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  1. #91
    Administrator sunny47's Avatar
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    Uncertainty about 'stand your ground' law
    dismays judge in Pasco theater shooting case
    Aug. 5 2017

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    Remember the case of Curtis Reeves?
    Six months ago, the nation watched as he tried to fend off a murder charge for shooting a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theater by claiming immunity under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
    He was unsuccessful. But at a recent court appearance, his defense attorney raised the prospect that Reeves could get another chance, courtesy of the state Legislature and a recent tweak it made to the law.
    That dismayed Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle, who presided over the last "stand your ground" hearing for Reeves. It lasted 10 days.
    "Oh, Lord have mercy," she said Thursday in court. "If that's the case and we have to do this thing all over again just because of that — Lord have mercy. Oh boy."

    A repeat of the Reeves "stand your ground" hearing is far from a certainty. Whether the new version of the law applies retroactively to pending cases is still an open question for the courts, with local judges throughout the state issuing conflicting opinions.
    "I sort of expected this would happen when they made the change to the law," said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law. "These things are just now being generated at the circuit level. So right now it's a case of first impressions."
    The "stand your ground" law, on the books since 2005, says a person faced with a violent confrontation has no duty to retreat and can use deadly force if he or she fears death or great bodily harm. In such cases, the person who uses deadly force is immune from prosecution and civil liability.

    Previously, it was up to the defendant to prove that he or she was in fear and that immunity applied. But in June, Gov. Rick Scott signed a new version of the law, which shifts the burden of proof in "stand your ground" cases. Now, it is the prosecutors who must prove that a defendant was not in fear.
    In the weeks since, the state has seen a number of new "stand your ground" claims in cases that were ongoing before the new law's passage.

    Some judges have allowed those claims to proceed.
    Earlier this week, attorneys sparred in a "stand your ground" hearing in the case of Randolph Graham, who is accused of stabbing to death former University of South Florida football player Elkino Watson. After two days of arguments and testimony, Hillsborough Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta ruled the state had met its burden and denied Graham immunity.
    Yet, a few weeks earlier, Circuit Judge Tom Barber said that the state Constitution prohibits the new law from applying to pending cases. In a written ruling, Barber noted the inconsistencies between judges.
    "Hopefully, the District Courts of Appeal will act quickly to clarify the law so as to avoid unnecessary confusion, delay and waste of resources," Barber wrote.
    If the law is found to apply retroactively, that could prolong the case of Reeves, which has already been in court for more than three years.
    The retired Tampa police captain is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Chad Oulson

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  2. #92
    Administrator sunny47's Avatar
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    Editorial: Stand your ground delays justice

    Friday, September 15, 2017 5:19pm

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    This is a legitimate concern when you consider the Wesley Chapel movie theater case. More than 44 months have passed since an unarmed man was shot and killed by a retired police officer, and there is still no trial in sight. Three years had already passed before the first hearing, where Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle rejected Curtis Reeves'

    claim for immunity under the "stand your ground'' law. Now Reeves' lawyers are contemplating a second "stand your ground'' attempt based on retroactively applying recent revisions made to the law that shifted the burden of proof to prosecutors to show defendants do not deserve "stand your ground'' protection rather than requiring the defendant's lawyers to demonstrate the defendant deserves it.

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