Are you a "Reasonable Person"? or How will you be judged?

This is a discussion on Are you a "Reasonable Person"? or How will you be judged? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have often quoted and used the concept of the "Reasonable Man/Person" in regards to lethal force and self defense in general. I think it ...

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Thread: Are you a "Reasonable Person"? or How will you be judged?

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    Are you a "Reasonable Person"? or How will you be judged?

    I have often quoted and used the concept of the "Reasonable Man/Person" in regards to lethal force and self defense in general. I think it is important to know how it is used to determine a crime or instruct a jury as should the unthinkable happen this is what would be used.

    First here is the legal definition.

    The reasonable person (historically reasonable man) is one of many tools for explaining the law to a jury.[1] The "reasonable person" is an emergent concept of common law.[2] While there is (loose) consensus in black letter law, there is no universally accepted, technical definition. As a legal fiction,[2] the "reasonable person" is not an average person or a typical person. Instead, the "reasonable person" is a composite of a relevant community's judgment as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm (through action or inaction) to the public.[3]
    To me a couple of the most important parts I highlighted in bold. It's not the average or typical person it is a grouping of how a community would judge a typical member of the community to act in the same situation and there is no clear cut definition. Does this mean if you live in an area, community or state, that is not supportive of firearms could that cause you more issues in defending yourself than normal and is the definition completely up to the local powers that be?

    The standard also holds that each person owes a duty to behave as a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances.[
    I guess whether we like it or not we have been assigned a duty to behave as a reasonable person would, but what is that standard?

    While the specific circumstances of each case will require varying kinds of conduct and degrees of care, the reasonable person standard undergoes no variation itself.
    Remember in the first paragraph there is no universally excepted technical definition it is up to the judge?? to decide. While the courts will take into consideration the specific circumstances of each case the standard has no variation and there is no technical definition. Talk about a catch 22.

    The reasonable person will weigh all of the following factors before acting:

    the foreseeable risk of harm his actions create versus the utility of his actions;
    the extent of the risk so created;
    the likelihood such risk will actually cause harm to others;
    any alternatives of lesser risk, and the costs of those alternatives.

    Taking such actions requires the reasonable person to be appropriately informed, capable, aware of the law, and fair-minded. Such a person might do something extraordinary in certain circumstances, but whatever that person does or thinks, it is always reasonable.
    Know your laws guys and gals. Don't rely on your memory from the 4 hour class you took three years ago. The internet is a wonderful thing look them up, ask to sit in on the legal portion of a current class for review, if there is one. I am not one to either say or post things like "If some gang banger breaks into my house they will carry them out in a box". Could statements like this if found make people think you are not fair minded?

    Now there are provisions built in for how people act in emergencies which would help us should we have to use deadly force.

    Allowing for circumstances under which a person must act urgently is important to preventing hindsight bias from affecting the trier of fact. Given pressing circumstances, a reasonable person may not always act in a manner similar to how she would have acted in a more relaxed setting. As such, it is only fair that actions be judged in light of any exigent conditions that could have affected how the defendant acted
    Basically I read this as the court would take into consideration the "heat of the moment" and would prevent armchair quarterbacking I think it would only take you so far in your defense.

    The are many parts and specifics that you can read in the link regarding medical professionals and so on but a couple caught my attention that may apply to some or all of us.

    Do you consider yourself a professional? Is all the training you have had or will take going to hurt you in court? Good bad or indifferent I would probably be considered a professional as would many on the forum but would/could this be expanded to retired or active duty military, police, armed security? Many, many posts contain the words I have had three tours overseas and have combat experience, I am a former Sheriff's Deputy and so on. This "may" put you in a different standard under the law.

    In cases where a human actor utilizes a professional skill set, the "reasonable person under the circumstances" test becomes elevated to a standard of whether the person acted how a "reasonable professional under the circumstances" would have, without regard to whether that actor is actually a professional, and further without regard to the degree of training or experience of that particular actor.[25] Other factors also become relevant, such as the degree to which the professional is educated (i.e., whether a specialist within the specific field, or just a general practitioner of the trade), and customary practices and general procedures of similar professionals.

    However, such other relevant factors are never dispositive. Some professions may maintain a custom or practice long after a better method has become available. The new practices, though less risky, may be entirely ignored. In such cases, the practitioner may very well have acted unreasonably despite following custom or general practices.
    The parts in bold bring up some interesting questions. Would your IDPA Grand Master rating elevate you to the point you are now held to the standard of others with the same rating or skillset. Is the last time you had training, if you have, 10 years ago using techniques that are now not generally excepted? Just because it was accepted and used years ago does not mean it is accepted today.
    Please do not use this as an excuse not to train. Remember the first battle is to survive the encounter, the second is everything after.

    Now there is a specific section for armed professionals but it addresses mainly police officers but does address other armed professions. I am of the opinion that this means employed as or in an armed profession but other legal entities may have a different idea as to what it means.

    [QUOTE]The "reasonable officer" standard is a method often applied to law enforcement and other armed professions to help determine if a use of force was correctly applied. The test is usually applied to whether the level of force used was excessive or not. If an appropriately trained professional, knowing what the subject of the investigation knew at the time and following their agency guidelines (such as a force continuum), would have used the same level of force or higher, then the standard is met. If the level of response is determined to be justified, the quantity of force used is usually presumed to have been necessary unless there are additional factors.
    For example, should it be determined that a trained police officer was justified in using deadly force against a suspect, the number of times he fired is presumed to have been necessary to stop the suspect's action that justified use of deadly force, as long as there aren't other factors such as a reckless disregard of other officers' or bystanders' safety, or it is clearly proven that additional force was used after the suspect was no longer a threat.


    The bolded part to me answers the question that has been raised before. Whether you shoot one time or twelve if the initial use of force is justified it does not matter how many times you shoot unless there are other factors like recklessness or it is proven the suspect/bad guy was no longer a threat.

    The last one I would like to bring to light goes along with posts about minimum standards for folks who carry. Now whether your state requires a course or not, again to me, this sets a minimum standard for all of us. The only question about it is whether the statement in bold would apply to the average gun toter.

    When any person undertakes a skills-based activity that creates a risk to others, they are held to the minimum standard of how a reasonable person experienced in that task would act,[30] regardless of their actual level of experience
    Now before it is said the mere act of carrying a weapon is not a risk to others, I fully realize that but how will a judge, jury, or prosecutor look at it? I think there would be a good possibility that this section could/would have some bearing depending on how it is interpreted. Generally speaking the act of shooting a firearm is a skills based activity so would this set a minimum standard?

    As I stated before I am not an attorney nor claim any super knowledge base I simply like to read and when I read it raises questions. Everything posted outside of the quotes is strictly my opinion. If someone with experience or direct knowledge please chime in.

    The full link is here: Reasonable person - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    sdprof likes this.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    According to Jon H. Gutmacher, Esq. the only "reasonable" persons are those sitting on the your jury, and you'd best hope they are reasonable in your direction. What each of us considers "reasonable" will have no bearing if it comes down to a jury decision.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Oh absolutely I stopped trying to predict jury decisions long ago. The jury instruction is the last thing they here before going behind locked doors and this is a big part of it in a self defense situation.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    Let's assume that with rare exceptions, all of our regular participants here are reasonable people.
    They would seem to be; holding all manner of jobs, raising families, clean records, etc.

    Put up any scenario and you get several different views of what was appropriate in the scenario. Even omitting
    the views which might be extreme , there will still be cogent rational views
    by reasonable people who can not agree on what was reasonable or what would have been reasonable in the scenario.


    At trial, a verdict typically requires unanimity of opinion. I think when 12 people manage to agree on something,
    and they agree you were not reasonable, you probably really were unreasonable--- else there would be
    a hung jury.

    Where I do think we gun owners (defenders) have a problem is that in today's society many ordinary reasonable people
    hold a severe bias against any use of violence even in self-defense, and particularly if a deadly weapon
    is involved. That is a difficult mind set to overcome. The act of carrying by itself will be turned into
    evidence against your character and reasonableness. (We see this happening in the famous case we don't openly
    discuss here.) It gets expressed as, "he was a cop wanna be," as if that had anything to do with the lawfulness or
    reasonableness of the action in the heat of the moment.

    Here's a conundrum I might theoretically face with regard to "reasonable man," issues. Was someone trained in martial
    arts reasonable in using a lethal weapon? Ah, but he is 70 years old? The assailant was 20. Disparity?
    Maybe not.

    Prosecutor to my MA instructor; "Didn't Mr. H throw (prosecutor trots out bulked up 20 y.o.) on his butt on
    x-y-z date?

    MA instructor: Yes.

    Prosecutor: Did this young man say anything about that to you?

    MA instructor: Yes. He said, "I was helpless." "I ain't gettin in the cage with that old man again."

    [Just "braggin and exaggerating," you all get the point. Reasonableness is weird but necessary standard. So too disparity. These are
    elastic standards.]

    In the end it is the view of the 12 that counts.
    Last edited by Hopyard; October 28th, 2012 at 03:24 PM. Reason: added "and exaggerating"
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    Hopyard yes there has to be a standard set especially in regards to the law otherwise you would absolutely be at the mercy of whomever was not smart enough to get out of jury duty.

    As you said in today's society there is biased against those who practice or have to use force to resolve a situation. A lot would depend on the area of the country you in and the speediness of the trial in relation to the publicity the case received. In the case of he who's name is not spoken can be used as a perfect example. After the initial furor was over now you have to google and search for any news, at least I do.

    You mentioned the act of carrying a gun in itself would/could be looked at in a negative light that is why the part I posted about the skills related activity I think could really come into play. Would the act of simply carrying a gun be turned into a something that creates a risk to others, real or imagined. If it was brought up in jury instructions it would all come back to how it was presented and how the 12 people interpreted it.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    VIP Member Array mlr1m's Avatar
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    The trouble is that it is more likely to find average people than reasonable people on a jury. If the majority of people in the area the jury pool is picked from are anti-gun then the average person in that area will be anti-gun.

    Michael

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    The trouble is that it is more likely to find average people than reasonable people on a jury. If the majority of people in the area the jury pool is picked from are anti-gun then the average person in that area will be anti-gun.

    Michael
    And hopefully your lawyer will do his duty in selecting an inpartial jury or moving the case elsewhere. That's his job.
    mlr1m likes this.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    And hopefully your lawyer will do his duty in selecting an inpartial jury or moving the case elsewhere. That's his job.
    Ah, but your lawyer is extremely limited in the number of jurors and the reasons he can use to strike jurors.
    The pool is folks who were randomly selected and overall will
    represent the prevailing attitudes where you live.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Ah, but your lawyer is extremely limited in the number of jurors and the reasons he can use to strike jurors.
    The pool is folks who were randomly selected and overall will
    represent the prevailing attitudes where you live.
    Which is part of why I moved from Maryland to Texas. I am not anticipating any legal issues but should I have any I much prefer my chances here to back there.
    Infowars- Proving David Hannum right on a daily basis

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    What an absolutely "OUTFRICKINSTANDING" post Tacman!!!! And of the replies so far, everyone is nailing it!

    I think our resident journalist on this forum (Mr. Workman) should take the OP and do an article, a VERY BIG article, on the points that have been brought up...

    Geez Tacman, you shoulda done this one in "Post Chapters" to make it easier for the "typical and average and reasonable" person on this forum to understand. If you had done that, there would be hundreds trembling at the thought of the responsibility they've garnered in obtaining their Concealed Weapons License. They would all be out pickin up cans to save the money for training. Everyone would behurrying down to the local community college to sign up for the nest 5 years of law courses.

    Holy cow..WHAT AN OUTSTANDING POST...I just can't get over it...Now, I'm off to Sunday nite church...I will return so I can read this again...GREAT POST!!! JMO
    tacman605 and Bill MO like this.
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Group hug
    mlr1m likes this.
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    And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

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    Ok...I'm back...now to pass on some words of wisdom, from a very knowledgeable training instructor, that apply, I think, to Tacman's post...

    I quote...If you are in the right "It doesn't matter what you did." and if you are in the wrong "It doesn't matter what you did." Don't worry about litigation when you need to worry about your life. Anything can be demonized, by attorney's, jurors, bystanders, reporters, family, etc. Problem one - Saving your life...You have to make it through the gunfight. Carry the tools that will save your life and TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN with those tools. Problem two - Everything else. Choose a lawyer BEFORE you need one. Shoot only to save a life, never to take one, and there will be no regrets. People that hesitate to defend themselves normally do so for one of the following reasons: Moral Repugnance, Not mentally prepared (It won't happen to me syndrome), Poor understanding of confrontations, Inhibition by community pressure, FEAR OF LAWSUITS, Uncertainty about when to use lethal force. Hone your MINDSET and your SKILLS, and research and know your states laws concerning self defense.

    All of the above is just MY opinion on some things that might contribute to Tacman's OP...
    Last edited by First Sgt; October 29th, 2012 at 12:39 AM.
    tacman605 and msgt/ret like this.
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    I would never speak to the cops if I had to defend myself with lethal force, if you do you're then stuck with what you've said as your story.

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    Thank you for the compliments. Cash only donations can be made to PO Box 1, Tijuana, Mexico Attn: Ramon Jesus Gonzalez Rodriguez Smith
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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