By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The chairman of Carbon County’s Republican Party is defending himself from a charge of reckless endangering stemming from allegations he pointed a pistol at a man after the man hit him.
Joey Correnti IV is asking that the charge against him filed in Carbon County in connection with an October incident be dismissed because his actions after being hit by Nicholas Chadwick were in keeping with Wyoming’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Correnti is serving as his own attorney in the action, he told Cowboy State Daily, because the law allowing the use of force in self-defense is clearly written.
“I know the old saying that anyone who would defend themselves in court would have a fool for a client, but because of the strength and clarity of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, I think even a fool would have a legitimate shot at having this case dismissed,” he said.
The charges filed in December stem from allegations that during an altercation in Saratoga in October, Correnti aimed his 9-mm pistol at Chadwick after Chadwick hit Correnti in the head.
According to a police report from the incident, Correnti was helping a woman move into a home when Chadwick, the woman’s husband, arrived and confronted the woman, alleging she was in a relationship with Correnti.
The report said Chadwick tried three times to grab the woman’s phone, grabbing her wrist at one point.
Correnti inserted himself between the woman and Chadwick, the report said, and the two argued briefly before Chadwick hit Correnti near the right temple.
Correnti then brandished a pistol, the report said, pointing it at Chadwick and telling Chadwick not to hit him again or he would “put (Chadwick) down.”
After Correnti fired a shot into the air, Chadwick left the scene, the report said.
Chadwick pleaded not guilty in November to a charge of criminal battery, a misdemeanor, and his case is pending.
In December, Correnti was charged with reckless endangering, also a misdemeanor, and he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Correnti asked that the charge against him be dismissed in part because state law describes the act of pointing a gun at another person as a crime, “unless reasonably necessary in defense of his person, property or abode or to prevent serious bodily injury to another or as provided” by the “Stand Your Ground” law.
The “Stand Your Ground” law allows the use of force in self defense when a reasonable person believes it is needed to prevent an injury, loss or imminent death. It also specifies that deadly force can be used when someone is “in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering” a home.
“It really is a no-brainer because in statute it says if you are accused of reckless endangering to look at this other ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute,’” he said. “The other reason is not only do I believe in the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, I believe this situation directly applies to the relief provided by this statute.”
In his motion to dismiss, Correnti also claims the fact he is both a victim and being prosecuted as a defendant in connection with once incident creates a conflict of interest for Carbon County’s attorney.
“Therefore, a successful prosecution of Nicholas Chadwick on the pending charge of battery would make the current charge of (reckless endangering) by (Correnti) a conflict, not only for (Carbon County’s attorney), but also to the state’s evidence in the aforementioned case,” the motion said.
Correnti said he is also representing himself in the case to prove a point: that regular people can represent themselves in court.
“I believe the judicial system … and the profession of lawyering have evolved to make it difficult for the average person to defend themselves,” he said. “Our Constitution says all the powers of government are inherent in the people. We need to exercise that power. It is important to show people you can. And you need to stand up for yourself without asking other people to solve your problems.”
The dispute marks the second time in two years Correnti has been involved in an assault.
In June 2020, he was hit by Michael Pearce, chairman of the Albany County Republican Party, during the Wyoming Republican Party’s convention in Gillette. Pearce was cited for assault and battery.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever been in trouble,” Correnti said. “But this is the first time anything has gone before a court because of the way I’ve conducted myself when I’ve been assaulted.”