Miami Judge Rules New ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Unconstitutional

An update to Florida’s controversial, seemingly for-whites-only “Stand Your Ground” law was deemed unconstitutional by a Miami judge on Monday.

According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that the lawmakers who modified the law this year forcing prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pre-trial hearing was illegitimate.

He ruled that under Florida’s constitution, only Florida Supreme’s Court could have made the change, not the Legislature.

The Herald reports that the ruling is “a victory for prosecutors who have firmly opposed a law they believe makes it easier for defendants to get away with murder and other violent crime,” but black folk might be giving a little cheer as well.

In the very well known Trayvon Martin case of 2012, George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, used Stand Your Ground as a successful defense against murder charges.

In another notable case in the same year, Floridian Marissa Alexander, a black woman, was not able to use the Stand Your Ground Law as she defended herself against an on-record violent husband. She initially received a sentence of 20 years, of which she served three.

The update in the Stand Your Ground law, passed in May, was backed by the National Rifle Association, and Gov. Rick Scott signed the new law into effect in last month.
The Herald reports that Hirsch’s ruling isn’t binding—other trial courts across Florida can follow the law if they choose. But it will “get the appeals ball rolling,” and possibly go to the Florida Supreme Court for review.
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