Saturday, April 30, 2011

Feel free to shoot first III

Rodney, get your gun!

In Rodney's case, the gun was a .44 Magnum with a laser sight that killed a sixteen-year-old Japanese exchange student on the front lawn, but we'll get to that later.

But let's start out with the claim by Rep Tony "Up against the wall, little Billy!" Cornish, described in the last post in this series, that Minnesota law needs to be amended to protect people who defend themselves from home invasions. As pointed out in that post, Tony's bill -- which was actually written by the NRA -- goes a lot farther than addressing home invasions. As I said, home invasions are a dead red herring. But since Cornish brought it up, let's discuss home invasions.

As others have pointed out, Minnesota law already addresses home invasions, Minnesota law includes a specific provision adopting what is sometimes called the "castle doctrine." Minn. Stat. sec. 609.065, first adopted in 1963 (which was a continuation of prior law on the subject), as it currently exists, states:
The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06 [the "general" use of force law], except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode.
 Ah, they don't write 'em like they used to. It places the issue of a killing to prevent the commission of a felony (violent or not) in an actor's "place of abode" elegantly within the law of justifiable homicide. Under the 1963 statute, a defense based on Minn. Stat. sec. 609.065, like other claims of justifiable homicide, is the defendant's burden to bring forward evidence of the defense.

In the case entitled State v. Carothers, 594 N.W.2d 897 (Sup. Ct. 1999), the Minnesota Supreme Court held, citing a string of earlier cases, that there is no duty to retreat before defending yourself in your own home; I am not aware of any retreat (so to speak) from that holding.

In State v. Pendelton, 567 N.W.2d 265 (Sup. Ct. 1997), the Minnesota Supreme Court said that you could resist the commission of a felony in your dwelling with deadly force, whether it was a violent felony or not:
Based on the language of the statute itself, it is clear that one does not have to fear great bodily harm or death to justify the use of deadly force to defend against the commission of a felony in one's home. The language of the statute requiring fear of great bodily harm or death is contained in the clause relating to self defense. In contrast, the "defense of dwelling" clause simply states that deadly force is justified in "preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode." Minn.Stat. § 609.065.
We can see that Cornish's claim that the bill is necessary to protect the rape victim he described in this video and described in the earlier post in this series is just wrong.

Well, crikey, you say, what's the big deal then? Well, a couple of things, and Rodney will help us understand them.

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