A "not guilty" verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, which allowed him to go free despite shooting a 17-year-old to death, has caused a Michigan lawmaker to urge the state to look more closely at its own justice system.
State Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) called on Michigan's Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (D-Monroe) Thursday to convene a joint subcommittee to review the state's Stand Your Ground law, according to a release sent to The Huffington Post.
Besides Florida, more than 20 other states have a version of the legislation. The Self-Defense Act was enacted in Michigan in 2006, allowing an individual to use deadly force if he or she "honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm [or imminent sexual assault] to himself or herself or to another individual."
"After the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, we have learned that at least one juror feels that although the facts of the case seemed to point to murder, her hands were tied by Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law," Santana wrote in a statement. "As legislators, it's our duty to ensure that the laws we pass do the most good for our citizens, and that's why I've asked for this review."
Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this month that the laws, which don't require individuals to first attempt to retreat if possible, "try to fix something that was never broken."
"It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," he said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) also asserted that all states, including his own, should examine Stand Your Ground laws.
But the original sponsor of Michigan's Self-Defense Act stands by it. State Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) told Lansing news station WILX 10 that he supported the legislation after seeing inconsistencies in judges' rulings on self-defense cases.
"There were even judges who thought you should retreat in your own home, when being attacked. It made no sense," Jones said.
Nonetheless, Santana believes the law could be improved with further insights from law experts, officials and the public.
"I believe it is possible to make Michigan cities and residents safer while also ensuring that justice is properly served in the event of a crime," he said. "If changes or improvements are needed to Michigan's law, we must allow the public, law enforcement officials and law experts to have their say."