Motion for Fist Fight

legal motion to fist fight

Lawyers at work?

A Montana criminal defense lawyer filed a motion for the court to order a fist fight between the defense team and the prosecutors in a case in which the lawyer’s client allegedly killed someone who was bullying him or his friend or both.

The motion is not exactly a model of clarity, but the lawyer apparently was trying to make the point that, in prosecuting his client for killing in apparent self-defense while being attacked with fists, the state was condoning fist fights. Here’s how the motion starts out:

COMES NOW counsel for Defendant, through his [sic] and respectfully requests this Court to Order a fist fight between Shaun Donovan and John Connor on one sided [sic] and Kirk Krutilla and Bill Buzzell on the other side.”

The lawyer then argues that the prosecutors had taken the position that it was “perfectly right, legal and moral” for the deceased to have attacked the defendant and states that the defense team would love to give Donovan and Conner a chance to stand up for the principle they stand for; i.e. the brutal humiliation and beating up of weaker human beings is the most cherished principle in life. Therefore, the defense moves that before the hearing April 17, 2006 that the state be given a chance on what they cherish in a resolution of dispute and that there be a fist fight [between the prosecutors and the defense lawyers].

Not surprisingly, the prosecutors took issue with the defense’s characterization of the state’s position in the State of Montana’s Response to ‘Motion for Fist Fight,’ and requested “that the Court deny the same.”

The prosecutors insisted they were not standing up for a legal and moral right to beat up people. Instead, “the State has asserted from the outset that the infliction of thirteen lethal stab wounds on an unarmed aggressor by [the defendant and his friend]” was an excessive use of force in self defense.

The prosecutors argued the defendant’s motion was “ill conceived” and that humor should not extend to filed court pleadings in a case which has lead to the death of one young man, serious and possibly permanent injury to others and the specter of long imprisonment and community strife for others.

After condemning the defense lawyer’s motion, the prosecutors puffed up and essentially insisted they could kick the defense lawyers’ butts if the proposed fight were to ensue, or as they put it in a more lawyerly fashion, they were “confident they could acquit themselves respectably if it were necessary to settle any part of this matter by means of a physical contest.”

— Motion for Fist Fight, Montana v. Mauher, Case No. D2005-8, Mont. 4th Judicial Dist. Ct., Mineral County, filed Mar. 27, 2006. Thanks to Donna Mustard.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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