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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Massad Ayoob

JUSTICE

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

It is good to read a letter from a prosecutor to the defense lawyer that says, “Since meeting with you and your client I have personally undertaken a thorough review of this matter and am dismissing the charges against your client…Please find enclosed the Nolle Prosequi.”

Last month, about four cases cleared from my personal expert witness docket without having to go to trial.  This one, in the Southeast, involved a murder charge against a woman whose estranged husband had pounced her from the back seat of the car and was strangling her from behind when she drew the handgun she was licensed to carry and fired over her shoulder, ending the assault. The charges had been brought by a senior prosecutor infamous for her obvious dislike of armed citizens. That prosecutor lost the last election.  A highly competent defense lawyer sat down with the prosecutor from the new administration, who took her role as minister of justice seriously.  Kudos to the defense lawyer and prosecutor alike.

Out West, an idiot show-off bully wielded a gun to intimidate a professional rival. He claimed it “went off accidentally” and that he had never fired it before. The bullet inflicted a grievous, personal injury. I was retained by the plaintiff.  The defendant’s insurance company caved and settled for the max of the policy, a couple million dollars. Case closed.

In the heartland, a burglar attacked an armed homeowner who caught him in the act. Bad move: the armed citizen shot and killed him. His survivors sued.  For much less than cost of trial, the case was settled. How much? I figure after the plaintiff’s lawyers take their cut, their clients will get enough money to buy a nice lawnmower.  Full trial might have gone over $100,000; my fee as expert witness for the homeowner’s side would have been among the least of that.

Not far from that one, a manslaughter charge against a homeowner who’d killed a burglar was dropped in return for a plea to a misdemeanor, again saving the ordeal and six-figure expense of trial.  The respected defense lawyer who had retained me had shown all his cards to a respected prosecutor, and the latter had made a decision both sides were happy with.

There’s an analogy between gunfights and court fights.  History shows that when a stalwart, competent cop or civilian alike point a gun at a violent criminal and make it clear that if the assault continues, the criminal will die, the criminal generally surrenders or flees.  When a stalwart, competent legal defense team faces an unmeritorious allegation with facts, the lawyers on the other side often have the same epiphany: realizing they can’t win, they either offer an acceptable compromise or drop the matter entirely.

For the most part, the system works.  Thus the old saying among lawyers: “In the halls of justice, most of the justice is in the halls.”

17 Responses to “JUSTICE”

  1. Kevin P. Says:

    “The charges had been brought by a senior prosecutor infamous for her obvious dislike of armed citizens”.

    Angela Corey? If so, good riddance to that woman. She never missed an opportunity to give the shaft to citizens who used guns in self-defense:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Corey#Marissa_Alexander_case

  2. Joe M. Says:

    “Not far from that one, a manslaughter charge against a homeowner who’d killed a burglar was dropped in return for a plea to a misdemeanor…”

    What was the misdemeanor? It would be tough for me to accept that if I was clearly in the right.

  3. Mas Says:

    Joe, I’m on the road and away from the office, and don’t have the casefile in front of me.

  4. Roger in NC Says:

    Mas,
    in your most respected opinion, what would be the impact of a “loser pays” change to the current rules? Would it still mean that the ones with the deepest pockets would continue to have the advantage?

  5. Jim Abraham Says:

    Mas, I fail to see how any of the cases you described here represent justice. People who protect their lives or homes from a violent aggressor are then subject to the considerable aggravation and expense of defending their exercising of an inalienable and inherent right to self-defense. Justice? How?

    My guess is that not one of these defendants saw this aftermath as anything approaching justice.

  6. Jack Says:

    As a retired police officer who carries daily for decades now I’m considering getting an insurance policy for my family who also carries for the first time ever after hearing about such cases and watching Zimmerman go through hell and back. In this anti gun political climate we’re now in where we are asking police officers to leave schools due to wearing their weapons on uniforms it’s not about common sense laws anymore it’s about politics and political correctness.

    Just haven’t decided which company to go with. But as a family we’ve been talking about it.

  7. Jack Says:

    One very important point here while we are discussing this topic. KNOW THE LAWS ON JUSTIFIABLE USE of deadly force so God-forbid you have to use your weapon there is absolutely no hesitation and your knowledge puts you on better legal grounds.

    As a police officer I memorized the entire section on lawful use of deadly force and as an everyday citizen you should have the same knowledge.

  8. Mas Says:

    Jim, the justice was in the resolutions, not criminal accusations and a lawsuit that IMHO were off base. In the case where I was with the plaintiff, it cme out as good as it was going to for the victim.

  9. Mike Says:

    Living in the People’s Republic of Illinois, I would be extremely reluctant to accept any sort of misdemeanor conviction that I did not deserve, as that would likely allow the state to revoke or at least decline to renew my concealed carry license.

  10. Steve Says:

    Jack,
    Take a look at the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/ before you go the insurance route.

  11. Al in Missouri Says:

    Like the rest of the readers above, I think that it is a shame that someone defending their life would need to cop to a plea, no matter how minor, and to have the criminal victim’s family get even a dime awarded to them seems unjust. Just my opinion. Thank you for reminding us just how much the world has changed since my adolescence. 😉 I miss my country as I once knew it.

  12. George Lyon Says:

    Mas: You could do us all a service if you could write a book about some of the memorable cases on which you’ve served as an expert. I’ve seen you speak on several but having you dissect them on paper I think would be very helpful to the community and damn interesting.

  13. Petercat Says:

    Roger in NC:
    Loser Pays would work, and prevent deep-pockets abuse, if the loser were required to pay only up to the amount that they, themselves, had spent on the case.
    That would prevent a wealthy defendant from loading their team with expensive lawyers for the purpose of intimidating less wealthy plaintiffs.

  14. Roger Willco Says:

    I’m no expert, but I’ve heard people say our justice system is quite good. The crazy verdicts are the ones we hear about. Normally, justice is served. To quote one source, I’ve heard Ron Kuby say this on the wireless (amplitude modulation).

    I’m not afraid of our justice system, but I am afraid of it when it comes to self-defense and the Second Amendment. My guess is that, for many years, the police force did such a good job of keeping middle class Americans safe, that we lost our fear of crime. Losing our fear of crime, we thought we no longer needed to carry guns, and some people even left their cars and homes unlocked. When guns were no longer a part of everyday life, non-gun owners began to fear the guns. Beginning about 1968, crime worsened, and enlightened people began to think again about self-defense and the Second Amendment. The unenlightened are still in an “it can’t happen to me” bubble.

    Colonial Americans were REQUIRED to bring their muskets and blunderbusses to church. While in church, someone was sent to guard the empty homes in the village.

    If I’m not mistaken, even criminals were allowed to own and carry guns in the Old West. City life, and successful police work must have brought about the change in thinking of some Americans toward firearms. I’m just guessing.

  15. TN_MAN Says:

    @ Roger Willco,

    The desire for gun control has nothing (and I do mean NOTHING) to do with crime, the prevalence of crime, people’s attitude toward crime, efforts to prevent crime or fear of crime. All talk about gun control as a measure to curb crime and violence is mere rationalization and smoke-screen. It is just a justification for continuing with a left-wing policy.

    The desire for gun control is driven ENTIRELY by the left-wing world-view and the leftist philosophy of life and politics.

    As I have noted before, a leftist is a human who has (in many cases, subconsciously) made an underlying assumption (or philosophical choice) to believe that all of his or her fellow humans are inherently good or (at least) that all humans want to be good.

    This belief system leads them to a world-view whereby they cannot accept their fellow human beings as the source of evil in the world. Yet, it is self-evident that evil exists.

    So, to reconcile their philosophical world-view with reality, they are forced down a path whereby all the evils of the world must be blamed upon social or environmental factors EXTERNAL to mankind. They literally have a belief-system which tells them that humans are not evil, rather, it is the world that is evil.

    Therefore, to combat this evil, they must control and eliminate every source of evil in the world. Indeed, they must CONTROL the WORLD. Otherwise, how else can evil be eliminated? Hence, we can finally understand the overwhelming compulsion of the left to control and dominate. They literally believe that, by their control and domination of all government and political power, they will finally HAVE THE POWER to CRUSH the sources of evil and make the world into their left-wing utopia.

    The left has identified many environmental and social sources of evil. On the list is such things as poverty, racism, ignorance, drug abuse, etc. Hence, we see and understand the left’s desire and support for government programs to fight all these (presumed) sources of evil.

    The left has long since also identified weapons and weapon proliferation as an environmental source of evil. Therefore, the left will never, never, never stop pushing for such things as gun control (on the level of the individual) and arms limitation agreements (on the international government level).

    So, gun control springs from the core (indeed, the very nature) of the leftist world-view. All their statements about using it to combat crime and violence is mere justification for their philosophy. Do not make the mistake of believing that the left actually cares whether gun control works or not. They don’t care at all. All they care for is the ultimate ascendancy and the final victory of the leftist world-view.

  16. Roger Willco Says:

    TN_MAN,

    When you write, “The desire for gun control has nothing (and I do mean NOTHING) to do with crime, the prevalence of crime, people’s attitude toward crime, efforts to prevent crime or fear of crime,” I agree with you 90%. But can’t you imagine a man carrying a concealed pistol in New York City sometime between 1890 and 1925, and his wife saying to him, “Honey, I don’t think you need to carry that thing around anymore. We are in a modern city. We have a police force. And I don’t see any wolves, bears, highwayman, ruffians or wild Indians around here. Why don’t you leave it in the drawer?”

    No one could make the case for tough gun control laws if guns were really an everyday necessity. Leftists propose gun control laws, as you say, to make us weak and dependent on government. But sheeple go along with those proposals because they think guns are no longer necessary for anyone except the police and military.

  17. TN_MAN Says:

    @ Roger Willco,

    With respect, your statement that “No one could make the case for tough gun control laws if guns were really an everyday necessity” cannot be supported. Your statement implies that, as the necessity for defensive firearms increases, the support for gun control fades.

    The exact opposite is true. The leftist gun-grabbers seize upon any incident of crime, violence or terrorism (which normally should imply an increased reliance upon firearms for self-defense) and then use it to increase their calls for even more gun control. The left simply loves to “dance in the blood” of violence victims as they seek to exploit their deaths to further the leftist agenda.

    I stand by my previous statement. Gun control is driven by leftist ideology. Crime and violence are merely factors that the left exploits to further this ideology.

    Those in the public who support gun control do so because they have been indoctrinated and brain-washed by years and decades of leftist propaganda. Propaganda that has been fed to them, by leftist teachers and by the leftist elite media, from the moment that they first sprang from the cradle. Many for these “pawns of the Left” do, in fact, believe in gun control. The left has told them that it is the “Silver Bullet” solution to crime and violence for years. They have been told it thousands of times and, through repetition, many do believe it.

    However, as I noted above, all that the top leftist elites believe (and care about) is furthering the leftist cause. Gun control is just one tool that they are using to push their ideology to supremacy.

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