FL: Self-defense Laws

Discussion in 'In the News' started by GeorgiaGlocker, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Romans 10:13


    Posted on Mon, Jul. 09, 2007

    By BRIAN SKOLOFF - Associated Press Writer

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --Norman Borden fought back twice - once against three assailants on the street, then again in a courtroom where he was charged with murder for killing two of them.

    Borden, 44, was walking his dogs last year when three men in a Jeep tried to run him down. He pulled a gun and shot five times through the windshield, then moved to the side of the vehicle and fired nine more rounds.

    He thought the shooting was self-defense, but a prosecutor put him on trial in the deaths, despite a new Florida law that grants wide latitude to people using deadly force to protect themselves.

    The case highlights the confusion surrounding so-called "stand-your-ground" laws, which have been adopted in at least 14 states. The laws have perplexed judges and prosecutors, and, in some cases, forced attorneys to change the way they review evidence.

    In Borden's case, a prosecutor filed charges against him, even though he privately thought Borden might have been correct to open fire. In Kentucky, a man suspected of murder was offered a plea agreement because the law was too difficult to explain to jurors.

    Florida was the first state to enact such a law in 2005, removing the requirement that people who think they are in immediate peril must first try to retreat from the confrontation before using deadly force. Prior to passage of the law, only people defending themselves in their own homes, for the most part, could use deadly force without first trying to flee.

    Most states let authorities determine whether deadly force was reasonable, even inside the home. But the new laws create an automatic presumption that a person is justified in using deadly force to ward off an attacker in just about any public place.

    "We believe that self-defense is an innate human right and the law should never put the innocent victim of a crime in a position of having to second-guess themselves," said Ashley Varner, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, which pushed for the laws.

    For defense attorneys, the laws offer protection to clients who have struck back at assailants.

    "The more defenses the better," said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He added: "Most people would rather be judged by 12 than carried by six," referring to juries and pallbearers.

    Gun-control groups worry that the laws will embolden shooters to pull the trigger first rather than as a last resort.

    "If you are protecting yourself or your family in self defense, that's a basic legal right anyway," said Elizabeth Haile, an attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    At least 14 states have revised their laws to ensure that people don't have to retreat from an attacker. Those states are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, according to the NRA.

    There is no way to tell exactly how many times the law has been used as a defense because the statutes are still too new to collect statistics.

    In Kentucky, prosecutors offered a plea deal to a man they accused of murder because the statute was too confusing to explain to jurors.

    Judge Sheila Isaac, who presided over the case, said the law apparently "went right through the Legislature without a single attorney looking at it."

    She said the law was addressing a problem that didn't exist, a sentiment shared by law enforcement officials across the country.

    "You just don't see cases where people are prosecuted when they are defending themselves," Isaac said.

    Former Republican state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored Florida's bill, argues that the law was needed to empower citizens.

    "Our judicial system tries to be so careful to protect the criminal's rights, we have neglected the right of the common citizen to protect themselves," Baxley said.

    In West Palm Beach, Borden faced up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder and attempted murder.

    One of his would-be attackers, 21-year-old Juan Mendez, admitted in testimony at Borden's trial that the three men in the Jeep planned to "rough him up." A baseball bat was also found in the vehicle.

    Prosecutor Craig Williams argued that Borden exceeded justified force when he continued firing after shooting the driver and stopping the Jeep. But Borden's defense argued that he did not have to retreat, citing the new law.

    Williams said he pursued the charges because he thought a jury needed to decide the case. But he privately wondered how he would have behaved in the same situation. When Borden was acquitted, the prosecutor was almost relieved.

    The assailants "were bringing an arsenal," Williams conceded after the trial. "It was pretty clear what the right thing to do was here."
  2. Thorsen

    Thorsen New Member

    If this prosecutor was so sure as to what the right thing to do was, why in the hell did he try the man in the first place? Unless I have missed something in my law classes, prosecutors have the right to choose not to charge someone with a crime if they believe that a crime was not committed.

    Then again this prosecutor may have been playing russian roulette with the shooter's freedoms in order to establish a jury decision supporting the application of the law itself.

    Either way, what a crappy move on his part.

    I want to become an attorney, and am working towards that goal, but I definitely don't want to become this kind of attorney.

  3. Sharky

    Sharky Active Member

    So many things wrong with this guy where to start.

    Lets not forget that a moving vehicle can be used as a weapon! I probably would have done the same thing. Then seeing more attackers moving around inside the vehicle. Who knows what they are planning in those few seconds.

    "One of his would-be attackers, 21-year-old Juan Mendez, admitted in testimony at Borden's trial that the three men in the Jeep planned to "rough him up." A baseball bat was also found in the vehicle. "

    It doesnt get much more clear that that!

    I have met some attorneys that I just dont believe deserve to be in that position.
  4. merlock

    merlock Active Member

    Notice that when Castle Doctine laws are mentioned in the drive-by media, there is almost never any mention about the immunity from getting your as* sued to hell and back from the bad guy or the bad guys' family. :)
  5. fallison

    fallison Guest

    Does anyone else see the contradiction between the first statement and the other two?
  6. Cavediver

    Cavediver Member

    I read a bit about this on another forum. Apparently the issue is not that he defended himself, rather that defense turned to offense (or excessive use of force) after the first several shots were fired.
    A load of BS IMO, but that's what they said.
    There's a bit more to this story...
    While he's now free from the legal system, he was originally detained for quite a while. While he was in jail his house was burned down and his dogs were sent to the pound. They didn't get out.
    Now the guy is a target for the rest of the gang.

    I recall reading about a similar case a while ago. An officer was nearly run down by a vehicle. He fired several shots at the vehicle, both before it passed him and after. The span of time was only a couple of seconds.
    I think he received disciplinary action (was fired?) because the last couple of shots were "after the danger had passed."
    Total BS.