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Advice from a lawyer

Discussion in 'Legal' started by EddieCoyle, Oct 5, 2005.

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  1. EddieCoyle

    EddieCoyle Member

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    At the range before a recent sportsmen's club meeting, I was talking CCW's with an aquaintance who is a prosecutor working in the DA's office. He carries a S&W CS45. I'm thinking of buying one and he was gracious enough to let me try it out. To reciprocate, I let him try my S&W 642. He took a look at the hollowpoints I was carrying and told me that if I ever had to use the gun, I'd be in trouble if there was a civil suit against me. :eek:

    His recommendation: Carry the most common, cheapest (non-hollowpoint) ammo you can get! (His carry gun was loaded with 230gr FMJ out of a Winchester white box).

    His reasoning was based on what he'd seen in court. The attorneys for a plaintiff in a wrongful death or other civil suit will try to portray you as a lunatic.

    Hollowpoints = "Killer bullets that are too deadly even for the military."

    Hand loads are bad too:
    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury... Factory ammunition wasn't deadly enough for the defendant so he had to load his own."

    I've since switched to 158gr lead semi-wadcutters (not because of his advice but because of what I've read about hollowpoints not expanding when fired from a snubbie).

    Has anyone else heard this? Are there any examples of these tactics being used in court?
     
  2. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm no lawyer and AFAIK we have yet to hear of an acredited case where use of reloads was a deciding fact against the shooter. I also do not know of any specifics regarding hollow points either.

    My contention would be, that the ammo in the gun I carry (for use only in extremis) is to be the most effective way to save my butt. If therefore I can claim legitimately - ''I was in fear of my life'' then I would venture to suggest that an effective gun and ammo is the best way to achieve such.

    Once above .380 (which I would use with FMJ) I would also bring in the factors regarding possible over penetration and thus risks to bystanders etc related to use of JHP's.

    This is one lawyer with views - but I cannot right now accept those as other than a solo opinion. I am not going to prejudice my ability to survive an attack worrying solely about the aftermath. :)
     
  3. NCP24

    NCP24 Member

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    It definitely sounds like something an attorney would say, but I wouldn’t worry about it.
     
  4. Camp David

    Camp David member

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    EddieCoyle: Thank you for your post, but I couldn't disagree more! Indeed I favor P95carry's words:
    What ammunition you carry in your firearm is your own choice; worrying about the legal perspectives can be done later, while you are alive, rather than dead, from legal cheap ammunition malfunctioning!

    This legal reasoning reminds me of a trip north several years ago through New Hampshire in the winter... I drove up through the White Mountains and was one of the few vehicles able to navigate the icy roads during a snow and ice storm since I had switched my tires to the studs on the rear. Though these tires are highly illegal now on roads, they have saved my truck on numerous occasions and only take minutes to switch and and much more effective than chains!

    Use the best ammunition you can; let the legal chips fall where they may!
     
  5. K-Romulus

    K-Romulus Member

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    use what the police use, IMHO

    JHP? Any competent defense lawyer will explain why they are better for bystander safety - and why the police use them.

    Handloads: "more reliable than factory ammo", "experienced hobbyist who reloads his own ammo to save money," etc . . (?)
     
  6. dolanp

    dolanp Member

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    Yeah he's thinking like a lawyer alright but if you have a good lawyer on your side he can squash that argument. Not to mention FMJ makes it a little more likely that the bullet would go through the target and possibly damage people/things behind it.
     
  7. HankB

    HankB Member

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    FMJ ammo: "This man is using HARD PENETRATING AMMO MEANT FOR MILITARY USE!!! HE WANTED TO FIGHT A WAR!!!"

    Cop ammo: "This man used the SAME ammo the police use - he's a vigilate cop wannabe!"

    Hollowpoint: " . . . extra deadly DUM DUM ammo . . . "

    Handloads: " . . . super lethal homemade ammo . . ."

    Softpoint: ". . . meant for hunting game, HE was hunting MEN . . . "

    Any expanding ammo: ". . . Banned by the Geneva Convention . . . " (actually the Hague Accords, but . . .)

    Any non-expanding ammo: "Irresponsibly overpenetrating for urban use, it can kill several with one shot."

    Expensive ammo: " . . . Boutique ammo for killers . . . "

    Cheap ammo: ". . . wants to get in some discount killing . . . "

    Bottom line: If the case is weak, the opposing shyster will try to make ammo - ANY AMMO - an issue. They've tried to do this to LEOs, they'll try it on you. It's your shyster's job to stop him.

    In the case of a good shoot, I've yet to hear any credible evidence that any reasonable ammo type will clobber you in court. So unless you're using handloaded depleted uranium sabots dipped in rattlesnake venom, I just don't see it being a real problem in a good shoot.
     
  8. one-shot-one

    one-shot-one Member

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    he is probably

    dead on in Massachusetts, talk to a lawyer in texas and see what he tells you. :D
     
  9. idakfan

    idakfan Member

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    Good post by Hank B

    My Two cents:

    I use Hollow-Point because chances are the bullet will hopefully stop in the badguy and not go through him into somebody else.
     
  10. Camp David

    Camp David member

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    For home defense I use hollow-point ammunition tainted with poison; therefore in the unlikely case I only graze the target, whatever I aim at will die a horrible death. :)
     
  11. Henry Bowman

    Henry Bowman Senior Member

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    Excellent! then he can give us name, dates and case numbers for these (heretofor phantom) examples. :rolleyes:
     
  12. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    Not this one, nor any of the others I shoot with.
     
  13. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

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    My take on it is this:

    1) I shoot to stop

    2) There's a correlation between number of shots fired, and likelihood of death.

    3) I choose to use a bullet that's likely to end the threat with as few rounds fired as possible.

    4) Doing this is actually in the perp's best interest. More holes = more chances to hit somthing vital.

    I've read research that backs this up. I just don't remember where...
     
  14. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Is he telling what COULD happen or what he has SEEN happen?

    Could be big trouble? I agree.

    Have seen it happen? Never in 10 years of practice.

    I'm with Henry. I would like to see an actual case first please instead of this Ayoobian "could" happen. :scrutiny:
     
  15. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    And how much does the lead semi-wadcutter expand out of a snubbie?

    And like a couple of other folks mentioned, I'd sure like to have him share the citations for these cases where it made a difference that hollowpoint ammoe was used.
     
  16. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    I don't buy into that crap, and I believe anyone who does is potentially doing themselves a huge (and possibly dangerous) disservice ... FMJs are far more deadly to bystanders; there is a plethora of documentation out there as to why law enforcement uses hollowpoints, and finally, there would be any number of expert witnesses lining up to testify on behalf of any citizen who kills a criminal in a righteous self-defense scenario ...

    I'm with El Tejon on this ... sounds like a lawyer who projects liability issues into every aspect of his life and the lives of anyone dumb enough to listen to him.
     
  17. NCP24

    NCP24 Member

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    Trial Attorney? If so you’re telling me that you have never made outlandish comments while trying to impeach a witness? I have heard them say far worse than that in open court. I have even heard LEO’s claim (in private) that they have intentionally qualified with lower scores to avoid some of these ludicrous claims made by defense attorneys.
     
  18. Soap

    Soap Member

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    I've seen a lawyer skip across the room with a monkey step, so what does that tell you about lawyer advice? :scrutiny:

    ;) to El T
     
  19. MikeIsaj

    MikeIsaj Member

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    You need to survive the attack in order to be sued. White box Winchester? Not a chance!
     
  20. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    Litigation attorney at the federal level for seven years, with going on three additional years in advisory work.

    Outlandish comments? Never intentionally. One tends to lose credibility with a federal judge fast by doing so. Besides, I usually find that the truth is sufficient to impeach a witness. I have, however, seen a case turn in part on whether someone use foul language (one individual who testimony showed never cursed was misidentified as another who did curse).

    I have heard instructors who didn't give scores because to do so opened up commentary about "he only missed failing by one point."
     
  21. CAS700850

    CAS700850 Member

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    I have seen my share of stupid lawyer arguments in the past 11 years of practice. But, let me say this on the whole ammunition issue. I think that it falls to the type of jury you'll be dealing with. If you can expect some gun knowledgable people in the jury box (more rural communities, or maybe Texas), ammo will matter less than if you live in a community with people who are likely to not only be gun-illiterate, if you will, but possibly gun fearing.

    An attorney I trust who handles civil matters told me to buy ammunition based upon sound research of the market, using sources that can be verified and dug up later. Or, buy ammo that has a history. Case in point: in .38, either the the 158 grain LSWHP +p, or the 110 grain jhp +p+. The first was used by the F.B.I. to protect Americans for years. The second was used by the Secret Service to safeguard the president for years.

    Can't you see the testimony: "I chose that ammunition after reading in several publications how the Seceret Service had chosen it for its accuracy and ability to stop an aggressor from continuing his dangerous behaviors. That was exactly waht I was looking for to protect myself and my family."


    As a side note, especially for the attorneys among us, do you really think that plaintiff's counsel is going tp push the intentional aspect in a wrongful death action? Strategically, isn't it more adventageous to prusue a reckless or negligent angle, and thus attempt to keep the insurance coverage available for damages. Win an intentional argument, and the insurance goes out the window, reducing the money available for damages.
     
  22. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    +1

    And again with the +1.
     
  23. Spreadfire Arms

    Spreadfire Arms Member

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    i think some of the legal eagles on this forum hit it right on the head, what is the TRUTH (hollowpoint being safer to innocent bystanders due to reduction in overpenetration) vs. what the jury is able to understand and make sense of are two different things.

    it may take an expert witness to go on the stand on your behalf if this type of ammunition is brought up as an issue. i imagine in a wrongful death civil suit, anything can be brought up.

    i think we are not differentiating the criminal issue vs. the civil issue. this D.A. in the original post said it may be an issue in a civil suit. i think he is correct, it can be an issue, but it may or may not. in a wrongful death civil suit, i think there are other issues as well, if this is going to be an issue, such as:

    1. cocked-and-locked: the single action trigger has a lighter trigger, could this have been an issue in a wrongful death shooting?

    2. .357 MAGNUM vs. .38 special: using a "full-powered" MAGNUM load to shoot the bad guy, when you had the ability to use a .38 "special" which doesn't sound as bad

    3. Black Talon or similar "cop killer" designated ammunition: shooting a bad guy with any "cop killer" or similar bullet, as determined by the liberal left, or even worse, shooting someone with an SS109 "armor piercing" .223 round from your AR-15.

    4. how many extra magazines were you carrying?: the police report stated not only were you armed with a Glock 23, that holds 13+1 rounds of ammunition, you were also wearing it in a shoulder holster (legal concealed carry) with TWO additional loaded magazines on the off-side, with an additional 26 rounds. that meant you were carrying 40 rounds! how many people were you intending to kill?

    etc......

    the argument can be made for pretty much anything you do, or don't do, in a civil suit.

    i'm not 100% convinced that my carrying of Federal Hydra-Shok's in my .45 carry pistol are going to make me out to be a psychotic killer. my argument for this? this is the SAME ammunition i carried when i was a police officer. that city ISSUED me that ammunition. THEY told me it was effective. i have no reason to believe otherwise. in fact, one of my favorite carry pistols is the SAME gun i carried in the police department (Sig P220). so if the choice of pistol is an issue, again, it was the ONLY authorized semi-auto i could carry, and i could only carry the Hydra-Shok rounds in it.

    while that argument may or may not hold water, i think it is a fairly convincing argument to a jury.

    but i think i speak for the masses on THR when people say, "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six."
     
  24. TonkinTwentyMil

    TonkinTwentyMil Member

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    Sheesh! Talk About "Ballistic Illiteracy"...

    Some key points:

    1. Nearly ALL American LEO's carry hollowpoints... even the NYPD (after their lefty pols and police commissioners finally Saw The Light and authorized hollowpoints for their cops' Eeeevil Semi-Automatic Glock Assault Pistols). The FBI, Secret Service, and other key federal agencies ALL issue hollowpoints as standard ammo -- for documentable performance and safety reasons.

    2. In poster Eddie Coyle's case, the subject state (no pun intended) was Massachussetts... as in The People's Republik Of. Is their ANY state where Ballistic Illiteracy is more widespread? Any state more hostile to privately-owned weapons of ANY type? (Okay, maybe New Jersey can match Mass., as hollowpoints are generally "banned" there for civilian carry -- the only state where any such silly "ban" exists.)

    3. No U.S. citizen OR police dept. is bound or guided in ANY way by the Geneva Accords. Technically, the U.S. is not even a signatory to it, though our military generally abides by its provisions. However, certain (SpecOps) U.S. military units have used/do use hollowpoints for certain tactical situations. In fact, overwhelming evidence exists that hollowpoints are SAFER (see NYPD) and, thus, more politically correct (and Ballistically Correct, too).

    Summary: the "eeeevil hollowpoint" issue has long been defeated in court, according to most court-tested self-defense experts like Ayoob, etc. Any prosecuting attorney who tries to press this in court can be gutted by any number of credentialed experts who'll crush the prosecution if they try to raise this issue.
     
  25. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    >> I was talking CCW's with an acquaintance who is a prosecutor working in the DA's office. <<

    This guy is not just "an attorney," and Eddie C. has the misfortune to live among sheelple (who would make up a jury) and a pack of left-wing Socialist Democrats who'd like to keep criminals as pets (at a safe distance of course.) :barf:

    Consequently I'd advise Eddie to take his advice, or move somewhere else like Texas or Arizona ... ;)

    In the meantime it might be wise to remember the old saying, "when in Rome do as the Romans do ... :scrutiny: ;)
     
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