A law that has sparked debate across the country was front and center as a Miami judge ruled Monday that Florida’s updated "Stand Your Ground" law is unconstitutional.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that the law, passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott that forces prosecutors in a pre-trial hearing to disprove a claim of self-defense by the defendant, oversteps the authority of those lawmakers.
In his decision, Hirsch says such a law must be created by the state’s Supreme Court under Florida’s constitution.
The ruling stems from two cases in Hirsch's court – including one involving Omar Rodriguez, who is charged with allegedly shooting and killing his Miami area neighbor after an argument over cleaning up dog poop.
The original law began in 2005 has been highly scrutinized by those on both sides of the issue over the last dozen years. Prosecutors under the current version must prove using “clear and convincing” evidence that the defendant was not using self-defense.
"This judge has ruled the current, new law is unconstitutional and that we're going to proceed under the old law, which is a lower burden of proof and the burden's on the defendant, not on the state, so it was a big deal," defense attorney Alan Ross said.
The ruling is likely to be challenged in appellate courts and could head to the Florida Supreme Court, according to reports.