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Old July 13, 2013, 11:17 PM   #26
Aguila Blanca
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The statute:

Quote:
776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—

A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 1188, ch. 97-102; s. 2, ch. 2005-27.


776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and

(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or

(b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or

(c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or

(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

(4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

(5) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.

(b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.

(c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.


776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

History.—s. 4, ch. 2005-27
From s. 776.032, we see that someone who justifiably uses force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action IF the use of force is permitted by s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031.

776.013 is home protection. The incident did not occur within Zimmerma's home. Does not apply. However ...

776.012 says this:

Quote:
However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or ...
Zimmerman clearly falls under this section of the statute. Attorney O'Mara's closing argument pretty much stated exactly that. But ...

The immunity part of the statute says:

Quote:
(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).
To me, as a non-lawyer, it appears that Zimmerman is in uncharted territory. He WAS prosecuted, so obviously there was no court finding that he is immune from prosecution. It appears that a specific finding of criminal immunity is necessary to trigger the civil immunity, and Zimmerman doesn't have a finding of criminal immunity. It appears to me that he can be sued in a civil action. How that would play out is anybody's guess. One might hope that a judge would look at the fact the police declined to charge him and that he was acquitted when a special prosecutor did finally charge and prosecute him as perhaps showing that his use of deadly force was "justified," and therefore dismiss the case.

But -- if he got another judge like Debra Nelson, he would be in deep kimchee.
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Old July 13, 2013, 11:22 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo
Precedent suggests that the hearing is supposed to take case before a trial, not after, so this could be tricky.
You are certainly correct about the precedent requiring an immunity hearing to take place before a trial rather than during a trial. But I am not sure that waiving the right with respect to one trial precludes exercising the right to an immunity hearing at a subsequent trial.

Zimmerman waived his right to an immunity hearing at the beginning of the criminal trial. I remember thinking at the time that what his attorney said sounded odd - that Zimmerman was waiving his right to an immunity hearing "for this trial."

I think we may get the chance to watch new precedent being set in Florida.
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Old July 13, 2013, 11:26 PM   #28
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You are certainly correct about the precedent requiring an immunity hearing to take place before a trial rather than during a trial. But I am not sure that waiving the right with respect to one trial precludes exercising the right to an immunity hearing at a subsequent trial.

Zimmerman waived his right to an immunity hearing at the beginning of the criminal trial. I remember thinking at the time that what his attorney said sounded odd - that Zimmerman was waiving his right to an immunity hearing "for this trial."

I think we may get the chance to watch new precedent being set in Florida.
I know how I'd proceed if I were Zimmerman's defense team. I'd call the IT specialist and prove that the DA's team wasn't throwing straight dice and had been withholding discovery. I'd then argue that they couldn't effectively argue an immunity hearing prior to the trial because they hadn't received all the evidence they were entitled to at that point. And I think they'd prevail.
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Old July 13, 2013, 11:34 PM   #29
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I would think the not guilty verdict, plus the hoard of evidence that would most likely be allowed in the civil suit that was not allowed in the trial
Those things are hard to predict. Back in 1995, a football player was found not guilty of murder, but a later civil suit found him liable based on preponderance of evidence. Juries are a very difficult animal to predict.
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Old July 13, 2013, 11:49 PM   #30
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From a purely practical standpoint, a civil suit is about recovering a monetary judgement. I don't know that Zimmerman has anything that would make a civil suit worthwhile, and since it didn't happen on his property, his homeowner's insurance company couldn't be targeted either.
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Old July 13, 2013, 11:51 PM   #31
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From a purely practical standpoint, a civil suit is about recovering a monetary judgement. I don't know that Zimmerman has anything that would make a civil suit worthwhile, and since it didn't happen on his property, his homeowner's insurance company couldn't be targeted either.
He's collected quite a bit in donations. Also, a civil judgement would cover future earnings from books, movie deals, etc.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:00 AM   #32
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All gone to his defense team from what I can tell. Estimates I've seen indicate that his defense costs would have been close to half a million had the lawyers not been willing to donate much of their time.

If he does get a book/movie deal, I would expect to see a civil suit then...
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:00 AM   #33
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I don't know that Zimmerman has anything that would make a civil suit worthwhile
Recovering monetary damages would be the ostensible intent, but the actual objective would be to ruin the defendant. If he can't pay up, he can expect forfeiture or property or garnishment of wages.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:10 AM   #34
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That is true as long as the person bringing the suit either has enough money to make it happen, or can find lawyers willing to work for very little.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:12 AM   #35
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Zimmermann verdict in. Case for civil suits?

The Martins will have PLENTY of help from various groups if they can/do pursue a civil suit. Lack of funds will not be an issue. NAACP is already lobbying for federal charges.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:22 AM   #36
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Martin was a minor. Can Zimmerman sue his parents for the actions Marting committed and the resulting costs to Zimmerman?
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:26 AM   #37
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i'm curious about a civil suit as well.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:29 AM   #38
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Martin was a minor. Can Zimmerman sue his parents for the actions Marting committed and the resulting costs to Zimmerman?
Anyone can sue anyone they want. The issue is whether he could find a jury who would find against the grieving parents and whether they have anything to recover against. Yes, they got a settlement from the HOA, but I don't know how much it was or how much they've incurred in attorneys fees. It's also possible they put the settlement money into a trust that Zimmerman wouldn't be able to get to.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:32 AM   #39
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Are we speculating on future prospects?

What about civil suits going the other way - like GZ suing whatever tv stations that redacted key elements of the 911 call to make him out to be a big racist? some of those actions directly flavored the public opinion on this thing for some time. I don't know all the potential here, but he has to move to another state, probably hire bodyguards for all his family members, lost weight, etc. I suspect an imaginative soul could go on for some time with ideas. He is going to have some big bills to pay.......
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:47 AM   #40
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What about civil suits going the other way - like GZ suing whatever tv stations that redacted key elements of the 911 call to make him out to be a big racist?
It's possible. Richard Jewell had some success in that, but the cost of litigating against major corporations can be prohibitive. Usually, those suits end in settlements, with non-disclosure agreements being part of the arrangement.

Given the publicity, politics, and rancor, it's hard to clear one's name after a situation like this.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:48 AM   #41
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What about civil suits going the other way - like GZ suing whatever tv stations that redacted key elements of the 911 call to make him out to be a big racist? some of those actions directly flavored the public opinion on this thing for some time. I don't know all the potential here, but he has to move to another state, probably hire bodyguards for all his family members, lost weight, etc. I suspect an imaginative soul could go on for some time with ideas. He is going to have some big bills to pay.......
Very, very unlikely. Zimmerman is a public figure, and for a public figure to prevail in a libel/slander suit, he/she must prove not only that the utterer of the libel/slander knew that the information was false, but that it was uttered with malice. That's a tough nut to crack.
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Old July 14, 2013, 12:52 AM   #42
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I just watched the defense team's post-verdict presser. One of the journalists specifically asked O'Mara about civil immunity, and he quite confidently claimed that in the event of civil litigation, that they would seek and obtain immunity. He obviously didn't see it as an area of great contention.
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Old July 14, 2013, 01:10 AM   #43
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Lawsuits; book-movie deals...

The civil actions & Hollywood deals will now be brought out.
To my limited knowledge, GZ & his lawyers filed suit against NBC News for the 911 call statements & the call center information.
As noted too, the Martin family already settled a wrongful death civil case with the Sanford HOA for a reported $1,000,000.00.
As Mark O'Mara stated in the media briefing, GZ will seek immunity in future civil actions since the jury found him not guilty.
I honestly wouldn't be surprised if GZ & his legal team don't go after more media outlets for their 2012 statements & news stories. Zimmerman was labeled a killer a vigalante a stalker etc w/o any trial or hearing.
In central Florida then in the national media, he was dragged down & slandered.

The Orlando FL news media started to shift back as more facts & testimony came out but if I were GZ, Id still feel more legal action should be considered.
George Zimmerman & O'Mara(who started as a media pundit on the case for WKMG-TV just like OJ Simpson's lawyer Johnnie Cochran in the LA area did) will get film/TV & book deals.

I'm thinking maybe William H Macy or maybe Matthew Modine could play O'Mara.
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Old July 14, 2013, 08:30 AM   #44
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I was curious how much Zimmerman might get from NBC were he to sue them for doctoring that 911 tape. Or, if he can even sure them for such a thing. I know I certainly would be looking into it.

The FBI report said they found no evidence of this being a race based crime so I am not sure how DOJ can do much of anything, though with Holder in charge nothing would surprise me.
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Old July 14, 2013, 08:46 AM   #45
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It's my understanding that Zimmerman has already sued NBC for the doctored 911 tapes ... don't know where the case stands ... I appreciate all the reasoned explanations of FL law regarding civil suits .. I think he's protected, but that doesn't mean he won't be sued, or that the feds won't come in and try him on a civil rights charge, given Obama interjecting himself into the case before it even went to trial ... this is what you get when a criminal case is turned into a media circus ...
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:01 AM   #46
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Very, very unlikely. Zimmerman is a public figure, and for a public figure to prevail in a libel/slander suit, he/she must prove not only that the utterer of the libel/slander knew that the information was false, but that it was uttered with malice. That's a tough nut to crack.
This seems circular to me. Zimmerman was only a public figure due to the uproar generated by the media, in large part due to their manipulation of the facts.

E.G.

Quote:
We can't be held liable for libel because the outrageous lies we told were so convincing that Mr. Zimmerman became nationally known and therefore a public figure.
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:19 AM   #47
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I was watching Fox just a little while ago and two judges (Judge Jeanine Pirro and Judge Alex E.Ferrer, former Florida Judge, Lawyer, and retired police officer) both said they can bring charges but he is immune because it was self defense and is protected by SYG law under its self defense partition. Who knows if this is 100% accurate or not. What I would expect is a civil rights case from Holder and his goons, saying he profiled Martin.
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:28 AM   #48
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I was curious how much Zimmerman might get from NBC were he to sue them for doctoring that 911 tape.
We probably won't know. Those cases are usually disposed through settlement agreements, and one of the terms of the settlement is usually that the plaintiff keep quiet about it.
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:42 AM   #49
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I don't think he is immune from civil suit ... yet. I just read an article quoting O'Mara as csmsss wrote in post #43:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark O'Mara
O'Mara said if anyone tries to sue Zimmerman, "we will seek and we will get civil immunity in a civil hearing. And we will see just how many civil lawsuits have spawned from this fiasco."
So Zimmerman's own attorney doesn't think he currently has immunity from civil lawsuit.
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:49 AM   #50
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Do you think this trial will adversely affect stand-your-ground laws? I see this verdict putting pressure on proposed laws and possibly on jurisdictions with SYG already on the books.
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