How You React When Feeling Threatened Matters

In this episode, Chuck tells a story about a case where a client felt threatened and had to defend his subsequent actions to a jury.

How You React When Feeling Threatened Matters Video Transcript

Hi folks.  I’m usually not one to tell war stories, especially on video; but this is probably an appropriate time to do that.  A long time ago… fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years ago I tried a case in front of a jury where a client of mine was African American.  He was the smallest male I have ever seen.  I mean this guy was tiny.  Maybe a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet at five foot one.  And he was just really small.  And he was pitching at a T-ball game in Phoenix and apparently when you’re a Pitcher, you’re also an Umpire and all the parents participate.  It was a T-ball game with a bunch of little kids, like five- and six-year olds.

Well, for whatever reason, racial slurs were being yelled at him by parents from the other team.  They thought he made a bad call and they started calling him some things that I won’t repeat here that are just so inappropriate I can’t believe it.  And I can tell you one thing, my client was scared because these folks kept telling him they were going to beat the living shit out of him when the game was over.  They said they were going to tear him apart.  They were going to kill him with their fists.  And based on the size of these guys that were well over two hundred forty, two hundred and fifty pounds and his small stature, they probably could have done that pretty easily.  And he was scared.

So, when the game was over more of this continued and his wife and his child were still at the baseball field and he walked out to his car and he came back with a gun.  Now, the question has to be was that appropriate.  Was that what a reasonable person would have done in the same circumstances to walk away from the field out to your car parked on the street next to the park and come back with a gun?  And then as he was taking his family off the field, his son, his wife, he pointed the gun at these folks and said stay back, stay back.  Obviously, I have a gun.  And he was eventually charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault Dangerous.  That label Dangerous gives you mandatory prison.  And that label comes from him having a gun.  

So, you had to argue, and I had to argue, in front of the jury whether that was reasonable for him to do that, and he was able to articulate perfectly in front of the jury how he felt.  Based upon his size I would have felt that intimidated and that scared too because these folks didn’t like him one, because he was African American; and two, they just wanted to beat the living shit out of him.  

So, the jury agreed with me and my client and he was found not guilty.  It’s a very, very short verdict.  Deliberation take anywhere from… gosh, four minutes to weeks.  I mean I’ve had it go both ways.  And just because they’re deliberating for a long time versus a short time really doesn’t mean anything.  Jury trials are strange.  Nothing is certain.  

I don’t care how in the right you are, how in the right I believe you are, and twenty people I poll that say the same thing, you can always lose.  Because members of that jury could be the greatest people in the world and get up on the wrong side of the bed that morning and decide something, they typically would not have made that decision… would have made that other decision in your favor.  You never know what people can do.  And now that things are as crazy as they are, you really have to be careful.  But again, he was able to articulate that he was in fear of his life, his son’s life, his wife’s life, and because he was able to articulate it so well, and the jury agreed, those charges he was found not guilty.  

And also, too, sometimes this is brought up.  You’re not found innocent in the United States.  You’re found not guilty.  So, in that case, based upon what I saw, it was… he was completely exonerated.  But it will always show on his criminal arrest record as a disposition, not guilty.  It won’t show innocent.

So, there will always be those people that think we were found no guilty but that doesn’t say you were innocent.  That’s another topic for another video.

So, again make sure you use some common sense; but if you can articulate those kinds of feelings, as I just stated, then that was appropriate. 

Keep that in mind. Thank you.