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Why Trayvonís killer should be acquitted
suntimes.com ^ | 24 April, 2012 | Jacob Sullum

Posted on 04/25/2012 7:31:39 AM PDT by marktwain

Critics of Florida’s self-defense law object to its recognition of a right to “stand your ground” in public places, which eliminated the duty to retreat from an assailant. Yet many of these critics seem to believe they have a duty to stand their ground and never retreat, using George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin as a weapon to attack Florida’s law, no matter what the evidence shows.

The emphasis on the right to stand your ground is puzzling in the context of the Martin case, since Zimmerman’s defense does not seem to rely on it. The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, who was released on bail this week after being charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, told police the unarmed teenager knocked him down with a punch to the face and pinned him to the ground, repeatedly smacking his head against the pavement. By Zimmerman’s account, then, he had no opportunity to retreat.

Florida’s law also has been blamed for delaying Zimmerman’s arrest, and it did require that police have probable cause to believe the shooting was unlawful. But this is the same standard that applies to arrests for all other crimes.

One unusual aspect of Florida’s law that will be apparent in this case is that Zimmerman has a right to a pretrial hearing at which he can try to convince Judge Kenneth Lester, by “a preponderance of the evidence,” that he acted in self-defense. If he can meet that standard of proof, which requires showing it is more likely than not that his use of force was appropriate, the charge against him will be dismissed. But even if he went to trial, he would be (or at least should be) acquitted with that much evidence in his favor, since the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn’t acting in self-defense — which, as Northern Kentucky University law professor Michael J.Z. Mannheimer pointed out, would be true “in virtually every state.”

Zimmerman’s defense is that he was attacked and “reasonably believe[d]” shooting Martin was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” Contrary to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leading a national campaign against Florida-style self-defense laws, that does not mean people “make their own decisions as to whether someone is threatening or not” and therefore have “a license to murder.” The threat assessment has to be reasonable.

Even if the Trayvon Martin case does not really illustrate the shortcomings of Florida’s law, it is possible that eliminating the duty to retreat in public places, combined with reinforcing the “castle doctrine” (which applies to home invasions) and extending it to vehicles, has encouraged avoidable escalations of violence. The law’s opponents note that the annual number of justifiable homicides in Florida (excluding police shootings) nearly tripled after the law was passed in 2005, from an average of 12 from 2000 to 2004 to an average of 35 from 2006 to 2010.

Still, you would expect to see an increase in homicides deemed to be justified even if the law were working as intended. The crucial question, which the task force appointed last week by Gov. Rick Scott presumably will ask, is whether these homicides should be deemed justified.

It is worth noting that Florida’s violent crime rate, which fell 12 percent in the five years before the “stand your ground” law was enacted, fell 23 percent in the five years afterward. Since 1987, when Florida adopted a nondiscretionary carry permit law that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence blames for “year after year of carnage,” the state’s violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist; constitution; martin; trayvonmartin; zimmerman
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I think we see the real reason that the leftists oppose the "Stand Your Ground" and "Castle Doctrine" laws. The crime rate has been cut in half.
1 posted on 04/25/2012 7:31:41 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Eric Holder and his people want guns outlawed because they consider violent crime to be a legitimate career path, and armed victims to be an OSHA violation.


2 posted on 04/25/2012 7:34:59 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: marktwain

Bookmark.


3 posted on 04/25/2012 7:36:39 AM PDT by SunTzuWu
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To: marktwain

The guy who pulled the trigger did not kill the punk, those that created the punk society did. If it would have been Zimmerman with any other racial group, a death would not have occurred.


4 posted on 04/25/2012 7:39:33 AM PDT by DonaldC (A nation cannot stand in the absence of religious principle.)
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To: marktwain
"One unusual aspect of Florida’s law that will be apparent in this case is that Zimmerman has a right to a pretrial hearing at which he can try to convince Judge Kenneth Lester, by “a preponderance of the evidence,” that he acted in self-defense."

This is a big plus in that the prosecution will have to bring out every shred of evidence it has at this early hearing in an attempt to rebut the assertion of self-defense. If it has nothing, Zim will walk. If it has something then the defense gets an early opportunity to cross examine the state witnesses and "lock them in" with regard to any later testimony at trial. It is going to be very, very difficult to convict this guy.

5 posted on 04/25/2012 7:39:37 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: marktwain; E. Pluribus Unum

In Great Britain, the people who commit robberies, burglaries, assaults and murders are not considered criminals. The only real criminals are any citizens who dare try to defend themselves or (gasp!) their property.

That’s what the leftists want here.


6 posted on 04/25/2012 7:39:45 AM PDT by samtheman ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ-4gnNz0vc)
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To: marktwain
Since 1987, when Florida adopted a nondiscretionary carry permit law ... the state’s violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half.

Repeat and repeat and repeat.

7 posted on 04/25/2012 7:41:26 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Obamanomics-We don't need your stinking tar sands oil, we'll just grow algae.)
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To: marktwain

Finally an MSM piece that recognizes that SYG is *probably* not going to be the defense. Self-defense is.


8 posted on 04/25/2012 7:44:55 AM PDT by expat1000
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To: circlecity; All
It is going to be very, very difficult to convict this guy.

Which is why he was not arrested originally.

9 posted on 04/25/2012 7:45:04 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: Former Proud Canadian
Since 1987, when Florida adopted a nondiscretionary carry permit law ... the state’s violent crime rate has been cut nearly in half.

This is a big problem for the left. They want unlimited predation of the "ruling class" (that is, people with jobs) by the "oppressed." They see this as "taking class struggle to the next level."

10 posted on 04/25/2012 7:46:19 AM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: marktwain

Most people blathering about either side of the “stand your ground” vs “duty to retreat” issue fail to see there is no contradiction: if retreat is possible*, shooting isn’t justified; if shooting is justified*, retreat isn’t an option. The “stand your ground” law just codifies this, enforcing the notion of “innocent until proven guilty”.

* - ignoring small odds and strained logic.


11 posted on 04/25/2012 7:51:04 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: expat1000

Don’t rule out SYG. He’ll need it to ward off future prosecutions. The SYG immunity clause is very important.


12 posted on 04/25/2012 7:52:52 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: marktwain

“which eliminated the duty to retreat from an assailant”

I don’t remember swearing an oath to retreat. Ever.


13 posted on 04/25/2012 7:55:25 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

As I said on another thread, they can’t take our guns. But they’re trying to make us afraid to use them.


14 posted on 04/25/2012 7:58:39 AM PDT by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." Peter Griffin - FAMILY GUY)
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To: marktwain
It is going to be very, very difficult to convict this guy.

IMO, unless he agrees to a plea bargain reducing 2nd degree murder to manslaughter, he won't be found guilty of anything. That's why his lawyer will advise him not to cop a plea.

15 posted on 04/25/2012 8:00:23 AM PDT by luvbach1 (Stop the destruction in 2012 or continue the decline)
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To: circlecity

As Dershowitz has already harped on, prosecution was already required to bring out all objective evidence (regardless of which side it benefits). There isn’t any. Short of late-breaking discoveries, introducing anything now that was withheld then will go very badly for the prosecution.


16 posted on 04/25/2012 8:00:45 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: ctdonath2

“Duty to retreat” goes way back in common law. To a time when almost all weapons were edged and wielded by hand.

Obviously retreating is a lot more feasible than in an era of repeating firearms.


17 posted on 04/25/2012 8:07:28 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: marktwain
Contrary to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg....

Let me correct that: Despot. Not Mayor, Despot. He's a Despot in the purest sense, in every sense of the word. Come live here in New York city like I do if you want to get an idea what it's like to live under a totalitarian state. That's what the people get when they vote for a liberal posing as a Republican.

18 posted on 04/25/2012 8:08:29 AM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (From the dough tree we get donuts.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Good point. Made sense when a couple steps back was enough.

Still, the notion doesn’t apply when the one charged was on the ground with a bashed nose, cracked skull, and under the not-inconsiderable weight of an attacker. If stepping back isn’t an option, stand (lie?) your ground is. Z had no means of retreat at that point, so duty thereto doesn’t apply.


19 posted on 04/25/2012 8:13:09 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: ctdonath2

>>Don’t rule out SYG. He’ll need it to ward off future prosecutions.

I don’t know what you mean unless you are talking about civil suits but I would imagine both GW and his legal team are focused on getting him off murder 2 at the moment.


20 posted on 04/25/2012 8:13:14 AM PDT by expat1000
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