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Thread: If a Virginia legal defense fund were established, how should it be administered

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    If a Virginia legal defense fund were established, how should it be administered

    Just looking for ideas..

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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    I'm working on that. It'll be a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity designed to foster the provision of legal services to those who would otherwise be unable, in defense of certain kinds of activities involving the ownership, possession, and use of firearms. It will also serve a public education function, possibly including training in the defensive use of firearms. I've been working on getting some real estate in Fauquier Co. with suitable buildings already in place for that purpose.

    You'll notice that I'm assuming I'm taking charge of that. That assumption is due to the phrase, "Virginia Legal Defense" in the question, a phrase that is a Virginia registered trademark belonging to guess-who.

    I'll need all the help I can get with that, though.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    I'm working on that. It'll be a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity designed to foster the provision of legal services to those who would otherwise be unable, in defense of certain kinds of activities involving the ownership, possession, and use of firearms. It will also serve a public education function, possibly including training in the defensive use of firearms. I've been working on getting some real estate in Fauquier Co. with suitable buildings already in place for that purpose.

    You'll notice that I'm assuming I'm taking charge of that. That assumption is due to the phrase, "Virginia Legal Defense" in the question, a phrase that is a Virginia registered trademark belonging to guess-who.

    I'll need all the help I can get with that, though.
    User,

    We can change the name to Virginia Money For People Who Get Into Legal Trouble During The Course Of Lawful Use Or Carry Of A Firearm Defense Fund (VMFPWGILTDTCOLUOCOAFDF)

    On a serious note, what of help would you need, beside monetary donations?
    Last edited by thebigsd; 07-26-2011 at 02:26 PM.
    "When seconds count between living or dying, the police are only minutes away."

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigsd View Post
    User,

    We can change the name to Virginia Money For People Who Get Into Legal Trouble During The Course Of Lawful Use Or Carry Of A Firearm Defense Fund (VMFPWGILTDTCOLUOCOAFDF)

    On a serious note, what of help would you need, beside monetary donations?
    Leave the name as it is,
    I can't think of a better administrator.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    I'm working on that. It'll be a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity designed to foster the provision of legal services to those who would otherwise be unable, in defense of certain kinds of activities involving the ownership, possession, and use of firearms. It will also serve a public education function, possibly including training in the defensive use of firearms. I've been working on getting some real estate in Fauquier Co. with suitable buildings already in place for that purpose.
    .
    That will make quite a package - covers a lot of bases.

    I'd like to hear more when the time is right.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    I'm thinking of setting it up as a 501(c) nonstock corporation. The property in Fauquier is subject to litigation, which I have yet to initiate. I'll keep you posted.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    I'm just talking out of my empty head here. I don't know if this would be either a) legal, or b) ethical.

    Could some sort of an investment company be set up to do this? Investors would provide the capital to start up and fund selective litigation projects for little or no up-front charge to the victims, where the cases were strong for recovering real and punitive damages from rogue incidents and local governments or authorities concerning violations of people's rights...

    After covering the traditional legal costs that such litigation normally does all the time, the victims would be awarded their real damages, but the "company" would take a cut of the punitive damages, from which subsequent cases could be funded, and the investors would be paid dividends, etc.

    Crazy?

    TFred

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    Regular Member 2a4all's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    I'm just talking out of my empty head here. I don't know if this would be either a) legal, or b) ethical.

    Could some sort of an investment company be set up to do this? Investors would provide the capital to start up and fund selective litigation projects for little or no up-front charge to the victims, where the cases were strong for recovering real and punitive damages from rogue incidents and local governments or authorities concerning violations of people's rights...

    After covering the traditional legal costs that such litigation normally does all the time, the victims would be awarded their real damages, but the "company" would take a cut of the punitive damages, from which subsequent cases could be funded, and the investors would be paid dividends, etc.

    Crazy?

    TFred
    Lawsuits For Profit, Inc. It's motto could be "You're gonna like the way your wallet looks. I guarantee it."

    The "Company" taking a cut of the proceeds/damages? Isn't that essentially what PI attorneys do now?
    Last edited by 2a4all; 07-27-2011 at 01:31 PM.
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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2a4all View Post
    Lawsuits For Profit, Inc. It's motto could be "You're gonna like the way your wallet looks. I guarantee it."

    The "Company" taking a cut of the proceeds/damages? Isn't that essentially what PI attorneys do now?
    All jokes aside - this is serious business that User is considering.

    Not only could this benefit those that would not otherwise be able to afford representation, but also thereby all freedom loving Virginians.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    All jokes aside - this is serious business that User is considering.

    Not only could this benefit those that would not otherwise be able to afford representation, but also thereby all freedom loving Virginians.
    And I didn't mean for my question to demean or belittle that fact, I hope that is not how it was perceived. As I said, just talking out loud, but someone would have to front some resources to get something like this started. Whether it's a person or a group of people, unorganized or organized into a LLC or something... that's all I was wondering.

    TFred

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    I'm just talking out of my empty head here. ...

    Crazy?

    TFred
    QFT


    Couldn't resist.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post

    After covering the traditional legal costs that such litigation normally does all the time, the victims would be awarded their real damages, but the "company" would take a cut of the punitive damages, from which subsequent cases could be funded, and the investors would be paid dividends, etc.

    TFred
    Sounds like regularized ambulance chasing to me.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    And I didn't mean for my question to demean or belittle that fact, I hope that is not how it was perceived. As I said, just talking out loud, but someone would have to front some resources to get something like this started. Whether it's a person or a group of people, unorganized or organized into a LLC or something... that's all I was wondering.

    TFred
    Funding it is the easy part TFred.
    Administering it properly is another. Ever know anyone that got legal help from the NRA? There aren't many.
    Deciding who is worthy and who is not is a monumental chore. Skidmark would be worthy but would a fellow who pumped 6 rounds in his neighbor for oogling his wife?

    How about a middle of the roader....someone that was afraid to walk across campus and stuck a 40 in his/her pocket without a permit?

    Some one or ones, has to decide these things.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Funding it is the easy part TFred.
    Administering it properly is another. Ever know anyone that got legal help from the NRA? There aren't many.
    Deciding who is worthy and who is not is a monumental chore. Skidmark would be worthy but would a fellow who pumped 6 rounds in his neighbor for oogling his wife?

    How about a middle of the roader....someone that was afraid to walk across campus and stuck a 40 in his/her pocket without a permit?

    Some one or ones, has to decide these things.
    NRA seems to pick cases that advance their agenda, not cases based on the need of the victim. And that is certainly their prerogative.

    Your point is well taken.

    ETA: Any such effort would probably be well-served to publish a criteria, so that those decisions would not appear to be arbitrary or subjective.

    TFred
    Last edited by TFred; 07-27-2011 at 05:45 PM.

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    Regular Member Neplusultra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    I'm just talking out of my empty head here. I don't know if this would be either a) legal, or b) ethical.

    Could some sort of an investment company be set up to do this? Investors would provide the capital to start up and fund selective litigation projects for little or no up-front charge to the victims, where the cases were strong for recovering real and punitive damages from rogue incidents and local governments or authorities concerning violations of people's rights...

    After covering the traditional legal costs that such litigation normally does all the time, the victims would be awarded their real damages, but the "company" would take a cut of the punitive damages, from which subsequent cases could be funded, and the investors would be paid dividends, etc.

    Crazy?

    TFred
    I suggested this years ago during the Danbus Troubles :^) !!!!

    "Good, I could use the money" - Danbus, after being threatened with arrest for legally carrying.....
    Last edited by Neplusultra; 07-27-2011 at 06:53 PM.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Funding it is the easy part TFred.
    Administering it properly is another. Ever know anyone that got legal help from the NRA? There aren't many.
    Deciding who is worthy and who is not is a monumental chore. Skidmark would be worthy but would a fellow who pumped 6 rounds in his neighbor for oogling his wife?

    How about a middle of the roader....someone that was afraid to walk across campus and stuck a 40 in his/her pocket without a permit?

    Some one or ones, has to decide these things.
    This seems to be the biggest problem to me.
    1) There are those who "try" to be law abiding but run afoul of the system.
    2) There are those that "are" law abiding and a foul-system runs them over.
    3) Then there are simple criminals.

    I would think that the first two would deserve consideration and even the ones that break "bad" laws to try to change the law.

    Being in Southern VA how would a NoVA office and staff handle the entire state? Hopefully case-load would be low but it seems like there are waves of incidents where 2-3 are running at the same time in different geographies.

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    Founder's Club Member thebigsd's Avatar
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    I think any deciding of cases to pursue would have to be done by some kind of committee. Perhaps five members and the decisions would have to be unanimous. Or ten members, five permanent and five rotating, majority rules. I guess my point is that the decision can't be up to a single person.
    "When seconds count between living or dying, the police are only minutes away."

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    A lot of the ground rules might depend heavily on who is putting up the "seed" money, time and effort.

    When the cost of defending can run into the thousands and even 10s of thousands sometimes, there are other considerations.

    Sure there are some nickel (500.00)and dime (1,000.00) cases, but pleading them out is NOT the answer either.

    Know anyone that might like to make a donation of a million or so to get really get this going?
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Founder's Club Member Jim675's Avatar
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    I wish WA would do the same. Hey User - hot enough there for ya? (We might hit 70 tomorrow!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    I'm just talking out of my empty head here. I don't know if this would be either a) legal, or b) ethical.

    Could some sort of an investment company be set up to do this? Investors would provide the capital to start up and fund selective litigation projects for little or no up-front charge to the victims, where the cases were strong for recovering real and punitive damages from rogue incidents and local governments or authorities concerning violations of people's rights...

    After covering the traditional legal costs that such litigation normally does all the time, the victims would be awarded their real damages, but the "company" would take a cut of the punitive damages, from which subsequent cases could be funded, and the investors would be paid dividends, etc.

    Crazy?

    TFred
    Yeah, that would be illegal in Virginia. These things you see advertised on TV that tell you there won't be any costs or expenses to the client if the litigation craps out are per-se illegal. There are states that allow such stuff and even Virginia has liberalized a bit since the early common law days. The theory is that if we allow people with no other interest to fund litigation and take the risk of nonpayment, then there's going to be all sorts of unwashed rabble being used as straw-man litigants purely to extort money from innocent wealth-holders. It'll open the flood-gates of litigation and all hell will break loose! There was quite an extended argument when Virginia was considering whether or not to allow contingent-fee cases. It's still illegal for a non-party to fund the costs of litigation (filing fees, service of process, court reporters, investigators, etc.).

    Also, personal rights in litigation cannot be assigned. You can sell your right to sue under a contract, but not for false arrest.

    On the other hand, I can see a loan arrangement with promissory notes (perhaps secured by the potential judgments from back-atcha causes of action) working. That would help in another way, too. I closed my office in Fairfax years ago because I kept getting "walk-ins" with essentially the same deal:
    1. I want justice.
    2. I want it on my terms.
    3. I want it NOW.
    4. I want it to be free.
    5. And I want YOU to get it for me because of the principles and cause of Justice.

    A loan arrangement would help to minimize nonsense like that.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    This seems to be the biggest problem to me.
    1) There are those who "try" to be law abiding but run afoul of the system.
    2) There are those that "are" law abiding and a foul-system runs them over.
    3) Then there are simple criminals.

    I would think that the first two would deserve consideration and even the ones that break "bad" laws to try to change the law.

    Being in Southern VA how would a NoVA office and staff handle the entire state? Hopefully case-load would be low but it seems like there are waves of incidents where 2-3 are running at the same time in different geographies.
    Good analysis. I don't see this helping people who are actually guilty of crimes (category three), regardless of the rectitude of the law under which their offense may be defined - that's a legislative function. Not interested in funding plea bargains. Category one is sort of suspect, as well; it really doesn't matter whether one is trying to be a good person (or a bad person, for that matter): for most criminal offenses, it's the intentional commission of some act that makes the person guilty, not the intent to commit a crime. There's a difference between the intention to do X and the intention to violate the statute that makes doing X a crime. This doesn't apply to all criminal laws; there are some for which "specific intent" rather than "general intent" is required - those statutes say "willfully", "knowingly", or even "recklessly" or "intentionally". But most crimes just say things like the definition of assault: "acting in a manner that creates in the mind an ordinary person of reasonable sensibilities the apprehension of an immediate battery, without cause, justification, or excuse." You don't have to "intend" to assault someone. You have to intend to move your hand in such a way that the person reasonably thinks you mean to hit them.

    I like category two, and I think there's so much of that (sit around in your local general district court for a few days and watch the criminal trials), that any resources we can scrape up will run out before we can deal with even a small part of it. The system depends on the great disparity of power between the state and "the criminally indigent". This is not good for the United States to be operating a system like that; it makes us weaker and will have disastrous consequences in the end. (Read the OT book of Amos and see what happened to Israel, for example.)

    As to the last point: Well, first, I don't see this as a problem limited to Virginia. Secondly, I've got cases right now in Surry Co. and Alleghany Co., and while I'd prefer not to have to go to Dickenson or Wise Counties or the City of Danville, I'd do it if the case called for it. Plus, we've got these new-fangled telephone things that make it a lot easier to do stuff far away.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    insurance style?

    What about a paid subscription / membership / insurance style of thing? Members pay an annual membership / subscription fee for potential legal representation? I'd be willing to pay for something like, assuming the cost was reasonable.

    The NRA offers a liability policy that allegedly *reimburses* for legal expenses *if* you are acquitted of all criminal charges. I've never purchased that insurance because I don't like the wording. I've noticed that in a lot of court cases, that even if the victim was found not guilty of the actual shooting (murder, manslaughter, etc.), they are typically found guilty of other gun-related charges (such as discharging a firearm in city limits). I questioned the underwriter on how they view such things, and they refused to answer. I suspect they use that caveat as a justification to refuse pay-out.

    As far as administering the "fund"... perhaps a review board would examine the case and choose to accept it based on the merits of the case. That would hopefully eliminate taking up an out-right criminal case.
    Last edited by Armed; 07-29-2011 at 01:06 PM.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    This seems to be the biggest problem to me.
    1) There are those who "try" to be law abiding but run afoul of the system.
    2) There are those that "are" law abiding and a foul-system runs them over.
    3) Then there are simple criminals.

    I would think that the first two would deserve consideration and even the ones that break "bad" laws to try to change the law.

    Being in Southern VA how would a NoVA office and staff handle the entire state? Hopefully case-load would be low but it seems like there are waves of incidents where 2-3 are running at the same time in different geographies.
    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    Good analysis. I don't see this helping people who are actually guilty of crimes (category three), regardless of the rectitude of the law under which their offense may be defined - that's a legislative function. Not interested in funding plea bargains. Category one is sort of suspect, as well; it really doesn't matter whether one is trying to be a good person (or a bad person, for that matter): for most criminal offenses, it's the intentional commission of some act that makes the person guilty, not the intent to commit a crime. There's a difference between the intention to do X and the intention to violate the statute that makes doing X a crime. This doesn't apply to all criminal laws; there are some for which "specific intent" rather than "general intent" is required - those statutes say "willfully", "knowingly", or even "recklessly" or "intentionally". But most crimes just say things like the definition of assault: "acting in a manner that creates in the mind an ordinary person of reasonable sensibilities the apprehension of an immediate battery, without cause, justification, or excuse." You don't have to "intend" to assault someone. You have to intend to move your hand in such a way that the person reasonably thinks you mean to hit them.

    I like category two, and I think there's so much of that (sit around in your local general district court for a few days and watch the criminal trials), that any resources we can scrape up will run out before we can deal with even a small part of it. The system depends on the great disparity of power between the state and "the criminally indigent". This is not good for the United States to be operating a system like that; it makes us weaker and will have disastrous consequences in the end. (Read the OT book of Amos and see what happened to Israel, for example.)

    As to the last point: Well, first, I don't see this as a problem limited to Virginia. Secondly, I've got cases right now in Surry Co. and Alleghany Co., and while I'd prefer not to have to go to Dickenson or Wise Counties or the City of Danville, I'd do it if the case called for it. Plus, we've got these new-fangled telephone things that make it a lot easier to do stuff far away.
    I fully understand that people in category #2 deserve full support. For category #1 and the bad law example sometimes legislative options are the BEST longterm path for changing the system but that doesn't help the poor sap that fell into the trap before the trap was defanged! One example would be the Federal Gun Free School Zones. I don't know of anyone that has been charged with it but using it as an example a good 2A lawyer could push for jury nullification or dismissal if the judge was agreeable. For bad law I think jury nullification needs to be broadcast as a valid will of the people tool!!! So yes I agree the legislative process needs attention, but the judicial process has a more pointed specific role to assist the individuals until that legilative process plays out.

    Based on the funding and availability of human resources there will always be a limited number of cases accepted but I think there will be meaningful exceptions to any hard fast rule.
    Last edited by 45acpForMe; 07-29-2011 at 01:56 PM.

  24. #24
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    I'm glad you brought up the issue of the Federal GFSZA as that had me wondering how this fund would address such an issue. The stance on supporting someone found in violation of this statute with no further criminal action would be a game changer with regard to my interest in such a fund.

  25. #25
    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    I fully understand that people in category #2 deserve full support. For category #1 and the bad law example sometimes legislative options are the BEST longterm path for changing the system but that doesn't help the poor sap that fell into the trap before the trap was defanged! One example would be the Federal Gun Free School Zones. I don't know of anyone that has been charged with it but using it as an example a good 2A lawyer could push for jury nullification or dismissal if the judge was agreeable. For bad law I think jury nullification needs to be broadcast as a valid will of the people tool!!! So yes I agree the legislative process needs attention, but the judicial process has a more pointed specific role to assist the individuals until that legilative process plays out.

    Based on the funding and availability of human resources there will always be a limited number of cases accepted but I think there will be meaningful exceptions to any hard fast rule.
    I have no cites, but I have read in various places that judges hate the idea of jury nullification. So much that you would almost certainly be thrown off the jury if you even mention it during the selection process, and maybe even worse than that. I suspect a defense attorney might very well be brought up on some sort of charges or sanctions if they openly asked a jury to do that. User would have to chime in on any real-world situations he may have seen or heard about.

    Those who have the power are not at all happy about letting anyone else share. They want to insist that you play their game by their rules only.

    If you get called and you think you might be in a position to use it, your best bet is to keep your mouth shut until after those doors are locked and you are in deliberation... and even then, you probably shouldn't talk about it openly, but more in terms of "I can't in good conscience convict a person of breaking this law, how can you?" etc.

    IANAL, just my thoughts.

    TFred

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