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Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 6:53 AM
LAW & SELF DEFENSE INSTRUCTION
By Mitchell Lake, Esq.

In terms of a use of force incident, the legal profession suffer from it’s own marketing.

Lawyers do this in part by overselling the complexity of the situation to the general public, in that we explain all the possible pitfalls, perils and things that can go wrong in the aftermath of a use of force incident, and we expect you to be overwhelmed…and thus hire us.

Yes. Attorneys are out to make money. So are shooting instructor, plumbers, prostitutes, engineers and the guy who installs your HVAC system. (Of them all, prostitutes are the most honest and have the best reputation.)

This over-marketing, seems to have produced a side industry of people in the tactical instruction marketplace who as part of their classes attempt to reduce the legal aspects of self defense easily digestible components for their students.

Unfortunately, those attempting to reduce the volume & complexity of information to the retail tactical consumer do not always have the best grasp of the information they purvey, nor are they always cognizant of how the actual statutes are applied in court, or understand the reasoning behind the information they purvey.

You shouldn’t go to a law office to learn gun fighting (…Well, not yet. Let me get some more classes in and I’ll fix that…Personal Injury Legal Services may just get a whole new meaning in a few years…), and you really shouldn’t go to a tactical school to learn about law.

However; gun fighting schools would be negligent if they didn’t give their students basic information regarding use of force laws; but how will the student know if the teacher is saying anything worth listening to?

I) Simplicity

This is self defense, not Federal Administrative Procedure Act litigation or Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. (Shudder. Bad law school memories…) The area of self defense law is not overly complex.

It’s not SIMPLE, and it does require significantly more mental effort than “tried by 12 or carried by 6, and to hell with all the legal mumbo-jumbo…” – but overly complex? No.

The subjective/objective test, Ability/opportunity/intent/jeopardy, applicable retreat statutes or castle doctrine laws and rules for what constitutes reasonable force are not overly complex in practical application.

They should not be so in explanation.

You need instruction that is simple, applicable to a broad variety of situations, easily usable under stress (like…after shooting someone…maybe?) and able to be understood at a bone deep level so you can use it to filter the data from the situation as it comes in subconsciously.

If your instructor is not providing you with that, then they are doing you a disservice.

II) Source material

Another factor you should be on the lookout for - is an instructor providing you with a copy of statutes for you to read absent any legitimate source’s interpretation of them.

Perhaps your state has a law of retreat – it’s probably no different in drafting and language from 15 other state’s laws (legislatures are not the most inventive…they tend to copy a lot from other states…) but in application? How is it applied in your area? Have courts made it a narrow, almost archaic provision that is merely given lip service allowing you to effectively ignore it and stand your ground in practical application – or is it adhered to strictly, making your rules of engagement very tight?

You will not be able to tell by a copy of the law. If you are not given recent, citable sources applicable to your jurisdiction, you have questions that need to be answered.

Teaching general principles of use of force is one thing. Many instructors do classes in multiple states, and asking them to be fully up to par on the minutia of all the states they travel to would be asking too much.

However, your local instructor purporting to teach the law of his state to his class absent proper interpretation, quite another.

Legitimate sources to look for are the state’s jury instructions, American Jurisprudence excerpts, court cases, and Law Review Articles.

Be aware that while this area of law doesn’t change very much, it does evolve. Material from 15 years ago may still be accurate – or not.
If you aren’t receiving info on how up to date your instructor’s material is, question the freshness of the product you are getting.

III) Reasoning for choosing the instructor’s line of thinking.

As an example of this, let’s look at advice on post incident behavior/statements.

This is an area in which I respectfully disagree with Mr. Ayoob because of my training and experience as a criminal defense attorney. I believe the less spoken to the police, the better (my thinking lies toward #1 Shut up. #2 Lawyer up, #3 Shut up again...); however, I know & understand the reasons Mr. Ayoob has for his advice, and I am further familiar with his qualifications for offering it.

Beware of people merely parroting his advice on statements, or offering alternative advice without the ability to explain the reasoning behind the position they take or the qualifications to make that allow them to make a decision intelligently on the subject.

If an instructor is unable/unwilling to explain why he follows a particular line of thought - beware. Further, if they do not have the qualifications to make that choice intelligently, the same.

Being a current or former police officer is not enough. Being an attorney – the same.

What experience do they have in the area of investigations or criminal representation? I don’t ask anyone to blindly accept what I’m saying based on a piece of paper on my wall. If I can’t explain why I’d suggest a course of action to your satisfaction, they I wouldn’t ask you to follow it.

Should you get less from an instructor?

Further, as to explanations for a given course of action – be sure they are applicable to you.

If, for example, an instructor’s experience in this area is that of a large city tactical officer who was involved in multiple job related shootings, his post shooting experiences may be greatly influenced by his point of view, and his experiences will probably not be a 1:1 correlation to what you may experience in the aftermath of a situation.

Everyone has a point of view. Make sure you know what the instructor’s is before adopting it for yourself.

A self defense instructor does not have to be an attorney to provide a competent level of instruction to the retail training consumer in the area of law surrounding use of force.

However, that’s no excuse for handing a student
a line of outdated, oversimplified bull... or a confusing mass of information under the theory that the student won’t understand it anyway.

It’s your life and your freedom.

Demand better.

johnny_22
08-04-2010, 7:41 AM
Is this you?

Address registered with state bar
924 Noble Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06608

" * 4 years since Mitchell I Lake was first licensed to practice law in CT"

http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/06608-ct-mitchell-lake-1481942.html

How many self-defense clients have you had?

taperxz
08-04-2010, 7:47 AM
A little spam perhaps?

Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 8:09 AM
Is this you?

Address registered with state bar
924 Noble Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06608

" * 4 years since Mitchell I Lake was first licensed to practice law in CT"

http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/06608-ct-mitchell-lake-1481942.html

How many self-defense clients have you had?

I sure hope so...because if not, someone's been getting my mail.

As to how many SD clients have I had, several.

My client base...doesn't usually have permits...which make the self defense arguments more of a mitigating factor for other things rather than a determining factor.

The best case I've had was a legit self defense case were I was able to get my client out of a bad jam due to his not having a CT permit. He thought his permit from UT was valid in CT, and ended up spending a month in jail facing a 5 year term for the carrying w/o a permit in addition to charges of threataning, assault and creating a public distrubance (that was an additional 5 years he was looking at. Strange how the gun charge carried more weight than pointing it at someone did...).

Ended up with the charges being dismissed and he got off with no record.

Others...Well. Let's just say that it is not helpful when the statement one gives to the police involves the words "I didn't do anything to him. He fell...".

Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 8:12 AM
A little spam perhaps?

Sorry...I'm not following you.

Would you like me to take the post down?

JJE
08-04-2010, 10:20 AM
Spam? Sounds like reasonable information to me.

johnny_22
08-04-2010, 10:25 AM
I appreciate the advice from someone who has actually defended a client in a self defense situation. However, Mas' advice on offering to sign a complaint, pointing out the evidence and witnesses, then asking for your lawyer seems to be good advice. I will follow some of yours and some of Mas and, with hope, have a chance at the trials (criminal and civil).

I belong to the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network and get DVDs from them on this subject. Your advice matches theirs exactly, except for the "say nothing" part.

Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 11:06 AM
I am a referral attorney for the ACLDN in CT, and I'm familiar the material they put out. I agree with most of it, just not all of it; however, just not all of it.

Reasonable people can disagree based on training & experience.

The point of what I am saying above is that if you are going to be getting info on use of force legal matters, make sure the person you go to (and presumably pay) is not going to sell you a bill of outdated, unreliable goods or present it to you in a manner which requires a J.D. to understand.

Like I said - its your training money. Get the most out of it.

Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 11:08 AM
I will follow some of yours and some of Mas and, with hope, have a chance at the trials (criminal and civil).



The civil trial on the "he fell" case was...

fun.:rolleyes:

edwardm
08-04-2010, 1:21 PM
Timely thread. As another shark, I have to more or less agree with Mitchell.

I haven't defended anyone (yet) in a justifiable shooting or brandishing incident, though I've dealt with a few cases involving the display or use of a weapon in putative self-defense. The generic tactic that works best? Shut up and get in touch with counsel ASAP and/or demand counsel ASAP. There are nuances to this and corollary rules not worth getting into right now.

However, I have zero experience with what self-defense instructors tell students (in any state) about objective vs. subjective beliefs of imminent peril, castle/retreat laws and the like. I also find it hard to swallow that any *decent* self-defense instructor for a CCW course is going to spout lousy information to students - there is too much at stake, even if only reputation. But, I concede such stupidity is possible and perhaps probable.

Maybe something like this could be wrapped into an earlier thread (can't find now) about MCLE on 2A issues for lawyers. Add in a section on counseling self-defense/CCW instructors on the basics of self-defense laws, areas of state-specific differences, current legal interpretations and so on. Package it all up. deliver the information, and send forth more lawyers that can reach out to the 'right' people further down the line.

Definitely an interesting thread here.

Mitchell_in_CT
08-04-2010, 1:36 PM
However, I have zero experience with what self-defense instructors tell students (in any state) about objective vs. subjective beliefs of imminent peril, castle/retreat laws and the like. I also find it hard to swallow that any *decent* self-defense instructor for a CCW course is going to spout lousy information to students - there is too much at stake, even if only reputation. But, I concede such stupidity is possible and perhaps probable.



I sent a client to a local guy who did self defense and the law classes. The class was...sub optimal...from what I was told. The info was confused, and not street usable.

It was presented in a too complex format, with a lot of anicdotal examples that really weren't helpful, and no source material other than a photocopy of statutes.

Granted, that's a teaching issue - but still, someone paid for the information, and while they got it, it wasn't usable.

If I buy a gun, I want a gun, not a frame, slide and barrel with some pins & springs. Sure, it's the same thing, but it's not out of the box usable.

edwardm
08-04-2010, 4:06 PM
Problem is, if the instructor is also not a member of the bar in good standing, they're going to start poking into 'unauthorized practice of law' territory.

Could the information be organized? Sure, just like when you sat through contracts in law school - you got a black letter rule or a statute (say, UCC 2 stuff), you got some cases that interpreted it, and from that you came away (hopefully) with some sort of rule. Doing the same for self-defense isn't rocket science, but it's outside the purview of non-lawyer instructors (I think). It's not a question of smarts or ability, but a question of their role in the class (or the perceived role).

Still, I think some CLE-type of work can go a ways towards cleaning this up if it's really a widespread problem.

I sent a client to a local guy who did self defense and the law classes. The class was...sub optimal...from what I was told. The info was confused, and not street usable.

It was presented in a too complex format, with a lot of anicdotal examples that really weren't helpful, and no source material other than a photocopy of statutes.

Granted, that's a teaching issue - but still, someone paid for the information, and while they got it, it wasn't usable.

If I buy a gun, I want a gun, not a frame, slide and barrel with some pins & springs. Sure, it's the same thing, but it's not out of the box usable.

ZombieTactics
08-04-2010, 4:43 PM
I can say that during the "how to stay out of jail if you defend yourself" lectures at FrontSight, they openly asked for a show of hands of LEO and defense attorneys in attendance ... about 12 hands went up. They then openly called for any of them to offer ANY contradictory information or advice based upon their experience and jurisdiction.

There were some minor quibbles about how arrest procedure happens in some jurisdictions, but nothing else.

As such, I take what I learned to be of some value.

Wherryj
08-05-2010, 2:12 PM
I am a referral attorney for the ACLDN in CT, and I'm familiar the material they put out. I agree with most of it, just not all of it; however, just not all of it.

Reasonable people can disagree based on training & experience.

The point of what I am saying above is that if you are going to be getting info on use of force legal matters, make sure the person you go to (and presumably pay) is not going to sell you a bill of outdated, unreliable goods or present it to you in a manner which requires a J.D. to understand.

Like I said - its your training money. Get the most out of it.

It seems to be a recurring theme to clam up.

Speaking in the stressful moments after a SD shooting runs the possibility of one's words getting a bit confused. It is easy to take these statements out of context...

The more that is said, the less legal room a lawyer has to use.

I'm not sure about the controversy. Even the best meaning honest and seeming straight forward statement after a shooting could end up being used against you.

Wherryj
08-05-2010, 2:16 PM
I presume that this is similar to law in other areas. I have been in depositions. One of the major rules of a deposition is "Don't offer more information than asked for." I believe that rule 2 was, "I don't understand the question" and rule 3 was "I don't have a specific recollection of that event."

In other words, why use a two paragraph answer when "yes" or "no" could suffice? Why use a thousand words to hang yourself when 10 words might suffice? What is the definition of "the"?

Law is a game. A good lawyer can twist almost any statement that you make, especially one made after an emotional and stressful event. Your good lawyer can make sure that your statement is clear, concise and not open to too many interpretations.

I'd agree with Mitchell in CT on this, even though I'm only a relatively uninformed physician.

campperrykid
08-06-2010, 5:06 AM
Good info and a valuable antidote for some of the standard error net drivel.