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Bowing to NRA, Scott Skips Over Court Pick Who’d Blocked “Stand Your Ground” Shift

| June 25, 2016

Rep. Charles McBurney, nra

Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, had opposed a measure that would have shifted the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground cases from the defense to the prosecution, thus making it easier for to invoke the defense. (Meredith Geddigns, Florida Memory)

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Robert Dees to the 4th Judicial Circuit on Friday, choosing the Jacksonville attorney from a list six nominees that included a Republican state lawmaker who had become the target of gun-rights groups.


Dees, a partner with Milam, Howard, Nicandri, Dees & Gillam, P.A., will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Harvey Jay to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Scott’s pick for the 4th Judicial Circuit — made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties — drew attention because influential National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer initiated a letter-writing campaign in opposition to Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, who had wanted the job as judge.

“Exposing the self-serving conduct of a legislator who seeks to become a judge is important,” Hammer, a past president of the NRA who also currently serves as executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, said in an email on Friday. “That is not the kind of person you want to be a judge.”

In a letter last month to NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida members, Hammer deemed McBurney “unfit” for a judgeship because, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he refused to move forward with a measure tied to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law during the legislative session that ended in March.

Florida Carry later urged its members to oppose McBurney.

As of Friday morning, the governor’s office had received 7,985 responses in opposition to McBurney and 134 in support, according to Scott’s aides.

None of the five other nominees received any emails or letters in opposition. Three letters of support were submitted for Dees and Lee Kellison. The governor received 24 letters supporting Cyrus Zomorodian, five for Katie Dearing and four for Meredith Charbula, according to Scott’s office.


The NRS sends its usual message: Don’t mess with us.


McBurney, who had previously earned high marks from the NRA Political Victory Fund for his position on gun rights, said Friday that while the “perception” will be that the gun-rights groups influenced Scott, he doubted the governor was swayed by thousands of cut-and-pasted emails opposing McBurney’s nomination.

Instead, McBurney said Hammer was sending a message to other lawmakers by opposing his nomination.

“The message she is sending is really to the legislators, that even if an issue doesn’t concern the Second Amendment, and even if you leave the Legislature, if you disagree with me at all, I’m coming after you,” McBurney said.

Hammer responded that she hoped McBurney wasn’t “suggesting that because he’s leaving the legislature that what he did was OK.”

“McBurney’s misdeeds were in the final week of session,” Hammer wrote in the email. “He’s lucky it was the last week otherwise Speaker (Steve) Crisafulli might have removed his chairmanship. No one belongs on the bench who sacrifices the rights of the people for personal gain. He talks about all of his previous votes but we all know that what you do today portends what you will (do) tomorrow.”

In stand your ground cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution. The Florida Supreme Court ruled last year that defendants have the burden of proving during the hearings that they should be shielded from prosecution.

The bill that died during this year’s legislative session would have shifted the burden of proof to prosecutors.

McBurney, a former prosecutor, has said the bill “would have victimized victims, especially those of domestic violence.”

McBurney’s committee did support measures that would have allowed people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry firearms on university campuses and to openly display handguns in most public places.

McBurney, whose term ends in November, said Dees is “well-respected” and “will make a great judge.”

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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23 Responses for “Bowing to NRA, Scott Skips Over Court Pick Who’d Blocked “Stand Your Ground” Shift”

  1. Geezer says:

    Love that two-tone Rolex Datejust–muy bueno.
    I can see the need to pack heat when wearing it.

  2. Layla says:

    The NRA seems to be the only entity in enforcing the Constitution lately. “Freedom’s safest place.”

  3. Knightwatch says:

    Yep, the NRA runs Florida. When are those rational, reasonable citizens going to reject those murderous twits?

  4. Barry Hartmann says:

    Thank you Governer !

  5. Rick G says:

    I don’t really feel comfortable with the NRA selecting judges.

  6. Common Sense says:

    So now the NRA is in charge of selecting judges. Wake up people. Everyday the news is full of stories of people killing others. People who should never had access to guns in the first place.

  7. just me says:

    From what I understand the Stand your ground laws that where in question was that the state must prove YOU did something against the law. As it stood you had to prove you did not break the law.If that how it was then that was wrong in this once great Republic its the responsibility of the State to prove you violated the laws.

  8. Knightwatch says:

    Layla, the NRA is enforcing murder and mayhem. The NRA should be on America’s terrorist watch list.

  9. Bc. says:

    Yep the NRA rules just the way us conservatives like it. Go trump🇺🇸

  10. Realist says:

    The NRA is the foremost organization preventing left wing loons from disarming our population. If we allow these kooks to ever take our firearms, the massacre at the Pulse nightclub will seem like the good old days. I am sure I will get flack over this. I am an educated individual with a rational view of the world. I am NOT surrendering my weapons.

  11. Fraddy says:

    The old stand your ground was the homeowner is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty. The new law that was vetoed was the homeowner is guilty unless he can prove his innocence. What were you liberals thinking off that we are to be guilty first and have to prove our innocence.

  12. Ken Dodge says:

    quoted from Marion P. Hammer, past NRA president:

    “To be clear, this was a bill to restore the presumption of innocence in self-defense cases. It is a fundamental right that the legislature ratified in the “Castle Doctrine/Stand/Your Ground” law but that prosecutors and anti-gun judges didn’t like.

    So, to circumvent the “Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground” law, a few Judges and prosecutors conspired to nullify the immunity and self-defense protections provided by the Legislature.

    They created a special hearing for self-defense cases and removed the presumption of innocence by requiring citizens to prove they acted in self-defense.

    It is an underlying canon of justice that anytime the state (prosecutor) charges a person with a crime, the burden is on the state (prosecutor) to prove that person committed the crime.

    No person should ever sit on any bench anywhere who is willing to trade your rights and your freedom for personal gain. Particularly a person who suggests that legislation to protect self-defense rights is ‘pro-criminal.'”

  13. Michael Develli says:

    NRA is bad news.

  14. Billy Bob says:

    Knightwatch doesn’t know what they’re talking about, the NRA is an upstanding group of responsible gun owners!

  15. Outsider says:

    Actually, the law states that you are immune from criminal prosecution and civil suits if you use deadly force justifiably. As someone correctly stated, the courts didn’t like this so they initiated these so-called “immunity hearings” to determine if you are “eligible” for the immunity. Out of roughly 750 immunity hearings, zero people were “granted” immunity. In these hearings, you have to prove you are eligible; in other words, you ARE presumed guilty until proven innocent. The proposed law which failed last session was attempting to restore the presumption of innocence at these hearings and the prosecutors would have to prove you are not “eligible”for the immunity, where the law says you are. It’s a classic case of the judiciary usurping the will of the people via their elected representatives.

  16. Knightwatch says:

    To you gun nuts, I just don’t get your paranoia. The 2nd amendment states you can keep and bear arms. O.k. But in the SCOTUS ruling on the 2nd amendment in 2008, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority decision states, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”

    Do you get that gun nuts? Do you get that NRA? Have any of you ever read the SCOTUS decision? I think not. Do I need to explain this decision more clearly than Justice Scalia, maybe in smaller words or bigger letters? I can’t. Scalia was clear, plain and precise. The federal government and the individual states have the constitutional right to control the ownership and use of “dangerous and unusual weapons”… like AR-15s and AK-47s and Sig Hauer whatevers, if they want to.

    So, gun nuts, give me a rational, factual rebuttal. Oh, right, what’s that to you?

  17. Geezer says:

    New York City–one impossibly tough place to buy and carry guns.
    Get a load of the crazy gun violence there…Only criminals and cops
    carry guns there. (yes and some businessmen who demonstrate
    a need due to carrying large sums of cash, and celebrities-very few cases)

    New York City laws are a joke. Recently an older man caught a
    younger man raping his wife. He beat the crap out of the rapist
    and killed him. They charged him with assault, and upgraded
    charges to manslaughter are imminent.

    I know a person who had his chain snatched on the “N” train in NYC–
    he ran after the thief and caught up to him, then retrieved his property.
    The cops showed up and asked the thief if he wanted to press charges.
    LOL….Not kidding…

    At least in FL you needn’t get a secret cash money belt, nor carry
    “mugging money” to save you when held up. You can level the
    playing field, and at least the would-be thieves consider that you may
    be packing.

    SYG is flawed as a law but it beats the hell out of being a sitting duck
    like life in NYC.

  18. Outsider says:

    Well, in the wrong hands, a large rock could be considered “dangerous,” yet the Supreme Court still acknowledges the right to bear firearms. What makes an AK or AR-15 more dangerous than a 9mm pistol that could be concealed and carried into a venue to commit mayhem? I could argue that a car going 100 mph into a crowd is more dangerous than a person with a pistol walking into a restaurant. Clearly when the justice said “dangerous” weapons, he was not referring to common, or “not unusual” firearms; the AK-47 is the most prolific firearm on the planet. By saying “dangerous weapons” in the same paragraph he reaffirms the right to carry guns clearly demonstrates, for these purposes, guns are not considered “dangerous.” He was, in my belief referring to bombs and other explosive devices, which, in the civilian world, are quite “unusual,” and due to their non-selective nature in administering injury and death, are quite “dangerous.”

  19. Just me says:

    Gun nuts are those who are against our constitutionally secured rights, have a irrational fear of an item

  20. Knightwatch says:

    Blah, blah, blah. Same old NRA-induced nonsense. So someone knows someone in NY that was supposedly arrested for killing a rapist. What does that have to do with the SCOTUS decision. And the argument that maybe, perhaps, talking about bombs. No, the decision referred to guns. GUNS! What he meant was you don’t have the right to walk around with a Tommy Gun, or a fully automatic rifle. They are rightfully outlawed. So, too, can semi-automatic assault-style weapons. The SCOTUS decision does not preclude this.

    Geez gun nuts, can you just think rationally for a minute?

  21. Sherry says:

    I don’t want the NRA or any other lobbyist “legally BRIBING” our elected judges, governors or any other government leader! This story is a clear example of our totally corrupt government!!!

  22. Outsider says:

    Well Sherry, perhaps you will be happy with Hillary Clinton taking illegal bribes under the guise of the Clinton Foundation. I guess you won’t be voting for her.

  23. Sherry says:

    Contributions to a charitable organization are quite different than “campaign contributions”!

    The “Citizens United” decision by the Republican controlled Supreme Court made “bribing” elected officials completely legal via PAC groups and massively shifted influence for government decisions to the super wealthy in the USA.

    Unfortunately, to level the political playing field, ALL viable candidates for President now accept contributions through this mechanism. Secretary Hillary Clinton is extremely passionate about the need for “Political Campaign Reform” and has advocated an over turn or reformation of this decision.

    I most certainly will be voting for Secretary Hillary Clinton. . . a candidate who is NOT supported by the NRA or the KKK!

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