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.” 

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Andrew BrancaComment
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? 

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Andrew BrancaComment
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. 

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Emily BrancaComment
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?

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Andrew Branca
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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Andrew BrancaComment
NEWS: "Murder 2 Charge Added Against ex-cop Mohamed Noor"

The Minnesota newspaper StarTribune has reported that second-degree murder charge has been added in the criminal case against Minnesota ex-cop Mohamed Mohamed Noor (not a typo).  Noor is the police officer who responded to a "suspected rape in an alley" call, then abruptly shot and killed Justin Damond, the whom who had initially called police, when she approached Noor's vehicle as it was about to depart the scene.

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Andrew BrancaComment
News: "Beware of Internet-Based Legal Info (duh)"

I know, I know, here I am, a lawyer on the internet, cautioning  you against the dangers of legal information obtained over the internet.  

The real caution, I suppose, is to beware legal information from any source, internet-based or not, that's not based on actual law.  Seeing the actual law is always best; relying on well-established reputation for applying actual law can work, too (it's what you're doing right now reading this, after all).  

Simply taking someone's blanket statements at face value is a formula for disaster.

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Andrew BrancaComment
News: ‘Oops, Wrong Apartment’ Shooting Bumped to Murder"

Local Dallas Fox News reports that former police officer Amber Guyger was indicted yesterday by a grand jury on the charge of murder for the shooting death of Botham Jean.  This is a bump up from her arrest charge of manslaughter. Guyger shot and killed Jean in his own apartment, purportedly because she mistakenly believed she'd stumbled upon an intruder in her own apartment on the floor below.

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Andrew BrancaComment
News: "Using Gun Against Roman Candle Attack: Lawful?"

People get into the craziest situations--like charging with a gun at a group of punks shooting July 5 (not a typo) fireworks at your apartment building.  

According to this brief news report, the now defendant actually shot and wounded someone (who, of course, claims that it was her friends, not her, who was shooting the fireworks, she was minding her own business, didn't do nothing, etc.).  As a result, he's coming to trial in January on a charge of criminal discharge of a firearm.  

He is, of course, claiming self-defense as justification of his use of force.

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Andrew Branca