Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law revisions unconstitutional, judge rules

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled Monday that Florida’s changes to its existing “Stand Your Ground” law violate the Florida Constitution.”As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure can not be legislatively modified”, Hirsch wrote.The Florida Supreme Court later ruled that defendants, in asking for immunity from criminal prosecution, must be the ones to prove they were acting in self-defense. Progressive critics labeled it a get-away-with-murder law. Supporters saw the changes backed by the National Rifle Association, the powerful USA gun lobby, as bolstering civilians’ rights to protect themselves.The ruling is likely to be challenged in appellate courts and could eventually head to the Florida Supreme Court.Under the new law, which applies retroactively, the burden of proof is on prosecutors. It says people can use deadly force and do not have a duty to retreat if they think it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.Putting the onus of proof for the prosecution to disprove a self-defense claim makes it significantly more hard to prosecute alleged murders, and was a change highly sought by the National Rifle Association.”Hirsch ruled on the case of Liletha Rutherford, who is accused of aggravated assault for pulling a gun on a couple during an argument, and Omar Rodriguez, the so-called ‘Neighbor from Hell” who shot and killed a man after an confrontation over dog poop.Bretherick claimed he felt threatened and argued he should not have to prove the claim.Supporters of the controversial law, approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature earlier this year, called the ruling “a notable setback” and predicted an appeal.Rodriguez’s attorney, Alan Ross, said he was disappointed with Hirsch’s decision.As a result of Hirsch’s ruling, the judge will follow the previous version of the contentious self-defense law that was enacted in 2005.The statewide impacts of this is unclear, as Hirsch made this decision Monday based on two cases before him.