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Define That Term #196

Tuesday's term was natural law, which is defined as:

n. 1) standards of conduct derived from traditional moral principles (first mentioned by Roman jurists in the first century A.D.) and/or God's law and will. The biblical ten commandments, such as "thou shall not kill," are often included in those principles. Natural law assumes that all people believe in the same Judeo-Christian God and thus share an understanding of natural law premises. 2) the body of laws derived from nature and reason, embodied in the Declaration of Independence assertion that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 3) the opposite of "positive law," which is created by mankind through the state.

No one guessed this time around.

Today's term is:

transferred intent.

No dictionaries, please.


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NY Law Guy

Transferred intent is a legal theory (actually a legal fiction) whereby the when a wrongdoer intends to hurt one party - yet actually ends up hurting someone else - the actor is still liable. This theory is most often applied to homicides where a shooter fires his gun at his intended victim but someone else gets killed. Just because he is a lousy shot with bad aim doesn't mean he should get a benefit. Thus intentional murder is just that - if you intend to kill a person - and by your actions you do kill a person (any person) you are in trouble and need to call Scott Greenfield right away. (How's that for a plug for someone I don't even know - but appreciate their insight :-) )

David M. Gottlieb, Esq.

Transferred Intent-- when you are at the store ordering a hoagie and the man or woman puts mayo on it despite your clear instruction and you throw it at him or her and miss, only to hit the poor sap next to him or her, knocking said sap unconscious into the the potato salad. You aimed for one, hit the other, the intent to slam the sammich upside the head is transferred to the sap.

Scott Greenfield

Aw shucks, NY Law Guy, that's very kind of you. And you nailed the definition, of course, though David Gottlieb's hoagie (which, by extrapolation, would also apply if the sandwich was a submarine or grinder, according to your jurisdiction) example is far more common. I can't begin to tell you how many transferred intent killings by hoagie come across my desk. If I had a nickle...


I agree 100%. The whole hoagie thing is really beginning to be a big problem. It started in the inner cities, but has gradually moved into the suburbs, possibly as a result of the large increase in Subway franchises.

I've given this issue a lot of thought, and no matter how many times I go over it, the only real solution I can think of is to ban hoagies forever.

I realize that it may not an entirely realistic option, but I'm not sure what else we can do about it. We certainly can't ignore the hoagie problem or even appear to accept it. What kind of message would that send?

Banning hoagies is the only solution, but if it's to be successful, we'll need a catchy phrase to sell the idea. Maybe something like, oh, I don't know, "The War on Hoagies"?

I love it! I think I'm onto something here! I'm off to phone Chuck and Hillary. I'll let you know how it goes.

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