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Playing Fast and Loose

If the gun control movement has been turning the exploitation up to the max with the Zimmerman case, CSGV has been turning the dials all the way to 11. World class reality distortion expert and lilliputian Josh Horwitz is busy over on HuffPo trying to distort the facts around the Florida law, pointing to the immunity section of the statute, and arguing that prevents “ever having to face any meaningful review of their actions by a jury.” This is hogwash. This immunity can only apply in the event your self-defense is lawful under 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 of Florida’s statute. If the facts are in dispute in regard as to whether you fall under this immunity, a jury will try those facts. I argued previously, this actually doesn’t mean a whole lot, and really only prevents prosecutors from abusing people who by all accounts were engaged in lawful self-defense. If there’s probable cause to believe the self-defense wasn’t lawful, then arrest and prosecution and proceed. Horwitz is essentially arguing we ought to be able to prosecute individuals without probable cause. Which isn’t lawful regardless of whether this statute exists or not. As I’ve said, I’m not sure really what purpose this passage serves in regards to criminal immunity, since it seems to me to just restate what is already law.

The bottom line is that prior to the “Stand Your Ground” law, if you were out in public in Florida and could avoid spilling blood by safely retreating from a conflict, you were required to do so by law. Now, hundreds of years of common law have been thrown out the window and the Seminole County grand jury will have to evaluate Zimmerman’s actions through the lens of the NRA’s new (and dangerous) statutes.

The standard is safely retreating. The law required retreat only when retreat could be done in complete safety. That’s a relatively tough burden for prosecutors to meet. Indeed, one of the arguments our opponents used to try to defeat the removal of the retreat requirement was to argue that it’s never been abused to lock away innocent people, because it is a tough standard to prosecute someone on.

So the $64,000 question is will the grand jury ultimately indict George Zimmerman or find that he acted in lawful “self-defense.” Prior to the “Stand Your Ground” law, a claim of “self-defense” would not have been possible, as Zimmerman would have had a duty to retreat to avoid a conflict with Martin (something which everyone acknowledges he could have done safely). But with the law in place, the grand jury may have the legal wiggle room necessary to avoid taking action.

This is just BS, plain and simple. Horwitz has absolutely no evidence that duty-to-retreat would have played into this case. I’ve seen one report that Zimmerman was on the ground with Martin on top of him. Duty-to-retreat would not have played into those circumstances. I’ve seen another report that Zimmerman was headed back to his truck and was attacked. That’s another circumstance duty-to-retreat wouldn’t have played into, because Zimmerman was in the process of retreating. As I’ve been saying repeatedly this week, this case is going to hinge on whether Zimmerman was legally faultless, more so than whether he could have retreated, and that would be the case whether Florida had this statute or not.

Horwitz then goes on to lament that Florida will issue licenses to people who have been arrested but not convicted:

Or you can be someone like George Zimmerman, who committed a violent crime but was able to plea-bargain it down to the point where it served as no obstacle to him obtaining a permit. And permits are good for seven years — so once you are issued one, you may not have your record checked again by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the issuing body) until you renew the permit.

Zimmerman shoved an alcohol enforcement officer that was trying to arrest his friend in 2005. He was arrested, and in exchange for having the charges dropped, entered into what in Pennsylvania we’d call an ARD program, which means charges are dropped in exchange for your entering into a non-criminal rehabilitation program. This is usually done for non-violent first time offenders… typically DUIs here in Pennsylvania. Was it appropriate for Zimmerman? I think that can be debated. But the fact remains that Zimmerman was never convicted, and we don’t deny rights in this country without due process of law. Horwitz’s claim also implies once you have the license, they ignore any criminal activity you have in the mean time. This is just false. If you’re convicted of a disabling offense your permit will be noted, and revoked.

Horwitz is likely thrilled, because this case is earning CSGV some attention when they are largely, otherwise ignored. They’ve even been quoted in friendly media articles, the media being equally eager to exploit the tragedy for gain. It’s our job to ensure that once the hubbub over this case dies down, things go back to normal, and CSGV are left to their normal routine of begging for attention, any attention.

2 Responses to “Playing Fast and Loose”

  1. Matthew Carberry says:

    So all the Occupy folks who have been arrested for resisting arrest and assault on police officers, but have had their charges dropped, should be treated as violent criminals henceforth, right Josh?

  2. Kermit says:

    Does the fact that all this went down on private property have any relevance?

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