Guns Politics State & National News

Florida House Democratic Caucus calls for special session on Stand Your Ground

August 2, 2013

The Honorable Ken Detzner
Florida Secretary of State
Florida Department of State
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250
Dear Secretary Detzner:

I write to request a special session of the Florida Legislature be held at the earliest convenience under the provisions of the Article III, Section 3(c)(2) of the Florida Constitution and Section 11.011(2) of the Florida Statutes.

The Legislature of the State of Florida should be convened for the purpose of reviewing and revising Florida laws and policies regarding justifiable use of force, including but not limited to the provisions known as “Stand Your Ground.” The law, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2005, substantially amended sections of Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes.

I make this request for a special session based on my belief that there is demonstrable confusion within and among police departments, prosecuting offices and the courts about the application of the law. As presently crafted, the statutes have not simply helped law-abiding citizens protect themselves from attack, but rather they have been used as cover for perpetrators of crimes.

Therefore, please accept this letter as my formal certificate to comply with the requirements for calling a special session under the above-cited Florida Statute.

Accordingly, it is my understanding that once your office receives certificates that a special session is warranted from twenty percent of the Legislature, or thirty-two members, your office will undertake the process of formally polling the remaining members of the House and Senate to determine if there is a three-fifths majority willing to address the current flaws in Florida’s justifiable use of force provisions.

If you have any questions about my request, please reach me at 954-321-2800. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Sincerely,
Perry E. Thurston, Jr.
Leader, Florida House Democratic Caucus
cc: Governor Rick Scott
House Speaker Will Weatherford
Senate President Don Gaetz

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  • George Hawthorne August 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Joe,

    Also, the term “White Hispanic” is a NOT new. It has been used for at least two decades in definitions of racial classifications. Check the U.S. Census data racial classifications.

  • George Hawthorne August 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Joe,

    Sometimes the “law” is difficult to understand unless you have some “legal education” in the subject matter. I don’t know how to make it more plain than my last post, however, let me give it one more try.

    There is no separate “Stand Your Ground” defense, it is inherent in the self-defense cases in Florida (like that of George Zimmerman’s case and under the circumstances in which Trayvon Martin was killed. SYG is the predominant “legal basis” for justifying “self-defense” in the state of Florida.

    The thing to understand here is that Stand Your Ground laws do not exist in some segregated section of Florida’s criminal code. They are not bracketed off from the rest of Florida’s “standard” self-defense laws. Stand Your Ground laws are integral to the very meaning of self-defense in the state.

  • joe August 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    My understanding is Zimmerman’s defense did not use SYG as part of the defense. If the judge decided to use it in her instructions, that is her call, though she was obviously biased against the defense in most of her rulings.
    The case was about two men, getting into an altercation, one black, one Hispanic and tragically a man died.
    The media made it black versus white and focused on the newly used term “white Hispanic”.
    Even our President got into the mix with Trayvon would look like his son. Granted Barack Obama has received preferential treatment because he is black (foreign perhaps is how he got college scholarships) but he is half-white…that’s never discussed . So the racial divide continues in this country and its starting from the very top….from our “white” President.

  • George Hawthorne August 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Teresa,

    Let me educate you on the law, because, clearly you don’t understand the relevance of SYG in Florida Self-defense cases.

    “Self-defense” and justifiable homicide comes from a common law principle known as the “Castle Doctrine” which says that a person has a right to defend them self and or their property and use deadly force in such defense. Furthermore, this principle is called the “Castle Doctrine” because it derived from old English Common law that said a person can defend their Castle and does not have a duty to retreat from their castle in an attempt to avoid a confrontation.

    However, “SYG” has extended the “castle” to mean that a person has the right to use deadly force and not retreat or avoid a confrontation anywhere that a person is legally occupying.

    This is a vast difference from the past and creates an environment where a person can actually initiate and elevate a confrontational situation (like GZ did by following and profiling TM as a “suspect”)and then use deadly force when the person who did not initiate the confrontation reacts and/or defends themselves. You keep using the fact that GZ was getting his arse whipped in the fight that he initiated by following TM as justification that he killed him.

    However, absent of SYG, GZ would have to justify his actions of profiling and following TM that was the cause of the situation in which TM was killed.

    Teresa furthermore, I already had a copy of the jury instructions and that is where I gave you the one potion that was quoted. Now let me give the entire relevant portions that you reference:

    “An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the crime of Second Degree Murder, and the lesser included offense of Manslaughter, if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.

    “Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm. A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

    In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

    If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
    If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.”

    As you see the issues of “self-defense” in Florida are clearly tied to the principles of SYG’s extension of the “place” in which one does not have to “retreat.”

    Furthermore, the “language” defining “self-defense” is consistent with the language in the actual SYG statute in Florida.

    For the record, I DO think the verdict was CORRECT given the laws in the state of Florida. The issue that is being debated is whether the LAW is CORRECT and does it lead to incidents as the Trayvon Martin homocide.

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