USMCJ?

Really Not All That Bright 10-10-2019 03:44 PM

There's no reason we couldn't. I'm just saying I don't think we have such a code, and the UCMJ applies to uniformed military personnel only. We could create one, but it would cause some serious ex post facto problems in this case.

carnivorousplant 10-10-2019 04:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21909357)
The UCMJ is a criminal code, so they are prosecuted under that.

A guy I knew was caught doing drugs by the US Army in Turkey. He was tried and imprisoned by the Turks.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 04:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21909046)
Ooooh, witty. And yet totally uninformed.

Oh, please tell me what makes that seem uninformed to you.

DrDeth 10-10-2019 05:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northern Piper (Post 21909282)
...

Why not a federal law giving the federal courts jurisdiction to try cases of US diplomats for crimes alleged to be committed abroad, using a US equivalent to the alleged foreign offence?


Before we get out the rope here, remember quite possibly no felony was committed. There was a tragic accident.

DrDeth 10-10-2019 05:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21908552)
"...

So if Looten Plunder, Doctor Blight and Duke Nukem dispose of toxic waste by pouring it into a river, and they don't intend to kill anyone, should they escape jail time? If I go to a nightclub with a loaded firearm in my sweatpants holster and it goes off, should I escape jail time? If a diplomat's wife gets drunk and runs over an old lady, should she escape jail time?

Very rarely do Looten Plunder, Doctor Blight and Duke Nukem go to jail, there's usually just fines. But knowingly and willfully is the equivalent of intent, imho.

Yes. Burress only got jail tiem due to "The situation got ugly for Burress because he didn't have a license to be carrying a gun in New York, and carrying an unlicensed firearm in the state called for mandatory jail time.

Maybe.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21909635)
Before we get out the rope here, remember quite possibly no felony was committed. There was a tragic accident.

Two points:

1. I'm just exploring options to see if there is a way to reconcile diplomatic immunity with personal responsibility, by charges in the US court system. So far, that doesn't seem to be a possibility in this case, but possibly changes in the law could be made to allow it in future cases.

2. We don't know if a crime was committed, or if this was just a tragic accident. That's what police investigations and court trials are designed to determine. It's not a question of "getting out a rope" to say that's there should be a way to have the matter determined in court, via due process.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 08:11 PM

The problem with setting up some Diplomat Justice System is the llegalities, logistics and expense can be prohibitive. Do you move a full court to the scene of the crime or do you fly all the witnesses to America? This DJS will have no authority over foreign nationals so how will you compel witnesses to appear, deal with perjury or contempt of court?

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 08:22 PM

That's what Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties are for. In a world with so much international mobility, countries have entered into treaties, which they them implement by domestic laws, to ensure that allegations of criminal behaviour can be fully investigated, and where appropriate, prosecuted. The U.K. can enact legislation that would allow a foreign subpoena to be adopted and enforced via the UK courts. Yes, it's cumbersome, but it's better than just shrugging shoulders and saying 'She fled the jurisdiction to the US. Nothing we can do now."

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 08:29 PM

See the fact sheet on the Canadian Mutual Legal Assistance Act. Canada will help gather evidence in Canada for crimes that are being prosecuted in another country, and can require Canadians to appear as witnesses in foreign courts, via video links. It's under court supervision, so there is due process, but means already exist to do thus type of prosecution. The diplomatic bit is just an odd twist.

https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/...n-ejaucan.html

CarnalK 10-10-2019 08:31 PM

I didn't think Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties were used to compell witnesses or anything at all like that. I thought was mostly information sharing and maybe locking down suspicious bank accounts.

And she didn't flee the jurisdiction by normal standards because she was completely free to leave. "There's nothing we can do" would have been the answer if she was still in the UK.


Eta: from your link:
Quote:

The criminal matter for which the assistance is sought must be pending before the foreign judge, court or tribunal.
So, that wouldn't work in this case. I'll have to read further to see how it would go if the Canadian was a defendant.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 08:39 PM

Myy mistake, that was for non-treaty countries. Ignore my eta.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 08:42 PM

If there were an American charged it's a crime in the US, the MLAT could be used to compel a Canadian witness to testify by video link.

By extension, if there were a way to charge and try a US diplomat in US courts for a crime committed in a foreign country, an MLAT could be used to have witnesses from that foreign country testify by video in thebUS proceedings.

I'm aware of one case where a witness in Siberia testified by telephone in a civil case in Canada. It can be done.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 08:46 PM

I'm incredibly uneasy about the government extending its jurisdiction outside the bounds of its own country even if it sounds like a super moral thing.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 09:11 PM

But these treaties don't give a country power to act outside its own boundaries. MLATs don't give the FBI the power to operate outside the US, or the Mounties to operate outside Canada. Rather they give the LEO of one country the power to ask for assistance from LEOs in another country, but under the laws of the second country, and only through court supervision where it starts to affect Individual rights.

So if the FBI thinks Bob American is running a cross-border drug ring with Doug Canadian, the FBI can approach the Mounties and say "we think there's a cross-border drug ring. Can we work together to investigate it? Here's what we've got on it already."

And the Mounties may say "first we've heard of it. We'll start looking. ". Or they might say "Aha! We've had our eye on Doug Canadian for a while. This is another piece in the puzzle! Here's what we've got."

But, any investigations on the US side have to be done by the FBI and US LEOs, consistently with US constitutional law and criminal procedure, as well as the treaty, all of which have due process built in.

And investigations on the Canadian side have to be done by the Mounties and Canadian LEOs, consistently with the Charter, the Criminal Code, and the treaty, again with due process built in.

It's sort of like an investigation version of extradition, at an earlier stage, but under the laws of each country.

Northern Piper 10-10-2019 09:14 PM

My suggestion for prosecution in US courts could be seen as an assertion of US power over events outside the US, but that can already happen now, in a cross-border crime. Just ask Noriega. And the proposal does balance the principle of diplomatic immunity, which is crucially important, with the principle that an individual alleged to have committed a crime should be called to account, if the evidence is strong enough.

CarnalK 10-10-2019 09:20 PM

Investigation is really different than compelling Canadians to participate in a foreign trial.

I would be against anything like a Diplomat Justice System. If we're going to do something to punish diplomats' misbehavior, it should be through treaties that resemble an extradition agreement to waive immunity between trusted countries.

But as far as international treaties go, this is waaay down my list. A tragic traffic accident doesn't even approach getting me worked up about it.


Eta: Noriega? That has to be the worst example to bring up to promote international criminal investigation cooperation.

MarvinKitFox 10-11-2019 03:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21907549)
Well, everyone in Britain does it all the time! :p

Did she mean or want to hurt or kill anyone? Did she have any criminal intent?

If the answer is no, then no jail.

For the car accident, no criminal intent. She made a simple mistake.
But for telling police that she would remaining the UK and available for the investigation, then absconding to the US to excape prosecution.
HELL YES, there was criminal intent there.
She may have used a legal channel to do so, but there is no mistaking that she was fleeing justice.

PatrickLondon 10-11-2019 06:17 AM

We have an offence of "careless driving". That would seem, by definition, not to require criminal intent, but lack of intent doesn't limit culpability, hence causing death by careless driving can carry a heavy penalty:


https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk...t-for-web1.pdf

Really Not All That Bright 10-11-2019 11:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21909500)
Oh, please tell me what makes that seem uninformed to you.

Here's the post in question.
Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21909007)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright (Post 21908584)
On the bright side, this is helping to show the British public what horseshit Boris Johnson's claims about how Brexit will mean closer ties between the US and UK are.

You'd have to be really not very bright to think closer ties meant disregarding diplomatic immunity.

It's got nothing to do with "disregarding diplomatic immunity." The US has the authority to waive immunity, as was explained in the thread already.

DrDeth 10-11-2019 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MarvinKitFox (Post 21910357)
For the car accident, no criminal intent. She made a simple mistake.
But for telling police that she would remaining the UK and available for the investigation, then absconding to the US to excape prosecution.
HELL YES, there was criminal intent there.
She may have used a legal channel to do so, but there is no mistaking that she was fleeing justice.

She was likely advised to do so, so no intent. And there was no "prosecution" to "escape".

And since the police have no interesting in arresting her, just asking questions (which they can do by phone or get a notarized statement) then she wasnt' "fleeing justice". I am not sure how the UK system works, but at least in the uSA you dont have to tell the police anything at all beyond simple ID, nor answer any questions.

Sure the local authorities would like her to be available for questioning, but afaik, they have no ability to compel her.

She did nothing wrong, no crime was committed.

DrDeth 10-11-2019 05:54 PM

https://heavy.com/news/2019/10/anne-sacoolas/


Sacoolas had only been in the U.K. for three weeks..She has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing at this point...According to Sky News, someone on the American side told Sacoolas to leave Britain.....

https://www.thedailybeast.com/anne-s...n-with-her-car
The police went back again Sept. 15 to place Sacoolas under formal questioning in a wrongful death inquiry but she, her husband, Jonathan, and their three children had left the country, claiming diplomatic immunity. The U.S. Embassy in London said they did so on the advice of the U.S. State Department.

The family is upset, but really there is nothing Sacoolas can do for them. The police wont charge her, so why shoudl she go back? So they can serve papers on her?

puzzlegal 10-11-2019 07:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MarvinKitFox (Post 21910357)
For the car accident, no criminal intent. She made a simple mistake.
But for telling police that she would remaining the UK and available for the investigation, then absconding to the US to excape prosecution.
HELL YES, there was criminal intent there.
She may have used a legal channel to do so, but there is no mistaking that she was fleeing justice.

She may not have realized she would be instructed to return to the US.

And even if she lied, I don't think there was anything criminal about it. Once the police realized she was covered by diplomatic immunity, they couldn't have done anything to her even had she stayed. But surely it would be awkward to stay and have all the neighbors reminded every time they saw her that she was protected from justice.

PatrickLondon 10-12-2019 02:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21911645)
She did nothing wrong, no crime was committed.

She might well have done. Causing death by careless driving could well mean up to 5 years in jail.

But no-one knows until there has been proper investigation including her side of the story.

DrDeth 10-12-2019 02:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PatrickLondon (Post 21912193)
She might well have done. Causing death by careless driving could well mean up to 5 years in jail.

But no-one knows until there has been proper investigation including her side of the story.

If a accident can put you in prison for 5 years the justice system is wrong.

And they can get that from a signed statement.

Lord Feldon 10-12-2019 04:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PatrickLondon (Post 21912193)
But no-one knows until there has been proper investigation including her side of the story.

I keep seeing this talking point, here and elsewhere. I don't get it. Even if immunity is waived, why is it assumed that she would give "her side of the story"? I get that the right to silence isn't quite as broad as in the USA (sometimes adverse inferences can be drawn, and I don't think the police are obligated to stop the questioning at the suspect's request), but I assume it's still the case that it's very easy to talk yourself into jail and very hard to talk yourself out of it.

puzzlegal 10-12-2019 08:00 AM

It's not clear to me what the point of an investigation would be. It seems the major facts aren't in dispute. She was driving on the wrong side of the road, and had a head-on collision with someone coming the other way. They didn't see each other due to a crest in the hill.

You'd get the speed from forensic evidence, not from asking the drivers. (skid marks, possibly info in the cars' black boxes, depending on the age and make it the cars.)

What more is there to investigate? Whether she was drunk? I wouldn't expect her to admit to that if she wasn't tested at the scene. Whether the other driver was drunk?

Something else?

Northern Piper 10-13-2019 07:51 PM

1 was this her first time driving in the UK, or had she already been out and about several times?

2 how far had she been driving on the wrong side? Was it a momentary lapse caused by unfamiliar circumstances(e.g. She just came off a roundabout), or had she been driving on the wrong side without noticing for a lengthy period of time?

3 did both she and the young man take evasive action that cancelled each other out, leading to the crash?

4 how much time did she have from seeing the young man to the collision?

5 what evasive action, if any, did she take?


Those are just a few.

Northern Piper 10-13-2019 08:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21911645)
And since the police have no interesting in arresting her, just asking questions (which they can do by phone or get a notarized statement) ...

This same issue came up in the Assange matter, where some posters kept saying that the Swedish prosecutor should just conduct the interview over the phone.

The problem is that conducting police interviews is an act of a sovereign power. That means that the police of Country A cannot carry out investigations in Country B, even by telephone, without complying with the law of Country B, which normally means the police of Country A have to work with the police of Country B, through mutual legal assiatance treaties. If the British police just call her up in the United States and conduct an interview, they're in breach of US sovereignty.


Quote:

She did nothing wrong, no crime was committed.
Glad to have that cleared up. Didn't realise you were a judge of the UK Supreme Court. ;)

kenobi 65 10-13-2019 08:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 21911645)
She did nothing wrong, no crime was committed.

She was driving on the incorrect (right) side of the road, which was undoubtedly a violation of English traffic law. There may well have been other traffic laws which were broken, like unsafe operation of a motor vehicle. If there had not been an collision, those might have only been ticketable offenses (had she been, say, pulled over by a police officer who saw her driving on the wrong side of the road), but they still would count as "doing something wrong" and "committing a crime."

But, she did get into a collision, likely entirely due to violating one or more traffic laws, and another person died as a result. In doing so, she may well have violated one or more additional English laws.

What happened was almost undoubtedly not *intentional*, but operating a motor vehicle demands that the driver follow the laws of the road. "I didn't realize I was in violation of a law" or "I forgot that I wasn't supposed to be doing that" makes it unintentional, but it doesn't make it innocence, and it doesn't mean that nothing wrong was done.

CarnalK 10-13-2019 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northern Piper (Post 21914599)
1 was this her first time driving in the UK, or had she already been out and about several times?

2 how far had she been driving on the wrong side? Was it a momentary lapse caused by unfamiliar circumstances(e.g. She just came off a roundabout), or had she been driving on the wrong side without noticing for a lengthy period of time?

3 did both she and the young man take evasive action that cancelled each other out, leading to the crash?

4 how much time did she have from seeing the young man to the collision?

5 what evasive action, if any, did she take?


Those are just a few.

They interviewed her at the scene and another time at the station before she left the country. I can't imagine them missing those questions nor would I think the answers to some of them to be particularly accurate.

It's my understanding that she had been in the country only 3 weeks. The most obvious answer to what happened is she reverted to habit and just drove on the right when she came out of a turn or something.

Isosleepy 10-13-2019 11:29 PM

The reason messing with diplomatic immunity, making exceptions or having a corps diplomatique version of the UCMJ is that in some countries, police investigations are suspect, and at times the outcome is outright for sale. So, prosecuting based on the findings in the host country becomes problematic if the offense took place in Mexico, or Haiti, or Iraq etc.
excluding certain countries from the diplomatic corps justice scheme, or from waiving immunity would create diplomatic problems, including with a close neighbor. Probing the validity of the host country investigation during trial would do likewise.

puzzlegal 10-14-2019 12:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CarnalK (Post 21914654)
They interviewed her at the scene and another time at the station before she left the country. I can't imagine them missing those questions nor would I think the answers to some of them to be particularly accurate.

It's my understanding that she had been in the country only 3 weeks. The most obvious answer to what happened is she reverted to habit and just drove on the right when she came out of a turn or something.

And honestly, what difference does it make? I doubt anyone thinks she was driving on the wrong side of the road intentionally. And she can't be prosecuted. And I'm pretty sure she's not going back to the UK. So, does it really matter how long she was driving on the wrong side of the road?

I certainly think she did something wrong and a crime was committed. But I don't see much value in investigating further.


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