STRANGER THAN FICTION

RothLawAppeals

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.  When that happens, the law has to keep up, and that keeps appellate attorneys busy.  Take this case for example, which was decided earlier this year in the Florida Supreme Court.

True story.  Two guys are fighting.  They drive off in a truck together.  Do not ask why two people fighting would hop into a pickup and drive off, the story does not say.  But they did.  They keep fighting – such a heated fight that the passenger falls out of the moving truck and later dies. The driver keeps on going on his merry way.

The question for lawyers and judges became, did the driver flee the scene of a crash? There was no crash, really, except for the victim’s head crashing against the pavement, and that’s exactly the grisly theory that the prosecutors pushed.  The state’s Supremes disagreed, basing their decision in no small part on a change in the statute.  The legislature amended the law from one that punished leaving the scene of an “accident” to punishing leaving the scene of a “crash.”  To the judges, that evinced an intent to limit the application of the law to cases where the vehicle crashed, so it did not apply here.

You cannot make stories like this up.  Yet they occur more often than one might think – life is even more complicated than law – and when they do, one needs a good appellate lawyer at their side.