As we talked about on Dominick In The Morning today, a federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of a Montana man, who shot and killed a protected grizzly bear, ruling that he should have been able to claim that he acted in self-defense.

The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Brian Charette's case back to U.S. District Court, where he had been convicted of unlawfully taking a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The judges said Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch set the wrong standard for a self-defense claim in Charette's 2016 bench trial. The magistrate judge ruled that to claim self-defense, Charette must have had an objectively reasonable belief that he was protecting himself or others from danger. But the appellate panel, citing a ruling in a previous case, said the magistrate judge should have used a subjective standard, which would have allowed Charette to claim self-defense based only on a "good-faith belief" that he was protecting himself or others, even if that belief was unreasonable.

"It is difficult to fathom how Charette could raise an effective self-defense claim without testifying as to his mental state when he decided to shoot the bear," Judge Richard Tallman wrote in the opinion.

Charette told investigators that three bears had been harassing his horses in a pasture about 30 yards from his home. He said he shot and killed one of the bears when it chased his dogs toward the home and appeared to be climbing a fence into his yard.

 

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Story)

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