“The very idea that the State is seeking to establish–that self-defense is conditional upon actually suffering serious injury–is, of course, ridiculous on its face. The purpose of the law of self-defense, particularly in the context of the use deadly defensive force, is to be able to protect yourself from an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm before that harm occurs, not to require that you actually experience death or grave bodily harm before you may act to protect yourself.” – Andrew Branca in How Much Injury is Required Before Self-Defense is Justified? [at legalinsurrection.com]     (h/t althouse.com)

Recommended For You

57 Responses to Quote of the Day: Reasonable Fear Edition

  1. I have to wonder if the prosecutors are TRYING to lose this so they can satisfy the blood lust of the family and see that GZ serves no time for a good shooting. Granted, I am no a criminal defense attorney (although my mother and other family members are), but it is clear the prosecutors know they over-charged so their trial tactics make no sense. Unless . . . . this is just to go through the motions.

    • I _am_ an attorney, I’ve clocked some time as criminal defense counsel, and the same thought crossed my mind. It is unbelievable that this case went to trial.

        • Ah, sorry that I misread you there. That is very cool that you studied with the “Father of Miranda”!

        • Blacks across the country by the tens of thousands are tweeting that, if Zimmerman is acquitted, they are going to “loot and rob, and make white people pay” (the last part I paraphrased, but accurately). Any excuse to rob, burn and kill Whitey, it sounds like.

          Perhaps to trial is fixed so as to incite to riot, so that martial law be enacted? It’s just a thought, admittedly, but it’s not “crazy” in the general sense of the word. Most of us know that Obama would like nothing better than to be President-for-Life Obama. FEMA yesterday announced they are hiring (now I INSIST you look this one up, before going off on me – after you look it up is fine with me – that they are hiring ARMED RUSSIAN TROOPS for “security” at mass-attended events. Again, look it up first, because I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY.

          Deepest paranoid fears realized. Russian troops with machine guns. Or at least submachine guns. I just shuddered.

          For now, I’m going to leave it at that. But if the riots are as massive as I’m afraid they will be, 45 years of hard work on desegregation and improved race relations could be reversed in less than half a week.

    • It really does seem the State is not anxious to convict GZ. I suggested this a couple of days ago thinking that whether acquitted or convicted, GZ would be “in prison” for the rest of his life. Another comment from Joke & Dagger suggested that the State has no interest in paying to support GZ since his life is wrecked anyway, so an acquittal is a “win” for Florida.

      Seems a risky gambit, should evidence the Prosecution is deliberately trying to “throw” the Case surface there would be nasty reprocussions. A Fox News commentator said the State has to present the Police tapes and recorded conversations because they exist, and for them not to would be tactically inept in the Court. The upshot being they are kind of stuck with presenting this evidence, no matter how damaging to the State’s Case.

      • I know there’s recourse for a defendant if he receives inadequate representation. Is there also recourse for a victim’s family if the prosecutor basically throws the case?

        • The victim’s family is not party to this criminal case. Criminal cases are about the state punishing people, not about making victims whole.

        • Great question! Any of you Lawyers out there know what recourse the Family might have if they feel GZ was not Prosecuted adequately? Civil Suit comes to mind.

        • prosecutors have immunity generally for their actions. Family can file a grievance with the state bar, but that won’t get far unless it is absolutely clear, which it is not here (ie, is there an email saying “screw the pooch on this case?). No – this is something that gets resolved at the ballot box. and of course, it will/may dash Angela’s desires to run for governor.

        • I seem to recall that part of Fl’s stand-your-ground laws includes civil protection, if GZ is aquitted, the family might not have legal recourse.

        • The family’s recourse is the same as its always been, just like the Goldman family in the OJ case–a civil suit for damages against Zimmerman, a case that has been in the offing all along (witness that they have attorneys already who have been selectively leaking information to the press). As to a remedy against the prosecutor? As Dirk said, they are immune for their acts I prosecuting the case.

          But you know, facts is facts. And the State of Florida wins by presenting the facts, good bad or indifferent, because this case received so much national attention, and still carries the potential for violent protests. On the one blog I’ve looked at about the case, people are cherry picking the facts they want that “prove” his guilt or innocence. As a lawyer, I look at the facts and say, is there a reasonable doubt? And yeah, there is a lot of reasonable doubt. The point is the State would have looked like it was covering for “whitey” by not prosecuting, so it benefits to prosecute even if they are going to lose.

    • it’s looking like the prosecutor is going for a “we tried to convict but those 6 people let him go” approach. Like the Simi valley jury did many years ago.
      Rioting will start promptly after the verdict is read on TV.

  2. What is said in the courtroom won’t matter one bit. Anyone within 1000 miles of this case has already made their mind up. This is just a clown show, biding time, until the 6 women on the jury get to speak their already made-up minds.

  3. I saw the announcement by Fla. Attorney General that GZ was going to be charged with 2nd degree murder. Sounded downright giddy! Visions of living in the Governor’s Mansion dancing in her head. I was shocked at how obviously pleased she was. I’ve seen Lottery winners less excited.
    No assumption of innocence, which defines our justice system. It’s become guilty unless proven innocent,

    • Yes, that press conference was deeply disturbing. Whether GZ is guilty or not, Corey was unprofessional and even creepy. Then she went after Alan Dershowitz and tried to get him fired for speaking his mind. I think she has a few screws loose.

        • Mike Nifong. He was engaged in fraud and deliberate misconduct. Has Corey done the same?

        • No, but she should be reprimanded by the Bar for giggling as she announces a Murder 2 indictment. Good slogan for the next general election. Lots of name recognition. “Vote for me, the ‘Laughing AG”!.

        • One could argue that bringing Murder 2 instead of manslaughter is grounds for at least a reprimand. She had no case for Murder 2 and as far as we know never tried to use the higher charge to get a plea bargain. Remember she went to a Grand Jury for indictment and couldn’t get one. As saying goings a mediocre DA can get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich. She threw a way a reasonable chance to convict on a lesser charge and instead opted to go for a life sentence. I believe that there has been enough circumstantial evidence of witness and evidence tampering to at least bring a complaint seeking her disbarment.

  4. I have no idea how this will turn out. But then, I thought Romney had a good chance of winning.

    • Maybe you’ve been in Culpeper too long, minuteman. I grew up there, and go to visit my sister once or twice a year, but really, you are probably far from alone in thinking that rigged affair gave Romney a chance. The GOP selected him because his ideas were safe to them, even if they knew from the get-go he stood zero chance of success.

      The game is a charade, nothing more, nothing less.

  5. – Guilty until proven innocent.
    – You cannot use extreme or lethal force in your own defense until you have first experienced a near lethal attack leading to serious bodily injury.
    – Only the State’s professionals should be armed and allowed to use arms.

    There is an ancient Greek proverb (paraphrased); “those whom the Gods would destroy they first drive mad” increasing applies to American society, politics, and culture.

    If acquitted I suspect Zimmerman will move out of the USA and maybe to South America.

  6. So, then, given the number of black community leaders and as well as POTUS who made statements when this all happened, somehow they will need to keep face.

    I see riots in the future even the state is going through the motions in court, this will be taken to the streets. If for nothing else, the emotion for a gun control agenda.

  7. “… that self-defense is conditional upon actually suffering serious injury …” — Andrew Branca

    This reminds me of an important question in self-defense law. It is obvious to everyone that self-defense is justified when a stranger has a visible weapon in hand and approaches you — or even no visible weapon and rushes you. What about those situations where a stranger has no visible weapon and approaches casually?

    For example I have heard about a citizen who was walking down a street. A group of young men in the distance were on the other side of the street and walking toward the citizen. As the group of young men got closer, they crossed the street so they would be on the same side of the street as the citizen and have to walk right past/next to the citizen. An alert citizen would cross the street to avoid the group of young men. What if the group of young men then cross the street again? Those young men appear to be trying to slowly approach the citizen and yet they have no visible weapons and have not announced any intention to attack.

    Or how about a woman alone in an isolated location and a man (with no visible weapon) slowly approaches without saying anything?

    I hate to say it but it seems like you pretty much have to wait for the strangers to actually attack (or announce an attack) before you can morally (and legally) respond with force. Am I missing anything?

    • Odd situation you present, but perhaps running away (retreating) is an option? Heck, retreat may be a requirement in certain states.

      Am I missing something?
      Verbal warnings: “Get away from me! I’m calling the cops.”
      Physical warnings: Clearly drawing your weapon while distance is your friend.
      Sometimes all options have a degree of suck. Good is often at a disadvantage to evil.

      • Excellent points — especially like your statement that good is often at a disadvantage to evil.

    • You have unknowingly used the D4 paradigm to analyze self defense.
      Deny — change course
      Disrupt — retreat while you can
      Deter — draw a weapon and/or issue a warning
      Defeat — use of armed force.

      If you organize your personal defense strategy around these four steps then you have a good chance of defending yourself in the legal system. For whatever reason George Zimmerman put himself in a position where he was forced into a defeat is the only option situation.

    • ” As the group of young men got closer, they crossed the street so they would be on the same side of the street as the citizen and have to walk right past/next to the citizen. An alert citizen would cross the street to avoid the group of young men. ”

      This is pretty much a dead ringer for my mugging 28 or so years ago. I crossed twice, they closed on me.

      I had been arrested and acquitted a year or so before for carrying concealed illegally. Still, it was traumatic and expensive, and it scared me off taking a small pistol to work (I would walk the 4 blocks to work in daylight, but return at 1 a.m. or so). I should have continued to carry, and it was a bad decision. Virginia at that time had no real CC law, although OC has always been legal. Still, the newspaper where I worked had a policy against it.

      I was not seriously hurt, although my left ear is a little messed up from hitting the sidewalk on it. They took the canvas bag I was carrying my work tools in, and some papers, but nothing valuable. It has a permanent effect, however, psychologically, and it was shortly after this that my idea of a personal, handheld flamethrower occurred to me.

      Of course, if I had been armed and had to shoot one or more of them, I don’t know how it would have turned out.

  8. Gw’s Axiom: “Do No Harm / Successfully Defend”

    Admittedly devoid of factual knowledge of the circumstances and events, and begging indulgence from anyone who might know:
    Question 1. Who initiated the first actual physical contact?

    • Only Zimmerman knows that for sure.

      But at one of the preliminary hearings before the trial, the police testified under oath that they had “no evidence” Zimmerman initiated the fight.

      • I don’t know what happened, but he did take the cops on a drive-through of the spot and relate what happened. Or what he said happened. I believe at this point he had not even talked to an attorney, because he had not been charged.

        But indications are the police thought he was talking to them freely and honestly.

    • Can’t you start a fight, end up losing, getting your ass beat, and try to get away, but if the person you attacked first doesn’t let off and now you’re fearing for your life, can’t you defend yourself from your victim if you’re trying to get away but he won’t let you?

      • Thats my big thing with this trial, Church. I dont know who initiated and since Im not on the jury I dont get to decide either. That said, even IF Zimmerman initiated the evidence shows he got his @&& kicked. Maybe he diserved it, maybe not but that dosnt mean he should allow Martin to kill him (IMHO).

        • Maybe he did deserve the ass beating, but when he has a legitimate fear for his life, he has the right to defend himself whether or not he started it.

      • Church, Just to be tedious I’ll provide the statute again, about “regaining your innocence” when you try but cannot break off the fight because the other guy prevents it:
        Fla. Stats. 776.041. The provoker can only regain self-defense rights if:
        (2)(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
        (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

      • Ordinarily, there is no need for one to defend himself from his victim. Or maybe there is. 🙂

  9. This trial will cause a LOT of people to be killed or badly hurt. Why self-defense is just that , We have a right to stand your ground or be any where it is legal to be. You do not have to give a reason to take a walk or shop.. That is Liberty ,, I can see very clearly most people in America have not a CLUE what is Liberty and FREEDOM is about! Why do people want guns ? To look like the big bad guy in the movies ,,, Makes me wonder. and take note how everyone is down on GZ they have to prove he murdered Martin and so far they have no case at all. This is about making the black race getting a special interest,,, We are all equal under the law,, the Bill of Rights is a BIG list of NO to the government NO means they can not even think of doing some things , like limit free speech, or limit what guns we can have,,, And poor GZ his life has been in hell for using his rights… Like i said CRIME will get real BAD if we do not STAND UP and say hey we have Rights too…

  10. The big fly in the ointment with this whole case is that both gz and tm had a right to be on that street that night. They both had a right to stand their ground. Whether or not this should have gone to trial, it’s all down to 6 jurors deciding what was reasonable.

    • And in the end, they both had a right to self defense, but one had a better tool to defend himself with.

      • My daughter, who does want a gun for home defense, bless her, seems to think that GZ had no business taking a gun with him when he went out (I believe he went or was going to the grocery store?).

        I have tried to explain that one is even more likely to encounter trouble away from home than inside it. I think I’ve made a little progress, but we’ll see. She was under the impression Martin was “a little boy”; actually, he was 3 inches taller than Zimmerman, although GZ outweighed him by 35-40 pounds, probably. I try to explain that the media is biased, and she knows it, but sometimes they manage to sway even aware people, don’t they?

    • While it is true that both parties “had a right to be on the street that night,” GZ’s actions in following Martin do not trigger a right to defend himself with force. In other words, Martin might have been creeped out by a stranger following him, but being creeped out does not give you the right to attack the person following you. Barring very unusual circumstances, following someone is a lawful activity.

  11. The most amazing thing about this case — so far — is the about-face by a lot of media talking heads. Every time I check out Wolf Blitzer, all but one of his commentators are effusive in their praise of the defense and speak of Zimmerman’s probable innocence. The other commentator is watching a different trial than the rest of us.

    RF tells me that MSNBC, the Democrat house organ, is continuing to adhere to the racial arsonist party line, but ABC and CNN are swinging away from it.

    • Absolutely, for CNN and ABC. But Chris Hayes, MSNBC, was having something resembling a race-war council replete with numerous and egregious misstatements of law. Remarkable. What remains now, however, is for NBC to doctor a video so that it looks like Chris Hayes is saying “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” I feel sure NBC can swing both ways.

  12. The local DA didn’t press charges against GZ,the AG did,because she wants to use it for political gain.Today though the prosecution decided they didn’t like the lead detectives opinion on GZ’s initial statement and had it struck from record.So it appears that their case is not holding together too well.There also seems to be a little frustration on the prosecution’s side,as things are not going good.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  13. Bloody nose, bloody back of head, dirty wet back, eyewitnesses saying he was on the ground with the Skittle chomper on top moving his arms up and down (prosecutor thinks masterbating) doing the ground and pound.
    Game over (never should have been played).

  14. In response to William Burke, above, who claims “FEMA yesterday announced they are hiring (now I INSIST you look this one up, before going off on me – after you look it up is fine with me – that they are hiring ARMED RUSSIAN TROOPS for “security” at mass-attended events. Again, look it up first, because I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY.” I have looked it up, and as far as I can determine it is unmitigated bullshit. See:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/russiansecurity.asp

    Can anyone who is not “we never landed on the moon” loony-tunes actually believe that a federal agency would be allowed to invite armed foreign troops to have any kind of law enforcement authority over U. S. citizens? So yes, Mr. Burke, not only does it sound crazy, but it appears simply to be untrue.

    • CR, I quit looking as soon as I saw Alex Jones was involved in the news of the Russian troops on American soil. I once asked some of our conspiracy buffs for a location on one of these FEMA death camps so I could drive out and find out for myself. They had claimed knowledge of these camps and their plastic coffins. I got no responses.

      • jwm, you were way ahead of me. If I’d noticed that Alex Jones was involved in this egregious claim, I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time researching it further. The psychology of conspiratorialists is simply fascinating, but, unfortunately, seems unamenable to any kind of therapeutic intervention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *