The New York Times editorial board had critical words on Florida lawmakers plan to expand and strengthen the controversial Stand Your Ground law, so, as the Times puts it, prosecutors are burdened with disproving claims of self-defense.
The Florida Legislature, never one to leave bad enough alone when it comes to gun safety, is returning to the state’s notorious Stand Your Ground law to make it even easier for defendants to use it as a shield for intimidating and shooting people. Senate committees approved legislation this month that would relieve defendants of the need to prove that they were in fear for their lives. Instead, prosecutors would be required to disprove the self-defense claim in a pretrial evidentiary hearing.
This, of course, would stand reason on its head. It would grant standing to the self-defense contentions of shooters and gun brandishers now burdening the state’s court system with controversial cases in which even seasoned criminals and gang members have resorted to dubious Stand Your Ground defenses. Under the proposed law, prosecutors would be obligated to prove to a judge that the self-defense claim was without merit before a case could proceed to a full trial.
The new bill, which will come before the full Legislature in January, is the gun lobby’s response to a State Supreme Court ruling last July that defendants do, indeed, have the burden of proving they had a reasonable belief of imminent danger in order to legitimately stand their ground with deadly force. The 5-to-2 ruling found that such an obligation on the part of the defendant was clearly intended by the original law. Never mind, comes the Senate committees’ riposte, let’s write a new law presuming the gun wielder is right to begin with.
Read the full article here.