The American Bar Association has created a task force to hear testimony and report on states’ Stand Your Ground laws, analyzing the impact of statutes that have dramatically expanded the bounds of self-defense in more than half the jurisdictions in the US.
Manchester attorney Jack Middleton, a past NHBA president and former secretary of the ABA, was named co-chair of the panel, which held its first hearing at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas in early February.
“We need a roadmap as to how we should proceed as a nation,” Judge Michael Hyman, chair of the ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, said as the hearing opened.
The task force will undertake a comprehensive legal study, incorporating multidisciplinary criminological and social science perspectives and methodology, to assess the utility of Stand Your Ground laws and their impact on the criminal justice system as well as on individual liberties.
The task force is composed of members drawn from ABA entities, law enforcement, government, state prosecutors’ offices, public and private criminal practice, academia and other legal arenas. Serving as co-chair with Middleton is Leigh-Ann Buchanan of Miami.
A diverse groups of leaders from bar associations, the judiciary, legislative bodies, as well as others from community, religious, social justice, civil rights, academic and governmental organizations, have been invited to give testimony.
Several entities of the ABA are involved in the task force, led by the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice. Other partners include the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the Council on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, the Young Lawyers Division, and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities.
For more information, including video footage from the task force’s first regional hearing and a survey of Stand Your Ground statutes around the country, visit the ABA website and search for Stand Your Ground.