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Why George Zimmerman would have beaten the rap, even without Stand Your Ground


George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict had nothing to do with Stand Your Ground, right?


The wording of the self-defense law appeared in the jury instructions, and it was discussed by jurors, the defense and prosecutors in court.

So, therefore, Trayvon Martin’s shooting had everything to do with Stand Your Ground, right?

Also wrong.

There’s a good chance Zimmerman might still have walked even if Stand Your Ground had never become law in 2005. At most, without Stand Your Ground, the jury would probably have hung.

In that case, Zimmerman would have walked for months more and still had a great shot of being acquitted in a retrial if the prosecution put on the same case.

Just look at self-defense laws other than Stand Your Ground, and consider that the prosecution broadly failed to prove its case, which lacked some solid evidence.

As with any court case, there are arguments on both sides. Unlike most court cases, the argument over Trayvon’s shooting and Zimmerman’s verdict is public and largely politically partisan.

Many Democrats, pointing to this case, want changes to Stand Your Ground. It expanded defendants’ deadly force justifications and removed their “duty to retreat” from a confrontation.

Top Republicans, who control the Florida Legislature and governor’s office, want no changes to the politically popular self-defense law in a state where the violent-crime rate is declining.

The argument over what the jury felt and how the law applied will be at the crux of the political debate as dozens of protestors continue to occupy the state Capitol and the Legislature gears up this fall.

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