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Lawmaker Wants to Change Texas “Castle Doctrine”

A Houston State Representative says he will work to repeal Texas’ “Castle Doctrine”, the law that gives Texans protections similar to Florida’s “stand your ground” law that is coming under fire in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston)

Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman says the Texas and Florida laws are nearly identical, and Martin’s case shows changes need to be made to Texas’ Castle Doctrine.

“The law is the same — the law that protects the guy that shot Trayvon … The law protects his actions and our law says the same thing.”

Coleman says a 2007 change that eliminated a “duty to retreat before using deadly force” clause in the law makes it too easy for Texans to shoot first.  At least 23 other states have similar laws.

The Texas Castle Doctrine drew national attention in 2007, when a Pasadena man shot and killed two burglars leaving his neighbor’s house.  The grand jury refused to indict him, and he was never charged with a crime.

The law creates a quandary for prosecutors and investigators because it shifts the burden to them to gather evidence to show deadly force wasn’t justified, according to a 2008 report from the National District Attorney’s Association.

At least one legal expert doesn’t think Coleman’s proposal stands much of a chance.

South Texas College of Law professor Gerald Treece says “I don’t have to say, ‘Deadly force is going to be used, I think I’ll retreat.’ You can be a man in Texas and stand up for yourself without retreating,” said Treece.

via Lawmaker pushes to change Texas law in the wake of Trayvon Martin case | Newswatch | a Chron.com blog.

What do you think?  Texas law gives you the right to “stand your ground’ and defend yourself with deadly force in your home and out in public.  Is Coleman right?  Should that be changed?

Photo by Aaron Savage
Photo by Aaron Savage
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