Can the Prosecution Keep Trayvon’s History of Violence and Drug Use from the Jury? Yes . . . and no.

Last Friday prosecutors in the Zimmerman self-defense case filed in limine motions asking the judge to prohibit defense lawyers from introducing evidence of Trayvon Martin’s history of violence and drug use at trial.   (An in limine motion is simply a request to the judge that certain evidence be excluded from a trial.) Anyone who …

Can the Prosecution Keep Trayvon’s History of Violence and Drug Use from the Jury? Yes . . . and no. Read More »

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Drunk, angry guy is kicking your front door, but the court decides that YOU are the aggressor?

The Facts Eugenio Correa (the Defendant) was visiting with his girlfriend.  Her estranged husband, with whom she had separated five months earlier, phoned her, drunk, seeking to see their daughter.  The girlfriend and Correa were about to leave for the evening, and she told him it wasn’t a good time.  Her ex continued to make …

Drunk, angry guy is kicking your front door, but the court decides that YOU are the aggressor? Read More »

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When trial courts go stupid on self defense law . . .

I recently came across a 2011 self defense case out of Kentucky in which the trial court apparently went stupid on the reading of a brief and rather straightforward self defense statute.  Worse, not a lawyer in the room, for either the prosecution or defense, saw the obvious error and corrected matters.  The result was …

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Has Zimmerman Waived His Right to a Pre-Trial “Stand-Your-Ground” Hearing? Learn the Truth.

Since Tuesday’s court hearing on the George Zimmerman case various news organizations and websites have gone into hysterics claiming that Zimmerman has “waived” his right to a pre-trial “Stand-Your-Ground” hearing, and speculating about the implications for such a “bizarre” decision by his lawyer, Mark O’Hara.  Mostly they conclude that it must mean Zimmerman’s legal defense …

Has Zimmerman Waived His Right to a Pre-Trial “Stand-Your-Ground” Hearing? Learn the Truth. Read More »

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Can a “colorful” past damage a claim of self defense?

I came across a recent Indiana Court of Appeals case that does a good job of explaining what kinds of prior bad acts can be brought up in court to impugn someone’s claims of self defense. Anyone who has led a pure-as-snow life needn’t worry about such issues, I suppose, but if you’ve lived a …

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Anything you DON’T say can be used against you . . . ?

We’re all familiar with the portion of the Miranda warnings, given upon arrest, that states: “Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.” But what about anything you DON’T say during the arrest, can THAT be used against you in a court of law, particular in the context …

Anything you DON’T say can be used against you . . . ? Read More »

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Attacker’s Reputation for Violence

A recent court of appeals case from Florida nicely illustrates the legal rationales by which an armed citizen claiming self defense can get evidence of his attacker’s reputation for violence in front of the jury. A clear understanding of these rationales is essential, because they each have very different conditions, and the failure to meet …

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Falling Outside the Castle Doctrine

The boundaries of the castle doctrine and make-my-day legislation came under scrutiny in a Mississippi appellate case this past summer. The defendant, Banton, had shot and killed a man with whom his father was fighting on the family’s front lawn. Banton’s defense relied in part on Mississippi’s Castle Doctrine statute, which purports to provide that …

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Can Living in a Bad Neighborhood Justify Self-Defense?

A recent appeals court case in Florida explored whether the dangerousness of a neighborhood could be used to help justify the decision to use lethal force to in self defense. The defendant, Dowe, had shot and killed a man outside his home, and believed that the jury would be more sympathetic to his self defense …

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