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NRA Slams Miami Judge Over 'Stand Your Ground' Burden of Proof Ruling

July 6, 2017 - 4:15pm

The National Rifle Association is firing back at a judge over a recent ruling that Florida’s new “Stand Your Ground” burden of proof is unconstitutional.

Earlier this week, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch said Florida lawmakers overstepped their boundaries in shifting the burden of proof in "Stand Your Ground" cases, contending the responsibility to shift the burden of proof actually rests with the Florida Supreme Court rather than state legislators. 

“As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure cannot be legislatively modified,” Hirsch wrote in a 14-page order.

Speaking exclusively with Sunshine State News, former NRA president and current Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer said Hirsch had crossed the line of a simple legal ruling into political territory -- all on his own accord.

“This is a whole new level of judicial activism,” Hammer told SSN. “Judge Hirsch made a unilateral decision to attack the constitutional authority of the Legislature to pass laws even though neither of the attorneys in the case asked him to rule on such an issue.”
In May, Florida lawmakers voted to pass the a bill shifting the burden of proof in “Stand Your Ground” cases after years of attempts to muscle the legislation through the halls of the Florida Capitol. 
The new defendant-friendly law would give defendants more protection from prosecution in “Stand Your Ground” cases by requiring prosecutors to prove whether a defendant is entitled to immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity. 
That means the legislation would flip the responsibility onto the prosecutor to prove why a defendant shouldn’t be allowed to use the Stand Your Ground defense in court.
Gov. Rick Scott hopped on board with the bill, swiftly signing it into law last month.
Hirsch's decision drew the ire of the NRA and Republicans who worked to push and pass the legislation this year.
To Hammer, Hirsch is nothing more than an opponent of the bill who simply wanted to make his opinions known.
“This is just an activist judge who disagreed with the law so he decided to create issues that were not raised by either party,” she said.  

The debate over the burden of proof, Hammer said, is “nonexistent.” 

“Frankly, I don't ever remember seeing a trial judge blatantly create issues and controversy, in a case where none exists.” 

Yet opponents of the measure said they were “absolutely heartbroken” to discover Scott planned to sign the bill into law last month.

“This expansion would place an enormous burden on our state’s hardworking prosecutors, and further create a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ culture that would threaten the lives of people in our state, especially those in marginalized communities,” said Michelle Gajda, volunteer chapter leader of the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

The rest of the state does not need to comply with Hirsch’s ruling, but an appeal of his decision is widely anticipated.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Pam Bondi said Bondi’s office would appeal Hirsch’s decision and the NRA is expected to follow suit. 
“Bottom line, I know of no basis for a judge to rule on the constitutionality of a law that neither the defense nor the prosecution is challenging,” Hammer said.



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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I hope this judge is wrong. I think people who are protecting themselves should indeed be protected under the 2nd.

Another judge legislating from the bench. If someone is in my home illegally and I shoot then Tje burden of proof doesn't fall on me the victim. That scenario plays out regardless of where you may be confronted

Congress makes the laws. State and Federal. Not judges or HOAs.

Courts interpret them. That's why we have three branches of government.

The NRA is not the NRA of our parent's generation. It, and it's continual fear mongering as a pretext to sell guns, is a major problem. Attacks on this decent Judge's learned and credentialed opinion continue NRA efforts to "desensitize" all of us to the concept of "civility. Just gets in the way of automatic weapons and silencers.

Robert, you're correct in only your first statement - the NRA isn't the NRA of our parents generation, because our parents didn't have people like you, Bloomberg, and others trying to destroy not only the right to keep and bear arms, but the right to defend oneself. Newsflash - the NRA doesn't sell guns. Go try and sell civility to the inner city gangs. Let me know how that works for you... should you be fortunate enough to survive the attempt.

You do not know the NRA it does not sell guns as you suggest so the rest of you comment is null and void

"RobbyBoy", don't get yourself all worked up...this just gives Allison a reason to use another one of the stack of "gun pictures" she keeps in her desk. But, were I you, I'd be careful about lauding the judge's "learned and credentialed opinion"; He may well be a moron like former Federal Judge Alcee Hastings, impeached in 1980 for soliciting a bribe and perjury and was under investigation for sexual harassment of a staff member...So he became the Congressional Representative of District 20 ( Magnolia Park /Ft Lauderdale); Hastings has even publically stated "We have no rules, we do what we want in Congress". SO, "RobbyBoy", WHO knows what peccadilloes reside in the mind and history of judge Milton Hersch: OR ANY Judge, for that matter???..Think about that next time you vote, and choose to "extend a clay-footed jurist's time on his bench" while knowing absolutely NOTHING about his "decisions"!!! (However, we do now "have the flavor" of Milton's publicity seeking mind..!)

Glad I made your day, C Breeze. At least you are thinking, a bit.

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