Currently in Michigan there is a ban on the crime of dueling. Representatives Wheeler-Smith, Sheltrown, and LeBlanc have proposed House Bills 6135, 6136, and 6137 respectively. These bills would repeal the prohibition of engaging in or challenging another person to a duel. The Michigan Corrections Code and sentencing guidelines would also need to be amended accordingly if these bills are passed into law.. From time to time, the Michigan Prosecutor's Association lobbies Congress to take old laws off the books to streamline the Michigan Legal Code and keep it current. With the changing nature of society there are always new laws that need to be enacted. However, before a new law can be put on the books, there are those who think it best to take an old one off. It is important to make sure there are the right amount of laws on the books without restricting too many freedoms.
For example, there was an old law in the state of Michigan that a woman could not cut her hair until she had permission from her husband. Even though in recent times this law was not enforced, it was a law still very much enforceable. This law could have created a loophole to be utilized by the proper authorities if there was a case in which they wanted to bring a certain woman in for questioning in a different case. This law could have given them a reason to hold someone even if that law was not the one they were trying to enforce.
There are also old laws that are not used very often but that could lead to a frivolous law suit such as the Home Depot Case vs. the State of Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts had an old law that said certain types of stores were required to individually price items. In an ingenious move, a class action lawsuit was filed against Home Depot for not individually pricing items. The Home Depot ended up paying out millions of dollars because of this old antiquated law still on the books in Massachusetts. Even though this is not an example of an old crime law, the illustration still shows the trouble that an outdated law can make.
Laws and customs certainly change over the years. If you look back to the beginning of our country, dueling was an accepted way that people, usually men, worked out their differences. Think back to the famous case of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. But in most cases, laws that are taken off the books can still be prosecuted under other laws. For example, if one does take part in dueling, he or she could still be prosecuted under assault. There is no need to have a separate law on the books that only references dueling. State Senator Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, said these crimes are punishable under other existing laws. "Basically, the prosecuting attorney has taken a look at the criminal laws and these crimes are obsolete because usually the wrong that is done, we can prosecute under other areas of the law."
I contacted Representative Wheeler-Smith's office asking about the reasons for bringing this type of bill to the House floor. Her office responded with: "Periodically, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) reviews criminal statutes and determines if any are no longer relevant. The crime of dueling has not been prosecuted for over 50 years. Therefore, it has been recommended by PAAM that the state laws be updated to remove the crime of dueling. Should persons engage in a duel, the conduct would be prosecuted under existing assault and, if needed, homicide statutes. House Bill 6137 and Senate Bill 760 would repeal the prohibition of engaging in or challenging another person to a duel. House Bills 6135 and 6136 and Senate Bills 761 and 762 are companion bills that would revise or delete references to the repealed section from the Corrections Code and sentencing guidelines. House Bills 6135 and 6136 are tiebarred to House Bill 6137 or Senate Bill 760, and Senate Bills 761 and 762 are tie-barred to Senate Bill 760."
This bill is expected to have bi-partisan support. An exception is from State Senator Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township, who last year joked that a dueling law might be necessary given the bipartisan battle surrounding the state's $2.8 billion deficit. "The way things are going in Lansing today, we need that law," Kahn said.
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