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Old March 14, 2012, 06:42 AM   #105
Spats McGee
Join Date: July 28, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 6,866
Originally Posted by arentol
. . . .Mas claimed that State vs Bias was an example of "Cases Where Handloads Caused Problems in Court". He is somewhat right, but it is not really relevant.

For one thing the case in question wasn't a case of Self Defense, it was someone claiming they tried to stop a suicide attempt and the person shot themselves anyway. That is not even close to the same thing and pretty much makes it irrelevant to a discussion of hand loads used in self defense. Self defense is an affirmative defense where you admit you fired the gun at the other person and are fully responsible for that action, but that you were justified in doing so for some legal reason, which is very different from this case.
The irrelevant point is that the Bias case is about suicide. The Rules of Evidence remain the same whether the case is Murder, Self-Defense, Breach of Contract or Alienation of Affection. The standards for the admissibility of the GSR residue which might have been so helpful remain the same, regardless of the nature of the case. In most states, SD is an affirmative defense, but not all. That doesn't change the rules of evidence, either.

Originally Posted by arentol
. . . .Moving on to this case in particular, the ONLY way in which handloads caused problems in court was if he wouldn't have been indicted if he hadn't handloaded. If he would have been indicted anyway (it seems incredibly likely he would have) then the handloads no longer become relevant as all testimony about them ended up being a wash in all 4 trials. . . . .
No, that's not right. The problem (IIRC) was that the crime lab tested a sample that differed significantly from Bias' handload. The GSR evidence from his handloads was (unsurprisingly) substantially different from the factory load GSR evidence. And distance from barrel to target was a significant factor.

Even if the result after 4 trials is the same after it would have been after 1, had the GSR residue been admissible, Daniel Bias still had to go through 4 trials, and pay boatloads of legal fees. Besides, the GSR evidence on the handloads was was inadmissible.

Originally Posted by arentol
. . . .As a matter of fact from Bias's perspective there is an overall wash here. Handloading very slightly, but irrelevantly, increased his chance of being indicted, had no affect on all subsequent trials if he was innocent, and actually helped him a great deal if he was indeed guilty by giving him an excuse for the lack of GSR.

So this does not show handloading causing problems in court for the person loading them. It made the case a little more complex, but given that Bias was found guilty it seems very likely that his handloading actually lightened his sentence and was a net benefit for him.
This case has been beaten to death in a thread called "An Archive on Reloads and Self-Defense." It might prove helpful to spend some time reading those threads. The Bias case, while not an SD case, is a very good example of the rules of evidence at play, and certainly do show how using handloads can cause problems in court. The truth is that there simply are not many reported decisions in which handloads became an issue. Bias is the one (or one of few) cases on point, and GSR residue from handloads was held inadmissible in it.

Originally Posted by Jammer Six
. . . .I'm planning a trip to the U.W. Law Library. (Courtesy of the Bill Gates Foundation. Very shiny new building.) I'll try to find all of the references Ayoob made. My plan is to find a librarian, wave my list of references over my head, fall to my knees and start begging. That method has brought me great success in the past.

What I want is to read, what all of us want who have been requesting citations, is to read the documents themselves, and decide, for ourselves, whether carrying reloads for self defense is a good idea.

And to get back on point, carrying reloads is too important an issue to do anything but follow the leads as far as they will go, read the transcripts, think it over and then decide.

Apparently, my research is not finished-- I haven't been able to read any documentation on a case in which reloaded ammunition was an issue in court in a self defense shooting.

Therefore, my conclusion has been un-made.
Jammer Six, as I noted above, there's a whole Archive on Reloads and Self-Defense. It's down in Law & Civil Rights, and it's stickied at the top. You might start there. These issues have been hashed and re-hashed, and I think you'll find citations to many of the relevant cases.
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.
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