AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Posted: March 4, 2009 in Music

Felt old in Crim Law yesterday, realizing that only about three of us (including the professor) had ever heard of Bernhard Goetz.

Guess I was a freshman in high school when the “subway vigilante” made worldwide headlines by gunning down four black teenagers on a NYC subway whom he believed were going to mug him. Hero to some, villain to others. I’ll admit I’ve always tended toward the villain camp.

Turns out that the big legal issue worth discussing was the standard used in analyzing his actions under New York law – whether an objective standard should be used (in other words, would a “reasonable person” have believed he was about to get beaten/robbed?) versus a subjective standard (did “Goetz” reasonably believe he was about to get beaten/robbed?).

In the end, Goetz was exonerated of the attempted murder charges under even the objective standard and only served eight months in prison for illegal possession of a firearm.

And now, he only lives on in law school classes, memories of old folks like me, and a Billy Joel song.

[Ol’ Bernie is at the 3:35 mark of the video if you need a little help!]


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