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Justice and Civil Rights Initiative hosts panel on ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

04/09/2014

JSU’s Justice and Civil Rights Initiative presented on Wednesday, April 2nd an outstanding panel on “Stand Your Ground” laws. 

Founder and President Ed Moore III collected a panel that consisted of two police officers, an Anniston City council member and the District Attorney. 

The panel discussed the many different situations in which “standing your ground” would be necessary. The group answered questions and gave advice on the right thing to do when the threat of violence looms. 

One might ask, what is “stand your ground”? According to Marcus Reid, Chief Deputy District Attorney of Etowah County, “stand your ground is the right to defend your home and family.” 

Stand your ground does not only affect regular civilians but it also affects politicians and other people of the law. “Judges have to think about how this [decision] will affect me during the next election”, says Councilman David Reddick.

According to him, the “political aspect” of enforcing the law can sway a judge’s decision. Councilman Reddick’s example was the Trayvon Martin case. In his opinion the case would not have made it were it not for the political backlash it generated. Reddick said “they have a duty as a judge but an obligation as a constituent.” 

Stand your ground is more popular in the South because more people are gun owners as opposed to those in places like California or Seattle. 

“Stand your ground” in situations involving domestic violence is a very different case. In domestic violence cases, at least one party must be arrested for at least twelve hours so that the other party can have a break. 

In high profile cases, such as the Melissa Alexander case, “stand your ground” was brought back to the table because of the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case. Alexander’s case was different from Martin’s because one contained a dead body while the other one did not. Both cases were high profile but only one gets a re-trial.

It will still be difficult for a jury to set aside their own beliefs in “stand your ground” cases because they are still human. As citizens, we have to depend on the jury’s judgment on a case. “The jurors are people and they bring their experiences with them to the court room; this process isn’t perfect,” said Deputy District Attorney Reid.

The last question is how can more lives be saved and not taken as a result of stand your ground? According to the panel, if everyone knows the law and each section, then they would better protect themselves from being arrested. 

Part of the culture of the South is the ability to protect one’s self, even with violence. Gun owners exercising their legal rights still need to know where those rights end. 

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