Tuesday, a relative of murder victim Sophia Ortiz lunged at her accused killer, Julio Martinez, at an arraignment in Camden, New Jersey. The Courier Post reports that during a courtroom hearing, the relative jumped over benches while attempting to attack Martinez before he was stopped and restrained by multiple sheriff's deputies.
What the relative might not realize is that even though Martinez, if found guilty, will have many of his rights taken away, he would still have the right to file a personal injury claim.
The very last thing that you would be thinking about if you were at a court hearing that dealt with your recently-deceased relative is tort liability. (Of course, it is only lawyers that constantly think of how a person could be held liable in strange situations.)
The potential personal injury claim that occurred in the Camden court attack is assault. An assault doesn't actually require someone to be hurt, or even touched for that matter. All that you need to prove is that there is an attempt or threat of injury, the ability to cause that injury, and the victim was reasonably apprehensive.
It seems like the relative at the Camden arraignment attempted to harm Martinez. In the video, you can see him vaulting over benches towards the shackled man. It's also pretty clear that he had the ability to cause the harm that he wanted to cause because he was in the courtroom and very close to his target.
The point where Martinez's tort claim would fail is where he had to prove that he was reasonably apprehensive of harm. The video shows Martinez looking at the floor before the camera panned to the prosecutor, and that the relative was stopped before coming too close. It's likely Martinez only noticed the deputies starting to move.
Needless to say, the defense here was in the facts, and not because the "victim" of the tort was an accused murderer. No matter what you may have read in that Punisher comic, revenge is not protected under the law.
- Find a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Assault and Battery Defenses (FindLaw)
- Restraining order useless against former boyfriend accused of fatal Camden stabbing (Philadelphia Inquirer)