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Christopher Humphrey
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"Sound Advice in Uncertain Times"
"Sound Advice in Uncertain Times"

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Saw this happen today. Never seen anything like it. 

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If you are watching the walking dead, you have to agree that Carl is not the best character.

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Best Bernie Sanders / Curb Your Enthusiasm parody ever! 

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Only one candidate answered a very direct question on community policing; he even included references to actual data and statistics collected. It is time to re-examine community policing and stop using citations for revenue generation. 

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I in no way condone murder, but this case has an interesting discussion of when a court may continue your trial passed the 180 day speedy trial rule.

Mr. Castellanos did not have a trial until over 800 days had passed from the date of arraignment. The trial court may continue for a number of reasons against your objections: change of counsel, mental health evaluations, motions by your own attorney over your objections, or to ensure you receive "due administration of justice," without prejudice to the defendant. It will be interesting to see if the federal court will agree with this analysis. The defendant repeatedly and independently from his three sets of lawyers asserted his speedy trial right.

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Interesting case. Wyoming has long held that consent to the sexual act is not a defense to 2nd Degree sexual abuse of a minor. The statute prohibits consensual contact between an adult and a minor. The policy against allowing adults to engaging in intercourse with minors is sound, and I in no way condone sexual intercourse with a minor. That being said, as an attorney who has defended individuals with cases that seem to lack any cogent argument, I can appreciate the creativity of his attorney. Even the trial court was impressed.

The attorney in this case masterfully pointed out that the section of the statute that her client was accused of violating had the word "inflicts" as opposed to the words "engaged in" that were used to describe other prohibited behavior described in the same statute. By emphasizing the word "inflicts," which by definition is to "endure" or suffer, consent became the theory of defense in an otherwise seemingly indefensible act. The victim of the abuse testified that she had consented to the act.

The trial court allowed the theory of defense be presented, but did not allow a definition of the word "inflicts." Predictably, the jury asked for a definition of the word. The court did not allow the jury to receive any instruction as to the word's definition.

After much deliberation, the jury unanimously voted to convict the defendant. On appeal, the Supreme Court reasoned that the meaning of the word "inflicts" and the words "engaged in" bore the same meaning, at least as it pertains to 2nd Degree Sexual Abuse of a Minor. The reasoning was based on the fact that the penalty for each prohibited act under the statute bore the same possible prison sentence or penalty. My comments are a very simplified version of a interesting case that show cases a very creative argument and a well reasoned approach to analyzing statutory construction and meaning.

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Another entertaining, yet eye opening segment of the Daily Show. 

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When is homicide committed in self defense, self defense, or when is it second degree murder. As more and more citizens carry firearms for personal protection, it is important to know when to retreat and when to shoot. Even where the person you are using deadly force against is the aggressor, it must be necessary to use deadly force.
In a recent case before the Wyoming Supreme Court, a Defendant was convicted of second degree murder for shooting the victim through his car window, when the victim "leaned on" the the Defendant's driver's side door. The Defendant was asleep inside his vehicle outside of a local bar, after being asked to leave. The victim fell asleep inside the bar. Employees at the bar offered to get him a cab, but refused saying that friends were waiting for him outside. The victim went to the car's passenger side door, pulled on the handle and knocked. He walked to the Driver side door and leaned on the door, the Defendant shot the victim through the window.
The Defendant drove from the scene after shooting the victim. Bar patrons called the police. He was stopped later for speeding. He lied to the police officer about how the window was broken, and had the odor of alcohol and marijuana on him. Later, the Defendant asserted that he shot in self defense. He sought to introduce evidence that the victim had a history of breach of the peace, battery, interference with a police officer, eluding, and an arrest for 19 counts of conspiracy to commit vehicular burglary. The Court allowed the battery and interference, but excluded the conspiracy to commit vehicular burglary. The Defendant also sought to introduce evidence that the victim tried to search for child pornography or beastiality on his computer (how the Defendant knew that, we may never know). The court excluded that evidence as well.
As to the issue of self defense, the Defendant is asleep in the vehicle. The Victim is trying to enter the vehicle or rouse the occupant, or if you believe the Defendant, maybe steal the vehicle. The Defendant is startled and shoots the victim as the victim is leaning in on the driver's side window. The jury did not believe that the Defendant was justified in exercising lethal force. The Wyoming Supreme Court reiterated its previous ruling that "[i]n all cases, the jury should be instructed that the defendant was justified in using deadly force only if necessary; consequently, [the defendant] must consider reasonable alternatives, which may include retreat, before using deadly force." Drennen v. State, 2013 WY 118, 311 P.3d 116, 129 (Wyo. 2013).
Another fact that the jury must have considered was the testimony of an employee at that bar, that testified that the Defendant had said in the past that it would have been easy to kill someone and told her that “nobody means nothing to me.” Could this be considered evidence of a person's desire to kill? Could a statement like this fit the requirement for second degree murder that the homicide be committed with malice? The case below deals with issues of late disclosure by the prosecution of witness statements, and what evidence can be brought before a jury to show that a victim may have a propensity for violence, and may have been the first aggressor. This case also highlights the attorney's responsibility to object to late disclosure of evidence contemporaneously and at trial. The trial court had a decision to make as to what self defense instructions could be presented to the jury, while both sides disputed who was the initial aggressor. In either case, I think this opinion is an interesting read.
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