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Plea Bargaining: When, Why and Why Not

An Interview with Attorney Kevin E. J. Regan

Interview by Gila Hayes

Imagine being swept along in a dynamic situation in which justification for use of deadly force that was present at the beginning of the confrontation has diminished or is no longer present at the time the gun is brandished or fired. Maybe all but one of a group of multiple attackers disengage and run away; how strong is your justification for use of deadly force now faced with only one? Perhaps the fight moves from public property onto the private property of the person against whom you were initially defending. Maybe you disarm the assailant, so he or she no longer has a deadly weapon. When self defense is no longer clear cut, the attorney’s job of defending you changes. We discussed these issues with Network Affiliated Attorney Kevin E. J. Regan, of Kansas City, Missouri.

For over 33 years, Regan has worked as an attorney, starting as Assistant District Attorney in the Johnson County, Kansas District Attorney’s Office for several years, after which he became trial team leader and senior trial attorney for the Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor’s Office. He started litigating early when, as a third-year law student, he tried his first murder case. “I was believed to be the first law school student in the country to try to win a murder case while still in school. I was first chair counsel on a firearms case, a shooting, actually, with self defense at issue.”

He has won verdicts for the prosecution and the defense in many homicides involving use of firearms. He was the first member of his class to argue a case before the Kansas Supreme Court and one of the first-ever appointed special federal prosecutors for the District of Kansas. He also acted as a special prosecutor for the Missouri Attorney General’s office, handling several major cases throughout the state.

“I prosecuted and defended some of the higher-profile battered women’s syndrome cases in my jurisdiction,” Regan adds, noting that he is an avid supporter of women’s rights to self defense.

He recollects an unpopular decision he made, refusing to prosecute a woman who shot the husband who had abused her for years, stuck there by the learned helplessness, a condition that is acknowledged today but was only being introduced at the time.

Moving into private practice in the late eighties, Regan has since defended a wide variety of cases ranging from criminal defense, Second Amendment issues and civil litigation. He is a sworn fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an exclusive association limited to the top 1% of trial lawyers in America into which one is invited only after a thorough vetting. “You can’t buy your way in to it or apply for membership. You have to be selected, vetted, investigated and then chosen,” Regan explains.

“I have successfully defended to jury verdict many self-defense cases involving use of deadly force,” he told us. “Last year alone, I had two cases where I was able to have no charges filed. I tried one case to verdict where my client was charged with homicide with a firearm where the jury was out less than ten minutes before they said, ‘Not guilty.’ Actually, they said, ‘Not guilty’ on their way up the stairs to deliberate, but the bailiff said you can’t say, ‘Not guilty’ so soon because the judge has ordered you pizza. So they ate their pizza and they came back and said ‘Not guilty,’” he chuckles.

Readers of this journal will recognize Regan as a frequent contributor to our Attorney Question of the Month column and firearms students in the Kansas City, Missouri area may also recognize him as an instructor. He explains, “I’m a true believer in the Second Amendment and the American citizens’ rights under that amendment and I try to encourage those getting into that life style to get the appropriate training so they can confidently and competently–that’s the crucial part–practice that Second Amendment right. I enjoy speaking at no charge to self-defense, shooting and CCW classes to explain legal issues to the students.