An Interview with Attorney Emanuel Kapelsohn

by Gila HayesKapelsohnE

When armed citizens worry about the legal aftermath of self defense, the fears expressed about defending against a civil lawsuit run as deep as concerns about fighting criminal charges. For many Network members the processes of civil litigation are bewildering, so the possibility of being acquitted in criminal court only to be sued civilly looms large in members’ worries.

Recently, we had the opportunity to ask Network Advisory Board member Emanuel Kapelsohn, whose experience as an attorney spans 35+ years, to educate us about being sued for damages after use of force in self defense. How does civil procedure differ from criminal defense? What are the timelines? Can a normal citizen, perhaps a retired guy of limited means, survive being sued by the family of a violent assailant? We switch now to a question and answer format to preserve the clarity of Kapelsohn’s explanations.

eJournal: In your experience what’s the likelihood of a justifiable use of force incident resulting in a civil lawsuit?

Kapelsohn: The likelihood of a civil suit against an individual for use of force depends not only on what occurred, but also on what that individual has in the way of assets. The more you have in the way of assets, the more likely it is that someone will come after you civilly.

If we’re talking about someone we lawyers would call “judgment proof,” meaning they can’t pay a financial judgment because they are just a regular working guy or gal and they get a paycheck and most of it goes to pay the rent or their car payments and their groceries and their utilities and they don’t have a huge amount of money in the bank, and let’s say they also don’t have insurance that would cover the situation, then it is relatively unlikely that they would be sued civilly because there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Or if the lawyer takes a look and they find out that a guy who hit you in your car is an uninsured motorist and driving without a license and driving an unregistered vehicle because it’s falling apart and probably wouldn’t pass inspection, the lawyer is going to say, “Sorry, there are lots of others who may be interested in your case, but I’m not. I could get a judgment for a million dollars in your favor, but judgments are not self-executing.” That means that if you get a judgment for a million dollars, it doesn’t somehow wind up in currency in a package on your doorstep the next day. You have to go after someone and try to collect that money. That may mean you have to locate their assets and chase after them, which is phase two.

When you have a car accident or a slip and fall or a medical malpractice, one of the first things done by a good civil attorney, who is typically going to take that kind of case on a contingent fee basis, is an assets search to find out if the defendant lives in a nice home that he owns free and clear, has a high-paying job, he and his wife each have late-model cars and a boat and a vacation place on the lake and likely have homeowners insurance that may or may not cover it or an umbrella policy that may or may not cover it.

People should understand that in general, their homeowners’ insurance policies cover them for negligence and not for intentional wrongful acts. If you are handling your gun and you accidentally discharge it and hit someone, your homeowners insurance may cover that.

If you intentionally shoot an intruder in your home or intentionally shoot someone in the mall parking lot, likely your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover that. As a general principle of law and as a matter of public policy, you cannot obtain insurance for a criminal act you commit. You can’t take out insurance so that when you murder your spouse, the insurance will cover your legal fees. You can’t do that.

The various legal providers who offer money to help defend you in criminal prosecutions today work either under one system or another: either they say, we will cover a certain portion of your legal fees, but only if you’re found to be not guilty of this crime, and then we will reimburse you. So you need to have the money in the first place for a very expensive process that may go on for two or three years. Other providers set that money up in a trust or have some other set up so they can legally maintain that it is not insurance, it is some different kind of payment, so they may succeed that way.

This is why Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is so important. It is a vehicle that first of all, provides you with lots of good education and lots of good advice in newsletters and training videos and so forth, to help you to avoid those pitfalls in the first place. That’s the best strategy! Then, if all the best efforts of the organization and your own best efforts and good judgment and common sense and good training have failed to keep you out of that pitfall, this is an organization that starts by paying your retainer for a lawyer, perhaps helps you find a good lawyer, and then as the case goes forward, may pay more depending on the nature of the case.

eJournal: How does a justifiable self-defense incident devolve from defending yourself against criminal charges and then, to address our concern today, into a civil lawsuit for damages?

Kapelsohn: I just finished working on a case for a legally-armed gun owner who didn’t shoot anybody, but he drew his gun and pointed it at somebody who was acting bizarrely and in a threatening manner. He accused my client of stalking him, although my client didn’t know him from a hole in the wall. This guy was yelling things like, “Why are you stalking me, why are you following me?”

My client was sitting in his parked vehicle with his elderly mother, waiting to meet someone. He called back, “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who you think I am, but I am not following you.” The next thing, this guy yells, “[vulgarity] I am going to kill you,” and started toward my client. Before this, he had been handling some dark object that could have been a handgun and pointing it in different directions from behind cover of a gas pump, and then put this object into his right front pants pocket. It turns out, that is exactly where my client carried his own legally licensed handgun, so my client was very aware that you could have a gun in that spot.

When this guy said, “I am going to kill you,” and started toward him, at that point my client finally stepped out of his vehicle. He could not get his elderly and very infirm mother to safety so he stepped out, drew his gun and pointed at the guy and said, “Get back! Get away from me.” My client also happened to be a retired police officer with a concealed carry permit, so he clearly had no criminal record. He is a law abiding, upstanding person. The person he pointed the gun at turned out to have a lengthy criminal record.

My client called 9-1-1 when the person finally went away, but so did this other individual. I’m quite sure that the other individual called 9-1-1 hoping to go on record as being the “victim,” so he wouldn’t get in trouble, because he has a lengthy criminal record and doesn’t want to go back to jail again.

Well, the police got there and for one reason or another, did what I would call “arresting the wrong person.” They arrested my client. We went through a lengthy criminal process, which is an outrage, because it cost my client a small fortune (he was not an Armed Citizens’ Network member, although he found me through the Network). One of the great fears he has is that even though the criminal phase is finally over, this person could sue him civilly.

My client was charged for pointing a gun at someone. He was charged with about six different things, including aggravated assault (we didn’t think it legally constituted an aggravated assault—which is a felony), simple assault (pointing the gun at the person), terroristic threats (the supposed victim claims that our retired police officer said, “I’ll blow your head off”), and reckless endangerment (pointing a gun toward innocent people).

Basically our client was charged with five or six different crimes. Some of them could constitute civil wrongs as well as criminal offenses. Our client was very concerned that depending on how things went in his criminal case, he could wind up convicted of a felony, sentenced to a prison term, and could in addition be sued civilly by the man who threatened him and his mother.

eJournal: I always thought of reckless endangerment as being a criminal charge. Can it evolve into a claim for damages in civil court?

Kapelsohn: It might be phrased differently, “He put me in fear of being harmed” or, “He put me in fear that my wife and children who were standing next to me might be harmed.”

eJournal: And you can ask for monetary damages for that?

Kapelsohn: Absolutely.

eJournal: And what, exactly, would be the complaint?

Kapelsohn: He would charge something like assault, putting him in fear of his physical safety.

eJournal: I thought an assault charge would be tried in criminal court. What words do lawyers use to describe the parallel complaint in a civil law case for damages? Can a plaintiff enter a charge of assault?

Kapelsohn: Yes, there are a number of common law offenses, dating back to Old England. One common law offense–used in many states–is the crime of battery; another is assault. In some states, those terms are confused or combined in criminal law. In my state, which is PA, battery is actually striking someone; assault is putting someone in fear of being struck. You could point a gun at someone and not shoot them. You have not battered them, but you’ve assaulted them.

This is a matter of state law so there are 50 variations of this throughout the country, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. In many states, there are civil offenses that mirror most of these common law crimes, so you can civilly sue someone for battery.

Let’s imagine a hypothetical famous sports figure, someone who’s getting a multi-million dollar salary and everyone knows it. Now that person assaults you and batters you in a restaurant; takes offense at something and starts beating you up. Well, that’s a crime, but it is also a civil wrong, called a tort. A tort is the general category of civil wrongs that includes things like battery, assault, negligence. That hypothetical football player may be prosecuted for that crime, but that prosecution doesn’t necessarily pay for all of the damages you’ve suffered, for your pain and suffering. In criminal court they may require him to pay restitution to you for your medical expenses, but that may not cover everything to which you think you are entitled.

So, going back to your first question, knowing that this person has a “deep pocket,” that there is potentially a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the person who has been beat up by this football player may very well sue them civilly for assault and battery.

eJournal: Using this example, can you explain the timeline? Do the criminal charges have to be first adjudicated, then a civil suit can be brought?

Kapelsohn: Usually it happens that way, but not always. Somebody might file a civil suit against that football player the next morning. Sometimes you see that in the newspaper, that something has just happened yesterday and the supposed victim’s attorney has already filed suit. That can actually beat the criminal charge to the courthouse!

eJournal: But if that’s allowed, don’t we have concerns about details made public in one trial polluting the other?

Kapelsohn: Rarely do a criminal and a civil case go on simultaneously. In a criminal case, as you know, a defendant does not have to testify and has a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and make the government prove its case against them. If you had a civil case going on at the same time, the civil attorney for the plaintiff might try to take the defendant’s deposition, or submit written interrogatories to the defendant, demanding to have answers to certain questions, and they may be things that the defendant does not want to talk about, certainly not in advance of the criminal trial.

So sometimes you can get a court to agree to delay the civil case discovery until after the criminal case is resolved. Once the criminal case is completely over and resolved beyond any possibility of prosecuting the defendant any further, if there is a civil case going on, you may have to answer the questions, have to give the deposition, have to take the witness stand if you are called to by the plaintiff. If you are not going to testify, it is going to be held against you. A jury is going to hear that you are not willing to say anything about what happened.

Many times, you are the only one who was there who can say what happened in your own defense. You are the one that knows that this person came toward you in a dark parking lot with a knife in his hand. If you are not going to say it, and the other person is there saying, “This crazy person drew a gun and shoved it in my face,” you have got to counter that somehow.

There can be a whipsawing effect between the schedule of the criminal proceeding and the schedule of the civil one, although usually criminal proceedings happen pretty quickly, due to the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

eJournal: What’s the normal course of action when someone goes to an attorney and says, “I’ve been wronged and I want restitution.” If he takes the case, what does that attorney do?

Kapelsohn: The attorney typically writes a complaint and files that complaint with the clerk of court. It is then served on the defendant, in some places by the sheriff’s office and in some places by private process servers. That is how you know a lawsuit has been filed against you. The complaint will outline what it is alleged that you did and how the plaintiff alleges he’s been harmed by what you did, and the plaintiff will demand money damages and sometimes other things, as well.

eJournal: Does any official have oversight to step in and say, “Plaintiff, that is just plain silly?”

Kapelsohn: No. The legal system, in a sense, has a safety measure for that, but it only works in some very extreme cases. Sometimes the defense lawyer can say that this complaint is legally insufficient on its face, and can move to dismiss the complaint. Usually it is then dismissed, as it is said, “without prejudice,” meaning without prejudice for the plaintiff to re-file it against you, to clean up the errors and then file it again.

Sometimes there is a complaint and the defendant’s attorney can make a motion for what is called summary judgment. Summary means it is going to happen without a trial needing to take place. The attorney tells the court that what happened is not in dispute. This is a case where both sides agree about what happened. There are no facts in dispute. You see, facts are what juries determine. Juries determine facts; judges determine the law.

If we have a case where both sides agree on the facts that occurred–agree on what happened and there are no facts left to be determined–then it may be a matter for summary judgment. The court can make a decision on it purely by applying law to the facts that we both agree occurred. That may shortcut things, by eliminating the need for a trial.

Generally cases go further, because lawyers are usually smart enough to engineer their complaints in such a way that we don’t have complete agreement and can avoid things like summary judgment or motions to dismiss. The timelines are very variable, depending on the court, the state or the part of the state geographically. It may be that the civil courts in Philadelphia are very jammed up and there are not enough judges and not enough courtrooms to handle all the civil suits there, so if we file a civil case in Philadelphia, it may take two years to come to trial, or sometimes more than that. On the other hand, it may be that we have the same situation, but it happened in rural PA, not in one of the big cities, and that case may come to trial in one year, not two years.

You need to understand: I am working in civil suits now that have been going on for eleven and thirteen years. That’s not the normal case against a private individual, usually there are companies involved in cases like that – gun companies, holster makers, police departments – but some of those cases go on and on and on. The legal fees become astronomical.

eJournal: Is there a time limit within which some agreement must be reached before the litigation is dismissed?

Kapelsohn: No, the statute of limitations says you must file the lawsuit within a certain amount of time. For instance, if this is a negligence case, in most states you will have two years to file it. If it is an intentional tort, like the assault we talked about, or battery, most states say you have one year from the event to file your lawsuit. Once you get on the docket (that is, the court’s list of cases), unless the court requires it to go faster, in many states, it can go on virtually forever. It depends. A judge may say, I want this case to be wrapped up; this is the schedule of events, so a court may push it along.

In my own state, which is PA, you can have a civil suit that is in existence for years until one or the other party files a notice of readiness, meaning, “Hey, court, we are ready to go to trial now.” The court in some of our counties does not oversee your discovery and your developments in the meantime. If nothing at all has happened in the case in a certain period of time, let’s say it has been a year since anything has been filed with the court, the court may send a notice to both sides that it intends to dismiss your case unless there is some activity in it, unless you can explain why it should not be dismissed. Sometimes a court will speed things along like that, and in other states and other courts, the case can go on for years.

eJournal: If you’re the defendant’s attorney, what facts are you looking for and hoping for to put a civil matter to rest sooner than that?

Kapelsohn: Of course, it depends on what the case is, but in a use of force, I’m going to look for some justification for what you did. Imagine a gun-related case. It is going to be either a claim that I used force against you–either fired or pointed my gun at you, or unjustifiably threatened you in some way. My defense to that will be, it was justifiable self defense, whether I actually fired or not. Maybe I justifiably pointed a gun in self defense.

The other kind of case may be a negligence sort of case where I have accidentally discharged my gun; maybe the bullet ricocheted off the floor of the store and hit an innocent person, that kind of thing.

eJournal: Or to imagine something slightly different, you may have been acting in justifiable self defense, fired, and the bullet over penetrated and hit an innocent bystander. Now what?

Kapelsohn: That could be. Some of the things we call horror stories, are unfortunately sometimes real. It could be we are involved in an armed robbery in progress, we draw our gun, and we don’t shoot, but the armed robber shoots. One of his bullets hits the lady in aisle three who is picking up breakfast cereal for the family. She sues us, saying, “If you hadn’t drawn your gun, this robber would have taken the money and left the grocery store like most robbers do. You are the one who provoked a gun fight here in the grocery store. But for what you did, that robber would not have fired and hit me.”

eJournal: And that is not too far fetched?!

Kapelsohn: Not at all, that is not too far fetched.

eJournal: But what about standards of proof? We’re aware of the fairly stringent standards to which a criminal accusation is held. Isn’t it less of a challenge in civil court?

Kapelsohn: It is a whole lot less for civil! The Constitutional standard in a criminal case is that the government has to prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean 100% certainty, but it’s very close to that. Criminal defense attorneys always try to create a reasonable doubt that they can argue to the jurors: “Well, this witness testifies this; this one says this and so it may not have been my client who did this.”

On the other hand, unless there is an unusual statute involved that specifies a certain burden or standard of proof, in most civil cases you only have to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means 51%.

If Mr. A and Mrs. B sue each other, if the jury decides that it likes Mr. A’s argument, and thinks there is a 53% chance that he is the one telling the truth, compared to a 47% chance Mrs. B is truthful, Mr. A wins. Which way does the scale tip? 51% gets it. That’s a very, very relaxed standard. That is why you can have a civil suit even after a criminal prosecution where the person is acquitted.

Take the O.J. [Simpson] case as an example, where O.J. was acquitted because the government couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the murder of which he was accused. Then there is a civil suit, and the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, they only need to convince the jurors by a preponderance of the evidence—51% worth—that O.J. did it. The civil jury found O.J. liable, even though the criminal jury acquitted him. Someone may come after you civilly and be able to convince a jury that you are in the wrong. They just have to do a slightly better job of convincing the jury than your side did.

eJournal: Comparing civil cases and criminal defenses, in the latter, the considerable resources of the government are arrayed against the little guy. Is the playing field a little more even in a civil complaint?

Kapelsohn: No! The lawyers who handle these cases–whether it is a car accident, a medical malpractice, a slip and fall–are typically handling these cases on what is called a contingency fee basis, meaning the client does not have to pay them anything. They get their payment as a percentage of what they succeed in recovering, either by a jury verdict or by an agreed settlement. The contingencies will typically range anywhere from 30% to 40%, sometimes a little less or more, but that’s the normal range. It is common that contingent fee attorneys will make a deal with the client saying that the attorney gets one third of anything that they collect prior to trial, like a settlement, but if they have to go to trial they get 40% instead because they will need to put in more work.

This is a system that unfortunately, has good and bad to it. The good is, when a person gets hit by a car and doesn’t have the money to hire an attorney, an attorney will show up and say, “I’ll take your case on a contingency.” That is the good part: people of little means still get legal representation.

The bad part is that it encourages frivolous lawsuits; it encourages lawyers to go after people for things where it would be a different story if the plaintiff actually had to shell out some money to pursue the case. The British system is quite different! As I understand the legal system in England, if you sue someone for this injury and you lose, you have to pay their legal fees. You have to pay the defendant’s legal fees because you put them to the expense. That discourages cases that aren’t really valid and shouldn’t be brought.

eJournal: You spoke earlier of pre-trial settlements. Does a judge oversee that process?

Kapelsohn: Not always, in fact, that is fairly rare.

eJournal: So this happens between the lawyers?

Kapelsohn: The case may be going along, and maybe we’ve gotten through some stages of discovery where each side has taken depositions of the other. A deposition is question and answer under oath in front of a court reporter, but not in court. It is like courtroom testimony, in the sense that both clients and their lawyers and a court reporter will be there. Maybe a witness or a police officer will be there. You will be taking that person’s testimony under oath. It lets us know ahead of time what their testimony is going to be when we get to court. It nails down their testimony. It can be used to show that they have changed their testimony later on in court.

Through the discovery process of taking depositions and of sharing documents from each side, you may get medical records, you may get police reports, you may get witness statements or statements that someone made to their insurance carrier. You get all kinds of information.

In our kind of situation, the plaintiff may get all the information about what kind of training with guns the defendant had, what kinds of guns he owns, what gun magazines he subscribes to, what books he’s read, how many years he’s been using a gun, in what other states does he have concealed carry permits, is he a hunter, is he an NRA member, all those things. Once all that comes out for both sides, the attorneys have a better idea of how this case is likely to go at trial.

There may be expert witnesses for both sides, maybe an expert who says, “This was a justifiable use of a gun and here is why, and here is how we teach people in concealed carry classes.” Maybe there’s an expert for the other side who says, “This was not justifiable and here’s why.” Their depositions will be taken and they will have to submit expert reports, and so forth.

By the time that process is part way along or all the way along and we have not yet gotten to trial, both sides may have a better idea of how they think the percentages are stacking up. Is the handwriting on the wall that we are likely to lose this case big-time, or do we think we have a strong case? That typically leads to discussions between the attorneys, sometimes with insurance carriers involved, or others, and someone saying, “I know in my complaint we demanded seven million dollars in damages; we are willing to settle this for a mere 3.5 million.” And the other side may be saying, “Well, we are glad you came down from seven million to 3.5 million. We will raise our offer of settlement from $40,000 to $50,000,” because they are thinking that they can win at trial, or because they just don’t have a lot more money to offer.

When settlements take place, sometimes a judge will get involved in a settlement conference, but usually that will only happen if it is a jury trial because the judge does not want to get involved as a mediator between the parties, if he is going to then be the one making a decision about who is liable and who pays money.

eJournal: I wonder if it is better to rely on a judge at a bench trial to make a favorable decision or if you prefer to put the question in front of a jury.

Kapelsohn: It is going to depend on the nature of the case and the court and the state. In general, the plaintiff has a right to demand a jury trial if he or she wants one. If the plaintiff doesn’t demand a jury trial, sometimes the defendant has a right to demand a jury trial.

Sometimes people will prefer a bench trial, meaning a trial just to a judge, especially if it is a case where there’s been a lot of adverse publicity and they think it is very unlikely to get a jury that hasn’t already heard about this case and made up its minds about this case. They would rather have a judge make the decision. Then you may be rolling the dice about which judge you are going to get. In some states, from the beginning when you file the case, it is assigned to a particular judge. In other states, the judge is not assigned until just before trial, so you could get a judge who really has a problem with guns, self defense with guns, or people carrying guns or you could get the judge who carries a gun him- or herself. It is very much a gamble.

In this discussion, we are looking at it from the defense side of a civil law suit and usually the plaintiff has the option of a jury trial in those cases.

eJournal: Would they choose that option?

Kapelsohn: Usually, yes. They want a jury to sympathize with their point of view. We may believe we were right in defending ourselves, or doing what we did with our gun, and the question is, can we convince a jury of that? That will depend a lot on what part of the country we are. A jury in WY has a very different attitude about guns than a jury in suburban MA.

eJournal: This is very complex. How does the average citizen choose the best attorney to defend them against a civil suit?

Kapelsohn: The lawyer who is the best lawyer to handle your civil case may not be the same as the lawyer who is the best to handle your criminal defense. You need a good civil lawyer. Many lawyers don’t do both—they do either civil or criminal defense work.

You need to think about expert witnesses. As you know, I spend a lot of my time working as an expert witness and some of that is in civil cases. Your lawyer in a civil case may never have handled a civil case involving self defense with a firearm before, because it is rare. He may know nothing about guns, and even less about tactics. He may have handled a lot of automobile accident cases or medical malpractice cases, but you may be the first person who has ever come to him and said, “I am being sued civilly by someone I shot or by the estate of someone that I shot.”

First of all, if you can, try to find a lawyer who has experience in that field, but the other thing is, your lawyer may or may not know that there are expert witnesses that work in that field, whether that’s a shooting scene reconstructionist, or an expert on firearms training for private individuals, or a blood spatter expert or other criminalists who look at anything from fingerprints, to DNA, to fiber analysis–all the same things that police detectives look at. That may be necessary in order to defend you properly, so you have to have a lawyer who is tuned in to those kinds of things.

eJournal: Another possibility is hiring an additional attorney experienced in use of force matters and have him or her team up with your local attorney. While we have not yet needed to do that, it is one of the advantages we can give a member facing trial, owing to the strength of our Legal Defense Fund and the free hand we have as a member benefits organization to tailor the assistance to the needs of each situation.

Kapelsohn: Absolutely. An expression that has been used for years is that a good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge. So when you are being prosecuted in Sheboygan, where-ever that is, you need a local lawyer from Sheboygan who knows everybody there, knows everybody in the district attorney’s office, knows the judges, knows the system, knows the police, knows the locality and the demographics for picking a jury. It may also be that you need somebody from outside Sheboygan to come in who knows self-defense law and has experience in handling cases like yours.

eJournal: You mentioned at the beginning, the case of your retired police client. Since non-members also read our journal, what if someone can’t afford an attorney for civil defense? What can they do?

Kapelsohn: Well, it is very different from a criminal case, since the constitution guarantees you a right to legal representation in a criminal case. That does not hold true in a civil case. Whether or not you can succeed in having an attorney appointed for you by a court or whether there is a legal aid society or a law school clinical program that will provide you an attorney for your civil self-defense case is going to vary tremendously from state to state and city to city. Often, you are going to be out of luck if you can’t afford an attorney.

There may be legal aid societies or attorney referral services or systems the court has set up to provide you with an attorney in family law matters, divorce situations involving children, maybe in landlord-tenant matters. You should also check to see if there are law school organizations or clinical programs. When I went to law school, I was part of a prison legal defense project that provided legal representation for free to inmates and that was not just in criminal matters, it was in a variety of other matters. There was a similar clinical program that did landlord-tenant law, there was a similar clinical program that did certain kinds of civil rights law. You may find something like that through your closest law school. Certainly contact your local bar association and see if they have some kind of attorney referral service, but in general, if you can’t afford an attorney to defend you in a civil suit, you are going to be out of luck. That again points out why the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is so very important.

eJournal: It is a sad commentary on society that we have charitable groups to help defend just about everything but use of force in self defense. I guess that reminds armed citizens to be extremely guarded in what we do! You have identified a lot of facts about civil litigation that we need to think about, and as is true of the behind-the-scenes guidance that you give the Network, we are very grateful.
Attorney and Network Advisory Board member Emanuel Kapelsohn practices trial law in addition to his work as a firearms consultant/expert and author. He holds degrees from Yale University (with honors) and Harvard Law School, and has, since 1980, instructed thousands of police and security officers, federal agents, military personnel and private citizens throughout the U.S. and abroad. He both consults and provides expert testimony in both civil and criminal cases involving firearms and use of force and has testified in state and federal courts, and by invitation before both houses of Congress. Learn more about him at and

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