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  #5651  
Old 07-31-2015, 11:37 AM
Steophan is online now
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
Adaher, is that you pretending to be Steophan? 'Cause that's about the dumbest statement I have come across on the SDMB in a long, long time. In your fight against ignorance, you have knocked yourself out.
Nope, it's a fact that has been cited repeatedly in this thread and others. You appear, like many people here, to be confusing what you think the law should be with what it actually is.
  #5652  
Old 07-31-2015, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by xenophon41 View Post
You seem to be confusing the 'burden of proof' carried by the state (except in Ohio) with 'presumption of innocence.' Prosecutors are not bound by any such presumption; in fact it's their job to determine if an admitted killer can be charged with a criminal violation for that act and if so, if they can then be prosecuted on that charge with a reasonable expectation of success.

So yes, the state must prove false beyond a reasonable doubt one or more of the statutory elements (which differ from state to state) necessary for a jury to determine the validity of a self-defense plea. But that plea can and should be defended in court whenever a prosecutor sees a good case for criminal liability.
The prosecutor may not require the defendant to prove themselves innocent. The burden is always, and entirely, on the prosecutor to prove guilt. And they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime, not just "one or more".

Yes, if there's strong evidence that it was not self defence they should be tried. But only in that case, and in the absence of that evidence they retain the innocence they are presumed to have.

You have, perhaps inadvertently, hit on why most people don't falsely claim self defence when they've actually committed a murder - because it requires admitting to all the other elements of murder, including killing someone.
  #5653  
Old 07-31-2015, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
The prosecutor may not require the defendant to prove themselves innocent. The burden is always, and entirely, on the prosecutor to prove guilt. And they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime, not just "one or more".

Yes, if there's strong evidence that it was not self defence they should be tried. But only in that case, and in the absence of that evidence they retain the innocence they are presumed to have.

You have, perhaps inadvertently, hit on why most people don't falsely claim self defence when they've actually committed a murder - because it requires admitting to all the other elements of murder, including killing someone.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Your first two paragraphs are incorrect, and your third paragraph begs the question. I'll keep the explanations simple for you.

First, "elements of the crime" is not the same thing as 'elements of self-defense'. Disproving self-defense can be done by showing that any of the conditions typically required by law for justification were not present: reasonable fear, reasonable belief that the force used was necessary, that the 'defender' did not provoke or instigate the altercation, that the incident did not occur while the defendant was engaged in other criminal activity. In some states, that the defendant did not ignore a reasonable and clear route of retreat.

Second, "presumption of innocence" is not the same thing as presumption of self-defense. Unless evidence actually exists to show self-defense, the state does not presume it merely because it's asserted by the killer they've identified. The state is supposed to investigate wrongful deaths and prosecute those who perpetrate them if evidence exists that points to an individual who committed the act. They don't look for evidence that a killing was not self defense, they look for evidence that x person was killed and that y person or persons did it. Credible or strong evidence that points to self defense is indeed a reason not to prosecute, but absent that evidence for self defense, the state should prosecute.

Third, you assume that self-defense is rarely claimed falsely and offer as evidence the fact that a claim of self-defense requires admitting you killed somebody. That's not a valid construction.

Last edited by xenophon41; 07-31-2015 at 12:16 PM.
  #5654  
Old 07-31-2015, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
Self-defence is no longer an affirmative defence anywhere else in the US.
When I googled "Is self-defense an affirmative defense" I got a mess of links, none of which address the question directly, but all of which presume that the answer is yes, and many of which seem to be written by lawyers. They are not all speaking about the same state's jurisdiction, either.

Can you provide some documentation for what you're saying here?
  #5655  
Old 07-31-2015, 12:57 PM
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http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/sc-c...t-it-attorney/

Cop kills kid. Doesn't even report it.

Later claims "self-defense" and says kid was driving right at him. However...

"The autopsy revealed the first shot entered Hammond’s left rear shoulder, said Bland, and the second one entered five inches away at a downward angle into his side from behind — cutting through the man’s heart and lungs before exiting his lower right side.

“The shots were so close in proximity to each other that it would be physically impossible unless the car was stopped and the officer came up very close to an open window,” Bland said. “Picture a car going 20 miles an hour and I’m fortunate enough to get a shot off, and I hit you — there’s no way I can get the second shot if the car’s going 20 miles an hour.”"
  #5656  
Old 07-31-2015, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/sc-c...t-it-attorney/

Cop kills kid. Doesn't even report it.
That's unpossible. That kid looks white.
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:15 PM
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The elements of the offence of talking out one's ass are:
1. Having made an asinine statement, and
2. Having done so intentionally.

If the prosecution proves with evidence all elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, then a conviction will follow unless the accused succeeds with an affirmative defence, such as imbecility.

PATTERSON v. NEW YORK., 432 U.S. 197 (1977), Supreme Court of United States.

There really needs to be a vaccine for your level of willful ignorance, Steophan.

Last edited by Muffin; 07-31-2015 at 01:16 PM.
  #5658  
Old 07-31-2015, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/sc-c...t-it-attorney/

Cop kills kid. Doesn't even report it.

Later claims "self-defense" and says kid was driving right at him.
Didn't South Park do a version of this?

Quote:
JIMBO
Boys! Lookie there!

A cute, fuzzy little black bear person sits in a nearby clearing, licking its paws.

JIMBO
That there's a Rocky Mountain Black Bear person. One of the few remaining of its kind. Isn't it beautiful?

The bear person just sits there and blinks.

JIMBO
My God it's coming right for us!!!

Jimbo whips out his huge rifle and shoots the bear person dead.

Stan can't believe his eyes.

STAN
Hey! It He wasn't coming right for us! It He was just sitting there!

JIMBO
SHHH! Not so loud!! Now that there's just a technicality.

KYLE
What d'ya mean?

JIMBO
You see boys, the Democrats have passed a lot of laws trying to stop us from hunting arresting.

CARTMAN
Democrats piss me off!

JIMBO
They say we can't shoot certain animals people anymore unless they're posing an immediate threat. Therefore, before we shoot somethingbody, we have to say; "It's He's coming right for us!"

STAN
Wow, you're smart, Uncle Jimbo!

NED
(pointing)
Jimbo LOOK!

A beautiful little doe non-cop comes over the hill.

JIMBO
Oh, it's a deer non-cop. Looks like about a 46 gauge, Ned.

Ned pulls out a HUGE bazooka and hands it to Jimbo like a golf caddy. Jimbo props the bazooka on his shoulder. The boys and Ned jump on the ground commando style.

JIMBO
IT'S COMIN' RIGHT FOR US!!!

The beautiful little doe non-cop looks on peacefully right where she is.

BOOM!!! Jimbo fires the bazooka at the doe non-cop and totally obliterates it into a million bloody little pieces.

CARTMAN
Kick ass!
  #5659  
Old 07-31-2015, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by xenophon41 View Post
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Your first two paragraphs are incorrect, and your third paragraph begs the question. I'll keep the explanations simple for you.

First, "elements of the crime" is not the same thing as 'elements of self-defense'. Disproving self-defense can be done by showing that any of the conditions typically required by law for justification were not present: reasonable fear, reasonable belief that the force used was necessary, that the 'defender' did not provoke or instigate the altercation, that the incident did not occur while the defendant was engaged in other criminal activity. In some states, that the defendant did not ignore a reasonable and clear route of retreat.

Second, "presumption of innocence" is not the same thing as presumption of self-defense. Unless evidence actually exists to show self-defense, the state does not presume it merely because it's asserted by the killer they've identified. The state is supposed to investigate wrongful deaths and prosecute those who perpetrate them if evidence exists that points to an individual who committed the act. They don't look for evidence that a killing was not self defense, they look for evidence that x person was killed and that y person or persons did it. Credible or strong evidence that points to self defense is indeed a reason not to prosecute, but absent that evidence for self defense, the state should prosecute.

Third, you assume that self-defense is rarely claimed falsely and offer as evidence the fact that a claim of self-defense requires admitting you killed somebody. That's not a valid construction.
In fairness to Steophan, he never studied law, doesn't live in the country, and educates himself solely through message board postings. So go easy on the guy.
  #5660  
Old 07-31-2015, 03:08 PM
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In fairness to Steophan, he never studied law, doesn't live in the country, and educates himself solely through message board postings. So go easy on the guy.
Well, I tried not to be insulting.

And, in fairness to me, I never studied law either, and only have access to the same internets as everyone else. Maybe he should stop skimming articles for language that seems to support what he already believes. (Just a thought, Steophan. It works for other people.)
  #5661  
Old 07-31-2015, 03:45 PM
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Didn't South Park do a version of this?
Sounds just like that Marcus Jeter case (discussed earlier in the thread): ABC News Link with dashcam video.

Police: Stop Resisting
Jeter: I am not Resisting.
Police: Stop reaching for my gun, stop reaching for my gun.
Jeter: (Internally saying prayers with hands held high) I am not resisting, I am not reaching for your gun.
Police: Stop resisting.
...

South Park is funny because it's true.
  #5662  
Old 07-31-2015, 03:46 PM
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I'm kind of curious at what point a claim of self-defense takes effect, by Steophan's reasoning. If you say "it was self defense!" and offer no evidence in support:

1. Do police have to release you?
2. If (1) doesn't apply, are prosecutors unable to indict you?
3. If (2) doesn't apply, do prosecutors have to drop their case against you?
4. If (3) doesn't apply, does a judge have to dismiss your case?
5. If (4) doesn't apply, does a jury have to acquit you?
6. If (5) doesn't apply, does a judge have to set aside a jury verdict of "guilty" ?

What mechanisms exactly go into play in a self-defense case and what (if anything) must a suspect do to invoke them?
  #5663  
Old 07-31-2015, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Can you provide some documentation for what you're saying here?
If you've read this thread, you'll have seen the vast amount of discussion of the issue.

But here's a summary of the law in California (as it's the clearest I've found with a quick Google, feel free to look up every other state if you like. It's not the case in Ohio, it is everywhere else).

Here's the important quote - "On all of these requirements, the prosecutor is the one who bears the burden of proof. In other words, if the evidence could support a self-defense legal defense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense does not apply." It's a long page, the quote comes towards the end of the introduction to part 1.

Florida introduced this sort of law 10 years ago, and almost all the other states have followed.
  #5664  
Old 07-31-2015, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
If you've read this thread, you'll have seen the vast amount of discussion of the issue.

But here's a summary of the law in California (as it's the clearest I've found with a quick Google, feel free to look up every other state if you like. It's not the case in Ohio, it is everywhere else).

Here's the important quote - "On all of these requirements, the prosecutor is the one who bears the burden of proof. In other words, if the evidence could support a self-defense legal defense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense does not apply." It's a long page, the quote comes towards the end of the introduction to part 1.

Florida introduced this sort of law 10 years ago, and almost all the other states have followed.
This doesn't seem to conflict with xenophon41's assertions, chiefly that to prove that self-defense doesn't apply, the prosecutor only needs to prove that one of the elements of self-defense was not present.
  #5665  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by xenophon41 View Post
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Your first two paragraphs are incorrect, and your third paragraph begs the question. I'll keep the explanations simple for you.
No, I was correct on all counts.

Quote:
First, "elements of the crime" is not the same thing as 'elements of self-defense'. Disproving self-defense can be done by showing that any of the conditions typically required by law for justification were not present: reasonable fear, reasonable belief that the force used was necessary, that the 'defender' did not provoke or instigate the altercation, that the incident did not occur while the defendant was engaged in other criminal activity. In some states, that the defendant did not ignore a reasonable and clear route of retreat.
However, you are correct here, and I misunderstood what you were claiming. So, my answer was somewhat irrelevant to what you said. You are absolutely right that all the elements of self defence need to be present for it to be justified, and therefore they need to disprove only one.

Here's a cite that shows you to be correct that I found whilst searching for the cite in my previous post.

Quote:
Second, "presumption of innocence" is not the same thing as presumption of self-defense. Unless evidence actually exists to show self-defense, the state does not presume it merely because it's asserted by the killer they've identified. The state is supposed to investigate wrongful deaths and prosecute those who perpetrate them if evidence exists that points to an individual who committed the act. They don't look for evidence that a killing was not self defense, they look for evidence that x person was killed and that y person or persons did it. Credible or strong evidence that points to self defense is indeed a reason not to prosecute, but absent that evidence for self defense, the state should prosecute.
The amount of evidence that self defence took place is as simple as the killer claiming that it was self defence. That is evidence that it was. In that case, the killer admits all the other elements of the crime (usually, certainly the fact that he killed the deceased, and that it happened in the relevant jurisdiction) but denies that it was a crime, because killing in self defence is legal. It's not a justification for murder or any other crime, it is completely legal, not a crime at all.

Quote:
Third, you assume that self-defense is rarely claimed falsely and offer as evidence the fact that a claim of self-defense requires admitting you killed somebody. That's not a valid construction.
It's not a logical construction, it's an observation. Self defence is rarely offered as a defence, it's a low single figure amount of homicides.
  #5666  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
I'm kind of curious at what point a claim of self-defense takes effect, by Steophan's reasoning. If you say "it was self defense!" and offer no evidence in support:

1. Do police have to release you?
2. If (1) doesn't apply, are prosecutors unable to indict you?
3. If (2) doesn't apply, do prosecutors have to drop their case against you?
4. If (3) doesn't apply, does a judge have to dismiss your case?
5. If (4) doesn't apply, does a jury have to acquit you?
6. If (5) doesn't apply, does a judge have to set aside a jury verdict of "guilty" ?

What mechanisms exactly go into play in a self-defense case and what (if anything) must a suspect do to invoke them?
4,5 and 6 are absolutely true, if it can't be proven not to be self defence. If the prosecution don't provide evidence that it was not self defence, the judge is required to throw out the case. If there is some evidence provided, but it cannot prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the judge must instruct the jury to find the defendant not guilty, and set aside the result if the jury don't comply. This was exhaustively discussed in the various Zimmerman threads.

Zimmerman provides a good example of 1. He claimed self defence, and the police did release him. As for 2 and 3, that's a matter of legal ethics rather than anything else. A prosecutor should not charge anyone when there is not strong evidence that they can win the case.

None of these are unique to self defence, they are (or should be) the standards for any trial. I genuinely don't understand the problem people have with this. Killing someone in self defence is not a crime, not a sin, not morally wrong in any way, and should not be treated as such (and the same goes for killing to defend someone else).
  #5667  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:18 PM
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No, I was correct on all counts.
Except for the one you admit you were incorrect on, or that one too?

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The amount of evidence that self defence took place is as simple as the killer claiming that it was self defence. That is evidence that it was. <snip> ...it is completely legal, not a crime at all.
Earlier you asserted this:
Quote:
Yes, if there's strong evidence that it was not self defence they should be tried. But only in that case, and in the absence of that evidence they retain the innocence they are presumed to have.
(Emphasis added.)

That's a ridiculously incorrect statement, as is your more recent rephrasing.
  #5668  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by xenophon41 View Post
That's a ridiculously incorrect statement, as is your more recent rephrasing.
No, it's factually correct in 49 US states. If someone claims self defence, they should only be tried if there is strong evidence that it was not - the same as anyone else should only be tried if there's strong evidence they are guilty.

Why are you supporting kangaroo courts and show trials of people who are not going to be proven guilty?
  #5669  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:30 PM
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Why do you support euthanizing poodles for bad haircuts? Why?! It's arbitrary and cruel!

You must be a very bad person.
  #5670  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
No, it's factually correct in 49 US states. If someone claims self defence, they should only be tried if there is strong evidence that it was not - the same as anyone else should only be tried if there's strong evidence they are guilty.

Why are you supporting kangaroo courts and show trials of people who are not going to be proven guilty?
"Strong" is a subjective term here, and I'm not sure if this assertion can be evaluated as to its legal merit. From my understanding, the evidence required to indict (e.g. to have a trial) in the US is probable cause, with a common definition of "a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true". Maybe this agrees with your intention for the use of "strong", but maybe not.

So a "reasonable suspicion" that a case is murder could be, I think, an admission that the suspect shot/killed the dead person plus no clear evidence of self-defense from video or from other witnesses. This might not be enough to overcome reasonable doubt in a trial, but it seems to me that it could be enough to clear this bar to have a trial.
  #5671  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:32 PM
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Killing someone in self defence is not a crime, not a sin, not morally wrong in any way, and should not be treated as such (and the same goes for killing to defend someone else).
No one here has disputed that. But not every claim of self defense is legitimate, and should not be accepted just because it is asserted.
  #5672  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
No one here has disputed that. But not every claim of self defense is legitimate, and should not be accepted just because it is asserted.
It should be accepted just as much as anyone else's claim not to be guilty of a crime - that is, they need to be proven guilty of it beyond reasonable doubt.
  #5673  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:41 PM
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It should be accepted just as much as anyone else's claim not to be guilty of a crime - that is, they need to be proven guilty of it beyond reasonable doubt.
Right, but this only requires knocking down one of the "legs" of the "stool of self-defense". The disagreement here seems to be the level of evidence that counts as "beyond reasonable doubt" to actually knock over one of these legs.

To get back to the old Dunn case, for example, I think that the combination of witness evidence (including Dunn's girlfriend) and physical evidence was enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn did not meet the requirements for a valid claim of self-defense for his shooting trial. Apparently, the jury agreed with me. IIRC, you disagreed. But the disagreement was about whether the evidence was enough to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" bar, not whether that bar must be met.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-31-2015 at 04:43 PM.
  #5674  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:42 PM
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"Strong" is a subjective term here, and I'm not sure if this assertion can be evaluated as to its legal merit. From my understanding, the evidence required to indict (e.g. to have a trial) in the US is probable cause, with a common definition of "a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true". Maybe this agrees with your intention for the use of "strong", but maybe not.
Probable cause is the point at which it becomes legal to have a trial, but it's only ethical if there's a good chance of winning. Compare this to the discussion over whether Sandra Bland should have been arrested - just because the cop had probable cause to arrest her for the traffic offence, doesn't mean it was correct for him to do so.

I would say it's a bigger ethical deal in a self defence case because if they are telling the truth they are not only not a criminal but the victim of a crime, and in my opinion putting the victim of a crime on trial because of it is hugely wrong.

Quote:
So a "reasonable suspicion" that a case is murder could be, I think, an admission that the suspect shot/killed the dead person plus no clear evidence of self-defense from video or from other witnesses. This might not be enough to overcome reasonable doubt in a trial, but it seems to me that it could be enough to clear this bar to have a trial.
I believe you need probable cause for each element of the crime, including it not being self defence if the suspect chooses to claim that. So, you'd need some positive evidence it was not self defence.
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Right, but this only requires knocking down one of the "legs" of the "stool of self-defense". The disagreement here seems to be the level of evidence that counts as "beyond reasonable doubt" to actually knock over one of these legs.

To get back to the old Dunn case, for example, I think that the combination of witness evidence (including Dunn's girlfriend) and physical evidence was enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn did not meet the requirements for a valid claim of self-defense for his shooting trial. Apparently, the jury agreed with me. IIRC, you disagreed. But the disagreement was about whether the evidence was enough to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" bar, not whether that bar must be met.
If I understand you correctly, then you're right, and I accepted it in a reply to xenophon.

They have to prove that, for example, the danger he was in was not that of death or great bodily harm OR that the danger was not imminent, not that it wasn't either of those.
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Old 07-31-2015, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
Probable cause is the point at which it becomes legal to have a trial, but it's only ethical if there's a good chance of winning. Compare this to the discussion over whether Sandra Bland should have been arrested - just because the cop had probable cause to arrest her for the traffic offence, doesn't mean it was correct for him to do so.
This sounds reasonable, but there's going to be a lot of disagreement about whether a prosecutor thinks he/she has a good chance of winning. And "a good chance" can also be subjective -- a certain prosecutor might believe strongly enough in a case to pursue indictment even if they only think there's a 20-30% chance of winning. I'm not sure that it's unethical to proceed -- I can certainly think of many instances in American history in which a prosecution would have been very ethical even if there was a low chance of victory.

Quote:
I would say it's a bigger ethical deal in a self defence case because if they are telling the truth they are not only not a criminal but the victim of a crime, and in my opinion putting the victim of a crime on trial because of it is hugely wrong.
I disagree that this is any more or less ethical.

Quote:
I believe you need probable cause for each element of the crime, including it not being self defence if the suspect chooses to claim that. So, you'd need some positive evidence it was not self defence.
IANAL (again) -- do you have a cite for this? I'm not sure this is the case.
  #5677  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
I'm not sure that it's unethical to proceed -- I can certainly think of many instances in American history in which a prosecution would have been very ethical even if there was a low chance of victory.
I can't think of any situation where a prosecutor should waste taxpayer's money, and put on trial, take up months or years of the time of, and ruin the reputation of a man he thinks is most likely innocent - a 70 to 80% chance based on your figures.

What legitimate purpose is served by putting on trial someone very likely to be innocent?
  #5678  
Old 07-31-2015, 04:58 PM
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I can't think of any situation where a prosecutor should waste taxpayer's money, and put on trial, take up months or years of the time of, and ruin the reputation of a man he thinks is most likely innocent - a 70 to 80% chance based on your figures.
But that's not what I said -- I said that a prosecutor might strongly believe that the suspect is guilty, but only think there is a 30% chance of winning (perhaps some of the evidence is inadmissible, for example). In such a case, it would be entirely ethical (in my view) to proceed to trial.

Some very obvious examples are the Civil Rights murders in the South -- in many cases, due to extremely racist juries (and often racist judges), there was very little chance of getting a conviction, but it was still the right thing to do to proceed to trial (for what seem to be obvious reasons to me).

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  #5679  
Old 07-31-2015, 05:00 PM
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I believe you need probable cause for each element of the crime, including it not being self defence if the suspect chooses to claim that. So, you'd need some positive evidence it was not self defence.
I think this is where your argument fails. The prosecutor only needs to show the claim of self defense is unreasonable. That does not require positive evidence, only a line of reasoning that the jury finds persuasive. It would be illogical for a judge to impose a burden on a prosecutor to prove a negative.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:01 PM
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Killing someone in self defence is not a crime, not a sin, not morally wrong in any way, and should not be treated as such (and the same goes for killing to defend someone else).
But is it a sin to kill a mockingbird if it's attacking you?
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:14 PM
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Why are you supporting kangaroo courts and show trials of people who are not going to be proven guilty?
This crap right here is why Steophan is such a shit poster.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:30 PM
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But that's not what I said -- I said that a prosecutor might strongly believe that the suspect is guilty, but only think there is a 30% chance of winning (perhaps some of the evidence is inadmissible, for example). In such a case, it would be entirely ethical (in my view) to proceed to trial.
That's a contradiction - he is only guilty if found guilty by the court, until that point he's innocent.

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Some very obvious examples are the Civil Rights murders in the South -- in many cases, due to extremely racist juries (and often racist judges), there was very little chance of getting a conviction, but it was still the right thing to do to proceed to trial (for what seem to be obvious reasons to me).
That's a fair point, though - I was assuming fair juries. I'll change what I said to someone should only be put on trial if there's a high probability that a fair court would find them guilty. "High probability" is intentionally left vague, and should be left to prosecutional discretion; however, a prosecutor who fails to win a majority of cases he brings is, in my opinion, failing to do his job properly.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:33 PM
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I think this is where your argument fails. The prosecutor only needs to show the claim of self defense is unreasonable. That does not require positive evidence, only a line of reasoning that the jury finds persuasive. It would be illogical for a judge to impose a burden on a prosecutor to prove a negative.
No, they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was not self defence. It's not the judge that imposes that burden, it's the law. And morality, and justice.

Killing someone in self defence is not a crime. It is not wrong. It is not an act that deserves punishment or censure, and it's usually a sign that someone is a victim of crime. To convict someone who claims to have killed in self defence of murder without proving that it wasn't self defence is, as I've repeatedly said, disgustingly wrong.

That it may be difficult to prove that is absolutely fucking irrelevant.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:36 PM
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No, they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was not self defence.
As I have demonstrated repeatedly, this is false. That you persist in perpetuating this misunderstanding of the law is despicable.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:36 PM
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This crap right here is why Steophan is such a shit poster.
Well for me, it's the racism first, but yeah otherwise I agree.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:42 PM
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As I have demonstrated repeatedly, this is false. That you persist in perpetuating this misunderstanding of the law is despicable.
No, you haven't. You've simply stated that it's not, despite repeated cites, in this thread and many others, that it's the way I say. The law is what it is, not what you want it to be.

Honestly, there's no real excuse to be unaware of this law if you have any interest in the subject. It's been all over the media, in relation to several high profile cases over the last few years. And yet people like you still try to claim that laws are still the way they were a decade ago, and worse still to claim that changes that make it harder to convict innocent people are bad changes.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:44 PM
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This crap right here is why Steophan is such a shit poster.
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Well for me, it's the racism first, but yeah otherwise I agree.
Well you've both added a great deal to the threat with your posts that contain nothing but falsehoods and insults.
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:59 PM
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That's a contradiction - he is only guilty if found guilty by the court, until that point he's innocent.
I think you know what I mean.

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That's a fair point, though - I was assuming fair juries. I'll change what I said to someone should only be put on trial if there's a high probability that a fair court would find them guilty. "High probability" is intentionally left vague, and should be left to prosecutional discretion; however, a prosecutor who fails to win a majority of cases he brings is, in my opinion, failing to do his job properly.
I think most of the disagreement here is inside the concepts here that are "left vague", whether intentionally or not.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:09 PM
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No, you haven't. You've simply stated that it's not, despite repeated cites, in this thread and many others, that it's the way I say. The law is what it is, not what you want it to be.

Honestly, there's no real excuse to be unaware of this law if you have any interest in the subject. It's been all over the media, in relation to several high profile cases over the last few years. And yet people like you still try to claim that laws are still the way they were a decade ago, and worse still to claim that changes that make it harder to convict innocent people are bad changes.
It seems to me that it's entirely possible that the prosecution could establish a line of reasoning that the jury finds convincing enough to eliminate any claim of self-defense "beyond a reasonable doubt"...

For example, in a no-witness murder case in which the killer claims the victim attacked him first, but with evidence that the killer had planned the encounter, had a motive to kill the victim, and had previously told others that he wanted the person dead, the jury may decide that the case is established beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense, despite the lack of physical evidence that would disprove that the victim attacked the killer first.

My understanding of the legal concepts of murder trials would allow a guilty verdict, which is (from my understanding) contrary to your assertions about what is required.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-31-2015 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:12 PM
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When has there ever been a case where the only evidence was the defendant's claim of self defense? A circumstance where, for example, somebody walks into a police station and announces "I killed a guy in self defense and I'm not saying anything else", i.e. providing no details police can use in their investigation. Assuming police identify the suspect and get a warrant to search their home and workplace (and find no victim or evidence of a victim), and question his associates (assuming they can find any) and get no information about a murder, and if they check for recent reports of corpses being discovered and find none that can be linked to the claimant, then I guess they would have to let him go and no prosecutor could continue or jury convict.

If there is a body, though, and witnesses to the circumstances and maybe a weapon that can be linked via forensics... then, yes, proceed to indictments, possibly trials, possibly convictions and possibly imprisonments. A claim of self-defense does not as a matter of practicality exist in a vacuum. For what it's worth, Zimmerman's defense involved calling witnesses to support his claim of self-defense; his assertion made before the trial (and to which he did not personally testify, though he was under no obligation to) was not enough to get the case kicked.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:22 PM
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The law is what it is, not what you want it to be.
And the law says the claim of self defense must be "reasonable". That is not a standard that can be reached objectively, like finding fingerprints or DNA. Demonstrating the quality of reasonableness is not proving that a crime has been committed, only that self-defense is not a valid defense. The prosecutor still has to present evidence that the defendant committed the crime. Since self defense is not a crime, determining the reasonableness of a self defense claim is not arguing guilt or innocence, only persuading the jury that it is unreasonable.

Why is that so hard for you?
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:28 PM
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It seems to me that it's entirely possible that the prosecution could establish a line of reasoning that the jury finds convincing enough to eliminate any claim of self-defense "beyond a reasonable doubt"...

For example, in a no-witness murder case in which the killer claims the victim attacked him first, but with evidence that the killer had planned the encounter, had a motive to kill the victim, and had previously told others that he wanted the person dead, the jury may decide that the case is established beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense, despite the lack of physical evidence that would disprove that the victim attacked the killer first.

My understanding of the legal concepts of murder trials would allow a guilty verdict, which is (from my understanding) contrary to your assertions about what is required.
I would hope, at the very least, that someone could not be convicted of murder in that circumstance, simply because it is possible that despite that planning and intent, the deceased did, in fact, attack the defendant without provocation in such a way that could justify self defence. To prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt you would need to rule that possibility out.

If the law allows such a conviction, the law is immoral. This can, and will, lead to some people getting away with killing people when, if we had all the facts, they would be convicted. That is not a problem - convicting innocent people is a problem.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:34 PM
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Why is that so hard for you?
Why is what so hard for me? The state have to prove the defendant guilty. That's not a complicated thing, but you (and others) seem unwilling to accept it. It's been cited many, many times, by me and many others, in this thread and many others. If you refuse to accept what is clearly the case, I can't help you.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:37 PM
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I would hope, at the very least, that someone could not be convicted of murder in that circumstance, simply because it is possible that despite that planning and intent, the deceased did, in fact, attack the defendant without provocation in such a way that could justify self defence. To prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt you would need to rule that possibility out.

If the law allows such a conviction, the law is immoral. This can, and will, lead to some people getting away with killing people when, if we had all the facts, they would be convicted. That is not a problem - convicting innocent people is a problem.
I disagree on most of this, except that convicting innocent people is a problem. That's a problem, but so is allowing innocent people to get away with murder. I don't believe the scenario described puts an onerous burden on the innocent.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:40 PM
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Why is what so hard for me? The state have to prove the defendant guilty.
Of course. Guilt or innocence is an objective conclusion. But they only have to prove the claim of self defense is unreasonable. That is a subjective conclusion, so all a prosecutor has to do is present a line of reasoning that persuades a jury that it is unreasonable.

Last edited by Fear Itself; 07-31-2015 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:42 PM
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but so is allowing innocent people to get away with murder.
Mistake, or comment on my opinion that someone not proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt is innocent?

Either way, allowing people who can't be proven beyond reasonable doubt to have committed a crime to go free is not a problem - it's a fundamental part of justice.
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Old 07-31-2015, 06:49 PM
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Of course. Guilt or innocence is an objective conclusion. But they only have to prove the claim of self defense is unreasonable. That is a subjective conclusion, so all a prosecutor has to do is present a line of reasoning that persuades a jury that it is unreasonable.
The state have to (except in Ohio) prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, even in a self defence case. This is fact, well cited, here and elsewhere. Either what you are saying is a paraphrase of that, or it's wrong. I cited the California law earlier, Florida law has been exhaustively cited, here's another example.

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In self-defense cases, Florida prosecutors have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant did not act in self-defense.
I'm not going through every fucking state to prove you wrong (again), mainly because it's already been done. It's not some big secret that the right to self defence has finally started to be properly recognised across America in the last decade.

The law doesn't work the way you want just because you want it to, no matter how much you claim it or how much you insult me.
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Old 07-31-2015, 07:53 PM
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Mistake, or comment on my opinion that someone not proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt is innocent?
A mistake.

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Either way, allowing people who can't be proven beyond reasonable doubt to have committed a crime to go free is not a problem - it's a fundamental part of justice.
This isn't what we're disagreeing on -- we're disagreeing on what might constitute "beyond reasonable doubt", not whether this bar must be met.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-31-2015 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 07:55 PM
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The state have to (except in Ohio) prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, even in a self defence case. This is fact, well cited, here and elsewhere. Either what you are saying is a paraphrase of that, or it's wrong. I cited the California law earlier, Florida law has been exhaustively cited, here's another example.
You're talking past him -- he's saying that if the prosecution demonstrates that the claim of self-defense is unreasonable, this can be enough (paired with other evidence, such as an admission by the defendant) to constitute "beyond reasonable doubt" for the jury.

No one is arguing that the jury does not need to be convinced it was murder beyond reasonable doubt, we're just arguing about what can constitute a case that proves murder beyond reasonable doubt.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 07-31-2015 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:02 PM
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Gay guy dragged out of the house and beaten by four NYPD cops yelling "faggot", caught on tape.
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