Saturday, September 24, 2005

Katko v. Briney Comes to Texas

A couple of weeks back in our torts class, we discussed Katko v. Briney. 183 N.W.2d 657, 1971. An Iowa case where a homeowner was charged for setting a springloaded gun to fire upon an intruder in his vacant boarded up farmhouse. This led to a vigorous debate among your three co-bloggers about the right to use deadly force in defense of property. I, being from Texas, pointed out the rather generous Texas statute that allows for deadly force to recover property being taken from you. My dear liberal friend, Rob, of course, was appalled, Mr. Rush agreed with me. In Texas, the result of Katko likely would have been the same, as Texas does not permit the use of "devices" to defend property that may reasonably cause death. Mr. Rush and I argued that it was a powerful deterrent to property crime. Rob argued that the value of life over property was sacrosanct.

Now, a debate rages over at The Volokh Conspiracy in the comments to a post from Prof. Volokh in which he says looters in Houston would be well-served to remember Texas' liberal attitudes (or conservative, depending on your prospective I guess) toward protection of property. I recommend you read the comments for a view of how polarizing this issue is. I, for one, come down firmly on the side of deterrence.