A task force assigned to review the ‘stand your ground’ legislation that is expected to become central to George Zimmerman’s controversial shooting and death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was pieced together today in Florida.
MSNBC reports that the task force, promised by Florida’s governor Rick Scott, is being chaired by Florida’s Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., of Tallahassee's Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Together, they handpicked 15 people to serve on the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection.
Governor Scott said “We are a nation of laws, and I am committed to letting our legal system work to ensure the people in our state are safe and protected. I have the utmost confidence that Lt. Gov. Carroll and Rev. Holmes are the best people to lead the review of Florida's citizen safety laws."
Carroll said of the task force which she is now co-chairing is to formulate a recommendation prior to the start of the 2013 legislative session, which is when any proposed change to Florida would be considered.
In late February, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood vigilante in Florida, shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman initially avoided being prosecuted, but has since been brought up on charges of second degree murder six weeks after Martin’s death.
Attorney Mark O’Mara took on Zimmerman as a client after his original attorney resigned citing conflict of interest. Afterward, Attorney O’Mara requested that the presiding judge on the case, Judge Jessica Recksiedler be removed from the case because her husband is partners with a CNN commentator who will be required to comment on the story. Judge Recksiedler agreed and signed off of the case. Kenneth R. Lester Jr. is set to replace her on the case.
O’Mara is seeking to protect his client under the ‘stand your ground’ laws and to have the case dismissed. He said that Zimmerman will plead not guilty using the Florida Statute 776 as protection.
Further, if there is medical evidence supporting Zimmerman’s claim that Martin broke his nose and slammed his head into the sidewalk, Zimmerman could claim self-defense in his actions.
Other legal experts, however, don’t believe that Zimmerman will be able to claim self-defense.
The so-called ‘stand your ground’ laws, backed by the National Rifle Association, first took off in Florida seven years ago. Now, the laws have begun to sweep the country and do far more than protect citizens’ rights to ‘stand their ground,’ according to MSNBC. “It's added second, third and even fourth chances for people who have used lethal force to avoid prosecution and conviction using the same argument, extra opportunities to keep their freedom that defendants accused of other crimes don't get.”
Not surprisingly, Martin’s death has since sparked debate about the ‘stand your ground’ laws which many believe are “hard to apply evenly” and “prone to abuse by criminals.” Some are worried that the laws “foster a vigilante, even trigger-happy mentality that might cause too many unnecessary deaths.”
The ‘stand your ground’ laws have not been considered by the Supreme Court as to whether or not they are constitutional. None of the laws have been struck down by a lower court, and the use of them is growing by defense lawyers, as in George Zimmerman’s case.