Florida's 'stand your ground' law unconstitutional, Miami judge rules

Judge says Florida Supreme Court, not lawmakers, should have crafted law

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Madeleine Wright - Reporter

MIAMI - Florida's revised "stand your ground" law is unconstitutional, a Miami judge ruled Monday.

Miami-Dade County Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that lawmakers overstepped their authority by revising the self-defense law, putting the burden of proof on prosecutors.

Hirsch ruled that the Florida Supreme Court, and not the state Legislature, should have crafted the law.

"The statutory alterations in the burden and standard of proof in 'stand your ground' cases are, as set for hereinabove, unconstitutional," Hirsch wrote in his 14-page order.

Hirsch's decision came in the case of Omar Rodriguez, who was indicted in 2015 on a charge of first-degree murder. Rodriguez is claiming self-defense after fatally shooting a neighbor whose dog tried to defecate in Rodriguez's son's yard.

"It is a pathetic reason to have a fight with somebody and get into an argument, but, indeed, that's what happened," Rodriguez's attorney, Alan Ross, told Local 10 News.

Ross said he was disappointed with Hirsch's decision. Ross said his client was defending himself from Jose Rey, who had threatened Rodriguez with a knife.

"He stood his ground, justifiably, in the face of an attack by an angry man threatening his life, holding a knife and a glass in his hand," Ross said.

As a result of the ruling, Ross said, the judge will follow the previous version of the contentious self-defense law that was enacted in 2005.

"We're going to proceed under the old law, which is a lower burden of proof and the burden's on the defendant, not on the state," Ross said.

Gov. Rick Scott recently signed the revised "stand your ground" law into effect.

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