Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Milestones: Kim v. Democratic People's Republic of Korea, 774 F.3d 1044 (D.C. Cir. 2014)


Family of a person abducted and killed by North Korean authorities sued North Korea and, when North Korea failed to appear, moved for a default judgment. District court denied default judgment. While the family was able to establish that North Korea kidnapped the plaintiff, the family could not produce any evidence that North Korea tortured and killed the plaintiff behind second- or third-hand rumors.

The appellate court reversed. The court found that Congress passed the Torture Victims Protection Act in order to give remedy to people like the plaintiff, and "requiring that the Kims prove exactly what happened to the [victim] Reverend and when would defeat the Act's very purpose." Based on the lowered standard, the court found that the plaintiff produced sufficient evidence.


North Korea is in the news, so why not an old North Korea case?

I am not sure how I feel about the case. The court surely established substantial justice. But I have a residual textualist side of me that tugs at my legal mind. Can we really say that TVPA amends civil procedure sub silencio?

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