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by seamusTX
Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:38 pm
Forum: 2007 Texas Legislative Session
Topic: Civil Liability
Replies: 36
Views: 9199

Re: Civil Liability

You're right about O.J. being a different situation.

I'll try to answer this the best I can, which is not very well, because IANAL. Let's say you shoot an attacker and accidentally hit an innocent third party, "Fred." The DA can look at the facts of the case and decide you were justified in shooting and no charges should be brought. The case might not even go to a grand jury if the attacker was not killed.

Then Fred can sue you. The judge might decide to throw out the case based on the same set of facts, or let it go to trial. This is a new law, and it hasn't yet been tested (AFAIK). Judges sometimes interpret the law in weird ways, and they are sometimes reversed on appeal, sometimes not.

The bottom line is that I don't think you're in the clear in this kind of situation. Even defending a civil case that you win is expensive.

- Jim
by seamusTX
Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:10 pm
Forum: 2007 Texas Legislative Session
Topic: Civil Liability
Replies: 36
Views: 9199

Re: Civil Liability

You're asking a lot of hypothetical questions that I can't answer. What happens in a particular case depends upon the facts of the case.

Non-LEOs so seldom injure an innocent third party when they are defending themselves, I am not aware of any pattern of whether they are found liable.

Not being indicted or being acquitted in a criminal case has very little relevance to a related civil case. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty and then held liable for wrongful death.

- Jim
by seamusTX
Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:44 pm
Forum: 2007 Texas Legislative Session
Topic: Civil Liability
Replies: 36
Views: 9199

Re: Civil Liability

That fact that an innocent person was injured does not create a presumption of recklessness. The law recognizes that accidents occur.

The law also contains a definition of reckless with respect to criminal cupability:
PC § 6.03. DEFINITIONS OF CULPABLE MENTAL STATES.
(c) A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint.
Of course, human beings have to decide whether a particular action is reckless in light of this definition.

I would say, as a general principle, that if shooting is justified (immediately necessary to prevent the unlawful use of deadly force, etc.), and the defender acts reasonably, any injury to an innocent party that might occur is not reckless.

Spraying 90° of arc on either side of someone who pulls a knife would be reckless.

These events are so rare in civilian self defense that it's difficult to come up with examples.

- Jim
by seamusTX
Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:28 pm
Forum: 2007 Texas Legislative Session
Topic: Civil Liability
Replies: 36
Views: 9199

Re: Civil Liability

This law was intended to relieve a defender from civil liability claimed by the attacker, or the attacker's family. I'm not confident that this law will be interpreted to relieve a defender of liability for injury to an an innocent third party or property damage.

Injury of a third party could be considered reckless or an accident. It would depend upon the circumstances. In either case, the defender could be civilly liable.

We won't really know until a case lands in court.

- Jim

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