<< Hostile Review of California Lethal Injection Regulations | Main | Proper Use of Force >>


Five Years for a Push?

| 9 Comments
It is always dicey to make judgments from a newspaper story, so I'll hedge right up front by saying there may be more to the story. However, if the facts reported by Sunita Vijayan in The Californian accurately reflect the event, it appears a California man is facing up to five years in prison for doing nothing wrong.

Salinas police have said Moore, 29 at the time, pushed Harish Dinesh Davis to the ground on Dec. 26, 2008, causing him to hit his head on the pavement. Police have said Moore shoved Davis after the transient, about age 60, ignored repeated requests to stop washing the windshield of Moore's BMW.
*                          *                        *
On Thursday afternoon, Moore pleaded no contest to assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. He also admitted to an enhancement of causing great bodily injury. He is scheduled for sentencing July 7.
*                          *                        *
Before the confrontation, police have said Moore and a female companion stopped at the gas station while traveling through Monterey County on Highway 101.

They said Davis was seeking donations in exchange for washing windshields, and Moore walked into the station store to complain about him. They said Moore saw the transient arguing with the woman, came outside and pushed Davis, causing him to hit his head.

A shove is not force likely to cause great bodily injury. It is force likely to cause no injury at all. It is an entirely appropriate amount of force to use when a trespasser to one's chattels refuses to desist after being warned. In this case, it caused accidental injury resulting in death. But a legal use of force against the transgressor does not become a crime because of an unlikely and unintended consequence, however unfortunate. That consequence is the result of Davis's own misconduct, and that is where the blame lies.

We need to revise California's law of authorized use of force. Given that our state cannot afford to protect us, it can at least allow us to protect ourselves.

9 Comments

Note the casual bias in the reporter's write-up. The reference to the BMW was unnecessary--if it were a Dodge, would that have been in the write-up?

You have to wonder what the prosecutor is thinking here.

The client of the lawyer profession, who may not be touched, nor even verbally criticized, is the low life, the scum of the earth. The prosecutor should be subjected to all out public self-help, until drive out of his job, or until he commits suicide. To deter.

S.C.,

Some of your criticisms of the legal profession are well taken and echo sentiments expressed by such luminaries as Charles Dickens.

At other times, you lapse into paranoid, moonbat rant. You would be a more effective advocate for your viewpoint if you refrained from the latter.

If you can't or won't, take it someplace else.

KS: I was asked to come here. Dickens did not have legal training, and does not understand the lawyer as I do.

1) Do you believe the mind of defendants, many drunk, can be read retrospectively, and for every single element of a criminal charge?

2) Do you believe the future of rare accidents can be foreseen?

3) Do you believe standards of conduct should be set by a fictional character, who is really another fictional character, Jesus Christ, in disguise (why does the reasonable person have to be fictional? To be objective, of course. No. It is because the judge lawyer wants to impose his personal preferences on the public.)?

4) Do you believe that the truth can be detected by the use of the gut feelings of twelve strangers off the street, after excluding any with knowledge of the matter?

Please, do me the courtesy of answering, yes or no to each of the above.

Now, call me a moonbat, again.

"KS: I was asked to come here."

Not my me. Adios.

It is hard to know whether or not a crime occurred from just a news account, so the prosecutor may deserve the benefit of the doubt, at least until we know more. What troubles me a little is the assumption that if the victim's an annoying homeless guy, he's got it coming. Law and order should mean something, even for a squeegee man. That, after all, is what equal protection of the law is all about.

Please, please get rid of Supremacy Claus. He's ruined Berman's site. Please don't let him ruin this one too.

Somehow I doubt that there was any possibility of the law failing to stand up for the "annoying homeless guy." I think what is far more likely is that the car owner, who, after all, was minding his own business, is simply being made and example of in order to demonstrate that yes every victim will be vindicated. And certainly those who mess with people's vehicles, despite being told not to, have something coming to them. Obviously not death, but no one thinks that the defendant had any intention of killing the guy.

What is troubling, in my view, is that the fact that you appear to have little sympathy for someone who was put in a situation he did not ask for and whose life will now be ruined.

"What troubles me a little is the assumption that if the victim's an annoying homeless guy, he's got it coming."

At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, that depends on the meaning of "it."

Davis did not have death "coming," but he assuredly did have a push "coming." Not because he was annoying or homeless but because he persisted in committing a trespass even after being told to back off. A mild use of force is an appropriate response, warranted by Davis's behavior.

If a freak accident caused this normally innocuous shove to cause far worse consequences than would have been expected, that is tragic, but not criminal.

Equal protection means simply that the result should be the same regardless of who the pushee was. If the push was a proper response to his illegal behavior, then the pusher is not guilty of a crime.

Please identify the passage in the post that you believe implies that a distinction is being made on the basis of Davis's status rather than his actions. I do not see any.

Leave a comment