Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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MARCH 22, 2012 2:29PM

Trayvon Martin and Florida’s Right to Murder Law

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Florida’s law makes it dead easy to get away with murder

trayvon martin martin family photoTrayvon Martin was 17 when he was killed – almost a man. But anyone who heard his screams for help on the 911 tape, followed by gunshots, knows that a child was killed that night…

Two people are alone. One pulls out a gun and kills the other. If they are in Florida, it is almost impossible to convict – or even to arrest – the killer. If the sole survivor of a two person confrontation is willing to lie (and what murderer isn’t) CHAPTER 776 of the Florida Statute says, OK by us, here’s your gun back, now go home and mix yourself a celebration martini!

The statute is called “JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE.” But effectively, it makes “justifiable” into a simple opinion. And thus, all use of force becomes justifiable.

But that’s not all. CHAPTER 776 is such bad law that one has to wonder whether it was written accidentally by idiots or on purpose by morons. Here’s what turned Florida into a murderer’s paradise:

(From FL776.012) a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony…

You may need to read it again. In Florida, you do not actually have to be threatened to execute someone. You just have to believe you are. So the same paranoid nutbag that is afraid leave the house without a gun tucked under his shirt is allowed to decide whether the person he killed was actually threatening him. What if he just imagined it? In Florida, it doesn’t matter. It was still perfectly OK for him to kill another person. He can do it as many times – to as many people – as he imagines might hurt him. Or take his watch.

From FL776.013 A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so...

This is where the Florida law goes completely off the rails. The traditional Castle Doctrine gave protection rights inside your own home (where, presumably, there is no escape.) But since 2005 – in Florida – someone can freely kill someone else any place at any time. All you need to do is believe he or she is going to harm you. Or else you can simply lie about it.


From FL776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force. — (1) A person who uses force… is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action …
…the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

…the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

Police departments that arrest or even detain and question someone asserting justifiable use of force are subject to civil liability. Around here, cops don’t even chase speeders because it might create liability. They don’t direct traffic because the department might be liable if they are injured. They are not going to arrest anyone who can make a claim of immunity. “Buck it up to the prosecutor,” says the Sargent; every time.

So in the end if someone is able to get someone alone, he can kill him. As the only remaining witness, he can then claim it was justified, based simply on his own opinion. When he does, he becomes immune from detention, arrest or prosecution, and even from providing any evidence to support his claim. If the police even detain him, he can sue them. And win.

No matter whether justice prevails in the terrible killing of Trayvon Martin, this remains a giant loophole in Florida law. It’s a loophole big enough for a murderer to jump through – as long as he is also willing to tell a fib.

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From what I can tell...the law doesn't apply. There is no evidence that Zimmerman was ever in the position of being threatened by Martin. Martin, however, was in that position, and there is ample evidence to proof that. So, I don't think Zimmerman can use the law in his defense. What's more anything he's says detailing the events will most positively lead to his arrest and conviction. He's already supposed to have said he was jumped from behind. Martin's phone call with his girl friend positively disputes that. This is a case wherein, the Sanford Police have gotten away with some corrupt stuff protecting their own as documented. The Police just followed a "knee jerk" reaction of doing the same. It had been successful before, but this time it failed. This "butt covering" is systemic in all organizations, not just the Police. Another word for it is a "cover-up." The Sanford Police badly misjudged, but only had a small window to do the right thing, but it went against their "business as usual " model. This time there will be justice, and it will help worldwide. Do the right thing in the first place. Don't stoop to "butt-covering"...protecting your own, that's not the way justice works.
Sadly it was an anti-gun law that killed Martin. Had a 17 year old been able to lawfully carry a handgun, he might have been able to at least even the odds during a shoot out. Given the proper training, range time, target size differences and reaction times I'm guessing Zimmerman would have at least seen hospital time as a result of his harrasment had a more pro gun law system been in place.

Of course, that just sounds crazy.

In reality I agree with the grey head that just posted above me.
Wrong. Read the law and look at the facts. The Florida law provides no protection for Zimmerman. Indeed, is his death sentence. Everyone should rest assured that Zimmerman will be prosecuted. The admitted facts (in his own words) and the plain language of the statute assure he is toast.

 Thank you for this perspective.

 This might also interest you. See Trayvon Martin: Defense a Pig-Sty Beneath a Racist Facade?