It’s that decision not to press charges that makes Stand Your Ground laws, which a bunch of other states have adopted, a crazy departure from the past. It’s one thing to raise self-defense at trial. It’s another to have what the Florida Supreme Court calls “true immunity.” True immunity, the court said, means a trial judge can dismiss a prosecution, based on a Stand Your Ground assertion, before trial begins. At least there’s supposed to be a hearing before that happens, at which the defendant has the burden of proof. And yet as the Hernandez and Martin’s case shows, Stand Your Ground laws often lead prosecutors to decide against so much as bringing charges. According to the Sun Sentinel, “In case after case during the past six years, Floridians who shot and killed unarmed opponents have not been prosecuted.”
Now the death of Trayvon Martin is the latest in that line. Maybe this is the kind of case that is so sad and so tinged with racism that Florida will think hard about the very scary place where their self-defense laws have taken them. Maybe.