George Zimmerman Formally Waives “Stand Your Ground” Hearing

George Zimmerman, whose trial on charges of Second Degree Murder begins in June, formally waived his right to a hearing under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law during a court appearance today:

SANFORD – Murder defendant George Zimmerman will not have a “stand your ground” hearing before his trial, after he waived that right in court today.

However, the issue could still resurface at trial in June, his defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said during a roughly three-hour hearing, which concluded about noon.

After the hearing, O’Mara predicted the trial would last four to six weeks, with half of that time taken up by jury selection. He said the evidence Zimmerman acted in self-defense is “quite strong.”

“What happened that night is that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong, that he was attacked by Trayvon Martin,” O’Mara said, adding that his client is “not a racist.”

Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled, pursued and killed the unarmed black 17-year-old Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.

During the hearing, Zimmerman was questioned under oath by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson. The state had asked the judge to demand an answer from Zimmerman about whether he was waiving his right to a “stand your ground” hearing.

That’s a proceeding that could absolve him of wrongdoing for the killing of Trayvon, which has become a civil rights cause célèbre.

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, argued Zimmerman shouldn’t be asked to waive any rights. The defense “might,” he said, argue for immunity at trial, after all the evidence is presented.

Over O’Mara’s protestations, Nelson questioned Zimmerman, asking if he had made the decision to waive his right to a pre-trial immunity hearing.

“After consultation with my counsel, yes, your honor,” Zimmerman replied.

It’s unclear why the Court questioned Zimmerman on this point given the fact that his lawyers, at a March hearing for which he as not required to be present, had already advised the court that they were waiving the pre-trial hearing while continuing to intend to pursue a self-defense case at trial. Perhaps she wanted to make it clear for the record that the waiver was a clear and voluntary decision on Zimmerman’s part, but it’s hard to say. In any event, expect more news about this case in the coming weeks as the trial date approaches.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. aFloridian says:

    Why would you waive Stand Your Ground when that is perhaps the most expansive statute under which to argue there is a self-defense justification?

  2. stonetools says:


    I’m guessing trial strategy. He wants to avoid cross-examination on the record at the “stand your ground” hearing, so as to give the defendant maximum freedom to testify in his his defence at trial.

    Also too, its not at all clear he would win a “stand your round” hearing.

    The risk in pursuing immunity at this point, NBC News legal analyst Kendall Coffey said, is that Zimmerman could have lost before the judge, creating a strike against him in the minds of potential jurors who are following the case. And in the Trayvon Martin case, which goes to trial June 10, finding an impartial jury will be a monumental task as it is.

    The defense is rolling the dice. We will see at trial whether the gamble pays off.

  3. Anderson says:

    I think the idea is that the judge would rule on it in a pre-trial hearing, whereas a jury would rule on it otherwise.

    Theoretically juries decide facts and judges decide law, but pre-trial hearings can get pretty blurry on that … not something they taught us in law school.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Poor guy was minding his own business when some black dude attacked him. He’s a victim, for sure.

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This case was never about “stand your ground” principles. The only people who kept harping on it were the ones who needed a straw man to beat up on. They’d talk about how it didn’t apply to this case over and over and over again, blissfully ignoring that Zimmerman and his attorneys had repeatedly denied that they were going to try it.

    Oh, and it was also handy for those people who wanted to fight SYG laws in other states, too. So it had to be kept going, in total contempt for reality.

    Zimmerman should be charged with assault and battery, for also pummeling Martin’s fists with his face and head. But I suspect that falls under the “lesser, included charges” principle.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Zimmerman is a scared little bitch that needed a gun to feel like a man. His artificial courage led him to get in way over his head (with a 17 year old boy, no less) We’ve seen this sort of tragedy play out all too many times.

    I wonder if people who identify with him realize how much they are exposing about themselves.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So it had to be kept going, in total contempt for reality.

    Pretty rich coming from you.

    Zimmerman should be charged with assault and battery, for also pummeling Martin’s fists with his face and head.

    Question for you and all the other idiots out there beating this dead horse: Just exactly what would you do if some random guy came at you with a gun? Piss all over yourself?

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I don’t see what the hell the relevance is to the Zimmerman case, but “if some random guy came at me with a gun,” I’d either run or try to talk my way out of a confrontation.

    Now, for for a slightly more relevant scenario: if I was being followed by “some random guy” at night, I would definitely try to lose him, then get all pissed because he was probably some racist cracker. At that point I’d go back to him, get all in his face for dissing me, and then sucker-punch him before he has a chance to draw any gun he might be carrying concealed. And then I’d beat his worthless head into the pavement, just to show him why he shouldn’t dis me.

    Isn’t that what you’d do, too?

  9. dennis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Yeah. Sure you would.

    Your comments in every blog you post in expose your lack of awareness of real-world, real-time events. Everything is rolled up in a nice, neat little bunch in your head, and anything that contradicts your fantasy is false.

    What do you do (back in the ’70s) when a car full of White dudes roll into Dorchester from Southie to create mayhem? You get your a** kicked if they catch you, that’s what. What do you do when a group of guys corners you and one pulls a knife? You fight for your life, knowing you’re going to be stabbed, or you stand there and take it. I’ll bet balls to bollocks you know NOTHING about that life.

    Since we’re all throwing out “what we believe happened” that night, I believe GZ confronted TM, pulled that smokewagon and placed TM in a fight-or-flight position. No way you’re going to outrun that bullet at that range, so you fight for your life. And I’ll bet GZ wasn’t expecting him to fight cuz, you know, all Black folks are cowards at heart, right?

    Yeah, I’ll bet that little scenario works for you, huh? Not. Go back to sleep.

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @dennis: Since we’re all throwing out “what we believe happened” that night, I believe GZ confronted TM, pulled that smokewagon and placed TM in a fight-or-flight position.

    First up, I had to look up “smokewagon.” Never heard that term before. Nice to learn something new.

    And that’s the only value in your entire comment. Because the rest of it is just you… well, “blowing smoke.”

    Zimmerman’s account is that he followed Martin, lost him, went back to his truck, and then Martin showed up and confronted him. Zimmerman also says that Martin threw the first punch and every other blow in the fight until he drew his gun and fired a single shot.

    And guess what, numbnuts? The 911 recording supports Zimmerman’s story, and doesn’t show a single contradiction.

    Also, the autopsy report and medical reports back up Zimmerman’s story. Martin’s injuries? Skinned knuckles and a single gunshot wound. Zimmerman’s injuries? Broken nose and multiple injuries to the back of his head.

    But in your fantasy world, Zimmerman — like all Hispanics, of course — is a cowardly little punk who drew his gun, then froze up when Martin punched him in the face, breaking his nose, then straddled him and started smashing his head into the pavement — but ignored Zimmerman’s gun in his hand. He didn’t try to take the gun or knock it out of Zimmerman’s grasp, he just started pounding his head into the pavement. And then Zimmerman — apparently having some courage or common sense pounded into his head — realized “hey, I still got my gun!” and then shot Martin.

    No, we don’t know exactly how things went down that night. But we do know enough to see that Zimmerman’s story is still plausible, while yours is pretty much total fantasy.

    And I think you need to examine just why you need to construct such an elaborate fantasy — so elaborate, it needs you to consciously ignore the actual facts we do know about the incident.

  11. dennis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Thank you for calling me a numbnuts. Flat-out permission to start flaming you with all kinds of name-calling now!