Stand Your Ground

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rocketsjudoka, Mar 22, 2012.

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  1. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    I feel like the Stand Your Ground law isn't getting as much attention as it deserves in the Trayvon Martin thread when essentially the whole basis of George Zimmerman's defense is based upon the interpretation of the law. While the author's of FL's law have come out and said that the law shouldn't protect Zimmerman the problem is that the law is vague enough that I can easily see how Zimmerman get's off if the DA / jury reads it broadly.

    This law is a particular issue for me also for two reasons. First, an almost identical law is being debated in the MN legislature and second as someone who teaches self-defense this law will affect what I teach but in my professional opinion is something that puts people in danger.
     
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  2. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Can you post a text of the law?
     
  3. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

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    Seems like an incredibly apropos time to bring up this quote:

    "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

    Regardless of its intended benefits, any law that blindly affords a killer absolute immunity based on a simple claim of self defense is fundamentally immoral.
     
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  4. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Here is the specific subsection of the law.
    [rquoter]
    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.[/rquoter]

    The complete FL self-defense (justifiable use of force) statute is at the link:
    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes...ng=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html
     
  5. DFWRocket

    DFWRocket Member

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    the two (R) senators who sponsored the bill say that there is no provision in the law that allows for someone to actively pursue another in order to use the gun on them. Even they say that Zimmerman should be arrested and tried for murder.
     
  6. False

    False Member

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    So called "Stand Your Ground" laws vary by state. I'm sorry for the lack of link, but some of the problems and details of the Florida law are addressed by Zachary Weaver in his Note Florida's "Stand You Ground" Law: The Actual Effects and the Need for Clarification. Unfortunately it is likely behind a pay-wall.

    To add to what Judoka said, here are some quotes from the Note:

    Since apparently the amendments and additions added in 2005 were interwoven, I figured it was just better to quote.
     
  7. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    From reading this, it does not look like the law apply in the Travon case. If it does, then anyone can shot someone in a bar fight or any confrontation. I don't think you can claim a bloody nose as death and great bodily harm threat. Still a stupid law, and we have it here in Indiana as well.
     
  8. Kyrodis

    Kyrodis Contributing Member

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    I think the underlined portion is the kicker. A good lawyer could potentially convince any jury that someone in a fight-or-flight would "reasonably" think he/she was going to prevent a forcible felony. The way it's written, it's a little too easy to abuse the law.
     
  9. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    All it is saying is you don't have to exhaust all retreat options before using deadly force. It is a protection from a prosecution of "why didn't you run away" on every self defense charge.

    In Texas, it got rid of this:

    Which was basically a * on every deadly force justification. I think it is a good law which brings less confusion. What would a reasonable person do and what is a reasonable person?



     
  10. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Yes they have said that but the law they wrote doesn't specifically address that and they are also not the Sanford prosecutors. The fact is that Zimmerman did have a right to be on the public street as much as Martin and does have a right to go up and confront Martin under free speech. Under Stand Your Ground if Zimmerman felt that Martin was a threat he is under no duty to retreat when as noted above in False's post common law specified that if you felt you were under threat if possible you should retreat.

    I outlined this situation in the other thread but will repeat it here. Let's say I am mad at my neighbor for letting his dog poop on my yard. I see my neighbor walking his dog on the public sidewalk. I get a gun and go out and argue with him. His dog growls so I shoot him claiming self-defense that I feared he might sick his dog on me. Under a broad reading of stand your ground I acted within the law. It doesn't matter that I had armed myself and put myself in that position. It doesn't matter that I might've felt his dog was dangerous and should've backed off.

    The other problem with the law and while it could lead to escalation is that in the very situation if my neighbor saw me angrily approaching him on the public sidewalk with a gun he could've sicked his dog on me and claimed self-defense also under stand your ground. Both of us can claim self-defense even if we precipitated the situation and barring other evidence the one who lives gets to tell the story.
     
  11. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    The "reasonable, reasonably.etc.." term is common to self-defense laws even without stand your ground. That is a subjective term that does cause problems but stand your ground goes further in that you could put yourself in the situation to begin with.
     
  12. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    If anything this law causes more confusion because it essentially means you can put yourself into a dangerous situation and claim self-defense. As noted in the example I provided and in Trayvon Martin case.

    The duty to retreat prevents you from putting yourself willing into a dangerous situation since if you feel there is trouble you should make the effort to get yourself out of it rather than staying or continuing to persist in behavior, like following someone you think is threatening after you have been warned by the police, that puts you into harm.
     
  13. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    You will never get anyone to buy that meets the "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm " clause.
     
  14. Pushkin

    Pushkin Member

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    There are some problems with how that law is written, but I do not think it should provide a defense in that case.

    The statute should have been written with an objective (what a reasonably prudent person would do) standard rather than a subjective standard. I also do not like that it allows deadly force to stop a forcible felony. That opens the door to vigilantes. Protecting yourself or another should be the limit in my opinion.
     
  15. DFWRocket

    DFWRocket Member

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    I get what your saying. I have a feeling (and I sincerely hope) that this law will be amended soon in order to keep it from being used in this way.
     
  16. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    He doesn't have a right to follow him from retreat, and retreat has nothing to with confronting him. So you keep saying put yourself into the situation but that not the topic. With retreat laws in place, I could still use deadly force if I " willingly put myself into a dangerous situation" as long as a reasonable person would have not retreated.
     
  17. JeopardE

    JeopardE Contributing Member

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    More specifically,

    1. The law trivializes the act of ending another person's life by the conferment of absolute immunity on the killer. This is absurd. The principle of self-defense by itself is obviously a necessity, but it is immoral for a person to be able to end another's life and not have to answer for it at all.

    2. It could be argued that it violates a constitutional right to equal protection under law by explicitly permitting a scenario that denies a dead victim any form of legal redress. The determination of innocence in a manslaughter situation cannot be abdicated to the whims of a responding police officer, and this law appears to do that.

    Good intentions, but why is it that, for example, a person could ostensibly shoot another dead in the middle of a bar fight, and go home without so much as an arrest, simply because he felt the threat of "great bodily harm" and had no "duty to retreat"? So what if he didn't start the fight?

    Perhaps there are other "stand your ground" laws that are less offensive. In Florida's case, however, there is no point in the lawmaker claiming after the fact that the law was not designed to protect this type of killer. Well, duh. The reality is that it is protecting that very type of killer, intentions notwithstanding. And that is tragic.
     
  18. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I don't like it. But then I also don't like the second amendment.

    I think it may be premature to judge the law on the Trayvon Martin case. If Zimmerman was arrested and managed to get acquitted because of Stand Your Ground, then I'd blame the law. For now, I think this is more of a case of incompetence/dereliction by the police because of how they would like to interpret the law in this case.

    Two things about how SPD would like to interpret this law still confuse me:

    (1) Does self-defense have to be disproven beyond reasonable doubt? It seems to me that the homicide should be proven beyond reasonable doubt, but that more of the burden should fall on the defense to justify the homicide under self-defense. If the law puts all the burden on the prosecution, than I think it is seriously flawed.

    (2) I don't think Zimmerman would necessarily qualify anyway. I wouldn't be quick to say that stalking someone through the neighborhood is completely legal. Had Martin survived, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to press charges for the harassment.

    I think a better case to look at here is Joe Horn. He at least found an actual crime being committed. And, I still don't like the self-defense argument he managed to use.
     
  19. Kyrodis

    Kyrodis Contributing Member

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    I suppose the combination of these three phrases:
    "right to be"
    "reasonably believe it is necessary"
    "prevent a forcible felony from occurring"

    ...is what ultimately makes the law poorly written.

    It's all too easy to claim "reasonable belief" that a "forcible felony" is going to occur, confront the "felon" in public place, and then provoke an attack. Doing so gives the confronter all the legal justification he needs to kill.
     
  20. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    zimmerman clearly did not have the right to stalk, persue, follow, confront trayvon in the first place so this automatically disqualifies him
     

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