Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle wants the Florida Supreme Court to know that she believes the latest version of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law is just flat out unconstitutional.
According to the Miami Herald, Fernandez Rundle is a member of The League of Prosecutors, a South Florida organization that recently requested that the law be struck down because it unlawfully compels state attorneys to try cases involving self-defense claims before a judge instead of a jury.
“There is nothing specialized or unique about this defense that the common juror cannot understand,” said the brief filed Friday.
Fernandez Rundle also filed a brief joining in the effort, making her the first state attorney to break from Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office is defending the updated “Stand Your Ground” law passed by the Florida Legislature in 2017.
The controversial and widely debated law, which was first passed in 2005, effectively eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force and is set to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court due to numerous issues.
It was passed in large part due to its high-profile backing from National Rifle Association (NRA). Yet dissenters have always maintained that it creates a culture of vigilante justice and gun violence that allows criminals to use claims of self-defense to bypass taking accountability.
Since 2005, judges in Miami have thrown out murder cases in a number of high-profile incidents, due to the use of “Stand Your Ground,” which has caused it to be opposed by many in law enforcement as well.
At first it was the burden of a defendant to prove to a judge that he or she acted in self-defense, but last year lawmakers broadened the law, now forcing prosecutors to instead disprove a defendant’s claim of self-defense in a hearing before any jury trial takes place.
Despite pushback from citizens, prosecutors, and law enforcement, the update passed anyway.
During this latest appeal, the NRA has chimed in to the court fight, saying the law is constitutional and was passed for the “protection of innocent lives and the fundamental right of self-defense.”