UM Law Grads Involved with Kaarma Trial and National Debate on Self-Defense

Hon. Ed McleanThe trial of Markus Kaarma for the shooting death of Diren Dede, a German high school exchange student, will take place in Missoula the first several weeks in December. The trial, which is being followed both nationally and internationally, will focus on whether Kaarma’s shooting was justified as a defense of his house and family while the German teenager was in Kaarma’s garage apparently looking for alcohol. One of the reasons that the trial has attracted so much attention is connection to the larger debate about the right to possess firearms and what constitutes reasonable use of deadly force in self-defense or defense of property.

While the Kaarma trial will not resolve these national issues, there is no question that graduates of the University of Montana are at the heart of the debate. The case is being tried in front of Judge Ed McLean (BA ’69; JD ‘73). All three of the prosecutors in the case (Andrew Paul (JD ’00), Jennifer Clark (JD ’99), and Karla Painter (JD ’11)) are graduates of the University of Montana School of Law. The defense team all has connections to the University of Montana and the School of Law. Paul Ryan (BA ’88) and Nate Holloway (BA ’06) received their undergraduate degrees at UM. Katie Lacny (BA ’01; JD ’06) and Brian Smith (JD ’97) both received their JDs at the School of Law. Lisa Kaufman received a Master’s in Education from UM. Whatever the outcome of the trial, University of Montana School of Law graduates are intimately involved from every angle.