Midyear 2015: ABA House of Delegates urges repeal of existing “stand your ground” laws
The House of Delegates adopted Resolution 112, urging legislative bodies and governmental agencies to significantly modify or refrain from enacting laws that eliminate the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense in public places. Read more…
Annual 2014: ABA task force report indicates failure of Stand Your Ground laws
After nearly 10 years of Stand Your Ground laws, the data on the controversial self-defense law is in and the results are not very impressive. Stand Your Ground laws increase homicides, have no deterrent on serious crimes, result in racial disparities in the criminal justice system and impede law enforcement.
Those were some of the finding from a yearlong national study by the American Bar Association National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws, which released its preliminary report during a session on Friday at the Annual Meeting in Boston. Read more…
The ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws: A Brief Timeline
February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old, African American young man was killed by a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. The shooter, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain pursued Martin, first by vehicle, then by foot, simply because Martin - walking home from the corner store - appeared suspicious. Notwithstanding the 911 dispatcher’s directives to stand down, Zimmerman proceeded to confront Martin, inciting an altercation with the unarmed teenager which led to Martin’s death.
Zimmerman then claimed self-defense to justify his use of deadly force in confronting an unarmed teenaged Martin. Zimmerman sought refuge under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, § 776.012, Florida Statutes (2011).
April 7, 2012 The Coalition on Racial & Ethnic Justice (COREJ) prepared and submitted a White Paper to encourage the American Bar Association to respond to the significant legal and social justice issues raised by the Trayvon Martin tragedy. COREJ also urged the ABA to adopt an official position on state “Stand Your Ground” laws, which lie at the heart of the debate over the perceived injustice surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. The temporary prosecutorial immunity achieved by Trayvon’s attacker garnered national attention and extended and intensified the dialogue concerning equal justice. While the facts behind this tragedy continue to be investigated and debated, the complex interplay of race and justice is reason enough for the ABA to bring its expertise and resources to the discussion. Race and justice issues plague our nation. We cannot stand by in silence.
August 4, 2012 In Chicago, as part of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, COREJ convened the program “Do or Die: Analysis of the Stand Your Ground Statutes.” Led by Leigh-Ann Buchanan, Chairperson of COREJ’s Program Committee, this program was specifically designed to enlighten its participants regarding “Stand Your Ground” statutes which then existed in more than twenty-five states and received increased national attention in the wake of the shooting of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
February 8, 2013 Dallas hosted the first in a series of Regional Hearings led by a newly created ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws. Sponsored by COREJ along with ABA entities the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, the Young Lawyer’s Division and the Section on Individual Rights & Responsibilities, the Criminal Justice Section, the Young Lawyers’ Division, the Standing Committee on Gun Violence, and the Commission on Youth at Risk, the Task Force launched a comprehensive legal study of Stand Your Ground laws – statutes in 32 states that have dramatically expanded the bounds of self-defense laws. The study looked at the statutes’ legal issues as well as impacts on the criminal justice system, individual liberties, public safety and groups that are traditionally marginalized. Read more…