Self-Defense Law: Understanding the role values play (and should play) in self-defense law

Markus Funk
Markus Funk | Perkins Coie

Markus Funk is a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, and a former section chief with the U.S. State Department-Balkans. He earned a PhD (DPhil) in law from Oxford University, where he started his career as a Lecturer in Law.

On-Demand: September 7, 2021

$195.00 2 hour CLE

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Program Summary

Self-defense is a right so fundamental that the scholarly literature regularly refers to it as the “ancient” or “first civil” right. And at the risk of stating the obvious, it has never been more relevant than in the present era of widespread calls for criminal justice reform. In this presentation, Markus, building on his 2021 critically acclaimed book on the subject, will advance the patinaed discussion by introducing for the first time a comprehensive value-centric approach to thinking about the defense's deeper rationale.

Tackling a topic that has bedeviled the law since before the carving of Hammurabi’s Code is inherently ambitious. But that will not stop us from addressing core issues such as the relative importance of the State's claimed monopoly on force, procedural justice and the need to shore up the justice system's legitimacy and creditworthiness, everyone's presumptive 'right to life,' and the importance of ensuring equal standing between citizens. And, in so doing, we will address public perceptions of 'just' and 'right' outcomes, as well as the emphasis legal systems place (and should place) on State power.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • The necessity of a fundamental re-thinking of our approach to self-defense in this era of wide-spread calls for criminal justice reform.
  • Deficiencies in the legislative and scholarly community’s historical approach to the “first civil right” (self-defense).
  • How US self-defense law looks from abroad - a comparison with Germany and the UK’s self-defense regimes (spoiler alert - contrary to media portrayals and popular thought, US self-defense law is far more restrictive than you might think).
  • Understanding the best path forward by examining common theoretical self-defense questions through the value-centric lens.

Date / Time: September 7, 2021

  • 12:00 pm – 2:10 pm Eastern
  • 11:00 am – 1:10 pm Central
  • 10:00 am – 12:10 pm Mountain
  • 9:00 am – 11:10 am Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available


Markus Funk_myLawCLEMarkus Funk | Perkins Coie

Markus Funk is a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, and a former section chief with the U.S. State Department-Balkans. He earned a PhD (DPhil) in law from Oxford University, where he started his career as a Lecturer in Law. Institutions as diverse as the U.S. Senate, the Vatican, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the New York City Office of the Mayor, and the World Bank Group have invited Markus to speak on cutting-edge criminal law, compliance, litigation, and internal investigation issues.

In 2021, he authored Rethinking Self-Defence: The ‘Ancient Right’s’ Rationale Disentangled (Hart/Bloomsbury Publishing). He in 2021 also penned Understanding The Role Values Play (And Should Play) In Self-Defense Law (American Criminal Law Review – Georgetown Law Center), What U.S. Lawmakers Can Learn from Germany’s Value-Explicit Approach to Self-Defense (South Carolina Law Review, forthcoming), and Cracking Self-Defense’s Intractable Cases (Nebraska Law Review, 2021).



I. Setting the Stage | 12:00pm – 12:30pm

•  A short thought experiments.
•  The legislative and scholarly community’s surprising neglect of values as self-defense “decision grounds”
•  The German “Fruit Thief” case and controversial contemporary cases

II. Advancing the Debate Through a More Value-Centric Dialogue | 12:30pm – 1:00pm
Introduction of the Seven Proposed Decision Grounds

•  Reducing overall societal violence by protecting the state’s collective “monopoly on force”
•  Protecting the attacker’s individual (presumptive) right to life
•  Maintaining the equal standing between people
•  Protecting the defender’s autonomy
•  Ensuring the primacy of the legal process
•  Maintaining the legitimacy of the legal order
•  Deterring (potential) attackers

Break | 1:00pm – 1:10pm

III. The Value-Based Model’s Answer to Common Theoretical (“Hard Case”) Questions | 1:10pm – 1:25 pm

IV. Examining the US Law’s Treatment of Self-DefenseFrom a Value-Centric Perspective (and Answering the Question How it Stacks Up to the Self-Defense Law in Germany and the UK) | 1:25pm – 1:45pm

V. Parting Observations | 1:45pm – 2:10pm