Florida lawmakers modified the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law this year, and a Miami judge ruled Monday that the updated version of the law is unconstitutional, the Bradenton Herald reports. The new version of the law requires prosecutors to disprove a defendant's claim of self-defense at a pre-trial hearing, meaning a judge can more easily dismiss criminal charges against a defendant before the case goes before a jury, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that's a procedure that "cannot be legislatively modified" under the state's constitution and therefore should have been changed by the state's Supreme Court rather than the Legislature.
Other trial courts in the state can still choose to follow the new version of the law, but the Herald notes that Hirsch's decision "get[s] the ball rolling on the appeals process," which could ultimately lead to the state Supreme Court reviewing the law. Prosecutors in the state have opposed the law, but the Republican former prosecutor who pushed the legislation says he disagrees with the judge's ruling. "I would be surprised if this decision were upheld at the appellate level," Sen. Rob Bradley tells the Miami Herald. The NRA backs the new version of the law. (Read more Florida stories.)