Stand Your Ground Drawing Public Interest

By: Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida
By: Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 24, 2012

Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

As policymakers study the controversy surrounding the "stand your ground" self defense law, the issue is drawing interest from a broad swath of the general public.

A town hall meeting on the law drew 200 people to Florida State College in Jacksonville Tuesday night.

It was an informational meeting, said state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, one of those who sponsored the gathering. But the law's possible role in Trayvon Martin's shooting death in Sanford and in the recent case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her husband in a dispute, prompted strong reactions from the mostly African-American audience.

Both Martin and Alexander are black.

Another common thread between the two cases is Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey, who is also the special prosecutor in the Martin case. Last month she charged George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, with second-degree murder in Martin's death.

Jones said Corey had been invited to participate in the forum, but was unable to attend. Jackelyn Barnard, the spokeswoman for Corey’s office, said the state attorney was in a high-level staff meeting, but some employees of her office were in the audience.

Members of the public had a number of questions about the case involving Alexander, who claimed self-defense and sought to use the "stand your ground" law, giving up a plea bargain with Corey's office to do so. She then lost her case. She was sentenced under the state 10-20-Life law that provides judges with mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Alexander is now in the state prison for women at Lowell, said her attorney, Kevin Cobbin, and will appeal.

The town hall meeting, sponsored by Jones and the D.W. Perkins Bar Foundation – the local black bar association – included experts in criminal justice: Richard Brown, a defense attorney, Jason Snyder of the Duval County Public Defender's Office, Ken Jefferson, retired after 24 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and a campaign for sheriff last year, Professor Bob Dekle of the University of Florida College of Law, who has 30 years experience as a prosecutor, and Chuck Hobbs, a criminal defense attorney and former legal advisor to the Florida NAACP.

The panel also included state Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, who said she'll likely propose legislation to amend the 2005 "stand-your-ground" law.

"I think I have a duty to, as a matter of fact," she said. "But I'm going to do my due diligence. I'm going to look at cases that have gone before a judge using the "stand-your-ground" law – and not only in Florida."

Gibson said the forum hadn't addressed the fact that the law is on the books in many states.

"Some states have pulled back because of what happened in Florida with Trayvon Martin. So those that dare still use it, I'm going to see what their numbers look like and what ours look like, and from that craft some language that I think should be considered," she said.

In the audience was Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who represents the district and is preparing a study and a hearing in Washington, D.C. on how "stand-your-ground" and mandatory minimum sentencing are applied.

"Because basically it's a problem when the prosecutor has all of the discretion, and the judge should have more discretion," she said. "And then when you look at the officer and prosecutor all working together, then you really got a problem."

Brown, who attended Alexander's sentencing two weeks ago, said she has arranged for Mike Dowd, an attorney from the Pace University Women's Justice Center, to collaborate with Cobbin on Alexander's appeal.

Meanwhile, the state and the Jacksonville chapters of the NAACP are planning a "Free Marissa" march and rally on May 29.

Jones agreed that the Jacksonville community is still upset about Alexander's sentencing.

"It did not have to be an enhanced penalty in order to make sure that she did not serve 20 years," she said. "We all take a chance when we don't take a plea, but in this instance, I do see it as a miscarriage of justice for her to sit there for 20 years, knowing that she comes from a domestic violence background.

"I hope she will be successful in her appeal, and we will continue to stand with the family on that."


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  • by Jimmy Location: Quincy on May 25, 2012 at 08:43 AM
    that boy doesn't belong in a gated community. He was asking for it. Time for him to take responsibility for being where he shouldn't be. Thats the problem now a days. People dont take responsibility
    • reply
      by Jeff on May 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM in reply to Jimmy
      WTF???????
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM in reply to Jeff
        Little problem with reading comprehesion Jeff?
  • by Surly Location: Grrr on May 25, 2012 at 08:19 AM
    @m: 12:15, 5-24 -- "... am threatened with GREAT bodily harm every time a speeder comes North on Thomasville Road doing in excess of 35 miles per hour [...]" -- Sounds like a major shoot/no shoot decision -- lucky that you have time to work it out carefully. Let me help. So, how many speeders have gone by YTD? How many times have you been injured? Why are progressives so enchanted by moral equivalence? Do you understand the paranoia underlying your satirical use of paranoia? Should progressives be racked with guilt whenever a person who has been disarmed by their posturing is killed? What about when a shopowner is driven out of business by theft, or pays extortion to a gangster? Do you understand why the ascendancy of gangsters is at most a minor irritant to you, but beer-bellied pickup truck people enrage you just by driving by your house? Are you stunned when you realize how callous you are to the pain of those who suffer due to your "ideals", or amazed by the arrogance of your insistence that others live their lives according to your whim? All things to think about...
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 26, 2012 at 04:15 AM in reply to Surly
      This is a weird post. Does anyone know what this guy is talking about?
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM in reply to
        He is responding to "m"s post at 12:15. Read that post first, then Surly's post will make more sense.
  • by Don't tread on me Location: Havana, FL on May 25, 2012 at 07:16 AM
    The liberals are trying to take away my gun. If you suspect anyone is up to no good and they look suspicious, then you should have the right to pursue and protect.
    • reply
      by Da Judge on May 25, 2012 at 09:32 AM in reply to Don't tread on me
      Protect and pursue are not the same thing. Protect, yes. Pursue, no.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM in reply to Da Judge
        Well, then the law is wrong, we should be able to pesuit and shoot all thugs and criminals...just like martin.
        • reply
          by GV on May 28, 2012 at 05:08 AM in reply to
          Well the law is correct,because you can persue someone who is acting suspicious in your neighborhood.No one done anything illegal except trayvon.
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on May 25, 2012 at 06:21 AM
    Fair investigative reporting? What are the statistics for Florida where Africans have not been convicted because of the Stand Your Ground Law? Seems like 2 or 3 in Tallahassee alone.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 01:02 PM in reply to Jim
      There's not too many Africans living in Tallahassee!
  • by Surprise Location: leon county on May 25, 2012 at 03:17 AM
    Public Inerest you say? From maybe the 13% of our country thats commiting 85% of all crime maybe? As just one of the law abiding public I'll show my interest in the voting booth toward those that messes with the law that lets us defend ourself GRrrrr.
  • by Rob on May 25, 2012 at 01:30 AM
    Jessica wrote... "Zimmerman did what he did because he thought he would be praised as a hero. No doubt he would have if he would have actually killed a burgler". Jessica, did you know Trayvon actually was caught red handed with Precious Jewels & Fine Gold in his backpack along with a Large Prying Burglarizing Screwdriver Tool? Yes, many people do not know that. He was expelled from the school upon confiscating this stolen casheie, and he would not devulge the complete information about the crime. He did admit that a "friend" had been the one who gave him the stolen goods. It's common knowledge that he had been visiting the towmhome area where he eventually was killed... several times in the past. He did not say whether his 14 year old cousin who lives at the townhome was the accomplass who had "given" the precious gems, etc. to him. It's possible he was the one who had stolen the jewels & that he was fabricating the "story" that somebody "gave" the Gold to him. In the real world, most common people would not give away such extravegant possesions such as Gold or Silver. The fact that the burglarizing tool was in there makes it even more suspicious of his claim/story. They could have been in it together. Either way, Zimmerman DID have a pretty good suspect in his scope in Trayvon, being that he had been privy in relation to the actual stolen jewels. But I wouldn't go so far to call him a hero. But he did have a pretty suspicious character in the fact that he also attacked him personally for nothing more that merely watching the neighborhood that was posted with many signs depicting a large picture of an EYE with warnings that people would be called in to the Sanford Police which was common knowlege to the inhabitants of the nghbrhd. As to You are calling me in to the police? Why you... well you are going to have a problem with that then.
  • by STEVE on May 24, 2012 at 03:07 PM
    Exactly why is the black community upset about the Stand Your Ground law? Most black shooting deaths are from other blacks,not from whites,hispanics,asians or any other race. SYG did not apply in the Jacksonville case. The woman left the room,secured a weapon,came back to the room to discharge the weapon. That is not SYG. That is threat and intimidation. She left the confrontation.Based upon printed information Trayvon Martin (although being followed) eluded George Zimmerman,circled round and confronted Zimmerman. Martin was not standing ground,he initiated assault.
    • reply
      by roger on May 25, 2012 at 05:50 AM in reply to STEVE
      All correct Steve...thanks
  • by Jim Location: Tallahassee on May 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM
    Stand Your Ground does not apply in your home. The Castle Doctrine, which is from centuries old English Common law, applies. The Castle Doctrine is the "super stand your ground" law. A person in their home has the absolute right to shoot anyone trying to come in and do them bodily harm. If an intruder is in your house, you can kill him, period.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 01:41 PM in reply to Jim
      You're right, but the castle doctrine can be used in places besides h=just your home.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 01:41 PM in reply to Jim
      this wasn't always the case. There was an instance where some thugs did a home invasion. The resident, jumped up and ran past the kitchen, down the hall, into a bedroom and got in the closet. The first thug opened the door and was killed, the resident shot the second thug in the hall. The third was shot running out the back door. The Resident was charged, tried and convicted of murder. The reason... he ran past the kitchen and a door that led outside to "safety". As For SYG, leave it alone, modify, or eliminate it. BUT REST ASSURED, if I feel my life is in danger, SOMEONE is going to die. Better to be alive in prison than six feet under because you obeyed the law.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 06:38 PM in reply to
        SYG doesn't even come into play. Zimmerman didn't have a THREAT, he was actually being beaten - This is self defense, not SYG.
    • reply
      by Tally on May 24, 2012 at 06:01 PM in reply to Jim
      Sadly, just like in England today, if the Libtards and pinky anti-gunners had their way we would not even be allowed to have a gun in our own home. Some states are already enforcing this unconstitutional law.
      • reply
        by roger on May 25, 2012 at 05:49 AM in reply to Tally
        Thanks Tally...you are correct
  • by The Real Truth on May 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM
    I will shed some light on this issue from an example where stand your ground should apply. Say you been in a fight the day before and you got hurt in the fight so you can't defend yourself with your hands,and you can't run, but you at your home. You got a gun and you have been threaten by a person that's bigger and stronger than you so you can't run away if you hurt, right? The person or people come at you to attach you and they know you can't fight them off because you hurt. Then you have to shot one of them in the arm or leg , but not to kill them, just to get them off. We shouldn't get like a lot of trigger happy people who just shot to kill people cause we can. So stand your ground would apply here, if you can't run or fight this person or people off you. Stand your ground and put one of them down. So this does'nt mean go get your gun after you have started the fight or follow people like you about to rob them, and go home giving yourself enough time to think about what you going to do to a person. The people who abuse this law, and use the stand your ground law to just kill people are "AUTOMATICLY WRONG" when they apply it like this even police officers, and these people just want to shot people out of spite. We don't have to be Educated to know that. And I like to make a suggestion to all the Law Inforcement Agencies who are not on the force to just kill people for a living I beg you please invest in tranculizers dorts, and just stop killing people for fun. You can shot a bear to save his life or a lion, but a human life isn't worth the same treatment. How cruel and inhumane we we have become when life only important to only a few of us. Where is the LOVE for all life? What kind of world can we have if we got "Monsters" protecting us too?
    • reply
      by GV on May 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM in reply to The Real Truth
      I bet you can't even read your own jibberish.
      • reply
        by NOMNOM on May 24, 2012 at 12:04 PM in reply to GV
        I didn't even get past the first sentence.
      • reply
        by I suspect on May 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM in reply to GV
        I suspect he had his cat type that for him. Sure looks like a cat brain dictated it. I can tell you this for certain; anyone who has ever had ANY professional firearms self defense training knows "shooting someone in the arm/leg" is not only profoundly STUPID it is virtually impossible under the level of stress encountered in a life or death confrontation. And if that wasn't enough; the truth of the matter is that the huge vast majority of LEOs are not gun people. Not only are they not monsters waiting to shoot people, but most lack the desire to even try. TRT - ignorance from A-Z.
    • reply
      by Mark on May 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM in reply to The Real Truth
      You are an idiot,,, "Well, you see, 'dis how it be and here be a example,,," Really? Spend your computer time taking an online Basic English Class. That's all the light you need to shed.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 01:39 PM in reply to The Real Truth
      SYG says you are not required to run(retreat), as long as you do not go into a fight - the fight has to come to you. If you are attacked, you have the right to SYG. It doesn't matter if you at home or not.
    • reply
      by Rob on May 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM in reply to The Real Truth
      I know what you mean, The Real Truth... Yeah, in my town they had a news clip that a person was shot in the elbow by a police officer for not responding to orders. They said 5 shots had been fired. But it was not in the newspaper, and the story was never heard from again... It was all hushed up after that. It reminded me of the wild west movies where they would make people dance while shooting the floor near their feet, etc. In my mind, it sounded like the officer was shooting closer & closer to the person to get him to move over or stick up his hands or something and finally he "winged" him into submission to do as he was ordering. I always also wondered why they don't have a lion net or something where they can shoot it out with a gun to throw the net over the individual & then a few policemen can pull the ropes in different directions to pull the net tight over the suspect, instead of 10 policemen emptying their weapons into the individual and then saying the guy was brandishing a knife so they had to shoot him, and of course at the inquiry it is always deamed "justified". But the dancing elbow shot took the cake.
      • reply
        by Think Rob on May 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM in reply to Rob
        Rob stop and think about it. Why should te officers jeopardize their lives for the sake of a violent criminal when they do not need to? For the slightly more than minimum wage they are paid? What if the thug is against a wall? or inside a vehicle, or in the bushes? Didn't think that through, did you? Sure sound like you are locked into the "in defense of the cousins" mode.
        • reply
          by Rob on May 26, 2012 at 02:04 AM in reply to Think Rob
          Oh, yeah, Think Rob, I never really thought of it that way. Also, I never knew the police only got minimum wage. I'd say, go ahead & make 'em dance then.
  • by Anonymous on May 24, 2012 at 09:45 AM
    Good Headline Capt. Obvious!
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