Friday, July 19, 2013

Castle Doctrine & Stand Your Ground…..

 Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman have become almost household names by now as the case centered around whether Zimmerman acted in self defense drew national attention to that portion of Florida law allowing people to defend themselves with force if they feel threatened in their home, business, car, or any other place where they "have a legal right to be." --- and at least 22 states besides Florida have a similar law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, including Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana.

  “Castle Doctrine,” as it’s popularly become known as, is an idea that’s been around since ancient Rome and derives itself from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle." Castle Doctrine and “Stand Your Ground” laws, however, are not the exactly the same, and not all states have “Stand Your Ground Castle Doctrine,” embodying “no duty to retreat, regardless of where attack takes place.” (Check out Wikipedia's article)

  The Zimmerman trial and verdict have renewed focus and controversy on “Stand Your Ground Law,” Articles on and NPR  both  noting that while “George Zimmerman's defense team didn't invoke Florida's ‘stand your ground’ defense in winning his acquittal of murder, the specter of the 2005 law loomed, inescapably, over the proceedings… It was inevitable that the racially fraught trial would again catapult Florida's law — which extends protections for the use of deadly force far beyond the traditional bounds of one's home — as well as those in 21-plus states with similar self-defense measures into the nation's consciousness.”

   Florida, in fact, was the first state to enact Stand Your Ground legislation back in 2005, then, last year, a task force specially appointed by Governor Rick Scott issued a report concurring with the core principles of the state's Stand Your Ground Law, but recommending further legislative clarification of the requirement that the person asserting the defense not be engaged in "unlawful activity." The report also recommended legislative standards for recognized neighborhood watch groups.

   Wikipedia ‘s article on Stand Your Ground continued, noting “an independent task force  convened earlier by  Florida senator Chris Smith issued its own report, submitting that to the Governor's Task Force, and that among its recommendations was the unanimous conclusion that claims of self-defense be submitted to a grand jury prior to prosecution. One of the witnesses before the independent task force complained that the law is "confusing,” while a lawyer representing the Florida Prosecuting Attorney's Association went so far as to recommended the law's repeal, feeling that modifying the law would not fix its problems.” Articles appearing this morning on NBCNews and Reuters have that call being renewed with the NBC article saying “Smith spoke with Florida House Democratic leader Perry Thurston with both calling for a special session of the state's Republican-dominated legislature to overhaul the law or consider doing away with it.”

  A CNN article last Wednesday, though, covered the alternative view and that most of the laws nationwide are likely to remain largely unchanged.

No comments: