Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Three Tests of Self-Defense Everyone Should Understand

This topic comes up a lot when I teach. These questions:

"What action can I take"?

"Can I kill the guy"? 

"Can I tear his eyeballs out"? 

... and as they said in the Sopranos - "yadda-yadda-yadda."

Questions around about like these:

By now, we all know the legal mainstays of deadly force for citizens and police, the whole, "in fear of life thing"; and for the sake of brevity, I'll skip them here and go with a very realistic addendum to the subject I use to explain the ugliness to people. This three-filter observation fits well in the American system and abstractly in the legal systems of other countries.

Filter One: A Reasonable Person 
Your actions will be viewed by a reasonable and prudent person. What would they think? Will it be agreeable to the classic, theoretic, "reasonable and prudent person?" We at least know who this guy is, in that we can imagine him. And, this person actually represents the in-the-trenches, the ground-level judge who signs your arrest warrant, or your search warrant. Will he or she find your violent actions reasonable? Prudent? But we realize (and hope!) that numerous reasonable and prudent people are handling your investigation of your violent actions well before the judge sees and signs - or refuses to sign - any paperwork they are given.

Filter Two: The Totality of Circumstances
The next level all reasonable and prudent people must consider is the totality of circumstances of your violent action. For one example, did you "shoot-the-first-unarmed-man-because-there-were-eleven-more-attacking-you," kind of situation. The totality of circumstances is often lingo you hear from appellate courts, even the Supreme Court of the US of A.

Filter Three: The Dumbest Juror
This is bad news. Many people are just plain dense, dumb, and flat-out stupid. These people end up on your jury. I hope by now you have read the dozens of studies "out there" on how forgetful, easily swayed, and weirdly prejudiced people are.

What about attention spans these days? These jurors often fall asleep during your trial, or at least daydream, sometimes feverishly.









I have testified numerous times before juries when members have nodded off. The judges (often in their own private "funks" high above on the bench), for some inexplicable reason, do not chastise the sleepers? Federal judges, full of extra and frightening powers, usually do not stand for this and will take some kind of action, but lesser judges? Why not? I have never seen or heard of it happening. I am sure it must somewhere?

At these times when I was on the stand testifying before the somnambulist,  I would cough or fake a LOUD sneeze into the microphone (many times there are no mikes, though) in an effort to shock the snoozer into waking up and hear the important parts. Everyone significant in the court is hip to my trick, and it is indeed a slight to the judge, but hellfire, I have felons to convict. Their dropped heads would snap up, and I would finish the speech.













These filters (one, two, or all three) are what you will face.  Good luck with all that.


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