Sound the Death Knell for Stand Your Ground Laws


Anderson Cooper interviewed  one of the jurors in the George Zimmeman case last night. The woman’s face was darkened so she could not be recognized. The interview of this juror was instructive. Lawyers and commentators can speculate about what the jury was thinking, but this woman who was part of the actual deliberation gave a  first-hand account of the thought process of the jury. She explained that they had “no doubt that Zimmerman feared for his life.” That conclusion speaks volumes about the approach of the attorneys in the case.  Based on her remarks, a few things seem uncontroverted:

1. Zimmerman’s decision to get out of the car was irrelevant to the jury.

2. Who landed the first blow was not significant.

3. The jury believed Zimmerman and Mr. Good when they explained that Martin was on top.

4. There was no focus during the evidence, or arguments, on how or why Zimmerman got his shot off. The state attorney simply argued that he could not have pulled his gun while on his back. No alternative explanation was provided. What happened immediately before the shot was fired, was never considered by the jury.

5. There was no discussion or concern for how the body ended face down, head away from the dog run. There was no discussion or even attempt to correlate the path of the bullet with the other evidence.

6. The jury didn’t even consider the fact that Zimmerman had a duty, under the law of self defense, to retreat if Martin was pulling away. I don’t even remember the state attorneys asking for an instruction to that effect.

7. Race didn’t factor into their discussions.

The sad thing to me is that in all the media coverage of the trial, of the witnesses, potential civil rights violations, possible corruption, failure of the medical examiner to collect and preserve evidence, considerations of racial profiling, and the Florida notion of self defense, we seem to have learned nothing as a result of this tragic experience. The “Stand Your Ground” law was originally the focus of consideration. The defense team wisely abandoned it because the police recording of Zimmerman’s phone call seemed to establish that Zimmerman was originally the aggressor. Stand Your Ground is not available for a defendant where the defendant is shown to be the aggressor.

stand your ground cartoon

It is the Stand Your Ground law that should be given great consideration as a result of this case. It was originally called the Castle Doctrine. That name derived from the notion that your home is your “Castle.” Many states have adopted the “castle doctrine” which presumes that if a person breaks into your house, you are allowed to shoot first and ask questions later. The notion that your safety and that of your family has been threatened when someone breaks into your house is undeniable. The problem is that some states like Florida have expanded that law to events that occur outside of a persons residence.

The problem with the Stand Your Ground law is that there is no assurance of establishing who is the aggressor. When a dead body is found inside your home, there isn’t a lot of concern about establishing who the aggressor was, or who felt threatened. However when the shooting occurs outside the home, the considerations are different. Even in states that adopted the Castle doctrine, once the intruder steps outside the house, the doctrine no longer applies. Self defense would still be available to the homeowner, but once the intruder steps outside the house, the presumption of a threat no longer applies.

In the Zimmerman case, George was the initial aggressor as we know from the 9-1-1 call recorded and played for the jury. However if that call had not been made, but the other facts had been the same, Zimmerman could have used the “Stand Your Ground” law and easily won. If there is any good that might come from this tragic event, it should be the realization that every state that has expanded the Castle Doctrine, and now has a “Stand Your Ground” law, should repeal that law immediately. The Zimmerman case is a perfect example of the difficulty inherent in recreating events leading up to a shooting when only one witness is available to testify.

stand your ground states

Picture states stand you

36 thoughts on “Sound the Death Knell for Stand Your Ground Laws

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  1. We all know that the RW RED states have been implenting anything and every kind of law to kill a black or any minority and get away with it. ALEC, CITIZENS UNITED, NRA, DE MINT, all of them planned this. Why did NO ONE ask for a list of STAND YOUR GROUND cases so we could see how many of those have been WHITE ON BLACK unjustified killings? Instead we mention how..well there had been robberies at the complex.! How much do you wanna make a bet there have been tons of these going on. The Prosecution did not care about Trayvon as far as I’m concerned. They DID NOT PURSUE nor DO ANYTHING to change the picture of the black thug that the DEFENSE portrayed. He was not a thug. Just a young black kid. But our society and Zimmerman consider that SUSPICIOUS..its all about the color of your skin. Because the content of your character matters NOT to the RW RACIST GOP…look how they treat this President along with their disrespectful babaric constituency. No respect at all. And yet, call us on the left thugs! They have implemented laws to cause all this mayhem which they hope and it is –reflecting on Pres Obama but we all know who created this hateful they blame the left all the while DENY VOTING RIGHTS, WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE, let minorities get MURDERED with STAND YOUR GROUND..yeah its the left’s fault. You know darn well had that been a white kid and seeing the jury pool they picked they WOULD OF FOUND ZIMMERMAN GUILTY! 5 white women sat on a jury and DEF ATTY scared them to death about the BLACK GUY who was beating on a NON BLACK GUY..Peruvian no less–they hate blacks. They made those women so scared of black kid because of the picture they painted of Trayvon as a hard core pot smoking thug. I’m 62 the highest paid secty in my office. I smoke medicinal MJ. Does that make me a thug? Those women already made up their minds. Why did no one ask them where do you live? Why did the prosecution allow 5 WHITE WOMEN to be selected on the jury without an argument knowing how they would judge. My God. I bet 10 -1 the 5 WW did not allow or have blacks in their community!


  2. Pay attention you people in red states. Especially you African American republicans. (I will never ever get how an AA can be a repub–I will never understand you–boggles the mind) But I would be real careful…because you really don’t matter and keep in mind they will not ask YOUR SON for his party affiliation before they shoot either. How you stand with a party that detests your race is just mind boggling. And even worse..lets your children get MURDERED!


      1. TigerLily and Malia:

        Let’s expand the field. How could any well-informed human being be a Republican?


      1. BUT… You can only have a gun and shoot it if you are WHITE – look at the young black woman who shot WARNING SHOTS INTO THE AIR against her ex husband who was violating a restraining order – and SHE got TWENTY YEARS behind bars!


  3. “The problem is that some states like Florida have expanded that law to events that occur outside of a persons residence.”

    it’s not just that – the threat does not have to be real. It just has to be perceived as real. Chickenshits like GZ can kill anyone at anytime and just claim they was ‘askeered’.

    I live in a SYG state – it sucks.


  4. I think the surest way to get rid of SYG laws as well as the resistance to stricter gun control and background checks is to encourage minorities, women, etc., to join the NRA, take shooting lessons, volunteer as Neighborhood Watch participants, and buy guns… the last thing the wingers want is for the “wrong element” to be on equal footing!

    God, I hate being this cynical…..


  5. Florida’s AG says they have no intention of changing their laws. I doubt other states will either. It just boggles the mind what people will vote for/allow to their own detriment.


  6. Malia, I agree with most of your post, but how does changing SYG laws factor into this tragic case? Zim used self defense as a path to acquittal, and SYG laws did not factor in. As “Dis Gusted” points out, “…the threat does not have to be real. It just has to be perceived as real.” That was the case here. Perhaps a long hard look at the structure of self defense laws?


    1. Mara,
      I don’t think that it would change anything about the outcome of the Zimmerman case, but it would be more likely to have this result if the STand Your Ground law was in effect.


  7. I know how to combat this FEAR they like to instill to the public…call animal control…find out about purchasing knockout dart guns…order a few cases..
    when social shit hits the fan…and if they break in…shoot em…call 911…
    They can wake up in jail and wonder “how did I get here” and the officials on the other side can answer “we were wondering that as well” this can be applied locally, nationally and globally…the sooner the better…we are giving the 1% too much milk…it’s time to put them on a diet…remind them that the 99% control things not them…we just let them deal with the paperwork and bureaucracy…might have to change management there too!
    That seems to be a global trend…ousting bad management…USA needs to exercise their voter rights and “oust” out the ones who are “causing problems”…


  8. “6. The jury didn’t even consider the fact that Zimmerman had a duty, under the law of self defense, to retreat if Martin was pulling away.”

    That’s not so. The statute says that you must use “every reasonable means to escape danger.” He did. He tried to get up from the ground several times. Martin was shot with GZ on top of him, as per the burn marks. It was already proven that the two could not have been standing, because Trayvon’s shirt was hanging down, not flat.

    Flat = Trayvon’s on the ground, standing, or retreating. Hanging down = Trayvon’s on top of him.

    I really don’t understand why this Team Trayvon/Team George thing has turned into a Liberal/Conservative thing. Because I don’t want to pick a side based on my political affiliation. I just want to look at the situation and make a fair assessment.

    Zimmerman and his family have nothing to do with the tea party, with racists, with republican redistricting, with immigration, with the loss of the voting rights act, or anything. They’re just a family like the rest of us. He just wanted to protect his neighborhood from home invaders, that’s all. That was the extent of his agenda.


    1. In the call to the police Zimmerman said Martin “looked like he was up to no good”. Zimmerman left the relative safety of his vehicle to follow Martin. He had already told the police that he believed Martin was armed.
      Following someone you suspect to be armed is not retreating.


  9. Furthmore, there was absolutely no evidence that Trayvon was letting up on Zimmerman. None. There were no witnesses that heard him say anything about stopping the fight, nobody seeing him trying to get off Zimmerman. Just the opposite, a neighbor saw him straddling him.

    I didn’t get that lame scenario that the prosecution used to try to do gymnastics around the existing evidence, and say..ok the shirt was hanging…what if in that split second it was STILL hanging, Trayvon was getting up, and wanted to stop fighting, and GZ shot him before he could? Talk about speculation!

    Assuming that was even true, that Trayvon lifted his body a little off of him, was “pulling away” but still had his body at a downward angle so that the shot was straight,…what guarantee did Zimmerman have that he would stop hitting him? What guarantee did he have that he wouldn’t get up and start kicking him in the head? In other words…if there’s a second in the fight where you’re able to get loose from someone, anyone, in any fight…you’d better use that moment to fight back in some way, before you get killed. You don’t use that moment to ask your assailant, “sir, are you done?” To me, this is all common sense.


    1. Samantha- don’t be more stupid than you have to be. 1. GZ had INSIGNIFICANT WOUNDS. That means they weren’t serious. 2. Trayvon had ZERO DNA ON HIS HANDS. Do explain how all that fighting you ridiculously mention was done? No DNA in hands, sleeves or cuffs. If you want to cherry puck your evidence at least do it intelligently. There was no fight because there was NOTHING to show on either one’s hands that anybody hit anybody.



      1. Did you just call me stupid? lol.

        What I find most ridiculous about people who post anonymously on the internet, is that they have this very strange bravery to personally attack, for no reason, when I can just as easily return the favor. I won’t. But I will tell you, that I work customer service, and the customers who talk to me like that, and do it just because they can— get their files mysteriously lost or buried. I hope some rep responds in kind to you, the next time you call the phone company or credit card company, and get shitty.


      2. Samantha~ I post using my own name. And I notice you deflected my questions, meaning that you really HAVE no answers and are spouting stupid biased nonsense. When you have an intelligent response, let me know.



    2. They just want to call someone “RACIST!!!”. It’s what they do, even if the person was a minority, a liberal, an obama-voter, and a good samaritan, as George Zimmerman was. They are the party of hate and division.


      1. truth~ once again, you see no truth at all. The one witness who supposedly witnessed “straddling” then recanted his testimony and said he wasn’t sure what he saw. Zimmerman was/is and always will be a racist. Do you know he called the 911 number 46 times and each time it was some complaint about a black male? He was obsessed with black males, disparaged them online and via text messages. What would any sane person call that? RACIST! Maybe you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you believed all the lies that O’Mara put out? NONE of that crap was evidence.



      2. LMAO, did you not watch the trial? Just about everything you said was a lie:

        LIE #1: “said he wasn’t sure what he saw.” – testified in trial that he saw him straddling Zimmerman MMA-style Ground & Pound
        LIE #2: “Zimmerman was/is and always will be a racist.” – FBI scoured thru Zimmerman’s life trying to dig up dirt & found absolutely nothing racist about him.
        LIE #3: “he called the 911 number 46 times and each time it was some complaint about a black male?” – That’s just a flat out pathetic lie
        LIE #4: “He was obsessed with black males” – He stood up for a beaten homeless black man and mentored black youths in need
        LIE #5: “disparaged them online and via text messages.” – It was Trayvon that had the racist tweets & txt msgs, you got them confused.

        “What would any sane person call that? RACIST!” – NO, they’d call you a LIAR!!!

        “Maybe you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you believed all the lies that O’Mara put out? NONE of that crap was evidence. ” – Except it was otherwise O’Mara would be looking at getting disbarred at this point. Thus, you are a LIAR as usual.

        That was pathetic, cielo. Got any other nonsense you want me to tear to shreds?


  10. Turns out that juror was the wife of a lawyer (her wanna-be publisher said so at a press conference,it seems)
    WHY would the prosecution let that happen??? They KNOW that lawyers are splitting hairs!


  11. How could Trayon have been on top of Zimmerman? He would have bled on him when he was shot, there was no DNA on the gun or Zimmerman. Zimmerman is a lying racist. Have you looked at his My Space page? He proves his racism right there for anyone to see.


    1. anon,
      There would also have been gun residue from the shot, if the gun were that close. That’s why it is clear to me that Martin was backing away when the shot was fired!


    2. George Zimmerman’s shirt (DMS-16) and jacket (DMS-19).

      “Gunshot Residue (GSR) was found on the jacket in the form of 1 particle of lead found on the upper back portion of the right sleeve. Twelve bloodstains on the shirt were contributed by George Zimmerman, according to DNA analysis. Thirteen bloodstains on the jacket contain Zimmerman’s DNA. Trayvon Martin’s DNA is present in four of them (mixed samples) and his DNA was detected in one mixed sample where the other contributor could not be identified.”

      …So, yes, there was Martin’s blood on Zimmerman. And keep in mind it was raining, and a lot of stuff, including GSR, could be wiped or washed off. But there was gun residue on Z, and on T’s shirt, which indicated a contact shot. Which backs up his story.

      This is not unlike the OJ trial where I kept hearing people, including jurors, say he couldn’t have killed her because there should be more blood in the house, why isn’t there more blood?


      1. Stupidatha~ I was talking about ZIMMERMAN’S DNA on MARTIN. If he was beating, smothering, choking and doing all kinds of physical MMA style punches, then martin would be covered in blood and saliva all over his hands, shirts and hoodie cuffs. Yet NONE was found. THAT is what I asked you. You totally missed the point. Zimmerman DID have Martin DNA because after he killed Martin, he frisked him and turned the body over. Maybe reading comprehension is not something you do well. That could explain your customer service job. I guess it beats flipping burgers.



  12. George showed us that Stand Your Ground is really Kill The Other Witness. The term “fear for your life” can mean chicken shit with a gun playing cop. The trial exposed the paranoid mentality of some people who get concealed permits. They are not brave, just afraid of their own shadow, ready to shoot any perceived threat. We need mental health evaluations with concealed carry before these chicken shits kill more kids.

    (disclaimer: Before the concealed carry folks go nuts, I said SOME, not all. I agree with the right to earn a CC permit.)


  13. I suspect that the prosecutors in the Zimmerman case had little interest in finding him guilty. The behavior of the police is questionable from the very beginning. Had Zimmerman been significantly injured (head banged against concrete repeatedly) he would have been rushed to an Emergency Room for examination and treatment. My suspicion is that he was “roughed up” a bit at his father’s request in order to create a defense, because he was the aggressor from the beginning to the deadly end. And nothing came to light during the trial to change my mind about that.


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