View Full Version : Bounty Hunters

01-01-2012, 05:09 PM
Bounty Hunters, or; We always get our man.

Bounty hunting as an occupation is mainly an American occupation. As much as the old west was tied to it, the job was originally created on the civilized East Coast, where the average bounty hunter did what a modern one in the US does now; chasing people who had caused a bonding agency to forfeit on a bail.

In the Movie, the Hunter, Steve McQueen, (who had played an old west bounty hunter named Josh Randall in the 50s series Wanted Dead or Alive) played instead a real life modern bounty hunter named Ralph 'Papa' Thorson. During the movie, Thorson hands a paper to his most recent bounty with the law regarding bounty hunters in the US (a Supreme court decision in Taylor v. Taintor, ruled on in 1872). The basic rules are being challenged on the grounds of being defined as obiter dictum, latin for 'said in passing' but still used even today.

You see; if you were John Q Law, and you had been ordered to bring I'm a Crook into custody, you must first obtain a warrant, then go to where he might be, say at home, then knock on the door, serve the warrant which gives you rights to enter that property to search for the criminal in question. Simple, right? Without a warrant, you cannot arrest the criminal unless he is stupid enough to be the one answering the door; or can be seen clearly from that door. Without a warrant, whoever answered the door can merely refuse you entry.

Well a bounty hunter has simpler rules. Warrant? If it's the criminal's residence, you don't need no stinkin' warrant. You cannot kick the door for example, but if you have the skill to open that door in the dead of night, you are allowed (Unless local State Laws say otherwise) to enter, find your bounty, and take him into custody, and the argument that you have violated due process (The aforementioned warrant) is set aside. You can't enter, not find the criminal and proceed to terrorize the occupants for his present location, nor can you harm anyone beyond the needs of removing a criminal. In other words, anyone who tries to stop you can be injured enough to clear them from your path, but unless they attempt to use lethal force to stop you, you cannot kill them.

But like most laws created in Washington, this one hit a problem the instant it reached the Mississippi because of the War Between the States.

Gone To Texas

A lot of men who fled the surrender of the Confederates would simply leave a note on their front door with GTT on it. This meant, as the title of this section says, gone to Texas.

Geographically, Texas was where the Old West began.

Demographically every time the US has fought a war, surviving soldiers have broken into new sub groups. The Revolution and War of 1812 caused the rapid western migration as people who had, in War Between the States parlance had 'seen the elephant' moved west to get away from it. Again, this time with the Mexican American war came the proliferation of what we now call the Mountain Men. This latest war caused some to polarize into groups we know very well now. Cowboys, Bandits, and Lawmen, including bounty hunters. Famous men belong to each group, and even now we remember them. The criminals that made up the James-Younger gang for example were originally members of the irregular raiders called Quantrill's Raiders who just kept up as if the war had never ended.

William 'Billie the Kid' Bonney was a member of a group called the Regulators who fought for one faction during the Lincoln County War, which is the first time you had commercial concerns specifically the dry goods suppliers fighting to decide who would sell their products in the county. Picture Macy's and Sears fighting for market share with real guns and casualty lists.

To get around the simplistic rules (I.E. Legal rules) both sides deputized their followers, then paid them a bounty for proof that they had fought the enemy, in this case, $50 per saddle brought in. Not a lot by modern day standards, but when a steak dinner with all the trimmings cost about 50 cents, a box of shells for your rifle or pistol about a dollar, a Colt Peacemaker cost $25, a rifle less than $50 dollars and a horse about $100, it was a good living.

The people of Kansas however got upset. You see; no one was making you verify that the owner of that saddle, usually dead, was really a member of the opposite faction. With the death of Alexander McSween, the head of one faction in 1880, the war ended. The soldiers of his faction, the aforementioned Regulators, were declared murderers and outlaws. The new Sheriff, Pat Garret, hunted them down, including Billie the Kid, who had once been a personal friend.

For lawmen, we have Garret himself, and four brothers with a friend as well known as lawmen. These were the Earp boys, Wyatt, James Morgan and Virgil, with a friend of Wyatt's John Henry 'Doc' Holliady. Best known for the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

The Gunfight at the OK Corral

Again it was a faction fight. Ike Clanton, co-leader of the group called the Cowboys with Frank MacLaury wanted control of Tombstone Arizona and the county. Earp and his supporters had that control, and refused to relinquish it. As with the Lincoln County War, the law was on both sides. Johnny Behan, the Cochise County Sheriff supported Clanton, while the Earps were deputy (temporary) US Marshals or in the case of one of the brothers (Virgil) was officially a US deputy marshal.

After several months of maneuvering, the Earps decided to drive Clanton and company out of the county, and when they heard that the Clanton's were at the OK Corral, went to confront them. Their reasoning was disarming the cowboys, but considering the personalities on each side, what occurred next was a foregone conclusion. The entire fight lasted all of 30 seconds, and resulted in the deaths of Billie Clanton, along with both Frank and Tom Mclaury.

Afterward Morgan was assassinated, and Virgil was badly injured. The remaining Earps set out on a vendetta against the now outlaw Clanton gang.

Other referents

Sadly these come from fictional sources, specifically the movie Unforgiven and High Plain's Drifter produced by Malpaso; Clint Eastwood's production company. In Unforgiven, some trail hands get too rough with a girl at a bawdy house, and unsatisfied with the punishment given by the sheriff, place a bounty on the men that had injured her, all under law, illegal. In High Plain's Drifter, a local mining consortium hire a group of 'marshals' to stop local entrepreneurs from interfering with their stranglehold on local mining.

But I am willing to bet real money that such bounties were issued by extra legal authorities, and paid upon completion.

In the Star Wars Galaxy; Why did it begin?

Now look at the US, with it's, in reality limited land area, and compare it to when the Republic first began. Picture a legal system covering a hundred or more planets instead; each planet with their own local laws, refusing to accept the 'writ of law' accepted by the core systems. This allows criminals to have a safe haven to hide in. So you instead hire bounty hunters to patrol and police this region. But they face the additional problems faced by Robert Ford, who took the life of Jesses James, and claimed the bounty.

Don't laugh! Ira Samuel Einhorn, known as "the Unicorn Killer" was able to flee to France (Which was one of the first European nations who removed the death penalty), and was also one of the last European nations to abjure 'trial in absenstia' 'literally 'trial in the absence of'. The initial extradition was refused when the state of Pennsylvania demanded Einhorn's extradition. In other words, they refused to accept an in absenstia verdict because Pennsylvania had held the trial in absenstia and given the death penalty, while the French Government refused to allow either legal argument. To gain that extradition, the state of Pennsylvania had to first accept that trial in absenstia was not acceptable in France, and that a nation was not required to accept another nation's law (regarding the death penalty and the lesser Life without parole) so they could deny Pennsylvania unless Einhorn was given a new trial.

For those interested, Einhorn was eventually extradited to Pennsylvania in 2002. Thanks to the agreements made in that extradition, the man was sentenced to life; not life without parole (Which again the French refuse to accept), but life. That means around 2022, his lawyers can petition for parole. However having live a good part of my life in California, the state that holds Charles Manson for the killing spree he orchestrated in the 70s, It'll be a cold day in hell before Eihnorn gets a parole.

You see, back in the Old West you had to ID your bounty. In an odd turn of events; The murder of Jesse James became a national sensation. The Fords made no attempt to hide their role. Indeed, Robert Ford wired the governor to claim his reward. Even while the Ford brothers surrendered to the authorities but they were dismayed to find that they were charged with first degree murder. In the course of a single day, the Ford brothers were indicted, pleaded guilty, were sentenced to death by hanging, and two hours later were granted a full pardon by Governor Crittenden. Martha Bolton, James' lover denied that it wasd Jesse James, a ploy to deny Howard the reward.

The governor's quick pardon suggested that he knew the brothers intended to kill James rather than capture him. Like many who knew James, the Ford brothers never believed it was practical to try to take him into custody. The implication that the chief executive of Missouri conspired to kill a private citizen startled the public and added to James' notoriety.

What it has come down to...

I had a vision when I thought of this paragraph. A town issuing a bounty with WANTED: SCHOOL MARM. Now picture a city council being called out of session because a local bounty hunter tells them he has found them a new school teacher. They run out to welcome her, to find a stiff body draped over a saddle. One of them mentions there was no 'dead or alive' in the wanted poster, at which the bounty hunter says 'oops” and leaves them to bury the dead school teacher.

Now hold that thought.

The list I am going to go over is not in chronological order; as in when it happened in time, rather when we saw the events by witnessing Star Wars in it's entirety.

Jabba puts a bounty on Han Solo: Here we have a bounty as mentioned above in the Pre war US, a criminal organization putting up a bounty for someone who has failed. I have to agree with Han in this regard; putting a bounty on his head because he got stopped by the Imperials is like putting one on the head of a mule bringing in drugs from Columbia. While it might make sense 'Pour Encourage L'Autre' (French; To encourage the others; reason given for the execution of officers that had failed during WW I) but then again, if I were a smuggler I would refuse a contract with someone who had used this. Bad enough you might end up in jail when you're caught; but to be told your client will kill you because you failed to deliver? To quote the old English comment, 'screw that for a game of soldiers'.

The Empire puts a bounty on Solo's head: Vader give this bounty personally, and when he says 'no disintergrations' suggests a lot of time the bounty hunter delivers a bag of ashes and says 'here's your man'. He wants to be sure it's the specific Han Solo he wants dead after all. This gave rise to my own dark thoughts mentioned below.

KOTOR in the Bounty Hunter's lodge: A man puts a bounty on a woman that spurns him: To this one I had to say (mentally) oh give me an effing break! Think ladies out there, are you going to date a guy who had some woman who rejected him killed? Or would you instead put a bounty on him to get him out of your lives? For all of you guys who push to hard, think of a woman using this option to remove you from their lives...

TSL Bounty on Jedi: As mentioned in the game, there were three bounties put on the Jedi; one was from the Republic, and was limited to 'watch and report'. You're paid a stipend for this, not a lot. The second, and most permanent, from the Sith; Kill them, and prove you have.

The middle of the road one, issued by GOTO, to my mind was the worst. Dead or alive until GOTO changed it to living only. But consider this 'enemy appreciation' determination of your quarry, and remember that 'living' means they are still alive.

Able to cause you to change your mind with the Mind Trick skill. How do you stop it? Removing their tongue would do this.

Able to leap great distances, or run faster than any normal being could. How do you stop it? Take their legs off at the knees.

Able to project this 'Force' power at a distance without touching your target. In most cases when you see this, the character gestures with their hands. Second, able to use a weapon only a Force user can wield, specifically a light saber. How do you stop it? Remove the arms at the elbows.

So you have a quadruple amputee with their tongue cut out. Before you as G0T0 refuse, remember;

Your bounty said alive. No specific conditions beyond that. And an amputee as described would still be alive, right?

In my own Return from Exile, G0T0 complains about this, listing several Jedi crippled or killed by bounty hunters until my version of him redefined the bounty conditions.

A bounty hunter would demand a larger bounty than most would be willing to pay if you pointed at Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi, and said 'I want him alive, able to talk, in prime condition'.

Makes you wonder how big the bounty offered by G0T0 was on Jedi, doesn't it?

As we see from chronological data (Now in exact accepted timeline) things have not improved.

What not to do:

Do not send a bounty hunter after an enemy who has been set an impossible mission by you; As mentioned to an author who did just that, you would save time money and aggravation by merely whacking the guy yourself. With the added satisfaction of seeing it happen.

What to do:

Consider 'official' bounties: Say a mass murderer flees Coruscant for the Outer Rim; you put a bounty on him and your bounty hunter sets out from there to nab him.

Don't think of the bounty hunter as just another 'lunatic Manadlorian' you have thrown into the main character's path. A bounty hunter sent 'just because' makes as little sense as the 'Mandalorians as warriors are lunatic homicidal maniacs' you see a lot in the games and fan fics written about them.

In other words; Think before you trot them out, just for me, okay?

01-09-2012, 09:07 PM
For those unsure of what I meant, read my new post, which is three of my own bounty huinter stories combined. Sela Squared (http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.phpp=2801056#post2801056)