When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law)

When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law)

This is a discussion on When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law) within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I recently came across a 2011 self defense case in which the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all got the law completely backwards on ...

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    New Member Array LOSD's Avatar
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    When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law)

    I recently came across a 2011 self defense case in which the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all got the law completely backwards on the reading of a brief and rather straightforward self defense statute.


    The result was that the defendant, who might well have been acquitted on the basis of self defense without this error, was instead convicted of second degree manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Somehow, every expertly trained legal professional in the court room managed to make a mistake I wouldn’t have expected from a first year law student. And, of course, it was the defendant who paid the price.


    Although this particular case is out of Kentucky, trust me, mistakes like this happen in every state, and far too often. All the more reason why it is essential that all armed citizens have at least a basic working competence in the self defense laws of their jurisdiction (or anywhere they might go). Just because you're paying your defense lawyer a lot of money doesn't mean he's not going to make a stupid mistake--and if he does, it's you who pays the price. Know the law.


    If you're interested in more details on how something like this occurs, the case citation is Barker v. Commonwealth, 341 S.W.3d 112 (KY Supreme Court 2011). Alternatively, you can read my analysis/narrative about the case on my blog page at: KY When trial courts go stupid on self defense law . . . .


    Andrew
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    Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
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    VIP Member Array lionround's Avatar
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    Andrew, Welcome from Memphis.
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    New Member Array LOSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lionround View Post
    Andrew, Welcome from Memphis.
    Hey, thanks! Last time I was in Memphis I was doing a coast-to-coast-to-coast on my motorcycle, and a cute young thing on a cell phone nearly ran me clear over.

    But the food was excellent! :-)

    Andrew
    Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
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    This message does NOT constitute legal advice, and does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship/confidentiality.
    If you have an immediate need for legal advice, consult a competent attorney in your jurisdiction.

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    VIP Member Array NONAME762's Avatar
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    That's a pretty serious expression on your avatar pic there Andy.

    Smile Bubba....life's too short to be wearin' a frown all the time.
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    While knowing the law is always a plus it won't do much good if the judge says he is right..........
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    New Member Array LOSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NONAME762 View Post
    That's a pretty serious expression on your avatar pic there Andy.

    Smile Bubba....life's too short to be wearin' a frown all the time.
    Good heavens, you obviously don't know me--that's my HAPPY face. Seriously.

    I was in the midst of a long motorcycle tour through the SE states, one of my favorite tours of all time (other than my coas-to-coast-to-coast, or the Netherlands-Belgium-France-Germany-Switzerland-Italy (and back) trip, or the disastrous winter Boston-to-Denver trip where I got trapped by ice in Oklahoma . . . ).

    Anyway, that photo is taken of me standing in front of the poured-concrete welcome sign to the Barber Motorsports Museum in Alabama (the only place I've ever seen genuine reserved parking spots for MCs). What a fantastic place.

    OK, I see this was all a strategy to get me off message. Sorry about that, folks.
    Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
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    This message does NOT constitute legal advice, and does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship/confidentiality.
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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOSD View Post
    I recently came across a 2011 self defense case in which the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all got the law completely backwards on the reading of a brief and rather straightforward self defense statute.


    The result was that the defendant, who might well have been acquitted on the basis of self defense without this error, was instead convicted of second degree manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Somehow, every expertly trained legal professional in the court room managed to make a mistake I wouldn’t have expected from a first year law student. And, of course, it was the defendant who paid the price.


    Although this particular case is out of Kentucky, trust me, mistakes like this happen in every state, and far too often. All the more reason why it is essential that all armed citizens have at least a basic working competence in the self defense laws of their jurisdiction (or anywhere they might go). Just because you're paying your defense lawyer a lot of money doesn't mean he's not going to make a stupid mistake--and if he does, it's you who pays the price. Know the law.


    If you're interested in more details on how something like this occurs, the case citation is Barker v. Commonwealth, 341 S.W.3d 112 (KY Supreme Court 2011). Alternatively, you can read my analysis/narrative about the case on my blog page at: KY When trial courts go stupid on self defense law . . . .


    Andrew

    Andrew... just a recommendation, but you might let people know upfront. that you are posting on numerous gun forums, promoting your blog. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, nor anything bad about your blog at all. In fact, I have read different things you have written and like them, and you've made some good points. I think people might be interested that you do have a blog .... and if people are interested in reading the different things ..... could / should visit it.

    Just my .02 cents.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Nice post, Andrew, "ad" though it might be. Good info for each of us to consider, in our preparations for what might happen.

    And welcome to DefensiveCarry.
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    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    Good post Andrew. and welcome to DC. I hope to see more posts from you, assuming this wasn't just a one off ploy to get us to read your blog.

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    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
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    ...coulda sworn this is not your first post...I've read another from you...but I can't find it...the system CAN blow it...they're finding more and more...best to stay out of it...

    Quote Originally Posted by LOSD View Post
    I recently came across a 2011 self defense case in which the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all got the law completely backwards on the reading of a brief and rather straightforward self defense statute.


    The result was that the defendant, who might well have been acquitted on the basis of self defense without this error, was instead convicted of second degree manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Somehow, every expertly trained legal professional in the court room managed to make a mistake I wouldn’t have expected from a first year law student. And, of course, it was the defendant who paid the price.


    Although this particular case is out of Kentucky, trust me, mistakes like this happen in every state, and far too often. All the more reason why it is essential that all armed citizens have at least a basic working competence in the self defense laws of their jurisdiction (or anywhere they might go). Just because you're paying your defense lawyer a lot of money doesn't mean he's not going to make a stupid mistake--and if he does, it's you who pays the price. Know the law.


    If you're interested in more details on how something like this occurs, the case citation is Barker v. Commonwealth, 341 S.W.3d 112 (KY Supreme Court 2011). Alternatively, you can read my analysis/narrative about the case on my blog page at: KY When trial courts go stupid on self defense law . . . .


    Andrew

  11. #11
    Member Array TrevX's Avatar
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    the guy was an idiot for going to slash the guys tires, he deserved what he got. I agree with the judge....sad that the guy who was being taken advantage of died.

    in texas this is criminal mischief, and if it happened in the night time, it is consistent for the use of deadly force against the defendant. but this is in ky, don't know the laws there. It doesn't matter anyway, the wrong guy died.
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    New Member Array LOSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokinFool View Post
    Good post Andrew. and welcome to DC. I hope to see more posts from you, assuming this wasn't just a one off ploy to get us to read your blog.
    I typically write about several interesting self defense cases a week, although I'm probably less consistent about how often I might mention a particular blog post on a particular forum--probably more like once a week or so?

    And no one is ever asked to buy anything in order to read any blog post. If someone is interested enough to want to buy the book, that's great--if not, just ignore the side post that offers the book, and that's fine, too.

    Some forums appreciate my posts and legal analysis, others choose to hate me for having written a book. *shrug* I don't get it, nobody is required to buy a book in order to benefit from the legal analysis of interesting self defense cases, and I always include the court citation so that people can search for the case directly, if they prefer, and not go to my blog at all.

    Regardless, I only tend to stay where I'm wanted. So, really, it's ultimately up to the particular forum and its members (and, of course, at the very top of the pyramid, the forum admins).

    Andrew
    Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
    www.lawofselfdefense.com
    This message does NOT constitute legal advice, and does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship/confidentiality.
    If you have an immediate need for legal advice, consult a competent attorney in your jurisdiction.

  13. #13
    Member Array inneyeseakay's Avatar
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    Re: When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law)

    In SC, the self defense argument would not be available because he was in the act of an illegal crime AND he provoked the fight.

    You can't go "poke" someone then shoot them when they fight back. He was in the act of destroying personal property.

    Sorry, but I agree with the ruling. If the victim would've killed him, I don't think he would've had the self defense argument either, because the defendant want directly threatening him, just his property. He should've got a good description and called the cops. Insurance would've covered the tires and he would still be alive.

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    New Member Array LOSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrevX View Post
    the guy was an idiot for going to slash the guys tires, he deserved what he got. I agree with the judge....sad that the guy who was being taken advantage of died.
    I'm afraid you're missing the point. Of course the defendant was an idiot. We kind of expect punks to be idiots.

    What we don't expect is that a room-full of professionally trained and experienced prosecutors, defense lawyers, judge and clerks will all badly misunderstand and misapply the law, resulting in the defendant being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 20 years.

    Even in Texas, I don't expect its lawful to chase, with the intent to use lethal force, someone who has COMPLETED criminal mischief (e.g., is no longer in the act) and who has FLED the scene (e.g., and so is not seeking a confrontation). Indeed, it is now the car owner who has become the aggressor. Killing someone for them having earlier slashed your car tires and who is now fleeing your pursuit is not typically viewed by any US jurisdiction as lawful self defense, or even defense of property.

    But if you're aware of Texas law to the contrary, I'd be interested in seeing it. I learn new stuff every day. :-)

    Andrew
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    Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
    www.lawofselfdefense.com
    This message does NOT constitute legal advice, and does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship/confidentiality.
    If you have an immediate need for legal advice, consult a competent attorney in your jurisdiction.

  15. #15
    Member Array TrevX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOSD View Post
    Even in Texas, I don't expect its lawful to chase, with the intent to use lethal force, someone who has COMPLETED criminal mischief (e.g., is no longer in the act) and who has FLED the scene (e.g., and so is not seeking a confrontation). Indeed, it is now the car owner who has become the aggressor. Killing someone for them having earlier slashed your car tires and who is now fleeing your pursuit is not typically viewed by any US jurisdiction as lawful self defense, or even defense of property.
    If the perp is still on your property, texas does not have a retreat law...feel free to shoot....like I said criminal mischief in the night time in texas is consistent with the use of deadly force.

    Now if he has already fled the scene and is no longer on your property and is a ways down the road then logically it wouldn't be smart to continue after him. I'm sure the jurors wouldn't like that too much and it would be hard to justify after that point. It all depends who you have judging you, people say not to pursue people, or shoot them in back but joe horn was justified a good shoot.

    YMMV, gl.

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