Captain Boomerang’s Legal Status

Captain Boomerang is sort of in a legal limbo right now: is he still culpable for crimes he committed before he died?

In one sense he’s like Ygor in Son of Frankenstein: Ygor was hanged for grave robbing and pronounced dead — but the coroner made a mistake. He was still alive, but legally speaking, no one could touch him. Not only had the sentence for his original crime been carried out, but they couldn’t arrest a “dead” man for new crimes.

In The Flash #3, the guards at Iron Heights prison talked about getting Boomerang’s murder convictions reinstated…but something’s missing: Until that happens, what is he being held for? What has he been charged with? (Admittedly, the prison is still run by Warden Wolfe, who has never been particularly concerned with following the law where criminals are concerned.)

Of course, now that he’s shattered a frozen guard (probably killing him), seriously injured several others, broken out of prison, and left a swath of destruction on his way to confront the Flash, it’s a moot point. There are plenty of new crimes to charge him with the next time he ends up in police custody.

But technically, what was he doing there to begin with?

The legal system in the DCU must have procedures, or at least precedent, for dealing with heroes and villains coming back from the dead. No one seems concerned about the Flash’s legal status, and Barry Allen’s official records say he was simply in Witness Protection, not dead, but it’s got to have come up in other cases.


11 thoughts on “Captain Boomerang’s Legal Status

  1. Craig MacD

    I think in the cases of supervillains who have in the past been known to commit multiple murders, robberies, end-of-the-world type actions they simply don’t want to take a chance. They may have been holding Boomerang in order to judge if he was still a threat or not, and the guards (or Wolfe) took it upon themselves to make sure he wasn’t in any condition to cause havoc.

  2. Luke

    I think your Warden Wolfe thought is right on the money. I can see him specifically ignoring the death certificate for Boomer.

    They also could be holding him as a “material witness” or “person of interest,” and then the extreme restraint measures taken because he was a “danger to himself.”

  3. Joe

    Cool topic.

    Question for you legal types out there:

    Techinically, Boomerang was never tried and convicted for the murder of Jack Drake. Heck, he was never charged. He was dead at the scene of the crime.

    So no sentence was ever carried out. Shouldn’t that mean the state can still hold him accountable?

    YGOR was already tried, convicted and the sentence carried out. Double jeopardy protects him. BUt Boomerang never really answered for his crimes by state procedures.

    This is tricky.

    Prior murders? We can assume he had already been exonerated by dubious means (he was, after all a card carrying Suicide Squad regular.)

    But regardless, the Warden Wolfe answer explains why he was being held regardless of his status.

    1. Xian

      Double jeopardy does not attach until the jury is empaneled and sworn in a [typical] criminal case or when the first witness is sworn in the case of a bench trial. So he could freely be held, tried, and convicted of that if he was never charged (there’s no Statute of Limitations on murder). So you’re correct that Drake’s killing could be used to *jail* Digger… but it’s unlikely to be enough to *imprison* Digger without due process. There would have to be some form of DCU specific legal exception to justify holding a suspect, person of interest, or what not in prison instead of jail.

      The Warden Wolfe explanation doesn’t really fly because that doesn’t explain how the justice system deposited Digger in prison in the first place. A prison- even if privately owned, operated, and funded- is considered a state actor and is linked to state procedure… so even if Wolfe has evil and plenary powers over people once inside his walls (like the cliche crooked warden forcing his inmates to fight or whatnot)… there’s no warden with the authority to force the transfer of a person merely meant to be jailed to end up in prison. This applies only outside a violent conviction… and since we’re told Digger’s convictions have not been reinstated yet he doesn’t belong in prison.

      The only explanation is a DCU exception for supervillains.

      1. Xian

        Upon reflection, I realized that it’s possible that Wolfe got his hands on Digger through Barry, bypassing the state and due process.

        Barry is the one who knocks Digger out and “arrests” him. Given how Barry overtly disregards police procedure at *every* turn in Rebirth, BN, SFO, and Volume 3 (the kid breaks police tape, he commits two homicides without accounting, he contaminates evidence, he ignores 25th century Miranda, and on and on) and even went so far as to completely violate fundamental privacy rights in Secret/ID Crisis by forcibly rewriting minds… it is not at all inconceivable that Barry simply picked up Digger and dumped him into crazy Wolfe’s hands without due process. Playing it fast and loose with the law.

        The major hole in this theory is that the court is aware of Digger’s presence and looking to reinstate his convictions… and if Barry and secretly/wrongfully dumped Digger into Wolfe’s custody, why in the world would Wolfe inform the courts? They’d just take Digger away to await the resolution of his convict status outside of prison.

  4. Xian

    Assuming Digger had valid and existing conviction his legal status is of a convict. There’s no need to “reinstate” a conviction because they do not terminate upon death. That’s one of the reasons convictions can be exonerated posthumously. So that little bit in the book is wrong unless DCU law, for some reason, exonerates convicts upon death needlessly.

    But I’m more struck by the point Joe raises, which is that Digger via the Suicide Squad likely has a pardon and a clean slate with respect to convictions (wasn’t he living in suburbia just normally?)… so there’s nothing to reinstate. While death doesn’t terminate a conviction it does preclude prosecution (Confrontation Clause and all that) so dead Digger could not have been tried for Drake’s death and thus there could be no conviction there to reinstate either.

    So… back to the original question…

    Digger is either a suspect worthy of jailing or a convict who can be imprisoned… but not a suspect to be imprisoned nor a person awaiting reinstatement of conviction. The term “reinstated” generally applies only to intermediary appeals resulting in reversed convictions.

  5. Kelson Post author

    Nice analysis, Xian!

    One thing regarding the Suicide Squad, though: Wouldn’t any pardons only apply to crimes he committed before serving his time in the squad? I would think that anything he did after “graduating” would still be fair game for prosecution.

    1. Xian

      Yes, pardons only work for past crimes… but as best I can recall, the Suicide Squad was the last time Digger was in government custody. Any crimes afterwards, even if they were *certain* he did them, he would still only be legally a suspect to be jailed not imprisoned (like with the Drake murder).

      For him to have any convictions applicable to put him directly in prison after resurrection, he would have to have did a crime after the Squad, gotten caught, put through a trial and convicted, and then escaped.

      If he was never caught or tried, he’s fair game for prosecution but that doesn’t entitle them to put him directly in prison, he’d have to wait in jail until convicted properly.

      1. Joe

        Hey XIan, I like your analyses. What would happen when you factor these in as well…

        There’s also the fact that the last time Boomerbutt was with the Squad was way back before Underworld Unleashed, back when Deadshot shot his hands in that issue of Superboy.
        (Unless I missed anything? I don’t remember him appearing in the other Squad series.Then again, it’s not unnatural to believe that Waller had some Squad ops done off panel. Let’s assume none unless otherwise confirmed)

        And, aside from Jack Drake, I don’t recall him committing any murders since then. (If he did, it wasn’t shown and he probably got away with it. Or I just missed it.)

        There was never any trial or even formal accusation. With both of them dead, I have a feeling the State did not even file a case.

        Assumption of guilt was based on Boomerbutt’s record. Not on evidence. WE all know it was a botched assassination, but with the evidence at hand, a slick lawyer and a corrupt judge could get him off on self defense. (Yes, it is NOT self defense but look at the evidence at the time. He can claim it was a theft, owner pulls a gun on him FIRST. No witnesses and the only ones who can confirm it was a contract killing are all VILLAINS who wouldn’t appear.) Too much “reasonable doubt” to convict. And we’ve seen that the DCU has its share of unscrupulous lawyers and judges.

        1. Omar Karindu

          If Boomerang claimed to kill Jack Drake during a theft, it’d still be counted as first-degree murder under the felony murder rule. Drake pulling a gun fits under virtually every state’s self-defense statute there is, and any death caused as the result of a felony — like burglary — is tried in most jurisdictions as felony murder.

  6. Ben Hall

    A lot of good theories. I don’t know which theory will turn up in a future story. This is like the first Richard Donner Superman movie with Boomer being Lex.

    I also just want to say off-topic that I met Matt Kindt (Super-Spy) & Tim Lane (Abandoned Cars) last night. I will be interviewing them for my blog. Just Mentioning in case anyone is interested.


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