Orange County D.A. Office removed from Murder Case Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a "chronic failure" to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial, in Orange County, California. The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai's attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' conflict of interest in the Dekraai case "is not imaginary," the judge wrote. "It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations." In hearings last year, the judge heard testimony from Orange County jailers Seth Tunstall and Ben Garcia, who belonged to the "special handling" unit that dealt with informants. Despite extensive questioning, however, neither made mention of secret jailhouse computer logs — called TRED records — with which both had extensive experience...The ruling marked a victory for Dekraai's defense attorneys, who said the district attorney's office had covered up wide-ranging misconduct in its zeal to put the killer on death row. On Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai walked into the Salon Meritage and opened fire, killing his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48, along with salon owner Randy Fannin, 62; Lucia Kondas, 65; Michele Fast, 47; Victoria Buzzo, 54; Laura Elody, 46; Christy Wilson, 47; and David Caouette, 64, who was shot as he sat in his car outside. Read more "It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…"
Mance v. Holder Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-539-O Fed. Dist. Ct. A federal district court in Texas overturned a 1968 gun law prohibiting the sale of handguns to out-of-state residents, granting those who live in Washington, D.C., the ability to travel to an out-of-state gun store, buy a handgun and bring it home without a middleman. The ruling takes aim at the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited handgun sales to out-of-state residents and was defended by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who argued that the law doesn’t violate the Second Amendment. Proponents of lifting the ban said the 1968 law had become dated given technological advances in instant background checks, which are performed every time a gun is purchased from a federally licensed firearm dealer. It also prohibited a robust national handgun market from developing, as rifles and shotguns can be purchased regardless of state residency, but handguns are not. Judge Reed O'Connor said the law had to survive the highest level of scrutiny and ruled that it plainly did not. He granted the gun vendors’ request for a summary judgment striking down the law. “Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Defendants have not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government’s goals under current law. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face,” he wrote. The decision can be appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and Justice may ask for a stayBut if it stands, the Texas court’s ruling would allow a pistol to be purchased from an out-of-state buyer if that handgun is legal in the buyer’s state of residency. For D.C. residents, the ruling has particular importance because for the first time they will be able to make handgun purchases in neighboring Virginia or Maryland and bring the guns home. Before the ruling, because the District has no gun stores, D.C. residents had to go through middlemen who purchased the firearms on their behalf, then resold them with a surcharge. “This is a tremendous victory for the civil rights of Washington, D.C., residents and Americans in general — the court recognized there’s no need to destroy the national market for handguns,” said Alan Gura, who argued the case for the plaintiffs and is a founding partner at Gura & Possessky Pllc, in the District. “District residents are free to purchase handguns so long as they comply with D.C. law and have those handguns properly registered.” Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/11/federal-court-rules-residency-requirements-pistol-/#ixzz3ReZd8oD2 Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter Read more "U.S. court rules residency requirements for pistol buys is unconstitutional"
"Stand Your Ground" self defense laws in North Carolina? Use of Deadly Force by the police or by anyone is a hot topic. Here are some thoughts on Ferguson, and information about the law of self defense in North Carolina from the Experts. Jeff Welty has written a thoughtful overview of the grand jury process and the what happened. John Rubin has previously written on the Self Defense laws that were passed in North Carolina in 2011. "Yesterday, the grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri , declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in connection with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Some commentators have criticized the decision of the local prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, to present all the evidence to the grand jury, rather than only evidence that would support an indictment. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism, for reasons I explain below," by Jeff Welty, UNC School of Govermnent. "North Carolina law recognizes various circumstances in which a person may lawfully use force against the threat of harm. Through decades of decisions, the North Carolina appellate courts have recognized the right to defend oneself, other people, and one’s home and property, among other interests, and have developed rules on when those rights apply and amount to a defense to criminal charges. New G.S. 14-51.2, 14-51.3, and 14-51.4 address several of the circumstances in which a person may use defensive force. The statutes restate the law in some respects and broaden it in others. The courts will have to examine their procedures closely to give effect to the new statutory language. The new statutes are part of S.L. 2011-268 (H 650), which applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011." Whole article here, by John Rubin, UNC School of Government. N.C.G.S. 14-51.2 Home, workplace, and motor vehicle protection; presumption of fear of death or serious bodily harm. (a) The following definitions apply in this section: (1) Home. – A building or conveyance of any kind, to include its curtilage, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed as a temporary or permanent residence. (2) Law enforcement officer. – Any person employed or appointed as a full-time, part-time, or auxiliary law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, post-release supervision officer, or parole officer. (3) Motor vehicle. – As defined in G.S. 20-4.01(23). (4) Workplace. – A building or conveyance of any kind, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, which is being used for commercial purposes. (b) The lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to another if both of the following apply: (1) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a home, motor vehicle, or workplace, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person's will from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace. (2) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred. (c) The presumption set forth in subsection (b) of this section shall be rebuttable and does not apply in any of the following circumstances: (1) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the home, motor vehicle, or workplace, such as an owner or lessee, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person. (2) The person sought to be removed from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace is a child or grandchild or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the defensive force is used. (3) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in, attempting to escape from, or using the home, motor vehicle, or workplace to further any criminal offense that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual. (4) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who enters or attempts to enter a home, motor vehicle, or workplace in the lawful performance of his or her official duties, and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties. N.C.G.S. § 14-51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability. (a) A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be if either of the following applies: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another. (2) Under the circumstances permitted pursuant to G.S. 14-51.2. (b) A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from civil or criminal liability for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman who was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer or bail bondsman identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or bail bondsman in the lawful performance of his or her official duties. (2011-268, s. 1.) Read more "Ferguson, and Self Defense and the Law"