Posts tagged as:

self-defense

Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on April 12, 2014

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In my new CNN.com piece I argue that we shouldn’t let anger over the Zimmerman acquittal shred the rights of criminal defendants: “awarding new powers to prosecutors will likely mean that more black people will end up behind bars.” [CNN](& Steele; thanks for Instalanche to Glenn Reynolds)

P.S. Some may wonder whether a toughening of hate crime laws might be an exception to the general rule that minorities have much to fear from a broadening of grounds for prosecution. Leaving aside whether the hate crime issue has any relation to the Martin/Zimmerman case (few lawyers believe Zimmerman could be found guilty of a hate crime, and when the FBI investigated him last summer it found no evidence of racial motivation; more on this from Michelle Meyer), per FBI statistics for 2011, blacks are actually overrepresented among persons charged with hate crimes, at 21 percent compared with 14 percent of general U.S. population.

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Albuquerque: “The wife of an armed robbery suspect shot dead by a shop clerk said the clerk was wrong, and now she has filed a civil lawsuit claiming wrongful death….’He [deceased robber Ramon Sedillo] does bear some fault, but it’s like a pie. You divide out the fault accordingly, and [store clerk Matthew] Beasley could have done something different,’ [Sedillo family lawyer Amavalise] Jaramillo said.” [KRQE]

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April 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 30, 2012

  • Because Washington knows best: “U.S. ban sought on cell phone use while driving” [Reuters, earlier here, here, here, etc.] More here; and LaHood spokesman says Reuters overstated his boss’s position.
  • Janice Brown’s Hettinga opinion: Lithwick can’t abide “starkly ideological” judging of this sort, except of course when she favors it [Root, earlier] At Yale law conclave, legal establishment works itself into hysterical froth over individual mandate case [Michael Greve] And David Bernstein again corrects some Left commentators regarding the standing of child labor under the pre-New Deal Constitution;
  • Latest antiquities battle: Feds, Sotheby’s fight over 1,000-year-old Khmer statue probably removed from Cambodia circa 1960s [VOA, Kent Davis]
  • Sebelius surprised by firestorm over religious (non-) exemption, hadn’t sought written opinions as to whether it was constitutional [Becket, Maguire] Obamanauts misread the views of many Catholics on health care mandate [Potemra, NRO]
  • “20 Years for Standing Her Ground Against a Violent Husband” [Jacob Sullum] How Trayvon Martin story moved through the press [Poynter] And Reuters’ profile of George Zimmerman is full of details one wishes reporters had brought out weeks ago;
  • Coaching accident fraud is bad enough, making off with client funds lends that extra squalid touch [NYLJ]
  • Kip Viscusi, “Does Product Liability Make Us Safer?” [Cato's Regulation magazine, PDF]

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Radley Balko on the John McNeil case from Georgia. By reversing some of the assumed racial valences, will it give partisans on both sides reason to think harder about both the value of self-defense rights and the importance of a neutral rule of law? Well, one can hope.

I observed yesterday that the numbers on rising “justifiable homicide” rates

represent not a rise in the rate at which some group is getting killed — as mentioned, homicide rates per capita in Florida are down from 2005, not up, and violent crime rates in the state are sharply down — but rather successful assertions of self-defense, in other words, a shift from one category of homicide to another.

From Clayton Cramer’s Blog, this clarification of the point:

As I pointed out in my book Firing Back, the UCR justifiable homicide numbers are based on initial police reports, and are not corrected as subsequent police investigation, district attorney investigation, grand jury deliberations, or trial cause revision of criminal charges to justifiable or excusable homicide.

If so, then both the “before” and the “after” numbers may be capturing only cases of justification successfully asserted at the initial police stage, and missing some cases in which defendants have successfully asserted justifiability at a later stage. Cramer also speculates further:

What we may be seeing here is not that justifiable homicides are actually increasing (although they may be), but that many killings that were initially considered crimes, but were later corrected to justifiable or excusable homicide, are now being declared justifiable much earlier in the process.

More at Shall Not Be Questioned, which takes the view that “CD [Castle Doctrine] and SYG don’t honestly change much, and in most states, is just adjusting the statutes to match what juries will routinely decide in most of these cases.”

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