Florida’s revised “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law is unconstitutional, a Miami judge ruled on Monday, the Miami Herald reports. Judge Milton Hirsch said legislators overstepped their authority in modifying the law this year to force prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pre-trial hearing. The judge ruled that under Florida’s constitution, that change should have been crafted by the Florida Supreme Court, not the legislature. “As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure cannot be legislatively modified,” Hirsch wrote.
The ruling is a victory for prosecutors who have opposed a law they believe makes it easier for defendants to get away with murder and other violent crime. Sen. Rob Bradley believes the legislature acted lawfully. “I would be surprised if this decision were upheld at the appellate level,” said Bradley, a former prosecutor who championed the modification of the already controversial “Stand Your Ground” law passed over a decade ago. The change was pushed by the politically powerful National Rifle Association. Gov. Rick Scott signed the new law last month. First passed in 2005, Florida’s controversial self-defense law has been criticized for fostering a shoot-first mentality – and giving killers a pass at justice. The law eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force to counter an apparent threat.