Legal Discussion on the Zimmerman Trial Verdict


“Why have a law, if it’s so confusing…to police and jurors?” I think it [Florida’s Stand Your Ground law] should be repealed.” – Attorney Natalie Jackson, expressing her personal opinion during The Verdict: A Legal Conversation event on Wednesday, July 24, at the Florida A&M University College of Law in downtown Orlando. Jackson was one of six panelists who spoke on issues in the aftermath of the verdict in the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman murder trial / Trayvon Martin Case. A six-member jury consisting of all women decided on July 13 that Zimmerman was not guilty of the charges of second-degree murder nor manslaughter, saying that he acted in self defense when he shot and killed the teenager after Zimmerman followed him. Zimmerman told police that the teenager looked suspicious walking through a gated Sanford community. The other very vocal and opinionated panelists at the event were: Patricia Broussard, Associate Professor at the law school, Chris Smith; Florida Senate Minority Leader, Geraldine Thompson, Florida Senator; Camara Williams, Attorney and David Simmons, Florida Senator; who as a state representative, authored the Stand Your Ground law in 2005. He currently represents Seminole and parts of Volusia counties as a state senator. (Including Sanford, where the shooting took place) Hundreds of people, including some teenage African American males and current law students, attended the event. Key points from the event: SYG is a part of the state’s broader self defense laws. Most of the panelists said that the law could be modified or repealed altogether. Still, Simmons said, “It’s a very, very good law” but he said is open to working with other leaders such as Smith in the upcoming legislative session to work on tweeking the law. (In fact, they both authored bills last year to make changes to the 2005 Stand Your Ground law but those bills were not heard in the legislature.) Simmons drew jeers from the audience when he described the law. One panelist liken the comment to a newborn baby. Basically, people don’t want to say a baby is ugly, when indeed the baby is indeed is ugly. “This is not a good law,” said Broussard, who started the conversation with the importance of voter’s rights and people voting for the right representatives statewide and nationwide and then holding those people accountable. Also, the panelists suggested some next steps and answered questions from the audience, including one from a 14-year-old male who wanted to know how can we prevent people from taking advantage of the SYG and self defense laws. The event, sponsored by Alphas for Justice, was moderated by WESH Channel 2 Anchor Stewart Moore. – Orlando Community News, 2013

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