Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up a Hillsborough County case that deals with how courts should carry out a controversial 2017 change to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
Bondi’s office filed a notice asking justices to hear an appeal from a May 4 decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in a case involving defendant Tymothy Ray Martin, according to documents posted this week on the Supreme Court website.
The notice does not detail the arguments Bondi’s office will make, but the issue centers on a 2017 decision by lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott to shift a key burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases from defendants to prosecutors.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with Martin that the change should be retroactively applied to his case. Martin, who was convicted of felony battery in a 2016 altercation involving his girlfriend, had sought to use the “stand your ground” law to be shielded from prosecution, but a judge denied his request in a pre-trial hearing.
Also pending before the Supreme Court is a request to take up the retroactivity issue in a Miami-Dade County case. In that case, however, the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that the 2017 law should not apply retroactively to defendant Tashara Love, who was arrested in a 2015 shooting incident during an altercation outside a Miami-Dade County nightclub.
The “stand your ground” law says people are justified in using deadly force and do not have a “duty to retreat” if they believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. When the defense is successfully raised in pre-trial hearings, defendants are granted immunity from prosecution.
Before the 2017 change, the Supreme Court had ruled defendants had the burden of proof in pre-trial hearings to show they should be shielded from prosecution.
With backing from groups such as the National Rifle Association, the 2017 change shifted the burden from defendants to prosecutors to prove whether self-defense claims are justified.