Intertemporal Crimes

USS Discovery Ship's Lawyer's Log: Stardate 2137.2

    For what seems to have only taken half an hour, I sure have a lot of work. Harcourt Fenton Mudd attempted to take over the Discovery using some advanced technology that allowed him to loop time giving him apparently infinite chances to try. Fortunately, the intrepid crew found a way to defeat him, but only after they'd been blown up or shot by him many times. I can't believe the crew let him go, he was guilty of some pretty heinous crimes. Furthermore, because he used a time travel device to replay and retry his attempt, he is guilty of his crimes many times over.

    1st Degree Murder (I'll dispense with the lesser degrees): Murder is the "intentional killing of another with malice aforethought." It is first degree murder when it was planned beforehand. Mudd definitely intended to kill Captain Lorca, and various other members of the crew, if not the entire crew. This intent is manifested in his no fewer than 53 successful attempts at murdering them through, inter alia, shooting, beaming into space, blowing up the ship. He also clearly planned out the attempt, as is evidenced by the plan he enacted. Additionally, he could have ceased his efforts after the first attempt was not successful, but he used it to update his plan and continue his crimes.

    I submit that he should be guilty of murder for all but the last (unsuccessful) attempt. Just because time looped does not mean that he did not do the act. Contrariwise, I believe that it allows for multiple culpability. For a criminal to be convicted, they must have the requisite mens rea (intention or knowledge) of the crime, and must have committed the actus reus (the action that is the crime). Mudd clearly had the intention to kill 53 times, and he committed the act of killing 53 times.

    Interstellar piracy (or at least attempted): Piracy is "the act of robbing and/or attacking ships in space." Generally, seen as a scourge of all existence, the prohibition on piracy is a jus cogens norm, that applies to all. There are records from as far back as the ancient sea-faring peoples of Andoria (not to mention Earth), where pirates are universally despised and could be prosecuted in any court in any country. 1 Mudd committed this at least 53 times over again when he took over the Discovery attempting to sell it to the Klingons.

    Suffice it to say, Mudd should be in jail for 53 counts of murder (multiplied by the number of crew on board), at least one count of attempted murder (for the last attempt that was unsuccessful), 53 counts of piracy, and one count of attempted piracy. As well as violations of the Endangered Species Act, for his abuse and use of the Gormagander.

1 M. Cherif Bassiouni, "Interstellar Crimes: Jus Cogens and Obligatio Erga Omnes" in Law and Interstellar Problems (Fall 2256).


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