Justice Stephen Breyer Robbed; Perpetrator Could Get a Whipping

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Justice Stephen Breyer's Caribbean vacation took a scary turn last week. Breyer was robbed by a man armed with a machete, who took about $1,000 in cash, Reuters reports.

No one was hurt in the Feb. 9 robbery at Breyer's vacation home on the island of Nevis, and the robber is still on the loose, according to Reuters. An FBI agent arrived in Nevis on Friday, but his role in the investigation was not immediately clear, The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer reports.

While U.S. laws don't apply in Nevis, Nevisian law does -- and Justice Stephen Breyer's robber could get a lashing in court. Literally.

That's because the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis allow for corporal punishment -- including lashes from a whip -- for a variety of crimes, according to the book Crime and Punishment Around the World.

And apparently a perpetrator's age doesn't matter. For example, a 12-year-old boy received 10 lashings as punishment for possessing an illegal firearm in 2007, the book says.

Along with punishment, criminal procedure is also slightly different in Nevis. Police there can make an arrest based solely upon suspicion, and do not need a warrant, according to Crime and Punishment.

Once detained, a suspect in Nevis likely faces cramped conditions behind bars. Nevis' sole prison is designed to hold just 20 inmates, but held 44 at the end of 2007, Crime and Punishment says.

Justice Breyer's machete-wielding robber is set to join those ranks -- if he's ever caught. The man ran off on foot after robbing Breyer, his wife Joanna, and guests at the Breyers' vacation home about 9 p.m. last Thursday.

Justice Stephen Breyer, 73, is not the first Supreme to be robbed. Former Justice David Souter was mugged while jogging in Washington, D.C., in 2004; and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was victim of a purse-snatching, also in D.C., in 1996.

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