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Though he hasn't been arrested or charged (yet) George Zimmerman's lawyer is preparing for trial. He had previously stated that Florida's Stand Your Ground law is not applicable to the fatal encounter between his client and murdered teen Trayvon Martin. Now that he has spent some time reviewing the case, he believes Zimmerman acted in self-defense and intends to use Stand Your Ground to defend Zimmerman in the trial he expects to take place.

Numerous people, among them (noted legal expert) Ann Coulter, and former Michigan Governor Jennfier Granholm, and Zimmerman's lawyer himself,  have stated that Stand Your Ground does not apply in this case. Coulter called it 'not relevant' and Granholm considers Zimmerman the pursuer based on what has been reported in the media. Zimmerman's lawyer originally thought the law only applied to self-defense in your own house.

SANFORD, Florida (CNN) – A lawyer for the man at the center of the Trayvon Martin death investigation said Florida’s “stand your ground” law doesn’t apply to the shooting that killed the unarmed teen.

“In my legal opinion, that’s not really applicable to this case. The statute on ‘stand your ground’ is primarily when you’re in your house,” said Craig Sonner, attorney for George Zimmerman.

“This is self-defense, and that’s been around for forever — that you have a right to defend yourself. So the next issue (that) is going to come up is, was he justified in using the amount of force he did?”


Now that he has had some time to review the case, Sonner seems to believe that Stand Your Ground does applybecause Zimmerman was acting in self defense and plans to use that in the trial he is preparing for.  

(The interview is with Michel Martin on NPR program Tell Me more, no relation to the Martin family AFAIK).

SONNER: Well, the one thing I will say - and this is more than I've said before - is that's not the whole 911 tape. But when the rest of the evidence comes out and the whole story is known, it will show what happened that night and not be left to speculation as to what happened. I think the rest of the investigation done by law enforcement will show that George Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.

MARTIN: Earlier, though, it's been reported that you said you don't believe that the Stand Your Ground law - which is specific to Florida, although a number of other states have similar laws on the books - is not relevant to this case. I just want to clarify: Is that, in fact, your view, that you don't think it's relevant here?

SONNER: No. The Stand Your Ground law will be relevant in this case, and I think it will be applicable in this case. I think at one point, on a first review, I had made a misstatement. But upon further review as this goes on, I see that clearly, that it's my opinion that the Stand Your Ground law will come into play in this case.

MARTIN: Because?

SONNER: It shows that - I think the evidence will show that George Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, and the statute will be applicable.

MARTIN: Even if he was pursuing the individual, even if he initiated the confrontation?

SONNER: Again, this will be a fact-specific case, and once the facts come out and not the speculation and not that has been put out in the media, once the facts are brought out by law enforcement, everyone will see what happened. And the evidence - there will be a complete picture of what happened that night, and I believe it'll show that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

MARTIN: Can you tell us what lead to your initial belief and why your feelings changed, or your view of the matter changed?

SONNER: My review of the - if you're referring to the statute...

MARTIN: Yes.

SONNER: My review of the statute, upon first blush, I was thinking more along the lines of the Castle Doctrine. And there was some question as to whether or not that the Castle Doctrine, when he was not in his home - I was thinking along that line. But I was always convinced it was self-defense. And on reviewing - I believe it's paragraph three of the statute, that will directly be relevant in this case.

Sounds like Sonner needs to have a talk with Ann Coulter.

LIsten to the whole interview here.

.    

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good. That will set in motion its repeal. (10+ / 0-)

    The "Zimmerman Law" and its license to kill innocents will be closely scrutinized and hopefully weakened or repealed.

  •  Is Somer even a member of the Florida bar? (5+ / 0-)

    What kind of lawyer, after the case has been discussed for weeks, especially how the Stand Your Ground law applied to it, didn't understand what the law allowed you to do.

    Somer is a freakin moran (sic). What kind of criminal defense lawyer would be so ignorant?

  •  This makes sense if you read the actual law. (9+ / 0-)

    Here's the reason for the confusion.  Florida has one statute that has several different concepts in it, including the "Stand Your Ground" concept, AND the traditional self defense concept. There is no stand-alone "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida; the "Stand Your Ground concept is one part of a larger law called "justifiable use of force.  Paragraph 3 of that Statute contains traditional self-defense principles. Here's the statute, an I've bolded, the stand your ground principle:  

    2011 Florida Statutes CHAPTER 776 JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE[20]
    776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. 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; or
    (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

    776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—
    (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
    (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
    (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
    (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
    (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
    (b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
    (c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
    (d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    (4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
    (5) As used in this section, the term:
    (a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
    (b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
    (c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.
    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—
    (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
    (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).
    776.041 Use of force by aggressor. —The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
    (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
    Here's the deal:
    The first sentence of that statute is traditional self defense.  

    The second sentence of that statute is the "stand your ground" principle.  (I suspect that when Florida supposedly passed a "stand your ground" law, they added this sentence to an already-existing statute that had traditional self-defense.)

    So, whether Z relies on traditional self defense principles OR "stand your ground" principles, he would rely on the SAME LAW, just different parts of it.  It seems to me what this lawyer is saying is that he's going to rely on the traditional self defense part of what people somewhat inaccurately refer to as the "stand your ground law."

    The legal pundits are still correct that he's not relying on the part of the law that says you have "no duty to retreat," which is the stand your ground part.  According to the attorney, he'll be relying on the traditional self-defense part.

    •  No, SYG doesn't apply in this case (9+ / 0-)

      Zimmerman pursued Trayvon and there was no threat of great bodily harm or imminent death. There was NOTHING in Trayvon's behavior that suggested he was about to cause anyone severe bodily harm or death, or was intending to commit a crime (unless you consider "walking while Black" as a threat or a sign of ciminal intent). Trayvon didn't have a gun or a knife or any explosive.  He was not seen trying to forcibly enter someone's home or car. He was not seen attacking anyone.  He was simply walking home. That is NOT grounds for justified suspicion.

      Furthermore, Zimmerman was explicitly advised to NOT to follow the youth and at the time he was advised of this, he was in the process of pursuing him and was still a distance away from him where Trayvon couldn't possibly have caused him any bodily harm, death or injury.

      To insist that the Stand Your Ground law is applicable in this case is to suggest that all Black people deserve to be killed at the whims of the individual who deems that they are "threatening."

      •  Did you even read the law????? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        I said EXACTLY that -- that the Stand your Ground portion of that statute does not apply, but that it appears Z will rely on the traditional self defense portion of that statute.  

        Please, read what I wrote before you respond to it.

        •  Nope, not what he's saying (5+ / 0-)

          he said he thought first it was self defense, now it's syg

          No. The Stand Your Ground law will be relevant in this case, and I think it will be applicable in this case. I think at one point, on a first review, I had made a misstatement. But upon further review as this goes on, I see that clearly, that it's my opinion that the Stand Your Ground law will come into play in this case.

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:27:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course his defense will assert SYG (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Iberian, SquirrelWhisperer

            The jury is the finder of fact. The defense will take all positions possible in case the jury finds a fact pattern that fits one of the possible defenses. The goal of defense counsel is to create reasonable doubt. Zimmerman may never take the witness stand. I do think it is unclear if SYG applies to this case because none of us knows the facts and won't until the trial when we can see all the evidence presented, and challenged, in court.

            If it does go to trial I think Zimmerman will raise a large defense fund and you will see a very high priced defense lawyer at trial and the local counsel will fade away. There are deep pockets who will be able to confidentially fund the defense. There are no disclosure requirements for defense funds.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 07:15:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Self-defense doesn't apply either (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          semiot, doroma, lgcap, eXtina

          Unless you consider "walking while Black" to require the "self-defense" act of pursuing that person with an intent to kill them.

          It goes back to my original point: Any invocation of ANY part of this statute suggests that it's okay to "defend" yourself by any means necessary from a person who happens to be in Black skin, regardless of what that person is actually doing.

        •  Zimmerman was the aggressor. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          doroma, celdd, myboo, sukeyna, True North

          Zimmerman's behavior put Martin in reasonable fear of imminent harm, Martin even tried retreat to avoid the threat. It was Zimmerman's hunt caused Martin to eventually stop and confront Zimmerman, in other words, stand his ground. Then Zimmerman becomes fearful and kills Martin, and claims self defense, all the while he was the predator.

          Zimmerman's is like the kid who kills his parents then begs for mercy because he is an orphan. It was manslaughter, or worse, not self defense.

        •  You would also benefit by reading the law (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina, True North

          776.041 Use of force by aggressor.The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
          (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
          (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
          (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;

          •  We don't know who provoked what (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, eXtina

            Based on Martin's girlfriend's recollection of the phone call, it was Martin who spoke first.

            •  So, a stranger can follow me at night while I am (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              myboo, eXtina

              walking home and if I ask why is he following me I will be the provoker and thus lose my rights?  

              Good to know.

              •  Under Florida law, maybe. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, eXtina

                It's going to be a factual question based on the particular circumstances in each case -- but even if you are the provocateur you still get to defend yourself if the force against you is "so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant."

              •  Following someone at night is certainly menacing, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina, True North

                particularly where there is a chase and there is no other possible explanation for the stranger's behavior. You would not be the one who provoked the confrontation, the stranger would be. Under Florida law, Martin did more than required, he first attempted to flee, Martin then stood his ground. Zimmerman caused the confrontation, so he can't use SYG as a defense.

            •  We also know Zimmerman was chasing Martin, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eXtina

              from the 911 call. Who wouldn't feel threatened with some nut pursuing them at night? If Martin threw the first punch, after attempting to get away from Zimmerman he was justified, it was simple self defense maybe even without SYG. The way the law reads to me, Zimmerman then had a duty to retreat since he provoked the possible reaction from Martin. If Martin pursued Zimmerman after a theoretical Zimmerman retreat, the clock would potentially be reset, but based on the published timelines, there is no way that could have happened, just not enough time.

              •  It's the "and" that changes everything (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina

                .

                Still, (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

                (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

                There haven't been reports that Zimmerman exhausted every reasonable means of retreat. Even if Zimmerman's own current account is accurate, he was required to attempt escape when the confrontation began. If Zimmerman jumped Martin, it becomes even more clear that Zimmerman has no SYG defense.

                •  And if Martin decked and jumped atop Zimmerman? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib, eXtina

                  Because that's what Z's allies are claiming.

                  •  Martain had every right to deck Zimmerman under (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sukeyna, rubyr, eXtina

                    SYG.

                    Every reasonable person would believe they are in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm if they are followed, then chased by a buff gun toting stalker in the middle of the night. It turns out that Martin was even correct in that belief, his life was in grave danger at the hand of man hunting him.  Martin even tried to retreat, although he had no duty to do so. If he hadn't seen the gun already, at the moment of the confrontation he did, at least according to Zimmerman's spokespeople. The sight of the gun proved to Martin his life was in danger, so again, he had every right to continue the attack to his stalker's death if that's what it took to protect himself.

                    Some facts are not in dispute. Zimmerman told the 911 operator that Martin was trying to avoid him (the no longer required retreat). Zimmerman was breathless as he continued the as the aggressor in pursuit of his prey. Zimmerman can't then claim his the threat of imminent harm caused him to kill Martin when it was Zimmerman who forced Martin into a position of self defense.

                    At one point in the chase Zimmerman tells the 911 operator that Martin was approaching him, and that Martin had something under his shirt. Then Martin supposedly took off again, and Zimmerman continued to follow, that's when the 911 operator told Zimmerman he didn't need to do that.

                    So Zimmerman attempted to create a record that he believed Martin was armed when Martin was supposedly walking toward Zimmerman's car. I think Zimmerman planned to shoot Martin at that moment and claim SYG, but Martin bolted. To believe Zimmerman's story one must also believe that Zimmerman then took off in pursuit of a threatening armed man. Quite the hero, huh?

                    An interesting aside, the only comment made by Zimmerman in the released police reports is that Zimmerman told the cops that he was screaming for help but no one came. Since we now know that it was Martin who was screaming, it's clear that Zimmerman was trying to create proof that he was attacked. If you're on the jury, what does that lie tell you?

                    •  It's interesting (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      eXtina

                      From what we know so far, Martin didn't know Zimmerman had a gun until late.  He didn't say anything on the phone, which is the last info we have.

                      •  Maybe, Zimmerman will never tell. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        eXtina

                        Martin did know that a strange man in an unmarked car was stalking him. That man likely wasn't a cop since he didn't identify himself when he had the opportunity.

                        Keep in mind, it's Zimmerman's defenders who claim Martin saw the gun and attempted to grab it. Martin definitely felt imminent danger at that moment, which means even if Zimmerman's story is true (very unlikely) Martin was within his rights to continue to defend himself the only way he could. Clearly Zimmerman never lost control of the weapon to Martin. It's interesting that Zimmerman's brother claims was beaten to within an inch of his life by Martin, but Martin still wasn't able to grab the gun.

                        •  I haven't seen the "attempted to grab" story. NT (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          eXtina, VClib
                          •  The interview has some real jems in it (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            eXtina
                            ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, taking, from what you said, when you said chasing after and getting into an altercation, there's a lot of ways that people get into altercations. You know, I believe that if you wanted to reach over this table and assault me badly enough, you could be armed with chopstick and a toothpick and still put me in fear of my -- reasonable fear of my life. He didn't get into an altercation. People don't just get into altercations. There are aggressors.
                            .....
                            ZIMMERMAN: What has come out that I can talk about today is that Trayvon Martin somehow snuck up on him, and according to Mr. Crump, their own attorney, he was on -- we don't know if this is verifiable information, but he was on the phone with his girlfriend. I don't know if that's a police source, but I know his attorney at least holds up the girlfriend as a source and says Trayvon told him, no, I'm not running. I'm going to walk real slow.

                            And Trayvon went up to George and said the first thing to George. And there's some discussion about, did he say, do you have a problem, do you have a problem, are you following me? Why are you following me --

                            MORGAN: What did George tell you he say?

                            ZIMMERMAN: One of those things. You know, do you have a problem with me following me? Why are you following me, something like that. My brother drew back to grab his phone, in retreat to call again 911 and say, well, now this person who I lost sight of and was not pursuing has now confronted me. That's what he did. He never got to make that call, because he was attacked by Mr. Martin.

                            MORGAN: But he did pull out a gun and shoot him, right?

                            ZIMMERMAN: Well, he stopped someone from disarming him and shooting him. He didn't pull out a gun and shoot him. George showed tremendous restraint --

                            ZIMMERMAN: My father also is on record yesterday night saying that. And again, what Trayvon said was, either to the effect of, I believe, this is going to be easy, you die tonight or you have a piece, you die tonight. And then attempted to disarm him. So when you say, "have a bag of Skittles and an iced tea," nobody just stood there with a bag of Skittles and iced tea. You return force with force when somebody assaults you.

                            George was out of breath, he was barely conscious, his last thing he remembers doing was moving his head from the concrete to the grass, so that if he was banged one more time he wouldn't be -- you know, wearing diapers for the rest of his life and being spoon fed by his brother, and there would have been George dead had he not acted decisively and instantaneously in that moment when he was being disarmed by --

                            http://transcripts.cnn.com/...

                  •  Then, would Martin have not been standing (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eXtina

                    his ground? The way you frame it, it seems as if nothing Trayvon did would have been legal except to keep going and get shot in the back. It also seems as if you feel that no matter what Zimmerman did, he was within the law. I don't understand your position here.  

                    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

                    by rubyr on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 01:47:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  LOL, reversing your stance? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma, second gen

      Just like Zimmerman's lawyer?

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:12:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's ridiculous. Did you even read what I wrote? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, jrooth

        It's the exact same thing I always said -- Stand Your Ground concepts do not apply.

        Let me put it simply.  Sentence 1 = Self defense.  Sentence 2 = Stand Your Ground.  

        Traditional self defense -- sentence one -- DOES apply (if you believe the version floated by the supporters of Zimmerman).

        Stand Your Ground -- sentence two -- DOES NOT apply no matter WHOSE version you belief.  Ann Coulter and others are right about that -- the idea of "no duty to retreat" -- the "Stand Your Ground" part -- does not apply.

         That's what I always said.  The legal principle referred to as "Stand Your Ground" does not apply.  And that's what the lawyer said.  

        The two concepts are very different.  The two concepts are in the same statute, in different sentences. Traditional self-defense -- sentence one -- applies (if you believe Z's supporters).  Stand your Ground -- sentence 2 -- does not apply no matter whose version you believe.

        Do you understand now?

        •  well, that's not what Zimmermans' lawyer is saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          second gen

          Just sayin'

          No. The Stand Your Ground law will be relevant in this case, and I think it will be applicable in this case. I think at one point, on a first review, I had made a misstatement. But upon further review as this goes on, I see that clearly, that it's my opinion that the Stand Your Ground law will come into play in this case.

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:39:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How many times does this have to be explained (0+ / 0-)

            to you? The "Stand Your Ground law" includes both the traditional principle of self-defense and the new no-retreat provision. When they adopted Stand Your Ground they either restated traditional principles as well, or added Stand Your Ground to the old statute. In either event, you have one statute, now referred to as the "Stand Your Ground law" that includes both the traditional notion of self-defense and the new no-retreat provision.

            Zimmerman's initial defense lawyer is clearly an idiot, so what he says has no bearing on anything. He has a good lawyer now, and I'd put money that he won't be making any such idiotic statements.

            •  It does not have to be explained to me but (0+ / 0-)

              to the 'idiot lawyer' as you call him. This diary is about what Craig Sonner is saying and doing. Not my opinion of whether SYG applies or does not apply. First he said it didn't, now he thinks it does, at the time of the interview yesterday 2pm there was no other lawyer on board

              "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

              by eXtina on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 03:53:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  What SYG did (14+ / 0-)

      First, it removed the traditionally accepted " duty to retreat" which has been part of self-defense laws forever: if one had the capacity to retreat from the use of force "to the nearest wall", then one had to do so.  If someone had that capacity, but chose to use force instead, then they could not avail themselves of the defense.  (The Castle doctrine set forth that there was no duty to retreat in one's own home as an exception to the duty to retreat)

      Second, and perhaps far more importantly, it shifted the burden of proof: while self-defense is what is called an affirmative defense - one which has to be proven by the defendant - SYG puts the burden on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting within the parameters of the law.

      A huge difference when the issue is presented at trial and a burden which is very difficult for a prosecutor to meet.

      I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

      by Wayward Wind on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:23:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks. Heart of the matter n/t (5+ / 0-)

        "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:28:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Duty to retreat was traditionally accepted (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, eXtina

        in that it was the law of 17th century England, but in America it has been phased out over the course of the 20th century (for example, the duty to retreat was eliminated by SCOTUS in an opinion by OW Holmes in the '20s.)

        •  You need to read a bit deeper (0+ / 0-)

          than Robert Maxwell Brown's book.

          The Brown vs US decision by Holmes applies only to federal law, and has not to my knowledge been extended to the states.  

          Since the overwhelming majority of situations where self-defense would be raised arise under state laws, that is where the impact of SYG statutes will have the greatest impact.  33 states currently have some version of SYG in their statutes - some of them well thought out, some not so much.

          Bottom line for me is if you can, without any danger to yourself or others, avoid the use of deadly physical force, why would you want to ignore that option and choose to maim or kill another human being?  

          If there is no reasonable avenue of retreat, then so be it - use whatever force is necessary to protect yourself and those around you.  But if you can eliminate the need for force by removing yourself from the equation, then why not do so?

          I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

          by Wayward Wind on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 05:47:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  not acting within the parameters of the law. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        myboo, sukeyna, eXtina

        simple.  He pursued Trayvon.

        HE was the scary, armed stalker.  Trayvon is the one who was allowed to defend himself.  But he couldn't against a gun.


        may we not be strangers in the lush province of joy - Charles Wright

        by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:23:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's (3) that's crucial (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, eXtina
      A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
      •  There is a limited duty to retreat, even in SYG (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        The question will become whether provocation must include force, since the other witness is dead. Is there a definitions section of this law?

        Either way, because Martin was simply standing his ground he could not have been the aggressor, under SYG  Martin had every lawful right to confront the man stalking him at night. If Martin wasn't the aggressor, who was? The creeper with a gun hunting him might be a good choice.

        If Zimmerman isn't culpable, then people in Florida have the right to stalk and chase strangers and when the prusued stops to defend himsel stalker has every right to kill his prey? That's too fucked up, even by Florida standards. If Zimmerman's story was the same but the victim was a beautiful white woman, would he still have been justified in killing her if she stood her ground?

        776.041 Use of force by aggressor. —The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
        (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
        (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
        (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

    •  Exactly right, thanks for clarifying (0+ / 0-)
  •  Shoot Now Ask Question Later aka Stand Your Ground (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, Iberian, myboo

    Has always applied in this case.  It's the Republicans who do not want to take the blame who say it doesn't

  •  Every single conservative on the Fox and (6+ / 0-)

    elsewhere who has been saying that the law doesn't apply in this case, will flip faster than Mitt Romney confronted with a poll and then say it does and that's why Zimmerman will be exonerated.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 06:21:25 AM PDT

  •  The Retreat at Twin Lakes is a racially mixed (12+ / 0-)

    gated community. Zimmerman and his wife rented a townhouse there.  Logic dictates that if the Zimmermans were renters, so were others, therefore, for all Zimmerman knew, Trayvon's family could have just moved into the neighborhood or as was the case, visiting someone who lived there too.

    Trayvon had every right to be in that community.  

    Zimmerman had no reason to be suspicious of Trayvon other than his own preconceptions of "suspicious" behavior.  And then he followed the unarmed just 17 year old and shot him.

    Zimmerman needs be arrested now.

  •  Off course he does (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, VClib

    It would be rather stupid not to do so. With the SYG law in hand now the prosecutor has to prove that Zimmerman did not feel threaten. That is going to be impossible.

    A judge in FL let a guy go that persecuted someone that had taken the radio from his car. the thief was not armed, had a bag full of radios that he allegedly swing against the SYG guy who was coming after him knife in hand. The judge said he had the right to try to get his property back and persecute the other guy, then the SYG law allowed him to stab to dead the thief because allegedly he swing at him with a potentially harm producing bag of car radios.

    Zimmerman needs to get any competent lawyer and he would walk away thanks to this law.

    •  Prove that his perceived threat was not reasonable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma, eXtina

      Suspicious youth, 17, wearing a hood, possibly on drugs is not a threat that justifies deadly force. Nor is the possibility that Trayvon was casing the neighborhood or in the process of committing a B & E.

      And the case you mentioned, the guy was sitting in his car. He wasn't actively pursuing someone, especially after the 911 operator told him he didn't need to do that, and GZ said Okay, implying that he would obey that request, but all that he was doing was appeasing the operator.

      •  By itself, no. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, Iberian, eXtina

        But, pursuing suspicious youth, suspicious youth decks you and is bashing your head into the sidewalk (as alleged) ... comes closer to such a threat.

        •  GZ's fake "Justified" defense after the fact (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eXtina

          About a month after the shooting, Robert Zimmerman was going on TV interviews with sensational claims that literally were taken from a cheesy FX cop drama, Justified. Jonathan Capehart exposed this scam, noting the show aired more than THREE FULL WEEKS after the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

          Here's Capehart:

          What Zimmerman said piqued the interest of my Facebook friend Money Train with Funk Gumbo Radio.

          Now when I heard what George Zimmerman allegedly told his father Trayvon said to him it made think about where have I heard something similar....And then it hit me that last week’s episode of FX Network’s show “Justified” called “Guy Walks Into a Bar” had almost the same type of language between bad guy Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) and marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). Quarles says, “I’m going to kill you Raylan. Maybe not tonight. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday you’ll be walking down the street and I am gonna put a bullet right in the back of your skull and you’re gonna drop.”

          “And the reason why George Zimmerman could not have told the Sanford Police the Quarles quote after his shooting of Treyvon is because this episode of ‘Justified’ had not aired yet,” Money Train wrote. “And ‘Justified’ is an action packed ‘shoot first’ vigilante law drama that I could easily see George Zimmerman watching regularly.”

          Coincidence?

      •  SYG law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, eXtina

        Leaves to the discretion of the person "being attacked"  or feeling menaced the use of deadly force. All he has to say is: He attacked me and I felt I was in peril. I thought he was armed. I thought he was going to blast my head against the concrete. That's enough with the new law.

        In the case I'm citing the guy was not sitting in his car (how you get your radio stolen if you are inside the car?). He was actively pursuing the guy who stole his car radio. The conversation with the 911 operator is irrelevant, they do not have any authority and they can't command you to do shit. There is no law that says you have to do what a 911 operator suggests you to do

    •  Very Different scenario (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgcap, eXtina, rubyr

      In the example you cited, a thief (criminal) swinging bag full of radios is justifiably threatening. The thief had already committed an unlawful activity by breaking into the person's car and stealing their radio, and it would be perfectly justifiable to be concerned about what else that thief was capable of doing.

      Trayvon's case is very different. He committed no crime. He was simply walking home with iced tea and skittles. He was not disturbing the peace; he was not littering the place, he was not trying to break into someone else's property. A non-criminal just walking home does not in any way shape or form justify ANY aspect of the SYG law.

      So far, none of the Zimmerman camp accounts of Trayvon's behavior have been borne out by the evidence.

      Anyone can say "I felt threatened" and therefore I shot and killed so and so. The guy who shot Gabby Giffords could say "I felt threatened" therefore I shot her. The juries will then examine the facts/evidence of the case and say do the facts of this case suggest that there were justifiable grounds for this person to feel threatened? If the answer is no, then that person's defense is deemed not credible. I believe that's going to be the case for Zimmerman.

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        Allegedly committing a previous crime does not qualify you for instant dead sentence executed by the guy you committed the crime against.

        A bag full of radios is as harmful for the purposes of self defense as a head against the pavement.

        The curious thing about that case is that the conditions were even worse for the guy asking for SYG than they are for Zimmerman. He run after a guy and killed him because he stole his radio. He walked free.

        Zimmerman will say I felt under attack, threaten and in peril. I used my legally owned gun, with my legal conceal carry, to defend my self.

        •  Still very different (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgcap, eXtina

          Trayvon was NOT known or suspected to have committed a crime as was the radio thief in this case.

          1. The shooter's car was vandalized - that can be shown.
          2. The shooter's radio was taken from the car - that can be shown.
          3. The thief had a bag filled with radios (which he probably couldn't identify as his. Most likely he accumulated all those radios after a series of burglaries that he got away with.

          4. I don't know all the details of the case, but jurors weigh in a whole host of evidence such as the thief's criminal history of robbery, assault, carrying weapons, etc. Even if he did not carry a weapon at that specific time. All those things matter.

          You still haven't explained how Trayvon (who has absolutely no criminal record, and was not perceived to be engaging in any unlawful activity at the time or previously) could be conceivably threatening to Zimmerman. Unless you consider being black an automatic threat to one's life.

          •  The crime (0+ / 0-)

            is irrelevant for the self defense or SYG argument. Really. And without proof the crime is only suspected or alleged.

            Zimmerman says that Trayvon was attacking him and bashing his head. Not that I believe it or that to me that justifies shooting someone, but for the SYG law that's enough

  •  Z's lawyer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma, eXtina

    has reviewed the facts and realizes that his client is guilty as hell and doesn't have a leg to stand on, so he's doing the only thing he can.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 07:15:11 AM PDT

  •  IANAL, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    the standard for a conviction is reasonable doubt. Apparently, Zimmerman was allowed to leave with the clothing he was wearing at the time. The absence of blood on the clothing, or any damage to the clothing from a struggle would have been evidence against Zimmerman. Now that evidence no longer exists.
       Zimmerman does not have to prove that he was engaged in a life or death struggle with Martin, or that he fired the gun while Martin was on top of him beating him up. The prosecution has to prove that this was not the case.
       The story that Martin attacked Zimmerman after Zimmerman had turned and was walking away would allow Zimmerman to plead self defense. If the prosecution is unable to present evidence that Martin did not attack Zimmerman, Zimmerman walks.

  •  Mr. Etch-A-Sketch Sonner??? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    If anyone could have invoked the Stand your Ground law in this case it would have been Trayvon who was stalked and murdered by an obsessed hater.

  •  This was a hate crime, pure & simple (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina
  •  One of the Few Things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, eXtina

    About this case that makes me smile is that Zimmerman has such a high quality lawyer as Craig Sonner.  The more that man opens his mouth, the more hopeful I become that justice might actually be served IF (and it's been way too long for it to still be "if" in my opinion) Zimmerman is ever arrested and tried for killing Trayvon Martin.

    The man is a textbook example of lawyering - but not in the way I suspect he wants to be.

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:06:20 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, I'm not impressed with this guy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      And that's putting it very mildly.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:26:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know it might be a little below your "paygrade" (0+ / 0-)

    (analyzing of lofty principles of law before the SCOTUS, etc.) but you might do the level of discourse at DKos a big favor by posting a diary on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.

  •  Makes more sense (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, eXtina

    when you use the Stand Your Ground law AGAINST Zimmerman.

    1. Man sitting in an unmarked SUV
    2. Armed
    3. Starts following you, at night, in the rain, against orders of the police.
    4. When you ask why he's doing that, he smacks the phone off of you, takes you to the ground and then after listening to you scream for help for 15 or 20 seconds, shoots you dead.
    Dude's going to prison.  And there is a specific population in that prison that won't warm up to him easily.


    may we not be strangers in the lush province of joy - Charles Wright

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:13:46 AM PDT

  •  I'm kind of confused ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    If (as Zimmerman's story goes) Trayvon Martin jumped him and was on top of him beating the snot out of him, then he has no ability to safely retreat.  So what part could SYG play?  Is Zimmerman now abandoning that version of events?

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:25:26 AM PDT

    •  with no ability to retreat, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, eXtina

      it becomes more acceptable, not less, for Zimmerman to shoot him.


      may we not be strangers in the lush province of joy - Charles Wright

      by AlyoshaKaramazov on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:27:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, but my point is Zimmerman's story (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina

        describes a situation with no ability to safely retreat.  So why is his lawyer saying SYG will play a role?  SYG is about not having to retreat - how does that come into play in the defense if your story is you had no ability to retreat?

        “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

        by jrooth on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 08:41:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Z's lawyer has his work cut out for him. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    He'll need to prove every aspect of Zimmerman's (highly suspicious, and improbable) story in order to "qualify" for the "shoot first, get out of jail free" law.  In cases where there is a sole surviving witness of a fatal fight, any claim of self defense will be scrutinized carefully, and if ANY falsehoods are in the story, it creates doubt about all the assertions.  

    Zimmerman claims he was "returning to his vehicle" when he was "jumped" by the youth, and felled with a single punch that broke his nose, and then that his head was slammed repeatedly on the sidewalk while he yelled for help, and that Trayvon saw his gun and then made a verbal threat upon his life before either person ever touched the gun.  

    EVERY ASPECT OF THIS STORY IS A LIE, and evidence exists already in the public record to contradict it.  If his lawyers can make a jury believe this tale, then they will deserve a medal for bamboozling.  

    •  willis - nope (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, SquirrelWhisperer, eXtina

      The burden of proof is on the prosecution, the defense counsel doesn't have to prove the detail of anything. All defense counsel needs to do is create reasonable doubt.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 09:22:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Z's father extensively coached his son's story (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eXtina, lgcap

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

        This story tells us that shooter George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, the retired Virginia magistrate was present on the day after the shooting, and possibly also at the police station the night of the death.  No wonder each aspect of the shooter's story has such exculpatory details inserted, despite the fact that so much evidence seems to contradict it.  

        •  willis - that may be true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgcap

          There is nothing wrong with the father discussing the case with his son. However, even though the father is a retired Virgina magistrate I don't think he is a lawyer, and he is clearly not licensed to practice in Florida. That means there is no privilege between the father and son and the prosecutor can bring the father before the Grand Jury and ask him about his conversations with his son.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 11:10:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  so we get to hear two people perjure themselves... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eXtina

            instead of just George.  This may be the undoing of the Zimmermans.  Based on seeing the father on television, and hearing GZ's subordinates they are bad liars.  

            •  I am not sure we will see it (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lgcap

              I think the Special Counsel will take these issues and witnesses to the Grand Jury. They will not put them on the stand at trial without questioning them before the Grand Jury first. There is likely a lot of work being done by Zimmerman's counsel to make sure all of family and friends are singing from the same hymn book, on the same page and the same song.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 12:42:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  willis - I don't think GZ will testify (0+ / 0-)

              This will be a last minute decision at trial, and the defense goes last, but I don't think we will see GZ on the witness stand unless the defense is down to a Hail Mary.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 12:45:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  just like a rapists' trial. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, eXtina

                The victim and his past will be on trial just as much as the accused, and they won't even take the stand.  And like the trial of an accused rapist, we get to hear "how was the victim dressed?" questions as though it matters.  

                Sick, sad world.  IANAL, so thanks for reminding me of all the difficult parts of our justice system.  

                I hope the Feds are doing a good job investigating the police department and the prosecutor's office's combined performance in handling this case, because if there is dirt there it's going to reflect on the Zimmermans, too.  

                I am a cynic, however and I can easily see how it is possible that George Zimmerman might get away with murder/ manslaughter / negligent homicide, call it what you will - ending the life of an unarmed teenager to satisfy his own twisted sense of morality.  

                •  willis - the DoJ isn't investigating the police (0+ / 0-)

                  or States Attorney. Meteor Blades had a diary a few days ago that included an interview with the FBI agent leading the investigation in Sanford. At this time they are looking to see if Zimmerman violated Martin's civil rights.  As the FBI agent noted the elements that must be present to pursue a civil rights violation are very specific and this case may not qualify. The agent also stated that the FBI was not investigating the Sanford PD or the States Attorney's office at this time.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 01:17:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Special prosecutor then... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib

                    That's a shame since the actions of the SPD and the state attorney's office deserves investigation specifically. On the issue of violation of civil rights.  The statement issued in a "FAQ" that the authorities were "prohibited" from charging Zimmerman with a crime reads like something from George Wallace.

                    Trayvon  Martin was stalked hunted and then cornered in a dark alley by an armed vigilante with a habit of profiling blacks and then shot when he tried to defend himself against an aggressor whose lies are plain.  If that isn't a violation of civil rights I don't know what is.  

                    That issue aside I'm also hoping the state appointed special prosecutor will examine the policies and behavior of the authorities who are responsible for this travesty.  

                    Thanks again for helping me see the facts as they currently stand.  It's difficult not to be upset at the course thus is al taking when the deeper truth seems so plain.  Mark Twain famously said when you carry a hammer, the whole world starts to look like a nail.  George Zimmerman carried a loaded pistol and a suspicious mind, and a "kid" (his word) died for no good reason as a result.  

  •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    Of course they will use the "Stand Your Ground". They will use anything that can benefit Zimmerman.

    As a matter fact, a good number of people in Orlando having been saying and supporting the "Stand Your Ground" since the shooting happen.

    Especially Sanford, FL.

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