Yet another Example of how “the Law” has been Turned on its Head

Have you seen this story yet?

S.C. Supreme Court Abruptly Halts Murder Trial to Hear Arguments on ‘Stand Your Ground’ — After an Armed Intruder Uses It to Justify Killing a Homeowner

The South Carolina Supreme Court had made the unusual move of halting a murder trial to hold a hearing on the state’s so-called “stand your ground” law — but it’s who’s claiming the defense that’s likely to turn heads: an armed intruder who shot and killed the man whose home he broke into.

Gregg Isaac testified in court this week that he entered the apartment of Antonio Corbitt in 2005 with another man, Tavares World, after World kicked in the door, The State newspaper reported. Isaac testified that as World and Corbitt fought, it looked like Corbitt was going to pull a gun and shoot Isaac, so instead, Isaac shot Corbitt twice. Corbitt stumbled outside and died.

But here is the part that makes me see red:

Isaac’s defense attorney Mark Schnee argued that his client should be granted immunity from prosecution because South Carolina’s 2006 “stand your ground” law allows people to use deadly force if they fear for their lives.

The law was never intended to protect those who seek to do harm to others.  The moment these two men broke into another person’s home, they forfeit any and all rights under man’s law and entered back into Natural Law.  Now that they are being tried under man’s law, they have no claim to its protections as they violated the contract by which they must abide if they want to claim those protections  Their lawyer should know this, so for their lawyer to argue otherwise…  As long as we have a society where people actually think this sort of argument makes sense – let alone tolerate arguments such as this – we will never be able to maintain the rule of law.  We’ll be lucky to maintain society, itself.

At the very least, these two men should be executed and their lawyer permanently disbarred.

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32 thoughts on “Yet another Example of how “the Law” has been Turned on its Head

  1. I have no disagreement with your philosophy but If the law is faulty in that it makes no exception for persons in the commission of a felony then the defense attorney has a legal obligation to use the law to his client’s benefit. The true fault is with the legislators who created a faulty law. Hang the murderers and throw the bums out of office but don’t hang the lawyer for doing what the law requires him to do.
    FlyDiver

    • FlyDiver,

      This is part of the problem: we have forgotten how our legal system evolved. Buried within the foundation of American jurisprudence is the notion that no one can benefit from the breaking of a law. Furthermore, there is the concept that an un-broken string of events in the commission of a crime are to be seen as one. In this case, that means that, when they broke the law to break in, they had no claim to “stand your ground” as THEY were the aggressor. therefore, this is murder. Their lawyer should know this.

      Texas, a contributor to the RNL, is a lawyer. I’ll see if I can get him to add his two cents to this discussion. As a philosopher, I tend to look at the principles and ignore the nit-picks of the letter, as the letter of the law frequently serves to subvert the spirit of those principles. :-)

    • In Texas, and under the original “common law” which was based upon “natural law”;
      (in general terms as I am not looking up the particulars)

      One cannot “provoke the difficulty” and then claim “not guilty by reason of self defense.”

      A basic example of “provoke the difficulty”, is where the initial aggressor, provokes “the victim”, causing “the victim” to strike first. Then the aggressor, after provoking the difficulty, assaults or murders, “the victim” and claims “not guilty” because the victim used physical force first.

      The claimant who “provoked the difficulty” cannot claim, “not guilty by reason of self defense,” because he has “unclean hands” and actually started the altercation which ends in the assault or murder of the victim.

      Here, the “home burglars” have “provoked the difficulty” and would be unable to claim not guilty by reason of self defense.

      Texas does not have a “stand your ground” law, as Texas courts and Texas’ penal code, recognize “natural law” based self defense.

      The stand your ground laws I have skimmed in the past, had a requirement for the claimant to be legally entitled to be where they were when the altercation occurs, AND not be committing any other crime, even a crime as simple as “breach of the peace.” So trespass, or burglary, would prohibit, the criminal from claiming the “defense”.

      Additionally, Texas has a “felony murder” statute, which holds the perpetrator of the felony, accountable for a murder which might be claimed not planned at the outset, but results during the commission of the crime. For example, the driver of the getaway car, claims, “everyone promised” no one would get hurt, I didn’t consent to helping in a murder, I only consented to help with a “shoplifting”…

      Finally, the fact that the South Carolina Supreme Court, took up on appeal, in the middle of trial, a question of law, is highly unusual.

      I was recently at a multi-jurisdictional “legal education” seminar for lawyers. Some states’ laws, mandate “man” should avoid certain states for if they choose to repel being a victim by criminals, “the State” will victimize law abiding “man”.

      With the last year’s assault on “our Constitutional protections”, attorney ethics, “natural law”, and the politicization of the Courts and State’s attorney office in Florida, Florida is a state to avoid now.

  2. I have serious issues with the evolution of our criminal justice system just as you have described. Any system that routinely allows a lawyer to present a knowingly fictitious scenario to a jury is corrupt beyond belief. Not sure that is the case here but I am anxiously awaiting the SC Supremes ruling and Texas’s opinion. Now if you wish to hang William Kuntsler and Julius Hoffman for doing the most in a single trial to destroy the criminal justice system I will gladly provide the rope properly knotted.

  3. What this is ALL about is making it ultimately and eventually illegal to protect yourself. This is Partially what is behind the Zimmerman Sham Trial as well…….and the Public threats of violence made by Certain Street Politicians and their Black Panther supporters ( sanctioned by and Rotected by Obama’s Justice Dept) .

    It is about Criminalizing the Citizens and making Victims of the Criminals……thus the state becomes the ONLY legal arbitor of what is defensible and not.
    It is another attack on the 2nd amendment as well …. although the implications are even more far-reaching…….and of Course it will all be LEGAL……therefore those who call themselves Republicans will be able to rest easy that we are still living in a Country that “Respects the Rule of Law”. Even though only criminals ( both White-Collar and Street varieties) will have the protection of “the Law”.

    • Don,

      You are correct: they want to take the right of self-defense away (mostly because that is also where the right to re-set govt. is found).

      Now for the dirty little secret: the Supreme Court has already ruled the police have no duty to protect you; only to take reports and send the bodies to the morgue after the deed is done. SO guess what that means if they get our right to self-defense? ;-)

  4. I don’t know the South Carolina law, so this is just conjecture. Alaska recently made it legal to stand your ground ANYWHERE YOU ARE LAWFULLY ALLOWED TO BE. That would exclude people who are breaking into someone’s home, but would cover the Central gold miner whose neighbor started shooting at him in the parking lot of the Central Roadhouse. The miner shot his neighbor to death rather than leave his wife bleeding on the ground. The miner then stood a very expensive murder one trial because the new DA (from out of state, naturally) insisted that he should have retreated. The jury nullified the law, but it’s taken 20 years for the legislature to finally pass a clear statute that says “Yes, you can defend yourself and not just in your own home.”

    As I said, while logically, criminals in the commission of a crime should not be able to benefit from this law, if the law was poorly written, this sort of thing is expected.

    Yes, defense attorneys SHOULD mount a defense of their client, by any means necessary. Otherwise, a defense attorney might as well be working for the prosecution … which, hey, most of them in this country are. So, I applaud the defense attorney for giving his best argument to the case and suggest that if the law actually gives this guy a defense, the legislators who voted for it should be impeached along with the governor who signed it.

    This is one reason that laws should be written simply with as few amendments as possible, so that legislators know what the heck it is they’re saying “yes” to.

    Just my opinion. Not saying these guys deserve to be acquitted. Only saying that defendants deserve the most robust defense possible and legislatures ought to pay attention to the unintended consequences of their legislation. That would be a good lesson for all of them, across the US, not just in SC.

  5. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:
    I have a different view of this. I think our system of justice REQUIRES a defense attorney to give as robust a defense as is legally available, regardless of who the client is or what the client may have done. I don’t know the South Carolina law, so I can’t say if this is even a legitimate argument. I guess the SC Supreme Court will let us know. But if it turns out that the legislators and governor missed this major hole in an important piece of legislation, I would suggest that the people of SC demand those who voted for it and sign it be impeached and/or recalled because they’re clearly incompetant.

    And, yes, Alaska has a stand your ground law … it was written specifically to exclude people in the commission of a crime.

    • Auror,

      Robust, yes. Destructive of the law — no! It is the same as when the Mernendez kids’ lawyer pleaded for them because they were orphans. THEY WERE THE REASON THEY WERE ORPHANS! Remember that case?

      When we allow irrational arguments into the court of law, then you have destroyed the law.

      • What law is being destroyed, Joe? Is that the legal standard of guilty until proven innocent by a jury of your peers? As I recall the Menendez brothers were found guilty by a jury of their peers even though their attorney argued that point … which, I don’t actually remember. I thought he argued that the brothers killed their parents because of abuse and, therefore, should be acquitted. The argument that they were orphans would be completely unsupportable. The argument that their parents abused them would be slightly more supportable, but the evidence didn’t show that they were protecting themselves, so the jury found them guilty.

        On the other hand, Wade Gilmore — the Central miner — my husband was a juror on the case. The prosecution argued that he had no right to defend himself in a parking lot and he could have fled. Technically, that was true and he had broken the law. The law was wrong! His neighbor started shooting at him without provocation, Gilmore had been shot and his wife was actually bleeding-out at his feet. He couldn’t retreat and take her with. So, he shot the neighbor five times. The defense attorney argued — even though the law did not support it — that a reasonable man stays to protect his wife and, since he was injured, he had no choice but to shoot the neighbor.

        The jury acquitted because my husband and one other man said “This law is wrong and a reasonable man stays in that situation, protects his wife and kills the man shooting at him.” It only took them two days to convince the rest of the jurors to agree.

        That’s the beauty of our system. It relies not just on the law — which can be grossly flawed — but on human reason. When the law is flawed, it is the jury’s responsibility to nullify the law. Anything less is dereliction of duty.

        My only concern is that the judge is ruling before the jury has a chance to make a decision. THAT to me seems destructive of justice.

        • Aurora,

          You are not far from where I stand. I think the issue here is one of equivocation. Often — as here — I use “the Law” not in the specific but in the general. What I am saying is that, when we allow something that undermines the Law in the sense of the whole body of the legal system, THAT is what destroys the law (i.e. legal system).

          I hope that helps to clarify things a bit.

          • Sloppily written smaller laws undermine the Law as much as misuse of those laws. The right to a vigorous defense is a cornerstone of our system. The right of a jury to determine guilt or innocence is also foundational. One of the issues we have today is far too many sloppily written small laws that countermand the overarching Law. If the SC stand your ground law is such a sloppily written law, then it needs to be exposed as such and amended or replaced. I see this sort of challenge to such sloppily written laws as healthy. It’s something we have';t done well for such a long time and it is encouraging to see it now.

            • Aurora,

              It doesn’t matter how poorly or how well the laws are written. If the heart of the people who use/enforce them is toward subversion, they will subvert the spirit of the law no matter. Just look at how well written the COnstitution is and how widely bastardized it has become. That has nothing to do with the letter of the constitution and everything to do with the heart of the people. If we were still a good people, we would do “good” — even with the most poorly worded law ever written. But since we are not a good people, we do harm and evil even though we have the best worded governing document written since Moses.

              • I recognize what you’re saying. I also believe that we’re moving into an interesting period in this nation, where the people are either going to walk lockstep over the cliff following the Leaders (the political class, if you will) or they are going to start taking the statutory law and weighing it against the Law. If there is any hope for our nation, it will be the latter. We’ll start to see juries nullifying statutory law more and more and probably judges will eventually wake up and smell the coffee. It’s been happening sporadically here in Alaska … in Fairbanks more than elsewhere because Frank Turney spreads the word on jury nullification very effectively. It’s starting to be seen in other states. Now, state legislatures are starting to recognize the right of state officials to nullify the federal law.

                Will it be enough to tip us in the right direction? Not by itself, but it might be just the beginnings of a tidal shift that will return us to our foundations.

                It’s scary, to think that idiots can vote on a jury however they want, but ultimately, that is the only way we’re going to root out the entrenched tyranny that exists without either revolting in armed revolution or dissolving the union entirely. It’s starts with people individually taking the power the Constitution recognizes is ours already. And, yeah, that scary. It sounds like anarchy. Sometimes a little anarchy is a good thing.

                • Aurora,

                  I see why you don’t chastise me when I point out that we are traveling the same road as 1930’s Germany. Unless I am W-A-Y off, you see the same things in our society I see, and you recognize it as an age-old sickness.

                  • The “age-old” sickness has been around since Adam. We humans are so blessed, but we keep thinking we’re smarter than God, so we end up walking off a cliff every time. Adam did it, Noah did it, Lot did it, the Israelites did it, King David did it (though he got his head straight eventually). In “modern” times, you see Luther connect the dots and then turn on the Anabaptists, you see our Founders have the right idea and then let a monarchist complicate things. Basically, we always are our own problem. We might get it right for a turn or two and then, we shoot ourselves in the foot and blame somebody for giving us the gun.

                • Aurora,
                  We already have Government Anarchy. As the Government ignores “the law”, more Americans realize America is already in a state of Anarchy. Obama and his Department of Injustice with their speeches about Uncivil rights and racism, described 180 degrees opposite of the facts…

                  As for stupid people on the Jury, if you are in the “correct” jurisdiction, a good lawyer, can obtain Justice; with a little help from above, of course.

                  • A good lawyer will only attempt to attain justice if you have money. If you need a public defender, as increasing numbers of Americans do, you are advised to strike a plea bargain and if you insist you’re innocent, well, the PD works for the same State government that the prosecutor does, so good luck getting fair representation.

                    Prosecutors “win” 98% of all criminal cases. 95% of that is plea bargains. If the defendant has the money to take it to trial, they’ve got a decent chance of an acquittal, but in most of cases, the defendant can’t afford it and if they go to trial with a public defender, both attorneys and the judge all work for the State, which has a vested interest in jailing the defendant because incarceration provides jobs for guards. So, there’s no such thing in this country as a fair trial except for the rich.

                    • Aurora,
                      Everyone has bills to pay. Self-employed, have more bills to pay. I would hazard to guess, self-employed do not make more money, on “median” than employed do.

                      There is office space, legal assistants, taxes and dues, continuing legal education, advertising, etc….

                      So yes, a good lawyer is going to charge a fair fee. Do you really want a lawyer worrying where he’s going to get the money for this month’s health insurance bill (which has doubled in the last 4 years) or self employment tax while sitting in trial next to you? I know many lawyers barely get by at various times over the years with the natural ebb and flow of life and opportunity…

                      No, I want my lawyer thinking about my case, not worrying about paying the bills.

                      Hell YES, a lawyer is expensive. He/she deserves a fair wage for professional services. And yes, it is expensive to Purchase the time of a business for however many hours or days are required. That is what lawyering is, a business. Pay a fair wage, so he/she will be thinking about the legal issues and strategies in your case, not how am I going to pay the health insurance bill, or employment taxes, or office taxes, or light bill, or credit card bill, or ….

                      As for justice? I have won cases I thought I would never win. I have lost cases I thought I would never lose. I believe, generally speaking, the best lawyering occurs outside of the courtroom before trial.

                      “Old lawyers” relate: “If you wanna get screwed, go to trial. If you want justice, go to a whorehouse.” :-)

                    • I’m not against lawyers or them making a good living. I’m against a system that is set up to make things — ordinary behavior like venting about government — illegal and then making getting a good defense almost impossible. Public defenders work for the state, which also employs the prosecutors and the judges. We talk about fairness in this country, but in reality, when all the players but the defendant are employed by the same entity, the likelihood of a fair trial is pretty slim. I think that’s why we have the highest incarceration rate in the developed nations.

            • It’s not really about “sloppily” written Laws ….. it’s about the actual Breakdown of “The Rule of Law”…..it’s about the bastardization of the law into a tool of Social engineering and Personal and political Revenge.

              It’s really time to call it what it is…… To Paraphrase “This isn’t your Grandfather’s/Grandmother’s law any more “.

              As Re: the NAACP / Obama / Eric Holder Threat…to sue Zimmerman for Civil Rights Violations……Antonio Corbitt’s family should also sue because HIS Civil Rights were DEFINITELY violated !!

              This isn’t the rule of Law …. it is the Opposite…..it is the Breakdown of the Rule of Law.

              • When statutory law violates the rule of Law, that is sloppily written law. We have a great Constitution that pretty much didn’t need more than a few administrative codes written to make it work. I still believe that. But we’ve weighed that constitution down with statutory laws that increasing violate that constitution. Then we’ve added administrative laws (regulations) that also violate the constitution.

                We need to get to a place where we take all of that statutory and regulatory law and put it aside. Start with a clean slate — just the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Then these sorts of situations would not have the argument that we’re discussing. Then there would be no need for a stand-your-ground law because the 2nd Amendment and natural law would tell us all we need to know about the case.

                But right now — the idea that a statutory law might give a criminal an excuse for murder … that’s a symptom of how broken the system is. Like a fever that might kill you before it kills the virus it’s defending against, there’s dangers in this, but they’re necessary dangers because they tell us that the system is broken and needs repair.

                Too many statutory laws that conflict with each other and the rule of law are our problem. I simply see these sorts of situations as an opportunity to expose those failures in the system and argue for a radical means of correcting them.

                Geez, now I’m going to have to post on this topic!

        • What you see as “the Beauty of the System” I see as Blind luck.
          Thank God for moral intelligent people like your husband and the other fellow. But the fact that it took them 2 days ….and 2 against 10 isn’t very comforting or reasuring at all.

          Because in a way you’re right, *wrt to the SC case* the “Law” doesn’t seem destroyed……..but Justice does seem to be….or at least put up to a “vote”. Justice it would seem should be there for the murdered victim ….. however he is a mere byline in all this…… and Justice is twisted and turned inside out, upside down and sideways to protect a murderer and thief.

          • Yes, but …

            In the case of the Central miner, whose name I want to avoid using because he’s probably got a life somewhere now and deserves some peace …

            there are some who would insist that the neighbor was murdered and that the miner should have been doing life in prison. Had the neighbor lived, he most certainly would have argued that he feared for his life. He and the miner (actually, they were both miners, but since I’m not using names, they’re the miner and the neighbor) had a history of hostility — mining claims, no matter how big, always seem to create hostility. He was sitting on the porch of the Central Roadhouse, minding his own business, when he looks across the parking lot and sees his arch enemy coming, packing openly. Alaskans go forth armed a lot because of bears, etc., so a reasonable person like me would have assumed he was just coming for breakfast, but the neighbor probably assumed he was coming to shoot him. So he opened fire.

            Whose to say that he was wrong? Had he lived to tell his side of the story, my husband and the other juror might have voted to convict. Although, truthfully, my husband worked in the same plant as the miner about five years after all of this and he says he doesn’t think the miner went to the the Central Roadhouse to kill his neighbor. They never talked about it, but his impression of the man’s character was that was the furthest thing from his mind.

            But, this SC is different, because the defendant was in the commission of a crime. One would hope a reasonable judge would rule in favor of the Law — the rule of law that follows natural law and the idea that if you’re doing something illegal, you can’t hide behind the statutory law to protect yourself. As a juror I know that is how I would vote.

  6. So a murderer should go free after breaking and entering just to be lesson tp Politicians…….who don’t obey any laws anyway ??

    And we think the legislatures will care ?…………….They will just laugh their asses off at us like they already do .

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