Self-Defense and the Mistaken Racist
Stephen P. Garvey
Cornell Law School
New Criminal Law Review, Vol. 11, 2008
How should the law respond when one person (D) kills another person (V), who is black, because D believes that V is about to kill him, but D would not have so believed if V had been white? Should D be exonerated on grounds of self-defense? Some commentators argue that D's claim of self-defense should be rejected. He should be convicted and punished.
I argue, however, that denying D's claim of self-defense would be at odds with the principle that criminal liability and punishment should only be imposed on an actor if he chooses to cause or risk causing a harm when the law does not permit him to make such a choice, and not for possessing or choosing to possess racist or otherwise illiberal beliefs or desires. Moreover, insofar as this principle can fairly be characterized as one to which a liberal state must adhere, then a liberal state should acknowledge D's claim of self-defense.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 61
Keywords: self-defense, reasonable person
JEL Classification: K14working papers series
Date posted: February 6, 2007
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.391 seconds