Stand Your Ground Laws

A tried and true trope of conservatives faced with the grim outcomes of their cockamamie schemes is to attempt to shame everyone into ignoring the human cost of their policies — ironically — out of respect for the people hurt. Something horrible happened, but it’s unseemly to try to explore why it happened, just sit back and let the moment pass and enjoy some bread and circuses until you forget.

We’ve seen it countless times before. It’s rhetorical standard operating procedure. After Sandy Hook, the usual suspects from Senator Rand Paul to the Washington Times decried the “cruel” and “shameful” “exploitation” involved in pointing out that putting military assault rifles on the street makes it easy for someone to kill a lot of kids very quickly. The tactic worked as it always does and time passed, people forgot, and nothing happened. It was only a week ago that Senator Ted Cruz suggested it was disrespectful of Trayvon Martin’s mother to lobby for changes based on her son’s death. I guess it was disrespectful to… Cruz? One would have thought his mom would be the right barometer of how to honor her son.

Now this trope is the subject of Tamara Tabo’s criticism of my article yesterday regarding the recent shooting of Renisha McBride because I noted the uptick in the “shoot first” culture brought on by Stand Your Ground laws (regardless of the fact that the law isn’t technically at play here).

Let’s unpack this and also look at some other misdirection being flung my way, shall we?

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Jodi Arias

* Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder took a much needed break from attempting to prosecute NSA data-leaker Edward Snowden to “strongly condemn” Stand Your Ground laws in a speech given to the NAACP. [Washington Post]

* So much for “caus[ing] it all.” Disgraced Illinois politician Rod Blagojevich is appealing his conviction and 14-year prison sentence to the Seventh Circuit, and he was this close to missing the midnight filing deadline. [NBC News]

* Yes, Virginia, there’s a law school crisis at hand, but only second- and third-tier schools seem to have been affected. Please don’t worry your pretty little head about the HYS strand; they’re doing just fine. [Businessweek]

* But speaking of highly ranked law schools, are there any reputable institutions of legal education that fall outside of the T14, but are just as good? Apparently there are, are here are the top five. [Policymic]

* Is Marty Singer, lawyer to the stars, guilty of extortion for allegedly threatening to expose a TV host’s sexual liaisons via lawsuit? According to this judge, he isn’t. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* Amid all of the rage over the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, people seem to have forgotten that Jodi Arias is back in court this week. I, for one, hope the femme fatale grew out her bangs. [ABC News]

* Looks like someone skipped professional responsibility class during bar prep: the Ninth Circuit denied attorney fees to McGuireWoods in light of an “egregious” ethics violation made in the BAR/BRI antitrust settlement. [National Law Journal]

* Apple rested its patent-infringement case against Samsung yesterday, making way for the rival tech company to begin presenting its case. Jurors must be thrilled that the end is in sight, with just 25 more hours of arguments to go. [Bloomberg]

* Remember the mom-and-dad law grads accused of planting a potpourri of drugs on an elementary school volunteer? Their alleged victim is suing. We’ll have more on this hot mess later. [Orange County Register]

* “The facts don’t seem to support a ‘stand your ground’ defense.” That’s what George Zimmerman’s attorney said yesterday, but the defense team is going to try to get the case dismissed on those grounds anyway. [AP]

* When applying to law school, it’s usually helpful to demonstrate in your application that you actually want to go to law school. Gah, people seriously need to be told these things. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* “[T]he plaintiff’s tampon was never forcibly removed by any deputy.” First of all, yuck. Second of all, you know that a crazy lawsuit must have been filed when the cops are making public statements like this. [NBC News]

* Really, Prometheus was the kind of movie that allows you to think “putting in some lawyers couldn’t have hurt.” [Point of Law]

* Republicans are just better at naming laws than Democrats. I don’t know why that is, but it is. [Recess Appointment]

* Stand your ground laws increase homicides. Tomorrow, the gun lobby will tell us that we need to arm ourselves because of the epidemic of people standing their ground and killing innocent, unarmed Americans who weren’t able to buy a gun. [WSJ Law Blog]

* I almost feel bad for Anthony Kennedy. Every objective indicator proves that he was wrong about what the impact of Citizens United would be, and every month brings a new opportunity to shame Kennedy again. [Election Law Blog]

* Do you take the Metro North home every day? Like Pete Campbell, you might need an apartment in the city. [Dealbreaker]

* Defense rests in Roger Clemens trial. I guess the jurors will have to go back to counting sheep in order to get their rest in. [NPR]

* A judge who meditated would freak me out. Especially if the judge meditated about how you shouldn’t judge people. [Underdog]

* “We can’t engage the public in a seminar about health law.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor informed the public at Penn Law that she would not be taking up a post as a Wise Latina civics instructor. [Wall Street Journal]

* Next on Meltdown with Keith Olbermann: this liberal commentator has sued Current TV over getting fired. It is clearly the most irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, tea-bagging network ever. [Businessweek]

* George Zimmerman has added another lawyer to his soon-to-be defense team — a “veteran criminal defense” lawyer. Why did he need to hire such a hot shot if what he did to Trayvon Martin was legal? [Reuters]

* Step aside TSA: what kinds of rights do cruise passengers have at sea? How about the right not to be interrogated, strip searched, and then forced to pee in front of security guards? [Overhead Bin / MSNBC]

* Jordan Wallick has been convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of James Wallmuth III, a University of Pittsburgh law student. Wallick is now looking at life behind bars for his crime. [CBS 21 News]

* It’s Obamacare week at the Supreme Court, and people have been waiting in line since Friday morning to see the oral arguments. It’s kind of like Black Friday, except more people care about affordable TVs than affordable health care. [New York Times]

* Growth in the NLJ 250 increased by 1.7 percent in 2011. That’s fantastic for Biglaw, but associates at these firms care more about the growth of their bank accounts. Seriously… where are the spring bonuses already? [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman’s lawyer says he doesn’t think the “stand your ground” law applies to Trayvon Martin’s shooting. This was just self-defense — against Skittles. [MSNBC]

* The finalists for deanship at Baltimore Law include a Patton Boggs partner, an assistant attorney general, a law school dean, and two law professors. But which will be able to stand up to Bogomolny? [Baltimore Sun]

* Since blogging allows “big personalities” to run free, does the prosecommenter, Sal Perricone, have a bright future ahead of him here at Above the Law? Let’s see what David Lat has to say about that. [Times-Picayune]

* Millionaire John Goodman has been convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges, and now he’s facing 11.5 to 30 years in prison. Boy is his girlfriend-slash-daughter going to miss him. [CNN]

Florida’s “stand your ground” law has received a lot of attention this week as people struggle to understand how a teenager named Trayvon Martin, armed with Skittles, was gunned down in the street. The FBI, the Justice Department, and a Florida grand jury are now all investigating the incident where Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, claims he was acting in self-defense.

I don’t want to get into the racial aspect of the instant situation — mainly because it’s too obvious. Don’t get me started on what the police would have done if a black man shot a white teenager to death and claimed he was standing his ground. It’s not even worth debating.

But even if race played a role here, it doesn’t mean a prosecutable crime took place. As many now know, that’s because Florida’s “stand your ground” law does not require people to retreat, even if they can do so safely.

Sure, “real men” don’t run. You can’t find a culture on Earth where running away is “honorable.” But in light of what’s happened with these laws on the books, do they really make sense? Is the enforcement of these laws racially prejudiced? Do “stand your ground” laws really just make it open season on black youths who might “scare” prejudiced people who incorrectly think they’re in danger of their lives?

I think so, but at least that’s a position where reasonable people will disagree….

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