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Defendant tries to sway justices on ‘Stand Your Ground’ change

Pointing in part to statements made by lawmakers, attorneys for a woman arrested in a shooting outside a Miami nightclub filed a 40-page brief late Wednesday at the Florida Supreme Court arguing that a 2017 change in the ‘Stand Your Ground‘ self-defense law should apply to her case.

An eventual decision by the Supreme Court in the case of Tashara Love could clear up divisions in lower courts about whether the 2017 change should apply retroactively to defendants whose cases were pending at the time the legislation took effect.

The 2017 legislation shifted a key burden of proof in ‘Stand Your Ground’ cases from defendants to prosecutors, a move that could help defendants in at least some cases.

Love was arrested in the 2015 shooting of man who had punched her daughter outside a nightclub, according to the brief filed Wednesday by her attorneys. Love argued that she should be shielded from prosecution because of the “stand your ground” law, which 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.

After a pre-trial hearing, however, a judge rejected the defense.

Love appealed, arguing that the 2017 burden-of-proof shift should be applied retroactively to her case, but the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled against her. That prompted Love’s attorneys to go to the Supreme Court. In the brief, her attorneys cited lawmakers who supported the 2017 change and said it carried out the original intent of the “stand your ground” law, which passed in 2005.

“Representative Bobby Payne informed the members of that chamber that the amendment would ‘put[] the burden back where it was intended by the 2005 law,’ a theme echoed by Representative Paul Renner, who argued that the bill would ‘clarify and give real meaning to the purpose of that law from 2005,’ ” said the brief, referring to Payne, a Palatka Republican, and Renner, a Palm Coast Republican.

The brief also said the change was “procedural” and, as a result, should be applied to older cases.

“As a procedural enactment designed to restore the Legislature’s original intent, the amended Stand Your Ground law properly applies to all pending cases, regardless the date of the conduct giving rise to the dispute,” the brief said.

The Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case but has not scheduled oral arguments.

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