Beyond Black Letter Law

An Interview with Attorney Rob KeatingKeating R

In our January Attorney Question of the Month, Texas attorney Rob Keating concluded his comments by observing, “Even with good laws, it is important to understand how those statutes are interpreted by the courts.” I responded that he’d really hit the nail on the head, which led to a conversation about how appellate court decisions affect enforcement of statutory law. We switch now to Q&A format to share his explanations about case law with members who will likely find it as interesting as I did.

eJournal: Can we start by establishing definitions? What is case law?

Keating: When the courts interpret the law and determine how it should be applied in certain situations, they create what is called case law. 

eJournal: Is that the same thing as common law?

Keating: Common law is case law. The term common law refers to precedents set by prior court decisions. The system originated in England and is primarily used to resolve ambiguities in the statutes or codes.

eJournal: I have also read the term “judge-made law.” What does that mean?

Keating: Yes, it is also called judge-made law, although I haven’t heard that term used much since I left law school. That’s probably because it sounds a lot like “legislating from the bench” which has a negative connotation. I know that over the past few years I’ve heard a lot of people complain about activist judges not following the law and creating their own spin on things.

eJournal: I hadn’t picked up on that nuance in my reading, so I am glad you put it in context. Is there anything else about definitions that we should establish before exploring the effect of case law on our everyday lives?

Keating: There are additional factors like stare decisis that will help you understand.

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President’s Message

Marty Hayes

by Marty Hayes, J.D.

I started writing this month’s message on the day that I heard Rush Limbaugh lost his battle with lung cancer. As an avid listener, I am, of course, saddened but not surprised by his passing. He was open about his fight and as he dealt with it, we all saw an example of his graciousness. I remember the first time I heard him. I was driving from Dallas to Houston to teach a self-defense seminar. I listened to one program and I was hooked. R.I.P, Rush, you were an example to all of us.

I find a little reflection on how fragile life is to be in order. Rush was only 70 years old, four years older than I am and, of course, many readers here are older than 70. We do not know what the future holds for any of us and any of us could go at any time. I treat each and every day like it might be my last, because it just might. If I do not wake tomorrow, then I hope not to have left things outside the norm of human life undone for my wife, family and/or friends to try to finish.

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Attorney Question of the Month

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We’re starting to hear questions from Network members who are planning cross country summer vacations. Naturally, they’re particularly concerned about the potential for violating weapon restrictions and self-defense laws once they leave home where they are familiar with the law. Their concern extends beyond guns and includes worry about restrictions on pepper spray, Taser®s, knives and other non-gun self-defense tools, too.

In hopes of aiding these intrepid travelers, we presented the following question to our affiliated attorneys:

When armed citizens vacation in your state, what weapon and self-defense laws are they most likely to be unaware of and may inadvertently violate?

If a Network member is planning to vacation in your state, what advice would you offer about their self-defense weapons and provisions?

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Book Review

Montgomery SeondsSeconds to Live or Die: Life-Saving Lessons from a Former CIA Officer

By Robert Montgomery

Published by Guard Well Defense (August 18, 2020)

Paperback : 278 pages

ISBN-13 : 978-1544509488

$15 softbound at; $5.99 eBook on

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

A few months ago, I started reading Seconds to Live or Die: Life-Saving Lessons from a Former CIA Officer by Robert Montgomery and, liking the instruction on awareness, avoidance and preparation, I picked it back up this month. While there’s little in Montgomery’s book that will be new to our most dedicated training enthusiasts; that is not the reason it interested me. I am always hunting for books that can be gifted to friends and family members I’d like to prepare to defend themselves. Free of the jargon and bluster common to a lot of self-defense books, the first half of Seconds to Live or Die is an engaging and educational introduction.

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Editor's Notebook

gila 300by Gila Hayes

Because armed citizens are so alarmed about anti-gun legislation, Network members have been calling and emailing to ask what we are doing to stop firearms restrictions from becoming law and if enacted, to overturn them. Some questions have come from members who joined within the past few months and may not have studied our outline of membership assistance as closely as we might like. When that becomes apparent in conversation or email, we are happy to spend time clarifying what the Network does and does not do. Recently, questions find me regularly reminding members that the Network’s mission is exclusively focused on the legal defense of legitimate use of force in self defense by members.

In answer to requests that the Network involve itself in politics either in the member’s own state or in Washington D.C., I have to explain that expanding into pro-gun lobbying would necessitate major reallocations of money away from member education and the Legal Defense Fund.

As necessary as it is, lobbying is not the Network’s mission. Our mission is the education of members and defense of legitimate use of force in self defense by members. While my personal politickin’ includes letter writing and donations to pro-gun voices over a diverse spectrum, as an organization, the Network’s resources are strictly committed to the legal defense of individual members after self defense.

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About this Journal


The eJournal of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is published monthly on the Network’s website at Content is copyrighted by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

Do not mistake information presented in this online publication for legal advice; it is not. The Network strives to assure that information published in this journal is both accurate and useful. Reader, it is your responsibility to consult your own attorney to receive professional assurance that this information and your interpretation or understanding of it is accurate, complete and appropriate with respect to your particular situation.

In addition, material presented in our opinion columns is entirely the opinion of the bylined author, and is intended to provoke thought and discussion among readers.

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