Summarize the court’s arguments for ruling against imminent danger.
In other words, Haynes did not fancy the prospect of administrative segregation, feared the consequences of appearing to be an informer, and decided that it was better to take matters into his own hands. What his claim of self-defense comes down to is the proposition that an inmate is entitled to attack and maim a prison bully even if there is ample time to report the threats and obtain protection from the guards.
The district court ruled that Haynes would not be allowed to argue self-defense or inform the jury about Flores-Pedroso’s threats. The evidence and line of defense Haynes wanted to pursue, as the district court saw things, was just a request for jury nullification-a plea to jurors to let the Davids of federal prisons smite the Goliaths, to give the predators a taste of their own medicine, without legal consequences. The judge ruled that an inmate must use available, lawful options to avoid violence, even if they find those options unpalatable. Haynes asks us to hold that the existence of lawful alternatives is irrelevant to a claim of self-defense.
All doubts about the role of lawful alternatives to one side, it is hard to see how Haynes’ offer of proof conforms to the normal understanding of selfdefense: a use of force necessary to defend against an imminent use of unlawful force. Haynes was not faced with an imminent use of force by FloresPedroso. There was a threat of action later that afternoon, but Flores-Pedroso had made unfulfilled threats before, and anyway “later” and “imminent” are opposites.
A judge may, and generally should, block the introduction of evidence supporting a proposed defense unless all of its elements can be established. But we need not dwell on timing, because we agree with the district judge’s reason: absence of lawful alternatives is an element of all lesser-evil defenses [ see “Choice of Evils,” on p. 192], of which self-defense is one. When A threatens B, and B hits A, the defense receives the name “self-defense.” When A threatens C, and B hits A, the name is “defense of another.”