Attorney Andrew Branca

Manslaughter, Despite Doing It Mostly Right

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a recent appellate decision out of Iowa earlier this month, in which a man appeals his voluntary manslaughter conviction that resulted from a use-of-force event in which he did most everything right. (That decision is: State v. Fordyce, 2019 Iowa App. LEXIS 602 (IA Ct. App. 2019.) The decision helpfully illustrates how factual findings made at trial tend not to be altered on appeal, and how doing …

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Exceptional Fighting Skill: Legal Dynamics & Implications

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a recent Facebook comment by Benjamin M., who wrote on the Fit to Fight Republic’s Facebook page (in slight paraphrase): I’m a martial artist with 20 years experience and fought in MMA, kickboxing, & boxing, so I’m always concerned I would get a worse charge if I beat up an attacker. If I beat an attacker up would I get a more severe charge because of my …

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One Punch, One Kill

Regular readers will know that I frequently caution that the defensive use of a gun is generally not going to be a lawful response to a barehanded attack, absent aggravating circumstances. At the same time, we all know that a single punch can, and sometimes does, kill. A recent one punch kill was reported out of California recently, providing an opportunity for us to cover some of these legal dynamics again. A news story out …

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Churches as Highly-Defensible Property

Alabama continues to make efforts to categorize churches as “highly-defensible property.” This, of course, raises the question of what the phrases “highly-defensible property” means for use-of-force purposes, and how it differs from defense of property generally, as well as from other common use-of-force legal doctrines such as stand-your-ground and self-defense immunity. A recent news report notes: Alabama voters will decide next year whether to approve a Constitutional amendment that would extend ‘stand your ground’ law …

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Self-Defense: An Intentional, not Negligent, Act

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a first-degree murder trial out of Kalispell MT that ended up with a hung jury last week according to local news reports. This case raises some interesting technical issues around how a claim of self-defense impacts the appropriateness of a criminal charge based on negligence.  (Yesterday’s Post of the Day discussed this same case in the context of practical consideration of how a hung jury mistrial …

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Hung Jury: A “Win” with Strings Attached

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a first-degree murder trial out of Kalispell MT that ended up with a hung jury last week according to local news reports. This case raises some interesting technical issues around an intentional act of self-defense versus an unintentional act of negligence as well as practical issues around a hung jury mistrial. In this case the defendant (one Ryan Lamb, in featured image) and the victim were apparently …

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The Pause That Destroys Self-Defense

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a news report on a self-defense/murder trial out of Pennsylvania that’s expected to arrive at a verdict within the next few days. [UPDATE 6/17/19: The defendant was, in fact, found guilty of first-degree murder shortly after this post was written.] The defendant is, naturally, claiming self-defense, and the case touches upon an important facet of the element of imminence—that the privilege to use force against a threat …

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“Soft” v. “Hard” Stand-Your-Ground: A Case Example

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by the news report of a murder conviction out of Tennessee this week, in a case that touches on the issue of “soft” v. “hard” stand-your-ground. (Yesterday’s Post of the Day also discussed this case, in the context of the self-defense elements of proportionality and innocence.) [UPDATE:  It’s been brought to my attention that although the defendant in this case is from Tennessee, as noted in the news …

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Tree Branch as A Deadly Weapon

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by the news report of a murder conviction out of Tennessee this week, in a case that involved the self-defense elements of innocence, proportionality, and a tree branch used as a deadly weapon. (It also touches on the issue of “soft” versus “hard” stand-your-ground, but we’ll cover that in our next Post of the Day.) The defendant in this case, 21-year-old Clois Ray Adkins (featured image), had gained …

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Deadly Force to Stop Child Abduction?

Today’s Post of the Day is prompted by a news story about a man attempting to abduct a 9-year-old boy from a Walmart. The boy escaped to his mom, and the police arrived promptly made the arrest., but this raises the question of what degree of force the mother herself would have been privileged to use to prevent this abduction. First, the facts as reported in the news story linked above: A 51-year-old man has …

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