Sunday, November 29, 2015

FLORIDA'S SB-344: TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO LEGISLATURE HAS GONE BEFORE (OR SHOULD EVER GO)

The prosecution has just proven the defendant guilty beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt, and the judge says "Very good Mr/Ms Prosecutor, you now have the privilege of trying to prove the defendant guilty beyond every reasonable doubt a second time." Where in the world has this ever happened? I am not aware of any place on planet Earth, or in the known Universe for that matter, which requires the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt TWICE. There is a bill pending in the Florida Senate which seeks to require the prosecution to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a pretrial stand your ground hearing; and then if they win, do it all over again at a jury trial. I was a prosecutor for three decades, and let me tell you, it's hard enough to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt once, much less twice. I have written at length on the silliness of such a requirement when I praised the House for defeating HB 169, which sought to place such a requirement on prosecutors. You can read my critique HERE.

Silly me. I thought the defeat of HB 169 settled the matter. Then I found out that the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) had backed two bills in the Florida Legislature which would place this requirement on the prosecution. Although the House bill has been defeated, but the Senate Bill, SB 344, has been voted out of committee and is alive and well. If it passes, Florida should become the laughingstock of the bench and bar throughout the United States, if not the bench and bar of every common law jurisdiction in the world.