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KOPEL: Debunking the "stand your ground" myth

blueslide88blueslide88 MemberPosts: 273 Member
David Kopel writes in the Washington Times that no matter how you look at it, Florida's "stand your ground" retreat rule is irrelevant in the Zimmerman/Martin case. Some say that Zimmerman attacked and killed Martin when Zimmerman was under no threat whatsoever from Martin. If Zimmerman used "deadly force" when he could not have felt such force was necessary "to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony", then Zimmerman is defenseless, period, and the SYG provision is meaningless.
If, as the other side claims, that Martin attacked Zimmerman, knocked him to the gound, got on top of him and continued his attack, then Zimmerman had absolutely no opportunity to retreat, or not to retreat, before defending himself, the SYG provision has no merit.
The anti-gun advocates are manipulating this case in order to advance their agenda and erode the right to self-defense, as well as the right to keep and bear arms. Incrementalism is their method, and this represents step number one.
In reality, the SYG provision makes great sense. It is simply an extension of the castle doctrine (SYG is fine in home defense), to any place a citizen has a right to be. To be required to first attempt to retreat when under serious criminal attack makes no sense whatsoever.

Below is my letter submitted yesterday to the Tampa Tribune/Suncoast News for publication. The Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Pete Times} seems to be ignoring me during its current frenzy bad mouthing the SYG law.

It certainly is a surprise that the "stand your ground" law has received so much attention after more than six years on the books. It is simply a commom sense expansion of the legal right to defend oneself, based on exactly the same wording defining the "Use of force in defense of person" in Chapter 776, section 776.012, of the 2004 Florida Statutes, titled "Justifiable Use of Force", which states "However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodly harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony". This concept of self-defense is generally accepted throughout the nation.
In 2005 the same law was changed to read "However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony....". The only change in the 2004 law (which has been the same since at least 1994) was the insertion of "and does not have a duty to retreat".
Those criticizing the "stand your ground law" misunderstand it, and misrepresent it. It is essentially an extension of the so-called castle doctrine of ancient times whereby a citizen did not have to retreat when defending his or her home (or castle) from criminal attack, to any place that same law-abiding citizen had a legal right to be. Florida, and many other states, have expanded that doctrine in order give the law-abiding citizen a better chance to defend him or herself from criminal attack.
In fact and reality, the "stand your ground" option now offered in Florida law does not apply to the controversial Stanford case, from either side. If Martin did not threaten Zimmerman in any way, according to some accounts, then Zimmerman was clearly the sole aggressor, and none of Florida's self-defense laws would apply at all. In that case, a crime was committed by Zimmerman.
But if Martin attacked Zimmerman without any provocation and the threat of "great bodily harm" was applicable, then Zimmerman would invoke that part of the law, with "standing his ground" having no bearing on the case. So, no matter which side is presented, the "stand your ground" option offered by law is completely irrelevant, and, in any case, not a defense available to Zimmerman.
We cannot allow judgements to be made without the facts, the whole story, and considering all the evidence available. This case is not based on a "stand your ground" defense, it is the legal matter of the proper use of deadly force in self-defense, and whether it was justified or not. That is a decision that should not be made by any publicity hungry individuals, or any of the media jumping to false conclusions based on heresay and misinformation.

Replies

  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 6,721 Senior Member
    Zimmerman initiated the contact against instructions from the 911 person. SYG hardly.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • AiredaleAiredale Banned Posts: 624 Senior Member
    Zimmerman was told by his civilian neighborhood watch dispatcher to stay in his car. He didn't.
    He followed Martin, was attacked and overpowered by the then over six foot Trayvon (not the kid that's shown on TV) and killed him in self defense.
    Take race out of the equasion and it's a no brainer.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    OK- - - -let's see- - - -a wannabe thug kid who has been repeatedly suspended from school on drug-related situations, trespassing in unauthorized areas of the school, and has been under investigation for suspicion of burglary is observed by a neighborhood watch person, acting suspiciously in a neighborhood where he's a stranger. The watcher makes an unwise move by following the suspect, then is advised to break off any further tracking. He complies. The kid attacks, gets the older, shorter guy down and proceeds to beat on him. Victim of the beating shoots his attacker. I think there's enough stupidity to go around already, without race-baiters, politicians, and media getting involved. With all the pot-stirring that has gone on already, it's only going to be a matter of time before somebody else does something stupid.

    There's another thread in progress that highlights Facebook pages from some of these obnoxious thugs. There has been a concerted effort to clean up the kid's image, but before his social network pages got scrubbed, he calls himself "No Limits N***a" and brags about dealing drugs and other illegal activities. There are also references to him assaulting a bus driver. Not exactly the squeaky-clean 12-year-old in the pictures we've seen!
    Jerry
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    The main thrust of all this is that the SYG portion of the law does not apply whatsoever. It is that part of the law that the media and the race-baiters have been screaming about. The rest of Florida's justifiable use of deadly force in its self-defense law is standard, and hardly debatable.
    The only true legal question is whether or not Zimmerman could reasonably believe that he feared "great bodily harm" upon himself when he acted to defend himself. A person flat on his back being beaten and having his head pounded on a concrete sidewalk hardly is in a position to retreat or not. The simple act of following someone does not justify any force, especially once the following stopped, and Zimmerman was heading back to his truck. At that point he had ceased any and all activity toward Martin, when he says he was approached and attacked by Martin without any provocation. If Zimmerman is lying, let the chips fall where they may.
    The anti's are using the SYG provision as their key issue in order to attack all self-defense laws. My point is that their position is false. There's nothing wrong with Florida's SYG provision.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    What I want to know is where the heck is everyone getting their information? Seems like everyone has their own notion of what really happened, but no one really knows for sure what happened.

    ALL OF THE FACTS HAVE NOT YET BEEN RELEASED. PERIOD.

    I've been following this, including watching an interview with Zimmerman's father. From what I've heard and seen so far, I agree with what Teach posted. However, I still don't know for sure what happened.

    I will agree, though, with the initial premise of this post that the Stand Your Ground law is not applicable in this case.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    David Kopel writes in the Washington Times that no matter how you look at it, Florida's "stand your ground" retreat rule is irrelevant in the Zimmerman/Martin case. Some say that Zimmerman attacked and killed Martin when Zimmerman was under no threat whatsoever from Martin. If Zimmerman used "deadly force" when he could not have felt such force was necessary "to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony", then Zimmerman is defenseless, period, and the SYG provision is meaningless.
    If, as the other side claims, that Martin attacked Zimmerman, knocked him to the gound, got on top of him and continued his attack, then Zimmerman had absolutely no opportunity to retreat, or not to retreat, before defending himself, the SYG provision has no merit.
    The anti-gun advocates are manipulating this case in order to advance their agenda and erode the right to self-defense, as well as the right to keep and bear arms. Incrementalism is their method, and this represents step number one.
    In reality, the SYG provision makes great sense. It is simply an extension of the castle doctrine (SYG is fine in home defense), to any place a citizen has a right to be. To be required to first attempt to retreat when under serious criminal attack makes no sense whatsoever.

    Below is my letter submitted yesterday to the Tampa Tribune/Suncoast News for publication. The Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Pete Times} seems to be ignoring me during its current frenzy bad mouthing the SYG law.

    It certainly is a surprise that the "stand your ground" law has received so much attention after more than six years on the books. It is simply a commom sense expansion of the legal right to defend oneself, based on exactly the same wording defining the "Use of force in defense of person" in Chapter 776, section 776.012, of the 2004 Florida Statutes, titled "Justifiable Use of Force", which states "However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodly harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony". This concept of self-defense is generally accepted throughout the nation.
    In 2005 the same law was changed to read "However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony....". The only change in the 2004 law (which has been the same since at least 1994) was the insertion of "and does not have a duty to retreat".
    Those criticizing the "stand your ground law" misunderstand it, and misrepresent it. It is essentially an extension of the so-called castle doctrine of ancient times whereby a citizen did not have to retreat when defending his or her home (or castle) from criminal attack, to any place that same law-abiding citizen had a legal right to be. Florida, and many other states, have expanded that doctrine in order give the law-abiding citizen a better chance to defend him or herself from criminal attack.
    In fact and reality, the "stand your ground" option now offered in Florida law does not apply to the controversial Stanford case, from either side. If Martin did not threaten Zimmerman in any way, according to some accounts, then Zimmerman was clearly the sole aggressor, and none of Florida's self-defense laws would apply at all. In that case, a crime was committed by Zimmerman.
    But if Martin attacked Zimmerman without any provocation and the threat of "great bodily harm" was applicable, then Zimmerman would invoke that part of the law, with "standing his ground" having no bearing on the case. So, no matter which side is presented, the "stand your ground" option offered by law is completely irrelevant, and, in any case, not a defense available to Zimmerman.
    We cannot allow judgements to be made without the facts, the whole story, and considering all the evidence available. This case is not based on a "stand your ground" defense, it is the legal matter of the proper use of deadly force in self-defense, and whether it was justified or not. That is a decision that should not be made by any publicity hungry individuals, or any of the media jumping to false conclusions based on heresay and misinformation.

    I disagree. At this point we have no real facts to base a judgment on. For all we know, Zimmerman was only excersizing his right to "Stand His Ground." But we don't know because so far no real facts have been presented by the authorities. And the media is NOT the authority.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    Zimmerman initiated the contact against instructions from the 911 person. SYG hardly.

    As for the facts I've seen, I haven't seen any concrete facts that say who initiated the attack and no one has come up with anything that says Zimmerman disobeyed the dispatch to stay back. We just have not been told what really happened, IF anyone knows for sure. So far, this is a first class "Crap Shoot!"

    Remember, Innocent until proven guilty.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    Zimmerman was flat on his back being assaulted, having been knocked down by a nose breaking punch, and then having his head bashed on a sidewalk. His wounds prove that much, and a police report I have a copy of states that the investigating officer noted the bloody nose and blood on the back of his head. A tape/photo (it was a still shot when I saw it) clearly shows a prominent wound on the back of his head when he was at the police station. The police report also notes grass stains and wetness from the grass on the back of his clothing. That much is certainly fact. There is a witness I saw interviewed, a resident, who saw the attack, with Martin on top of Zimmerman while attacking him, and Zimmerman crying out for help.

    Surely Zimmerman was in no position to retreat at this point, being on the ground and being beaten with Martin on top of him. How could he possibly consider retreat?

    Standing your ground is an OPTION in the law, not a requirement. The meat of the law says a person is justified in using lethal force when:

    "However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodly harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony". This concept of self-defense is generally accepted throughout the nation.

    Zimmerman's defense is right there, regardless of the "stand your ground" provision, which is an OPTION. He reasonably believed that he had to use deadly force because such force was necessary to prevent "great bodily harm" to himself.

    Incidentally, the simple act of following a person is not justification for the use of any force, nor would a confrontation which occurred because of such action. There has to be a genuine threat of imminent death or great bodily harm in order to invoke the SYG option. Zimmerman is claiming (thru his Dad, and I believe a witness) that he was approached by Martin while walking back to his truck, who after a few words, attacked him without provocation or warning. SYG is not a factor. Proper self-defense is.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    FWIW, I heard about an hour ago that the special prosecutor in this case as decided NOT to bring it before a grand jury. Reportedly, this doesn't mean that Zimmerman might not still get arrested and face charges, though.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I think there are some questions that need to be answered, for which I feel there will never be a clear unbiased answer,

    let us say Trayvon was a criminal in every sense of the word, however, did Zimmerman know that ?
    Why was Zimmerman following Trayvon, and what made him a "suspicious" person or a person of interest ?
    Was Trayvon at any time seen committing a crime ? had Trayvon actually committed a crime ?

    When I was a LEO, one needed probable cause for initiating contact with anyone, a crime in progress, a visible weapon, a complaint made, suspicious activity or criminal activity, note merely walking somewhere does not constitute suspicious activity.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »
    FWIW, I heard about an hour ago that the special prosecutor in this case as decided NOT to bring it before a grand jury. Reportedly, this doesn't mean that Zimmerman might not still get arrested and face charges, though.

    Thanks for the news. Now its up to the special prosecutor. Remember, if the prosecutor finds that is was self-defense under the law we're talking about, that's it. Zimmerman can't be arrested, and can't be sued. I wonder what chaos might reign if Zimmerman is prosecuted and a jury finds that the self-defense argument is valid, that would mean that the arrest and prosecution was illegal! The prosecutor is walking a thin line. He/she would only prosecute if there was strong, likely convicting evidence against Zimmerman. I strongly doubt that such evidence exists.

    The other thing is that if the prosecutor declines to bring charges, he's under no duty to explain himself/herself.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Known as a no bill.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    I think there are some questions that need to be answered, for which I feel there will never be a clear unbiased answer,

    let us say Trayvon was a criminal in every sense of the word, however, did Zimmerman know that ?
    Why was Zimmerman following Trayvon, and what made him a "suspicious" person or a person of interest ?
    Was Trayvon at any time seen committing a crime ? had Trayvon actually committed a crime ?

    When I was a LEO, one needed probable cause for initiating contact with anyone, a crime in progress, a visible weapon, a complaint made, suspicious activity or criminal activity, note merely walking somewhere does not constitute suspicious activity.

    The so far unanswered question, though, is who initiated contact? It seems that you are assuming it was Zimmerman, based on what you have posted. So far, the evidence I have seen suggests it's just the opposite.

    What I have seen and heard point to Zimmerman following Martin, on foot, and calling in to the local dispatcher. After presenting what facts he knew, the dispatcher told Zimmerman that there was no need to pursue Martin. From the interview I saw with Zimmerman's dad, at about the time that he was told not to pursue, he lost sight of Martin and didn't know were he was. What he did was proceed in the same direction to find an address for later reference. After doing that, he turned and started going back to his vehicle. While doing this, Martin accosted and attacked him.

    If that is truly what happened, I don't see that Zimmerman did anything wrong. Even if he continued to follow Martin, on foot, I don't see how that is breaking the law or initiating contact.

    I hope that all of the facts come out, but I have to agree with you that it's not real likely. The only one who really knows what happened is Zimmerman, and there doesn't appear to be anyone to dispute his story. There's also other evidence, or so has been reported, that backs Zimmerman's statement.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    If anything, this situation reinforces the argument that it's important to survive the encounter and be the one telling what happened. While Zimmerman might have committed a lot of errors, at least he had the ability to survive, rather than becoming another statistic.
    Jerry
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I agree, it is like the time I told a guy to stop beating a woman, he wanted to beat Me as well, until he saw that would have been a fatal mistake.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »
    What I want to know is where the heck is everyone getting their information? Seems like everyone has their own notion of what really happened, but no one really knows for sure what happened.

    ALL OF THE FACTS HAVE NOT YET BEEN RELEASED. PERIOD.

    I've been following this, including watching an interview with Zimmerman's father. From what I've heard and seen so far, I agree with what Teach posted. However, I still don't know for sure what happened.

    I will agree, though, with the initial premise of this post that the Stand Your Ground law is not applicable in this case.

    Me too^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^:that::agree: There alway three sides to every story: My side,Your side, and the TRUTH.
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    When I was a LEO, one needed probable cause for initiating contact with anyone, a crime in progress, a visible weapon, a complaint made, suspicious activity or criminal activity, note merely walking somewhere does not constitute suspicious activity.

    Zimmerman was the one phoning the info to police to MAKE the complaint. Zimmerman was NOT a LEO. There is a difference in actions between an LEO and a private citizen, and he was acting at this point as "private security". His decisions should not be colored by what a police officer would do, but what a reasonable citizen would consider prudent. Again, we have conflicting reports, but IF he was following an unknown individual, relaying information to the police and was told to "back off" and did, I doubt if you or I would have done any different.

    If the reports I've come across are correct, there had been a string of breakins and property crime in the community, and as the appointed watch captain or whatever his title was he was given a duty by his neighbors to observe and report suspicious activity. A tall kid of ANY race, who hid under the hood of his sweatshirt as soon as he realized he was being observed, roaming the streets late at night, would potentially be suspicious to most of us I believe. I don't know if there was anything on Zimmerman as far as identification (jacket, cap, armband, or whatever with "neighborhood watch" on it, but consider - if someone else had been merely walking in the same direction on the opposite side of the street as "little Trayvon", and he'd accosted and attacked THEM for following him (as at least one report says he did to Zimmerman) with different results, would the nation be in this uproar?
  • fuzzyjon79fuzzyjon79 New Member Posts: 3 New Member
    I'm not a lawyer, but the one term I don't think I've heard in this case is "disparity of force." The media makes Martin out to be a skinny kid....but from what I've heard he was about 6'2" tall. Would disparity of force have been a valid argument from Zimmerman?
  • pbearperrypbearperry Member Posts: 91 Member
    In my opinion,the biggest mistake Zimmerman made was leaving his motor vehicle to follow the kid on foot.This very move started the dominoes to fall in the wrong direction.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    Something I heard last night as reported by Laura Ingraham and backed up by Martin's lawyer is that Martin was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone at the time of the incident. The lawyer has only talked to the girl on the phone, and didn't say anything about it. Hopefully, the police investigating this have spoke with her.

    This is new news to me, and could have significant impact on how this plays out.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    Laura Ingraham (Fox) said today that a report from the Washington Post, with an unnamed law enforcement person close to the investigation as the source, claims that the Special Prosecutor has decided to bring charges against Zimmerman. Ingraham said there are two charges available, 2nd degree murder or some form of manslaughter. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey had previously promised the media 3 hours notice before any announcement. No notice yet.

    Sean Hannity (Fox) has confirmed that Zimmerman called him and that Hannity spoke with him. No other details available.
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    Fox has confirmed a press conference scheduled for 6:00 PM this afternoon in Jacksonville with the Special Prosecutor, concerning this case. Laura I. keeps talking about retreat/SYG issues when there aren't any.
  • blueslide88blueslide88 Member Posts: 273 Member
    The official charge is second degree murder. He's in custody.
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