The Legal Unicorn of the "Stand Your Ground Defense"


It never ends.  A shoot out at the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall resulted in the death of Kaleek Jones and the charging of Lamar Wilson (pictured above) with murder, and various other assorted bad things. As it happens, Iowa is also the most recent state to adopt both "Stand-Your-Ground," meaning that there is no duty to retreat before acting in self-defense if one is in a place they have a right to be and is not engaged in illegal activity, as well as civil and criminal self-defense immunity.  These positive changes became effective in Iowa on July 1, 2017.  This shooting occurred on August 27.

Naturally, the media gets it all wrong in reporting on this story.  The Daily Iowan newspaper, for example, reports:

Court documents obtained by The Daily Iowan said Wilson will use the “stand your ground” defense in his Nov. 7 trial. He also, according to the documents, will claim self-defense ...

My faithful readers will recognize, of course, that these statements amount to legal nonsense.  First, there is no such thing as a "stand your ground" defense, and one does not "claim Stand-Your-Ground."  The relevant defense for an allegedly justified use of force against another in self-protection is simply self-defense, and "stand your ground" merely serves to lessen the number of elements that must be present in order for a use of force to qualify as lawful self-defense.  Relieved of the element of avoidance, the self-defense claim nevertheless requires the elements of innocence, imminence, proportionality, and reasonableness.

The newspaper also reports:

The "Stand-Your-Ground" law allows individuals who feel they are in imminent danger to use deadly force against those threatening them.

To the extent that this statement has any relation to accuracy at all--and at best it's a very distant relation--it was already true before Iowa adopted "Stand-Your-Ground."

But it gets worse:

When a defendant uses “stand your ground” as a defense, he or she claims by using deadly force instead of retreating, he or she protected and defended others in attention to themselves.

I don't even know where to begin disassembling this word salad of nonsense, but I do feel obliged to note that the "journalist" apparently doesn't know how to spell "addition."



BlogAndrew BrancaComment