7/16/2013

What the prosecutors said about Florida's Stand Your Ground law

As I have argued many times, the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Florida's Stand Your Ground law.



Here is a transcript of part of the press conference that the prosecutors had after the verdict was delivered.
Reporter David from the Miami Herald: Can you talk about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and whether the changes in 2005 in the law affected the facts in this case and whether this case could have been won, perhaps, pre the changes in the law? 
Angela Corey: Well, justifiable use of deadly force has changed to a certain extent. Stand Your Ground is a procedural mechanism, as we call it, where we fully expected it because of what we were hearing that the defense would request a Stand Your Ground hearing. We would have put on the same evidence. It would have been in front of just a judge instead of a jury. 
Reporter from the Miami Herald: What about the duty to retreat aspect? 
Corey: Well, the duty to retreat aspect had sort of disappeared before Stand Your Ground kicked in. You talked about the Castle doctrine . . .
Corey is somewhat confusing here, but presumably she was saying that "the duty to retreat aspect had sort of disappeared before issues of self defense kicked in."  The traditional self defense law was merely continued in the 2005 Stand Your Ground law.  From lead prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda.
Reporter (18:42): Mr. De la Rionda, could I get your impression of the 2005 expansion of the Florida self-defense statutes? Does this make your job harder? 
De la Rionda: You know, self-defense has existed for a long time. And we've dealt with it in Jackson for a long time. We've tried a lot of self-defense cases; I've personally tried 10 to 15 self-defense cases. They're tough cases, but we accept it so... The law really hasn't changed all that much. Stand Your Ground was a big thing, but really the law hasn't changed. We have a right to bear arms and a right to self-defense. . . .
Yet, all this hasn't prevented everyone from Bloomberg to the New York Times to NPR keep on emphasizing the Stand Your Ground law.
The laws allow someone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to use lethal force, even if retreating from danger is an option. In court, the gunman is given the benefit of the doubt. . . .
One other interesting point from this press conference (at the 16 minute mark) is how De la Rionda kept emphasizing that Zimmerman following Martin was the provocation.  He really seems to put that legal act of following someone on the same level as someone physically attacking another.
De la Rionda:  What it really boiled down to was a kid minding his own business being followed by a stranger.  And I would submit that is when it started.
It is also interesting about how Corey was unwilling to comment on the whistleblower in her office that she had fired.  This whistleblower had pointed out how Corey's office had hidden evidence from the defense.

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