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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mark O’Mara redefines ‘Stand your ground’

Mark O’Mara and George Zimmerman (Joe Burbank/AP)
Mark O’Mara summed it up best during our 42-minute conversation on Wednesday: “This is an academic argument over the semantics of words.”

The words in question are “stand your ground” (SYG). The argument is over whether Florida’s insane law applies to O’Mara’s client George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin.

In a post earlier this week, I wrote about how “‘[s]tand your ground’ eludes Robert Zimmerman.” George’s older brother has aggressively defended him on television and on Twitter. And I tartly declared, “For Robert Zimmerman to say SYG is not a factor in his brother’s case against the second-degree murder charge shows how little he knows about the law and his brother’s defense.”

In fact, Zimmerman knows all about his brother’s defense, twisted though it may be. Last August, O’Mara announced that he would not argue a “stand your ground” defense, using the same curious logic he used with me earlier this week.

What’s problematic is that O’Mara is engaging in semantic gymnastics to avoid using the words “stand your ground” while availing himself of the law’s most generous provision, the immunity hearing. No such thing existed for self-defense cases before SYG became law in 2005.

 With a major push from the National Rifle Association (NRA), Florida amended its self-defense statute to allow potential victims to stand their ground against an assailant by removing the duty to retreat and permitting them to meet force with force, including deadly force, if they reasonably believe it is necessary to save their life. It also granted immunity from prosecution. Because of this, SYG has been called a “license to kill” and the “shoot-first” law.  READ MORE

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