Cool news–I’ll be reporting on the Zimmerman trial for the Legal Insurrection web site!

Hey folks, Some cool news, I’ve been invited by Professor William Jacobson to guest-blog the Zimmerman trial on his outstanding Legal Insurrection web site. If you’re not familiar with Legal Insurrection, you should be–it’s one of the handful of sites I visit faithfully several times a day.   Great content, and well delivered. My first Zimmerman-related blog post went live on Legal Insurrection this evening:  Getting to Murder 2:  Finding George Zimmerman’s “Depraved Mind”.  In …

Cool news–I’ll be reporting on the Zimmerman trial for the Legal Insurrection web site! Read More »

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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 has had to defend themselves against an unprovoked attack by a violent person would naturally like to have the jury …

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 repeated, and increasingly menacing, phone calls.  At one point Correa shouted “Let him come over and take on a real …

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 that the Defendant, who might well have been acquitted on the basis of self defense without this error, was instead …

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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 is in serious trouble.  (You can enjoy the theatrics for yourself by simply Googling “George Zimmerman waives hearing”.) The only …

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 more, well, colorful past, it might be useful to know whether a jury is likely to hear about that past …

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

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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 of self defense? Doesn’t your right to remain silent mean that you can keep silent without any negative legal consequences? …

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 these conditions can result in the jury never hearing of the attacker’s violent reputations–and such evidence could obviously prove decisive …

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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 there is a legal presumption of a reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm under circumstances where there is …

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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 claim if they knew how dangerous his neighborhood was. The judge declined to allow such evidence to be presented to …

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