Stand Your Ground: Does it invite or reduce violence?
A panel of experts weighs in on this week’s "Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle’’ show airing this morning at 10 on ABC7. Guests are Donald Day, Naples defense attorney; Capt. Michael Hedberg, general counsel for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office; and Florida Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres.
Appearing separately is Tim Fisher, a GOP Lee County Sheriff challenger.
Video highlights are at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Here are excerpts:
Stand Your Ground
Lytle: Didn’t the people already have the right to defend themselves prior to Stand Your Ground? What about the defense we often hear about — self-defense?
Hedberg: Right, there used to be a thing called the castle doctrine. It’s still out there. Stand Your Ground was ... it was kind of codifying of that, and then extending those rights beyond the home or the business that you were in.
Lytle: Matt, what’s your take on this?
Caldwell: If we’re going to talk about reform, we go back to what the intention was. The intention was that you take these people that are clearly acting within their rights to defend themselves, their property, their family and saying, you shouldn’t have to be put into the burden of a trial ... the expense, the heartache, all of the things that go into having to defend a legitimate self-defense claim. The goal of the Legislature was to make that a short circuit process, a very simple process. And if the law isn’t achieving that, then that’s the discussion we should be having is how do we achieve that while still maintaining safety for everybody.
Lytle: Is the law working?
Caldwell: Well I think clearly there are some serious questions about that ... Certainly, in every case where you have two people that end up in a conflict, and one of them ends up dead ... if you compound that with a lack of eyewitnesses to the event, there’s always going to be controversy. There’s no way we can statutorily ... write away a controversy given a scenario like that.
Day: You know, Jeff, people talk about controversies. The reality is, there have not been controversies. I know politically we are saying that there have been, but as a lawyer, looking at the cases that have been decided in Florida ... and there are only a number of them that we can actually look at ... There are only a number of appellate decisions ... In each of those cases, it wasn’t even a close call. It was either yes, this clearly applies, and the judge dismissed the charges; or no, it clearly does not apply.
So, I find it ironic as a practitioner that the people in the court system — the judges and the lawyers and the police officers ... we found the law to be working well; the judges to be following the law; and it to be applied where it’s needed. But yet outside of that world, everyone seems to be saying that there’s some kind of chaos that doesn’t exist.