I read the following article by Associated Press:

The judge had the power to let the parties “resolve our disputes on the field of battle, legally,” David Ostrom said, adding in his filing that trial by combat “has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.”

Can a judge let the parties of a trial resolve their disputes on "the field of battle", legally, in the US?

  • 13
    This would be better asked at Law.SE, where (legal) opinions are accepted. Clearly, the judge in this case has not ruled on the question, and it will be difficult to answer here.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 21:45
  • I would love to see this discussed on law.SE. Although I suspect that the question would need to be rephrased - there are laws and permits to arrange 'cage fights' or MMA matches; what's less clear is whether wagers on the outcome would be considered legally binding without running afoul of gambling laws... Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 8:54

1 Answer 1


A duel might be legal in Iowa (dueling is not explicitly outlawed, although a public duel would violate section 723.4 of the Iowa Code (disorderly conduct), a duel resulting in injury would violate 708.4 (willful injury), and a duel resulting in death would violate some part of section 707 (homicide)). However, the judge does not have the power to permit the duel: nothing in Title XV: "Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures" lists combat as a form of judicial proceeding or provides a mechanism whereby a judge can order a judicial duel.

(Also, under most dueling traditions, his ex-wife or her champion, as the challenged party, is the one who has the choice of weapons. His request for a delay is thus pointless.)

  • Iowa 708.4 permits willful injury if it is "justified". Would consent make it "justified"? How would a boxing match not be prohibited under this law? Commented May 18, 2022 at 16:00
  • @DJClayworth, there's an exception in 708.1(3)(a) for sports, so long as they "[do] not create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or breach of the peace".
    – Mark
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 23:44

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