LI: Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s “good reason” constraint on public carry of firearms

Just posted up at Legal Insurrection:

Attorney Alan Gura has scored another huge win for civil rights in today’s Wrenn v. DC decision out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal District of Columbia Circuit (you know, the one Harry Reid blew up the fillibuster for in order to load it up with Progressive judges amenable to Obama’s “pen-and-a-phone” style of governance).

Wrenn v. DC, decided today, was a 2-1 decision by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (you remember, the one that Harry Reid blew up the filibuster to load up with Progressive judges). The decision invalidates the District of Columbia’s prohibitionist “good reason” constraint on the lawful carry of arms in public for purposes of self-defense.

Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith (appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, 63 years old) and Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams (appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, 80 years old) signed off on the majority opinion, and Circuit Judge Karen L. Henderson (appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1990, 73 years old) wrote a dissent.

I present here a brief summary of the decision, which is embedded at the bottom of this post. I do, of course, urge you to read the decision itself.

Click here to read the whole thing.

LI: No Third Trial for Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing in Sam DuBose Shooting

Just posted up on Legal Insurrection:

Two years ago tomorrow University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing, who is white, shot and killed black motorist Sam DuBose during a traffic stop.

The stop, DuBose’ attempt to drive away while dragging Officer Tensing down the road, and the fatal shot were largely captured on Tensing’s body-cam.  Today, after trying Tensing twice and achieving only two hung juries, Prosecutor Joe Deters announced that he is not seeking to try Tensing a third time, reports WCPO news and other sources.

We first covered this story here: “Sam DuBose Shooting: Let’s Go to the Video Tape.”

In that post we did a rather detailed breakdown of the body-cam video.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Florida Judge Rules Recent Changes to Self-Defense Immunity Law Are Unconstitutional

Just posted up at Legal Insurrection:

“Stand-Your-Ground” was back in the headlines against over the just-concluded Independence Day weekend, thanks to a 14-page decision by Miami-Dade Circuit judge Milton Hirsch that recent legislative changes to Florida’s self-defense immunity law were unconstitutional, reports the Bradenton Herald newspaper and other sources. (That decision is embedded below.)

Specifically, the recently signed law switched the burden of persuasion on pre-trial self-defense immunity from the defendant to the state, and changed the standard of evidence required from a preponderance of the evidence to one of clear and convincing evidence.

(We wrote about these changes more extensively here: “Florida Changes Burden of Proof of Self-Defense Immunity.”)

In other words, under the revised law once a defendant claims self-defense immunity the state is required to disprove the defendant’s claim of justified use of force by clear and convincing evidence. If the state fails to do so, the judge is to grant the defendant immunity from criminal prosecution and civil suit.

Judge Hirsch’s decision that these changes are unconstitutional is based on the argument that although under the Florida constitution it is the legislature that creates substantive law, only the Florida courts can create procedural law. The judge considered the recent legislative changes to self-defense immunity to be procedural in nature and thus beyond the legislature’s authority.

I claim no expertise whatever in Florida constitutional law, so I will need to leave the merits of Judge Hirsch’ constitutional argument to others. I do, however, claim some modest expertise in use-of-force law, which is the subject of nearly the first half of Judge Hirsch’s opinion.

Having read that half of the decision closely, I can only say that if his knowledge and understanding of Florida constitutional law is as weak and disordered as his knowledge and understanding of Florida “Stand-Your-Ground” law. It seems most unlikely that this decision will withstand appellate review.

Click here to read the whole thing.

LI: Officer Betty Shelby Acquitted in Shooting Death of Terence Crutcher

Just published over at Legal Insurrection:

Yesterday, Tulsa OK Police Officer Betty Shelby, who is white, was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter charges arising from the September 16, 2016 shooting death of Terence Crutcher, who was black, according to reports by CNN and local Tulsa television news station KTUL.

Before issuing a verdict Wednesday night, the nine white jurors and three black jurors asked the judge if they could explain their verdict in court.

The judge told them they can only announce their verdict in court, not explain it, but said they were free to explain publicly after the trial concluded.

After the verdict, Shelby left without making a statement as Crutcher’s family tearfully left the courtroom.

The jury, consisting of nine white jurors and three black jurors, returned their unanimous verdict after nine hours of deliberations.

Click here to read the whole thing.

LI: Michael Slager Takes Federal Plea In Walter Scott Shooting Death

Over at Legal Insurrection:

Former police officer Michael Slager has accepted a Federal plea bargain deal in which he concedes to having violated the civil rights of Walter Scott when he fatally shot Scott five times as the apparently unarmed Scott fled from him. The shooting occurred in April 2015 in Charlotte SC. Slager is white and Scott was black. A copy of the plea deal is embedded below.

Click here to read the whole thing.

LI: Officer shot Terence Crutcher: “if he would’ve just done as I asked him”

Just posted over at Legal Insurrection:

Back in September 2016 Terence Crutcher — a quite large black man — was shot and killed by white police officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa OK.

I covered the case evidence in a prior post, Legal Game Changer: Terence Crutcher had “High Levels” of PCP when shot by OK police. Included in that post is an extensive discussion of the history and legal significance of a suspect not obeying instructions and returning to his vehicle.

Shelby has since been charged with manslaughter, and last night she appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes television show. (Video here, not embed possible). The segment was hosted by correspondent Bill Whitaker.

At the time of the shooting Crutcher was acting in a bizarre manner, wandering down the road in the dark after having apparently left his vehicle unattended and running in the middle of the roadway (across the two lanes of traffic). Shelby initially drove past Crutcher on her way to a domestic violence call, but stopped when she encountered the abandoned car. (Because her siren was not on, her dash camera was not recording.)

Click here to read the whole thing.

Order Denying Immunity in Popcorn Shooting Riddled with Legal Errors

Curtis Reeves has been denied legal immunity from prosecution and civil suit over his fatal shooting of Chad Oulson, in an order issued today by Judge Susan Barthle.

Reading Judge Barthle’s order, however, suggests that her legal analysis may be sufficiently defective so as to render this denial of immunity a miscarriage of justice, thus warranting another self-defense immunity hearing in which the proper legal standards and analysis are applied.

To read the whole thing, click over to Legal Insurrection.

“Popcorn Shooting” Defendant Has Self-Defense Immunity Hearing

My most recent contribution over at Legal Insurrection, this one on this week’s self-defense immunity hearing taking place in the Curtis Reeves prosecution.  Reeves is elderly retired police officer shot and killed 43-year-old Chad Oulsen in a movie theater after the two argued over Oulsen’s texting during previews, and the conflict escalated to physical violence.

Here’s a taste:

It was three years ago last month that retired police officer Curtis Reeves, then 71 years old, shot and killed 43-year-old Chad Oulsen in a Florida movie theater. The case became known as the “popcorn shooting” because the shooting allegedly happened over spilled popcorn.

Reeves has been charged with second degree murder and aggravated battery. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges and raised the legal defense of self-defense.

As usual, the media has been slathering the phrase “Stand-Your-Ground” all over this case, when in fact the case has nothing to do whatever with “Stand-Your-Ground” or any legal issues of retreat. What is relevant to this case, however, as it is to pretty much any self-defense case in Florida, is self-defense immunity.

Yesterday was the first day of Reeves’ self-defense immunity hearing, taking place in a Pasco County courthouse, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Before we do so, however, it’s important to understand just what that hearing involves, and what it doesn’t involve, in order to avoid unnecessary confusion of the legal issues in play.

Click here to read the whole thing.