Lawyer Demands “Trial by Combat”

In the movie “A Civil Action”, the protagonist says

Lawsuits are war. And they begin the same way. With a declaration of war: the complaint.

Examples of the litigation/war analogy are everywhere: war/fighting-related language and logo imagery are common features of attorney websites; law firms often have “war rooms”; tales of litigation exploits by experienced attorneys are known as “war stories”, and so on. One lawyer has even imagined what it would be like – perhaps in a parallel universe – if sword-wielding attorneys were commonplace and receive nothing more than a reprimand from a bored/annoyed court officer.

A Staten Island lawyer has explicitly and literally adopted the litigation-is-war analogy: In a recently-filed Reply Affirmation, attorney Richard Luthmann demands trial by combat against plaintiffs and their counsel. The “trial by combat” demand begins at paragraph 26.

Mr. Luthmann outlines the history of what he characterizes as the “common law writ of right … to Trial by Combat” and asserts that since it has never been outlawed, it “remains a right reserved to the people and a valid alternative to civil action” pursuant to the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

While I’m not sure whether he’s right on the law, I’m curious to see how the judge will respond. If, on the motion-hearing day, swords and shields are laid out on the counsel tables, plaintiff may want to reconsider their opposition strategy.



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