October 2014 Network Journal - Pg 12
That said, when I am convinced that my client is foursquare correct in his exercise of his privilege of self defense, I have goals for a bail hearing which run beyond my client’s release–although that is the goal of primacy. When my client has been charged in spite of the legitimacy of his exercise of self defense it is likely because the prosecutor has developed his views on violence from the safety and comfort of an armchair before the television, and hopes for a jury which is similarly disposed. The bail hearing is my first opportunity to fire a shot across the prosecutor’s bow, and to begin to educate the court (who’s view of violence also generally comes from television). It’s also my first opportunity to begin educating the media, who are always present at any hearing on a homicide case up here in the sticks. The bail hearing is an excellent opportunity to begin conditioning the court and community.
In Wisconsin the rules of evidence do not strictly apply at bail hearings and I use this to my best advantage. Hearsay is allowable, and learned treatises on the subject of self defense are admissible. At this stage I’m generally not too concerned about revealing my hand to the state, at least in so far as the self-defense aspects of my case are obvious.
I do keep a judicious eye on what might be best played as a “hold back” card. Since character of the accused is also at issue in a bail hearing, this is a good opportunity to showcase all of my client’s better angles.
The second part of this question involves what should be done in advance of a self-defense shooting to be ready for a bail hearing. Frankly, most of my clients are lucky if they have the funds to afford a lawyer, and much of my work is by court appointment. Any suggestion of laying up a standing bail fund in lieu of paying the rent would, in these parts, be nothing more than a statement of best intention. I try to school my clients who are interested in self defense in how not to need that bail fund in the first place. To that end, I am quick to recommend Marc MacYoung’s excellent work In the Name of Self-Defense as required reading.
A big “Thank you!” to these Network affiliated attorneys for their helpful responses to this question. Readers, please come back next month for more responses to the interesting insurance question.
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