Louis Bonham: FL Appeals Court Evokes ‘Stand Your Ground” Law

Gabriel Mobley (courtesy nbcmiami.com)

Attorney Louis Bonham writes:

After the hash made by the Florida judiciary in the Zimmerman case, you could be forgiven if you’re a bit cynical about Florida courts and self defense cases. On paper, Florida law – especially its commonly misunderstood “Stand Your Ground” law – is very favorable to self defense.  As the Zimmerman case starkly demonstrated, however, judges and prosecutors will not always follow the law, especially if there are political points to be scored.  Today yields one of those decisions that show how the law is supposed to work, albeit somewhat belatedly: Mobley v. State of Florida. Here are the facts as presented . . .

Gabriel Mobley had joined a friend for drinks and food after work.  Before going into the restaurant, he secured his legally carried handgun in the glovebox of his car, believing it was illegal to bring a firearm into an establishment that served alcohol.  During the evening, Mobley’s friend had an altercation in the restaurant with two other men, during and after which Mobley attempted to act as peacemaker.  Subsequently, after they thought the other men had left, Mobley and his friend left the restaurant.

The court’s opinion described what happened:

The events that transpired next were captured on a security camera recording made outside the restaurant, and, for the most part, are beyond dispute. The recording shows that at 23:52:15, Mobley, wearing only a sleeveless tee shirt, exited the Chili’s front door and went to his vehicle parked only feet away, but mostly outside the security camera’s viewing range. There, Mobley, as subsequent footage confirms, donned a sweat shirt, because, according to Mobley, it was chilly that night. He also retrieved his gun and put it in a holster that he wore around his waist.

Less than a minute after Mobley left the restaurant, Chico and the third man in their party exited the front door. Chico was joined by Mobley who walked with Chico to his nearby car. There the two remained for approximately thirty seconds until, at 23:53:38, Mobley stepped onto the sidewalk near the front fender of Chico’s car. Approximately twenty seconds later, Chico joined him on the sidewalk where the two smoked a cigarette.

Four seconds after Chico joined Mobley on the sidewalk, Jason Gonzalez can be seen rapidly approaching from Mobley’s and Chico’s right. Four seconds after that, Jason delivered a vicious punch to Chico’s face which fractured Chico’s eye socket. Jason then can be seen to dance backward, hands raised in a fighter’s pose, and within four seconds of landing the punch on Chico advance forward toward Mobley.

Mobley reacted by raising his arm and hand to ward Jason off. Two seconds later, as Jason steps back from Mobley, Roly can be seen rushing up from the rear of the restaurant to join Jason in what Mobley testified he believed to be a renewed attack on both himself and Chico. At this juncture, as Roly neared Jason, who was only feet from both Mobley and Chico, Mobley testified that he saw Roly reach under his long, baggy shirt. Believing that Roly was reaching for a weapon to use in an attack, Mobley drew his gun and shot at Roly hitting both Roly and Jason.

This entire series of events, from the time Jason first comes into view on the sidewalk until the first shot was fired, took only twelve seconds. After being shot, Jason turned and fled toward his (or Roly’s) car to collapse with a gunshot wound to the chest and die. Roly, hit four times, fell to the ground near the restaurant’s door where he was assisted by the third man in their party who had been sitting at the bar. Roly later died at a local hospital. Although no weapons were found on Roly’s body, two knives were found on the ground near where he fell.

Mobley cooperated with police, and after being held for a number of hours and giving a statement was released without being charged.  Subsequently, a different investigator was assigned the case, and Mobley was arrested and charged with two counts of murder.

Unlike George Zimmerman, Mobley actually asserted the “stand your ground” defense permitted by Florida law.  Under this defense, the trial court conducts a “mini trial” before the actual trial to determine whether, in using deadly force, the defendant reasonably believed that such force was 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.”  If the court finds, based on the circumstances as they appeared to the defendant at the time, that a reasonable and prudent person would have acted similarly, then the charges must be dismissed.

After holding a hearing, the trial court determined that it did not believe Mobley reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary, because Mobley never actually saw a weapon and because it believed Mobley should have brandished his gun, fired a warning shot, or warned the attackers to stop because he had a gun.  It thus refused to dismiss the charges.  Mobley appealed this refusal, and a Florida appeals court stayed his trial until it could address the issue.

In deciding that Mobley was, indeed, within his rights, the court’s opinion is a full-throated recognition of self defense law.  It flatly rejected the suggestion that Mobley was required to warn, brandish his weapon, or fire warning shots, noting that Florida law requires none of these but specifically allows the use of deadly force if the other legal circumstances are met.  It further held that under the totality of the circumstances, the evidence showed that a reasonably prudent person would reasonably have believed that deadly force was necessary, concluding:

It may have been more prudent for Mobley and Chico to skitter to their cars and hightail it out of there when they had the chance; however, as even the State concedes and the court below recognized, Mobley and Chico had every right to be where they were, doing what they were doing and they did nothing to precipitate this violent attack.

The only relevant inquiry was whether, given the totality of the circumstances leading up to the attack, the appearance of danger was so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of deadly force.

Because the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that had the proper standard been applied, Mobley’s use of deadly force was justified, the motion to dismiss should have been granted.

From a legal standpoint, such a decision was more than a bit unusual.  Typically, factual decisions of a district court on a preliminary matter like this are afforded quite a bit of deference by the appellate courts, especially where the issue can be revisited at trial.  Kudos to the court for not taking the easy way out.

comments

  1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    Ok so… Jason’s fist that broke Chico’s eye socket wasn’t a weapon? And the knives found on the ground are imaginary. Nothing to see here move along.

  2. avatar KevinMA says:

    When are Al Sharpton and President Obama going to chime in? Oh, wait, never mind.

    It’s truly a shame Mr. Mobley had to go to the Appellate court to get this dismissed. I bet it still cost him a small fortune in legal fees for an uppity DA looking to make his bones.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      From reading all of the words above, it appears that the “new investigator” was the one looking for an easy bust.

      1. avatar KevinMA says:

        Not an easy bust so much as perhaps making a political statement. And yes, your right, the root troublemaker was not a DA but an “investigator”, meaning the deceased family made a stink and got someone to reopen the case that was anti-self defense. But still needed a DA to prosecute it. Lotsa bad apples involved here.

      2. avatar rawmade says:

        Its so disgusting this is happening so often.
        Every investigator and LEO originally on the case agree youre innocent and did the right thing? Well to goddamn bad because some stupid cksucker wants to look like a hero for getting a conviction of an evil shooter.
        If this case isnt a blatant good shoot I dont know what is.
        Its sad that someone in that scenario has to go bankrupt to try and defend what is obviously, and VIDEO TAPED self defense

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Can you imagine the circus if there had not been video of the event?

  3. avatar Federale says:

    Were the knives fingerprinted and checked for DNA?

  4. avatar Xanthro says:

    This is why wee need laws that remove the duty to retreat.

    Because even some idiotic members of the Judiciary think that somehow people are supposed to magically be perfect, and wait util a firearm or other weapon is actually shown before defending themselves.

    Here, you have a case of two people smoking and minding their own business, and getting attacked. Defensive lethal force is still not used, until a second attacker arrives and acts in a manner that any reasonable person would conclude is a threat, a threat verified by the finding of weapons, and the trial court wanted more before self defense could be legally justified.

    Some people want criminals to be able to rule the streets, rather than being stopped by armed citizens.

    The only reason these two are dead is because they chose to attack an armed person. Had they attacked someone who couldn’t defend, they would have at a minimum beaten up both people. You don’t have to allow yourself to be beaten up. But there are people who want to make it so you can’t legally defend yourself.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      I agree. If Chico had been smoking alone or Mobley hadn’t retrieved his gun before joining Chico they’d likely be cut or dead.

      This reads like a case study.

      1. avatar KevinMA says:

        And the killers would have plead down to manslaughter and would have been out in a year or two to go kill again. That is in the unlikely event they were ever brought to justice to begin with.

    2. avatar ThomasR says:

      Uhm, Xanthro, that’s what stand your ground laws are for; it removes the duty to retreat; unless you were being sarcastic?

      1. avatar Lauderdale Vet says:

        Not every state has them.

      2. avatar Xanthro says:

        You misread what I wrote.

        I’m in favor of what are called stand your ground laws, but that name is a lay person’s description of the legal term, removal of duty to retreat.

        When I write This is why wee need laws that remove the duty to retreat, it means allowing people the natural right to defend themselves.

        1. avatar Cliff H says:

          Or removing from really small people the “Duty to retreat.” (Wee people.)

    3. avatar ChuckN says:

      This case is also why we need laws that force an investigation
      of investigators, DAs and judges that appear to prosecute
      based on ideological or “professional” reasons. Consider
      that another investigator took over after the first declined to
      prosecute and that it appears no new evidence was
      introduced. I think this might be a good test case to show
      that prosecutorial discretion does have its limits and that
      those who overstep can be punished. Obviously, this
      should fall under the purview of the Bar assoc. but
      anything other than a “tsk tsk” has about as much chance
      as Homer Simpson giving up donuts.

  5. avatar Dave s says:

    Nice to know the system sometimes works…eventually….after you are bankrupt and disgraced…

  6. avatar the ruester says:

    The idea here is to condition the public to see ANY gun use as a crime, thus diluting the expectation of a right to self defense. Whether he was convicted or not, the theatre of the potential prosecution has served it’s purpose.

  7. avatar Federale says:

    So, at least one victim was Hispanic, is this guy a racist? Was the other desedant white? Inquiring minds want to know if Al Sharpton is going to protest this hunting license for Hispanics and whites.

  8. avatar ST says:

    I hope you “but a good shoot is a good SHOOT!!!” crusaders paid attention.This guy did the right thing, and still got f##ed by the long Johnson of the law.

    This time it was Mobley.Next time, your name might be the one in front of a “vs MISBEHAVING STATE “.

    I don’t say that to scare anyone.But , seriously, please take a moment and research the laws on your jurisdiction.And , perhaps, re evaluate packing a lightened trigger Glock with a skull sideplate and “Death Dealer ” engraving on the slide.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      I can’t decide between the boondock saints 92fs or the punisher engraved 1911 for my carry gun…..

      1. avatar Unarmed & unnamed says:

        If you really want to be demonised by, uh… everyone, then carry two guns; a stainless steel one for shooting white folk and a blued one for black folk. Al Sharpton’s head might explode with rage.

  9. avatar Vhyrus says:

    The difference between the Zimmerman case and this one is that a) there was a video and b) the guy with the gun wasn’t chasing the other guy around the parking lot for 10 minutes before the attack.

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      c) the shooter didn’t call 911 to report assailants suspicious activity.
      d) the assailants did not attack the shooter from behind.

      1. avatar JasonM says:

        e) The assailants weren’t teenagers the media could twist into a pair of innocent angels on their way home from reading to the blind to study for the SAT.
        f) No PR machine stepped in behind the assailants’ families.

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          Neither shooter were of the Obuma family?

        2. avatar B says:

          Probably didn’t have any pictures of them from when they were 12 to flash on the news.

      2. avatar ropingdown says:

        Ruester, did you read the part in which it was recited that the entire attack, from Jason’s appearance and through the shooting took 12 seconds? At which instant of the reappearance do you conclude the 911 dialing should have begun? (Obviously there wouldn’t have been time for the call to be answered.)

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Zimmerman wasn’t chasing Martin around a parking lot for ten minutes either. In fact, he wasn’t chasing Martin at all. Please, deal in facts and not these despicable attempts at smearing an innocent man’s name. Shameful… downright shameful.

      1. avatar ropingdown says:

        Agree. The smears live on. Everybody has an opinion. Few watched all the evidence as it was presented.

    3. avatar IdahoPete says:

      g) The man who used a gun in self-defense is African-American, and not a “white Hispanic” Which explains why the media failed to cover this case. Does NOT fit the narrative.

  10. avatar john turton says:

    “Mobley testified he saw Roly reach under his shirt”. If this happened with a police officer he would have shot as well. All police officers will say the subject reaching under clothing is a THREAT TO LIFE. Rhetorical question but why is it one procedure for police and another for civilians?

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Because subjects citizens (military as well as civilian) are “untrained” in the ways of street perps.

  11. avatar William Burke says:

    “Warning shot”? The court actually said “warning shot”?

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      I know, right?! They put people in freaking jail for warning shots and then when there are none they say ‘well wheres the warning shot?’. It’s like The Joker is the freaking judge for this shit.

    2. avatar Marcus says:

      Yeah, how scary is that? You expect the matter of warning shots from John Q. Uninformed, but from the court? That blows my mind a little bit. How about the old “why didn’t he shoot the guy in the leg?” argument, is that up next?

    3. avatar neiowa says:

      Those judge-mutts names needed to be widely publicised. Judges in Fl have to be voted on or they royalty for life? (in Iowa have to stand for voter retention periodically).

  12. avatar KCK says:

    Gabriel Mobley, 38, received immunity from the charges after the Miami-Dade appeals court found 2-1 that he was justified blah blah blah.

    2-1???

  13. avatar Billy bones says:

    I think you want to use the word “invoke” not “evoke”

  14. avatar Independent George says:

    In my lay opinion, ‘Stand Your Ground’ should not have been relevant in this case, either. there was no opportunity to retreat, unless you have a legal obligation to turn your back on an attacker. Strictly on the facts of the case, whomever thought this did not involve an imminent threat is a cpmplete moron.

    1. avatar Semper Why says:

      Considering that the Stand Your Ground laws are in place to short-circuit the normal procedure of a trial… is there some means for Floridians to accomplish the same result without a SYG claim?

  15. avatar CA_Chris says:

    Wouldn’t it be three separate crimes to threaten, brandish, and discharge a firearm recklessly? As far as I know, in most places the law does not allow for any of those actions. And common sense, and survival, says that if you’re going to use a firearm, then there is only one right and effective way to do so: shoot your attacker(s).

  16. avatar Hannibal says:

    “Mobley cooperated with police, and after being held for a number of hours and giving a statement was released without being charged. Subsequently, a different investigator was assigned the case, and Mobley was arrested and charged with two counts of murder.”

    Figures. This is the kind of crap that happens… you get an officer that KNOWS the law, and doesn’t want to step in the shit. Then someone up the chain- who won’t do it themselves, mind you- decides to find someone who will come up with the ‘right’ answer.

    The idea that a court could consider ‘warning shots’ as an element necessary before a good shot is so laughable that I wish the judge could just be removed for obvious incompetence.

  17. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

    Call me old fashioned, but I taught that a “duty to retreat” actually exists if you have the potential to exert deadly force. Whatever the merits of “Stand Your Ground” laws (Google Massad Ayoob’s presentation, in May, 2012, at the Cato Institute, wherein he describes the history of SYG, for example) the negatives far outweigh the positives, imho. Negatives include the opportunity for individuals asserting “self defense” to justify the homicidal prosecutions of their crimes, as well as soccer dads ending a dispute, that in normal circumstances might have ended with a bloody nose or dislocated jaw, with a gunshot that takes a husband away from his wife and family. As for Zimmerman – give me a break. That sad sack is a poster child for what not to do when confronted with a suspected teenage burglar. If I were hypothetically forced to accept him as an example of a responsible gun owner in order to keep my guns, I’d turn in my guns.

    I’ve twice in my life been confronted by people whom I would have been justified in shooting under SYG laws The first time I was able to walk away without incident (i.e., “retreat”) and the second involved the use of force that fell short of deadly force. Those were my choices, and I stand by them.

    1. avatar CA.Ben says:

      Morally, of course you do what you feel you have to do. If you feel a need to retreat from a threat, to prevent the guilt that comes from taking a life, then by all means retreat. It is what I would do as well. But what about the man in the same threatening situation, pushing a stroller? Do you expect him to sprint away from trouble as fast as he can, recklessly rolling his toddler in front of him? Of course not.

      The problem with duty to retreat laws is that they remove your choices. When you are in a bad situation, your OODA loop is worth shit for you, because the state has already decided what you are compelled to do. Retreat. Stand your ground laws do not preclude you from retreating, but DTR laws do preclude you from meeting force with force.

      Furthermore, the whole “bloody nose” thing is a terrible concept. Of course, fights happen, and usually aren’t permanently scarring. However, you shouldn’t force someone into one. If you are confronted by a pack of thugs, which is becoming more common these days than the lone criminal, then a fistfight will not end well for you. The fact is, peoples’ hands and feet ARE deadly weapons. Fistfights kill. And again, we shouldn’t be making the choice for people, and forcing them into lethal fistfights. SYG laws are a statement of trust in the people; they legally encode that people have the right to personally assess a confrontation, and make their own decision as to fight or flee.

      In conclusion, I am not against retreating, nor for always standing your ground. I am pro-choice on the matter.

      1. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

        Thanks for your response. Of course there will always be situations wherein there can be no “duty to retreat” because there is no retreat possible. Your example of the father with the stroller is a propos, as is a situation wherein there are more than one attacker (this situation is generally interpretable under self-defense laws where it is understood that there is an dis-appropriate level of force on one side). I can think of another one: you’re trapped in a store or restaurant with a gunman and he or she starts herding people into another room in the back, etc. And so on.

        But I also think that by stepping back and evaluating SYG laws, you are not “forcing people into fist fights.” Most (the vast majority of) fist fights do not end in death or serious injury, although some do, of course – and it is logical to assume that by giving people the choice to end violence with a handgun, you decrease the incidence of those fist fights that went way south. There is another side to the story however: my skepticism regarding SYG is that it increases the incidence of severe violence in cases where a bloody nose or dislocated jaw would have been the worst that happened – however regretful that may be. (I’ve experienced both, by the way, and I’m not saying that it’s “ok” to be assaulted.)

        And to be clear, I am not talking about incidents where on is stalked or blindsided by criminals. Clearly one is within one’s rights to respond with deadly force during a criminal assault. Less clear, however, is whether SYG laws can encourage common, everyday, non-lethal altercations (the “soccer dad” phenomenon, for example) to escalate into something else entirely. Granted that these situations are not common, but they are more common than you would think.

        I am in agreement with your last comment and would offer the following: I am not always against standing your ground, nor always in favor of retreating. I do however think that SYG, as a public policy, contains a lot of unintended consequences.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      If someone dies because they decided it was okay to (criminally) dislocate someone’s jaw, I will shed not one tear. We need less hug-a-thug and more deterrence for acting like one.

      Moreover, do you know the difference between hitting someone in the head\face to hurt them vs. hitting someone to give them brain damage? What about making sure they don’t fall and hit their head on the asphalt? Maybe you have the training and experience to know these things (it takes both), or maybe not. But do you really want to trust that the guy coming towards you knows the difference and won’t go further? Are you sure he won’t slam your head on the ground as one last “@#$^ you!”? Or maybe he’s a little drunk and he ends up slamming you into a wall. Or sees your gun and decides to take that. I’m not talking about a situation where you stat a bar-fight; I’m talking about aggression where the proximate cause is not the fault of the victim.

      I can tell you police are trained to shoot if they are in danger of losing a fight to a determined attacker (as opposed to someone just trying to run), because if someone is willing to attack you and damage you sufficiently to disable you, that person is quite likely to keep going. Now police are in a bit of a special situation because most people will not fight the po-po (because they know they’re risking their ass), but remember that police have intermediate weapons and more training than your average citizen. So why should someone let themselves be rendered defenseless?

      This of course ignores the fact that the guy apparently had weapon(s). Luckily the law does not state you have a duty to shoot, only that others do not have a duty to retreat. Don’t go assaulting people and I doubt it will be an issue :).

      1. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

        Thanks for your response. What you say is all true, and fair. For a more nuanced statement of my skepticism regarding SYG law, please see my response to CA.Ben, above. I suppose that many people would make the following argument “If ANY act of physical violence MIGHT kill me or leave me with severe injuries, then I can draw and fire my weapon whenever I am confronted with physical violence.”

        I am just not so sure that the conclusion of this argument is justified by its premises. There is a huge amount of subjectivity involved in deciding exactly where and when the line between being afraid and fearing for one’s life is crossed. While it’s true that SYG gives you the choice to retreat or not retreat, I also think that it makes it more likely that one might choose not to retreat is a situation where retreat was warranted, or available, How much more likely is really the crux of the issue.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          I think the crux of the issue is where the privilege lies.

          If there’s a duty to retreat, the aggressor has the legally privileged position by default — despite being morally in the wrong.

      2. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

        Ing,

        Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is true that “duty to retreat” laws put the onus on the defender, but that is true of SYG laws – to a lesser extent of course, since the initial hearing is designed to streamline the legal process.

        It is interesting to note that in the since the passage of Florida’s “shall issue” CCW laws in 1987, the philosophical ground for the justification of handgun homicides has shifted from conceptions of “duty” (there is no “duty to retreat” when confronted with an aggressor in your home, for example, since “retreat” is not an option) to “rights” (or “privileges,” as you state) wherein you have the right to, and there is no “duty to retreat” from, the ground upon which you stand. Another way of putting this is that “castle doctrine” has been interpreted to mean not just the home but the playground, football field, sidewalk, etc. Hence the original authors of Florida’s SYG laws interpret the rise in justifiable homicides in states that passed SYG laws as evidence that the law is working the way that it should. (On a side note, Florida’s legislature recognized at least one unintended consequence of SYG. and amended the law to state that individuals involved in criminal activities could not invoke SYG in their defense. This is because some criminals shot other criminals in order to prosecute their crimes, and then later claimed “self-defense” at trial.)

        A potential problem occurs however when neither side is acting in a premeditative, criminal fashion but is involved in a dispute leading up to an altercation. In these cases, both parties believe themselves to be the “good guy” and the other party to be the “bad guy,” and either party can claim that, at some point, they were in fear for their lives or of being seriously injured. These are the cases (and this is really all that I’ve been arguing all along) wherein notions of “rights” don’t really hold much traction, but notions of “duty” (to one’s self, one’s family, one’s community) start to apply.

    3. avatar John in Ohio says:

      I used to spread the dangerous and completely false idea that a fist fight is just a fight and doesn’t require a gun to solve. I now have permanent debilitating injuries because I should have drawn but didn’t. I disarmed the attacker but will pay for my foolishness the rest of my shortened life. Please, stop spreading this nonsense. You’re going to get someone killed or seriously injured. If there is threat enough to fight then draw; don’t be a fool.

      1. avatar 3fins says:

        Exactly. People are somehow ignorant to the fact it’s rather easy to kill or permanently injure someone with your fists. Statistically, something like 5 people a day in the United States are killed during a fist fight and the aggressors are charged accordingly. Often a death occurs when the person falls and hits there head on the pavement.

        Love how the original commenter feels a broken jaw is acceptable. What a nutjob. FYI normal, responsible adults do not offensively place hands on or hit other people. It takes a lot of audacity to feel you have the authority to physically violate someone else in an offensive manner. No sympathy for adult aggressive-types who play with fire and get burned.

      2. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

        John in Ohio,

        Thanks for your response. I am sorry to hear about your injuries.

        I don’t think that I said that “a fist fight is just a fight and doesn’t require a gun to solve it.” However, my subsequent statement, above, to CA.Ben, does offer a more nuanced version of what I meant to say originally. The statement, “all fist fights require a gun to solve them” is just as untenable – particularly in today’s legal environment, where establishing how a fist fight occurred can get pretty murky in a court of law.

        I doubt that I will get anyone killed or seriously injured by discussing the possible ramifications of SYG laws – especially on this forum! The formal intent of the forum, is, after all, “to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns,” and I don’t think that anyone will die as a result of an opinion with which you don’t agree.

      3. avatar John in Ohio says:

        @Stephen Lamade: I must have mixed part of Hannibal’s comment (in favor of lax SYG?) and your comment (in favor of a more cautious SYG?) (no time to go back and look for sure on these right now). Sorry about that. I’ve seen more than a few people on forums telling people that a ‘fight is just a fight’ as some sort of gospel of ‘training’. Indeed, I used to be one of those guys. My reaction was knee-jerk. Again, sorry about that.

        Generally, I am for more unraveling to legal barriers to the use of self defense in society. Initially, I can see the possibility of a rise in societal violence in fringe areas of self defense, but not that it necessarily WILL happen that way. However, I can also foresee a tapering off over time as people come to realize that an armed society is really a polite society for a reason. I firmly believe that that individuals and society would see much benefit from an approach to self defense where the person left standing was considered innocent of a real crime until it was actually proven beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise. For example, guy holding a fired gun over a dead person. Absent any evidence to the contrary, I believe that government should automatically assume it to have been self defense. I’d rather ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be deprived of liberty even for a day.

    4. avatar Troutbum5 says:

      Bear in mind that the one punch thrown fractured the guy’s eye socket. Which could have caused blindness, disfigurement, brain damage or even death. Mobley was completely justified even before the other guy reached under his shirt. Mobley might have already decided to draw before that. I would have. There are only a couple of ways I want to die, and fighting isnt one of them. Those 12 seconds must have seemed like an eternity.

    5. avatar CarlosT says:

      Duty to retreat laws are morally indefensible. They favor the violent attacker over the law abiding defender. With duty to retreat, all rights the person attacked had to be in that space vanish, and the attacker de facto owns the space. The person attacked must cede the space to the law breaker or risk becoming a criminal himself. Only if there is no way out can he assert his right to self-defense.

      Stand your ground laws only remove the duty to retreat. The standard for self-defense remains the same. The difference is the law abiding person can stay where he is legally allowed to be, and not be second guessed days, weeks, or months later by a prosecutor.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        +1. If one allows another person who is obviously intent on perpetrating dangerous physical aggression to get too close, the odds of death or serious bodily injury increases greatly for the victim. Although I shared that wisdom with many before, I had to learn it for myself the hard way. IMHO, too many states have dangerous legal pitfalls for law abiding citizens when it comes to their personal self defense.

      2. avatar Ing says:

        Another +1.

        This is the heart of the matter, right here. Before I saw this comment, I said something similar in a reply above — your comment is much more thorough.

        1. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

          Prior to the passage of a SYG law in Florida in 2005, the conventional wisdom (stated in Massad Ayoob’s “In the Gravest Extreme,” (1981) for example) was that one avoided discharging a weapon unless absolutely necessary. There were obvious counter-examples (Jeff Cooper’s writings, in general, held that one should be as aggressive as necessary given the perception of a threat) but, by and large, most commentary upheld ‘castle doctrine” as the case where you were exempt from a “duty to retreat” and generally on practical grounds, i.e., the psychological, as well as, economic cost, was considered to be a huge cost for the individual who shot a perceived aggressor. There was, in addition, a moral dimension, which can be broadly stated as, “Well, accidents CAN happen – so better be sure!”

          What SYG does is to change the CV: castle doctrine is reinterpreted to mean “where I stand” instead of :”where I live,” and the possibility of errors in judgement hurting other people is superseded by a belief that self-preservation justifies possible errors in judgement. One of the reasons why SYG is so appealing is that it affords the mature, responsible adult the right to make the unambiguous moral choice based upon his or her subjective feelings. And let’s be clear, talk about turning the table on the alleged “rights” given to criminal predators by know-nothing liberals is really a straw-man argument: no one has denied anyone the right to defend themselves in these circumstances. What’s at stake in the argument is the death of individuals not normally given to crime, who do stupid things under various kinds of stress or impairment, who you might call a friend or neighbor in different circumstances, and who are simply, as a matter of statistical probability, more likely to get shot in states with SYG laws than those without it. I say this because the moral presumption of “standing your ground” does not take into account the massive stress load (fear, confusion, anger, etc.) that’s dumped on the OODA loop during a violent confrontation. It shades the balance, ever so slightly, away from “I might make a mistake” to “I was afraid for my life (even if my fear wasn’t really justified).

          As Ayoob stated in a talk given to the Cato Institute in 2013, one of the reasons that SYG laws were passed is the onerous costs in criminal and civil legal fees incurred by individuals claimed “self defense” and who were subsequently charged or sued and had to go to court (or worse, had to wait to go to court). SYG short-circuits that process by allowing individuals a chance to get charges dismissed before having to go through a protracted legal battle. Obviously the legal system is not serving these kinds of people fairly, but it’s ironic that Ayoob argues that the reasons that he gives in ITGE for avoiding firing your weapon are the very same reasons for the passage of SYG laws.

          There are obvious counter-examples to everything that I’ve said, but that means that the debate can be argued in terms of greys rather than black and white.

  18. avatar Brian says:

    Wait a minute. The article states “Mobley, wearing only a sleeveless tee shirt,”

    So, he was in the restaurant naked from the t-shirt down with his little willie bouncing around for the whole world to see? To me, this is the REAL issue. I don’t want to eat dinner with the smell of fumunda cheese coming from the next booth.

    1. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

      lol

  19. avatar Robb says:

    Someone remind me not to visit Florida in the future.

    1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      When I was in central Texas, one of the radio stations there had a crazy Floridian story segment where they pulled up all of the crazy stuff people Floridians were doing. Although, one of the best stories was a woman visiting Seattle who was flashing people and then demanding money. She was supposedly not of the attractiveness level that people wanted to see her flashing and her attempts to get money were not working. She became aggravated until someone called the police. Her attempts to get money worked even less on the police who eventually arrested her.

    2. avatar 3fins says:

      RE: Robb

      Why shouldn’t you visit Florida?

      Do you have self control issues?

      Are you concerned you might offensively attack or threaten a person who happens to be carrying a gun?

      Do you still not understand rules like “Keep your hands and feet to yourself”?

      Then please stay the hell away.

      1. avatar Robb says:

        No, I’m able to mind my own business just fine.

        My remark was based on the actions of the Fl judiciary and their interpretations of the law. I’d hate to have to defend myself legally and still have to go through all the legal problems(yes I know it’s part of the process of using a gun defensively) once some DA or ADA decided to bow to political pressure and file charges anyways.

  20. avatar C says:

    The deceased were clearly just trying to defend themselves from secondary smoke!

  21. avatar Chris says:

    What jackass suggested firing warning shots? Isn’t that illegal in FL? I’m guessing brandishing is too.

    1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

      It is now.
      Might not be in a few weeks.

  22. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I guess none of you live here.
    In the next few weeks there will be a vote in the state legislature to allow the use of a warning shot(dumb) and or a display of your weapon in just such a situation as described in this story.
    Currently firing a warning shot isn’t allowed. I feel that’s also reasonable. You are responsible for that bullet where ever it might go.
    So who ever said that in the story is wrong.
    If you display your gun and don’t use it.
    You will be arrested for at the least menacing or brandishing,
    Two ways to look at the new proposed law.
    More good news for the armed citizen.
    More crap for the uninformed general public to scream about.
    I guess we will see what happens in the next few weeks or months.
    I think and hope they do pass this.

    1. avatar Drew says:

      “If you display your gun and don’t use it.
      You will be arrested for at the least menacing or brandishing,”

      I don’t think it works the way that sentence reads. If you pull your gun and the situation is resolved without you pulling the trigger and you are found to be justified in applying lethal force there is no grounds to charge you with brandishing.

      What pulling your firearm specifically to threaten with or discharging a “warning shot” suggests is that you did not feel that you were in imminent danger.

      What all these laws mean even SYG is that you must already have been assaulted (in the legal meaning of the word) in order to respond. That legally prevents you from using your firearm to defuse a situation as early as you might.

  23. avatar Dan says:

    Many will assert that Mr. Mobley won…..and to an extent he did, he is not in prison so he did win.
    But unless Mr. Mobley has won the Powerball, is an investment banker or in some other way is
    wealthy far beyond the means of a typical American he lost…..he lost BIG TIME because he is out
    THOUSANDS in attorneys fees. All because some piss ant brain donor of a badgemonkey in cahoots
    with a Piece of Sh*t deputy DA decided that Mr. Mobley MUST PAY for having the gall to actually defend himself.

    1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

      He could suit the department and officer responsible for messing it up to recover costs and would probably win.

      1. avatar LKB says:

        Sorry, no way. They have at least qualified immunity for state law claims, and the hurdles for a federal civil rights claim in a case like this would make it effectively impossible.

        Not saying that’s how things should be, but it’s how they are.

  24. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    http://www.northescambia.com/2013/12/evers-files-warning-shot-bill

    In regards to my previous post.
    A lot don’t and wont agree with this. Its already failed once but now as an amendment to the 10-20-Life bill it may get some attention this time around.

  25. avatar Ardent says:

    Time to time the ‘I have no impulse control so you probably don’t either’ projection that is more typical of the antis manages to infect one of ours.

    The very notion that SYG laws (which, by the way only recognize an existing natural right) will somehow lead to legally justifiable homicides that are morally reprehensible and that otherwise would have been criminal acts suggests a projection on the part of those who hold such notions.

    If you’re the type of person who would shoot someone over an argument concerning a children’s sporting event then by all means disarm immediately and seek counseling.

    SYG simply asserts that one retains the right to be in a place they already had the right to be when they are faced with criminal violence. The opposite would suggest that a person loses the right to occupy a space where they previously enjoyed such right in the event of criminal violence by another. This latter concept is not only anathema to liberty and the law abiding while favoring those of violent criminal intent but also defies any logical defense whatsoever.

    There are, of course, those in the world who would like nothing better than to shoot someone even if only to see what it’s like. Those who harbor such desires are at best sub-clinical sociopaths while those who act on such thoughts are the real thing; violent, narcissistic, sociopathic criminals. The entire rest of the population (something exceeding 99% according to the justice department; # of murderers Vs the entire population) find the use of lethal force abhorrent morally and psychologically and avoid it in all cases where it can be avoided without real and imminent threat to life and limb. The laws concerning self defense are not written in a vacuum or by academics considering a cold calculation. Instead they reflect both the morally and the realism of the people at large. That is, we decide what we will call self defense and what we will call murder by viewing through the lens of our own bias against killing anyone at all. While legally one is innocent until proven guilty a claim of self defense is very much an explanation of why one should be justified in doing what would ordinarily be both immoral and unlawful; intentionally killing another.

    All that aside, murder in general is the exception to a very basic rule; combat = danger. Even in attacking from ambush, even when sniping from camouflage and distance all psychologically healthy people experience it, the feeling of danger just before unleashing violence, even when the risk to themselves is small and remote. It is this basic instinct, that to commit violence puts one in danger of violence that mitigates against the vast majority of people behaving in violent ways. This effect is further illustrated by instances of ‘limited violence’ in which a party may willfully engage in a hand to hand fight but does not escalate to use of weapons. While a fallacy in actuality, this stems from the perception that by limiting the nature of the attack one limits the level of violence of the defense/retaliatory attack. That is; ‘if I only hit you with my fist you’ll only hit me back with your fist and I’m willing to accept that level of violence in this case’.

    To suggest that a law, mere words on paper, will alter basic human psychology is laughably ignorant and borders on hysterical while the belief that the subtle nuances of the law affect the behavior of the type of people who would commit violence on others for trivial matters (i.e. attack someone over a children’s game) commits a paradox; That a person who is so impulsive and emotional as to capriciously commit lethal violence is also so logical and calm as to determine the likely defensibility of their actions in a court at some later date.

    Laws concerning behavior in extremis are not so much intended to instruct one in how to act (as a practical matter they cannot inform the parts of the brain that are used in such events even if they are known and of concern to the actor) but rather to determine the legality of an action after the fact.
    For example, one does not think upon being attacked by a group wielding clubs ‘I ought to run away but since my small child cannot run quickly enough to escape I am legally justified in using lethal force to protect the innocent third party (the child) from what appears to be a lethal and imminent threat given that the innocent third party lacks the ability to retreat’. I’m rather certain that a more typical response to the same event, down in the limbic system and the ‘monkey brain’ which is used for such events is ‘RUN! NO! Can’t run . . .Protect offspring! Fight!’.

    The law is simply written to allow society to determine, after the fact, if the instincts employed were sound and the actions justifiable. That is, the law in such cases doesn’t exist to tell one how to handle the situation but rather to judge if how one has handled it was reasonable to others. Or more succinctly; was this legitimate self defense or did this person murder another and attempt to escape justice by falsely claiming self defense?

    So, for anyone who’s managed to follow this far, claims that SYG or CCW or any other law will make murder justifiable or increase the incidence of murder are absurd on their face and necessarily ignore both human psychology and the actual facts on the ground in the places they have been implemented. The only people who need to fear SYG, CCW or other self defense laws are those who will not or cannot avoid violently attacking innocent others and it is for protection from prosecution for defending oneself from these individuals that such laws exist in the first place.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      You articulated that perfectly. Thank you, sir. 🙂

    2. avatar Drew says:

      Thank you for that well written comment. There were reportedly more shooting deaths in Florida shortly after SYG was enacted but I feel it was likely due to the very same mis understanding of the law we see all the time. people heard about the new law but rather than educate them selves about it they decided them selves what it meant and there was a noticeable spike in the numbers where either party felt they were entitled under the law.

      And I have heard that same logic many times, one guy even lamented that if he were able to own a gun he might follow through on his daily fantasizing of killing people he sees walking around every day.

    3. avatar Stephen Lamade says:

      Actually the rate of justifiable homicide HAS increased in all states that have passed SYG laws, with Florida as the exemplar. The authors of the Florida bill have stated that this is in fact a positive sign that the bill is working as it was intended – as indeed it probably is for those who commit justifiable homicides and are now free to live their lives unimpeded by a protracted legal battle. It should also be made clear that recent studies that show an increase in the rate of justifiable homicides, such as the one conducted by Texas A&M University, are not conclusive because they rely on “optional” data supplied by local law enforcement agencies that may or may not choose to share all their numbers; the rate of justifiable homicides may indeed be higher.

      Moreover, no one has studied the data with respect to the rate of unintended, accidental, or negligent homicides in SYG law states because it is under-reported or unavailable to date. You suggest that it is foolish to expect that the mere language of SGY laws will effect human psychology – and I agree. But the following caveat applies: the unintended consequences of SYG will be due to the fact the human psychology will remain exactly the same. The following, albeit inexact, analogy may apply: “I may know how to drive safely at 90 mph, and YOU may know how to drive safely at 90 mph, but the rate of accidental vehicular homicide is less, over time, on highways with 65 mph speed limits compared to those highways without a speed limit.”

      As the one to whom you may be referring as one of “ours” infected by the foolish nonsense of the “antis” let me be clear: I am in favor of the 2nd Amendment and a firm proponent of CCW laws. I have, however some reservations with SYG laws as I believe that they carry unintended consequences of which one needs to wear willful blinders to ignore. In a shifted political landscape wherein Dick Metcalf can be fired from Guns&Ammo for suggesting that all constitutional amendments can be subject to restrictions, I doubt that I’ll curry much favor to some, however. Please remind them of that the next time someone yells “Gun!” in a crowded theater.

  26. avatar Lauderdale Vet says:

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-stand-your-ground-supreme-court-20140102,0,3271124.story

    So what, this doesn’t stop here? How does it go to the State Supreme Court if he has immunity?

    1. avatar LKB says:

      Unlike an acquittal (not appealable by the state), my understanding is that the intermediate court’s finding that he is entitled to immunity can indeed be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

      Whether the DA will in fact want to do so (or, if he does, whether the FSCt would take the appeal) is another matter.

  27. avatar DBM says:

    I love how these cases are judged by people who have never been assaulted or in a fist fight in there lives. You’re suddenly and viciously attacked, its dark, and another guy is running to assist the attacker. What do you do? According to the DA you’re supposed to lay on the ground belly up whimpering. These thugs that attacked got what they deserved.

  28. avatar Jan Pierce says:

    I was at the gym this morning and caught a portion of the Melissa Harris-Perry show when the panel was discussing this decision. I was aghast. They might as well have been from a different planet. I had to come back and read the decision again just to make sure I wasn’t the one on another planet. I wasn’t. Considering that this was all caught on video, and that there was clearly a violent attack in progress, I was amazed that the MHP panel felt that the only way the defendant would have deserved to have protected himself with a gun was if the attacker had actually pulled a gun.

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