Paper Example on The Case of Speluncean Explorers

Published: 2023-09-28
Paper Example on The Case of Speluncean Explorers
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Violence Criminal justice Ethical dilemma Social issue
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1955 words
17 min read

The case of Speluncean explorers has been termed as a case of murder and cannibalism. It is a speculative instance where five men were caught trapped in a cave for thirty-two days. Their chances of survival, as advised by the medical experts, were very minimal since they didn't have any access to water and food. The experts told them that it was almost impossible for them to be rescued in less than ten days, and therefore they had an option to decide on what to eat as the rescue process was underway. For their survival, they decided to throw dice to get who to sacrifice and eat. Whitmore tried to withdraw him from the process, but he didn't succeed. The other four individuals threw the dice for him, and it came out that Whitmore was going to be killed. The remaining individuals were later convicted of homicide under the law stating that "Whoever might intentionally take the life of another should be executed by death." During the rescue process, ten rescuers were killed by the landside. The explorers were then rescued nine days later after the killing of Roger Whetmore. It is evident that if they had not murdered Whetmore, they could all be rescued alive.

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In this case, diverse opinions of judges represent different opinions and legal theories. In his works, Fullers included five judges to summon the convicts. When the four men went for trial the first time, they were accused of murder and sentenced to death. In this case, the sentence is being challenged in the Supreme Court. This case was decided by a bench of five judges of the law court. Two of these judge upheld the conviction, two overturned the sentence, and one of the judges recused himself. According to law, the men are worth the blame and the punishment for the wrongdoing, but fuller finds it better to get the conclusion of the sentence from the judges. In communication with the chief Executive of Newgarth during the post-trial, it had been decided that the four men face six months imprisonment.

Chief Justice Truepenny

From the chief justice Truepenny point of view, we can that that the Executive, legislative and judicial branches of the law have varied partitions, both unmistakable and reasonable. According to the working framework, the three forces of law include composing the code, maintain law, and implement the law. Chief Justice Trupenny explained the events to the jury. He mentioned the dialect of the statute, "Whoever should intentionally take the life of another might be executed by death. "According to Truepenny, the judges need to be wise and do things as per the law without being sympathetic. However, Justice Truepenny thinks the respondents would be more troubled, bearing in mind the circumstances of their mistake, and he, therefore, relies on the clemency of the Executive, which is described as 'mitigating the rigors of the law.'

Chief Justice Truepenny advocates for the defendants to be given an exemption from the statute statement because of the problematic situation and environment they were thirty-two days. He believes that it must have been hard and traumatizing to the four explorers when they stack in the cave for long. He believes that the explorers' case is extraordinary and should be handled wisely and justly. He states that the requests for pardon are cannot be granted by the Chief executive unless he was the one holding the hearing. If this happens, it means that there should be a retrial, and it would question the power of the Executive, so it evident that chief Executive won't go for retrial, but he can give compassion to the defendants. Chief Justice explains if either clemency happens, justice would have been served without compromising the spirit of the statute as well the disregard for the law. It is thus clear that chief justice Truepenny upholds the convictions and supports clemency.

Justice Foster

Justice Truepenny was then followed by Justice Foster, who firmly had a different view of the case. According to justice foster, he believes and trusts that the respondents were right, calling it 'the act of nature.' He states that since the explorers were miles away and in the hole, the governing laws of the Newgarth should not be taken into consideration in handling the case. He argues the explorers were miles away from the border of Newgarth so that the laws won't be applied to their situation. He also contends that the defendants discussed this and even came to an agreement that they eat one of them before the actual event and that Whetmore himself proposed it.

Justice fosters insists that regardless of the case put forward, all laws are directed towards the coexistence of humans, which is equitably and fairly regulated. Justice foster states that any man whose life is at risk is allowed to do anything for self-preservation, which was manslaughter in the case of Speluncean explorers. Justice Foster pointed out the powers that the Hangmen have to kill people, the police chasing the tenants who have defaulted out of their homes to that of the four men who chose to survive. He explains that this comment will be perceived y people differently and will come up with many conclusions; thus, it does need a rational judgment.

Justice Foster went further to explain that human existence is a result of people thinking that one's life is essential and should not be taken advantage are any given situation. Basing on this statement, he said that ten men were killed trying to rescue the four men. If it was right for the government to sacrifice the lives of ten men, to rescue four, why is it wrong for the explorers to sacrifice one to save the other four lives? He, therefore, closes his presentation by supporting the reversal of the verdict and declares the victims innocent. It is thus clear that Justice Foster was against the decision of the supreme, and he calls for the withdrawal of the conviction.

Justice Tatting

Justice Tatting did not have a final decision based on the judgments which were, made earlier. He is divided between loathing and sympathy, making him not in a position to dismiss the considerations given. He states that as a judge, he is always able to separate emotions from any kind of reaction. He says the case of the explorers is extraordinary and that his sources have failed him in deciding the fate of the verdict. Justice Tagging sharply criticizes justice fosters opinion on 'state of nature,' saying it is full of fallacies and contradictions. He does understand why the phrase by Foster, as he relates to the enormous rock that blocked the entrance of the cave, or is the fact that the men were starving, or is it because they want to set up a new chapter of the statute by throwing a dice. He contended that criminal law should be considered as it helps to avoid future violations. With all the arguments he passed, Justice Tatting admits that he is torn between deciding on the laws used or on the situation of the explorers.

Justice Keen

He challenges chief justice recommendation of pardon the four defendants and that the appeal should only be made if they consider themselves as private citizens. He argues that according to the system of Newgarth, only the decision of whether to pass clemency after conviction is only approved by the Chief executive. Keen argues the law does not support moral consideration in murder cases and, therefore, should not use in this case. States that the situation is about to determine if the defendants were right or wrong in the decision they made. He states that the role of the jury present is to determine if the defendant's willingly killed Roger Whetmore as it is stated in the statute that "whoever shall willfully take the life of the other shall be punished by death. " With this statement in question, he is convinced that the defendants did kill Whetmore out of their own will. He states that he won't let personal feelings and emotions push him into making this decision. As earlier suggested by the chief of the use of purposeful approach, Justice Keen claims that the law might have many purposes, which have difficulties in identifying the real meaning of the case in question. Keen outlined the steps into a purposeful approach to the situation. He said that it has three phases, including determining the purpose to which the statute is based. Finding this purpose is a challenge because the law has many purposes making it hard to get the exact one relevant to the case in question. He challenges Foster by posing a matter of how they can identify the gap in the case when they do not know its purpose. He recalls the previous incident in Newgarth, where cases handled by the purposeful approach led to civil war, thus made the legislature of the country to be supreme over the judiciary. He concludes that he believes the defendants are guilty of murder, and therefore he affirms the conviction.

Justice Handy

Finally, the justice handy was the last to give his views about the verdict. He admits that he is disappointed to hear his fellow judges present their opinions about the case, and none of them considered the state of legal nature that forced the explores to end up into deciding to turn cannibals, and the question if Whetmore suggested the actual event. He suggests that they should use 'common sense' into realizing that ninety percent of the public would want the conviction reversed. The defendants to be forgiven and given a bearable sentence.

Before making his decision on the case, he points out that it has been a big challenge for him trying to make his fellows understand that the government is bout people and that people rule it not by laws or court. He says that the government is ruled well by following the emotions and feelings and the needs of the public. Handy argues that the lawyers are hired to handle the case and try to win the case to embarrass the defeated group. To prevent this, the lawyers will look for more explanations making the situations more complicated. Therefore they try every day to come up with many discoveries that have made the law to be complicated.

Handy supports the use of the purposeful approach to solving the case. It includes selecting the proper opinions that best suits the situation and draw a better judgment instead of being guide by written law. He believes examples are different and should be handled differently, which is likely to lead to successful passing of opinion on the defendants. He suggests if a purposeful approach is applied when handling the explorer's case, it would be easier to reach a judgment. The higher percentage of the public wants the men to be forgiven and given a sentence that is bearable to them. Handy in his decision about the case, he wants the verdict withdrawn, and the defendants set free for lack of evidence.

When all the justices have presented their arguments and decisions, Justice Tatting was more convinced that either way was complicated, and he decides to withdraw from the case without making any decision. The verdict was upheld, and the explorers were executed.


Easterbrook, F. H. (1999). The Case of the Speluncean Explorers - American University. Chicago Law School.

Fuller, L. L. (1949). The Case of the Speluncean Explorers. Harvard Law Review, 62(4), 616.

Eskridge Jr, W. N. (1992). Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Twentieth-Century Statutory Interpretation in a Nutshell. Geo. Wash. L., Rev., 61, 1731.

D'Amato, A. (1979). The Speluncean Explorers--Further Proceedings. Stan. L. Rev., 32, 467.

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