WA Legal Roundup - Washington State Supreme Court
O'Hara was convicted of Second Degree Assault after beaning a guy a few times with a mag light. He claimed self defense and the court issued a proper instruction. The self-defense instruction contains the following language:
The use of force upon or toward the person of another is lawful when used by a person who reasonably believes that he is about to be injured and/or in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against the person or a malicious trespass or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in that person's possession, and when the force is not more than is necessary.
The trial court then gave a partial definition of malice, but did not include the language from Title 9A that "[m]alice may be inferred from an act done in wilful disregard of the rights of another, or an act wrongfully done without just cause or excuse, or an act or omission of duty betraying a wilful disregard of social duty."
As you might expect, O'Hara didn't object. The court of appeals reversed anyhow, finding a manifest constitutional error which could be raised without preservation. Unfortunately, the failure to define individual terms is usually not manifest error, and the supplemental tidbit on malice didn't really change the definition of self defense (which would be manifest error). Anyhow, to make a long story short, not manifest constitutional error, and the verdict stands.
I did have a good joke here but failed to find what I needed to pull it off. I'd rather provide no humor than bad humor. I wish Dane Cook felt the same way.