Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies and the Law

An interesting article appeared in the Huffington Post recently. The gist of the story goes something like this: would zombies be legally responsible if they ate your brain? I laughed at the suggestion as well. Yet the question lends to some deep thought. Who would be responsible if a zombie ate your brain? Welcome to Monday Mayhem.

Zombie Justice
Zombie Justice

Lawyers Ryan Davidson and James Daily specialize in the legal ramifications of comic book hypothetical situations. In other words, these guys are cool. They take simple comic book scenarios and view them in the strictest legal sense. Their next endeavor is zombies. What zombies do, how they do it, responsibility, tort, etc., all that stuff. Featured in The New York Times, Marketplace, the ABA Journal and others, the site Law and the Multiverse have provided enlightening ideas on the zombie genre.

According to Davidson, a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t only be a mess for humanity, but also for the courts. The law views individuals as either fully alive or fully dead. There’s no in-betweens or undead. The argument attributing responsibility to zombies for property damage or crimes against humanity takes an even more complicated turn when introducing awareness to the equation.

Here’s what Davidson had to say:

“It depends on how the disease works. If zombies are effectively unconscious, then they would be incapable of performing voluntary actions and thus immune to criminal liability (or civil liability, for that matter). The zombies in the most recent I Am Legend movie appear to be fully conscious, if perhaps a bit aggressive, so they could potentially be found liable. But in most others, probably not.”

28 Days Later
28 Days Later

Then the question of rights comes to play. Would zombies have rights? He continues:

“If zombies are re-animated corpses, then no. The dead have no rights. But if zombies are living people infected with some kind of virus, like in 28 Days Later, they still have all the same rights they did before infection.”

Of course, if former zombies hire good lawyers, they can get off on an insanity plea. At least this is something the courts would have to take into consideration, should the defendants find their minds again and be fit to stand trial. Davidson was clear about this issue:

“If the crimes were committed while they were a zombie, and if the zombie condition causes legal insanity (basically defined in many states as not knowing what you are doing and not knowing that what you are doing is wrong), then they would have an insanity defense, even if they were later cured.”

He was quick to clarify those individuals suffering from mental illnesses today are not zombies.

To add to the discussion, the last portion of his interview delves into the “what if” scenario of capturing a zombie and placing it on trial for capital crimes and the like. Not only would said zombie be deemed unfit to stand trial, it would also have difficulties working with counsel. Not to mention the court would have an arduous task finding a jury of its peers.

Does bringing a zombie to trial seem feasible? What other problems may exist should a zombie find itself in court?