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Thread: U.S. laws to expand self-defense rights create confusion

  1. #1
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    Gettingpast the mildly distorting headline, this is a pretty well written article which confirms further that the trend in the U.S. is toward more reasonable and favorable (to gun owners/carriers) laws. This is, of course, due to the NRA's strategy to expand and clarify the area of law involved in personal defense events using deadly force outside the home.All legally armed gun carriers owe a big debt to theNRA for their continuing work in this area. And its a good example ofhow the adult gun rights advocate organizationdelivers, time after time. Of course, the screaming meemiesdis the NRA every chance they got--for offenses both real and imagined.

    Anyway, this article simplyuses the Borden self defense case (which we discussed in its own thread) as an example ofthe type of case that the new stand your ground laws are aimed at.Ironically, the prosecutor decided to try Borden "because he thought a jury needed to decide the case." Ironically still is that he prosecutor was "almost relieved" when Borden was acquitted. Even more ironic is that the Bordenprosecution did actuallyhave somereasonable basis--myGod, Borden shot one ofthe perpsSEVEN TIMES IN THE FACE.

    I think that Borden got kind of lucky. Which is fine. Sometimesinnocent guys are found guilty. Sometimes guilty guys are acquitted. Happens some.

    But I'd much rather have better self-defenses than Borden's be the exemplars for the new stand your ground laws in AZ, FL, GA, IN, ID, KS, KY, LA, MI, OK, SC, SD, TN, and TX. I thinkhe may have gotten away with murder. But the trends ofregulation and enforcement and prosecutionsbecame liberal enough and fast enough for him to enjoy the swing in the pendulum.

    Nonetheless, as gun carriers, we are enjoying a welcome rationalization of the self-defense laws and it looks like that will persist for a while.

    U.S. laws to expand self-defense rights create confusion

    The Associated Press
    Monday, July 9, 2007

    WEST PALM BEACH, Florida: Norman Borden fought back twice — once against three assailants on the street, then again in a courtroom where he was charged with murder for killing two of them.

    Borden, 44, was walking his dogs last year when three men in a Jeep tried to run him down. He pulled a gun and shot five times through the windshield, then moved to the side of the vehicle and fired nine more rounds.

    He thought the shooting was self-defense, but a prosecutor put him on trial in the deaths, despite a new Florida law that grants wide latitude to people using deadly force to protect themselves.

    The case highlights the confusion in the United States surrounding so-called "stand-your-ground" laws, which have been adopted in at least 14 states to expand people's rights to defend themselves.

    The laws have perplexed judges and prosecutors, and, in some cases, forced attorneys to change the way they review evidence. In Borden's case, a prosecutor filed charges against him, even though he privately thought Borden might have been correct to open fire. In Kentucky, a man suspected of murder was offered a plea agreement because the law was too difficult to explain to jurors.

    Florida was the first state to enact such a law in 2005, removing the requirement that people who think they are in immediate peril must first try to retreat from the confrontation before using deadly force. Prior to passage of the law, only people defending themselves in their own homes, for the most part, could use deadly force without first trying to flee.

    Most states let authorities determine whether deadly force was reasonable, even inside the home. But the new laws create an automatic presumption that a person is justified in using deadly force to ward off an attacker — in just about any public place that person has a right to be.

    "We believe that self-defense is an innate human right and the law should never put the innocent victim of a crime in a position of having to second-guess themselves," said Ashley Varner, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, which pushed for the laws.

    For defense attorneys, the laws offer protection to clients who have struck back at assailants.

    "The more defenses the better," said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He added: "Most people would rather be judged by 12 than carried by six," referring to juries and pallbearers.

    Gun-control groups worry that the laws will embolden shooters to pull the trigger first rather than as a last resort.

    "If you are protecting yourself or your family in self defense, that's a basic legal right anyway," said Elizabeth Haile, an attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    States that have removed the duty to retreat from their books are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, according to the NRA.

    There is no way to tell exactly how many times the law has been used as a defense because the statutes are still too new to collect statistics.

    In Kentucky, prosecutors offered a plea deal to a man they accused of murder because the statute was too confusing to explain to jurors.

    Judge Sheila Isaac, who presided over the case, said the law apparently "went right through the Legislature without a single attorney looking at it."

    She said the law was addressing a problem that did not exist, a sentiment shared by law enforcement officials across the country.

    "You just don't see cases where people are prosecuted when they are defending themselves," Isaac said.

    Former Republican state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored Florida's bill, argues that the law was needed to empower citizens, regardless of whether any previous cases supported it.

    "Our judicial system tries to be so careful to protect the criminal's rights, we have neglected the right of the common citizen to protect themselves," Baxley said.

    In West Palm Beach, Borden faced up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder and attempted murder.

    One of his would-be attackers, 21-year-old Juan Mendez, admitted in testimony at Borden's trial that the three men planned to "rough him up." A baseball bat was also found in the Jeep.

    Prosecutor Craig Williams argued that Borden exceeded justified force when he continued firing after shooting the driver and stopping the Jeep. But Borden's defense argued that he did not have to retreat, citing the law.

    Williams said he pursued the charges because he thought a jury needed to decide the case. But he privately wondered how he would have behaved in the same situation. When Borden was acquitted, the prosecutor was almost relieved.

    The assailants "were bringing an arsenal," Williams conceded after the trial. "It was pretty clear what the right thing to do was here."

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    Sounds like a politically correct prosecutor too timid to take a legal stand (not bring charges against the defender), so he copped out by bring an inditment and letting a jury decide the man's fate rather than make a possibly career ending, unpopular move and not prosecute.

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    Texas State Lawmaker Opposing Deadly Force Bill Shoots Would-Be Thief
    Monday, July 09, 2007

    HOUSTON— A state lawmaker who opposed a bill giving Texans stronger right to defend themselves with deadly force pulled a gun and shot a man he says was trying to steal copper wiring from a construction site, police said Monday.[/b]

    Rep. Borris Miles[/b] told police he was fixing a leak on the second floor of the Houston house he's building Sunday night when he heard a noise downstairs and saw two men trying to steal the copper. After Miles confronted the pair, one of the men threw a pocketknife at him, Houston Police spokesman Victor Senties.

    Miles, a former law enforcement officer, shot the man in the left leg, police said. The wounded suspect was being treated at a Houston hospital. Police were trying to identify the other suspect.

    Charges of aggravated robbery are pending against the wounded suspect, Senties said.

    Police said Miles, who is in his freshman term, is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. No charges have been filed against Miles, Senties said.

    Miles, a Democrat, voted against a bill that gives Texans stronger legal right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles, and workplaces. The so-called "castle doctrine," passed by the Legislature this year, states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. The law goes into effect Sept. 1.
    I guess it's ok for the elite's to defend themselfs but not you or me

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