INDIANAPOLIS — A house bill that’s been introduced in the state legislature would protect Hoosiers who shoot someone in self defense and cleared of criminal wrongdoing from lengthy civil lawsuits.
State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) has introduced HB 1284, which would require a judge to decide early during the pre-trial process to decide whether a civil lawsuit brought on by an individual or family of someone who has died from the result of a shooting where the defendant was found justified in using deadly force.
Indianapolis gun rights attorney Guy Relford, the host of 93 WIBC’s “The Gun Guy Show”, says the bill would establish that the plaintiff would have the burden of proving that the shooting wasn’t justified. If the judge decides the civil case should never have been brought, the plaintiff would be required by the courts to pay the attorney’s fees and court costs of the defendant.
“If you’ve got a valid lawsuit, that gets determined early on. Frankly, if I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer and I get past that hurdle, I’m feeling pretty good about winning at trial because a judge has already determined that my lawsuit is already valid,” says Relford.
In Rising Sun, Indiana, a woman who shot and killed a man who was fighting with a conservation officer was not charged with a crime because prosecutors say her use of deadly force was justified, according to WLWT. However, the family of the man who was shot and killed had filed a civil suit seeking money from both the woman and the officer claiming the shooting was excessive and unjustified.
Relford is the attorney representing the woman in that civil suit.
“If I use force that’s justified under the statute, [and] I’m not ever prosecuted much less convicted of a crime, why should I get sued over that?” says Relford in his overview of the bill.
The next step for the bill would be to be assigned to a committee for review.
Photo: Getty Images / Picture Alliance