UC Law Journal of Race and Economic Justice


Rene Perez


Stand Your Ground laws give jurors too much leeway in determining what constitutes a reasonable threat in defense cases.2 By removing the traditional duty to retreat, the reasonableness determination makes or breaks a case and inherently discriminates against people of color. This is because reasonableness can all too easily become a character determination instead of an objective adjudgment. Because Stand Your Ground is present at the investigator’s discretion stage, the prosecutorial discretion stage, and finally the judicial stage through jury instructions and juror bias—there is a unique platform for implicit bias to dictate how defendants are advantaged or disadvantaged in their defense. This article examines the history of Stand Your Ground and how it has affected people of color, particularly Black men. The effectiveness of Stand Your Ground on violence, in general, is also examined. Finally, selected solutions are offered in the form of a change to normative reasonableness standards and removing the civil and criminal immunities granted by Stand Your Ground statutes.

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