Jurors discussed Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense law before rendering their not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial, one of the jurors told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The jurors struggled with the law and the jury instructions, said the juror, who spoke anonymously and was identified only by her court ID, B37.
“The law became very confusing. It became very confusing,” she told Cooper Monday night. “We had stuff thrown at us. We had the second-degree murder charge, the manslaughter charge, then we had self defense, Stand Your Ground.”
Still, the degree to which Stand Your Ground led to the not-guilty verdict is unclear and in dispute. Cooper never asked B37.
Stand Your Ground allows a law-abiding citizen to “meet force with force, including deadly force” if he reasonably feels threatened in a confrontation. The NRA-drafted law, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2005, made two major changes to homicide cases:
• It changed standard jury instructions, which previously held that a person had a duty to retreat by using “every reasonable means,” and,
• It gave prospective defendants the right to immunity from prosecution. To make the immunity determination, the courts established pre-trial Stand Your Ground hearings.
And here's the Florida Supreme Court's Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases that shows word for word how Stand Your Ground changed self-defense laws: Download FSC self defense