Miami Judge Rules New ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Unconstitutional

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

An update to Florida’s controversial, seemingly for-whites-only “Stand your ground” law was deemed unconstitutional by a Miami judge on Monday.


According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that the lawmakers who modified the law this year to force prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pretrial hearing was illegitimate.


He ruled that under the Florida Constitution, only the state’s Supreme’s Court could have made the change, not the Legislature.

The Herald reports that the ruling is “a victory for prosecutors who have firmly opposed a law they believe makes it easier for defendants to get away with murder and other violent crime,” but black folks might be giving a little cheer, too.

In the very well-known Trayvon Martin case of 2012, George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, used “Stand your ground” as a successful defense against murder charges.

In another notable case in the same year, Floridian Marissa Alexander, a black woman, was not able to use the law as she defended herself against an on-record violent husband. She initially received a sentence of 20 years, of which she served three.


The update in the “Stand your ground” law, passed in May, was backed by the National Rifle Association, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the new law into effect last month.


The Herald reports that Hirsch’s ruling isn’t binding—other trial courts across Florida can follow the law if they choose. But it will “get the appeals ball rolling,” and possibly go to the Florida Supreme Court for review.

Let’s hope that court will get rid of this sickening law once and for all.

Read more at the Miami Herald.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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Zimmerman didn’t use a stand your ground defense at trial. You really should know that or be able to easily research that as a reporter.