March 2014 - Pg 5
Good News, Bad News
by Marty Hayes, J.D.
I love the saying “I have good news and I have bad news.” The good news is that many of our members are reading this journal and paying attention to what is being said. This was reinforced by questions about the last two journal’s lead articles by Dr. Wendy Saxon regarding jury issues. The bad news is that some of you have not liked what she had to say and it appears that part of her message raised some questions in our members’ minds. However, that our members are asking questions and thinking things through is good news, too.
One member wrote to us to ask about Dr. Saxon’s advice to avoid collecting more guns than what is needed. Let me address that concern. To understand a person’s advice one must understand the person’s situation. If I lived in Southern California like Dr. Saxon does, and I primarily saw court cases in Southern California and saw the bigotry against gun owners as she has, then I would not only give the same advice, but would also follow it.
A jury in So. Cal. will be heavily weighted with anti-gun jurors, so your attorney would not have enough pre-emptory challenges to even the field. Knowing that, if I lived in that area, I would be very conservative in my approach to gun ownership.
But, here is the deal: we are all logical thinking and intelligent adults, with the ability to sort through a tremendous amount of information with which to make decisions. Knowing that, the Network does not shy away from presenting information that may contradict some other information we have offered, because for the most part, all articles and advice given is simply the opinion of the author. It is your duty to filter the information through your own knowledge and particular circumstances.
To return to the example of Dr. Saxon’s advice about gun collections: because I live in rural Washington State, I am not concerned about possessing a large gun collection for two reasons. One is that I suspect the jury might identify with me better, because my jury will be the opposite of a So. Cal. jury. And secondly, the judiciary here would likely refuse to let my gun collection be used as evidence in court. On the other hand, in So. Cal. the judge would likely let it in as evidence of premeditation, thinking, “Why this is even an issue going to the prosecution’s theory of the case and the evidence they wish to introduce in court is relevant evidence to prove the criminal charges.”
If the prosecution claims that you were a “loose cannon,” a “gun nut” and one pre-disposed to using guns to solve every problem, in some jurisdictions the judge would allow introduction of your “arsenal” in court as evidence of premeditation and mindset. In fact, in a court case last year that I worked on as an expert, the prosecution presented exactly this scenario. Fortunately, the judge disallowed it. This occurred in rural Pennsylvania, but if it had been in Pittsburg or Philadelphia, the outcome might have been different.
I wish I had simple answers to the various questions posed about the use of deadly force in self defense, but I don’t because each incident is unique and each unique incident will have different variables. We will continue to publish the best information possible and rely upon our members to apply what is useful for them.
More Good News
(and No Bad News)
At the risk of harping on California too much, I suspect most of us reading this have been enthused by the recent turn of events in CA, where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the need-based way California sheriffs currently issue concealed carry permits, replacing that with a shall issue directive. Interestingly, the Sheriff of San Diego County, a party to the legal action, decided not to appeal the ruling.