Self Defense Is a Right

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Glenn Geist lives in South Florida and wastes most of his time boating, writing, complaining and talking on the radio
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I have to wonder that the voices recently so quick to trot out the tattered signs and banners about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law aren’t making much noise about Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal’s decision to grant Marissa Alexander, the young mother who fired a harmless warning shot to dissuade her abusive husband, under a restraining order, from attacking her.

As some of us remember, her ‘Stand Your Ground’ claim to self defense under the allegedly racially motivated law was denied because she could have run away and under the more arguably racist minimum sentencing law was given 20 years in prison.

Last May, a jury took just 12 minutes to find her guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because the judge instructed them that she was obliged to prove self defense to justify firing a gun in a house when in fact, Appeals Court judge Robert Benton in granting her a new trial, wrote:

“The defendant’s burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning
self defense.”

Funny how the same people can mock the idea of reasonable doubt while almost simultaneously raise it as a point of justice in another case, but that’s people. That’s politics in 21st century America.

George Zimmerman did not need to and indeed did not plead that he was standing his ground because his claim that he was pinned to the ground raised reasonable doubt of his ability to retreat. Marissa Alexander was denied the right to use a gun in self defense and reasonable doubt was ignored because her judge did not understand this controversial law and incorrectly instructed the jury.

I would suggest that many examples often given in support of the danger of this law result from similar judicial misunderstandings and that SYG is designed to protect those who have successfully repelled a violent attack against prosecutors and juries and verdicts that often destroy their lives even if they are absolved of guilt in defending themselves.

Mandatory sentencing is, in my opinion and in the opinions of civil rights advocates, a slap in the face of justice; an attempt to blame crime on judges who try to make the punishment fit the crime. The NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Action Network have called for Florida Governor Rick Scott to pardon Alexander, but perhaps having her conviction overturned in light of her legal obligation only to raise reasonable doubt and not to “Prove” her innocence; — her right to defend herself against violent attack would be a better outcome; would be a legal precedent and not just a gift. Justice should never be a gift, It’s our right.

 Self Defense Is a Right
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Posted by on October 7, 2013. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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15 Responses to Self Defense Is a Right

  1. James Smith Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

    “Justice should never be a gift, it’s our right.” Therein lies the crux of the matter. It definitely SHOULD be our right. Unfortunately, it’s not a right equally applied to everyone.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      October 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

      So true James. It’s not a right applied to everyone and this is an ideal case to put the point on that statement…

  2. E.A. Blair Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    While it’s true that justice should be a right, and very often it’s a gift, the reality is that it’s a commodity, to be bought, sold or traded to the highest bidder with a market value that constantly changes.

  3. Lyndon Probus Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    As mentioned in the article such an outrageous sentence can be blamed directly on mandatory sentencing laws. These are anachronisms and should be gotten rid of, soon.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      October 8, 2013 at 11:15 am

      That’s true Lyndon. Mandatory sentencing is, I think, a relic from the “Law and Order” campaigns of the 60’s and 70’s and had a lot to do with trying to suppress political dissent, but it was about blaming a period of rising crime on Democrats and Liberals who were “tying the hands of police” “coddling criminals” and bringing on the apocalypse as liberals always do.

      It has much to do with the US being a prison state, with more people in jail than in most any other country and more than any first world country and of course in practice it seems more mandatory when used against minorities.

  4. rowdy62 Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Zimmerman was right to do what he did being faced with the threat from an angry Trayvon Martin, and Marissa Alexander was also right. One had the better lawyer.

    • rowdy62 is an idiot Reply

      October 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      False equivalence. Zimmerman was a man with a long history of violence and lawbreaking. It is obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense (and lack of racial prejudice) that Zimmerman stalked and murdered an innocent kid. His claims of self defense are bunk.

      Melissa Alexander is a battered woman who didn’t hurt anyone by shooting her gun.

      • Michael John Scott Reply

        October 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        Zimmerman did not have a long history of violence and lawbreaking. He had two very minor misdemeanor arrests. Secondly, according to a jury of his peers he didn’t stalk and murder anyone. Perhaps you should remember these words: NOT GUILTY.

  5. Bill Formby Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I think what most of these folks are saying Glenn, is that those two cases have virtually nothing in common. The bare bone facts in Ms Alexander’s case were virtually undisputed. Her ex was in her house and she had retreated to her garage. He had beaten her before. While he may say he did not intend to harm her and she said he said he did intend to harm her, and that she feared for her life, she still did not take his life choosing to fire a warning shot which stopped her ex husband. She lost her case because of a racially insensitive justice system. All of the hoopla surrounding the Zimmerman case most likely helped her appeal and get her granted a new trial.
    Zimmerman on the other hand did not use SYG because he literally forced and encounter with Martin. It became self defense in the eyes of the jury because Martin stuck first. I am one of those people who doesn’t question jury verdicts because those people did the best they could. But, I can question the way the prosecution pursued the case, which was awful. Just to be clear, if I am walking home one night and someone is stalking me, I am not going to give them a chance to get up to me to rob, shoot, or mug me or whatever. No if I can find a 2×4 lying around. As I said two different cases.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      October 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

      What never seems to be discussed is the world of hurt that happens to people who have justifiably defended themselves. Let’s say you used that 2X4 on a stalker. whether you maim him or kill him or give him a headache, there’s a good possibility you’ll go to jail and have to stand trail and in the process lose your job, house, your car, your savings and more whether or not you are acquitted. You can be acquitted and still have to stand a civil suit.

      Without SYG, you would have to prove in court that you had no option to run away.

      I just think it’s unfair.

      I brought up these two cases not because they are similar, but to point out that one was selected for national hysteria and to be the poster child for a war on racism and the other — in which nobody got hurt — resulted in a life ruined. As I’ve argued before we make a fuss — we get hysterical — about what we’re told to and ignore more grievous offenses against justice. Are our pet causes making us blind?

  6. Norman Rampart Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Hang about!!!! Let me read this again…Am I reading this right??? Marissa fired a gun to defend herself but didn’t shoot her abusive husband and she’s in prison????

    I need to read this again…surely I’ve read it wrongly…

    I didn’t??? Oh for fucks sake. What a screwed up world.

  7. Shalimar Two Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    the woman was not reading here bible and was not born again ad her husband wanted that so she deserve what she got.

    • James Smith Reply

      October 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      How do you know any of that?

      Why do you never understand about spelling and capitalization? Maybe because it isn’t in the babble?

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      October 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

      True, she was not reading here bible but there bible and of course if she was born again she’d be younger and her husband would like that no doubt. After all, women have to obey their husbands who have God’s authority to do what they damn well please and that’s both in here and there and everywhere bible, right?

      You know, if your IQ is 37, reading the bible makes you just as smart as anyone, so speak right up.

  8. Sue Reply

    October 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

    This was a travesty of justice but it’s not the only one, it’s just the flavor of the day. Hundreds if not thousands of people fall prey to a broken criminal justice system.

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