Ja Morant's Legal Battle: Self-Defense Claim in Assault Lawsuit

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is at the center of a legal controversy following an incident during a pickup basketball game

by Faruk Imamovic
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Ja Morant's Legal Battle: Self-Defense Claim in Assault Lawsuit
© Getty Images Sport/Ronald Martinez

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is at the center of a legal controversy following an incident during a pickup basketball game, with a judge ruling that his lawyers can argue self-defense in a civil lawsuit.

A Question of Self-Defense

Circuit Court Judge Carol Chumney has set a hearing for December 11 to discuss the application of Tennessee's "stand your ground" law in the civil lawsuit against Morant.

This law, typically used in criminal cases, allows individuals who feel threatened at their homes to respond with force under certain circumstances. Morant's legal team claims he was acting in self-defense when he punched 18-year-old Joshua Holloway after Holloway reportedly hit Morant with a thrown basketball.

This ruling is significant as it opens the possibility for Morant to be immune from liability under state law. His lawyers argue that the circumstances of the incident fall within the ambit of the "stand your ground" law, seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed on these grounds.

Complex Legal Arguments and Counterclaims

The lawsuit, filed by Holloway, who was 17 at the time, accuses Ja Morant and friend Davonte Pack of assault, reckless endangerment, abuse or neglect, and infliction of emotional distress.

Morant, in turn, has filed a countersuit against Holloway for slander, battery, and assault. While no criminal charges have been filed against Morant, Pack faces misdemeanor assault charges, with a hearing scheduled in state criminal court.

The case has generated complex legal arguments, particularly regarding the applicability of the "stand your ground" law in a civil context. Holloway's lawyer, Rebecca Adelman, contends that this self-defense claim cannot be grounds for dismissing the civil case, partly because there is no ongoing criminal investigation against Ja Morant.

Adelman argues for Holloway's right to a jury trial, which would be precluded if the judge rules in favor of Ja Morant's immunity claim.

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