November 2012 - Pg 10–Attorney Question
We went to trial and he was found not guilty on both. The aggravated animal abuse was dismissed outright but he was tried on lesser included offense of animal abuse and the unlawful use of a firearm. The latter was totally bogus because it has to be against a person not an animal.
However, the media beat up on my guy and slanted the news stories so much that the bloggers went to town on him saying he was evil and his synapses weren’t firing and basically wanting to lynch him. Therefore, we tried it before a judge. Very quick trial, very quick “not guilties.” However, he had to go through much stress and financial burden.
Kevin E. J. Regan
The Regan Law Firm, L.L.C.
1821 Wyandotte St., Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64108
You should know better than to ask lawyers to discuss their “dog” cases. We have all had many dog cases throughout our careers!
However, I have actually had the pleasure of trying a case involving a wonderful young lady who had to use her firearm to defend herself against an attacking pit bull in suburban Kansas City. The unfortunate facts of this case are that this girl’s brother was brutally murdered by some bad characters in Kansas City. Death threats were made against the family and the family felt quite threatened. Law enforcement was not terribly responsive to the family’s needs, so certain members of the family, including this young lady, purchased firearms for self defense.
In a suburban Kansas City, where things are rather conservative and by the book, this young lady was taking a walk by herself in a city park area. While enjoying herself on her walk, all of a sudden, a pit bull that had gotten away from its owner and rushed toward my client, who is a very small young woman, weighing under 100 pounds. Fortunately for her, she had brought along her newly acquired Springfield Armory pocket pistol and had it in her fanny pack.
She was able to retrieve the weapon from the fanny pack and fire at the attacking dog. The gunshot immediately ended the attack from the dog. Unfortunately, the dog owner called the police. The city’s “finest” arrived on the scene and arrested my client and charged her with, as I recall, discharging a firearm within the city limits and criminal destruction of property. No charges were filed against the dog owner for violating the city’s leash laws!
The prosecutor offered no meaningful plea agreement. My client was pursuing a career involving higher learning and could not withstand a criminal conviction. Therefore, we tried the case.
My argument to the trial court was that my client should be entitled to the same rights of self defense against an attacking animal as she would have been against an attacking person. Kansas and Missouri jury instructions clearly state that an individual may use the degree of force necessary, including deadly force, when he or she believes they are in imminent danger from death or serious physical injury. I asked the Judge to take judicial notice of the violent nature of pit bulls, in general. I also proved to the court that my client was in reasonable fear of imminent danger of serious physical injury or death at the hands of this large, muscular and brutally violent animal.
The prosecution was very vigorous in the presentation of its evidence.
I presented the Judge with the jury instructions that would be used if this case were tried to a jury and asked him to allow my client to stand in the shoes of someone using deadly force against an attacking human being and allow her the same rights of self defense against an attacking animal. The Judge agreed with my position and found my client not guilty.
Frankly, I believe that the case should have never been filed in the first place. However, we trial lawyers find ourselves in these situations more often than we wish and have to make the best of the law and the facts given to us. Sometimes, we need to think outside the box and be imaginative in using analogies in our arguments involving legal principles.
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