In this, the year 2020, people are legitimately trying to settle their legal disputes by challenging each other to duels, and by people, I of course mean men.
Perhaps the most recent instance of this bizarre trend, as Zaron Burnett reported for MEL Magazine, comes to us from the Midwest, where a plaintiff named David Ostrom has petitioned a court to allow him to fight his soon-to-be-ex wife and her divorce lawyer with a Samurai sword. It’s a serious request, and Ostrom has the legal precedent/loophole to back it up (kind of). As he reminded the court in his motion, “To this day, trial-by-combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.” Presumably because no one really thought they had to bother.
Meanwhile, Ostrom isn’t the only one looking to exploit the legal oversight in which the U.S. failed to officially prohibit dueling, foolishly assuming there was no need to explicitly ban swordfighting as a means of settling legal disputes. Back in 2015, Staten Island lawyer and noted Game of Thrones fan Richard A. Luthmann filed a similar legal motion requesting justice by blade. The motion was denied, but the judge did concede that dueling is still technically a legal means by which to end a dispute, if only because no one ever bothered to ban it.
There are exceptions, however. As Burnett noted, California had the foresight to repeal an old law permitting dueling back in 1994, while the U.S. military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice also has specific laws rendering the practice a court-martialable offense. But throughout much of the country, dueling is still more or less legal, all because lawmakers of yore foolishly failed to predict Game of Thrones and the effect it would have on aspiring 21st-century swordsmen everywhere.
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