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Stand Your Ground bill dies in Judiciary panel

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Capping two days of ‘will he or won’t he’ guessing, House Judiciary Chairman Charles McBurney on Thursday did not call up a bill that would change the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

Thursday’s meeting was the committee’s last get-together for the 2016 Legislative Session.

When asked why, the Jacksonville Republican told reporters, “I had concerns from the members, I had concerns from certain groups, I had concerns from victims and victim groups, so we kind of put the pause button on the bill. That’s my decision.”

The measure was a Senate bill, backed by state Sen. Rob Bradley, that “shifts the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecution” in pretrial hearings on whether a use of force was justifiable, according to a staff analysis. Those hearings determine whether a defendant can claim self-defense at trial.

McBurney also said he talked to the Speaker’s Office about the bill and about a contentious civil citations bill, but denied any backroom dealmaking.

He also was asked whether he had ever intended to hear the bill in his committee. That’s when it got a little uncomfortable.

“It was considered, never planned … well, I don’t think planned is the correct term. But it was considered.”

When asked to clarify whether he intended to put the bill specifically on Thursday’s agenda, he said, “What? No.”

He went on: “I was concerned about the policy. Because of those concerns, I made the decision not to call up the bill. There was no trade off.”

The House’s own version died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee in November on a 6-6 vote. But the Senate bill passed that chamber last month on a 24-12 vote and was redirected to House Judiciary. 

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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