Have We Lost SIght of Equal Protection under the Law?


The Prestige oil spill case is a shameful example of a shipmaster being criminalised in a way that would not be inflicted on a shoreside person caught up in the same circumstances.act. Hence, criminalisation is a phenomenon peculiar to seafarers merely because of the profession. Therefore, at a fundamental level, Capt Mangouras was not treated as any other person ashore similarly situated would be treated. Thus the court in its decision endorsed the criminalisation of Capt. Mangouras and every other shipmaster in his circumstance. Capt. Mangouras'; bail was set excessively high simply because he was a shipmaster. The court in its musings encouraged lower courts to set bail at first appearance usually by a maritime-inexperienced magistrate deciding from his subjective and idiosyncratic perceptions whether or not the person before him was likely guilty of a crime causing enormous damage. Of course this trend was set with Capt. Joseph Hazelwood of the EXXON VALDEZ when the judge compared the spill thusly: "we have not seen the enormity of damage like this since Hiroshima" thus equating the loss of tens of thousands of lives to the spilling of oil. The judge was also a conservationist and waterman with stuffed waterfowl perched on sticks on the walls of his office. He promptly and efficiently set bail for two minor misdemeanors at USD 2 millions -- USD 1 per misdemeanor comparable to a simple assault.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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