Monday, February 27, 2012

Stand Your Ground in the Defense of Others

I had the slip opinion in my hand.  I had finished reading the case and highlighting the parts that I wanted to pull for a blog entry.  And then I decided to click on a few links from my blogroll.  After reading John T. Floyd's blog entry, I walked over to the recycling bin and tossed the case I had just read.  I try not to blog about cases on which other bloggers have already written (and written well), save U.S. Supreme Court opinions about which everyone feels compelled to write.

I pride myself on being one of the first to publicly report opinions (published opinions, that is) from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  Well, a case named Morales v. State, came out in November 2011 and it slipped through the cracks.  So today, when I saw that John T. Floyd's blog (Criminal Jurisdiction) had an entry at the top of the page titled: SELF-DEFENSE: NO DUTY TO RETREAT, I knew immediately that I had been scooped.  That's what I get for procrastinating I suppose.

To focus on the positive, at least I don't have to hammer out a blog post about the case (well, at least not a substantive post), because John T. Floyd's post is about as good as it gets.  I encourage any L&J for Y'all readers (yes, I'm delusional enough to believe we have "readers") to go check it out.  He and his paralegal have done an excellent job summarizing the case and the holding, that...

A person is justified in using deadly force against another if he could be justified in using force against the other in the first place … and when he reasonably believes that such deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other person’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force and if a person in the defendant’s situation would not have had a duty to retreat…

Therefore a person may act against another in defense of a third person, provided he acted upon a reasonable apprehension of danger to such third person, as it appeared to him from his standpoint at the time, and that he reasonably believed such deadly force by his intervention on behalf of such third person was immediately necessary to protect such person from another’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force, and provided it reasonably appear to such person, as seen from his viewpoint alone, that a person in the situation of the person being defended would not have had a duty to retreat.

A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described herein.
Thanks John.  I guess I'll move along to the next case, or perhaps I'll click on a few more links and see if it has already been covered by a colleague.