Interlude – In re Stevens








Opinion delivered by POSNER, R. joined by HIROSHINO, M. and LU, W.


LAWRENCE H. STEVENS is an American-born scientist and engineer. He holds doctoral degrees in physics from the University of California Berkeley and in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. In 1982, he became the first researcher to win two Nobel Prizes in the same year: in Physics for the discovery of the Stevens meson (denoted by the Greek letter “omicron”), and in Medicine for uncovering Stevens radiation sensitivity as a generalized indicator of atypical human abilities (colloquially “super powers”)[1]. He is primary or co-author on over four hundred papers on the Stevens meson, the upsilon beam, and the mechanisms of a variety of powers. Stevens holds nineteen patents covering the “Stevens detector” and various methods for measuring the use of super powers.

Following the success of his early research, Stevens became a regular consultant for the United States Central Intelligence Agency in 1978 and later for the Department of Justice. He provided support in the diagnosis and treatment of deleterious conditions unique to supers and in the tactical containment of criminal supers. Also in 1978, Stevens opened a private medical lab on the outskirts of Los Alamos, New Mexico (the “Stevens Main Lab”), and began recruiting both engineers and medical personnel for his ongoing research.

In 1980, Stevens built a large annex to his lab to act as an intensive care unit and surgical theatre for ill and injured supers (the “Stevens ICU”). Stevens acquired five additional patents on medical equipment specially designed to penetrate a body altered by super strength and invulnerability. The Stevens ICU surgical team was credited with saving the lives of several high-profile supers.

On July 12, 1988, American law enforcement super “Seraph” was visiting an injured colleague in the Stevens ICU. She left the hospital annex and entered, unauthorized[2], the main lab, where she discovered a hidden facility in which several supers were being held in various forms of containment. Seraph acted immediately to free the supers, detaching them from equipment and destroying between 30 and 50 unidentified machines.

The conditions of the victims and their status when found are provided as Appendix A to this opinion. Of the 73 victims found alive in the facility, only 32 survived extraction and treatment for their injuries. The remains of over 400 supers were eventually identified as specimens.

Stevens was out of the country and expatriated to the nation of Eutopia[3]. He refused to return to the United States for this proceeding, noting the outstanding warrants for his arrest, but was represented by counsel. His personal statement is attached as Appendix B to this opinion.


At oral argument, Stevens’ counsel provided evidence that he had renounced his citizenship in the United States for vassalship in the Kingdom of Eutopia. An affidavit from Monarch Ak’b’al was presented alleging that Stevens acted fully within the bounds of their laws, and upon his fealty oath was granted blanket clemency from past actions taken against foreign individuals and governments.

This Court, applying international law under the authority of the United Nations, rejects these arguments as immaterial to the charges under consideration. It is explicitly the function of this Court to try crimes that are ignored or sanctioned by national authorities. Furthermore, the Monarchy of Eutopia is not acknowledged by the United Nations as a legitimate government nor admitted thereto.


We begin by noting a variety of charges laid against Stevens under international law and treaty that are inapplicable to this case for a variety of reasons.

The Court declines the charges of war crimes on the basis that Stevens was not engaged in any violent conflict that could reasonably be considered a war. Stevens is neither a de facto or de jure commander of any military force nor the head of any armed organization or state. In short, Stevens cannot be guilty of war crimes because he is not capable of waging war.

The Court declines the charges of terrorism on the basis that Stevens carefully conducted his operations in secret, with no plans that they would ever come to light. By its nature, a terroristic act must be carried out in order to cause fear or to coerce the cooperation of a population or state.

The Court declines the charges of genocide because there is no basis for finding the necessary mental state. We find that Stevens did not act with malice towards supers as a group nor intend to eliminate or subjugate supers as a group by his actions.


This Court finds sufficient evidence to conclude that Stevens deprived individuals of their liberty for purposes of profiting from them, and therefore, Stevens is guilty of no less than 270 counts of human trafficking in violation of international law[4].

Human trafficking is usually carried out for purposes of slave labor or sexual slavery, but we find that kidnapping and confining persons for non-consensual experimentation also qualifies under the description.


This Court finds sufficient evidence to conclude that Stevens carried out prolonged, painful procedures against civilians in order to extract information, and therefore is guilty of no fewer than 48 counts of torture in violation of international law[5].

Again, we recognize that torture is most typically understood as coercion to extract information known to the victim, or as pain inflicted for purposes of punishment, but this Court concludes that painful experimentation on the victim without their consent also qualifies under the description.


This Court finds sufficient evidence to conclude that Stevens carried out repugnant and inhuman acts of violence against hundreds of noncombatants, and that taken as a whole, this constitutes an atrocity under international law [6].


This Court finds sufficient evidence to conclude that Stevens carried out numerous medical procedures which violated the basic humanity and dignity of the persons on which they were performed, and therefore is guilty of no less than 475 crimes against humanity in violation of international law[7].


This Court has been asked to recommend immediate consequences that could be taken voluntarily by member states and private organizations worldwide to effectively sanction Dr. Lawrence H. Stevens for his conduct in violation of international law. In this matter we are particularly grateful for the Amicus Curiae brief provided by the National Academy of Sciences, an organization with which Stevens was closely affiliated.

Stevens’ career has been largely dedicated to the advancement of science and of his own academic prestige. He has won numerous awards and published in every major journal within his fields. While he earned great wealth, it was the advancement of scientific knowledge and the renown of his own role in it that he has always counted as profit.

A fundamental principle of justice is that a criminal should not profit from his crimes. It is therefore the advice of this Court that the role of Lawrence H. Stevens in the scientific community be essentially eliminated, his awards stripped, and his discoveries disattributed. This is a unique action never taken in the history of modern science, but the crimes of Stevens in the name of science are similarly unique.

The Court therefore recommends that the following actions be taken:

  1. The postsecondary education of LAWRENCE H. STEVENS, including each of his academic degrees, are rescinded by the universities that issued them. His name is stricken from all rolls and lists of graduates, and his transcripts destroyed.
  2. The awards and honors of LAWRENCE H. STEVENS, including all memberships in all professional and honorific organizations, and most particularly his two Nobel prizes, are rescinded by the organizations that issued them. His name is to be stricken from all rolls and lists of awardees.
  3. The papers for which LAWRENCE H. STEVENS is primary author are withdrawn from the journals in which they appear, except to the extent that co-authors can show significant independent contribution not involving Stevens, in which case those portions of the papers may be retained.
  4. The papers for which LAWRENCE H. STEVENS is a contributing author are corrected to exclude his name and redacted to exclude any material to which he was a direct contributor.
  5. The patents owned by LAWRENCE H. STEVENS are corrected to remove his name and then assigned to a non-profit organization, to administrate a fair and equitable collection of royalties for use of the patented technology, said royalties paid to the victims and their families.
  6. The scientific discoveries and laboratory devices bearing the name ‘Stevens,’ or any derivative thereof, are renamed. For example, the International Society of Particle Physics has already agreed that Stevens mesons can be called “omicron particles” and Stevens detectors “omicron detectors” in reference to the notation already in use to describe their interactions. The American Medical Association is considering a proposition to rename the Stevens blade specialized surgical instrument as the “super blade.”
  7. Academics who studied under or were advised by LAWRENCE H. STEVENS have their own work examined and, should it be found to built primarily from the work of Stevens himself, are required to submit additional or different research without this dependency. The Court does not advise that such individuals lose their academic standing provided their substitute research is completed and submitted without unreasonable delay.
  8. LAWRENCE H. STEVENS, or his representatives, are excluded from attending conferences, submitting papers, or speaking at any academic institution. Where necessary, investigations are made to assure that future papers and speakers do not rely on his work or training.
  9. Any academic who attempts to work with LAWRENCE H. STEVENS in the future on any endeavor of research or of engineering is thereafter excluded from the academic community in the same manner as Stevens himself.


There is no more zealous perpetrator of evil than he who believes his evil to be good. Lawrence H. Stevens, in pursuit of super powers, ignored the personhood of the human beings possessing those powers. He twisted his own talents, and those of his victims, into unspeakable horror and unmitigated evil.

A generation ago, the humanity of supers was called into question. They were called “freaks” and “monsters.” They are neither, but real monsters do exist. We have passed sentence on one today.

This OPINION is delivered on 18 JUNE 1990 and is NON-BINDING under international law.

Footnote 1: For the balance of this opinion, we will use “power” and “super power” to refer to a person’s unusual abilities, and “super” to refer to the person, in conformity with common usage. We will not use the terms “hero” or “villain” due to prejudicial considerations. See the US Supreme Court’s opinion in Huddleston v. Florida, 1973, Footnote 2 for further notes regarding this usage.

Footnote 2: Neither in their written statements nor at oral argument did the US Government argue that Seraph was acting in a law enforcement capacity in entering the main lab. No evidence was presented that she had probable cause to believe a crime was taking place. Seraph was not acting in furtherance of an open investigation.

Footnote 3: Although its current name of “Eutopia” is in common use, this name is not universally recognized by the international community. “Bolivia” is the official designation of this region by the United Nations.

Footnote 4: As noted in Appendix A, forensic experts concluded that patients were taken live from the Stevens ICU to the Stevens Lab in no fewer than 200 cases. The Court makes no affirmative finding of innocence in the remaining 275 identified cases, but rather chooses to conclude clear guilt in only those cases where the evidence is clear and convincing.

Footnote 5: As noted in Appendix A, forensic experts concluded that at least 48 patients were conscious for significant portions of the procedures.

Footnote 6: As this crime under international law takes into account the scope of the incident as a whole, it is properly considered a single charge rather than separate charges for each individual.

Footnote 7: As noted in Appendix A, forensic experts concluded that no fewer than 475 patients were transferred and experimented on, either while alive or shortly after death. This Court finds that each one of these cases should be counted as an applicable charge.

APPENDIX A – Conditions of Victims


APPENDIX B – Personal Statement of Defendant

To the World, and especially to those hurting:

Please know that I am sorry.

Individuals sensitive to the spin-3/2 gauge fermion make up approximately 0.03% of the population, in part because, by my estimate, in excess of 99% of human beings originally conceived with the condition die before or shortly after birth. The majority of those who do survive are deformed or show no powers. The total population of those with exceptional abilities is fewer than half a million individuals worldwide.

I strongly believe that just a handful of these individuals may hold the key to vastly increased longevity for all of humanity, as well as the tools necessary to make the sensitivity condition itself survivable for most, rather than just a lucky few.

Please know that the vast majority of those taken to my hidden lab were already dying, with dire diagnoses that the best facilities in the world could not treat. As my breakthroughs accelerated, a handful of patients whose conditions were not inevitably terminal – who might have survived – were also taken to contribute to the research. Although I could not ask them, I know that every one of them would have willingly sacrificed themselves for the unparalleled extent to which their deaths would benefit humanity.

It was my intent that every one of these brave men and women be remembered as the heroes they were, and the horror inflicted on their families by the graphic publication of images of my experiments is truly agonizing. I would never have wanted any of you to see this. The fantastic lengths to which I stretched myself and my subjects, the things I was forced to see, were always to be terrors that I alone would carry within me. Now they are shared by all, and the world is a worse place for it.

I cannot regret my experiments, for their benefits will still outweigh their harm, even now. But I do feel genuine regret for failing all of you in not concealing them better, and I offer my deepest sympathy for all of the pain that has been caused.

This promise I can give: the suffering will not be in vain. There could be no greater insult to my experimental subjects than to discard my efforts at this late date. I will make sure, as long as I am alive, that these experiments yield the full extent of their potential fruit: that every branch on this tree be pruned and cultivated until the harvest is so plentiful that we all imbibe its juices.

My sincere condolences,

Dr. Lawrence H. Stephens, PhD

7 thoughts on “Interlude – In re Stevens

  1. very nicely done exposition – both gave us history, and insight into his character. Please add the chapter to the table of contents 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. US opinions are not numbered by paragraph, only by page. As an attorney that has had to cite to them many times over the years, this is worse.

      I will admit I didn’t check how ICJ opinions are actually numbered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And sorry but I see most of the proposed punishments as irrelevant (stripping his degrees, at this point he simply doesn’t care, you can strip the paper but not the knowledge – actually in a world with powers maybe you _can_ strip the knowledge if you could actually get hold of him). As for suggesting that folks who studied under him also be punished (by being made to do more work) I really don’t understand where the court even thinks it would have jurisdiction to make it even as a suggestion, unless they can be shown to be complicit in Stevens’ crimes those people simply have no bearing on the hypothetical case.

    Liked by 1 person

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