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October 29, 2023

Highlighting some recent real cases raising self-defense claims

As we will discuss in class, defensive use of force claims — typically "self-defense" claims — are certainly the most common (and often the most controversial) form of a "true defense" actually raised in criminal cases.  Indeed, a quick google news search turns up lots and lots of local press stories about self-defense claims involving a variety of folks in a variety of settings.  Here is a recent sampling of some press stories (with no expectation that anyone checks out more than a few of these news accounts):

From Alabama, "Prosecutors Argue Timeline Disproves Darius Miles' Self-Defense Claim"

From Arizona, "A Machete Draws Blood. Was It Deadly Assault or Self-Defense?"

From Colorado, "I-25 double homicide suspect claims self-defense"

From Connecticut, "Stabbing at Dunkin' in Manchester was self-defense; man injured arrested for assault"

From Florida, "Gun fight in Palatka: Man claimed self defense, other shooter held without bond"

From Kentucky, "Murder suspect in apparent NKY road rage shooting claims it was self-defense"

From Minnesota, "Case dismissed against Amazon driver who punched St. Paul homeowner, claimed self-defense"

From Nevada, "Police rule deadly shooting at Verdi home an act of self defense"

From South Carolina, "Resident acts in self-defense, shoots man in Laurens Co., deputies say"

From Texas, "Does Takeoff’s Accused Killer Have a ‘Valid Self-Defense’ Argument?"

From Virginia, "A delivery driver who shot a YouTuber who was pranking him said it was justifiable self-defense — and a jury agreed"

Anyone who cannot get enough of these "real crime" tales can check out similar reviews of real cases from prior years here and here.  Again, nobody should feel any obligation to review all these stories; but a review of just the headlines should help highlight also the different contexts in which self-defense claims get raised and all the different legal players — police, prosecutors, judges, jurors — who are called upon to assess these claims.

October 29, 2023 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 25, 2023

Three draft aggravated rape proposal already submitted for legislative consideration

Here are the three proposals I have received (so far) for our legislative role play:


From Megan H. and Joshua L.:   Download H & L 2023 Aggravated Rape Statute


From Adam B. and Nathaniel H.:  Download B & H 2023 Aggravated Rape Statute Proposal


From Sabrina M., Megan S., Tianan Y., and Maggie M:  Download M & M & S & Y 2023 Aggravated Rape Proposal



October 25, 2023 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 24, 2023

Recent prior examples of legislative drafts from prior years' role plays

The folks who have kindly agreed to take on a drafting role for our legislative role play, which is scheduled to take place in class on Thursday, October 26, should know that they need not and ought not feel as though they need to start drafting from scratch.  As is well known by real legislators (and their staff), it is often quite sound and quite wise to seek to build new legislative proposals on prior effort.  To that end, everyone can and should feel free to peruse some of the drafting efforts from prior years captured in the archives of this blog.  Here is an abridged accounting:


From 2021:

Draft Aggravated Rape statutes for legislative consideration before scheduled (in-class) legislative hearing 

Draft "Campus Sexual Misconduct Policy" for consideration before scheduled (in-class) hearing


From 2022:

Draft "Aggravated Rape Statute" for consideration before scheduled (in-class) hearing

Draft "OSU Sexual Misconduct Policy" for consideration before scheduled (in-class) hearing



October 24, 2023 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 22, 2023

Raw scores for 2023 midterm exam now posted on Carmen under Files

I have now posted, to the Files folder on our Carmen class site, the raw scores for the midterm exam administered earlier this month (in a single page PDF).

I have already discussed a bit what (little) these raw scores mean during our class last week, but I am happy to answer any additional general questions in class.  I will also plan to soon have official times for optional one-on-one conferences for any and all students who may want to meet to discuss their performance or who may have specific questions about this midterm and/or law school exams more generally.

As I have been seeking to stress in class, this midterm is quite intentionally designed as a learning experience and the raw score results are part of the learning process.  I will be eager to continue to advance that learning via one-on-one or group discussions in the weeks ahead.

October 22, 2023 in Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 19, 2023

Seeking to summarize and highlight Ohio's major (and intricate) sex offense provisions

As I mentioned in class, I do not test on (or expect you to know thoroughly) modern sex offense doctrines in part because they are quite intricate thanks to modern efforts to properly categorize and criminalize a range of sexual misconduct.  (And we will not look closely at the Model Penal Code's sex offense provisions because the original ones are widely seen as dated and are still under revision.)

As for Ohio, the Sex Offenses Chapter of the Ohio Revised Code has more than 40 distinct provisions criminalizing everything from "Rape" to "Sexual Battery" to "Voyeurism" to "Compelling prostitution" to "Pandering obscenity" and all sorts of stuff in between.  Here are just some portions of Ohio's "Rape" statute, with a few provisions emphasized for potential in-class discussion:

Ohio Revised Code Section 2907.02 Rape:

(A)(1) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another who is not the spouse of the offender or who is the spouse of the offender but is living separate and apart from the offender, when any of the following applies:

(a) For the purpose of preventing resistance, the offender substantially impairs the other person's judgment or control by administering any drug, intoxicant, or controlled substance to the other person surreptitiously or by force, threat of force, or deception.

(b) The other person is less than thirteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of the other person.

(c) The other person's ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition or because of advanced age, and the offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the other person's ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition or because of advanced age.

(2) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another when the offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of force.

(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of rape, a felony of the first degree....  Except as otherwise provided in this division, notwithstanding sections 2929.11 to 2929.14 of the Revised Code, an offender under division (A)(1)(b) of this section shall be sentenced to a prison term or term of life imprisonment.... 

(C) A victim need not prove physical resistance to the offender in prosecutions under this section.

(D) Evidence of specific instances of the victim's sexual activity, opinion evidence of the victim's sexual activity, and reputation evidence of the victim's sexual activity shall not be admitted under this section unless it involves evidence of the origin of semen, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease or infection or the victim's past sexual activity with the offender, and only to the extent that the court finds that the evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh its probative value.

Evidence of specific instances of the defendant's sexual activity, opinion evidence of the defendant's sexual activity, and reputation evidence of the defendant's sexual activity shall not be admitted under this section unless it involves evidence of the origin of semen, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease, the defendant's past sexual activity with the victim, or is admissible against the defendant under section 2945.59 of the Revised Code, and only to the extent that the court finds that the evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh its probative value....

(G) It is not a defense to a charge under division (A)(2) of this section that the offender and the victim were married or were cohabiting at the time of the commission of the offense.

Here are links to the other major Ohio sex offense provisions:

ORC 2907.03 Sexual battery.

ORC 2907.04 Unlawful sexual conduct with minor

ORC 2907.05 Gross sexual imposition

ORC 2907.06 Sexual imposition

If you click through to all of these provisions, you will see what looks like a "spouse" exception throughout.  That reality has prompted bills to eliminate such an exception, but these have always been stalled in the Ohio General Assembly.  This effective press article, headlined "Bill to criminalize spousal rape in Ohio has no opponents, so why can’t it pass?," discusses these matters as of last year.  And just earlier this week, there is continued news via this Statehouse News Bureau article headlined, "Bill ending Ohio's spousal rape 'loophole' makes it out of committee."

October 19, 2023 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2023

Post-break schedule reminders AND help from The Simpsons as we get back into unintentional homicides

6a00d8341c8ccf53ef026bdef9b5ac200c-320wiI hope everyone had a Fall Break that was as restful and restorative as possible.  Though I suspect you are sad the break is winding down, I am excited to get back to our regular meetings.  And, I wanted to remind everyone that we do not have class on Oct 16 (Monday), but do have class on Oct 17-19 (Tuesday though Thursday).   

As for coverage, in our week back, I expect we will wrap up the homicide unit, which means you should finish reading all the unintentional homicide materials (which includes reckless murder and felony murder).  Before we turn to how "more serious" unintentional killings can be murder, though, I will want to quickly review the material we covered right before the break concerning the (diverse) ways "less serious" unintentional killings are labeled as homicides.  To that end, I have often used a Simpsons hypo to explore the how various jurisdictions approach unintended homicides.  I will likely use this hypo to review Ohio and Oliwood law to start out next class.  Here is the full text (with links to the Simpson's wiki):

Mr. Burns, that rich old codger, is having a problem with birds on his country estate.  Bart Simpson built a tree house on the property when he was ward of Mr. Burns, and Bart recently left open a huge vat of Marge’s homemade peanut butter.  (Bart took it to the tree house to keep Homer from eating all of it.)  Smelling the peanut butter, birds from all over Springfield have invaded Burns’ property.

Burns tells his willing servant Waylon Smithers to get one of his antique flare guns and start firing shots into the tree around the tree house to scare the birds away.  Burns urges Smithers to check whether anyone is in the area; Burns knows kids still like to use the tree house, even though Burns had his staff put up a sign stating that kids playing in the tree house would be prosecuted for trespassing.

Eager to do Burns' bidding and to shoo the birds away quickly, Smithers only calls out -- "Hello, can anyone hear me?" -- in an effort to determine if anyone is in the tree house.  Smithers does not directly check to make sure no kids are in the tree house.  Calling out a few times, he gets no response (though the woods are noisy).  Smithers decides he has done enough since he does not plan to shoot directly at the tree house.  He then takes aim at branches nearby the tree house and starts firing.

Sadly, it turns out that Rod Flanders and Todd Flanders, devout children of the Simpsons' devout neighbor, were in the tree house praying because they thought being high off the ground brought them closer to their lord.  (The Flanders sincerely thought that praying, rather than playing, in the tree house was perfectly fine.  The kids had heard Smithers call out each time, but they thought it was the lord speaking to them.)  Tragically, the third shot from the antique flare-gun fired off line and into the tree house. 

The third flare shot by Smithers  struck Rod Flanders directly in the chest.  Todd Flanders discovered that his older brother Rod has been killed instantly by the flare; distraught, he jumps out the tree house window to his death.

Smithers turns himself in, and now you are a prosecutor (or defense attorney) trying to decide whether he might be guilty of some form of homicide in Washington (at the time of Williams); in Massachusetts (at the time of Welansky); in Oliwood; and in Ohio.

October 14, 2023 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0)