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Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tiller shooting trial Attorney suggests unusual defense

Defendant may consider justifiable homicide strategy

August 30, 2009

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Scott Roeder speaks with his attorney Mark Rudy in this July 28 file photo during Roeder’s preliminary hearing in court in Wichita. Roeder, 51, is charged in the death of Dr. George Tiller but has pleaded not guilty.

Scott Roeder speaks with his attorney Mark Rudy in this July 28 file photo during Roeder’s preliminary hearing in court in Wichita. Roeder, 51, is charged in the death of Dr. George Tiller but has pleaded not guilty.

— The suspect in the killing of abortion provider George Tiller is in talks with a prominent attorney who represents anti-abortion protesters and has long advocated justifiable homicide as a legal defense in such cases.

Scott Roeder, 51, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges in the May 31 shooting death of Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church. The Kansas City, Mo., man has refused to discuss his case, but he has said Tiller’s killing was justified to save “the lives of unborn children.”

Roeder has court-appointed defense attorneys, but he apparently has turned to Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003 after the Florida Supreme Court rejected Hirsh’s argument that the judge should have allowed Hill to present his claim that the killings were justified to prevent abortions.

Hirsh confirmed he has spoken once to Roeder in recent weeks about representing him, but he has not yet been retained. Hirsh said he had not researched the facts of the case or Kansas law enough to know whether the justifiable homicide defense could be used but said a jury should be allowed to decide if it is applicable.

Roeder’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 21, though public defender Mark Rudy said he anticipates filing for a continuance.

Rudy declined to comment on Hirsh’s possible role in the case. Roeder did not respond to a letter from the Associated Press seeking comment.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in denying Hill’s appeal that his motivation would not change the outcome of the case. “As a practical matter, permitting a defendant to vindicate his or her criminal activity in this manner would be an invitation for lawlessness,” the justices wrote.

‘Open season’

But Hirsh discounted the suggestion that if a jury acquitted Roeder of murder based on such a defense, it would lead to an open season on abortion doctors.

“It has been open season on unborn children for over 30 years. I think on abortionists there will be a bag limit,” Hirsh said in a phone interview this week from his Kennesaw, Ga., office.

He previously represented anti-abortion activist Regina Dinwiddie of Kansas City, Mo., who was among the first protesters targeted in 1995 under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act. Dinwiddie was barred from going within 500 feet of a clinic.

The principle of self-defense and the defense of another has been recognized for centuries, Hirsh said. But he acknowledged its use in abortion-related cases has been stifled, saying that in Hill’s case, the prosecutor and judge made sure jurors wouldn’t hear it.

“We don’t know if it would have prevailed or not and they were scared out of their mind, and you could see it, that it might have,” Hirsh said. “And so it’s not fair to say it never worked. Well, it hasn’t been tried, either.”

Richard Levy, a professor at Kansas University School of Law, said such defenses can work, but not necessarily in the context of abortion. The law requires that the threat be imminent, the force reasonable in response and the activity involved unlawful.

Any claim that killing an abortion provider is justifiable likely would fail, he said.

“In particular in the circumstances of the murder of Dr. Tiller there is an imminence problem, there is no imminent threat and, more fundamentally, the activities he was engaged in were legal,” Levy said.

Jury response

The question is whether a judge would allow jurors to consider that defense.

Wichita attorney E. Jay Greeno, who defended Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon for shooting Tiller in both arms in 1993, said the judge repeatedly shut her down when she tried to testify about abortions the doctor performed. Procedurally, the judge in Roeder’s case would likely hold a pretrial hearing on whether Roeder’s attorneys could raise that defense at trial.

“There might be some hope that there would be jury nullification — the jury would vote to acquit — if there were right-to-life advocates within the jury who accepted the argument that an unborn child is a human being and that abortion is murder and therefore the murder of a physician who performs abortion is also justifiable,” Levy said.

Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist in Des Moines, Iowa, who in 1996 reprinted the Army of God manual that lists ways to damage abortion clinics, recently wrote a legal brief for Roeder’s case on the “necessity defense.”

He argued that had the alleged shooter not acted, the killing of hundreds of babies every week would have continued.

Comments

Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

I see imminent threat in the mass slaughter of babies.

Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

And now that Tiller is dead more children will have a chance to live, grow and become bloggers.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

I see imminent threat to the lives of born people. One has to look at the track record of the attorneys representing these people, however. Neither Mr. Hirsh nor Mr. Greeno succeeded in defending their clients to acquittal . Having nutcase lawyers defend nutcase people doesn't make for a good defense.

Kryptenx 5 years, 3 months ago

Lmao, I think this idiot is may actually be stupid enough to use this defense. Gotta love it, admitting guilt, then trying to justify killing someone who followed the law. Never going to work.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

“As a practical matter, permitting a defendant to vindicate his or her criminal activity in this manner would be an invitation for lawlessness,” the justices wrote.

Better that we remain within the confines of lawfulness, where the victims are silent and perpetrators beyond recourse.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

It's a lot worse than that artichoke heart. Now that Tiller is dead more fetuses will die in the womb, threaten the lives of their mothers and exist in profound suffering. More mothers will be forced to have children they didn't want to live their lives in abject poverty and possibly even suffer hunger and abuse, considering that pro-lifers are by and large the same political conservatives who scream about "welfare and crack whores". Never mind that women in their forties will be made to bear genetically broken babies they didn't want and will be forced to care for until the day they die at which time they will become wards of the state, existing on Medicaid in a nursing home. (That is if Medicaid still exists.) But who cares? It's a "life", right?

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 3 months ago

Every female who puts her baby in the position to be aborted is the true killer. They need to be held responsible.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 5 years, 3 months ago

"It's a lot worse than that artichoke heart..."

... human sacrifice... dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says…

“It has been open season on unborn children for over 30 years. I think on abortionists there will be a bag limit,” Hirsh said in a phone interview this week from his Kennesaw, Ga., office.

Humorous quote. Hope he takes the case.


Only a person who would find humor in similar quotes from Osama Bin Laden would say Mr. Hirsh's comment was anything other than despicable.

Advocating murder is never funny.

PS - please don't come back with the "abortion is murder" tripe, as that lame attempt to shift the argument on emotional grounds will not excuse your belief that advocating for murder is somehow humorous. That is indefensible on your part.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

"That is indefensible on your part."

Most of his posts are indefensible, that's why he never tries to defend them, just moves to different threads and repeats them. The only real question is the depth to which he realizes it.

Christine Anderson 5 years, 3 months ago

Okay, it's time to post another reminder that no all pro-lifers advocate violent means. Tiller's shooting was just as much as murder as the many, many murders he committed over the years. And no, I do not believe that Roeder had the right to shoot Tiller, either. Regarding the type of defense Roeder may use though, it won't work.

WHY 5 years, 3 months ago

Bag limit?? Is this a member of the bar advocating murder? Apparently he is not a very good attorney anyway because his last client got the chair and he is proposing a defense that has zero chance of working. Hope he gets disbarred.

maybeso 5 years, 3 months ago

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

roger_o_thornhill 5 years, 3 months ago

"I don't have to defend an opinion, do I?"

That's the new motto for the good ol' US of A(holes) isn't it! Welcome to the beginning of the end.

Jimo 5 years, 3 months ago

Word is that Osama bin Laden was contemplating the same defense should he ever face judgment in this life.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Kryptenx (Anonymous) says…

"Lmao, I think this idiot is may actually be stupid enough to use this defense. Gotta love it, admitting guilt, then trying to justify killing someone who followed the law. Never going to work."

Admitting to the facts in this case was a moot point. It's not as if there weren't enough witnesses, and statements he's already made.

I'm not in any way defending what he did, and if allowed to use this defense I'm fairly confident he'll still be convicted, but in this country an attorney is allowed, even obligated, to use any available defense. It's up to the jury to decide guilt after that (which, as I said, I'm pretty sure they will).

Corey Williams 5 years, 3 months ago

Tom, for the simple reason that you found the lawyer's statement about a "bag limit" on abortion providers "humorous" in your opinion; in my opinion, that makes you an imbecile of the lowest stature. That is just my opinion, though. I don't really have to defend it. You do it for me every time you post.

RedwoodCoast 5 years, 3 months ago

Who needs logic, reason, or morality when God is on one's side?

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

I would like to see a justifiable homicide defense in this case.

Justifying murder of someone for doing something legal. Where would it end? Murder would be justified despite the law and based upon one's own political beliefs.

Lawdy, where is the rule of law? It would be interesting to see how it played out.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 3 months ago

Tobacco companies and alcohol brewers are demonstrably responsible for the deaths of thousands of humans every year, yet these are legal products.

No matter, murder of tobacco execs and distillers would be justifiable homicide.

I would really like to see a defense of justifiable homicide with the rational that Tiller was murdered for doing something legal but that the murderer disagreed with.

Corey Williams 5 years, 3 months ago

Tom, you can't prove anyone's opinion is wrong. You can only state that someone else's opinion is wrong in your own opinion. It's when someone tries to back things up with facts, only then can they be proven wrong. You usually don't use facts; and when you do post links, they usually go right back to some right wing hack site.

I'll invite anyone to go back through my posts and see if I've "...proven your lack of knowledge of (fill in the blank) ..." If I have, bring it up. If you think I have, then show me. Until then, I'll rest easy in my opinion that you bring little to the table but the adolescent and inarticulate views of the world as told to you by others.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

"Jonas, I don't have to defend an opinion, do I?"

No, I don't suppose so. I doubt it will make most of us think any less of you.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 3 months ago

I want an app to screen and ignore commenters!!! Oh god I get shivers thinking about it.

Tom Shewmon /ignore - his 2 cents gone Marion Lynn /ignore - his 2 cents gone Peace and serenity - priceless

C'mon LJW, the ability to screen and ignore certain posters has been around since the days of Usenet. Get with the 21st century. Nobody is saying that they don't have the right to post their drivel and attempts to hijack threads all over this website, just that we posters need the choice not to read it. Please, I'm begging you, give this poor community a break.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

from the article: "...Michael Hirsh, the lawyer who represented Paul Hill on appeal for killing a Florida abortion provider and his bodyguard in 1994. Hill was executed in 2003..."

If Hirsh represents Tiller's murderer, I wish him the same success he had with Hill.

Corey Williams 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr_Nancy_Boy_To_You (Tom Shewmon) says… "I want my kids to be able to know evil when they see it."

It's always right there in front of them, Tom.

"Yeah, but mine are all 'wrong' to you loons, right?"

Stupid, uninformed, juvenile, etc.; but no, not "wrong".

Ralph Reed 5 years, 3 months ago

Rant, Rant, Rant. You're posts are demonstating that again Tom. Well done.

@beobachter. Your 0805 was right on the money.

Only a few pro-life posts above are not rants. Cheesehead is right, not all pro-lifers advocate violence, unlike many of the pro-lifers on this thread (or it would appear so).

parrothead8 5 years, 3 months ago

maybeso (Anonymous) says… If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

Amen. Roeder is going to go to prison for a long time, and although he can't get pregnant, that probably won't stop the guys from trying.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 3 months ago

Tom, Paul Morrison never found humor in the advocating of murdering a fellow human being.

For all his flaws, that makes Paul Morrison a better man than you. And believe me, I have as low an opinion of Paul Morrison as you do.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

Ya'know, I can't find any of his posts either, almost like after a few years of 9-10 posts a day saying over and over that libruls are teh stoopid he crossed a line on one thread or another, got his account banned, and then made a new account including his own name, being under the mistaken opinion that it would lend him some sort of credibility.

Naaaahhhh

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 3 months ago

Paul Morrison, like encountering Satan in the flesh. No argument, really.

What does that make you? Satan himself, obviously. No analogies necessary.

There is nothing interesting in "getting off the fence" and finding humor in somebody advocating for mass murder. Enjoy laughing it up to the next Osama Bin Laden tape.

I could care less about your politics or what you may or may not have posted in the past; it is your comment on this story which reveals you as the lowest denominator of society.

Christine Anderson 5 years, 3 months ago

Tom, forgive me for getting slightly off track here, but I have to tell you...Paul Morrison can't possibly be satan in the flesh. That title belongs to two persons I had to encounter on a daily basis in a former job; Robert Courtney and Keith Nelson. (The latter the murderer of Pamela Butler) No soul, period. Got a very creepy feeling whenever I had to go near them, even with guards beside me.

Calliope877 5 years, 3 months ago

KEITHMILES05 (Anonymous) says…

"Every female who puts her baby in the position to be aborted is the true killer. They need to be held responsible. "

I really hope you were being sarcastic by making this comment, if not, I nominate it for dumbest comment so far...and there's a lot of dumb comments on here, so I hope you feel "special."

esteshawk 5 years, 3 months ago

This is a nonsensical defense. The law allows abortions. Period. Regardless of emotions or religious beliefs involved. Besides, the killing of Tiller did nothing to "save the babies" as there are other providers ready to step in and take up the demand.

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