Marty eJournal column pixby Marty Hayes, J.D.

This month, I am going to deviate a little from my usual glib and witty riposte and relate a real-life story that we are only now able to tell, about a humble truck driver, pro-gun advocate and friend of the Network, who has lived a nightmare since February 2016.

Network member Bob Mayne, produces Handgun World Podcast on which Paul Lathrop first told the story of his ordeal. In the podcast Paul speaks with Bob and goes into extreme detail about the ordeal he went through, leading up to the ultimate dismissal of the charges in late August. He gives several great, unsolicited testimonials regarding the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. It is worth your time to listen to Paul’s interview and through it to better understand the philosophy behind the Network and why we are different from our competitors.

The story begins on a run to the West Coast. While training a new driver, Paul stopped at a truck stop west of Omaha, NE. He was resting in the sleeper, letting the new driver do the fueling. According to the podcast featuring Paul, another truck driver was pulling out, but stopped in front of Paul’s truck, blocking him in. The student pulled their truck forward and the other driver began waving at them. The student driver “gave him the #1 salute” and began to try to back their truck up. The other driver bailed out and began running towards Paul’s truck, still waving and screaming, “I’m not moving; you’re not moving.”

Approaching Paul’s truck, the other driver grabbed the truck’s mirror and attempted to get up into the cab to reach the student driver. At that point, Paul yelled, “Dude, I’ve got a gun,” which stopped the altercation. The other guy went back to his truck. Paul and his driver trainee maneuvered their truck around and drove away, but were stopped 30 minutes later by NE State Patrol and questioned about the incident. They were then escorted back to the other driver’s location and immediately arrested for making terroristic threats and commission of a felony with a firearm by a Sarpy County, NE deputy.

Paul was booked into jail and called to tell his wife, Susan, that he was in jail, arrested for a felony and would not even see a judge for a bail hearing for four days. Susan went right to work, contacting friends and listeners to Paul’s Polite Society Podcast to let them know what had happened. Many contributed to a defense fund to help with bail and legal expenses.

Many of Paul’s friends are Network members. One was deeply concerned by his plight, called us and purchased memberships on behalf of Paul and Susan. We made sure the donor understood that because Paul was not a member of the Network at the time of the incident, the Network could not help fund his defense. Our member replied that he understood and still wanted to gift the couple with a Network membership so they would have access to non-monetary membership benefits like the affiliated attorney lists and our educational lectures. Interestingly, not long thereafter another Network member called and wanted to make the same gift. We told him another had already done it.

Naturally, we wanted to help Paul, too, without violating our policy of reserving the Legal Defense Fund for members, so I posted a report of his incident on our Network Facebook page, and many of our Network members subsequently contributed to Paul’s defense fund, raising enough money to pay the $2,500 bail to get Paul out of jail and hire an attorney. I contacted Susan by phone the same day and explained the situation to her, but offered to assist in any way I could. I was able to help her get in touch with Network Affiliated Attorney James Davis in Omaha, NE, whom Paul subsequently hired. He comments, “The Network has offered tremendous help throughout…They were the ones that helped me when they didn’t have to.”

Now, continuing with the story, according to records of the initial court hearing, the arresting deputy told the court that the driver who instigated the incident told the deputy that Paul got out of the truck cab waving a revolver and threatening to kill the other driver. It was this deputy’s testimony that got Paul arrested.

Paul comments that from mid-February up through dismissal of charges in August, his incident-related expenses have exceeded “tens of thousands of dollars,” adding, “If I had been a member of ACLDN [the Network] I wouldn’t be out a penny…Do you have a balance in your checking account so you can write a check right now for $12,500?” he asks rhetorically.

While I really appreciate Paul’s endorsements, the real reason I wrote about this incident and provided the link to the story, told in first person, is that this is the type of situation that any armed citizen can face at any time, even if they do everything right. This example is the reason that I formed the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network back in 2008. It is worth the time to listen to the podcast at Paul has some insightful comments as to what he could have done differently after the initial altercation.

It is also worth noting that this is the type of incident in which Network members routinely find themselves. Of the 13 cases in which the Network has helped members, only one involved the Network member shooting an individual. The remainder were cases where either the member defended himself with something other than a gun, or made threats at gunpoint. These types of cases are MUCH more difficult to defend, because usually there are differing stories being told to the police. In many instances, the individual had every right to draw the gun and threaten its use if the agitators didn’t stop, but the stories told to the police make them think the defender was the criminal.

If you are not a member and want to avoid a situation like Paul’s, please join the Network now.

Membership and Legal Defense Fund Grows

Network membership is now well over 11,000 members and at the current growth rate, will hit 12,000 by the end of the year. In addition, despite the Legal Defense Fund taking a $50,000 hit this spring and summer to pay a member’s legal fees, we are back up to over $800,000 in the Legal Defense Fund.

I like to keep the membership informed of the status of the Fund, as the one biggest concern potential members voice is the fluidity of the Legal Defense Fund. They wonder if there will be money there if and when they need it. As you either know or should know, there are NO GUARANTEES of any certain amount of money the Network will pay to defend a member, but with that, there are no limits either, EXCEPT that we have committed that we will not spend over half of the Fund for any individual member.

I can still remember reaching the milestones of $50k, $100k, $250k and $500k. I look forward to the next milestone, that being ONE MILLION DOLLARS available for our members. The frustrating thing is that we could be there tomorrow if each member simply convinced one of their friends to join the Network or if they bought a membership for a friend or family member. Think about it, okay?

Click here to return to our September 2016 Journal to read more.