Santa Claus: Jolly Old Man or Calculating Criminal?

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Tis the season, our bar exam friends! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We don't know about you, but we love festivities! We thought since it's Christmas Day, the day after Santa has visited many of your houses, we'd have a fun little discussion about the MBE laws that Santa Claus technically breaks during Christmas. We know he's a jolly gift-giver and all, but have you ever thought about the myriad of charges one could file against him? Don't get me started on those poor elves he's in charge of! Sweat shops, anyone? So, here's our silly take on what you can charge Santa Claus with as soon as you pass the bar exam?(spoiler alert) if he were real. *GASP*

List of Claims (Both Criminal & Civil)

  1. TRESPASS TO LAND
    Trespass to land is the physical invasion of a plaintiff's real property and usually occurs when the defendant intentionally enters plaintiff's land without permission. Open and shut case here. Santa lands his sleigh on people's roofs and then breaks into their homes through the chimneys! Now, I suppose you could argue that he has permission to come into some people's homes-.but, work with me here!
  2. TRESPASSING ANIMALS
    The owner of livestock or other animals is strictly liable for property damage caused by the animals trespassing onto another's land, even if the owner exercised the utmost care to prevent the animals from escaping. You can't tell me that nine reindeer, each weighing an average of 180-260 lbs, landing on a person's roof will not cause damage. Now the big question here is whether reindeer are domestic animals or wild animals. And even if reindeer, in general, are considered wild animals, should Santa's reindeer be considered domesticated? Has Santa domesticated his reindeer? If the reindeer are considered wild then strict liability applies. If they are, on the other hand, considered domesticated, then there is no strict liability unless Santa knows or has reason to know that these reindeer are dangerous.
  3. INTRUSION
    Intrusion occurs when the plaintiff's solitude is intruded upon by the defendant in a manner that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The intrusion must also take place in a private place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Well not only is Santa coming into your home on Christmas Eve, a place most reasonable people think of as their protected sanctuary, but he also watches you for the entirety of the year to see whether you have been naughty or nice. I believe any reasonable person would find being watched for a whole year highly offensive!
  4. PRODUCTS LIABILITY
    Santa has a toyshop. It's no secret! His toyshop *cough* sweat shop, employs hundreds of elves working round the clock to make toys for children. There's no way a defect or two hasn't gotten by the elves on duty. Sure, there are some toys that Santa brings that he did not manufacture, but strict products liability applies not only to the product's manufacturer but also to any other merchants in the distribution chain. As such, if Santa is considered a merchant, he would also be strictly liable for injuries caused by defective products he did not manufacture.
  5. BURGLARY 
    This is the trespassory breaking and entering into the dwelling of another at nighttime with the specific intent to commit a felony or larceny inside. Alright, so we have breaking and entering with Santa coming into your home (i.e. into the dwelling of another). He comes at nighttime when the children are asleep. Now, the specific intent element gets a little tricky since this specific intent must be present at the time of entry (i.e. concurrence). For this reason unless Santa comes down the chimney with the specific intent to commit a felony or larceny inside, it would not be possible to convict him of burglary. Now, on the other hand, if you happen to be on the naughty list and Santa comes down your chimney with the sole purpose of filling your stocking with coal, he would be guilty of burglary (assuming of course that vandalism, i.e. leaving coal in your stocking, is a felony).

So those were the ones we could think of. Feel free to share your thoughts on others that come to you. Whatever holiday you are celebrating or are looking forward to, we hope you have a lovely day filled with silliness, joy, good food, and of course, practice MBE questions.

Happy Holidays and Happy Studying!

Updated on Aug 18, 2016