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  #1  
Old 27 November 2018, 11:46 AM
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Judge Trial for Charlottesville killer set to begin

Whoo nellie, this should be interesting. Apparently the creep is claiming self-defense.
Here's a Reason article for your consideration.

ETA: I wonder how I would do as a juror on this case? Would I be able to be impartial? I would hope so despite my dislike for anyone who thinks he's better than the rest of us because of something meaningless like skin tone.

May truth and justice prevail.
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Old 27 November 2018, 01:19 PM
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Yeah, I'm just as glad to not be potentially in that jury pool. Though I do agree with the principle that even Nazis shouldn't be convicted of things they didn't do.

I do wonder what the jury's going to look like. Are they going to wind up with an all-white, all-Christian jury, on the grounds that Jews, etc., couldn't possibly be unbiased? That would seem to me to be a problem in itself.
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Old 27 November 2018, 01:54 PM
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Impartiality is not at issue when you allow yourself to think someone is a terrible human being because the evidence indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that he's a murderer.

Do you think you'd have a hard time being impartial just because he's a neo-nazi, or is it maybe because the evidence readily available to the public makes it clear he's guilty? Surely you wouldn't vote to convict any neo-nazi they through into the defendant's chair in spite of the evidence?

In short, I suspect you're both selling yourselves short.
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Old 27 November 2018, 02:14 PM
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During jury selection, peremptory challenges are not unlimited. In this case, I believe the defense would be limited to 10. Out of a pool of 360 potential jurors, that would not do much to insure an all-white, Christian jury. And the questions asked of the jury pool must be considered proper by the judge. Without cause, I don't know that a defense attorney would be allowed to ask potential jurors their religious affiliation in a case that has no overt religious nature.
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Old 27 November 2018, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
Surely you wouldn't vote to convict any neo-nazi they through into the defendant's chair in spite of the evidence?
No; if the defense brought convincing evidence that the defendant was, say, on the other side of the continent at the time, or even on the other side of the city; and the prosecution's argument was basically 'but he's a Nazi!' -- no, I wouldn't vote to convict.

That seems unlikely to be the defense, though. I'm not sure how a self-defense claim is going to work -- surely they're not going to try to claim that the victim was attacking the car? it seems more likely that they're going to try to claim that he was fleeing for his life, or thought he was, from a mob of other people. Would I be less likely to believe that claim from a Nazi saying he was fleeing Antifa than from, say, a Jew saying he was fleeing the Nazis? That's the question in my mind.

-- of course, there are limits to what one's entitled to do, even in self defense. Driving a car into a batch of other people who aren't the ones trying to kill you, even if somebody actually is trying to kill you, seems to me to be outside those limits -- but would I have more sympathy for a claimed state of utter panic if it weren't a Nazi claiming it?
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Old 27 November 2018, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TL
That seems unlikely to be the defense, though. I'm not sure how a self-defense claim is going to work -- surely they're not going to try to claim that the victim was attacking the car?
It's not clear to me that's what they're going for. The applicable line from the reason article (the only mention of self-defense, apart from the header) is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
defense attorney John Hill suggested his client may have "thought he was acting in self-defense," The Washington Post reported.
That's at best third (fourth?) hand: "We're reporting, the WaPo reported, that his attorney said, that he..." But I digress. Right before that, there's this snippet, which may be relevant:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
Pretrial hearings have offered few insights into Fields or his motivation. A Charlottesville police detective testified that as he was being detained after the car crash, Fields said he was sorry and sobbed when he was told a woman had been killed. Fields later told a judge he is being treated for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD.
So it depends on what the attorney actually said and how he meant it. "Thought he was acting in self-defense" could mean they're contending he was legally insane. Or it could mean that he wasn't legally insane, and it wasn't really self-defense (and a self-defense claim wouldn't fly), but he was so upset that it wasn't first degree/pre-meditated murder, but some lesser degree of homicide (depending on whether VA law has 2nd degree murder like they do on Law and Order, or just various flavors of murder/aggravated murder/capital murder/felony murder, etc--heck, maybe even a form of manslaughter). Or, heck, maybe they are going to go with a far-right shock tactic and try to make a case for actual self-defense just to play off hatred and hope for a hung jury a la the worst episodes of Law and Order.
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Old 27 November 2018, 06:16 PM
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I don't get the whole 'self defense' claim. Seems to me the creep would be trying to drive away from the crowd. Or would the defense claim that Creep was so panicked that he did not know which way he was going?
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Old 27 November 2018, 06:35 PM
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So I went to the CNN article mentioned in the Reason article. It seems the CNN article was itself referencing another, local news source:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NBC29
The defense team - Denise Lunsford and John Hill - have been asking the potential jurors if they believe violence is justified when acting in self-defense, as well as issues related to mental health.
Court Continues to Question Potential Jurors for Fields Murder Trial

That is literally the only place in the source article that mentions self-defense. So... on top of the whole insanity vs. lesser charge vs. go-for-broke-hung-jury distinction, I'd add that it is possible they were just using it as a way to weed out jurors who are more prone to vote guilty (that's a hypothetical--like maybe research indicates that people who believe violence isn't justified when acting in self-defense are more likely to convict even when self-defense isn't raised as an issue). Either way, it reads more like they're feeling the waters than actually asserting self-defense.
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  #9  
Old 27 November 2018, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
I don't get the whole 'self defense' claim.
While nothing about this makes me believe this man was acting in self defense, I can conceive of a situation where I would feel threatened enough to drive into a crowd.

Say I'm on the road, stopped because of protesters, some of whom are violent (either side, I'm not picky). They surround my car. Some of them start banging on the hood and windows. Some pick up rocks and start to throw them. Next thing, people are pushing against my vehicle so hard it starts to rock and I'm very afraid they are going to push it over. Then a window breaks. Would I hit the gas? Yes, I think I probably would.

Note, however, that in my scenario, the riot came to the car, not the other way around.

Seaboe
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Old 27 November 2018, 07:02 PM
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It may be a combination defense. Creep's altered mental state made him think the crowd was a existential threat to him and he needed to act in self defense.

And since that possible defense is based on a jury question, it may be a red herring. There is a huge amount of research into jury psychology. It may be that people who believe more strongly in the right to use potentially lethal force to defend themselves tend to believe in another thing that will help the defense's case.
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Old 27 November 2018, 08:49 PM
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When I was studying religion in high school in the mid 60s, the Jesuit priest teaching the course advocated a theory that you could react with violence based upon violence done to you or your family in the past. This was in response to a discussion about the Black Panthers. I responded to Father Chiaralanzio (spelling uncertain but definitely Italian) with a request that I could therefore go burn his car. My logic was that he was Italian in that he had family in Italy. I am Norwegian in that I have family in Norway. During WWII Italy and by extension his family supported Germany. I had family in Norway who disappeared into German camps. Therefore his family did violence to my family and therefore I was justified in reacting now with violence. Father Chiaralanzio decided to reconsider his theory.

I bring this up now because it sounds like this is what the defense may be considering.

Also, my father went to Europe in 1944 to fight the Nazis. History says he was on the winning side. Why do I and others have to fight them again.
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Old 27 November 2018, 10:58 PM
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Virginia does have an imperfect self-defense statute, which reduces the charges based on a genuine but unreasonable belief of imminent danger.
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  #13  
Old 28 November 2018, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardM View Post
Also, my father went to Europe in 1944 to fight the Nazis. History says he was on the winning side. Why do I and others have to fight them again.
Richard, just wanted to say thank you to your father for helping to free Germany from the Nazis. He's one of those I owe my freedom to.
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Old 28 November 2018, 02:32 PM
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On his behalf. Your welcome but he was just doing what he had to do. He does not feel he did anything heroic although I disagree.
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Old 28 November 2018, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardM View Post
Also, my father went to Europe in 1944 to fight the Nazis. History says he was on the winning side. Why do I and others have to fight them again.
Because, unfortunately, we're always going to have to fight them again, under that name or some other; at least, unless we eventually manage to evolve into a different species, which doesn't produce such people.

Victories, in this as in a number of other areas, are always temporary. Doesn't mean that those victories don't matter.

(My father was on a hospital ship at D-Day, trying and often failing to save the lives of people who'd gone off that ship perfectly healthy and were being fished back on to it in pieces. Never talked about it much. He was also, during my lifetime (though not during all of his), a vehement conservative. I occasionally think I hear him rolling.)
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  #16  
Old 08 December 2018, 05:01 PM
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Default Charlottesville Jury Convicts 'Unite The Right' Protester Who Killed Woman

Charlottesville Jury Convicts 'Unite The Right' Protester Who Killed Woman

Quote:
The jury deliberated for several hours before convicting Fields, 21, of first degree murder, along with several counts of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident.
As near as I can tell from that story, the defendant's claim was indeed self-defense, and the jury didn't buy it.

Quote:
The defendant's lawyer, John Hill, argued that Fields had acted in self-defense and that he drove the car into throngs of people out of fear. Hill described Fields as being "scared to death" and claimed he feared bodily harm after the violent clashes erupted between participants of the Unite the Right rally and anti-racist counterprotesters.
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Old 08 December 2018, 06:15 PM
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Well, when "I didn’t do it" is off the table on account of all the video and forensic evidence and you’re not crazy enough to be legally insane...

I mean, it’d be great if such people would just plead guilty, but come on...
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Old 09 December 2018, 01:57 PM
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Yes, you almost never see a flat out guilty plea to murder charges. I guess their only choice was between the sort of claim they made and 'I was justified because I was defending the country against internal enemies!'

Which, I expect, or at least I hope, would have had even less chance of working.
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Old 11 December 2018, 06:06 PM
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Default Jury recommends life in prison plus 419 years for Charlottesville driver

A jury on Tuesday recommended life in prison plus 419 years for James Alex Fields Jr., convicted of killing Heather Heyer when he plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters last year at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...-james-n946536
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Old 11 December 2018, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Yes, you almost never see a flat out guilty plea to murder charges.
Actually, a very large percentage of murder charges do result in a guilty plea to a homicide charge (IE, someone charged with premeditated homicide pleads to second degree homicide or similar). A BJS study for 2009 (the latest I found) showed that 51% of murder cases resulted in a guilty plea to a felony vs 18% conviction rate (Table 21). In that same study (Figure 16), 60% of all murder charges resulted in murder convictions. That means 9% of murder cases resulted in a non-murder decision. If every one of those was due to pleas, that would mean 18% murder convictions resulted in a guilty verdict at trial vs 42% resulting in a murder plea.

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc09.pdf (pdf)
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