Sunday, September 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Stand your ground delays justice

So here's a simple question for Florida lawmakers: Who is looking out for the victims? Because we know the state has bent over backward to make sure residents who claim self-defense are not hindered by costly and upsetting delays in the criminal justice system. But what about the families of those who are killed? Now that the "stand your ground'' law has created a tricky new layer for prosecutors, who is looking out for the families left broken in the law's wake?

This is a legitimate concern when you consider the Wesley Chapel movie theater case. More than 44 months have passed since an unarmed man was shot and killed by a retired police officer, and there is still no trial in sight. Three years had already passed before the first hearing, where Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle rejected Curtis Reeves' claim for immunity under the "stand your ground'' law. Now Reeves' lawyers are contemplating a second "stand your ground'' attempt based on retroactively applying recent revisions made to the law that shifted the burden of proof to prosecutors to show defendants do not deserve "stand your ground'' protection rather than requiring the defendant's lawyers to demonstrate the defendant deserves it.

It's not a stretch to imagine that Reeves' attorneys are stalling and delaying as long as they possibly can to protect their 75-year-old client from a potential prison sentence. The attorney for Nicole Oulson, the victim's widow, suggested as much recently. The cruel irony is that the original 2005 "stand your ground" law was intended to avoid lengthy delays precisely like this one. Except it was those invoking self-defense claims that legislators were trying to protect.

Lawmakers justified the "stand your ground'' law by citing incorrect facts from an obscure case. They pointed to the ordeal of a Panhandle retiree who killed a man in self-defense and then had to hire a lawyer and wait six months before prosecutors ruled he was justified. Except the retiree never did hire a lawyer. And prosecutors cleared him of any charges within three months of the shooting.

In essence, legislators cited a bogus story to justify an unnecessary law to fix a nonexistent problem. And if that wasn't bad enough, they came back this year and changed the law again to put the onus on prosecutors to prove, before a trial even begins, that the "stand your ground" defense is not justified.

The Legislature has tilted the playing field so far in the direction of defendants that justice is no longer swift nor guaranteed. It would be nice if someone in Tallahassee would finally step forward in support of victims and their families.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18