When Florida Governor Rick Scott updated his state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to give a little more leeway to people who used the law as a claim for self-defense, the NRA saw it as a victory. When the law was originally enacted in 2005, it was up to defendants to prove that they were covered by Stand Your Ground, but Scott’s amendment put the full responsibility on prosecutors.
But this Monday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that Scott’s legislation was unconstitutional due to the fact that the process used to update the law should have been done through the Supreme Court, not the legislature, ThinkProgress reports.
“As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure cannot be legislatively modified,” Hirsch wrote in his ruling.
The “Stand Your Ground” law has been controversial since it was first passed. Perhaps most notably, it is the legislation that allowed former neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman to be acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who Zimmerman shot and killed in 2012.
The ruling by Hirsch is considered a victory for prosecutors and gun control advocates, who believe that the updated law Scott signed last month forced prosecutors to essentially try the case twice, once at the pre-trial hearing and then again during the trial. The law requires prosecutors to prove that the defendant was not acting in self defense by showing “clear and convincing” evidence.
Hirsch’s ruling is expected to find its way to the Florida Supreme Court.
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