Stand Your Ground

Florida Judge Strikes Down Part of Stand Your Ground Law

A Miami judge says defendants bear the burden of proving self-defense, but criminal justice reformers and the NRA say it's the government's job.

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Scott Houston/Polaris/Newscom

Miami circuit court judge Milton Hirsch has declared a provision in Florida's "stand your ground" laws violated the constitution's separation of powers, once again stirring up debate over the state's controversial self-defense law.

Hirsch ruled Monday that the state legislature erred when it passed a law this May shifting the burden of proof onto state prosecutors to disprove self-defense claims during pretrial immunity hearings.

The decision is not binding on other courts, and it will almost certainly be appealed. Gun control advocates and state prosecutors who argue the laws make it too easy for defendants to avoid being tried for violent crime will once again face off against a coalition of Second Amendment groups, defense attorneys, and criminal justice reform organizations, who say the intent of the law clearly puts the burden on the government to disprove self-defense claims.

The bill had the support not only of the National Rifle Association (NRA), but also of public defenders, criminal defense attorneys, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes mandatory minimum sentences.

Marion Hammer, a former president of the NRA and now a prominent Florida gun lobbyist, calls Hirsch's ruling judicial activism.

"Judge Hirsch made a unilateral decision to attack the constitutional authority of the Legislature to pass laws even though neither of the attorneys in the case asked him to rule on such an issue," Hammer says. "Activist judges can't just arbitrarily make procedural rules to usurp laws they don't like."

State prosecutors vocally opposed passage of the original Stand Your Ground laws in 2005, as well as the legislature's subsequent amendments.

"Outside of 'stand your ground,' I don't know of any other defense that gives defendants immunity from prosecution," Glenn Hess, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, told The Trace earlier this year. "It's a free bite of the apple for them."

The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The first-in-the-nation Stand Your Ground laws did not address which party would bear the burden of proof. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2008 and again in 2015 that defendants must prove self-defense during pretrial hearings to be granted immunity from the burden of a full trial.

The 2015 case, Bretherick v. Florida, involved a road rage incident. Jared Bretherick faced a mandatory three years in prison if found guilty. That mandatory minimum law has since been rolled back, but aggravated assault and battery still carry stiff sentences in Florida, and prosecutors have total discretion as to whether and with what to charge someone.

Marissa Alexander, who served nearly six years in prison and on house arrest before being released from custody earlier this year is the marquee case for those who say Florida's aggravated assault laws are too punitive. Alexander was convicted in 2012 of aggravated assault after firing what she said was a warning shot at her allegedly abusive husband. A judge found Alexander did not meet her burden of proof for a self-defense claim.

"We've always thought Stand Your Ground and the mandatory minimum laws are in tension with each other," says Greg Newburn, the state policy director of FAMM, "because we rightly want our citizens to defend themselves when they're under attack, but if they do, they open themselves up to insane prison sentences."

Gun control advocates and prosecutors counter with cases like Omar Rodriguez, whose claim of self-defense after shooting his neighbor over a dispute over dog poop Hirsch ruled upon.

"Abusive prosecutors who are more concerned about convictions than justice will always make up a parade of horribles to try to rationalize their opposition to justice," Hammer says.

However, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that requiring defendants to prove their self-defense claims would not diminish their right to a fair trial. On the other hand, putting the burden of proof on the state would force state attorneys to try their case twice, expending "tremendous" time and resources defeating potentially frivolous claims, as well as giving defendants a preview of the state's entire case, the court majority said.

Not all of the justices agreed. In a dissenting opinion, Florida Supreme Court justice Charles Canady wrote, "By imposing the burden of proof on the defendant at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, the majority substantially curtails the benefit of the immunity from trial conferred by the legislature under the stand your ground law."

The legislature decided to clarify its intent in May, shifting that burden back onto the government. "The new law merely puts the law back to where it was before the 2008 activism by the lower court," Hammer, who supported the amendment, says. "The recent action by the liberal faction on the Florida Supreme Court was nothing more than judicial activism at a higher lever."

Families Against Mandatory Minimums and public defenders argue that Florida's stiff mandatory minimum sentences for aggravated assault and battery can make the prospect of going to trial and arguing self-defense an extremely risky proposition.

"We have a system right now where the deck is already stacked severely against defendants who claim self-defense," Newburn says. "When you're facing a 20-year mandatory minimum it's bad enough. When you add, on top of that, having to prove your innocence at an immunity hearing and giving the prosecution access to all the evidence you'd be presenting at trial, that makes this already severe burden intolerable."

Stacy Scott, a public defender for Florida's Eighth Judicial Circuit, says defendants who cannot afford private attorneys are much less likely to be able to marshal the resources to fight a lengthy and complicated self-defense trial.

"Prosecutors have way too much leverage in every area of the process," Scott says. "It becomes almost insurmountable for someone with a legitimate self-defense claim to rationally choose to turn down a favorable plea offer and go to trial."

Scott provided Reason with a plea offer a client received in January from a state attorney. "THIS PLEA OFFER IS BASED UPON NO DEPOSITION BEING TAKEN, UPON SETTING A DEPOSITION I WILL REVOKE THIS OFFER," the memo reads. For public defenders, this choice amounts to either not doing their jobs or letting their clients risk years in prison.

When all these factors are taken into accounty, Scott says, "it makes total sense that, for the hearing to have any meaning and satisfy the legislative intent for true immunity, the government should bear the burden of proof."

A state appeals court will likely take up that question. A spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told the Associated Press Bondi's office would appeal the order.

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  1. “Outside of ‘stand your ground,’ I don’t know of any other defense that gives defendants immunity from prosecution,”

    Yeah I agree, nobody should be immune from prosecution in a constitutional republi–

    Glenn Hess, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, told The Trace earlier this year.

    Oh, well, maybe you should STFU.

    1. I don’t even know what he meant by that. If you’re a defendant, you’ve been prosecuted. I assume he meant like, just people walking around on the street.

    2. I don’t even know what the hell he means by that as SYG *doesn’t* render you any more immune from prosecution than ‘there’s not enough evidence to prove a crime occurred’ does.

      Self-defense is an affirmative defense – all this does is shift, *if you’re prosecuted* the burden onto the prosecutor to disprove that defense (instead of the standard of the defendant proving his affirmative defense). if the prosecutor has enough evidence to counter a self-defense claim – then you’re prosecuted. If he doesn’t then you’re not.

    3. IIRC from the Zimmerman/Martin case, in FL if you claim self-defense, you get a preliminary hearing where the prosecution has to convince the judge that they have evidence that it wasn’t self-defense, or else the case gets thrown out. That’s the only thing I can think of that he would be referring to.

    4. How are prosecutors supposed to bully people into plea agreements with outlandish first-degree murder charges when defendants can argue their self-defense case prior to there being a threat of annihilation if they lose.

  2. …it makes total sense that, for the hearing to have any meaning… the government should bear the burden of proof.

    Stacy Scott, public defender for Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit, please Sir, for the sake of your many clients, endeavor to persevere non-violently.

  3. …putting the burden of proof on the state would force state attorneys to try their case twice, expending “tremendous” time and resources defeating potentially frivolous claims, as well as giving defendants a preview of the state’s entire case, the court majority said.

    And?

    1. Think of all the time and resources that go into getting warrents when we could simply kick down doors.

    2. Maybe they could save some time and money by only arresting and prosecuting the guilty. If you aren’t going to win your case, why’d you bring it?

      1. Mugger confronts you alone in an alleyway, points gun at you, and demands your wallet. You are armed, pull out your own gun, but are a little slow on the draw. He puts two shots into center of mass, and you fall dead to the ground.

        Cops arrive seconds later, to find the mugger holding his gun and your corpse laying on the ground, still gripping your own gun. Mugger claims that you pulled a gun on him first, and he shot you in self-defense. There are no other witnesses.

        In a duty to retreat state, he would have to prove that he could not have safely escaped the situation in order to get off on self-defense. But in SYG state, he does not; he had every right to be in that alleyway, as much as you did.

        Explain how the prosecution are going to disprove the mugger’s claim of “stand your ground” self-defense.

        1. Police: Mugger, why were you here and why did this dead guy try and pull a gun on you?

          Mugger gives some shady reason and police check background to find criminal history of mugging.

          Police: You’re under arrest for murder with special circumstances mugger!

          Police: Why are you drawing your weapon mugger? Bang bang!

          Police to prosecutor: I was standing my ground and mugger pulled a gun.

          Lesson: Don’t be slow on the draw if you pack heat and don’t be a dipshit mugger-murderer.

          1. Mugger gives some shady reason and police check background to find criminal history of mugging.

            Bzzt. Brush up on your Bill of Rights. He has the right to remain silent, and his silence cannot be construed as evidence of guilt (and in FL, cannot be construed as evidence against SD). He only has a criminal history if he got caught.

            1. Ah yes, because muggers are known for taking the fifth and not confessing.

              Like anything, people can take advantage of the system.

              If you’re a mugger and you have a history of shooting people “in self-defense”, that can be used against you as circumstantial evidence.

              1. LOL you write as if you know.

                A mugger is not going to confess to murder. Street criminals know how to play that game far better than you or I would.

                1. Haha. There are no muggers and mugger-murders in prison for confessing.

                  Are you that lefty you just keep doubling down on nonsense?

        2. Duty to retreat when someone standing in front of you in a hallway pulls a gun? Would that involve outrunning the bullet or just dodging it?

          While the killer’s lying he can just claim he was unable to retreat. Back to the same problem with getting justice where there’s not enough evidence.

          Anyway at least the guy had a chance. We can all agree these dangers are real and people need to be able to defend themselves with deadly force because you can’t count on the system.

          1. Yeah, ‘gun pointed at you’ is probably “I was unable to flee” territory.

            Not sure about that though.

            If I wasn’t armed and somebody pulled a gun and was going to shoot me, I would definitely run, rather than stand there and get shot. Unless the somebody was small enough that I was reasonably confident I could get the gun away from them before they could shoot me. So they’d have to be super-close.

            Otherwise, you gotta run, right? Most people are crappy shots. And with the heat of the moment and a moving target? I’d take that over struggling with a roughly equally matched opponent who already had the gun in his hand. That sounds like a reasonably assured death.

            But put a gun in my hand? Now the calculus changes entirely. Turning your back on someone with a gun who wants to shoot you is an inherently dangerous act. Not one I’d like to undertake when I had an alternative.

        3. “In a duty to retreat state, he would have to prove that he could not have safely escaped the situation in order to get off on self-defense. ”

          That’s easy to overcome. The guy had a gun pointed at me and there was no where to go. Running backwards and he still could just shoot me.

          “But in SYG state, he does not; he had every right to be in that alleyway, as much as you did.”

          Which is the same in a duty to retreat state. So there is no difference in your example.

          “Explain how the prosecution are going to disprove the mugger’s claim of “stand your ground” self-defense.”

          The same way the disprove other self-defense cases. Police investigate and report to the prosecutor. “Well this guy was coming home, he has no other criminal history, and the shooter is a felon in possession of a gun with a history of robbery.”

    3. Seriously. The whole point of rights like a fair trial, a jury trial, probable cause warrants, and due process are to make it harder and more expensive for the government to prosecute a person.

      Its a feature, not a bug.

      1. Those features have no place in a welfare state.

  4. >>>Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that requiring defendants to prove their self-defense claims would not diminish their right to a fair trial.

    sometimes, people are too stupid to be mocked.

    1. SYG and Castle Doctrine are big reasons why i moved back to Florida at the earliest opportunity after taking a job in Maryland after college.

      1. i like Texas. the air smells more free, and I drive 85 and nobody looks at me sideways…

    2. You guys don’t seem to understand that the self-defense defense is available to a lying murderer as well as fine upstanding self-defenders like yourselves.

      You’re basically telling the prosecution they have to prove a negative to convict anybody of murder. Which sounds great when we’re talking about wrongly accused innocent people, not so great when we’re talking about actual murderers.

      1. More gibberish.

        That article you cited clearly had examples of SYG claims that were denied by the courts.

        Do you realize everyone can tell that you are ignorant about this issue and are just babbling at this point?

      2. And bad guys can use encryption, but I still want everyone else to use it, too. What exactly is your point?

      3. You’re basically telling the prosecution they have to prove a negative to convict anybody of murder. Which sounds great when we’re talking about wrongly accused innocent people, not so great when we’re talking about actual murderers

        Better ten innocent men hang than one guilty man go free!

      4. “You guys don’t seem to understand that the self-defense defense is available to a lying murderer as well as fine upstanding self-defenders like yourselves.”

        Actually we do. And guess what, our system is set up so that 10 guilty people go free lest 1 innocent person goes to jail. We understand that a lying murderer could get away with it, but the alternative is that we would let an innocent person go to jail because we didn’t have the right protection in the way.

        And guess what, murderers lie ALL THE TIME. The cops’ job is to prove them wrong. Welcome to the justice system buddy.

  5. Hirsch ruled Monday that the state legislature erred when it passed a law this May shifting the burden of proof onto state prosecutors to disprove self-defense claims during pretrial immunity hearings.

    I assume all of those sound and fury applies to me, and not the cop that shoots me.

    1. It didn’t apply before anyway. They’re running you down and shooting you. Not covered by Stand Your Ground.

      1. From the cop’s perspective, he WAS standing my ground!

        1. Every day they are in such danger every moment. If they don’t stand your ground then they’re going home in a urn.

        2. this lols me every time.

  6. Guilty until proven innocent. You going to apply that to cops too?

  7. “Outside of ‘stand your ground,’ I don’t know of any other defense that gives defendants immunity from prosecution,” Glenn Hess, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, told The Trace earlier this year.

    There’s no qualified immunity in Florida?

    1. Cannot have the common folk having the same rights and privileges as the murderous agents of the state.

  8. Does anybody else find it curious that the preceding two articles showed bias toward publicly funded abortions and unelected international organizations, but this article regarding self-defense is written with no bias in favor of self-defense?

    1. Not on Reason c. 2016.

    2. That’s why the “cosmotarian” label was started to describe this place’s politics. Basically they are liberals who vaguely understand economics (save the whole supply and demand thing when it comes to labor and the government funding things they like, like abortion and museums)

    3. I continue to find it curious just what site many other commenters are reading. I’m missing out on all the outrage.

      1. I think.you can be labeled

        1. Did ENB need to write in bold letters at 72 pt font that PUBLIC MONEY SHOULD NOT BE USED TO FUND ABORTIONS? Is anything less unsatisfactory rhetoric, or simply too confusing for you to gauge her position?

          She said the proposed measure is bad, said abortionists need to get over the idea of government funding, and concludes by calling for “Harnessing the twin engines of the market and charitable groups.” How do you morons read that as evil prog bias? Milton Friedman could have written that post.

          1. The alternative to ‘free abortions’ was still an organization that uses public dollars (read the article again).

            1. The article says nothing about public dollars, and I found no evidence that carafem gets public funding; they have donors and use crowdfunding. It looks like they do accept Medicaid for birth control, in which case every health clinic that takes Medicaid is unclean and must be denounced.

          2. You’re arguing with Republicans pretending to be Libertarians. Waste of time.

  9. giving defendants a preview of the state’s entire case

    What’s wrong w that? Like they should treat it as some kind of game, w the element of surprise? This is real life! No way the state should be allowed to sneak up on you in a legal proceeding.

    1. Nothing wrong with this… If you are trying someone for gun crime they should have every opportunity to mount a credible defense.

  10. In any system of justice, the prosecution or the plaintiff will ALWAYS bear the burden of proof.

    -jcr

    1. Not for affirmative defenses like insanity or self-defense.

      1. You don’t know what you are talking about.

        1. Pretty sure that’s you.

          1. What legal jurisdiction are you talking about, so I can just bury you in state statutes countering what you say?

      2. That’s only true in Ohio. In the other 49 states, the state has to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt (if the defendant raises self-defense).

      3. Which is why the law removed that self-defense exception.

    2. True, but if I read the article right it sounds like this is a ruling about the burden of proof for a pretrial motion hearing specific to this affirmative defense. i.e. the defendant can move for a hearing before trial to establish the affirmative defense of self-defense and if successful quash the prosecution before trial. I think it would be appropriate if at this hearing the burden is on the defendant to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence; thats a relatively easy standard to prove and seems a pretty reasonable burden if it has the effect of killing the case. At the actual jury trial though I think the burden should be on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self defense (as it goes to the mens rea element that the prosecution must prove). Although I think some states do leave the burden of proving affirmative defenses to the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence.

  11. OK, the German lefties are ‘protesting’. Went though a pretty thorough search, and I’m damned if I can find WHAT they are protesting.

    “G20 Welcome to Hell protest: German police fire water cannon after being attacked with bottles and rocks ”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..nstration/

    Looks like this is a Euro ‘Trump is a big poopyhead’ protest.

    1. Poopy would be identifiable. Nobody knows what’s on that head.

      1. Tony|7.6.17 @ 10:08PM|#
        “Poopy would be identifiable. Nobody knows what’s on that head.”

        That’s also the best you’ve been able to come up with, shitbag.
        Scream “TREASON!!!!!!” for us again; it’s always amusing when you short your keyboard with spittle.
        Hint: You LOST, loser. LOST, LOST, LOST!
        Hahahahahahahhahahah…

    2. No, they always do this at G whatever summits. They hate capitalism.

    3. You know who else fired water cannons….

      1. NYFD?

    4. did someone mention germans and poop?

  12. A Miami judge says defendants bear the burden of proving self-defense

    That’s about ass backwards as it comes. I believe the burden of proof is proof of guilt and that that burden is on the government. Isn’t this US Law 101?

    1. Common law self defense is an affirmative defense. Invoking an affirmative defense puts a burden on you to prove it. To get a conviction, the prosecution needs to show the elements of a crime were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt. Usually an affirmative defense requires the defender to show the elements of the defense to a lesser standard, such as upon a preponderance of the evidence.

      1. No, that’s not true except in Ohio. Once the defendant raises, self-defense, it has to be disproven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.

  13. “The bill had the support not only of the National Rifle Association (NRA), but also of public defenders, criminal defense attorneys, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes mandatory minimum sentences.”

    The bill also, presumably, had the support of the state legislature and the governor–or they wouldn’t have made it a law.

    Awful as those politicians may be, they were duly elected, right?

    “Miami circuit court judge Milton Hirsch has declared a provision in Florida’s “stand your ground” laws violated the constitution’s separation of powers

    Speaking of the separation of powers, there’s this thing called “democracy”, and just because it can overstep its bounds doesn’t mean there’s no place for it.

  14. I support self-defense rights, but like any law, Stand Your Ground has unintended consequences, some of which are quite bad. Making it easier for legitimate self-defenders to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to feign self-defense and avoid prosecution.

    1. Liberty…
      “I support self-defense rights, but like any law, Stand Your Ground has unintended consequences, some of which are quite bad. Making it easier for legitimate self-defenders to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to feign self-defense and avoid prosecution.”

      Yeah, you support free speech, but……….
      Got your number by now.

      1. Shallow analysis as always.

        As illustrated in my vignette above, SYG actually makes self-defense more dangerous in some cases.

        1. Left wing Reform Party

        2. “As illustrated in my vignette above, SYG actually makes self-defense more dangerous in some cases.”

          No, it doesn’t. It makes self defense less dangerous, because innocent people can worry less about being railroaded when decided to defend themselves.

    2. Making it easier for legitimate self-defenders to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to feign self-defense and avoid prosecution.

      How does feigning self-defense lead to someone avoiding prosecution?

      They might avoid conviction if a jury buys their story, but that’s the way justice works, right? Juries are there to weigh the credibility of testimony and evidence.

      Does stand your ground mean prosecutors can’t prosecute suspected murderers for some reason?

      I don’t think so. I think prosecutors can still prosecute anyone they can get indicted.

      Your argument looks like a red herring sliding down a slippery slope.

      1. I think prosecutors can still prosecute anyone they can get indicted.

        Nope. That’s the point of the law in question — it made the prosecution prove that the defendant did not act in self defense (prove a negative!) in a pre-trial hearing, before the trial could go forward.

        They might avoid conviction if a jury buys their story, but that’s the way justice works, right? Juries are there to weigh the credibility of testimony and evidence.

        The jury’s standard for evaluating the self-defense claim is different for stand-your-ground vs. duty-to-retreat states. SYG sets a much lower standard, which a lying murderer can more easily meet.

        1. Better that a million lying murders who claimed SYG go free than 1 person convicted for murder while actually defending themselves to an aggressor.

          1. Not sure the (at least) a million murder victims will appreciate that sentiment.

            1. Yeah well, neither do innocent people locked up for stuff they did not do.

              1. And that’s somehow a million times worse than being dead?

                Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want innocent people to go to jail, but to pretend that it’s OK to let the guilty go free is naive and wrong.

                1. American system of justice.

                  Presumption of innocence.

                  1. Ah, we’ve reached the dogma recitation stage.

                    Next comes the inevitable drooling.

                    1. Left wing reform party.

                    2. Will you be drooling from 2nd Amendment rights being upheld or Hillary losing to Trump?

                2. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want innocent people to go to jail, but to pretend that it’s OK to let the guilty go free is naive and wrong.”

                  Its not “OK” but that’s the tradeoff. Sorry, but you DO want innocent people to go to jail if you oppose SYG laws.

        2. “Nope. That’s the point of the law in question — it made the prosecution prove that the defendant did not act in self defense (prove a negative!) in a pre-trial hearing, before the trial could go forward.”

          Prove to whom that the defendant didn’t act in self-defense?

          A grand jury?

          We’re still talking about a prosecutor being able to prosecute anyone they can indict.

          Your problem seems to be with the jury system. Apparently, you don’t want jurors weighing the credibility of evidence.

          “The jury’s standard for evaluating the self-defense claim is different for stand-your-ground vs. duty-to-retreat states.”

          We’re talking about instructions to the jury, right?

          Jurors can and do make their own choices every day. A jury decision is like a box of chocolates.

        3. So can legimate victims who defend themselves. Innocent until PROVEN guilty, if a prosecuter with the unlimited resources of the state doesn’t have sufficent evidence to prove you committed murder you should not have to PROVE that you didn’t. There are a LOT more innocent, law abiding people out there than there are habitual murderers. Rules of discovery require the prosecution to reveal evidence to the defense that doesn’t support their aspirations to higher office, if they don’t have solid proof that you committed murder you should not have to prove you didn’t.

    3. And yet, this parade of horribles has not happened. Murders are not walking the streets in mass numbers after claiming SYG. Besides cops that is.

      Stand your ground is important because it makes defending yourself against an aggressor and then having to defend yourself for murder rap a thing of the past.

      1. Except SYG is most often used by gang members.

        1. Really? I would need a citation on that because I have not heard of the new epidemic of gang members shooting innocent people and claiming SYG.

          There must be bodies on the street dropping like flies.

          Meanwhile, Chicago has a ludicrous amount of murders this year and they don’t have SYG.

          Always gets me that if you are going to get shot and cannot defend yourself, turn around so you get shot in the back. Getting shot in the back is pretty clear evidence that the person who shot you was NOT standing their ground.

          1. Google is your friend, but here’s one link to whet your appetite, assuming you’re not annorexic when it comes to evidence that doesn’t confirm your beliefs:

            People often go free under “stand your ground” in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim ? and still went free.

            1. Yup, just as I thought. Garbage citation that does not back up what you are babbling about.

              Your article cites 1 gang related shooting where SYG immunity was considered. Dade County had 50 SYG motions. Fifty! The rest of the examples were not gang related.

              As I said, it’s not a problem with SYG laws.

            2. Google is surely the friend of people who seek anecdotal evidence to confirm their biases.

              “One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail.” – case of two against one. Author implies it is absurd to claim self-defense at all here, but the law specifically requires the court to decide if the shooter could reasonably be in fear of death or great bodily harm. So your real beef is with the conlucion reached on this aspect by a judge who has heard the details of the case while you haven’t.

              “Another shot a man as he lay on the ground.” – in this case clearly the “victim” initiated the gunfight making a solid self-defense claim for the shooter. they just want to ream the dude for the details and manner in which he legally defended himself. in this case how many times you’re allowed to shoot back at someone trying to kill you. Because where the state can’t trample rights outright, they still try to narrow your freedom down to the barest minimum so you need a lawyer with you at all times, or else they can still find some detail to hang you with.

    4. “Making it easier for legitimate self-defenders to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to feign self-defense and avoid prosecution.”

      Prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures: Making it easier for innocent people to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to hide evidence and avoid prosecution.

      Right to due process: Making it easier for innocent people to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to tell lies and avoid prosecution.

      Right to jury trial: Making it easier for innocent people to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to convince a jury or their lies and avoid conviction.

      Prohibition on self incrimination: Making it easier for innocent people to avoid prosecution also makes it easier for cold-blooded murderers to tell lies and avoid prosecution.

      The bloody point of our rights and justice system is to make it easy for innocent people to avoid prosecution, with the understand that it will make it easier for cold-blooded murderers to avoid prosecution. The trade off is worth it, because its better to let 1 guilty person go free so that 10 innocent people aren’t put in jail.

    5. And? The same is true for “innocent until proven guilty”!

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  16. “Judge Hirsch made a unilateral decision to attack the constitutional authority of the Legislature to pass laws even though neither of the attorneys in the case asked him to rule on such an issue,” Hammer says. “Activist judges can’t just arbitrarily make procedural rules to usurp laws they don’t like.”

    The job of a judge is to strike down laws. Checks and balances and all that. Writing or rewriting laws, that is judicial activism. But stropping laws? That’s their job.

    1. The job of a judge is to preside at a trial according to the LAW as written, ensure procedures are followed and maintain rules of conduct of the trial. The jury decides the result according to the evidence presented. You plainly don’t know the difference between Supreme Court Justices and trial judges. Even Aappellate Court Judges do not judge the LAW as written, they judge the application of those laws and the applicability of the laws the charges are brought under.

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