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Next, what steps can the armed citizen take ahead of time to ensure that they do not alienate a jury?

This is a very important question. One should always strive to project restraint, maturity and respect for seriousness of the use of deadly force. Conversely, there are many things one should avoid in their present lives to avoid alienating a hypothetical jury somewhere in their future. I will give three:

(1) One should never festoon himself, his home, his web page or Facebook page or his personal equipment with bellicose, macho phrases, pictures or symbols designed to portray himself as some sort of menacing warrior/killer/tough-guy. For example: A big picture of a revolver, viewed from the business end, with the legend “WE DON’T DIAL 911” or “WE DON’T GIVE WARNING SHOTS” would make very inconvenient exhibits in a prosecution where one is accused of shooting an intruder without sufficient cause. It is unwise for one to advertise his lack of maturity, aggressive nature or lack of respect for legal means of dealing with intruders or aggressors.

(2) Do not take training from any school or individual instructor who markets its or their programs with pugnacious or combative public statements. For example: I have seen a school that sought to distinguish itself from schools that offered “shooting vacations” by advertising “WE TEACH PEOPLE TO KILL PEOPLE.” Every person trained under that banner can expect to have it draped around their neck in any future prosecution involving accusations of excessive or unnecessary use of force. While your lawyer endeavors to make the jury believe you used only that force immediately necessary to stop a threat, with somebody’s death being an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence, your former instructor is proclaiming you were taught the objective was to kill.

Just like the warrior/killer/tough-guy T-shirts and bumper stickers, this is very dumb. Select those instructors you would want appearing in court as witnesses on your behalf, not people your lawyer will have to try and explain away.

(3) Imagine an exhibit sticker on every post you make to any gun board, every tweet and every comment on “the wall.” Those posts are forever.

If you spend your life making menacing statements, trying to convince the world you are deadly and ready to kill anyone who crosses you, someone is liable to believe it.

H.M. Whitesides, Jr.
Law Offices of H.M. Whitesides, Jr., P.A.
225 E. Worthington Ave., Set. 100, Charlotte, NC 28203
704-372-7670
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I would want people who had been victims of a crime or related to someone who was a crime victim, gun owners who had purchased a weapon, hunters and people who agree with the Zimmerman verdict. I would keep off anyone who has a sociology degree or works for any agency that provides welfare or assistance programs as they tend to be pacifists.

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We extend a hearty “Thank you!” to our Network Affiliated Attorneys for participating in this interesting discussion. We will wrap it up next month, so don’t miss the final installment of this Question of the Month.

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