Police and prosecution roundup

  • After parking lot shooting Pinellas County, Florida sheriff “claim[ed] his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true” [Jacob Sullum, Reason, more; David French, NRO]
  • Major USA Today story on origins of Baltimore’s devastating crime and murder wave [Brad Heath; Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
  • Related: in Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force police scandal, plea bargains punished the innocent [Capital News Service investigation by Angela Roberts, Lindsay Huth, Alex Mann, Tom Hart and James Whitlow: first, second, third parts]
  • California Senate votes 26 to 11 to abolish felony murder rule, under which participants in some serious crimes face murder rap if others’ actions result in death [ABA Journal, bill]
  • New Jersey’s reforms curtailing cash bail, unlike Maryland’s, seem to be working reasonably well [Scott Shackford; longer Shackford article on bail in Reason; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Miami Police Union Says Head-Kicking Cop ‘Used Great Restraint,’ Shouldn’t Be Charged” [Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times]


  • With respect to the parking lot shooting, the guy wasn’t standing his ground. He was on the ground.

    His actions appear indefensible from a moral standpoint, but how would we view the situation if, out of the clear blue sky, the assailant had shoved him to the ground? Legally speaking, is that guy in any different position? Telling someone to get out of a handicapped parking space doesn’t appear to be provocation under Florida law.

  • The felony murder rule is a huge injustice. It states that if you are with someone who commits a crime that results in murder, you are also guilty. It leads to insane things like Joe borrows Jim’s car (even without Jim’s knowledge) and ends up killing someone (hit & run, gunfire) and Jim is also guilty. Or a bunch of guys are just hanging out and one of them pulls out a gun and shoots someone. So this is the first time in a while that I approve of something from the Calif legislature.

    • That’s not how it works–an innocent act cannot be the basis of a felony murder.

    • There has to be more than innocent companionship or geographic proximity. A necessary element for conviction under the felony murder rule is that the defendant be committing a qualifying underlying offense–the “felony.”