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View Diary: What If Trayvon Martin “Stood His Ground”, or How Dueling Bacame Legal in FL (166 comments)

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  •  Here's what you're missing (13+ / 0-)
    Essentially the jury would be saying, “Sure, you created the situation, caused another person to fear for their life and stand their ground legally under our laws, but then you feared for your life so standing your ground was legal!”
    The "fear for your life" has to be reasonable.

    That makes all the difference. All of these comments about how if Zimmerman is acquitted it will be open season for people to kill anyone they want and then just say they feared for their life to get off are just slightly overstated.

    And by slightly I mean completely, and by overstated I mean whacked.

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:28:41 AM PDT

    •  Asterisk for Race and Economic Class * (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, wishingwell, a2nite

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:50:19 AM PDT

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      •  What makes no sense to me about this, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, libnewsie, worldlotus

        one of several items is how it is that a Neighborhood Watchperson who has been one for some time, is unable to recognize the residents of his community, and their most probable visitors, the people who have the right to be there absolutely and supposedly for whose benefit he is watching. That little townlet is simply not that big.  To hear Z, he is not protecting the whole neighborhood against outsiders but 'his people' against 'those people,' some of whom, according to the trial witness list, are plainly residents of the very community for which he is supposedly 'watching'.

    •  I'm not saying it'll be open season ... (12+ / 0-)

      What I'm saying is that Zimmerman created this situation.  It's all on him, no one else.  He decided a person legally walking the street in legal clothes was a threat to the community.  He decided to follow the person in his car, then to get out of the car and approach that person with a gun on his hip.  

      When Martin, who may not have reasonably feared for his life but certainly reasonably feared for his safety, responded with less than lethal force Zimmerman pulled his gun.

      At that point Martin surely had a reasonable fear for his life.  Someone stalked him, approached him, assaulted (not battery) him, then responded in a fight by pulling a gun.

      So if Martin had his own gun and shot Zimmerman Martin would have been completely in the right under Stand Your Ground to take the gun and shoot Zimmerman.

      Zimmerman took a situation that had absolutely no chance of violence -- a man peaceably walking home from the store in his own neighborhood -- and turned it into a situation where he feared for his life.

      That's the problem I have.  He created the situation, and while the duel concept is certainly hyperbole it is the extreme example off the same thing -- creating the situation where your life is at risk and then justifying killing because your life was at risk.

      •  Well (6+ / 0-)

        Zimmerman set the chain of events in motion, but that doesn't mean he's legally responsible for the killing. And if he is legally responsible (and he may be) it won't be because he ignored the 911 operator, or got out of his car, or followed Martin, or asked him what he was doing there.

        But Zimmerman would have had to do something more than merely follow Martin and ask him what he was doing there for Martin to reasonably fear for his safety to the point he was justified in "throwing the first punch" (if he did). At least in the eyes of the law.

        On the other hand, had Zimmerman pulled his gun, or grabbed Martin, or took a swing at him, or done some other overt act, other than merely following and asking him a question, then Martin would be justified in using appropriate force to repel Zimmerman.

        The problem of course, is in the facts. We don't know what happened in those crucial seconds, we can only guess. What we do know is what the law says with regard to a given set of facts.

        Make no mistake, I agree that had Zimmerman not followed and confronted Martin, the teen would probably be alive today.  But that alone doesn't mean he's legally responsible for his death. Tort concepts of causation don't necessarily apply in criminal law.

        Black Holes Suck.

        by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:02:00 PM PDT

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        •  Recommended and questioned (4+ / 0-)

          Is an AA youth in Florida in reasonable fear of a white man following him and barking questions? Can he legally use non-lethal force to discontinue the threat? I don't know what FL criminal precedent says on the subject, but historically TM would be justified in fearing for his safety.

          Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

          by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:50:27 PM PDT

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          •  Hispanic, not white. (1+ / 0-)
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          •  Probably not (7+ / 0-)
            Is an AA youth in Florida in reasonable fear of a white man following him and barking questions?
            There's no law against what Zimmerman did...i.e. following Martin and asking him questions. That's not against the law. Certainly, Martin may have felt threatened by it, but under the law, absent some additional actions by Zimmerman, that fear wasn't reasonable. Again, under the law.

            Let me turn it around for you. Suppose a white woman is walking down the street and there's a black man following her. Maybe he asks what she's doing there, or for a date, or directions to the post office, whatever. She says she feels threatened and maces him.

            Would you say her actions were legally justified? Would you say she was acting in self defence? Would you say her fear of this black man, who do did nothing other than what I described, was reasonable?

            I'm not sure that the precedent for someone of a different race merely following you gives you the right to attack them is one that a lot of people around here would want to support if they thought it through.

            Black Holes Suck.

            by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:07:48 PM PDT

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            •  I've maced a white man (I'm white too) (1+ / 0-)
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              Who followed me when I was on the way to work. I crossed the street twice, so did he to be on the same side, I went through a neighborhood instead of on the main street trying to get away from me, so did he. When he caught up to me he tried to grab my arm and made a crude comment. I maced him. It wouldn't have taken the crude comment by that point for me to mace him. I had no bars on my cell phone or I would have been on the phone with the police.

              If it were my daughter or my son in that situation, I would expect them to defend themselves as well. I would hope ANY kid would defend themselves with a strange man following them persistently (it's not like he was just walking on the sidewalk behind him, he was definitely following/chasing) in that manner. I would not want them to just stand submissively to answer questions at that point, too great a chance of getting pulled into bushes, or into an ally, or drug into a car never to be seen again.

              So yes, I would say that reaction is reasonable for anyone. Race really doesn't come into it.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 05:53:48 PM PDT

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              •  He either tried to or did grab you. (0+ / 0-)

                That is the difference.  He did some act that put you in reasonable fear.  That act is necessary to make the fear reasonable.  And you knew that.  You didn't mace him when he crossed the street, or followed you into the neighborhood, or even made the crude remark.  You did when he grabbed you or attempted to.  

                •  We don't know if Zimmerman (0+ / 0-)

                  tried to grab Trayvon. If Trayvon tried to run when Zimmerman confronted him, I would wager it was likely that he did.

                  "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                  by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:16:45 AM PDT

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          •  Replied to you in "probably not" below (1+ / 0-)
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            Black Holes Suck.

            by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:08:42 PM PDT

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        •  It's open season if (5+ / 0-)

          the defendant is willing to lie and there are no witnesses.

          Florida's laws regarding the affirmative defense of self-defense favor the defendant so thoroughly that he doesn't even have to testify as to his state of mind. Cripes, Zimmerman didn't even need to use the stand your ground doctrine.

          He just has to be sure nobody saw him do it.

          It's a really crappy law, a combination of NRA lobbying, a huge population of frightened senior citizens (sometimes justifiably, mostly not), and the South's particular flavor of racism and love of guns. (Not bashing the South here - we have our own in the North, but Florida's law would get pushback here).

          •  actually, its the majority state rule. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, VClib, brooklyn137

            its also the federal rule.  so it may be bad policy, but its not some isolated, weird rule.

            •  I know that, but (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indianobserver, wishingwell

              beyond reasonable doubt? How many states that put the burden on the prosecution use this standard?

              In one sense I can see that BRD should cut both ways - whether it's murder or self-defense, prison time is the outcome.

              On the other hand, if you felt entitled to defend yourself, you ought to hop up on the stand and explain your state of mind and undergo cross-examination.

              Put another way: the prosecution can obtain a criminal conviction for murder based on circumstantial evidence in the absence of eyewitnesses if the evidence is good enough. But defeating a self-defense claim with only circumstantial evidence would be virtually impossible, because circumstantial evidence is never sufficient to show the defendant's state of mind. Only eyewitnesses or the defendant's own testimony can show the jury who was the aggressor beyond reasonable doubt - unless the prosecution in the Martin case has some awesome DNA evidence they're sitting on.

              I know we're talking about what the law is here, not what it should be. But it still fucks with me.

              Of course, in my eight years of practice, I have seen many things that fuck with me.

        •  Zimmerman, admitted chasing after TM. (1+ / 0-)
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          Being chased is a threat. TM had every right to defend himself from a threat.

          Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

          by FrankRose on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:07:57 PM PDT

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      •  if martin was the first to make physical contact (0+ / 0-)

        then its on him.

    •  It's reasonable in diarist's scenario (4+ / 0-)

      By the time two people are on the ground wrestling each other for a gun, they both have a reasonable fear for their lives.

      Just thinking of it like a computer programmer would, the only sane way to draft a SYG law is to impose a duty of retreat on the person who starts a confrontation or resumes it after it's over. Otherwise you get situations of two people shooting each other legally.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:45:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and that's exactly what people should (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        focus on in the wake of zimmermans acquittal.  should the law be changed so that either (a) the person claiming self-defense bears the burden of proof, or (b) a person that provokes a fight can't justifiably use force (deadly or otherwise) to defend herself.

        so far, discussion of the case has been long on frothing emotion but distinctly short of public policy analysis.

    •  speaking of whacked, have you read (0+ / 0-)

      this on stand your ground in florida.

      they are killing anyone they want and getting away with it:

      During an argument at a 2009 party in Fort Myers, Omar Bonilla fired his gun into the ground and beat Demarro Battle, then went inside and gave the gun to a friend. If Battle feared for his life, he had time to flee. Instead, he got a gun from his car and returned to shoot Bonilla three times, including once in the back. Battle was not charged in the slaying.

      In Winter Springs, Owen Eugene Whitlock came home on Christmas Eve 2009 to find his daughter's boyfriend, Jose Ramirez, angrily stalking up his driveway, flexing his muscles and swinging his fists. Whitlock stood his ground and fired a fatal shot. He was not charged.

      • In West Palm Beach, Christopher Cote started pounding on the door of neighbor Jose Tapanes at 4 a.m. after an argument over Cote's dog. Tapanes stepped outside and fired his shotgun twice, killing Cote. A jury acquitted him, but prosecutors and a judge had discounted Tapanes' self-defense claim, saying if he was truly afraid for his life, he should not have stepped outside.

      Rhonda Eubanks was not arrested or charged when she opened her front door one evening in 2006 and fatally shot a man who had been causing a ruckus in her Escambia County neighborhood. He had tried to get into her house, then left and tried to take her neighbors' cars. When he returned, Eubanks stood near her doorway and fired as he approached.

      • An 18-year-old felon, convicted of cocaine and weapons charges, shot and wounded a neighbor in the stomach, then fled the scene and was involved in another nonfatal shootout two days later, according to police. He was granted immunity in the first shooting.

      • Two men fell into the water while fighting on a dock. When one started climbing out of the water, the other shot him in the back of the head, killing him. He was acquitted after arguing "stand your ground."

      • A Seventh-day Adventist was acting erratically, doing cartwheels through an apartment complex parking lot, pounding on cars and apartment windows and setting off alarms. A tenant who felt threatened by the man's behavior shot and killed him. He was not charged

      Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with a-holes - William Gibson. (-9.75 / -9.05)

      by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:53:14 PM PDT

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