Client Matter Project: Senior Attorney Memorandum
To: Junior Attorney
From: Senior Attorney
Date: August 15, 20XX
Re: Jeffrey Bing Matter
Yesterday I met with Jeffrey Bing, who is incarcerated in the Cook County jail. A Cook County Grand Jury has indicted him for the first degree murder of John Geller, who was apparently a friend of his. Mr. Bing has retained our office to defend him on these charges. After reviewing the police file, the Indictment, and meeting with Mr. Bing, I think we have enough preliminary information for you to begin researching a possible defense.
As you may have seen on the news over the past few days, on August 2nd, Mr. Bing shot Mr. Geller at close range while they were on a camping trip. As the friends were completing a day-long hike, Mr. Bing stated that he wanted to take a rest break, even though they were only about 5 minutes from the lodge where they were staying. Mr. Bing complained that he was winded. As they sat down in a meadow, a third friend, Mr. Newton, began goading Mr. Bing about a weekend Mr. Bing had recently spent in New York with Mr. Geller’s former girlfriend, Jill Jacoby. Until that point, Mr. Geller was not aware that Mr. Bing was seeing his former girlfriend, much less traveling with her. (Apparently Mr. Bing had lied to Mr. Geller, telling him that his traveling companion was a woman Mr. Geller had never met.)
In Mr. Newton’s statement to the police, he stated that when Mr. Geller discovered that Mr. Bing was seeing his former girlfriend and that he had lied to him, he “went berserk.” He pounded on Mr. Bing, threw him on his back, and began beating our client’s face with his fists. Mr. Bing apologized several times, but Mr. Geller did not stop the beating. After a minute or two, Mr. Newton tried to stop the fight by shouting at Mr. Geller to “calm down.” Mr. Geller replied: “Stay out of this. My fight’s with Jeff.” Mr. Newton then began to physically lift Mr. Geller off of Mr. Bing. While Mr. Newton was in the process of separating the two men, Mr. Geller whipped out a hunting knife and slashed Mr. Newton in the arm. Mr. Newton jumped back and then shouted: “Man, I’ve never seen him like this before. I’m going to run for help.” When Mr. Newton left the scene, the other two men were circling each other, with Mr. Geller brandishing a knife.
After Mr. Newton left the scene, Mr. Geller again attempted to charge and tackle Mr. Bing. When Mr. Geller was about 20 feet from our client, Mr. Bing reached down into his open knapsack and took out a gun that he carried with him when hiking in the wilderness. Mr. Bing began waving the gun at Mr. Geller in an effort to keep Mr. Geller away from him. For about five minutes, the two men continued to circle each other. Each time Mr. Geller charged our client, Mr. Bing waved the gun at him. By waving the gun, Mr. Bing managed to keep Mr. Geller about 10 feet away from him. During this time, Mr. Bing pleaded with his friend to “give it up” and to “calm down.” However, Mr. Geller kept shouting at him that he would “kill you for this.” Finally, Mr. Bing yelled: “I don’t want to have to shoot you, but I will if you don’t stop.” Mr. Geller replied that “only one of us is going to walk out of here alive.” With that threat, Mr. Geller again charged towards Mr. Bing. When he was between 5 to 10 feet away, Mr. Bing shot him, pulling the trigger once. Our client claims that he didn’t want to kill Mr. Geller, but that he feared for his life.
A few other random facts: Our client is 5’11” and weighs 175 pounds. Mr. Geller was 6’ and weighed 190 pounds at the time of his death. Mr. Newton is 5’11” and weighs 180 pounds. Mr. Geller was a member of the cross-country track team in college (4 years ago). Our client is not athletic. By the way, following the incident the police searched our client’s backpack. They discovered reading materials, bird guides, binoculars, and miscellaneous clothing, but no rope, cooking utensils, or other potential weapons.
As this preliminary stage, I believe our client may have a defense under Illinois law.