Zimmerman lawyer: “Stand Your Ground” isn’t our defense

by Walter Olson on August 16, 2012

Remember this past April, when I was telling anyone who would listen that Florida’s much-flayed “Stand Your Ground” no-duty-to-retreat self-defense doctrine was unlikely to be relevant in the Trayvon Martin shooting, even as much of the media was publishing piece after piece claiming the opposite? Bloomberg’s Ed Adams is kind enough to remember:

Specifically, as AP now reports, “attorney Mark O’Mara now confirms that ‘The facts don’t seem to support a “stand your ground” defense,’” and that he will instead be advancing a conventional self-defense theory on behalf of client George Zimmerman. To add confusion, the preliminary hearing provided for by Florida law is colloquially known as a “Stand Your Ground” hearing, even if SYG itself is not the grounds on which dismissal is sought.

Particularly shameful were the organized campaigns in some quarters first to demonize Stand Your Ground as having somehow caused Martin’s death, and then to demonize the American Legislative Exchange Council for having promoted self-defense laws in other states. With little critical scrutiny in the media, the campaign even enjoyed a certain amount of success, though its factual flimsiness was apparent enough at the time.

{ 6 comments }

1 William Nuesslein 08.16.12 at 9:20 am

Mr. Olson’s interview was very instructive. But the newsman was horribly biased. He put the question of having an unarmed youth losing his life to a self appointed community watchman, but he left out the fact that the youth was strong enough to take control of Mr. Zimmeran and bash Mr. Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk. That aspect of the case continues to be neglected.

Professor Ogletree of Harvard says that Zimmerman hunted down Martin. If so why would Martin assault a man brandishing a gun? A man of average intelligence would find Mr. Zimmerman’s claim that his gun was holstered until Martin saw it to make more sense. But then again Ogletree teaches at Harvard so little is expected of him. I do expect more from Bloomberg news.

2 Ron Miller 08.16.12 at 10:51 am

Way to stand your ground, Walter. Get it? Stand your ground? What? Not funny? Oh.

3 asdfasdf 08.17.12 at 12:43 am

If the test of the value of any individual right is whether that right has ever been misused, then there would be no individual rights.

4 William Nuesslein 08.17.12 at 7:06 am

I recommend that asdfasdf look again at the interview. Mr. Olson point is that Stand Your Ground does not apply in the Martin/Zimmerman case. So how was it be abused? Are you a graduate from Harvard?

5 aaaa 08.17.12 at 7:37 am

@William Nuesslein The police released him as at first arguing that Stand Your Ground applies and he can not he investigated. If it would not be for public outcry over that, there would be no prosecution and no “Stand Your Ground does not apply after all” conclusion.

So there was clear attempt to abuse Stand Your Ground and almost passed. It did not passed not because of something inherent in the system, but only because Trayvon parents called journalists and those wrote angry articles. No public outcry back then, no court today.

The problem of this case is how the police and Zimmerman tried to use that law. And since the law does not apply in the end, the word “abuse” is not that bad.

6 William Nuesslein 08.17.12 at 8:38 am

@aaa The basis for an arrest would be that Zimmerman had a duty to retreat from from a likely violent situation. A Stand Your Ground Defense would obviate that duty. But Mr. Zimmerman had a right to use the sidewalk and there is no evidence that Zimmerman approached Martin brandishing his gun. An assumption that Martin would jump him and bash his head into the ground is not reasonable. Why in the world would Zimmerman shoot Martin willy-nilly when the police were on their way at his request? Only those with a Harvard professor’s view of the world would believe that.

The gun came into play when spotted by Martin when Martin was on top of Zimmerman. How does Zimmerman retreat? So Stand Your Ground as a defense does not apply.

There is a procedure aspect to the Florida law to mitigate the risk of impoverishment in defending an otherwise reasonable use of a firearm. The law failed in this regard for Mr. Zimmerman. There was a similar miscarriage of justice in the Anderson case when politics trumped justice.

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