Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Way "Stand Your Ground" Laws Work

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


  1. Does anyone really know what happened between Zimmerman and Martin? I don't.

    From Stephen Littau:
    1. George Zimmerman. If Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon, as he claims, he had the legal authority to use deadly force to repel the attack. BUT .. and this is a big but here .. if he was pursuing Trayvon, as he said he was, the SYG law would not protect him from prosecution. Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground. He was in pursuit. I see no reason for repeal of SYG here because the law will not stand as a defense for what Zimmerman did. By the way …. I heard Juan Williams on Fox News Channel say – not once, but several times — that George Zimmerman had been told by the police to stop his pursuit of Trayvon. First of all, there is no evidence that the 911 dispatcher Zimmerman was talking to was was a police officer. Secondly, the dispatcher didn’t say “Don’t do that.” The dispatcher said “You don’t need to be doing that.” Telling someone that they don’t need to be doing something is quite different from telling someone NOT to do something. Williams should understand this.

    2. Trayvon Martin: How would the SYG law stand to protect Trayvon? If Trayvon had noticed he was being followed, and if he elected to flee his pursuer he would have every right to do so. He would also have every right to turn and to confront his pursuer. That would be “standing your ground.” So the rumored testimony of this eyewitness who said he saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon pummeling him does not necessarily implicate Trayvon. If he was standing his ground he was acting within the law.

    3. Now here’s where it could get complicated. What if Zimmerman had ceased his pursuit of Trayvon and retreated to his car. What if Trayvon then pursued Zimmerman to his car and attacked him. Trayvon would then lose his protection under SYG, just as Zimmerman did when he initiated a pursuit. But if Zimmerman than became the pursued instead of the pursuer, does he then have the SYG law to rely on? That’s an interesting question, and one that I think would have to be put in front of a jury.
    orlin sellers

    1. Well said, though I would add that in case 3, Zimmerman does not need to rely on SYG since he wasn't "standing his ground". He was on his back with someone pinning him down and knocking his head into the sidewalk. That meets justifiable lethal force in all 50 states. The only time SYG comes into play is case 2, and as you said, it favors Martin.

  2. I don't know who that histrionic seeming-intern of a anchorman is, but let's note a couple of points:

    1. He said that stand your ground laws protect people who have a credible case of self defense. If even the police or the prosecutor thinks that the case for self defense is credible, why should the person claiming it have to go through a trial?

    2. The state isn't present when these crimes occur. That's why the state has to hold a trial to seek a conviction. But if a property owner sees someone in his home or stealing his possessions, that's an immediate conflict between two individuals. The rule of law is the ideal, but it can't reach into all circumstances.