ABA Journal


Midyear Meeting

Don’t see stand-your-ground issues? Maybe you should ‘give up your bar card,’ DA says

Feb 8, 2013, 10:45 pm CST


Stand your ground is just an excuse to shoot minorities (I am not a minority!) that may do something someone doesn't like or maybe doesn't understand.
While I completely sympathize with Laura Teames, and I don't know why she didn't kill the bastard, her case falls squarely within the old castle doctrine - she was inside her own home. Stand your ground laws apply in all sorts of places other than one's home and depend almost entirely on the "reasonable" perception of the person that feels threatened as to the degree of threat. Thus, Teames' story is not a justification for stand your ground, it is no more than an example of the application of the castle doctrine. I do not believe for one minute that George Zimmerman was in any way justified in shooting Trayvon Martin, and this is an example of the stand your ground law run amok.

By Tom on 2013 02 09, 12:10 am CST

Yes, when you do not understand the SYG law, the factual premises sustaining its validity, and are unfamiliar with 100 years of justification jurisprudence in state and federal courts, play the race card. It is Mr. Watkins who needs to turn in his bar card. Laws are not properly judged through the lenses he wears.

Numerous black defendants have invoked a SYG defense. What may be an issue is the race of the defendant who claims SYG, and whether it is accepted, not the race of the person against whom force was used. Violent crime is particularly prevalent in the black community (black on black and black on white) and that statistic explains much. Even if it is not politically correct to state it.

The Trayvon Martin incident is more about bad choices by a teenager and poor parenting than race or SYG law validity.

By Steven M. Harris on 2013 02 09, 3:52 am CST

There is no such thing as a "stand your ground" defense. There is only self defense. The defendant must still show an objectively reasonable perception of imminent bodily harm and that the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.

The claim that these laws grant some license to kill is ludicrous.

By W.R.T. on 2013 02 09, 6:03 am CST

If the ravings of this clown are typical of ABA "thinking" then I'm extremely glad that I let my membership lapse. This idiot is a disgrace to lawyers everywhere and needs to go somewhere far away, where he can spout his hate speech to himself and not plague those of us with IQs in at least double digits.

By Bobsyouruncle on 2013 02 09, 6:27 am CST

Watkins said: "If you don’t understand the unfairness. . . maybe you need to give up your bar card.”

What a sanctimonious snot.

By Yankee on 2013 02 09, 12:47 pm CST

I can't believe this hack is trying to make "stand your ground" laws some kind of racial issue. And as far as Hoekstra's ravings, a .45 hollow-point that rips an aggressive criminal right out of his shoes is plenty of "deterrence." This goes to show the ABA can scrape up enough special guests to stage an anti-gun rally even in Dallas.

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 09, 3:32 pm CST

next election cycle he may be unemployed if his opposition has anything to day
about it.. would use that quote till his sanctimonious ears bled from the repetition in every other ad that was run

By Mac on 2013 02 09, 7:18 pm CST

Sadly, when any amount of racist drivel is spewed by a person who happens to be black, the brain-futtered ABA delegates just clap and bark like a buch of constipated seal pups, and lap it right up.

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 09, 7:38 pm CST

What a ridiculous statement! I should turn in my bar card because I don't beleive the way you do? People should be free to defend themselves from an objectively reasonable threat, and should be required to defend that decision. If that has a disparate effect along racial lines then we should explore that issue, rather than blaming a self-defense law.

By Andrew Bates on 2013 02 10, 3:13 am CST

Actually, I'll make sure I keep my bar membership so I can defend society against nuts like this guy.

By Russ on 2013 02 10, 5:42 am CST

It's just another sign of his racist extremism that he thinks everyone who disagrees should be barred from practice. It's just a short, irrational racist step from demanding that anyone who disagrees with him should be killed. But here's the ABA, putting this crap out anyway.

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 10, 6:49 am CST

@3 W.R.T.--with the justification of "self defense" the court will look at if the victim could have ran away instead of fighting back. However, we want the victims capable of fighting back to fight back because it discourages future attacks. With concealed-carry an attacker won't know which victims are vulnerable so not everyone needs to train with and carry a gun to benefit from concealed-carry laws. The “stand your ground” defense says you have no duty to retreat. The criminal can always rely on having a few minutes to get away before the police show up. It is impossible to quantify the number of attacks that never occur because the attacker fears the would-be victim could fight back. A bullet in the leg means they are not getting away clean because there is no way to avoid the ER and arrest.
It is funny that "As an example of the problem, Watkins cited the case of Trayvon Martin" because Zimmerman's life has been turned upside down. Zimmerman is facing huge legal bills for his criminal defense and after all that is settled he is going to be sued in civil court where the burden of proof is merely a "preponderance of the evidence" rather then "beyond a reasonable doubt". Intentional torts are not dischargable in bankruptcy so if Zimmerman loses the civil trial then he will never be able to own unencumbered property and his wages will be garnished by 15% for the rest of his life.
In the near future high-definition digital cameras will be in nearly all public places. Without concealed-carry and "stand your ground" a attacker only needs to wear a mask and leave before the police arrive. The cameras are going to show you were justified in shooting the masked attacker.

By ProhibitionCausesViolence on 2013 02 10, 7:11 pm CST

@12. I am afraid you misunderstood my post. I am well aware that stand your ground laws explicitly eliminate any duty to retreat in most self-defense circumstances.

My intent was to refute those who mischaracterize these laws as granting some right to use deadly force to repel any attack.

I fully support the stand your ground laws and oppose any that would force me to accept the role of victim.

By W.R.T. on 2013 02 11, 4:04 am CST

I generally am okay with SYG laws, but I think they need to be refined a bit. A person should not get the benefit of SYG if they provoke the attack.

By Island Attorney on 2013 02 11, 4:31 am CST

I guess he missed the part of the Trayvon Martin case where Mr. Zimmerman's head was being smashed into the ground. Mr. Watkins seems to struggle with the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing.

By Jason on 2013 02 11, 12:43 pm CST

I'm sure we've all seen hundreds of news stories on violent crimes in which some hihgh ranking police official was quoted as saying, "The police can't be everywhere." It's like a mantra, but it doesn't help the victims. Neither do enforcement officials like Mr. Watkins, who want to focus their efforts on racial politics and coddling criminals instead of doing the job for which they are being paid. That is why members of the public are packing heat in growing numbers to begin with. If Watkins won't do his job, at least he should stay off the asses of citizens who have to do his job for him, and SYG laws are designed to ensure exactly that.

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 11, 1:24 pm CST

This DA's comments are absolutely absurd. He is using the George Zimmerman case, arising out of Florida, which has not yet been tried, to attempt to prove the application of Texas' stand your ground law is flawed because it is racist. Isn't racism what happens when you judge a person by the color of the skin using preconcieved notions without knowing the facts or circumstances of an incident?

By Time to Defund on 2013 02 11, 4:06 pm CST

I find the notion that I should "turn in my bar card" becuse I do not agree with the speaker ridiculous. However, the notion that I should turn in my ABA card because of the dribble it continues to put front and center is becoming more and more appealing.

By Old Lawyer on 2013 02 11, 4:20 pm CST

Contrary to Tom's assertion, Stand Your Ground is NOT just an excuse to shoot minorities; it is a protection to use deadly force ANYWHERE you are also threatened with deadly force. Perhaps Tom doesn't remember the glorious 1980's when people were being prosecuted for protecting themselves (even in their own homes) when armed thugs were breaking into their homes or assaulting them in public. The sad fact is that it took legislatures decades to realize that allowing people to protect themselves in the face of prevalent crimes like carjackings, kidnappings, home-invasion-robberies (the sort of thing that is sadly life-threatening), is simply common sense. If you don't want to risk being shot and killed, then don't waive a gun in someone else's face, or attack them in a dark alley! What are you going to say as a criminal, "Why did you shoot me? I was only trying to rape you!" Stop making excuses for criminals and hamstringing the law-abiding public! You don't want to get shot, then don't be a criminal or celebrate/glorify criminal behavior. Mind your P's and Q's like everyone else, work hard, and obey the law! It's not that hard to understand...

By LawJake on 2013 02 11, 4:27 pm CST

@16 B. McLeod--Apparently Watkins is more interested in his gun control agenda than actually helping minorities. It is the Drug war that puts most minority fathers in prison and takes away their right to vote. We need to reform the major cause of violence which is the Drug War. Our incarceration rates are insane/unbelievable. The 1920’s proved prohibition causes violence. Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol so it should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Keeping marijuana illegal creates a distribution network for meth/crack/heroin and stolen guns. The illegal stolen guns usually used to commit crime are bought from drug dealers. The User and Dealer are able to establish that they are not cops by making the first transaction about illegal but socially acceptable marijuana. If marijuana was sold in a gas station then Users would not be introduced to meth/crack/heroin by their Marijuana dealers. Right now stolen guns are cheaper then retail and easy to buy from a drug dealer. If you make it harder for criminals to buy non-stolen guns then you merely increase the price that will be paid for stolen guns--which will increase the number of home burglaries because guns will then be worth alot of money on the black market.

By ProhibitionCausesViolence on 2013 02 11, 5:38 pm CST

I'm not sure what Ms. Teames' testimony has to do with stand-yer-ground laws, since (a) she was inside her home, and (b) she lacked the legs to run with anyway.

By Tex on 2013 02 11, 8:10 pm CST

@21 Tex--Here is a recent news report from a local Detroit ABC news station about two recent events in which would-be robbery victims fought back:

By ProhibitionCausesViolence on 2013 02 11, 9:57 pm CST

Mr. Watkins should look at the cartoon chapter on criminal law linked on this site. That chapter focuses on self-defense. And it has pictures.

By NoleLaw on 2013 02 12, 7:57 pm CST

NoleLaw: That cartoon is full of misstatements of the law of most states. (For example someone stealing your stuff from you is robbery and deadly force can be used to thwart or stop a robbery (and maybe even the flight therefrom) in many states. Also, the law of most states is that when deadly force is lawful, it is not tested as to reasonableness of the force employed, except by constitutional standards for law enforcement officers). Watkins needs something that will show him the correct law. And of course something that will make him follow it.

By Steven M. Harris on 2013 02 12, 8:09 pm CST

Zimmerman's still going to get convicted.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 02 12, 9:46 pm CST

And you'd consider convicting an upstanding citizen of a crime he didn't commit a success, right Andy?

Whenever a lib says "justice" people need to learn to hear what they mean - "injustice".

By Associate on 2013 02 13, 12:50 am CST

#26 -- His only "stand your ground evidence is his own word. But in this case he proved his word is worthless by lying about his assets in hopes of reducing his bail.

A man who will lie to stay out of jail pending trial will surely lie to stay out of prison for up to the rest of his life.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 02 14, 5:41 pm CST

Bump that. Who wouldn't lie to stay out of prison for life?

By NoleLaw on 2013 02 14, 5:45 pm CST

Deadly force to protect your farking vehicle? Really? I can hardly wait until two inebriated gun nuts get into a fender bender ... what could possibly go wrong?

By Ham Solo on 2013 02 15, 10:44 am CST

@24 For example someone stealing your stuff from you is robbery and deadly force can be used to thwart or stop a robbery (and maybe even the flight therefrom) in many states

More than one repo man has been shot dead in Texas performing his lawful work, and the shooter walked away without charge because that's just the way Texas is.

By Johnny Yuma on 2013 02 15, 5:58 pm CST

Add a Comment

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.