July 3rd, 2008

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04:21 pm - holy shit, a non-Janis update?!
So, right now there is a giant controversy over the Joe Horn case. In a nutshell, a 61-year old retired engineer witnessed two Columbian illegal immigrants break into a neighbor's home, called 911, saw the perps leaving and still hadn't seen any cops arrive, told the 911 operator he was going to go out and shoot the perps rather than let them get away. He went outside and was heard clearly challenging the perps - who he had witnessed leaving his neighbor's house with the proverbial burglar's sack o' loot - "move and you're dead."

According to his testimony, the perps looked at each other, and one started over his lawn toward him. When he shouldered his shotgun, the perps both broke and ran instead. He shot three times and killed both men, after a long pause audible on the (unbroken) 911 call. The men turned out to be unemployed illegal Columbian immigrants, with prior felony convictions, as well as $2,000-ish in loot from Horn's neighbor's house.

Horn's case was put before a grand jury, who were given all the particulars of the case, and after deliberation refused to indict Horn. Horn's defense cited the Castle Doctrine, which is a Texas law permitting use of deadly force in defense of home and property; this was probably not applicable, strictly speaking, in Horn's case as defense of a neighbor's property is only covered with the neighbor's permission, which it is unclear that Horn had. Without this explicit permission, the grand jury's refusal to indict is an example of jury nullification, itself a hot topic all over the country as, apparently, very few American citizens understand the concept anymore.

Counter-example: also in Texas, one month ago, a different old man shot out his front window and killed an "intruder" who turned out to be a 15 year old neighbor crossing his yard with a friend. This case was also brought before a grand jury, and that grand jury promptly indicted that old man for murder.

Question: why is this "broken", and how would "fixing" it make society any "better"?

You show me a case where the old man who shoots through the window without warning and kills a neighbor doesn't get indicted, and I will promptly get outraged as fuck. But you're going to have difficulty finding a case like that to show me. In the meantime, I'm not too worried about Joe Horn - yes, he needed to be brought before a grand jury; but yes, he also probably deserved for them to refuse to indict.

Current Mood: exasperated

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture] From: billyfleetwood
Date: July 3rd, 2008 - 11:44 pm
if he hadn't have called 911 first, I think it would be a whole different story. But having heard the recording of the call. Having heard the 911 operator specifically tell him to stay in his house and not shoot anyone, I can't help but feel like Joe Horn got a away with murder.

Let's remember that despite the justification of "they were illegal immigrant ex-cons with a sack of lootin their hands" at the time they were killed, they were innocent of any crime. Would they have eventually been convicted? Probably, but they never got that chance,because this guy decided to play Judge, Jury and executioner. Key word there is "decided". Last I heard, the punishment for B&E is not Death.

Why is this broken? Because this is a nation of laws. Because there are systems in place for dealing with situations where the letter of the law and the spirit of the law are at odds. The case that immediately popped into my head was the Genarlow Wilson case Kid goes to jail based on a stupid law. Jury does not want to convict, but feels they have no choice, kid gets a mandatory minimum of 10 years for a blowjob (Yay Georgia!).

A prime situation where jury nullification would have been more than understandable. Instead, based on his conviction, the law was eventually changed, and despite the efforts of some hateful-ass legislators, the kid went free.

This is better because precedent was set, laws were tested, and now everyone in the state of Georgia knows whr "justice" stands should they find themselves with their dicks out and a drunk 17 year old girl in the room. If we're gonna have laws. then let's use the fucking things.

Legal aspects aside. The fact that this guy felt justified in making the decision he did says something something about how the justice system works in our country. Fear of punishment was not even on his mind. Meanwhile a guy like me, I don't even fucking jaywalk. Why?Because I know that we live in a system that is really good at punishing some people, and really good at finding ways to let other people slide.

[User Picture] From: herbaliser
Date: July 4th, 2008 - 02:20 am
Jury nullification should only be used if the cops break in to your house without a warrant and you kill them.

[User Picture] From: marys_second
Date: July 4th, 2008 - 07:36 am
Once they ran, he lost the right to shoot them. I don't have a problem with him defending his neighbor's property but I don't believe lethal force was justified once the burglars fled.

But just because that old man got away with murder doesn't mean I think the system needs to be fixed. To me, jury nullification is one of the checks and balances for our country.

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: July 4th, 2008 - 12:44 pm
Exactly, 100%, all counts.

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