In 1899, in a story that could have been an episode of Gunsmoke or Bonanza, tribal police officer John Bad Elk shot and killed another tribal officer who was attempting to arrest him. Bad Elk was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. The U.S. Supreme Court awarded Bad Elk a new trial based on the common law argument that he had the right to resist an unlawful arrest. Sometimes, even today, this case will be cited for that proposition. However, the common law rule has been changed by statute just about everywhere. Do not do what John Bad Elk did. His argument no longer holds up.


The case itself: Bad Elk v. US (1900)

John Bad Elk death notice

The Law with D.K. Williams Facebook page

Follow The Law with D.K. Williams on Twitter @TheLawDKW