Self Defense and the duty to retreat

Somebody called a Chicago Tribune column by John Kass to my attention.  Apparently Mike Mette is going to prison in Iowa for throwing 1 punch at a man who attacked him verbally and physically pushed him.  Maybe a punch or punches were thrown the story is a little unclear.  Anyway, Metter threw 1 punch–a good one.  The punch knocked the man out.  Self Defense No?  That’s what Kass is saying and to many people it makes sense.   It makes sense to me too–you put your hands on me & you get whatever I feel like giving you.

But some states have another view.  In those states (and I bet Iowa is one of them) people have a duty to retreat until retreat is not an option.  Only then may you resist.  O, there is another thing too:  apparently Mette threw a really good punch since the other guy was knocked out.   (There are allegations that the injured man was also stomped & kicked, but the evidence on that was strongly contested.)

Furthermore, there is some sort of informal proportionality rule that juries like to use sometimes:  If you get a swollen lip you can black the guy’s eye but you cannot break his arm.  Looks to me like Mette violated this informal rule too–it may not break the law but it sure gets people upset.

Moral of the story :  Walk away if you can.

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