« Shocker: Mommy-Friendly Policies Not So Friendly to Moms | Main | Worst Fake Disaster Movie Contest »

July 15, 2013

Best.Zimmerman.Trial.Post.Ever.

Particularly this part:

I think it's terrible that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. That's a tragedy. I don't think he had to shoot him, and had one or two things been different (he didn't get out of his car, didn't have a gun, on and on), we wouldn't be here. I keep hearing Trayvon Martin would have killed George Zimmerman, I don't think so, but I wasn't there.

You weren't there either. You don't know what happened, exactly. As much as you want to believe you were there and know what happened, exactly, you weren't, and you don't.

Not knowing exactly what happened requires a not guilty verdict, no matter how angry or outraged you are. The jury didn't free Zimmerman because they thought he was a good guy or because they weren't sad that a young boy was killed (jurors were rumored to be crying during the state's rebuttal), they found him not guilty because the facts and the law required them to do so.

Much to our sorrow, the Editorial Staff will probably add to the montage of monumentally stupid things being said about the verdict later. But this was just too good to pass on.

Posted by Cassandra at July 15, 2013 07:17 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4696

Comments

If I wanted to convict Zimmerman of something, I'd have tried negligent homicide, and I would have predicated the negligence on the early steps he took that could be seen as leading inevitably to the escalation. That's the evidence that gives me ulcers, wondering if it ever had to come to this, and knowing we can't ever be sure, and knowing that telling Zimmerman he should have stayed in his car is as much as telling people they can't patrol their own neighborhoods.

Even this negligence case suffers from a big problem: it's hard to get around the suspicion that Martin took the step that most fully guaranteed escalation, by getting Zimmerman down on the ground and pounding his head into the pavement. I agree, I wasn't there, but that's the evidence that makes the case hard, whether you're inclined to believe it 100% or not. It's not just Zimmerman's testimony.

We'll never know how the fisticuffs started, or whether Martin had Zimmerman down on the ground because he was terrified of getting beaten up if he didn't get the upper hand in the fight fast.

I never thought this was an easy case. I just thought the hard part about it was not what the prosecution was actually trying him for. Maybe the civil case will be different.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 15, 2013 09:38 AM

I never thought this was an easy case. I just thought the hard part about it was not what the prosecution was actually trying him for.

I never did either. Lots of things came out during the trial (not all of them were allowed into evidence) that ought to make any reasonable person suspect facile interpretations.

I think the verdict was the right one, and I actually think it's a *good* thing that even the prosecution's blatant chicanery wasn't enough to secure a guilty verdict.

Posted by: Cass at July 15, 2013 09:58 AM

In the 17 months since the Zimmerman incident in Florida 400 people, maybe more, have been murdered in Chicago alone.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 15, 2013 10:30 AM

it's hard to get around the suspicion that Martin took the step that most fully guaranteed escalation, by getting Zimmerman down on the ground and pounding his head into the pavement.

This seems to be the central question. Who initiated the assault. Up until the the face to face contact, neither had done anything which justifies the use or threat of violence. And yet it happened anyway. Had Zimmerman initiated the assault, then it was Martin who had a right to defend himself and Zimmerman is guilty of, at least, manslaughter.

If Martin had done it, then Zimmerman had the right to defend himself. The question becomes whether Zimmerman had reasonable fear of death or grave bodily injury. Given numerous accounts of people dying from unarmed assault, having your head bashed against concrete would seem to justify a reasonable fear of such. And that's even *if* Martin had not attempted to reach for Zimmerman's gun.

Given that there were no witnesses to the start of the assault, this is an impossible criminal case.

The next question would be the possibility of a civil suit for wrongful death. I don't know if Florida law prevents such a thing in the case of a criminal aquittal or not.

If a civil suit can proceed, the standard of proof changes from beyond reasonable doubt to "more likely than not". This would be a very different situation with a much more uncertain outcome.

Personally, I think it much more likely that a hormonally charged teenager who bragged about his street fighting ability started a street fight than a frustrated late 20-something homeowner who had called the police beforehand and knew they were on their way.

But others, obviously, think it more likely that a hispanic guy, with no previous history of racism is willing to execute a teenager for "walking while black".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 15, 2013 12:17 PM

Had Zimmerman initiated the assault, then it was Martin who had a right to defend himself and Zimmerman is guilty of, at least, manslaughter.

I gather that Florida (like Georgia) doesn't distinguish on this point. The right to use force to defend yourself does not depend on your not having initiated the conflict, but (in Florida) on reasonable fear of death or attempting to stop a felony; and in Georgia on your being in reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily harm.

It's a difficult point to resolve satisfactorily: if you got mad and shoved a guy, and he pulled a knife, we don't want a law that would say that you had no right to resist being stabbed because you'd technically started the fight (the shove being 'battery' under the law). On the other hand, we don't want a law that permits people to pick a fight and then kill the other person if that person resists effectively.

This is the sort of thing that juries are for, really. Even the wisest law can't grasp every eventuality in advance. Sometimes we have to put things before a jury of peers and let them decide how to apply the law to the facts.

Posted by: Grim at July 15, 2013 12:42 PM

The Martin family has settled with the Homeowner's Association for $1.5 million.

The trial result of "not guilty" precludes a civil action by Florida law.

At least that is what I have read. I'm not a lawyer and I don't want to be one.

I especially like Brian Tannenbaum's slapdowns of the stupid which kept coming up.

And also the fact that he hates Piers Morgan and Nancy Grace. It's like they never even watched the trial or read the transcripts. Just each night was a like a new adventure in TV fiction.

My personal opinion is that few people actually cared what happened to Trayvon Martin, including his parents. But it has become quite a Media circus, which has been orchestrated from the beginning by Bernard Crump, the attorney that the Martins hired. The Conservative Tree House had quite an article the other day showing the linkages to the Media promotions, and who knew who.
Jerilyn Merrit of Talk Left has done some excellent writing on this trial also.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 15, 2013 06:57 PM

I will admit to having not followed this story all that closely, Don. Early on I was pretty sure they didn't have the evidence to convict, so it didn't really hold my attention. I read Jerilyn's latest post this morning, and it was excellent.

Posted by: Cass at July 15, 2013 08:35 PM

Fair point Grim.

I was thinking more along the lines of when a person initiates a deadly assault not just a slap in the face. Self defense is limited to the use of force sufficient to end the threat. (If the aggressor runs away, but is followed, I was considering that as a seperate assault).

In Zimmerman's case, if he threw the first punch I would consider that a deadly assault and for pretty much the reasons of this case.

Generally speaking, if Abel assaults Baker and during the fight Baker discovers Abel has a gun, I think it eminently reasonable for Baker to fear for his life. At which point it is Baker who has the right of lethal self-defense, not Abel.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2013 09:10 AM

... if you got mad and shoved a guy, and he pulled a knife, we don't want a law that would say that you had no right to resist being stabbed because you'd technically started the fight (the shove being 'battery' under the law). On the other hand, we don't want a law that permits people to pick a fight and then kill the other person if that person resists effectively.

This is why the "duty to retreat" doctrine in self defense laws is so important. Pulling a knife on someone who has shoved you is not "effective resistance" - it's escalation.

The key factor in the Zimmerman case was the allegation that Martin (who was 6'2") was sitting on top of Zimmerman, hitting him and/or banging his head against the pavement (we can't be sure). So the person Zimmerman says was hitting him was also preventing him from getting away.

But since we have no eye witnesses to the entire encounter, I agree it's difficult.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 09:44 AM

This Slate article isn't bad: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2013/07/trayvon_martin_verdict_racism_hate_crimes_prosecution_and_other_overreactions.html

Posted by: Texan99 at July 16, 2013 09:45 AM

Is that the William Saletan one? If so, I agree - it was quite good.

I'm a big fan of his. Don't agree with his conclusions all the time (it would be a boring world if I did), but I usually find his analysis to be thorough, dispassionate, and fair.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 09:54 AM

This is why the "duty to retreat" doctrine in self defense laws is so important.

I'm completely opposed to the 'duty to retreat' doctrine, which was an idea from well-meaning people who failed to understand the citizen's duty. If you encounter a robbery or a rape in progress, and move to stop it, you can't have a duty to retreat if the aggressor turns his violence against you. You have to be able to hold the line, which is another way of saying, stand your ground.

The 1895 case Beard v. the United States took the old view. Beard was a farmer who had a dispute with his neighbors over a cow. They demanded he turn it over to them; he said he would if they got a court order, but not otherwise. On returning from town, he discovered his neighbors on his property, arguing with his wife over the cow again, but this time armed.

He told them to get off his land, and when one reached for his pistol, smacked the guy in the head with the butt of a shotgun. The guy died from the injury later, so he was indicted for manslaughter, and the jury was instructed about this 'duty to retreat.' On that basis Beard was convicted, but the Supreme Court overturned the conviction because you can't have a duty to retreat on your own property when somebody is menacing your wife.

Likewise in public places, when the menace is toward any citizen on lawful business. We can't surrender the public space, and we can't ask citizens to retreat in the face of lawlessness. That's what the old duties of citizens' arrest, and yes, self-defense are for.

Posted by: Grim at July 16, 2013 10:50 AM

Oliver Wendell Holmes also authored an opinion against 'duty to retreat' in 1921, in Brown v. United States. But you have to admit that "Beard v. the United States" is the better name for a precedent.

“Detached reflection,” Holmes wrote, “cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife... [the man so threatened] may stand his ground."

Posted by: Grim at July 16, 2013 10:54 AM

Well, you can be opposed to it all you like, but under federalism, the citizens of each state get to decide how they want their criminal code to treat various offenses. So Georgia, for instance, is free to be one of only 4 states whose safe haven laws only protect mothers, or to not provide for notification to fathers.

And the other 46 states are free to have other laws that suit them :p

Either way, you're conflating unlike cases. Zimmerman wasn't defending his own property. He was engaged in a fight, and he wasn't stopping a serious crime. Under common law, the duty to retreat involved people in fights (NOT the defense of property or the defense of others):

Duty to retreat only applied, under common law, to someone who was defending himself against an assault in an “affray” or “brawl,” and with the exception that there was no duty to retreat “in sudden and violent cases; when certain and immediate suffering would be the consequence of waiting for the assistance of the law.”

Such a limitation to self defense is perfectly reasonable is such contexts, I think.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 11:00 AM

I'm with Grim on this. Retreat is certainly a very good idea, but "Duty to" is bad law.

"Stand your ground" isn't escalation. The victim is still required to use only sufficient force to end the threat. Pulling out a gun for a slap isn't "standing your ground". It's assault with a deadly weapon.

But as far as Zimmerman goes, SYG was moot (his lawyers didn't even argue it) as even under Duty to Retreat laws, you must first have the ability to retreat.

This is actually one of the reasons the trial became such political issue. This happened not long after SYG passed in Florida and it's opponents were using the case for "We told you SYG would legalize murder" blood dancing even though it didn't apply.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2013 11:12 AM

...and with the exception that there was no duty to retreat “in sudden and violent cases; when certain and immediate suffering would be the consequence of waiting for the assistance of the law."

Under Florida's Duty to Retreat law there were no exceptions. Even under immediate peril of death you had to run away if not obstructed. In many states, it applied even in your own home. "Castle Doctrine" is the typical name attached to legislation overturning those laws. SYG generalizes those laws to outside your home.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2013 11:21 AM

Well, you can be opposed to it all you like, but under federalism, the citizens of each state get to decide how they want their criminal code to treat various offenses.

I've said that is just how I think the country ought to be run often enough that I assume you are raising the point merely in case some stranger is reading the discussion and doesn't know the context of our discussions. :) I'm telling you the principles that underlay my opposition to the standard, not that no one anywhere may ever craft a law according to what I think is a bad standard. Maryland, God knows!, has adopted many laws I think are based on bad principles incompatible with American citizenship: but there are people who seem happier there than they would be here. I certainly don't want them to be unhappy just because I disagree with them about what a citizen's role should be. I'm glad I can live in a state with wiser laws.

All of these laws have their origins in medieval England, by the way. The 'duty to retreat' applied under English law to peasants, who were barred from the use of force because of their status; but the 'Castle Doctrine' protected them from having to retreat if and only if they were in their own homes.

However, the right to bear arms and to enforce the King's Peace was enjoyed by the nobility and the free classes, whose privileges came to be enjoyed by all over time. The Founders barred titles of nobility not to abolish the old rights of the knighthood, but to ensure that they were no longer restricted by class.

Posted by: Grim at July 16, 2013 11:40 AM

Actually, I was just teasing you, because teasing boys if fun :)

/running away!!!

Maryland, God knows!, has adopted many laws I think are based on bad principles incompatible with American citizenship: but there are people who seem happier there than they would be here.

Bada boom!
Bada.... ZING :)

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 12:00 PM

IS fun!

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 12:01 PM

"The key factor in the Zimmerman case was the allegation that Martin (who was 6'2") was sitting on top of Zimmerman, hitting him and/or banging his head against the pavement (we can't be sure). So the person Zimmerman says was hitting him was also preventing him from getting away.

But since we have no eye witnesses to the entire encounter, I agree it's difficult."

There was an eyewitness as to who was on top of whom.

"There is one reason and one reason alone that Trayvon Martin is dead today and that reason is he attacked a man with a licensed firearm who used it. It’s not pretty – it’s not pleasant – but it’s true."

I think Ted Nugent said it best yesterday, "The lesson from this is simple, folks: Teach your children not to attack people."

Posted by: DL Sly at July 16, 2013 01:26 PM

There was an eyewitness as to who was on top of whom

Yes, I know. But that doesn't answer how they got into the altercation in the first place. For that, there are no eye witnesses. Which is why I said that we have no eyewitnesses to the entire encounter.

I think it's relevant to note that. Even though I don't actually think this is what happened, it's also entirely possible that Zimmerman (for some reason that I can't think of because it makes very little sense) started the physical fight, but ended up on the bottom of it. And it's possible that if that happened, Martin justifiably feared for his life enough to fight as though it were in danger.

This is what bugs me so much about this case. We don't actually know that Martin "attacked" Zimmerman. We only know that when the witness came out to see what was going on, Martin was on top of Zimmerman.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 01:34 PM

FWIW, it's not terribly plausible to me that Zimmerman would "attack" Martin, knowing that he had already notified the police and that they were on their way.

But I'm trying to limit myself to the actual evidence, here.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 01:36 PM

True, there wasn't an eyewitness. There was, however, an earwitness, and her original statement, prior to the *ahem* additional interviews the special prosecutor conducted, paints a different picture of the confrontation than later testimony attempted to portray. In that interview, Zimmerman's response is considerably less confrontational than Martin's. And, yes, while that still doesn't give us an eyewitness who saw everything, it is consistent with the initial statements that Zimmerman gave a few minutes after the shooting when the police arrived.

Posted by: DL Sly at July 16, 2013 02:06 PM

I don't put much stock in anything coming from the Jeantel testimony. It hurt the prosecution, but I didn't feel it was a very reliable support for Zimmerman's account (which I have always seen as more sensible than the prosecution's version of events).

But that's just my take. Unreliable is unreliable. The prosecution had the burden of proof, and they clearly failed to meet it.

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 02:14 PM

I'm not putting any stock into her testimony. I'm putting my *stock* into her initial, uncoerced, (before the Circus took off) statement she made to the Sanford police during their initial investigation. The one that left them believing that Zimmerman had acted in self-defense in the first place.
That investigation, btw, came to that conclusion before Martin's cell phone texts and social media sites were cracked and the teenager's obsession with fighting and drugs were known.
Speaking of the cell phone information, did you hear where the whistle blower who testified about the prosecution withholding the exculpatory evidence has been fired?

Posted by: DL Sly at July 16, 2013 04:47 PM

I didn't hear he'd been fired, but I'd heard about the text messages and the other stuff that make Martin look less than the angelic choir boy the press made him out to be :p

Posted by: Cass at July 16, 2013 05:28 PM

There's sooo much about "Little" Trayvon that the MSM *conveeeniently* forgot to find out and report on, it'd rival the list that YAG and I were working on the other day.
BUT, it's a beautiful day, and the lake is calling........
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at July 16, 2013 05:59 PM

Nice choice Cass,
As I'm living in Central FL now I've also seen that post elsewhere. It is obvious that the 'special' prosecutor overcharged for political reasons. If they had charged manslaughter initially they might have had a shot at a conviction, though it's hard to know.

Hat Tip to Tex for making the case for lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt hurdle better than I.

BTW Grim and Cass,
You are quite wrong on FL law . . . there is no duty to retreat here; that's the origin of the now (in)famous Stand your Ground Law, though that point was never presented during the trial. Zimmerman's lawyers' stuck w/ straight self-defense.

Hi YAG,
Yes, you are quite right that the standard of 'proof' is much less in a civil trial, but please recall that the standards for admissibility of evidence is also different. It is almost certain that a civil suit against Zimmerman would require disclosure of nearly all of Martin's past behavior . . .

BOTA to DL Sly.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at July 16, 2013 10:03 PM

You are quite wrong on FL law . . . there is no duty to retreat here; that's the origin of the now (in)famous Stand your Ground Law, though that point was never presented during the trial. Zimmerman's lawyers' stuck w/ straight self-defense.

I do understand that :)

My reference to "self defense laws" was intentionally generic and applied to common law traditions. The defense of self defense varies from state to state. My comment was meant to point out that when there's a duty to retreat, there was a reason for it.

Posted by: Cass at July 17, 2013 09:22 AM

Another perspective:

What kind of world do we live in where a parent can't feel secure that his child can, without being followed, walk alone in the rain to the store at dinnertime to buy candy and sweet drinks to use for the mixed-cough-syrup-based street drug "lean" that he likes to ingest for his highs? You know, like back in the Leave it to Beaver good ol' days. You just know that Wally & Lump were totally into "lean". And that if they innocently jumped someone to beat that person up for fronting and dissing them by following them and possibly being creepy-ass crackers who wanted to rape them, they didn't get shot for it, because that person was supposed to just take it and/or run away. Ward & June could feel secure knowing all that. But not today. At least, not if you're BLACK. I guess white kids can still do all that, like Whitey & the Beav did. It's just not fair.

(Rhymes with Cars & Girls)

Posted by: Texan99 at July 17, 2013 10:56 AM

Sounds like A Clockwork Orange the way you put it, Tex. Milk-plus, anyone?

CAPT Mike:

I'm not sure why you thought either Cass or I were asserting that Florida law had a duty to retreat. Cass thinks that self-defense law ought to include one, as she explains; I think they should not, for just the reasons said above. Those are general principles, separate from the content of specific laws of actual states.

Posted by: Grim at July 17, 2013 01:03 PM

"BOTA to DL Sly"

Thanks....., I hope.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at July 17, 2013 01:30 PM

Cass thinks that self-defense law ought to include one, as she explains; I think they should not, for just the reasons said above.

Actually, I don't favor an absolute duty to retreat - I think that's foolish. I do think the defense should at least contemplate times when it may be wise to retreat vs. escalate. But as Grim remarked earlier, it's tough to make a rule that works in every situation.

Posted by: Cass at July 17, 2013 01:41 PM

My wife sat on a jury trial for some pretty serious crimes. Her comment afterwards "we had to acquit a very bad man."

The prosecutor just didn't bring the proof. On one of the charges, the victims' testimony directly contradicted the prosecutor's assertion. No one liked the outcome, except the defendant and his attorney, but the prosecution screwed up. It was that simple.

Posted by: Allen at July 17, 2013 06:07 PM

I do think the defense should at least contemplate times when it may be wise to retreat vs. escalate.

I'm OK with the assertion that wisdom should be used in the choice to engage or run away.

If *I'm* the customer in the back of the 7-11 when an armed robber has the cashier at gun point, *my* first thought would be to see if I could reach the restroom unnoticed and lock myself in it, even if armed. I'm not your sheepdog. I don't carry, but if I did, it sure as helk wouldn't be to make sure someone else goes home that night.

But I'm not prepared to require it and send someone to jail for making a different choice.

BTW, I'm not sure what you mean by "escalate". The victim "escalates" from non-lethal to lethal force, but the situation doesn't escalate as lethal force was already present.

I should point out, if I haven't at some point in time already, that the issue is somewhat personal to me. A high school friend of mine was robbed at gun point. He did what "they" tell you to do: "Don't escalate, just give the robber what he wants and he'll leave you alone".

The robber left him alone alright. Alone in a pool of his own blood with his brain scattered on the sidewalk.

Yes, I'm angry about it. Yes, it's colored my views.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2013 01:39 PM

I'm not sure what you mean by "escalate". The victim "escalates" from non-lethal to lethal force, but the situation doesn't escalate as lethal force was already present.

That's not the situation I was contemplating. I was thinking of the situation where a guy shoves you once (clearly doesn't create reasonable fear of impending death) and you pull out a gun and shoot him.

The law has to encompass a broad range of scenarios. I agree that lethal force can be met with lethal force, but I don't agree that clearly nonlethal force can always be met with lethal force. "You pull a Nerf gun, I pull an Uzi" doesn't make a whole lotta sense :p

I'm sorry about your friend. I'm just trying to make the point that not ever fight is a life or death situation requiring lethal force.

Posted by: Cass at July 18, 2013 02:10 PM

OK, that may be where the confusion comes from.

SYG vs. Duty to Retreat laws do not apply if *you* are the one who elevates a non-lethal attack to a lethal attack. If you did that, you would be guilty under *both* laws.

They only apply if you are the one being attacked with non-lethal force and you respond with non-lethal force, or if you are attacked with lethal force and you respond with lethal force.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2013 02:38 PM

Not to further confuse the issue, but I don't think that's quite right. There are variations of non-lethal force that you can respond to lethally, depending on how the law is formulated. Under Florida's formula, you can respond to felonious violence even if it is non-lethal. In Georgia's, you can respond to force that is likely only to produce grievous bodily harm (such as rape or maiming), even if there is no fear of death.

Posted by: Grim at July 18, 2013 03:09 PM

You're never going to get uniformity on this, as each state has its own rules and they can be quite different.

Posted by: Cass at July 18, 2013 03:19 PM

Not to further confuse the issue, but I don't think that's quite right.

No, it isn't. But I generally put rape and "grave bodily harm" in the lethal category.

In the case of rape, 1) women do still die in pregnancy and 2) with AIDS it's very possible that the person raped has been handed a death sentence just one with an open ended execution date.

I toss in "grave bodily harm" because how is one to know before hand "This attack would only put me in the hospital for two months, not actually kill me, *and* I won't get a hospital acquired deadly infection, either"?

In either case, I don't really consider it a case of the victim being the one "escalating" the situation as would be the case where one was getting backhanded by a out of shape drunk guy who is spotting you 50lbs.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2013 04:07 PM

SYG vs. Duty to Retreat laws do not apply if *you* are the one who elevates a non-lethal attack to a lethal attack. If you did that, you would be guilty under *both* laws. They only apply if you are the one being attacked with non-lethal force and you respond with non-lethal force, or if you are attacked with lethal force and you respond with lethal force.

Well, FWIW I don't know all that much about SYG specifics in various states. My comments were pretty much limited to common law self defense defenses.

The law is supposed to be grounded in what's reasonable. So we don't have a Superman Standard to determine the duty of care required for a negligence case (unless Superman is being sued!) - we have a reasonable man standard. The duty of care is higher if you're a professional accused of negligence in your field than if you're an ordinary person doing the exact same thing.

That's pretty much the standard used for determining whether someone is in *reasonable* fear of death or GBH (great bodily harm). What's reasonable depends on circumstances and the people involved.

If a 5 year old shoves an adult, it's not reasonable for the adult to perceive great risk of death/GBH and shoot to kill. I would argue, frankly, that even if you're 5'2" and you're shoved by someone who's 6'7" and 250 pounds, a simple shove (unaccompanied by overt physical/verbal threats - let's say the person then backs off) wouldn't ordinarily be cause for a reasonable person to pull out a gun and shoot to kill. Of course if the other person shoved, then came after you with blazing fists of fury, that's a different circumstance.

"Reasonableness" is an important idea, and it's important to look at it broadly (IOW, not with a single case in your mind where you know the shover is dangerous and the shovee is blameless/weak). The standard is used to help juries sort out who's more likely telling the truth, for instance.

And that's not always obvious.

Posted by: Cass at July 18, 2013 06:00 PM

And that is something of the problem. The common law duty to retreat is not anything like the codified duty to retreat.

The customer in the back of the 7-11 when it is robbed at gunpoint is protected under the common law by the forcible felony and "sudden violence" provisions. Under the codified duty to retreat (especially the version Holder seeks), he is a murderer. A safe retreat was available (the restroom) and he chose not to use it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 18, 2013 10:36 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)