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The Case of the Speluncean Explorers is a hypothetical scenario involving a case where five

cave explorers were caved in following a landslide. They learn via intermittent radio contact that
they are likely to starve to death by the time they can be rescued. The cavers subsequently decide
to kill and eat one of their numbers in order to survive. After the four survivors are rescued, they
are indicted for the murder of the fifth member. And the prescribed which was to be administered
was the penalty of capital punishment. Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process
whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that
someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the
person is an execution.
The case largely takes the form of five separate judicial opinions attributed to judges sitting on
the fictitious Supreme Court of Newgarth in the year 4300.
The following is a brief examination of the case from the perspectives of five different legal
principles, with widely varying conclusions as to whether or not the spelunkers should be found
guilty and thereby face the death penalty under the law of Newgarth.

Facts
The facts of the case are recounted in the first judicial opinion, which is given by Chief Justice
Truepenny.
Five cave explorers become trapped inside a cave following a landslide. They have limited food
supplies and no sources of nutrition inside the cave. Substantial resources are spent to undertake
a rescue, with 10 workmen killed in subsequent landslides near the blocked entrance. Radio
contact is eventually established with the cavers on the 20th day of the cave-in, and the cavers
learn that another 10 days would be required in order to free them. They then consult with
medical experts, who inform them that they are unlikely to survive to the rescue given the
likelihood of starvation.

In the Case of the Speluncean Explorers, the person to be eaten was chosen by throwing a pair of
dice. This method had also been suggested for choosing the victim in the similar real-life case of
R v Dudley and Stephens.
One of the cavers, Roger , then asks on the cavers' behalf if the cavers could survive 10 days
longer "if they consumed the flesh of one of their number". The medical experts reluctantly
confirm this to be the case. Whetmore then asks if they should draw lots to select a person to be
killed and eaten. No one outside the cave is willing to answer this question. Radio contact is
subsequently lost.
Once the cave-in is cleared, it is discovered that only four cavers have survived; Roger
Whetmore had been killed and eaten by the others. The survivors state that Whetmore had
originally come up with the ideas of cannibalism and choosing the victim through random
chance, offering a pair of dice in his possession.
Before the dice are cast, Whetmore allegedly expresses a wish to withdraw from the
arrangement, preferring to wait another week "before embracing an expedient so frightful and
odious". The others refuse to accept his change of mind, and cast the dice on his behalf. The
survivors claim that Whetmore conceded that the dice were thrown fairly. He is subsequently
killed and eaten.
Following their rescue and recovery, the survivors are charged with the murder of Whetmore.
The relevant statute provides that "Whoever shall willfully take the life of another shall be
punished by death", offering no exceptions which would be relevant to the case. [4] The jury seek
a special verdict, so that they can make limited findings of fact without having to return a verdict
on whether it constitutes murder. The cavers are ultimately convicted of murder.
The mandatory sentence for murder in Newgarth is death by hanging. Both the trial judge and
members of the jury petition the Chief Executive to commute the sentence of the surviving
spelunkers from the death penalty to six months' imprisonment. The Chief Executive refuses to
act while the Supreme Court of Newgarth considers the appeal.

Judicial Opinions
The following is a brief summary of the judicial opinion given by the five justices
Chief justice truepenny stated the following

That the statute is ambiguous and must be applied by judiciary notwithstanding personal

views.
Clemency is a matter for the executive and not the judiciary
He therefore affirms the convictions but recommends clemency

On the other hand foster.J gave his own judicial opinion by stated the following;

He stated that purposive approach to statute must be taken. Purposive approach can be
defined as an approach to statutory and constitutional interpretation under which common
law courts interpret an enactment (that is, a statute, a part of a statute, or a clause of a
constitution) in light of the purpose for which it was enacted. Thus he advised the
following.
1. Defendants were in a "state of nature" so normal laws did not apply
2. Judges can imply an exception by taking a purposive approach to the statute

As his decision forster.J urged the courd that the convictions should be set aside

Justice Tatting on the other end had a different angle on the whole matter this can be seen
through his views as follows;

Firstly he criticizes Forster js approach by stating the following


1. That The natural law under the posited "state of nature" prioritizes freedom of
contract above the right to life
2. That a purposive approach to the statutory interpretation is difficult when there

are multiple purposes


He therefore does not accept Foster js arguments on intellectual grounds but does not
want defendants to face death penalty given that 10 men had to die in order to rescue
them

It is from such understanding that justice Tatting withdraws from the case and makes no
decision

Justice keen based his facts and opinion in regards to separation of power and morality where as;

He Criticises Chief Justice's proposed appeal to Executive for clemency given need to

respect separation of powers


And he states that Moral considerations are irrelevant in applying the statute
He therefore from his above given facts affirms the convictions as stated in their statute.

The last justice who is justice Handy had the following to say in regards to the case in hand;

Court should take account of public opinion and "common sense"

Aware that 90% of the public want the men to face a lesser punishment or be released

Has heard gossip that Chief Executive will not commute sentence despite public opinion
He there for advises for the conviction to be set aside.

Therefore from the above analysis one can come up with a conclusion that with such situation
and ambiguity one would have to assist several aspects in order to come up with a positive
verdict that is asses the statute, public opinion as well as the views of fellow members and weigh
the most voted decision. Thus from such case the defendants are best to be given clemency since
their decision was not made out of malice but out of the instinct of survival.