Earth Notes
1:03 am
Sun February 4, 2007

Legislature Considers Change to Self Defense Law

Phoenix, AZ – The law in effect when Fish shot hiker Grant Kuenzli
was that anyone claiming self defense had to prove it.
That statute was amended last April to instead force
prosecutors to prove a defendant was not acting in self
defense. But a judge said Fish, who went to trial after
that, could not avail himself of the new law. He was
convicted. Now Sen. Linda Gray is pushing to
retroactively alter that law to say it did apply to
cases awaiting trial last April -- a change that give
Fish a new trial. Gray said she is not changing last
year's law but simply clarifying what lawmakers
intended all the time.

(It meant that judges should apply the law when they go
to jury. And the judge did not. So just in case you're
not clear, Mr. Judge, this is what it meant.)

But Deputy Coconino County Attorney Michael Lessler
said what Gray wants to do is improper -- and maybe
illegal. He said the 2006 law did not have any language
spelling out that it applied to cases still pending at
that time -- as opposed to crimes committed after that
date -- the language Gray's bill would now
retroactively include. Gray's measure is scheduled to
be heard Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In
Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.