Andrew Branca

News: “NC Pastor Found Civilly Liable for Shooting Son-in-Law”

Today’s post involves a wrongful death civil verdict yesterday against a North Carolina pastor over the shooting death of his son-in-law.  The case has received considerable attention, including a multi-article newspaper special, driven at least in part by the fact that the pastor is white and the son-in-law (victim) was black.  It is also notable that the relevant prosecutorial and law enforcement authorities have declined to pursue the case criminally.

News: “More Things That Don’t Look Much Like Self-Defense”

Today’s post involves a manslaughter conviction out of Connecticut, as reported in the New Haven Register newspaper, in which the defendant killed the victim with a knife, and the defendant’s claim of self-defense was rejected by the jury. The sentence for manslaughter in Connecticut is up to 20 years in prison. 

Several interesting issues arise in this case, all of which generally fall under the heading of “things that don’t look much like self-defense.” 

Copy of News: “How lease ban on discharge of firearms effects self-defense”

A question was sent our way recently from someone who lives in an apartment, the lease of which prohibits the discharge of firearms. 

Such prohibitions are not uncommon in residential leases, and are also pretty commonly found in town/city ordinances. The reasons for such a prohibition ought to be fairly obvious—nobody wants rounds flying around their living space without good reason.

The question:How does such a prohibition effect the legal privilege to fire a gun in self-defense? 

News: “How lease ban on discharge of firearms effects self-defense”

A question was sent our way recently from someone who lives in an apartment, the lease of which prohibits the discharge of firearms. 

Such prohibitions are not uncommon in residential leases, and are also pretty commonly found in town/city ordinances. The reasons for such a prohibition ought to be fairly obvious—nobody wants rounds flying around their living space without good reason.

The question:How does such a prohibition effect the legal privilege to fire a gun in self-defense? 

News: “Procedure for Self-Defense Immunity Illustrated: Alabama”

Yesterday an Alabama man was denied self-defense immunity by the trial court judge, as reported here. The man shot and killed someone, was charged with murder, and sought self-defense immunity as a means of avoiding criminal liability and having to go to trial. 

The man obviously failed in this effort to receive self-defense immunity, and it’s no real surprise given that he was arrested for questioning immediately after the shooting and found in unlawful possession of marijuana, prescription drugs, and drug paraphernalia. He now continues to trial on the murder charge.

What’s interesting about this story is that it provides us with an opportunity to take a closer look at Alabama’s self-defense immunity statute, which does something that most state’s self-defense immunity statutes don’t do: it explicitly sets out the legal procedure to be applied when a defendant seeks that immunity. 

News: “Counting on Testimony of That Great Expert Witness? Don’t!”

It’s been my experience that it’s common for folks to believe that if they’re involved in a use-of-force event and end up in court, that they can simply bring in a use-of-force expert witness to explain to the jury why their use of defensive force was legally reasonable. 

Tueller Drill? The expert witness will explain it. Auditory exclusion? The expert witness will explain it. Shots to the back? The expert witness will explain it. But will they?

News: “Ohio Senate Approves Modern Burden of Proof, But Not ‘Stand-Your-Ground’”

Yesterday the Ohio Senate voted on the bill intended to bring the state’s self-defense law into the modern era, according to Fox News and other sources. The good news: They sent the bill to the Governor’s desk. The bad news: They only sent half the bill, leaving the other half dead on the Senate floor.

Strictly speaking “half” is not an accurate representation, but it fits the two major portions of the bill most relevant to self-defense law: the allocation of the burden of proof on self-defense, and the issue of whether Ohio will impose a legal duty to retreat on people otherwise lawfully acting in self-defense.

News: “Better Presume Your Use of Force Was Caught on Camera”

So you’ve been involved in a use-of-force event.  A thousand thoughts are running through your adrenaline-distorted brain.  

One thought might be to flee the scene, to try to keep from getting involved in any kind of investigation and all the accompanying legal risk.  After all, you were the good guy, that dude attacked you, you weren’t bothering anybody, right? 

Another thought might be to wait for the cops and tell them everything–EVERYTHING!–that happened, to the slightest detail, and answer all their questions fully, on the spot.

Neither of those are good ideas, for reasons to extensive to cover in this blog post, but they do have one particular vulnerability in common–that using either strategy you might well run afoul of a recording that was made of your use-of-force event.

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