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When trial courts go stupid on self defense law (aka, know the law)
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I recently came across a 2011 self defense case in which the prosecution, the defense, and the judge all got the law completely backwards on the reading of a brief and rather straightforward self defense statute.

The result was that the defendant, who might well have been acquitted on the basis of self defense without this error, was instead convicted of second degree manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Somehow, every expertly trained legal professional in the court room managed to make a mistake I wouldn’t have expected from a first year law student. And, of course, it was the defendant who paid the price.

Although this particular case is out of Kentucky, trust me, mistakes like this happen in every state, and far too often. All the more reason why it is essential that all armed citizens have at least a basic working competence in the self defense laws of their jurisdiction (or anywhere they might go). Just because you're paying your defense lawyer a lot of money doesn't mean he's not going to make a stupid mistake--and if he does, it's you who pays the price. Know the law.

If you're interested in more details on how something like this occurs, the case citation is Barker v. Commonwealth, 341 S.W.3d 112 (KY Supreme Court 2011). Alternatively, you can read my analysis/narrative about the case on my blog page at: http://bit.ly/WIjqLk .

Andrew
Andrew F. Branca, Attorney at Law (MA)
This message does NOT constitute legal advice, and does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship/confidentiality.
If you have an immediate need for legal advice, consult a competent attorney in your jurisdiction.
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