Time to re-think Mich. 'stand your ground' type laws

Updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time to re-think Mich.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Once again, the world watches with fascination and apprehension as yet another Stand Your Ground case unfolds in the state of Florida.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says that while it's easy to cast Florida in an unfavorable light, it's also easy to forget we have almost the identical law here in Michigan.

=====================

It's not a stretch to think that eventually, we're going to wind up one one or more cases that will mirror what has been happening in the state that often seems to operate like a third-world country.

Michigan, along with 20 other states, has a stand your ground law very similar to Florida's. Both were designed primarily to protect homeowners from lawsuits from home invaders or carjackers who wind up getting shot or wounded.

Both laws say a person has no duty to retreat, and that force may be met with force, including deadly force, if that person reasonably fears his or her life is in danger.

They sound so reasonable.

But in Florida there have now been at least 200 violent confrontations that resulted in death or injury--all of them involving people who said they honestly believed their lives were in danger.

The best known is the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case of two  years ago.

Zimmerman said he felt the teenager was beating him up, prompting him to shoot.

Trouble is Zimmerman invoked the law after following an unarmed Trayvon Martin--after the police told him not to.

Zimmerman was not protecting himself in his home. He was outside on a sidewalk. Zimmerman was acquitted.

Software developer Michael Dunn unloaded his weapon at an SUV  parked at a gas station, killing one of the teenaged occupants.

An argument started when Dunn asked them to turn their music down. Dunn later said he feared for his life and that he was honestly convinced he saw a shotgun pointed at him.

There were no weapons found in the car.

Dunn was acquitted of the most serious charge of murder, but convicted of four other charges that might net him 60 years behind bars.

Then there's the case of the retired cop who shot and killed a man in a movie theater because he was using a cellphone.

Turns out the guy was calling his babysitter. The ex-cop says he felt his life was in danger.

And back in the news is the woman who while being threatened by her ex-husband, a man who'd beaten her before, went out to the garage, pulled a handgun, went back into the house, and fired one or two warning shots to scare him away.

She did not shoot him. But in a confusing turn of events, the stand your ground law--though invoked--isn't being applied.

She may do 60 years. And curiously, she's black.

Just four of more than 200 cases in Florida.

It makes one wonder if people who can so easily and legally pack heat these days aren't just a little paranoid and emboldened by a law that seems more fitting for an Ian Fleming novel than in real life.

Yes, your honor, I pulled the trigger because I was scared.

Well, maybe that's not good enough.

These laws, here and all over the country, were passed by well-meaning legislators who, I'm sure, believed they were doing what was best for their constituents.

But we all know there's a famous road that's paved with good intentions.

Michigan's stand your ground legislation, built on the idea that a man's home is his castle, was signed into law eight years ago by then Governor Jennifer Granholm.

She now says she would support narrowing the law and repealing those provisions that allow people to essentially take their castles into the streets.

Legal experts say the very name of the law may encourage a kind of vigilantism, and may also convey to a jury the state has in some way endorsed the use of deadly force.

Right now, without some spectacular case held to their heads, would be a good time for our state legislators to review the law, to look at it against the backdrop of what's been happening in Florida, and to make it a little narrower, a little more restrictive, a little one size fits all.

After all, as adults, we have long recommended to our kids that it takes more guts to walk away from a fight than to engage.

Not to say there aren't times when you have to defend yourself, but we already have the right of self-defense.

When it comes to the drama of stand your ground, maybe a little of the advice we give our children would work just fine for ourselves.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on March 05, 2015 08:35 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report today on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. The department will also issue its revised report on fourth-quarter productivity. And the Commerce Department will report on U.S. factory orders for January. Also today, Freddie Mac will release average mortgage rates.

The jobs market has been steadily improving in recent months.

And a private survey Wednesday showed that U.S. businesses added more than 200,000 jobs in February for the 13th straight month. It was the latest sign that strong hiring should boost the economy this year.

Payroll processor ADP says companies added 212,000 jobs last month, a solid gain, though down from 250,000 in the previous month. January's figure was revised up from 213,000. The figures come just before tomorrow's government report on the labor market, which economists forecast will show an increase of 240,000 jobs, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING (AP) -- China is setting a lower economic growth target for this year and is promising to open more industries to foreign investors as it tries to make its slowing, state-dominated economy more productive.

In a report to the National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang (lee kuh-TYAHNG') says the growth target of about 7 percent, down from last year's 7.5 percent, is in line with efforts to create a "moderately prosperous society." Actual economic growth last year was 7.4 percent, the lowest since 1990.

The ruling Communist Party is in the midst of a marathon effort to guide the world's second-largest economy to slower but more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption and services. It is trying to replace a worn-out model driven by trade and investment in construction and heavy industry that has left China's air and water badly polluted.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON-PHARMACYCLICS

Report: J&J close to deal to buy partner Pharmacyclics

UNDATED (AP) -- Health care giant Johnson & Johnson reportedly is close to buying biopharmaceutical company Pharmacyclics, its longtime partner in developing the blood cancer treatment Imbruvica.

London's Financial Times reports "people familiar with the matter" say Johnson & Johnson's anticipated offer would value Pharmacyclics of Sunnyvale, California, above its current $17 billion market capitalization. Those sources said a deal could be announced within days but might unravel.

J&J spokeswoman Amy Meyer declined to comment.

Pharmacyclics shares surged on the rumor, jumping 6.3 percent in regular trading and another 3 percent after hours to $237.48.

Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, usually makes mid-sized acquisitions worth several billion dollars, but paid $21.3 billion in 2011 for Synthes, a Swiss maker of orthopedic surgical equipment. J&J has annual revenue of $74 billion.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL-DATA BREACH

NEW YORK (AP) -- Upscale hotel chain Mandarin Oriental says it is investigating a potential credit card breach at its hotels.

"Unfortunately incidents of this nature are increasingly becoming an industrywide concern," the company said in an emailed statement. Mandarin Oriental said it is coordinating with credit card agencies and forensic specialists. The company didn't disclose how many hotels were affected nor how many customers reported fraudulent charges on their credit cards.

Mandarin Oriental operates hotels across the world including Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Prague, Boston, Las Vegas, Macau and Barcelona.

The breach was first reported by cybersecurity news website KrebsOnSecurity.

ACTIVISION-VIVENDI

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- A Delaware judge is eyeing approval of a $275 million settlement in a shareholder lawsuit alleging that videogame maker Activision Blizzard was shortchanged in a $6 billion buyback of shares from French media conglomerate Vivendi SA in 2013.

Following a hearing Wednesday, the judge said he viewed the settlement favorably, and that the defendants were providing reasonable value to settle the claims against them.

An attorney for the lead plaintiff told the judge that the $275 million settlement is the largest ever in a derivative suit, in which shareholders sue on behalf of a company.

The lawsuit alleged that Activision executives and directors, working with Vivendi, breached their fiduciary duties by entering into a deal that improperly benefited CEO Bobby Kotick and co-chairman Brian Kelly.

EXXON MOBIL-SETTLEMENT

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists are criticizing a proposed legal settlement between Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration and Exxon Mobil over oil and chemical contamination.

The state had sought $9 billion in damages. But a person familiar with the matter says the settlement is for about $250 million. The person wasn't authorized to speak before details were released publicly and spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is planning a public hearing. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. Ray Lesniak have threatened a lawsuit.

A judge found Exxon liable in 2008 for contamination in Bayonne and Linden. But there's been no ruling on damages.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. had said damages should be capped at $3 million.

REVEL SALE

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- A bankruptcy court judge says more time is needed to seek higher bids for Atlantic City's former Revel Casino Hotel.

Judge Gloria Burns delayed a decision Wednesday on the proposed $82 million sale of the shuttered gambling hall to Florida developer Glenn Straub.

She did so after Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof expressed interest in buying Revel, but for $2 million less.

Leo Pustilnikov, Shomof's partner, says he's interested in making a formal bid soon.

Burns says she's giving Revel AC and potential bidders time to work out the best possible deal for the shuttered casino.

A new hearing is set for March 12.

Two previous sales of Revel have fallen through.

The $2.4 billion casino closed in September after two years of operation, and never turned a profit.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement