"In order to change the jury instruction, the Florida Supreme Court or the legislature has to approve the change," said David Weinstein, a former state prosecutor now in private practice in Miami. "It's hard to see that happening in the current political climate," he said.O'Mara's proposal actually might be a slight improvement in this law that encourages people to shoot first and claim they feared for their life afterward. However, outright repeal of the worst "stand your ground" laws—Florida's and several of its American Legislative Exchange Council-backed imitators—would make for the better outcome, as in fewer dead black teenagers.
The statute gives people added legal protection in cases when they have used deadly force in a confrontation. "Stand your ground" says a person has no "duty to retreat" in a confrontation as long as she or he was behaving legally. It allows a defendant to obtain a pre-trial immunity hearing, a sort of mini-trial before a judge who can decide whether a full-blown jury trial is called for. If the judge decides that "stand your ground" applies, that's the end. Case dismissed. Some of the consequences include people getting off without penalty even when they have shot someone in the back, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In the case of Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin and Michael Dunn's killing of Jordan Davis, no "stand your ground" hearing was sought, so the law was not technically part of either trial. But judges in both cases gave the jurors "stand your ground" instructions. In the Zimmerman case, jurors said that influenced their decision to acquit. Dunn's jury was hung over the most serious charge of first-degree murder. Jurors in that case were also influenced by the "stand your ground" law, legal experts said.
O'Mara wants to change that situation:
"Only include it in those cases where the 'stand your ground, no duty to retreat' issue is relevant," O'Mara told Reuters on Wednesday. [...]"Inappropriate" is the label that should be applied to the entirety of Florida's poorly written, loosely interpreted "stand your ground" law and those like it across the country. Legitimate self-defense claims don't need this addendum.
O'Mara said his proposal was "a nice polishing of the jury instructions that will address people's concerns that juries are getting confused about stand your ground when it's not appropriate."