Recently, a Miami judge ruled that an update to the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law in Florida was unconstitutional. The update to the law, which helped George Zimmerman stay out of jail, was ruled unconstitutional on Monday.
The Miami judge ruled that the new “Stand Your Ground” law should have been devised by the Florida Supreme Court and not via the Legislature.
In the legal matter, Judge Milton Hirsch wrote in his ruling that the procedure can’t be legislatively modified. He said this was a matter of constitutional separation of powers.
In 2015, it was established by the Florida Supreme Court that defendants had to prove why Stand Your Ground should cover them. This is a law that waived citizens’ duty to retreat before they resorted to deadly force if they were faced with a threat. Stand Your Ground became law in 2005.
The update to the law placed the burden on the state attorneys to provide evidence that the defendant wasn’t defending themselves, before the defendant went to trial in front of a jury.
The recent ruling is considered a win for prosecutors. Many prosecutors were frustrated because the thought the update to the law would allow defendants to skirt violent criminal charges. For example, more and more defendants may have used the Stand Your Ground defense, even if they weren’t facing a direct threat.
However, it’s worth mention that as of now the order isn’t binding. It still could be revered by Florida’s Supreme Court. Pam Bondi, the state’s Attorney General does plan on appealing the order, according to her spokeswoman who spoke with the Associated Press.
The update to the Stand Your Ground law was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. He signed it into law last month. The drawing also caught the attention of the National Rifle Association, which praised the update.
The NRA spoke out about the legal matter. Marion Hammer, a Florida NRA lobbyist, spoke in the past about the law. He said back in 2008, a few sympathetic judges and prosecutors found a way to usurp the Stand Your Ground law. The way they did it, according to Hammer, was to hold a special hearing and then reversing the burden of proof of one’s innocence and placing it on those who use self-defense. Hammer continued and said that this was wrong and it was fixed when the legislature went back to it.
The debate over Stand Your Ground has raged on for over four years, ever since George Zimmerman walked free after fatally shooting a teenager in 2012. The teen, Trayvon Martin, was unarmed. Zimmerman approached Martin after spotting him in a neighborhood and Zimmerman claimed that Martin was up to no good, which is why he approached him.
Zimmerman went on trial in 2013, but a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder. The jury was asked to take the law into account, and Zimmerman used the Stand Your Ground defense. His lawyers accused Martin of posing a threat to Zimmerman, which is why he fatally shot him.