Tag: Stand Your Ground Laws

Home For The Holidays: Marissa Alexander Released On Bail

Marissa Alexander

Around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, Marissa Alexander was granted a pretrial release with special conditions, according to the Duval County Clerk of Court.

First Coast News reports the conditions of Alexander’s release below:

• Remain under the supervision of the pretrial services program at all times
• Subject to electronic monitoring through the CTC at all times
• Remain on home detention until completion of her case and will be allowed to leave her residence except for court appearances, medical emergencies and to satisfy any requirements of PSP or the CTC
• Report all required court appearances and all required appointments with he PSP or its designated service provider
• Alexander cannot change her residence without prior notice and approval by the PSP or its designated service provider
• Cannot have contact with, nor communicate by any means with Rico Gray, Sr., Pernell Gray and Rico Gray, Jr.
• Alexander shall abide by all court orders in the divorce proceedings involving Rico Gray, Sr., including all orders that pertain to child custody, exchange of child custody for visitation shall be facilitated by a third party
• Alexander shall not possess any firearms, nor shall there be any firearms in her residence at any time during her pretrial release
• Shall not consume any alcoholic beverage or drug not prescribed by a physician
• Must abide by all rules and regulations for the PSP and the CTC including random drug testing
• Alexander shall be subject to warrantless searches of her residence by CTC officers or any JSO officer conducting such a search at the direction of CTC personnel, to ensure compliance with her pretrial release conditions

Alexander’s bond was set at a total of $200,009 for three separate charges.  NewsOne contributor, Attorney and Legal Analyst Eric L. Guster, who can frequently be seen sparring with HLN’s Nancy Grace over high-profile cases, said the laundry list of conditions is standard in a case such as Alexander’s:

“Although [the conditions of release] seem extensive, those are typical stipulations for a person in that situation,” Guster said. “Since she has been found guilty once and now may go to trial again, the court has a duty to protect all parties, witnesses and Marissa herself. Therefore, the requirements of her bond are similar to those similarly situated.”

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Mother of Trayvon Martin Tells Senate Panel “Stand Your Ground” Laws Do Not Work and Should be Changed

FILE - In this July 26, 2003 file photo, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, speaks during the National Urban League's annual conference in Philadelphia. Fulton is expected to tell a Senate panel Tuesday that states must clarify their "stand your ground" self-defense laws. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, told a Senate panel Tuesday that states must clarify their ‘stand your ground’ self-defense laws after the man who fatally shot her son was acquitted of manslaughter. (Matt Rourke/AP)

WASHINGTON — The mother of Travyon Martin, the Florida teen killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, told a Senate panel today that stand your ground self-defense laws should be changed.  Sybrina Fulton offered the tragic case of her son as Exhibit A of why she said such laws do not work.  “He was simply going to the store to get snacks, nothing more, nothing less,” Fulton said of her son, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., in early 2012.

“He was minding his own business, he was not looking for any kind of trouble, he was not committing any kind of crime.”  She added, “The person who shot and killed my son is walking the streets today. … The Law is not working.”  Martin’s killing ignited a national debate about stand your ground laws and racial profiling. The debate grew even louder after Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.  More than two dozen states have some version of stand your ground laws, which let individuals use lethal force instead of retreating if they feel threatened with death or serious injury in public by another person.

Senate Democrats convened the hearing, which triggered a clash with Republicans on the Judiciary subcommittee who favor stand your ground laws.  Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) cited research that suggests about 600 homicides a year can be traced to such laws, with no apparent impact on overall crime deterrence.  His view that such laws have done little else but accentuate a “shoot first” mentality among citizens was quickly disputed by the firebrand freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Marissa Alexander, Woman Sentenced To 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot in Florida, Gets New Trial

Marissa Alexander new trialTALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida woman serving 20 years in prison for firing a shot at her estranged husband during an argument will get a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a “stand your ground” defense, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville mother of three, has been used by critics of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state’s justice system is skewed against defendants who are black.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense.

The ruling, written by Judge Robert Benton, said the instructions constituted a “fundamental error” and required Alexander to prove self-defense “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s “stand your ground” law as a way to defend her actions. That law generally removes people’s duty to retreat in the face of possible danger and allows them to use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger.

Faith Gay, one of the attorneys representing the 33-year-old Alexander, said she was grateful for the “thorough consideration” provided by the appeals court.  “We are looking forward to taking the case back to trial,” Gay said.

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Mothers of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis to Testify at Senate ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearing

Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton speaks during a rally honoring Trayvon Martin organized by the National Action Network outside One Police Plaza in Manhattan on July 20, 2013 in New York City. Demonstrators have gathered in various cities across the country to protest the acquittal of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman and press for his federal prosecution in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton speaks during a rally honoring Trayvon Martin organized by the National Action Network outside One Police Plaza in Manhattan on July 20, 2013 in New York City. Demonstrators have gathered in various cities across the country to protest the acquittal of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman and press for his federal prosecution in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – On Tuesday, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis will testify on Capitol Hill. The topic: “Stand Your Ground” laws.  Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The hearing, according to a notice on the Senate Judiciary Committee website is entitled “‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force.”

Tallahassee, Florida-based state attorney William Meggs, and Harvard Law School professor and director of the Criminal Justice Institute Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. are also expected to testify, along with a senior fellow from the Libertarian Cato Institute and John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D., President of the Crime Prevention Research Center in Swarthmore, PA.

Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin, whose shooting death and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, on second degree murder and manslaughter charges touched off more than a year of controversy regarding Florida’s “stand your ground” laws and similar laws across the country. (Zimmerman didn’t use “Stand Your Ground” as his defense, but it was referenced by one of the jurors in the case in interviews after the verdict, and it altered Florida’s jury instructions in cases like Zimmerman’s.)

A foundation founded by Fulton and Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, is working to amend “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and in the more than 20 other states with similar laws.  George Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense.

McBath’s son, Jordan Davis, was shot to death on November 23, 2012 at a Jacksonville gas station as he sat in a car with three friends. Michael Dunn is expected to use the “Stand Your Ground” self defense law in his upcoming trial for Davis’ killing. Dunn is expected to go to trial in January.

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Youth-Led Campaigns Continue to Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin, Refute CNN’s Don Lemon

dream-defenders-16x9
At left, American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, Jr. listens as Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew, right, raises his fist as he leads a chant calling for a special session Friday, July 26, 2013 in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

In wake of the Trayvon Martin murder trial, movements led by young people who embrace hoodies, tattoos, hip-hop culture and rebellion are proving that a powerful voice in this nation can defy stereotypes or expectations.  While media pundits and lawmakers continue to bicker over the destructive ethos of American society, organizations like the Dream Defenders, the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and the Trayvon Martin Foundation have taken their concerns to the streets.  They’re camped out. They’re marching Washington. They’re demanding that laws be changed and they’re forcing the government to listen.

An uprising not unlike civil rights movements of the past, these youth activists have utilized social media, new technology and the provocative antics of hip-hop to make a difference, and they don’t intend to stop.

#Ever.

“We are powerful because we are a product of our generation,” Ciara Taylor, political director for the Dream Defenders, tells theGrio. “We show the world that yes, you can listen to rap music, and yes, you can sag your pants, yes, you can have tattoos and wear snapbacks, but you can also stand up for yourself and your community.”

The Dream Defenders: #TAKEOVERFL

After occupying the Florida State House for three weeks to demand repeal of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Taylor’s team demonstrated their influence this weekend when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced he would hold hearings on the subject this fall.  The victory arrives after the organization, primarily made of twenty-somethings and college students, rallied legislators, drafted letters and sought approval from the Secretary of State to bring the matter to its feet.  According to Tallahassee.com, the protest has cost the government $182,362, including $68,777 in overtime for law enforcement officers.  “I’m thinking I’m going to lose my job,” says Taylor, who works part-time at the American Civil Liberties Union and has taken significant time off to lead the protest.

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Florida House Speaker Agrees to Hold Hearings on Stand Your Ground Law

DreamDefenders

TALLAHASSEE — Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Friday that he will order hearings this fall on the state’s “stand your ground” law, a victory for the young protesters known as the Dream Defenders who have spent the past two weeks protesting at the Capitol.  “It’s a critical first step,” said Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders. “We’ve been here for three weeks. We know Democracy takes time. Progress takes time.”

They shouldn’t celebrate too hard. Weatherford assigned the task of chairing the hearings to a staunch supporter of the law, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.  “I don’t support changing one damn comma of the stand your ground law,” Gaetz said Friday.  “It would be reactionary and dangerous to make Floridians less safe to pacify uninformed protesters.”  Gaetz, the 31-year-old son of Senate President Don Gaetz, talks tough on crime. He passed a bill this year that expedited death row cases and has been known for pushing conservative causes popular in his Panhandle district. He expects the hearings to draw national attention, and he says he’s ready for the debate.

“I want to have hearings, it’s a good idea,” Gaetz said. “Right now, the only voices on stand your ground are coming from the radical left. I want an opportunity to give a full-throated defense of the law.”  He said he’s not sure when he’ll hold the hearings, how long they’ll last, or how they’ll be structured.  But he said his bias shouldn’t deter those holding out hope that hearings can lead to changes in the law.  “Bills I don’t support occasionally pass my committee,” he said.

Weatherford agreed to the hearings in an op-ed published Friday. “Our evaluation of its effectiveness should be guided by objective information, not by political expediency,” he wrote. “Does the law keep the innocent safer? Is it being applied fairly? Are there ways we can make this law clearer and more understandable.”

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