In 180 Degree Shift, Roeder’s Attorney Protests Efforts by Prosecutors to Ban “Necessity Defense.”

After vociferously denying a “necessity defense” could be mounted in the case of Scott Roeder, the man accused of shooting Kansas doctor George
Tiller in May, the public defender representing Roeder is fighting prosecutors’ efforts to ban the so-called necessity
defense from his trial, reports the Wichita Eagle.

The Eagle reports:

Defense attorneys for Scott Roeder
filed a motion arguing he has a right to present his defense. Roeder
has publicly said his shooting of Tiller was justified to save “unborn

The defense motion made public Monday seemingly
contradicts public statements by public defender Steve Osburn that such
a necessity defense did not exist in Kansas law. Osburn declined to
clarify the discrepancy, but suggested he may have used the media to
confuse prosecutors as to his defense strategy.

Court documents argue the state request to ban a necessity defense is intrusive into the defendant’s trial strategy.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • crowepps

    Considering that Roeder is openly BRAGGING about having committed a murder, his defense attorneys have a pretty hopeless case. Using the necessity defense may be their only hope, and of course, that will be a disastrous failure. The necessity defense can only be used in the face of imminent threat. Dr. Tiller wasn’t going to do any abortions during the church service.

  • mark2

    Roeder’s attorneys should not go ahead with this defense as it’s legally unsound and not even close to being in their client’s interest.  To argue a necessity defense, they’d have to show both imminent danger and that a legally cognizable murder was about to occur to a third party.  Neither of those things are true here and as a matter of law this will be thrown out before it reaches the jury. 


    Just because Roeder thinks that abortion is murder does not make it so, a tough pill for the pro-life community to swallow living so far removed from the reality-based community.  If I suddenly have an epiphany and decide that tomatoes are human beings, I don’t get the right to shoot a gardener in the field – and I especially don’t get the right to shoot a gardener at church.  


    Courts are not sites of political protests, they exist to administer justice.  Letting Roeder advance these arguments undermines the judicial system for political purposes while undermining his own right to a reasonable defense.

  • crowepps

    I’m not sure, but I think that unless Roeder is determined to be incompetent, his attorneys have to try to comply with his wishes regarding his defense. Apparently he doesn’t want a “reasonable defense” but instead a forum for his bizarre views. I’m not sure how his attorneys can ethically prevent him from that, and I think their only option if he insists would be to resign from the case.

  • progo35

    Evil or not, Roeder’s attorney is simply "doing his job." It would be unprofessional of him not to protest the prosecutor’s move to exclude ANY defense. Think about, say, Johnny Cochran defending OJ. Everyone knows that OJ deserved to go to jail for murdering his wife and her boyfriend, yet, Cochran defended him anyway. That’s the price of having as many protections as our legal system currently has. Sometimes people don’t always get the justice they are due, although I’m sure that Roeder will. That’s why I couldn’t be a defense attorney. You have to defend people who you know did terrible things and/or make arguments that justify their actions.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich