Courts Wrestle Over Piracy Definition

Only lawyers would be able to quibble over what is and is not piracy.:
“U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis last month upheld piracy and related charges in a 14-count indictment against the five Somalis charged in the April 1 attack on the Nicholas, a Norfolk-based frigate.

Davis’ conclusion was opposite the one reached by Judge Raymond A. Jackson, sitting two floors below Davis in the same courthouse, in August in a case involving the April 10 attack on the Ashland, based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

Jackson determined that he must interpret the piracy statute as it was meant at the time it was enacted, which was 1819. He found, citing an 1820 Supreme Court case, that piracy is defined only as robbery at sea. Since there was no robbery of the Ashland, he threw out the piracy charge. The government appealed and the case was halted.
The conflicting decisions have set legal scholars abuzz.”


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