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August 2, 2011

Tenth Circuit rejects defendant complaint about not being allowed to present evidence he killed someone

The Tenth Circuit handed down today a notable little through-the-looking-glass opinion in US v. Fraser, No. 10-8049 (10th Cir. Aug. 1, 2011) (available here).  This first paragraph explains the crazy reality that is this case and is the basis for the title of this post.

James Fraser shot and killed Milton Brown.  That much is not disputed.  What is disputed is whether the district court should have allowed Mr. Fraser to present evidence of the homicide as part of his defense against a federal weapons charge.  How could evidence that he killed a man have helped Mr. Fraser?  Mr. Fraser says that the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting would have demonstrated how and why he needed to possess a gun — even if it meant breaking federal law to do so.  But whether or not a necessity defense can be raised to a federal gun charge — a premise subject to several and significant questions — Mr. Fraser can’t establish that defense on its own terms as a matter of law.  Accordingly, the district court’s decision to exclude evidence of Mr. Brown’s killing was no abuse of discretion and we affirm.

August 2, 2011 at 06:50 PM | Permalink

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