Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:58 pm

Can someone please offer an explanation of how and why the Martin/Zimmerman case justifies—as many people and rallies are now claiming—the repeal of Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground (“CD/SYG”) laws? I’ve not been able to think of a reason that does not incorporate a fallacy on the part of those proponents. For example:

1. People may be incorrectly assuming or believing that Zimmerman’s defense was based on CD/SYG. (It wasn’t.)

2. People may be incorrectly assuming or believing that CD/SYG altered the standard for being a provoker under Florida law. (It didn’t.)

3. People may be incorrectly assuming or believing that CD/SYG provided or altered the standard for claiming self-defense. (It didn’t; the standard used by Florida and just about every other state is based on centuries of common-law legal tradition.)

4. People may just be ticked off at the verdict and are looking for something to scapegoat.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby ExPatriatePen on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:02 pm

I'll take whats behind door #4 Monty
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby topshelf on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:27 pm

Shyster wrote:Can someone please offer an explanation of how and why the Martin/Zimmerman case justifies—as many people and rallies are now claiming—the repeal of Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground (“CD/SYG”) laws?


Because the media brought up "Stand Your Ground" a billion times from day one until the verdict, which caused people to look into the law and see it's flaws.

In my opinion, there is far too much room for interpretation in the law, and fact that (without witnesses) we are only able to hear 50% of the story and it is from the person holding the gun, the potential for bias and embellishment outweighs the potential for good. That's just my opinion, though.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:49 pm

topshelf wrote:
Shyster wrote:Can someone please offer an explanation of how and why the Martin/Zimmerman case justifies—as many people and rallies are now claiming—the repeal of Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground (“CD/SYG”) laws?


Because the media brought up "Stand Your Ground" a billion times from day one until the verdict, which caused people to look into the law and see it's flaws.

In my opinion, there is far too much room for interpretation in the law, and fact that (without witnesses) we are only able to hear 50% of the story and it is from the person holding the gun, the potential for bias and embellishment outweighs the potential for good. That's just my opinion, though.

But for the most part, CD/SYG laws only provide that someone does not have a duty to retreat when confronted in a public space before they may resort to the use of deadly force. Those laws don't change the standard for using deadly force, namely, that one must reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent himself or herself from death or serious bodily harm.

If you (or any other poster who wants to chime in) were revising your state's self-defense law, what would you require a defendant to show in order to claim self-defense? For example, you mention only hearing 50% of the story as problematic. Are you saying that if the defendant cannot produce witnesses to back up his story, he or she should automatically be convicted of some form of homicide?
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby topshelf on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:08 pm

Shyster wrote:But for the most part, CD/SYG laws only provide that someone does not have a duty to retreat when confronted in a public space before they may resort to the use of deadly force. Those laws don't change the standard for using deadly force, namely, that one must reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to prevent himself or herself from death or serious bodily harm.

If you (or any other poster who wants to chime in) were revising your state's self-defense law, what would you require a defendant to show in order to claim self-defense? For example, you mention only hearing 50% of the story as problematic. Are you saying that if the defendant cannot produce witnesses to back up his story, he or she should automatically be convicted of some form of homicide?


Florida doesn't have the retreat law (you probably knew that already), which makes it even worse in my mind.

My problem with the law is the verbage and that surrounds it: "if one reasonably believes". How do you define reasonable belief when it is based upon both opinion and then the retelling of the story? It is too vague and broad, as one's threshold of fear and distress could be largely different than another's. With this in mind, you could have a guy who is a hothead and a loose cannon shoot someone in a situation where most people wouldn't have shot. To make matters worse, he can then get his story straight so that it benefits him and not the truth. While this scenario is hypothetical, it is still very plausible, and that window of corruption negates the validity of the law, in my opinion.

In regards to your question about what would I change, I am not sure. I'm all for people standing their ground in a case of breaking and entering, robbery, or a potential mugging (especially if the person is found to have been carrying a weapon), but there has to be some pretty solid evidence in place to prove that the shooter's life was in danger. In any other case I don't think SYG is justified, as any other situation would be based upon a false assumption (meaning that person wasn't a threat after all). I believe that if I kill someone based upon my own assumptions, and my assumptions prove to be wrong (said person wasn't armed), then I should be punished for my misjudgement.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Grunthy on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:17 pm

I can tell you this, if someone breaks into my house they are as good as gone. I won't wait to find out if they have a weapon or not. Breaking and entering is a threat.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:26 pm

topshelf wrote:My problem with the law is the verbage and that surrounds it: "if one reasonably believes". How do you define reasonable belief when it is based upon both opinion and then the retelling of the story? It is too vague and broad, as one's threshold of fear and distress could be largely different than another's. With this in mind, you could have a guy who is a hothead and a loose cannon shoot someone in a situation where most people wouldn't have shot. To make matters worse, he can then get his story straight so that it benefits him and not the truth. While this scenario is hypothetical, it is still very plausible, and that window of corruption negates the validity of the law, in my opinion.

You may not be aware of it, but the “reasonable person” standard is a longstanding feature of our legal system and applies to both civil and criminal law. For example, the standard of whether one has been negligent for, say, a personal-injury lawsuit incorporates a test of whether you did/did not do something that a reasonable person in like circumstances would/would not have done. Whether something is reasonable is up to the finder of fact—typically a jury—and not the defendant. So someone who is a hothead and a loose cannon will not have his word taken as truth that he acted reasonably. Rather, the jury trying him will compare his behavior to what they believe the “reasonable person” would have done under the same circumstances.

I believe that if I kill someone based upon my own assumptions, and my assumptions prove to be wrong (said person wasn't armed), then I should be punished for my misjudgement.

So self-defense is only acceptable when facing an armed assailant? What about a 5', 100 lb. woman being attacked barehanded by a 6'5", 250 lb. man? What about a frail 80-year-old man being choked by a strong 19-year-old woman? Neither of them could shoot to protect themselves?
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby topshelf on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:36 pm

Shyster wrote:You may not be aware of it, but the “reasonable person” standard is a longstanding feature of our legal system and applies to both civil and criminal law. For example, the standard of whether one has been negligent for, say, a personal-injury lawsuit incorporates a test of whether you did/did not do something that a reasonable person in like circumstances would/would not have done. Whether something is reasonable is up to the finder of fact—typically a jury—and not the defendant. So someone who is a hothead and a loose cannon will not have his word taken as truth that he acted reasonably. Rather, the jury trying him will compare his behavior to what they believe the “reasonable person” would have done under the same circumstances.


But how does the jury know that said guy is a hothead or a loose cannon? It is his story to concoct, no? For example, say I am this guy and I approach some random dude and begin harassing him and running my mouth. He turns around a decks me, and I pull out a gun a shoot him. At that point, my hotheadedness both prompted and ended the scenario, and, on top of that, it is my privilege to retell the story in a way that benefits me.

So self-defense is only acceptable when facing an armed assailant? What about a 5', 100 lb. woman being attacked barehanded by a 6'5", 250 lb. man? What about a frail 80-year-old man being choked by a strong 19-year-old woman? Neither of them could shoot to protect themselves?


I put in my post (you didn't quote that part) that "I'm all for people standing their ground in a case of breaking and entering, robbery, or a potential mugging (especially if the person is found to have been carrying a weapon), but there has to be some pretty solid evidence in place to prove that the shooter's life was in danger."

In your two examples, it is clear cut that both women are in danger. We agree with each other here. Please reread.
Last edited by topshelf on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby tifosi77 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:37 pm

When SYG was passed in FL, jury instructions in self defense cases were changed to read: "[the defendant] 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." One of the jurors pointed to this in an interview, saying that SYG played a role in the deliberations, particularly in changing the three initial guilty votes (2 murder, 1 manslaughter) to acquittal votes. (That juror - 'B37' - self-identifies as a gun rights advocate and was one of the original three not guilty votes.) So while it is correct to say the defense did not proactively invoke the protection of that law, it's somewhat disingenuous to suggest that SYG played no role in this particular case.

I do agree that putting the onus on the attackee to flee a confrontation is a bit daft. However, I think there is concern that many of the SYG laws have been drafted with too broad a stroke. Which is to be expected, really, since the legislation is often drafted by the NRA.

This ambiguity leads to a great deal of confusion and aimlessness on the part of police and prosecutors. Consider the actions of the Sanford PD the night of the TM shooting: the uniformed officers that initially arrived did not properly preserve the crime scene, did not photograph GZ, did not seek to identify the dead body, etc. The investigating detectives scarcely questioned GZ at the scene, and did a poor job of collecting and preserving evidence. This is a problem for both building a potential criminal case against GZ, but also could have presented GZ with difficulty in obtaining exculpatory evidence to bolster his defense. And going from various accounts around FL, this is sort of par for the course following SYG. Police are specifically instructed to act with deference if they even anticipate a self defense claim.

How bad is the confusion? Even defense attorneys seeking to make use of the law's protections say it needs to be tightened up.
"The law has created a massive amount of confusion as to what exactly constitutes self-defense and exactly how to apply the new law,'' said defense attorney Bill Mathewman, who hopes the Florida Supreme Court will grant immunity to a client currently facing trial for aggravated assault in Palm Beach County."

(That's from 2009, btw)

Last summer, a Tampa Bay newspaper began a survey of the 200-odd self defense cases since the passage of SYG in FL. People who killed a black person walked free 73% of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59% of the time. Correlation is not causation, of course. But 14% is a pretty big difference, so it would be instructive to know drives that disparity. (Is it race bias? Is it something else? Is the sample pool so small that relatively these differences are not even statistically significant?) Conversely, the same survey found that whites and blacks were both charged and convicted at roughly the same rates. So the only real outlier in the data (available as of a year ago) is the race of the victim. (Is victim the right word in a self defense case?) The implication some read into that is that SYG makes it easier to get away with shooting or killing black people. I personally don't think that's the case, but we're still only talking about a total population of 235 cases in FL. The jury's still out, so to speak.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby largegarlic on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:45 pm

Here's a link to a Tampa Bay Times article talking about the history of the Stand Your Ground law in Florida:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/florida-stand-your-ground-law-yields-some-shocking-outcomes-depending-on/1233133

There are some truly bizarre actions that have gone unpunished thanks to that law. I understand its intent and how it could help in some cases of legitimate self-defense, but overall, it seems like a dangerous, ambiguous, and unnecessary law to have on the books (perhaps especially given the number of wackos in Florida). How can it possibly be legal to track down someone you think is having an affair with your wife at his place of work, start a fight with him, and then shoot him when you feel threatened? That goes way beyond protecting the right to self-defense.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby columbia on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:46 pm

It certainly makes it easier to get away with killing people.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby topshelf on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:52 pm

columbia wrote:It certainly makes it easier to get away with killing people.


Exactly, and that's my beef with it. When the gray area of a law constitutes lives being taken, then one has to question the validity of the law.

I don't think anyone has a problem with someone standing their ground in a breaking and entering, muggings, etc., but beyond that the law is left open to interpretation and I don't see that as a good thing.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:04 pm

topshelf wrote:But how does the jury know that said guy is a hothead or a loose cannon? It is his story to concoct, no? For example, say I am this guy and I approach some random dude and begin harassing him and running my mouth. He turns around a decks me, and I pull out a gun a shoot him. At that point, my hotheadedness both prompted and ended the scenario, and, on top of that, it is my privilege to retell the story in a way that benefits me.

Self-defense is typically considered an affirmative defense, which means that the defendant invoking it has a burden to present evidence showing that his or her behavior was reasonable under the circumstances. Often, this involves the defendant testifying about what happened, which of course exposes the defendant to being cross-examined by the prosecution.

GZ didn’t testify in his case because the prosecution obligingly played numerous police interviews with him where he explained his version of events. He didn’t need to take the stand because the jury already heard everything he would have wanted to say. But in the absence of those videos, GZ almost certainly would have had to take the stand. Once on the stand, the jury has the responsibility to evaluate the credibility of the defendant’s version of events. And if the defendant is a hothead or loose cannon, it’s the prosecution’s job to elicit those facts for the jury to consider.

Finally, laws vary from state to state on what constitutes provocation, but typically words alone—even racial slurs or the most vicious of insults—are never justification for responding with any form of physical force. The only exception is words that constitute threats of physical harm. Merely being insulted is never justification for decking someone.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:12 pm

topshelf wrote:
columbia wrote:It certainly makes it easier to get away with killing people.


Exactly, and that's my beef with it. When the gray area of a law constitutes lives being taken, then one has to question the validity of the law.

I don't think anyone has a problem with someone standing their ground in a breaking and entering, muggings, etc., but beyond that the law is left open to interpretation and I don't see that as a good thing.

Would you prefer to have a law that errs on the side of innocent people (i.e. those who legitimately acted in self-defense) being sent to prison, or a law that errs on the side of the guilty going free?
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby columbia on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:14 pm

I'd prefer you to melt your guns.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Gaucho on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:18 pm

And never more desire them.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Grunthy on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:19 pm

columbia wrote:I'd prefer you to melt your guns.



Don't need a gun to stand your ground...
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby MWB on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:19 pm

popcorn.popcorn
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Shyster on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:20 pm

columbia wrote:I'd prefer you to melt your guns.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Gaucho on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:22 pm

pew pew pew
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby columbia on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:23 pm

Shyster wrote:
columbia wrote:I'd prefer you to melt your guns.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ



This is one of the things that is wrong about some guns owners.
There are those of us in the world who would prefer that they didn't exist and your reaction is threaten violence in self-defense over an idea.

The idea being peace.

What is wrong with you?
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby tifosi77 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:27 pm

There is a sortable database that the TB Times maintains on all SYG cases. There are some *** cases in there.

SYG law reads "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..." blah blah. But some of the cases that resulted in acquittal or an immunity grant or no charges are things like "fight at a bar", and my personal favorite "drug deal gone bad". The facts of one such case are that Guy 1 was selling drugs and Guy 2 claimed 10% of the proceeds. Guy 2 came to collect said proceeds, a fight broke out and Guy 1 shot and killed Guy 2. Guy 1 was not arrested in connection with the shooting after investigators determined it was self defense.

How the heck is that a proper application of SYG??
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Grunthy on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:29 pm

columbia wrote:
Shyster wrote:
columbia wrote:I'd prefer you to melt your guns.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ



This is one of the things that is wrong about some guns owners.
There are those of us in the world who would prefer that they didn't exist and your reaction is threaten violence in self-defense over an idea.

The idea being peace.

What is wrong with you?



Really? You honestly got that from his tongue in cheek latin phrase....
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby columbia on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:30 pm

I've read enough of his posts on the subject to properly understand it.
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Re: Shooting Reignites Racial Questions

Postby Gaucho on Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:30 pm

A tongue in greek latin phrase.
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