Comment(s)

The Mississippi Supreme Court last week handed down its first review of the meaning and application of the “Castle Doctrine” passed by the Legislature in 2006.

Mississippians have never had a “duty to retreat.” In writing for the Court in this case, Newell v State, Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. footnoted “it has always been the law in this state that one has no duty to retreat from an attack if he is in a place where he has a right to be and is not the initial aggressor or provoker” citing cases from 1876, 1882 and 1901.

The Castle Doctrine codified the use of defensive force if a person, “reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily harm, or the commission of a felony upon him or another or upon his dwelling, or against a vehicle which he was occupying, or against his business or place of employment or the immediate premises of such” if the assailant “was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered” that location “or was attempting to unlawfully remove another against the other person’s will from that” place.

Newell vs. State also addressed contentions regarding spousal privilege and the cross-examination of a witness, but the Castle Doctrine issue was the Court’s review of “Whether the trial court erred…refusing to grant a separate jury instruction defining the elements of necessary self-defense and the statutory protections of the ‘Castle Doctrine.'” On this matter the Court ruled without dissent.

The case stems from an encounter in the parking lot of the Slab House bar in Lowndes County. James Newell was there to confront his wife whom he suspected of having an affair. Neither she nor the alleged boyfriend were on the premises. Instead, Newell had words with two guys in the parking lot: Adrian Boyette and Jason Colby Hollis. Neither man seemed to have any connection to the marital conflict.

The state High Court ruled a man’s car is his castle, even if he has to step onto the drawbridge.

Source: Brian Perry for Online Madison.

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