Florida Stand Your Ground Taskforce

A back door effort to speed up a review of Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law is underway. After several calls for Governor Rick Scott to begin an immediate investigation went unanswered, State Senator Chris Smith empanelled his own Stand Your Ground task force. The task force, announced Tuesday, is made up of mostly Democrats. All are from South Florida.

Less than two weeks after State Senator Chris Smith first asked the governor for an immediate review of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, he tired of waiting. “Florida is in a crisis mode.”

Many believe Stand Your Ground is the reason George Zimmerman walks free after killing 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Governor Rick Scott named a task force to review the law, but it’s not meeting until the shooting investigation is completed. Sen. Chris Smith,“It’s time to get to work. We have a governor who ran on getting to work and now he wants to wait to work.”

Smith, a Democrat, has named his own 14 member task force made up of mostly Democrats and attorneys. Some voted against the law in 2005. All are from South Florida.

Reporter: Are there any Republicans on your task force?
Smith: Actually I don’t know of the party of people on the task force. What I’ve done is reached out to other people.”

Smith says he didn’t consider party affiliation when picking task force members but ads, there are defense attorneys on the panel who have used Stand Your Ground to win cases.

The task force will also hear from judges who’ve tried cases with defendants who used the self-defense law.

Governor Rick Scott brushed off criticism of his wait-until-we-have-all-the-facts approach. “The first thing you do is you do an investigation, you make sure justice prevails. Then you step back and say ok, so what did we learn from this. That’s the right way of doing it.”

Smith says swift action is needed because Florida’s tourism industry will suffer if travelers don’t think the state is safe.

The task force will hold its first meeting Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale at the city’s main library. Public testimony will run from four to six. Then from six to nine members will discuss changes to Stand Your Ground. Those recommendations will be given to the governor, the senate president and the house speaker, possibly with a call for a special session to change the law.

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