When I think of Seekers,
July 13, 2002 3:16 PM   Subscribe

When I think of Seekers, I think of people on a path to enlightenment, and not the group led by Joshua Armstrong. Despite their good intentions, I can't help but think about this movie while reading about them. There's a lot of variation amongst the states regarding licensing and oversight of private bail enforcers. Should there be federal laws involving bounty hunters? The last effort to do so seems to have gone nowhere. But, this family seems to think so, and they are doing something about it.
posted by bragadocchio (5 comments total)
I just about fell off of my chair after reading this:
“Jedidiah,” who joined the team in 1987, specializes in undercover work. Armstrong often takes Jedidiah as his partner on particularly difficult assignments.

“Rock” serves double duty as the Seekers’ strong man and electronics wizard. He became a Seeker in 1989.

“Job” is Armstrong’s cousin and the oldest member. He joined in 1990 and is particularly valued for “close-encounter takedowns.”

“Zora” was the only female Seeker at the time, but there have been others. She’s a Latina who excels in undercover surveillance and entrapment. Armstrong usually tries to have at least one female member on the team. As he says, “To lure a cunning man, a woman is often the best bait available.”

“Jeremiah” is the only white Seeker. A former pro football player, his contributions to the group are in the areas of communications, police science, and physical fitness. He became a Seeker in 1994.

“Solomon” had just been admitted to the group when the book was published and was still in training, working on his own areas of expertise.

“Rick” is not officially a Seeker, but his services are highly valued. A gunsmith by trade, he customizes the Seekers’ weapons and makes their ammo by hand. He is also an essential source of information regarding the latest trends in surveillance equipment and weaponry.
I apologize for using such a long quote, but if this doesn't sound like the beginning of a horrible action flick, I don't know what does.
posted by Eamon at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2002

That pesky 10th Amendment to the Constitution rears it's head here. When a bounty hunter crossses state lines to catch a fugitive is he engaging in interstate commerce? Should he be subject to the laws regarding his profession of his own state, or the state he is in? Can he reasonably be expected to know the law of any state he happens to be in?

Obviously bounty hunters deal with potentially dangerous people. However, I fully support the idea that they should be civilly and criminally liable in cases where they unnecessarily injure/kill people or destroy property.
posted by ilsa at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2002

This is the part that got me: Typically a fugitive will be fast asleep in the early hours of the morning when he’s suddenly awakened by Armstrong and one of his associates who will appear like a full-blown nightmare, wearing black masks and body armor, their weapons drawn.

Seems to me, that would be a real fast way to die in a lot of states. They claim they've never made a mistake, but ya know, that seems statistically unlikely.

Waking up to fully armed, masked men in my bedroom would not lead to a happy resolution for anyone involved...of this I can be sure. It scares me to death that these hyped up testosterone fruitcakes are running around, breaking into houses, waving guns at people, with virtually no oversight. No sir, I don't like it.

Just called a friend of my dad, who is a Texas Ranger, and asked him the following questions: If a bounty hunter broke into my house by accident, am I likely to be arrested if I shoot them?

He said the same thing the cops who trained me to carry a gun said: "Make sure you kill them. You have more to worry about from a civil case than a criminal case if they are inside your house in Texas." (He also added that I should avoid being a "wanted criminal", which seems like a good plan.)
posted by dejah420 at 8:29 PM on July 13, 2002

I'm sure the vast majority of bounty hunter actions are the stuff of lighthearted character comedy. Well, OK, most of them just actually manage to end well, because most fugitives are neither smart nor brave nor even, often, reckless.

ilsa: Interstate commerce, under prior court decisions, simply means that Federal lawmaking may supersede state laws; it doesn't require that there be federal laws. Under Article IV each state is to give "full faith and credit" to actions of other states, including criminal convictions and indictments, as enumerated in Article 2: a fugitive in Utah is also a fugitive if he turns up in Vermont. It's pretty clear that the state may regulate the actions of bounty hunters within their boundaries: some states require local court orders for bounty hunters to operate. In some states it's probably not even necessary to get a business license, though! But yes, a bounty hunter ought to know the laws where he works, even if he has to go someplace new. Truckers do. Bounty hunters can and do get arrested.

The rights of bounty hunters are chiefly established in an 1872 Supreme Court decision, Taylor v. Taintor -- the name to this day of the certificate used by a bondsman in a seizure.

In some ways the civil rights of a fugitive are not those of a free person, but of a prisoner. The actions of bounty hunters may not be deemed "violations of civil rights" because they are not, in many ways, those of a state entity, but a private one -- closer to repossession. It might be instructive to consider the role of the US Marshals Service, which in the 20th century devised a new mission, that of capturing interstate and federal fugitives. But they won't be available for the scads of lesser fugitives. The market has devised an economic means to solve the problem of these types of justice shirkers. It may need regulation, but it's not likely to substantially disappear.
posted by dhartung at 10:55 PM on July 13, 2002

All I can think of is watching The Fall Guy.

Oh, and Heather Thomas.

Hmm, bad 80s flashbacks there...
posted by mutagen at 11:42 PM on July 13, 2002

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