A few surprising notes on Hanging Judge Isaac Parker, who was the law for the Western District of Arkansas out of Ft. Smith.
He opposed the death penalty. Mandatory sentencing gave him little choice in many of the capital cases he tried. Parker actually sought—successfully—to have some of his death sentences commuted.
And the judge also believed in the concept of “duty to retreat.” It argued that if a person was threatened with physical harm, he or she had to take every opportunity to get out of the situation before, finally, taking violent action to defend themselves.