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Divorce by War Hammer? Not with Sheryl R. Rentz By Your Side

By Sheryl Rentz on March 30, 2020

a medieval knight's sword and armor

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, trial by combat, a term more recently made famous by the HBO series Game Of Thrones, may just be legal in Pennsylvania, however unintentionally. The journal calls it an ‘obscure loophole’ but it is a leftover law from the British rule of the thirteen colonies before the Revolutionary War.

Britain repealed the law hundreds of years ago and the last documented court-sanctioned duel in England was in 1818. Trial by combat has not occurred in Philadelphia yet since no one has asked for it or even paid attention to its’ existence. What is this barbaric custom and why is the act being brought forth now, in the twenty-first century?

Trial by Combat

For those of you who were never entangled in the drama of Game Of Thrones, trial by combat is a medieval form of justice that could take the place of a court trial, at either the accused or accuser’s request. Two men of somewhat equal physical stature would dress in relatively similar armor with formerly agreed-upon weapons and fight to the death.

The victor has apparently been chosen by their God as the innocent party because, in their opinion, God would only back someone pure of intention. Tell this to the thousands of football fans out there who just know that their team is going to be the one to win.

Women, the elderly, and anyone considered disabled would be given the right to choose a champion to fight in their stead, to keep things fair.

The truth is that most of these battles were unfair, all were public events with snacks and other entertainment, and the combat never solved who was truly guilty or innocent. As far as historians can tell, the option was never officially requested in the United States to solve a problem. Until now, that is.

Iowa 2020

At the start of 2020, a man from Kansas filed for a divorce from his wife in Shelby County, IA. David Ostrom claims that his wife has destroyed him and would love to meet her and her lawyer in the ‘field of battle’ to settle their divorce. He requested twelve weeks so that he may forge the agreed-upon weapons and prepare.

Mr. Ostram does admit that his problems are mainly due to his wife’s attorney instead of with her and believes that she should choose her lawyer as her champion.

The soon-to-be-former wife has negated her husband’s actions and called them absurd. Mr. Ostrom refuses to give up and has said that he will combat each accusation made by his ex-wife and her attorney with the same request: a duel to the death.

Mr. Hudson, the wife’s attorney, makes it clear that even though the constitution does not specifically rule out dueling, it does stop the court from presiding over such a practice or ordering one instead of a fair and impartial trial with the separation between church and state.

Are Trials by Combat Legal?

So far, in both Iowa and Pennsylvania, it appears that it is possible for trial by combat to be argued as an alternative to an average trial, though a judge has never ruled the argument as valid and probably never will be based on the fact that it violates a few constitutional laws.

A lawyer would have to prove several things for a judge to even consider trial by combat an option:

  • They must prove that the law was in effect during the British colonial rule of that specific area.
  • They also must prove that no one had any intention of revoking the law.
  • The lawyer would then have to prove that trial by combat does not violate any of our constitutional laws, which it does.

Considering that the lawyers would have to find and interpret documents that were created before 1776, the chances of trial by combat ever becoming a part of our justice system are slim to none.

Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C.

Our founding Pennsylvania divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. isn’t a fan of trial by combat. Nor is she a fan of contention when it can be avoided for a better system. Sheryl R. Rentz promises to fight aggressively for you, but not with Katana swords or Robert Baratheon’s Warhammer.¬†She can help resolve all your family matters through guidance and mediation. If that doesn’t work, she will represent you in court ready to fight a figurative battle, but not a literal one.

Sheryl R. Rentz knows that divorces are fraught with emotions and anxiety, but she will approach your case with a level-head and thorough understanding of Pennsylvania law. Please call us at (610) 645-0100 for valuable legal advice on your case or contact us online. A free consultation with us will give you direction and a reason for hope, without a duel to the death.

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