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
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.