Marty eJournal column pix

 by Marty Hayes, J.D.

We have a couple of things to discuss this month. First, a big thank you to retiring Network Affiliated Attorney Royce Ferguson, from Everett, WA. He wrote to me the other day and said that he was cutting criminal defense out of his practice, as it takes too much time and he wants to retire! (I know the feeling). I have known Royce for close to 30 years, and he has been my go-to guy in the Seattle area all that time. He was one of our first Network Affiliated Attorneys and is one of the two attorneys discussing defending a self-defense case on our third Network DVD.

People like to speak harshly of attorneys in general, but Royce has always been a stellar member of the bar, willing to help people regardless of the financial reward. I worked with him on several cases, even those outside my legal expertise.

In one example, he hired me to be a motorcycle accident expert, simply because of my decades-long experience in riding motorcycles. A person can serve as an expert due to his training, education or experience in a field. In this case, I remember recreating a ride his client took, by taping a flip video recorder to my helmet to document the riding conditions on the street where his client was injured while riding a motorcycle. I did the ride, wrote a report and the case settled, hopefully for much more money than would have been offered without my involvement.

A second case I worked on for Royce was the time I was first accepted by the court as a blood stain pattern expert. The facts of the case were pretty weak. The defense theory was that the deceased reached out to take an AK-47 out of the arms of the shooter and the rifle went off and killed the deceased as he was grabbing it. I would have turned down the case, except the back spray from the head wound really did support that theory.

RFergusonI took the case to explain just that one aspect of the evidence, but because I had never testified as a blood stain pattern expert, I was raked over the coals during expert qualifications. I was finally accepted when the judge said to the prosecuting attorney, “Counselor, due to the low threshold the State of Washington places on expert witness testimony, I will approve Mr. Hayes as a defense expert, but I will give you great leeway when you question him on cross-examination.” And she did, by the way, but I was accepted and have since testified in several more court cases as a blood stain pattern expert.

I did get my revenge on Royce, though, when I roped him in to assist in getting a determination of a suicide overturned and re-classified as a murder. Author Ann Rule wrote a book about the case, In the Still of the Night. (See Royce was the attorney throughout a judicial review, a coroner’s inquest and an appeal to the Washington Court of Appeals. Get the book and read it, if you like real crime stories.

Anyway, this is just a note of thanks to my friend Royce Ferguson, for being a part of the Network for the past 10 years.

Also on my mind today is a kind of nasty message from a fella checking out the Network. He had written to one of our Advisory Board members, questioning whether or not the Network REALLY has the money it says it has in the Legal Defense Fund, and whether or not we have REALLY helped out people after an incident. I guess he wanted the Advisory Board to demand an audit of the Legal Defense Fund.

Well, fella, let me put it this way: We here at the Network operate on mutual trust. We trust the members to act in good faith in self defense after educating themselves through our educational package. And our members trust us to be there for them after an incident, as we have been for 17 members since opening the Network in 2008. If someone wants more assurances than that, we would politely suggest he or she buy an insurance policy from another post-incident competitor that will likely not do any good, but at least they will have a lot of legal fine print to read.

We have repeatedly and at length discussed our efforts on behalf of members in many publicly available eJournal articles. Follow these links to check out the Network’s service to members over the years–I warn you, there are quite a few. Here, in chronological order, are some past announcements and reports about Legal Defense Fund use that our readers might want to browse.
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