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Staten Island lawyer challenges rival litigant to trial by combat

The judicial system in Westeros can be very strange. When legal proceedings are actually allowed to go forward, they seem to resemble kangaroo courts where even highly circumstantial evidence can prove the guilt or innocence of whoever’s being accused of something—see Tyrion’s trial in Season 4, or Loras’ holy inquest this past year. More often, high-stakes disputes are settled on the basis of trial by combat, because nothing says “exoneration” like a sword through the gut.

Richard Luthmann, a Staten Island lawyer being accused in a civil suit of helping his client commit fraud, is taking a page from the Song of Ice and Fire novels by asking to skip the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and just resolve the matter with a fight to the death. Specifically, he requested that the court “permit the undersigned to dispatch plaintiffs and their counsel to the Divine Providence of the Maker for Him to exact His divine judgment once the undersigned has released the souls of the plaintiffs and their counsel from their corporeal bodies, personally and or by way of a champion.”

And yes, Luthmann is a self-avowed Game of Thrones fan. How did you guess?

Richard Luthmann

Attorney and real-life Oberyn Martell Richard Luthmann.

Here’s the story in nutshell: the plaintiffs in this case accused Luthmann of advising his client, David Parker, to move certain amounts of money “beyond the reach of [his] creditors” in violation of New York state law. The plaintiffs had actually already been awarded monetary judgments against Parker, but could not collect on account of his alleged insolvency, so they sued Luthmann in hopes of getting a payday. They’re looking for $550,000, plus punitive damages.

Luthmann denied any wrongdoing, and decided to fight fire with fire. “They want to be absurd about what they’re trying to do, then I’ll give them back ridiculousness in kind,” he said.

Then he wrote a ten-page brief outlining the history of trial by combat, from its beginnings in the Middle Ages to its presence in American history. He argues that, although definitely outdated, trial by combat was never officially outlawed in the United States or in the state of New York. Also, it’s not mentioned anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, so it’s arguably retained by the people by way of the Ninth Amendment.

“The judge may look askance at it, but I’m prepared to take it to the highest level,” Luthmann said. “I’d love to have a court determine whether we have those rights under the Constitution.” If we do, it could certainly make the judicial process a little more exciting. People would probably be more eager to have jury duty if trials played out like this.

H/T SILive.com


    • The Red Lady this is is interesting, the brilliant essay you wrote on WiC forum Comparing and Contrasting The Night’s Watch and The American Military is a similar contrast is it not?

      • Cynthia,

        Thank you.

        Yes in a sense, I was comparing the NW to the Modern Military, whereas this guy in NY has taken it all the way to Court! What a guy!

        He REALLY wants to prove a point! Hope he has FrankenGregor lined up as his Champion!

        • Dear Red Lady,
          Having served in the US Air Force of my own volition, I can assure you the US Military does not accept rapists and murderers out of Jail cells.
          The practice you referred to back in the 50’s was for minor stuff that could hurt a young man’s future if he had a record…it was basically giving a kid a chance to turn his life around, not an alternative punishment for his crimes.
          In GOT, the Wall is permanent and there is no redemption to be had there in the sense that you could NEVER return to society.

          • Dear A57se,

            I meant no offense to the military, in fact I agree with you and I am sorry if my perspective was unclear.

            I believe I used the term minor offenses, and I would never consider rape, murder and the ilk as minor. What I was trying to express as an alternative punishment, was instead of jailing someone for a minor drug offense, drunk and disorderly or taking a joyride, courts encouraged military service.

            That is the stark contrast, that unlike the military, the NW owns you for life and can execute you for going AWOL.

  • I hope he read the law properly before walking that road.

    What if the judge, forced to take a stance, read all laws about trials by combat and find out that what Luthmann is binding, and he forces him to fight for his life?

    He might not think it as funny as it thought it’d be to screw around the justice for fun.

  • I say go for it. Of course as the plaintiff, he is going to be the one doing the fighting.
    Unless he has some training in armed combat that no one is aware of, he is most likely going to get his butt handed to him in a matter of minutes.

    All I hope is they do a national broadcast of the event. Hell do pay per view. I’d pay to see all 2 minutes of it.


    Soon all legal departments well have ‘Combat Lawyers’ who specialize in aggressive justice.

  • Lawyers used to duel with guns all the time. A smack in the face with a glove and it’s on lol. Reminds me of a episode of It’s Allways Sunny in philadelphia

  • I used to know this guy and I played rugby with him about 10 years ago….. Unless the other side is permitted to choose a champion, I’m willing to bet that Mr. Luthmann sized up the competition and has determined that he will win a lopsided victory. (The best comparison would be Brandon Stark v. Littlefinger.)…….. As a lawyer myself I’ve come across many individuals in our profession who more resemble Littlefinger than The Mountain, and they desperately deserve a good beating even more badly than he does. My bet is that Luthmann, as a former rugby player turned lawyer, will make short work of his opponent if it ever comes to that…..