To thine own self be true?

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(Susan Kuo) If you injure someone in self-defense, do you then have a duty to aid him? A student asked me this, which got me thinking … if I were to get the jump on Jason Voorhees before he was able to cleave me in half with his ax, leaving him mortally wounded (but not irretrievably so), would I need to call the doctor, quick, quick, quick? Instinct says, no, let the psychopath bleed out. Logic, however, says that I might need to hit ‘911’ on the dial pad. I would, after all, have had a hand in creating the peril that has befallen him. Even if he was the aggressor and I was justified in my use of force to save my own skin, this very same force has now put him in harm’s way. I went a-hunting and found that at least one court has ventured down this path. The Montana Supreme Court, in Montana v. Kuntz, 995 P.2d 951 (Mt. 2000), held that, while folks who put other folks in peril need not risk bodily injury or death to help the imperiled, imperilers do have a legal duty to help or summon help. A failure to so aid, if it causes the aggressor’s death, is criminal. In the Montana case, Ms. Kuntz apparently stabbed her significant other in the chest in self-defense. She did not call for medical help, and her boyfriend died.

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September 30, 2014 |

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