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No, It Was Not “Improper” for #Ferguson Grand Jury to Consider Self-Defense

No, It Was Not “Improper” for #Ferguson Grand Jury to Consider Self-Defense

ThinkProgress misquotes Supreme Court to argue it was improper for Ferguson Grand Jury to hear evidence that the shooting of Michael Brown was self-defense.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scaliaisreal.jpg

One of the most recent of the seemingly never-ending succession of Progressive complaints about the Ferguson Grand Jury is that the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict is inherently flawed because they were permitted to consider self-defense.

Those professing this argument rely for support on one of their favorite variations of the classic “straw man argument”:  they quote an authoritative Conservative figure in purported support of their position.

In this case, they are calling upon none other than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, as in the Think Progress post: Justice Scalia Explains What Was Wrong With The Ferguson Grand Jury.

In particular, the Think Progress post states the following:

Justice Antonin Scalia, in the 1992 Supreme Court case of United States v. Williams, explained what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years.

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

This passage was first highlighted by attorney Ian Samuel, a former clerk to Justice Scalia.

What Does Williams Actually Say?

But is it true that Williams holds it is inappropriate for the prosecution to share evidence of self-defense with a Grand Jury, as was done in Ferguson? Let’s have a look.

Williams involved a case in which the defendant (Williams, naturally) had his indictment dismissed by a Federal District Court because the prosecution failed to present “substantial exculpatory evidence” favorable to the defense.  The District Court cited a local rule which mandated that the prosecution do so.  The Appellate Court affirmed this dismissal of the indictment, and the matter ended up before the Supreme Court.

Drawing here from the Court’s syllabus of Williams, for purposes of conciseness, the decision holds in in relevant part:

[R]equiring the prosecutor to present exculpatory as well as inculpatory evidence would alter the grand jury’s historical role, transforming it from an accusatory body that sits to assess whether there is adequate basis for bringing a criminal charge into an adjudicatory body that sits to determine guilt or innocence. Because it has always been thought sufficient for the grand jury to hear only the prosecutor’s side, and, consequently that the suspect has no right to present, and the grand jury no obligation to consider, exculpatory evidence, it would be incompatible with the traditional system to impose upon the prosecutor a legal obligation to present such evidence.

(emphasis added)

Williams Says Prosecution May Not Be Required To Present Exculpatory Evidence To Grand Jury

It requires no more than modest intelligence to note the particular contextual language used by Scalia in Williams.

Requiring the prosecutor to present exculpatory as well as inculpatory evidence . . . “

“[S]uspect has no right to present, and the grand jury no obligation to consider, exculpatory evidence . . . “

“[I]t would be incompatible with the traditional system to impose upon the prosecutor a legal obligation to present [exculpatory] evidence . . . “

Clearly there is nothingnot one single word–of Williams that so much as suggests that the prosecutor may not or should not upon its own discretion and initiative present whatever exculpatory evidence it feels might advance the purposes of justice, nor is there a word of prohibition on the matter of presenting exculpatory evidence.

Williams merely says that the prosecution can not be required or obligated to present exculpatory evidence, nor have the legal obligation to present exculpatory evidence imposed upon them.

So It’s Good That No One Did Require Prosecution to Present Exculpatory Evidence to Grand Jury in Ferguson

No one, not even Think Progress, is suggesting that any authority over the prosecution required or obligated the prosecution to present exculpatory evidence, nor that they had legal obligation to present exculpatory evidence imposed upon them with respect to the Ferguson Grand Jury.

Thus, Williams is irrelevant to the Ferguson Grand Jury proceedings as a simple matter of law.

Was Presenting Evidence of Self-Defense to Grand Jury Inappropriate Even Absent Williams?

Now that we’ve discarded Williams as relevant to the Ferguson Grand Jury, it behooves us to consider the broader issue of whether there is something aberrant or contrary to justice in presenting evidence of self-defense to a Grand Jury.  After all, it is correctly noted that Grand Juries are rarely presented with a defendant’s legal defense of, say, alibi or misidentification.

Surely then, the prosecution must have have been acting aberrantly when they presented the Ferguson Grand Jury with evidence of Wilson’s having acted in self-defense?

The answer is, simply put, is no.

Self-Defense: Not Your Usual Legal Defense

Why?  Because self-defense is a fundamentally different defense than alibi or misidentification or any other non-justification defense.

When a defendant argues an alibi defense, he is not contesting that a crime has been committed.  Indeed, whether a crime has been committed or not is irrelevant to his defense, because his defense is that regardless of whether the underlying crime occurred, he was not there.  Whoever committed the claimed criminal acts, they were committed by someone else.

But a crime was committed.  Indeed, if the prosecution cannot establish that fact, for example if they cannot present probable cause on any element of the criminal charge, the Grand Jury is required to not indict.

Similarly with a misidentification defense.  Again, the defendant is not contesting that a crime has been committed, but rather is arguing that whoever committed the crime, it was some person similar in appearance to him, but not him.

But again a crime was committed.  Indeed, if the prosecution cannot establish that fact, for example if they cannot present probable cause on any element of the criminal charge, the Grand Jury is required to not indict.

A justification defense such as self-defense is a different animal of legal defense entirely.

Self-defense does not contest that the defendant committed the underlying acts.  It does not claim that he was somewhere else, as in an alibi defense, or that some similar appearing person other than him committed the acts, as in a misidentification defense.

Self-defense effectively requires the defendant to concede to having committed the charged acts.  One cannot simultaneously refuse to have committed the charged acts and simultaneously claim self-defense–to do so is an outright logical inconsistency.

Self-defense is an inherently deliberate act–you perceived a threat, and acted against it.

More importantly, an act of self-defense eliminates completely any criminality associated with the underlying actions that would otherwise be criminal.

Self-Defense Eliminates the Criminality of What Would Otherwise be a Criminal Act

In other words, self-defense acts to eliminate the criminality of the underlying acts, and thus effectively becomes a negative element of the criminal charge.  It is for this reason that 49 of 50 states require that at trial it is the burden of the prosecution to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt–just as the prosecution must prove each and every element of the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

More simply, if an otherwise criminal act was committed in self-defense, no crime has been committed at all.

It is the duty of the Grand Jury to determine whether there exists probable cause that a crime has been committed, and that the defendant is the person who committed the underlying acts.

In a self-defense case, of course, the second question is not contested–the defendant concedes up front that he committed the underlying acts, else he would not be entitled to claim self-defense at all.

The first question, however–there’s the rub.

In order for the Grand Jury to determine whether there exists probable cause that has been committed in a self-defense case, they must do more than merely determine whether there exists probable cause as to each and every element of the criminal charge.  This they must do, surely, because if they do not the Grand Jury will be instructed to not indict.

But in a case involving self-defense, probable cause on each and every element of the criminal charge is necessary but not sufficient for an indictment.

Why? Because probable cause could exist on each and every element of the criminal charge and yet probable cause of a crime necessary to support an indictment still be lacking.

Why? Because self-defense eliminates the criminality of the otherwise criminal underlying acts.

If Evidence of Self-Defense Is Adequate To Eliminate Probable Cause of a Crime, There Can Be No Indictment

A shooting done in self-defense, then, is simply not a crime at all, and if there is no crime there can be no indictment.

If either the evidence on the elements of the criminal charge is inadequate to support probable cause that a crime has occurred, or the evidence on self-defense is sufficient to eliminate probable case that a crime has occurred, the outcome from the Grand Jury’s perspective must necessarily be the same:  no-true-bill.

Thus, just as it is perfectly appropriate for the Grand Jury to consider all relevant evidence on each and every element of the criminal charge, it is equally appropriate for the Grand Jury to consider all relevant evidence on the matter of self-defense.

To Deny That the Grand Jury Should Consider Self-Defense is to Embrace an Absurdity

Indeed, to deny that the Grand Jury should consider self-defense is to embrace a legal and logical absurdity.

As noted, in cases of self-defense,the defendant necessarily concedes the underlying criminal acts, but defends them on the grounds that he was legally justified to commit the acts as a matter of lawful self-defense.

Were the Grand Jury be permitted to consider only the concession of the use of force, but not the claimed justification, then each and every act of self-defense would necessarily result in an indictment and be brought to trial, no matter how strongly the evidence in its totality supported the justification of that use of force.

A Secret Service Agent cuts down an assassin moments before the killer can take the President’s life, all caught on cameras by news agencies worldwide as the President delivers a major policy speech? Sorry, Agent, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at the trial.  After all, he concedes he committed the killing, and merely claims legal justification for doing so–but the Grand Jury is not permitted to hear the justifcation.

A maniac gunning down children in a school is shot and killed by the school resource officer assigned to that duty, all events testified to by scores of surviving teachers and students? Sorry, officer, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at trial.  Again, the Grand Jury is permitted to hear the concession of the use of force, but not the justification.

A murderously abusive husband invades his wife’s place of work, killing her colleagues with shotgun blasts as he seeks her out, until a security officer takes him out with a well-placed gun shot to the head, all events caught on the company’s CCTV system? Sorry, sir, here’s your indictment, we’ll see you at trial.  You get the idea.

I suggest that no reasonable or moral person could possibly argue for such legal outcomes.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


NEW! The Law of Self Defense proudly announces the launch of it’s online state-specific Law of Self Defense Webinars.  These are interactive, online versions of the authoritative 5-hour-long state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars that we give all over the country, but from the convenience of your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and on your own schedule.  Click over for more information on our state-specific Law of Self Defense Webinars, and get access to the ~20 minute Section 1. Introduction for free.

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.

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Comments

You state:
“It is for this reason that 49 of 50 states require that at trial it is the burden of the prosecution to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt–just as the prosecution must prove each and every element of the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Can you name the only state that does not do this, and explain the differences? My curiosity is piqued and I’d like to know if my guess of which state that’s different is correct.

    That state is Ohio, in which the defendant retains the burden of persuasion to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

    The post has been updated on several points, including that one. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Not sure about only one state. I personally know one person here in WA state who went to trial to prove his self-defense claim (the shot person did not die and he walked on a jury verdict). Another person I know had to prove an affirmative defense to custodial interference (unauthorized parental kidnapping) to a preponderance of the evidence to a jury (the jury verdict was not guilty).

      I say successfully proving an affirmative defense (that is spelled out in statute) to a jury is the functional equivalent of a verdict of innocent (for the same reasons cited in your seminar), and that there was obviously no crime in the first place.

      But we don’t use grand juries here in WA state, because our prosecutors think they’re imperial warlords and careers need conviction records donchaknow. Sorry, my soapbox just slides under my feet sometimes.

Andrew: Thank you for another wonderful and educational post – that unfortunately will not be read by those who need understanding most. With ThinkProgress you have to read between the lyin’s. Thanks for doing that for us.

Progressive hacks and their modus operandi; their dishonesty never ceases to amaze me.

I do not advocate for imposing restrictions on free expression, but what’s going on today goes beyond that.

We are not talking about American citizens using their God-given rights. We are talking about multi-million funded organizations with the power to influence policy and law making for ulterior purposes.
We are talking about deliberate manipulation and downright lying in order to justify/promote civil unrest and street violence.
We are talking about the undermining of our system of government for the benefit of an elite; an elite that thinks they have the right to make decisions for us. That’s called tyranny.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/393642/progressive-mythography-andrew-c-mccarthy/page/0/1

Andy McCarthy, a seasoned Federal prosecutor, provides additional insight into the Wilson grand jury question.

I’ll just add a thought or two…

1. Thunk Progressives lies by implication with their citation to Scalia, and they know it. Scalia was addressing the very narrow world of FEDERAL grand jury procedure, which is determined by Congress and the Supremes, not by Federal District courts. What the Supremes said, as written by Scalia, has no bearing on a Missouri grand jury.

2. Very often, laws are expressly written to provide a “decision tree” that includes “branches” to other statutes. No Missouri grand jury could be asked to determine if the crime of murder had been committed under their statute WITHOUT branching off into the “exculpatory branches” named in the murder statute itself. As Branca says, you can’t even find that a crime was committed without fully exploring the “decision tree” mapped out in the statute, including its branches to other statutes.

    Federal scope of Williams noted in update, thanks.

    The MO 2nd degree murder statute does not explicitly include the kind of decision-tree you describe (although many statute murder statutes due, usually by including the word “unlawfully” somewhere).

    The relevant jury instructions certainly WOULD include self-defense as a consideration, but I’m afraid I don’t have them immediately at hand. Fodder for a future post. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

You’re correct Mr. Branco, this doctrine holds that any act of self-defense brought to a grand jury should result in an indictment and going to trial 100% of the time, regardless of the circumstances of the case, where, to quote one troll from last night, “the story can be properly cross-examined in a court of law”. This is held to be particularly true when a gun is involved, and when the death of a minority is involved; only a body assessing innocence can question the charge, so a grand jury must indict each and every time, or it has “failed” in its role.

That is quite seriously what these people believe from what I can see.

    And in the middle of my screed I typo’d the name! Apologies Mr. Branca. Battling illness, not 100%.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to JBourque. | November 30, 2014 at 11:34 am

    They don’t want “each and every time”, but only as punishment for certain people (as you noted), which is more heinous. When there are certain political needs, we get selective “enforcement” of non-crimes, such as the IRS does to conservatives, or Holder’s Justice did to Boeing for building in a right to work state, or Gibson Guitar’s case. I think the mob calls it “leaning on” … Making life “difficult” for those that oppose the leftist/union mob.

    There was a shooting by a cop of a crazed black guy with a knife not long after the Ferguson case, but it was all on video. The guy advanced on the cop and was shot.

    According to drunk progress, that officer should have been forced through a trial by jury, and a grand jury should not have been allowed to see exculpatory evidence. (or the other examples Mr. Branca gave). The physical evidence in Wilson’s case is exculpatory as that video, but it was released much later and requires reading.

    Milhouse in reply to JBourque. | November 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I know at least one prosecutor who would probably agree with that, for every charge. He seems to think it’s a grand jury’s job to indict whomever he brings before it, and that every no-bill is an instance of a stupid grand jury exceeding its authority. He was visibly astonished when I told him in one case that the charge he had sought was absurd, and that if I were on the grand jury I would have rejected it too.

Organizations like the Center For American Progress and others like it, I don’t care which side they lean, should be held accountable for their dealings.
After all, they are professional organizations with a lot of power in their hands.
Lawyers, financial advisers, doctors, nurses, realtors, insurers, teachers, electricians, plumbers, you name it; they all need to be licensed. They need to prove competence in order to operate. They are all held to very high ethical standards enforced by the government.
If they mess up; if they violate those strict ethical standards, their licenses are revoked. They can be taken to court and made liable for their shady dealings. All of course, in the name of protecting us.

But none of the above mentioned professionals have the power to influence our daily lives in the way professional think tanks do.

– A corrupt realtor may scam a few naive individuals. A corrupt think tank gets lawmakers to impose unjust legislation on ALL of us.

– An incompetent lawyer may cause one or two individuals to lose their legal cases. False statements about self defense published in national media can cause people to shoot one another anywhere in the nation.

– An unlicensed plumber can ruin your carpet. A lying POS pseudo-journolist can encourage vandalism, looting, arson and street violence.


When are they going to be made liable?

    platypus in reply to Exiliado. | November 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    When? Why, when someone sues them under a legal theory that establishes duty and proves a nexus. Most of the time, that is an impossible goal because it is not against the law for a legislature to enact stupid laws. Or to obtain advice & counsel from stupid people.

      Exiliado in reply to platypus. | November 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you.

      Exactly my point.

      These so called think tanks openly lie and manipulate.
      We get the results without having a chance to fight back or protect ourselves.

Thanks. This is one of those issues that has been lurking around in the background. Now we have a good response to it.

“and simultaneously claim self-defense–to do so is an outright logical consistency.”

“inconsistency”, right?

funny how so many on the left also forget that by agreeing to appear wilson put himself into a lot of legal danger. from what I have read of his testimony they did not give him any free passes.
IMO he would have done that only if he knew he followed the law.
they only touch upon this due to it being unusual, they never mention its unusual due to the person losing ALL legal protections.

Well argued, Andrew.

You should be like a lawyer or something.

JackRussellTerrierist | November 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

“Williams merely says that the prosecution can not be required or obligated to present exculpatory evidence, nor have the legal obligation to present exculpatory evidence imposed upon them.”

The fact that McCulloch did present such evidence, for the reasons you cited which are unknown or overlooked by the left, is the hat they’re hanging their tantrum on. It’s the latest “wrong” against them to seize upon.

Thanks for the ammo. 🙂

The progressive elite is watching these Travon/Brown events and taking notes on the manipulation of public opinion, distortion of facts and how control can evolve and be used as tools.

We are probably not there yet in 2016 but we are not far from seeing an election narrative that would be used to void an election and “force” the current President to remain in power until a “fair” election can be held (in about 20 years).

I laughed out loud when I read the headline, and then I saw the length of the article. It reminded me of how much work it takes to refute a frivolous argument.

When I was a new attorney, I was was on a case where the other side had made a frivolous argument in a motion. I immediately recognized it as such, and then I started to write it, and found topic after topic I needed to address, to forestall further foolishness. My brief turned into one of those onerous and ugly pieces of writing that the judges who trained me would have hated.

The hearing was short, and the judge bounced opposing counsel’s argument with a crisp remark. Later the guy allowed that he was having a bad day because he knew he was going to get hammered.

So now, I will go back and read the tour de force.

    Valerie in reply to Valerie. | November 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Well done.

    The language of the Williams case is plainly limited to allow a prosecutor discretion to present exculpatory evidence. Where, as here, there has already been a “trial by fury” based on demonstrably false statements by an accomplice, that discretion is properly applied.

    Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | November 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve found you are lucky if a trial judge even bothers to read what you write at all.

    So now, I generally try to limit my pleadings to five pages. But you have to preserve stuff on the record, so I add an addenda.

    Then, if there’s a hearing, I go in with an argument that is just a recitation of my pleadings…which is novel to the judge. “Never heard that before…”, though it’s sitting right in front of them.

    (sigh)

“I suggest that no reasonable or moral person could possibly argue for such legal outcomes” — that of course, is the problem; unreasonable/immoral people

My head hurts! It will probably take me four or five readings to understand but thank you for explaining all that. It’s hard being conservative – no bumper sticker thinking allowed!

One cannot simultaneously refuse to have committed the charged acts and simultaneously claim self-defense–to do so is an outright logical inconsistency.

Not necessarily. One can logically argue that 1) the defendant wasn’t even there, and that 2) although the defendant has no first-hand knowledge of what happened, the evidence indicates that whoever did commit the underlying acts acted in self-defense, or at least that the prosecution hasn’t proved that person (whoever it was) didn’t act in self-defense.

Even stronger, the defendant may very easily claim both not to have committed the alleged act and to have witnessed someone else doing it in self-defense.

    SRaher in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    So you’re saying that a defendant could plead, “I didn’t do it, but the person who did do it acted in self defense.” I think the smarter course of action is to shut up after the first four words, and let the other guy’s lawyer plead his case.

    Also, Andrew said “One cannot simultaneously refuse to have committed the charged acts and simultaneously claim self-defense–to do so is an outright logical inconsistency.” You counter this with, “Ah, but I could claim I didn’t commit the charged act, and SOMEBODY ELSE could claim self-defense!” No s**t.

Mr Branca, you are misrepresenting what ThinkProgress was trying to communicate. In their post they used bold face font for the last sentence.

“As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.”

So Wilson had no right to meet with the grand jury and give his side. He met with them for over four hours. He had no right to be in that room.

If you claim that Wilson appeared by special request from the Prosecutor then it’s you who is dealing in the absurd and the fix was in.

    JPL17 in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Mr. Branca quoted the exact sentence that you claim he ignored.

    It is you who is dissembling.

    Char Char Binks in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Wilson had no right to testify, meaning he had no legal basis to demand that he be allowed to testify, but that doesn’t mean that the prosecution can’t LET him testify, whether they call him to or not. A person off the street has no legal right to enter my home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t invite him in, or that he can’t enter if I let him.

    Milhouse in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Everybody who testified did so “by special request from the Prosecutor”. It’s a very special request called a subpoena.

    Ragspierre in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    It’s actually pretty common for the “target” of a grand jury to be called to testify.

    Usually, they don’t even know they’ve been targeted, and they aren’t told necessarily. The prosecutor or the jurors can call a witness.

    And the “target” of the inquiry is nakked as a jay-bird, legally, when they appear. There is only one protection, if you have the snap, and that’s the 5th. Otherwise, there are few things the jury can’t explore, and you have NO counsel.

    So Wilson answered questions from three (I think) professional prosecutors and every juror there who wanted to ask any question they though relevant to the case…for four hours. Without counsel, without any rehabilitating questions (it’s ALLLLLL “cross”), and without any objections.

    Some “fix”…

      platypus in reply to Ragspierre. | November 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      If you stop and think about it, guys in the military get silver stars and similar medals for having that level of “guts.” Poor officer Wilson gets slandered and threatened for the guts it took to get out of that vehicle and face “Hulk Hogan” again.

      (I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand. Especially stupid people.)

      Midwest Rhino in reply to Ragspierre. | November 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      The lawyers I heard talk about this, like FOXy Kimberly G, said they would probably/generally advise their client not to testify to the grand jury. Anything they say can be used in a trial, and they are without representation. My impression was they could not be compelled to (for that reason?), even without pleading the fifth.

      But my whole basis is just those faint recollections of TV talk. Can they then “undo” the fifth for the trial, if there were one, so they could take the stand, but not without representation?

        Ragspierre in reply to Midwest Rhino. | November 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

        Much better questions for Andrew or Persecutor, since I am a civil guy.

        But my understanding is that you can always waive the 5th, even after invoking it, so long as its a clear and unequivocal waiver. And a judge will spend all the time he/she needs to get your waiver on the record for appeal.

        KImberly is correct, with respect to the 99.99% of defendants who are guilty (whether proven yet or not). Almost all defendants are guilty, and have extensive records of being guilty, so you don’t want to put them in front of a Grand Jury or later in front of a trial jury.

        Where the defendant is genuinely innocent, however, the dynamics are much, much different.

        And this is often the cases in true incidents of self-defense.

        It is a FAR different matter to be a criminal defense attorney doing the routine work of ensuring their guilty clients receive due process and being a criminal defense attorney defending an actually innocent client.

        Ask ANY criminal defense attorney which of those two scenarios is the one that keeps them awake at night.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Exiliado in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    You have serious issues with your comprehension.
    It is almost like you did NOT read Mr. Branca’s article.
    Oh wait!!
    You didn’t !!
    You rascal !!

    Let me, this time only, put in in simple terms. Terms that you can understand:


    You have no right to eat candy. Ok, honey boo boo?
    That does not mean that you will not get candy. OK?
    You will get it. OK?
    Just don’t go around thinking you have the RIGHT to get it.

    Barry in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I’m always amazed at just how many dumbasses show up, open their mouth (or keyboard), and prove it. What is wrong with you?

      Ragspierre in reply to Barry. | November 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      To me, they’re a never-ending source of amusement.

      They get all pumped full of jumpy-juice and have their hair set alight by the moonbattery (who are instant experts in alllllll things), and they come “trailing clouds of glory” to a site like this, lobbing accusatory BS at people.

      AND they provide their own illumination as they go down in own flames…!!!

      How can you beat that for entertainment value…!?!?!

        “How can you beat that for entertainment value…!?!?!”

        Probably unbeatable. One just has to wonder how anyone can be so stupid to put in print what they clearly know nothing about.

    Ragspierre in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    “He met with them for over four hours. He had no right to be in that room.”

    Just one more little quick punking, Saloon, and then I’ll leave you alone with your Prep-H…

    In reality, and legally, Wilson had no right to be anywhere ELSE BUT THAT ROOM. The law demanded his attendance, and he would have been arrested if he was NOT there.

    Look up “capius”, ya moron.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Solon. | November 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    I accidentally up voted your post, please put that green in the red column.

    Now to your argument. You are saying that since he had no “right” to be in front of the grand jury then he should never have been allowed to testify, correct? So you must take “rights” literally?

    Cool then, so if that is your position then since we have the “right” to bear arms that really means that everyone should be required to own and maintain a firearm?

    Your argument is just silly. Just because we have a right does not mean we should be forced to use that right and on the inverse just because we don’t have the “right” to do something doesn’t mean that we can’t do it, it just means that you can’t demand to do it.

Another informative and entertaining post, Andrew. Thank you.

Andrew, I’m curious — what is the sole state in the Union that doesn’t require the prosecution to disprove the defendant’s assertion of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt? I’m a non-practicing attorney and I never knew that one state doesn’t follow the other 49 in this regard.

Oh, I see your answer to the same question in the discussion chain, above. Thanks!

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