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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 31, 2013 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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it's only the federal government has an estimated 5000 or so criminal laws that have over criminalized this country. hopefully when i am here again for a hearing weekend fervently work toward eliminating or correcting the thousands of federal laws that have sometimes put people behind bars for things that most americans have no clue would be against the criminal law. so senators i humbly implore you let's leave state criminal law to the consideration of the state legislatures though we in congress will probably be well served to take advice from the states that are still solvent. thank you. >> thank you congressman gohmert and i want to thank your college scholars from the tear is in congressman fudge for their testimony as well. we appreciate your being here today and we are going to proceed to the second panel as you depart. thank you again.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> i'm sorry. if i can ask you all to please stand. it's customary to give the oath before this committee. if you please raise your right hand. view from the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? let the record reflect that the witnesses all witnesses on the
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second panel answered in the affirmative. each witness will begin five minutes for an opening statement and of course in a written statement they would like to submit for the record will be admitted without objection. our first witness is sybrina fulton. ms. fulton is the mother of trayvon martin. her son was shot and killed at the age of 17 on the night of february 26, 2012 and sanford florida. sybrina and trayvon's father tracy have cofounded the trayvon martin foundation to create awareness of how violent crime impacts the families of victims and provide support and advocacy for those victims. ms. fulton is a graduate of florida memorial university. thank you so much for coming here today ms. fulton and please proceed with your testimony. >> thank you so much for just taking the time to listen to what not only i have to say but
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the rest of the people that are testifying as well. by nature, i am a mother of two boys and i still support both my sons. so trayvon is not with us it's very important that i tried to make a change for not only my oldest son jahvaris who is still here on earth but also trayvon. it's unfortunate what has happened with trayvon and that is why i feel like it's so important for me to be here, so that you all can at least put a face on what has happened with this tragedy. trayvon had recently turned 17 years old. he had only been 17 for three weeks. we celebrated his 17th birthday on february 5 and he
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was murdered on february 26 so he had only been 17 for three weeks. it's very hurtful to know that trayvon was only simply going to the store to get smacks, nothing more, nothing less. it's important to keep that in mind because teenagers like to be independent at times and he was simply going to get a drink and some candy. that tells me right there his mentality. that tells me that he was not going to get cigarettes or bullets or other items of that
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nature. he was going to get a drink and candy. trayvon was minding his own business. he was not looking for any type of trouble. he was not committing any crime and that's important to remember , that the things that surround the tragedy that happened our most important. at the time that this happened to him, he was on a telephone call with the young lady from miami. that shows his mentality. that shows that he was not looking for trouble. he was not the criminal that some people have tried to make him out to be. he was not the criminal that the person who shot and killed him thought that he was. he was simply on his cell phone
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talking to a young lady in miami with candy and a drink. as a think about this as a mother and i think about how many kids walk to the store and how many kids now feel that they cannot be safe in their own community, i think about what kind of message we are sending as parents, as lawmakers, as elected officials, even as grandparents and aunts and uncles. what kind of message are we sending if our kids, because remember these are our kids in our communities, don't feel safe. don't feel safe simply walking to the store to get candy and a drink.
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so, i just wanted to come here to talk to you for a moment to let you know how important it is that we amend the "stand your ground" law because it did not -- certainly did not work in my case. the person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today and this law does not work we need to seriously take a look at this law. we need to seriously speak with the state attorney's office, the police departments, more attorneys. we need to do something about this law when our kids cannot feel safe in their own community. thank you. >> ms. fulton we are sorry for your loss and thank you for your courage in coming today. as well as to trayvon's father,
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thank you very much for being here. our next witness is a clinical professor of law at harvard law school where he serves as faculty director at the harvard from the justices did in the harbor trial advocacy workshop. he previously taught at yale law school served as director of the public defenders district of columbia. he received his b.a. from morehouse college and his law degree from harvard. professor sullivan thanks for being here and please proceed. >> thank you very much. good morning chairman durban and ranking member cruz and members of the committee. let me also join the chair and others in sharing and offering my condolences for your loss ms. fulton. in order to properly understand "stand your ground" law's we must first appreciate the broader context in which they exist. first the notion is axiomatic that sanctity of human life is a central and animated value in our legal system. this i trust is not a
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particularly controversial claim. getting back to our judeo-christian have recognized as human life is sacred and those who would extinguish human life carry a heavy burden in order to justify such an act. "stand your ground" law's like all self-defense laws require this heightened showing of necessity. the particular version of "stand your ground" law's which began with florida's 2005 law differs drastically from other "stand your ground" law's and from the common law of self-defense in three important respects. first, these laws are meant the common law duty to retreat. this has the result of emboldening individuals to escalate confrontation as opposed to an alternative rule which would be escalate confrontation and the duty to retreat in place the duty to safely retreat creates second, these laws shift the legal presumptions regarding reasonableness of one sphere it under a florida type law the
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actors presumed to be reasonably in fear of imminent death if he is in his home or automobile and this presumption abrogates the need for someone who is responsible for homicide to affirmatively demonstrate the necessity of taking another human life. third these laws provide the unity for arrests and civil liability. this has the unintended effect of encouraging the very sort of vigilante alyssum -- vigilante-ism. i also analyzed at length to the extent empirical evidence and i conclude that data is not sufficiently robust to make the causal claim in either. to say that "stand your ground" law's increases or decreases the incidence of crimes i think there are correlations there and i haven't found strong causal evidence but the weight of the evidence strongly points to the conclusion that "stand your
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ground" law has little if any impact on homicide reduction and the promulgation of these laws appears to poorly with an increase in certain types of violent crimes. time does not permit me to go into more detail but i will make some observations about the trayvon martin case you are mr. zimmerman's acquittal was made possible because florida's "stand your ground" law senates concealed weapons laws conspired to create the perfect background conditions for its exoneration. to disregard the clear directive to follow and pursue trayvon and stand his ground when young trayvon recently sought to defend himself. all because i strongly suspect mr. zimmerman could not apprehend any lawful reason for a young black male to be walking through his middle-class neighborhood. to mr. zimmerman martins laxness
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served as a crude proxy for criminality. this unfortunate outcome sends a twofold message. first it tells tells floridians have taken incorrectly profile young black children killed them and be protected by "stand your ground" law's but second the decision sends an even more ominous message to young black children. i consider myself fortunate to live in the jurisdiction that does not have "stand your ground" law's. a what if they did? i have an african-american son who is just shy of his 13th birthday whose name ironically is trade. what advice would i give him? i regret the only responsible advice if i lived in the "stand your ground" law's fiction with the dead if he ever felt seriously threatened by a stranger he would have to use all reasonable force up to and including lethal force in order to protect himself. i would rather my trade be alive and able to argue that he stood his ground then dead and
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portrayed by lawyers for media and present company excluded politicians as some stereotypical black male criminal. this is not a desirable america for anyone and i don't want my son growing up in such in america. i respectfully suggest that states pass laws that permit police to police and citizens to go about the business of doping communities. thank you. >> thank you professor sullivan. our next witness is david labonte the presidency of the association of prosecuting attorneys with the national association representing deputy assistant prosecutors. reducing the structure of the american prosecuting research institute and executive drug draft of the california district attorney's association. he was also a deputy district attorney in orange and humboldt counties and cough humboldt counties in khalfani and a graduate of cal state and received his j.d. from western state university.
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mr. labonte please proceed. >> the good morning mr. chairman and ranking member crews and the subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. apa is the only national organization to represent and include appointed elected as well as deputy assistance. i am pleased to have the opportunity to address the issues surrounding this vast expansion of self-defense repurchase tendered graham. as prosecutors we seek justice for victims and hold offenders accountable for their actions especially in cases where life has been quietly ended by fire are markedly means. since 2009 ap has a track the progression of an assistant prosecutors to enforce these expansive. i've attached my testimony regarding the "stand your ground" law spray these laws are very troubling and dangerous.
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prosecutors in the professional associations have or only oppose "stand your ground" law's. the current -- concerns expressed due to the elimination to go into hold violent criminals accountable for their acts however even with us this opposition many states have passed "stand your ground" law's that diminish or eliminate the common-law duty to retreat change the burden of truth regarding reasonableness to presumption and provides civil and criminal immunity. by expanding the realm of violent acts can be committed with the justification of self-defense "stand your ground" law's have negatively affected public safety under my prosecutorial efforts to keep committee said. they have undermine standard police procedures prevent law enforcement from arresting criminals stymieing prosecutors for people who claim self-defense even with killing someone in the course of unlawful activity. in some states were to venture with law to create a new hurdle in immunity hearings which transfer the role of the jury
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over the jet stream over because these laws are unclear there has been a consistent application to the states even within their respective states. prosecutors judges police officers and ordinary citizens have been left to guess what behaviors legal and what is criminal. even with the best efforts that implement these broad measures defendants victims families and friends investigators prosecutors defense attorney trial courts and appellate courts have been forced into a case-by-case analysis with no legal certainty as to what they can expect once a life has been taken by "stand your ground" law's provide safe heart -- safe harbors for criminals against those who claim self-defense under unnecessarily killing others prefer could for example in every 2008 a florida case a drug dealer by the name of true various smith killed two men's in two separate instances the first drug-related and the psychoretaliation. that that is engage in lawful activity but that's it's as prosecutors concluded both homicides were justified under florida's "stand your ground" law. unfortunately this example is
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not an anomaly. a study conclude a study concludes a majority of defendants shielded by "stand your ground" law's had arrest records prior to the homicide issue. stand your ground expansion began in florida in 2005 and it's our position the common loss officially protected peoples rights to defend themselves their homes and others through the properties of prosecutorial discretion insured lawful acts of self defense are not persecuted and i've not seen evidence of the country. after reviewing the legislative history of the florida provision is very casey's to justify this broad measure involve no arrest or prosecution. the law enforcement community responded properly and the homeowner was never arrested or charged in his lawful exercise of self-defense. because the provisions vary from state to state i will summarize some of the provisions which have caused prosecutors difficulty in enforcing law. first the meaning of unlawful activity needs to clarify theme in the states have extended standard output action to people in a place where they have a right to be and not engaged in unlawful activity. can a drug dealer defend his
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open-air drug market? up and in schedules of felons is ever right to kill another with armed? second immunity is rarely granted in criminal law with a few exceptions existed in order to encourage cooperation with law enforcement and the giga so system to the legislature should remove the amenity provisions and clarify the self-defense as an affirmative defense. their placement of presumptions with inferences to laminate many dangerous effects. this coupled with an objective rather than subjective standard will improve accountability while protecting the right of self-defense. for this issue should be meant to prevent the initial aggressor from claiming self-defense. some laws allow person to attack another and later you stand your ground to justify killing the person. finally the lobby limits the "stand your ground" law be raised in the victim is a law enforcement officer regardless of actual knowledge. statute should be meant to read that standard ground should not be applicable against the law enforcement officer acting within the course and scope of their duties three taken
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together at the these reforms will minimize their detrimental effects and restore the ability of investigators and prosecutors to fully enforce the law promote public safety while continuing to respect the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect them selves and their families. thank you chairman for holding this hearing and as i've been sitting here i do want to reflect the decision to take life is one of the most solemn decisions any person can ever raise or be faced with. it should not be taken lightly. policy should not encourage one to take the life of another and having prosecuted cases in dealing with the victims families both lives are forever changed the individual who chooses to take a life as well as the victims family. >> thank you mr. labahn. our next witness is senior fellow at constitutional studies at cato institute. previously was a special assistant advisor to the
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national force in iraq on the rule of law issues and was an attorney in private practice. mr. shapiro received an undergraduate degree from princeton and masters from the london school of economics and a lot of grief from the university of chicago law school. he clerked for judge grady jolly of the fifth circuit court of appeals. mr. shapiro please proceed. >> you mr. chairman thank you for this opportunity to discuss the right to armed self-defense but it's possible to fit this hearing is scheduled for september 70 marking anniversary of the constitution signing. on the tape of the schools have to teach about our founding document. my organization cato which thankfully is an publicly funded celebrates constitution day by releasing our supreme court review. in reality however every day is constitution day so please excuse me if i had to leave early to travel to the national constitutional center in philadelphia to discuss the constitutional issues attending the debt ceiling debate. stand your ground is tremendous they misunderstood. all it does is allow people to
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defend themselves without having the so-called duty to retreat at that concept has been part of u.s. lot for over 150 years. about 31 states now have some type of "stand your ground" law current. the vast majority in common-law before legislators took any action. some like california and virginia maintain it without any legislation. still a 15 states that have passed since 2005 a majority of democratic governors including jennifer granholm janet napolitano kathleen sebelius three louisiana and west virginia passed some of democratic control of both houses. even florida supposedly controversial law passed the state senate unanimously. when illinois strengthened its long-standing law in 2004 state senator barack obama cosponsored the bill that was unanimously approved. conversely many so-called red states oppose a duty to retreat
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and even more restrictive states courts have held that retreat is required when preventing serious crime. indeed it's universal crucible that a person can use force when she reasonably believes is necessary to defend defend against a minute use of unlawful force. where there is no duty to retreat she is further justified in using deadly force if she recently believes it's necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. it's not an easy defense to assert and it certainly doesn't mean you can shoot first and ask questions later. these laws aren't a license to be a vigilante or behave recklessly. they protect law-abiding citizens. that is why this debate is emma. in ancient britain a duty to retreat refused -- by which the king under duty of us protection to the subjects. despite what gun prohibition is
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claimed the no retreat rule has deep roots in american law. if the supreme court in the unanimous 1895 case of beer versus the red states which senator cruz "appearing places where the duty to retreat crime victims can be imprisoned for defending themselves. that's controversial. a mother can't have your wallet but can leave the public place? among those harmed by the duty retreater domestic violence victims who turn on their assailants. feminist point out that you could have run away would not work in the us case of a stalker. the castle doctrine which essentially all states recognize extending the doctrine to public spaces as well. it's bad enough for an innocent person to find a so threatened by a criminal but to then have to worry about whether she can retreat and face lawsuits is too much to ask. as the progressive justice oliver wendell holmes wrote in the 1921 case of brown versus the united states quote the reflection cannot be demanded in
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the presence of an uplifted knife. nearly a century later we shouldn't demand more crime victims. of course in a self-defense rule the potential for injustice. for example in a two-person altercation one may be dead and the other dubiously claiming self-defense. these cases like trayvon martin's implicate the self-defense justification generally. if george zimmerman was the aggressor than then he has no self-defense rights at all. if trayvon attacks zimmerman the only question is whether zimmerman recently leaked he was in danger not what they could've retreated. if zimmerman provoked the confrontation he lost the protection of standard ground. in short cases make skewed policy debates. this committee is well familiar with that demagogic dynamic understanding appeared while anti-gun lobbyists have used that -- what they target is the right to arms self-defense. withstand your ground law's prosecutors need to show
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evidence to counter claims of self-defense not simply argued that the shooter should have retreated. for those who value to process which should include historically mistreated minorities that is a feature not a -- finally i should mention one episode contributed to the sensationalism surrounding this debate the attempt to intimidate organizatorganizat ions with any ties to the american legislative exchange counsel. accordingly i've submitted with the statement chairman durantz letter to that effect and response by cato's president john allison. thank you for having me and i welcome your questions. >> thank you mr. shapiro. our next witness is john lott the present of the newly formed organization prime -- crime prevention research center he was the chief economist at the u.s. cents in commission from my teen 88 to 1990. he is currently a weekly columnist in kutcher vendor for and received his ph.d. in economics from ucla.
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mr. lott please proceed. >> thank you very much chairman durbin and ranking member cruise another distinguished members. "stand your ground" law's -- i apologize. thank you very much for being here. the "stand your ground" law's help people feel to defend themselves. the people who are most likely to be victims of violent crime are merely poor blacks who benefit the most mapping the option to build to protect themselves. what is an awesome part of this discussion so far is the reason why states have adopted these laws requiring people to retreat as far as possible creates confusion creates doubting can make it more difficult for people to defend themselves. in florida blocks make up 16% of the population but they account for 31% of the states invoking "stand your ground" law. black defendants justify their actions to justify their actions are acquitted almost a
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percentage point more often than whites. the tampa bay tribune has put together detailed data on standard ground cases. after july 24 of this year from the beginning of 2006 the newspaper collected 112 cases. the information they had that constitutes their shocking finding a 72% of those who have killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 80% of those who have killed hispanics were also not convicted. one needs to remember however in this that the vast majority of these crimes are within race so for example 90% of blacks who were killed in "stand your ground" law is to invoke "stand your ground" law killed by other blacks. in the case of whites it was 85% and in the case of hispanics it was 100%. the basic point is that if you
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are going to concentrate on the fact that relatively few old who killed blacks are going to be convicted using the standard ground offensive have to realize that almost all those evil who are being convicted art blacks. 69% of blacks who raise the standard round defense were not convicted in that compares to less than 62% for whites. 80% of hispanics who raise the standard ground fence are not convicted. if blacks are supposedly being discriminated against because they're killers so often are not facing any penalty wouldn't it follow that blacks are being discriminated in favor of one blacks who claimed self-defense under the standard round well architected at lower rates than other racial groups? the problem also is not all of these cases are the same. blacks are killed in confrontations were 13% more likely to be armed and whites. 43 to 60% margin blacks killed
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by other blacks were also more often in the process of committing another crime. they also involved in cases where it was more likely to have a witness present. if you go and run -- we account for all the factors brought up in the tampa a tribune news article what you find is that white defense and are more likely to be -- by black defendants and people invoking stand your ground lost to kill blacks are more likely to be convicted than those who killed whites. what you'll find when you look at it and fortunately this is the case that people who initiated the confrontation were more likely to be convicted and when there were eyewitnesses they were less likely to be convicted. armed individuals in more than one person was killed also were
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likely to result in convictions. the urban institute report that was brought up earlier i think actually shows the opposite of what has been quoted here. one of the important things just to mention john roman who wrote this note at "stand your ground" law's -- well he said they exacerbate racial differences but he acknowledges this data lacks details in the tampa bay tribune data. quote the data here cannot completely address this problem because the setting of the incident cannot be observed. ..
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is going to be important. when you account for those things the results disappear. if you talk about doctrines whether people are -- able to get quick access to guns. nothing about gun laws are accounted for in the studies. when you do that, the result also disappear. >> thank you, mr. lath. miss mcbath is the mother of a teeb shot and killed at the gas station in jacksonville, florida. they have become adequate -- advocates.
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foundation providing tax for graduating high school students. she is a graduate of virginia state university, and before you say a word, i would like to thank the members of the panel for their patience in the rescheduling of this hearing. we had a chance to meet when it was previously scheduled, i'm glad we had the moments together. so please proceed with your testimony. >> thank you. >> good morning, chairman durbin and honored members of the subcommittee. my name is lucille mac bath. i thank you for the opportunity speak before the great institution today. i was raised in a family steeped in justice and confident in the try triumphant goodness of humanity. my mother was a registered nurse, and my father, who served in the u.s. army dental corp., was also for over 20 years president of the n -- naacp for the state of illinois.
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he worked actively in the signing of the civil rights act in 1964. in he could see me here today testifying in front of the united states senate, he would be beaming with pride and amazed at how far his daughter had come until he came to understand what brought me here. i appear before you because my son jordan was shot and killed last november while sitting in the backseat of a friend's car listening to loud music. the man who killed him opened fire on four unarmed teenagers, even as they tried to move out of harm's way. that man was em empowered by the stand your ground statute. i'm here to tell you there was no ground to stand. there was no threat.
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no one was trying to invade his home, his vehicle, nor threatened him or his family. there was a vociferous argument about music during which the accused, michael dunn, did not feel that he was treated with respect. you're not going talk to me like that, he shouted as he sprayed the car that jordan sat in with bullets. killing him instantly. when jour -- jordan's friends tried to back the car away. mr. u dunn aimed his handgun and fired off several more rounds, nine total pierced the car. there are any number of ways that this interaction might have gone, but there was only way it could have ended once a gun
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entered the equation. in florida, over 1 million people carry concealed weapons. additionally 10 to 15,000 more floridians are approved to carry guns in public every month faster than any state in the nation. nationally, florida has some of the loosest permitting requirements. automobile glove boxes are becoming modern-day gun boxes. in his glove box, michael dunn kept a.9 millimeter semiautomatic gun along with two loaded magazines. once he unloaded gun at my son, and his teenage friends, he immediately went back to his hotel, ordered a pizza, and slept. he left the scene and made no
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attempt to call police. he retreated but only after he killed my son. the next morning, he was arrested duo-- two hours away. those are hardly the actions and motive of someone who was quaking with fear. some will tell you that the argument was about music, but i believe that was about the availability of guns and the eagerness to hate. people like mr. dunn feel empowered to use their gun instead of their voice to reason with others. now i face a very real possibility that my son's killer will walk free hiding behind a statute that lets people claim a threat where there was none. this law declares open season on
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anyone that we don't trust for reasons that we don't even have to understand. they don't even have to be true. in essence it allows any armed citizens to self-deputize themselves and establish their own definition of law and order. and lets one and all decide their own criteria for right and wrong and how justice will be carried out. even the wild west had more strin again laws governing the taking of life than we have now. stand your ground define -- defies all reasons and goes against the sound system of justice established long ago on this very hill. my son was named for the jordan river. in the bible, that river symbolized the crossing to freedom it waters mark the final
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step to liberation and offered us a holy stream that baptized jesus. the name seemed a fitting choice for a boy born at the end of the 20th century. a time when black people in this country had finally come in that their own. jordan was named for change in the tide, a decision to try harder and do better. he was my only child. he was raised with love and learning and a clear understanding of right and wrong. i have been without jordan now since thanksgiving weekend 2012, without him last christmas and on his birthday in february. i never got it take his prom picture or see him graduate from high school. i can tell you all about him.
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about his easy smile, his first girlfriend, and his plans to join the marines. i can tell you how he loved his dad's gumbo, and how they both root forked the new york giants. you can never really know my boy because an angry man who owned a gun kept it close at hand and chose to demonstrate unbridled hatred for reasons i will never understand. these laws empowered his prejudice beliefs and subsequent rage over my son's own life, his liberty, and pursuit of happiness. there will be no sense made of it unless i and the families of other victims speak out to assure this kind of predatory
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violence in. it was 50 years ago that my father shook hand with eleanor roosevelt. she assured him of the validity of his struggling and the promise of better times. she, as he did, believed that this nation was rich use to the core. that, we as a country, would never stop striving to do better. that's what was -- made us better. honorable men and women of the senate, you can prove them right today with your help and willingness to bring our laws back toward the true tenant of justice. you can lift the nation from the internal battle, in which guns move over right. you have the power to restore hope to a nation crying out for justice, and i pray that you
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hear the length of did length of -- the will of the lord. >> thank you. >> thank you. we turn to questions for the witness and each member of the committee will have seven minutes. i'll start. miss full ton and miss mac bath thank you for your courage in coming here today. i find it hard to understand those who defend stand your ground by arguing that african-americans should celebrate these laws. the notion that somehow it's the benefit african-americans or minority in the country defies the stories we have been told by both of you. innocent children, children killed in the name of self-defense. when neither instance was there evidence of aggressive or
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violent conduct by the victims, the young men who were shot down. professor sullivan. you've heard the arguments made. two members of the panel and a member here. about the notion that somehow african-americans should strew as a positive thing on stand your ground. what would you respond? >> i would agree with your statements, senator durbin. it's not a positive thing for anyone where citizens of the united states are running around shooting each other. whether the perpetrator is african-american, whether the victim is african-american, it really doesn't matter. we not live in a wild, wild west era any longer. private law enforcement has an effect on the country and we should leave it to trained police officials to engage in this sort of behavior. >> your testimony, i read over it last night and this morning. i was particularly moved by one
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section i wouldn't like to repeat. you stated by expanding the realm which violent acts can be committed without the jusks of self-defense. "stand your ground" laws have negatively affected public health and undermined prosecutorial and law enforcement officers to keep communities safe. you then go on and talk about a specific case in february of 2008, which you mentioned in your testimony. a 29-year-old drug dealer, named mr. smith killed two men in two separate incidents. the first drug-related. the second over retaliation for the first. he was engaged in lawful activity in both instances, selling drugs during the first shooting, using an illegal gun in the second, prosecutors had to conclude that both homicides were justified under the florida "stand your ground" law. unfortunately, you go ton say the example is not an amom --
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anomaly. a majority of the defendants shielded by the "stand your ground" law had arrests in homicide prior to the issue. if we called as a witness here, a person representing the national association of criminal defense attorneys, maybe some of people would have understood and see where they're going. but in your case, you represent the profession of those who prosecute criminals and you were saying "stand your ground" laws are not working to the benefit and defense of america. tell me why you don't conclusion. >> well, senator, i think you gave that example and i have -- i can give the committee additional examples and even more recent cases. but i'll start right away with your question about the national association of defense lawyers. we work closely with the defense bar. it's one of the areas we diverge. why? this is good for the defense. when i testified down in florida, there was a defense lawyer on the scott commission. he clearly -- this is good for the defendants. >> excuse me, you're saying the
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criminal defense lawyers were arguing that "stand your ground" laws were good for criminal defendants? >> good for criminal defendants. that the role of the criminal defense attorney is to get their client off in the criminal action. however, the role of the prosecutors as you suggested on behalf of the criminal defendants and defense lawyers, this is a good law. look at the ambiguity that are here. look at the specific examples. you talked about here is the drug dealer near an drug market. unfortunately at the time of the killing, he was not selling. if she was selling drugs it would have been an unlawful activity. he was in an legal place he had a right to be. he was not selling a the the moment. therefore, he had a right to defend himself. the second piece was -- as i mentioned in the testimony, is a -- [inaudible] someone is a convicted felon, they have no right to possess a firearm. yes, they can go ahead and under stand your ground and use especially by florida's decision use the firearm and be free and
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not be held accountable. the stories unbelievable. january of 2012, another florida case. the victim was stealing -- again, the victim of the shooting did something wrong. no question about that. but in this situation, someone sees their car being burglarized. they chase and yell at them. get out of the car. in the florida situation chased him down and knifed him to death. never reported, never called 9-1-1. never said anything about it. then when confronted said i was differenting my -- defending my property. the example of november of 2007, the foreign case that was broadly disseminated to the country. gentleman looks and sees the neighbor's house being burglarized. calls 9-1-1 to report it. 9-1-1 urged them stay in the house. we'll get them and take care of. no, instead he go aheads and
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shoots both of those two. ability they -- i believe they two juveniles dead. then exercises stand your ground. and that went into front of the harris county grand jury. the harris county grand jury found it to be stand your ground. the movement here to create these presumptions and to give immunity, immunity is crazy to be -- that's not what it should be. it should be an affirmative defense. it caused the problems. yes, on behalf of prosecutors. these acts have done nothing but cause difficulty. >> it appears it's invitation for confrontation. historically, i think professor sullivan race -- raised the point. if you could safely retreat, it was your duty. except in your home, the castle dpoct rein, i believe made a clear distinction when it came to your home in the circumstance. the new lab withstand your ground laws are an invitation to confrontation and prumghts --
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prumghts -- rumtion of reasonableness. now i understand in the state of florida is debating about changing the law. could you testify about how they change the law and what they're raising as a reason for a change? >> well, i think they're raising as a reason for a at fact that the law produces absurd results. so one of the things they are thinking about changing is clearly establishing this principle of a first aggressor. and whether first aggressors can avail themselves of the law. duty to retreat, if i can, senator, is important. because i've heard comments today that are plainly wrong with respect to historically duty to retreat meant. and you said it. it meant safely retreat. it didn't mean stand there foolishing and be brutalized because of some law. if it's unsafe to retreat,
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nowhere in our history is an individual required to retreat. rather only if it's safe to retreat. this is just a norm of good judgment. the exercise of good judgment, a norm that prevents the sort of vigilantism we see in the many cases that were cited. finally, i think florida, to answer your question, to should tweak the immunity provision. immunity along with the change in presumption conditions a certain response in people. that is people who know the law behave in a way, a more aimpressive frontiers men like way. they would, but for the broad expansive protection of the laws quiet different from the historical self-defense laws. and even quite different from the stand your ground
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interration historically. 2005 marked the extreme difference in the way that these laws were written. >> thank you. >> thank you. respond your question about florida. other significant thing that florida is doing and passed out of their committee is the immunity provision. they are working on their -- there was a civil portion to say that if someone space and creates kills a number of people in stand your ground they shouldn't be civilly immune especially an innocent bystander. i testified in front of the commission and now they're stepping forward and changing what the law. may i add one other comment? william is unable -- the second judicial circuit prosecutor out of florida. he was unable to attend today. she was the initial one. his closing comments are important. that is shouldn't we have a duty to act reasonably toward one another? it was the law before stand your ground and it's the way the law
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should return. the botment to line, it's an unnecessary law to make it easier for the worst criminals to get away with the most heinous crimes. >> thank you. senator cruz. >> thank you. i would like to enter to the record a statement from the senior senator from texas. >> i would like to thank each of the member of the panel for being here in particular miss fullton and miss mac bath. thank you for being here. thank you for sharing your stories. every parent understands the mourning you are feeling, and it is always a tragedy when a child loses their life. please know we are all feeling your loss and express our very
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sincerest condolences. with the discussion this afternoon has concerned the tragic circumstances of the trayvon martin case. none of us in this hearing room were there that night. none of us knows precisely what happened. we know there was a violent altercation between a hispanic man and african-american teenager. we know at the end of the confrontation, the teenager was dead. what exactly occurred that night no one in this room will likely know for sure. we know some things. we know our system of justice has a process for ascertaining what happens when there is a
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violent confrontation. particularly one that leads to the loss of life. that process is a jury trial. and a jury of mr. zimmerman's peers heard the evidence in that case. he was prosecuted in that case. and the jury rendered a conclusion. we don't know if the jury was right or wrong, but we know that the jury's system is the only system that our judicial system has for ascertaining what happened particularly when you have a one-on-one confrontation it can be particularly difficult to determine what the facts are. but we also know that the subject of this hearing, the "stand your ground" laws, was not a defense that mr. zimmerman raised. so this entire hearing -- the topic of this hearing is not
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the issue on which that trial turned. and sadly, we know that some of our political process have a desire to exploit that tragic violent incident for agendas that have nothing to do with that young man who lost his life. we have seen efforts to undermine the verdict of the jury, and more broadly to inflame racial tensions that i think are sad and irresponsible. i recognize for the family you're simply mourning the loss of your son. as i understand that. there are other players who are seeking to do a great deal more based on what happened that florida night.
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i would note additionally that the chairman of this committee, a moment ago, made -- i thought remarkable statement that to the effect that no one could reasonably believe that "stand your ground" laws protect those in the african-american communities who are victim of violent crime. i think that's a remarkable statement on many fronts including the fact a great many african-americans find themselves victim of violent crime and have asserted this defense to defend themselves, defend their families, defend their children. but i also find it remarkable because the assertion that no one reasonably could suggest this benefited the african-american community is drawn in to remarkable relief when one keeps in mind that in 2004, a state senator in illinois by the name of barack
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obama cosponsored an expansion of illinois' law providing civil immunity for those who use justifiable force to defend themselves. so the notion that "stand your ground" laws are some form of israelied -- vailed racism may be a convenient political attack, but it is not born out by the fact -- i want to secondly note the issue of alec, an organization that exists to encourage common sense legislation and state legislature. i would like to enter to the record multiple letters committed to me by organizations that are concerned about the targeting of the law in conjunction with this hearing. i would note that it should also be -- always be a concern when you see
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the united states senate targeting the exercise of free speech. the observation is not unique to me. indeed on august 8, 2013, the chicago -- ""chicago tribune" -- it gets down right cum we cumbersome when senators have you on the enemy list. it would be wrong for a u.s. senator to -- against his enemy. i certainly hope this senate hearing doesn't become an avenue to suppress free speech. a final point i would like to make, by its definition, the "stand your ground" law does not apply to aggressors. it explicitly excludes aggressors. i would note, miss mac bath, on the facts you described that evening your son lost his life,
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the defense would not apply. would not even arguably apply. it is a defense that only, only, only i mys to those who are the victim or potential victims of other violent aggressors. indeed it is only triggered when, quote, an imminent attack that could cause death or serious bodily injury. so this is a doctrine that by definition, does not apply to aggressors. only applies when death or serious bodily injury is at risk. the dwhea all of us have to ask is in a confrontation between a violent aggressor and a potential innocent victim
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seeking to protect himself, herself, or children with whom do we stand? i, for one, believe we should stand with the innocent against aggressors. that's why the right to self-defense has been so critical for time of memorial. i hope that we will not see the constitutional right of innocent citizens sacrificed because of political agendas of some. thank you. >> i ask the patience of my colleague from connecticut. since the senator from texas raised personal issues. i'm going respond. let me be specific when i say this, don't take my word for it. take the testimony of hillary shelton, part of the record. few issues have caused as much
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ankle these laws and the applications have sadly resulted in no less than the murder of people who are doing nothing more than walking down the street. statement in the record by hilary shelton of naacp. the continued reference to inflaming racial tensions, my friends, we've heard it before over and over again. we have problems with the issues of race in america that we have to face squarely. when people are being discriminated against, whoever, whenever in america, the subcommittee on the constitution civil rights and human rights is not going back away. a second point i would like to make is this, there are many victims when it comes to "stand your ground" laws alec isn't one of them. i will con seem as supporters of the organization be f they supported this "stand your ground" law. only one out of 140 that responded said they supported
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it. i'm not going to enter the names of these organizations in the record. for the very point that was made by the senator from texas. i don't want to establish any chilling effect on political participation. but i think it is reasonable to ask the members of the organization if they agree with that organization's agenda. and the agenda, which now the chairman of alec from the state of connecticut has said they no longer standby. i'm not going enter any names to the record for that very reason. isn't it note worthy out of 140 organizations contacted only one said they supported alec's agenda on "stand your ground" laws? that's fact. senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the chairman for having this hearing. it is not only a legitimate but
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a necessary hearing. it is profoundly important that we face these issues of human rights, which hopefully are matters of constitutional right. i want to thank every one of the witnesses, all of you for being here today. especially miss fullton, miss mac bath for your stories and first-hand experience which is so profoundly important. we can have the receipt call and rhetorical debates here. what really matters is what happens to these doctrines of law industry in the courtroom when they are explained to juries. i say that as a prosecutor. my fellow prosecutors would often say to me that the most difficult times for them in prosecuting a case was when the
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judge tried to explain the threw a jury. right. how do you explain stand your ground in the complex challenging often emotionally charged time when a jury has to decide whether a person's liberty shank taken away and sometimes even a person's life as a result of the alleged commission of a serious crime. and so i must say your testimony has special meaning to me because the meshes of your associations are the ones who take cases, this myriad of facts, sometimes confusing and contract i are and try to present them to a judge or a jury in a way that results in justice. and you used one word that i
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think is profoundly important. ambiguity. standstand your ground, as opposed to self-defense, even as i sit here, i wrestle with what the distinctions are in real life. and how they are explained to a jury. that's why i agree with senator dire -- durbin, the ambiguity of the doctrines can encourage violence and confrontation. the apparent approval it may give to people who feel insulted and threatened not physically but verbally. seems to me can result in a hope of acquittal for nonconvictions. and therefore by encouraged it.
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so maybe you can speak to how in the courtroom this doctrine of stand your ground has a practical impact. thank you, senator. i'm here in front of two attorneys general. i'll have to be good on my law. especially as you talk about the courtroom. first of all, what the law does is place either itself murder -- either it's murder or nothing. someone chooses to take an action and intentional kills another. it usually in the role of prosecutors with homicide in the killing is a manslaughter, is it a murder? if it is a murder, is it first or second? are there special circumstances? when you put this both the presumption and the immunity provisions in there, you create a situation where it's difficult to determine even at the filing stage what kind of a crime it
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is. it's either murder or nothing. secondly, there's been some discussions here about the aggressive. i would like the committee to look at chapter -- of the florida statute and why stand your ground did apply in the trayvon martin case directly. it is because 776041 said use of force by aggressor and clearly within that statute they allowed and it's the person reasonably believe. the subject of belief by mr. zimmerman that he was about imminent danger that therefore justified his use of that force. which goes directly to what june one of the jurors said and the jurors did, as you talked about the courtroom, the jurors followed the law. the law said you can use the
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force under the stand your ground if you believe you are reasonable and imnenlt threat. it is -- yes, it's incredibly difficult and the ambiguity is never good. the other task we use with ambiguity how many appellate decisions come out of a particular statute? all of you know with state legislatures. stand your ground is one of the most appeal especially as it relates to the homicide cases. and that's why i say the ambiguity is incredibly apparent. look at an ex -- annexus if you want to see the different way it's appealed. in your experience, do the member of organization overwhelmfully share your view? >> they do. the difference between the legislative branch as well as the executive branch. once the legislature steps forward and passes a law, we must do everything question to
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try to seek just nice those cases. just like what occurred in florida. so -- >> even without opposition they are enforcing it. in your experience, do the overwhelming majority of police officers share the view? >> again, the officers that working at the national associations, yes, some very sincere. that's why i talked about justified killing an officer. i believe indiana flips that around. and basically encourages, as yo talk about the public policy to go ahead and take an officer's life unless you as the citizens believe that officer was following and of course in the scope of employment that is -- that's craziness. >> so police officers feel these laws may, in effect, represent a throat them if? >> back to -- both a threat to them. they might be serving a search warrant. what if they are plains clothes. i believe the georgia case is directly on point with that one. that the requirement be actual
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knowledge instead of an officer doing their job. that is a prb for police officers and officerrings don't know what to do when you have a statute that said you can't arrest but yet investigate. what does mean? >> i think you say it well in your testimony when you say prosecutors -- i'm quoting prosecutors, judges, police officers and odd their citizen what a legal and what is criminal. >> i know you center to leave to catch a train. one of the observations about this whole debate is howdy verse the state seemed to be in term of living a the the same conclusion where you michigan, nevada, new hampshire, pennsylvania, withstand your
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ground laws. and you have a lot of southern states where i guess the point i'm trying to make it seems to be that democrats and republicans depending on what states you're from seem to embrace the laws eight democratic governors have signed in for "stand your ground" laws. i hope it doesn't turn to the republicans are for it and the democrats are against it. it seems to be a pretty diverse mix of views whether or not it's a good public policy. mr. sullivan, from the federal point of view, there are remedies available to the federal government if there's been an injustice at the state level; is that correct? like in any case the trayvon martin case, the case here in illinois the justice department could, if they choose, pursue federal action; is that correct? >> absolutely. >> do you agree with attorney
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general holder's decision not to pursue a federal civil rights case in the trayvon martin? >> i do. based on the standard that needs to be satisfied in order to move forward with the case like that. the federal government would have to demonstrate that at the moment of the violent encounter, mr. zimmerman behaved as he did as a function of racial -- and i'm not sure that the sufficient evidence there for the federal government to go forward. so i tend to agree with that case on that what that decision on that base is also and on a more pry additional basis that the federal government should be cautious and exercise discretion in going in and upsetting a state verdict. >> that's a very -- i agree with you i hope i'm not hurting your reputation in the
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legal community. >> you have enhanced my reputation, senator. >> i'm honored you would say that. but i think that's a pretty reason view. if you were defending the case like the trayvon martin case, you would have done similar things as the defense? >> you have to be a little more specific. >> anything wrong about the defense in that case? anything unethical? >> i'm not going charge a fellow lawyer with unethical behave without knowing more.
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i was deeply troubled by the caricature of trayvon at the personification of a stereo type. trayvon martin as the trayvon martin as criminal. i was deeply troubled by that overlay over the criminal justice system. whether it violated florida's professional rule of conduct i don't know i haven't studied them. with any detail in order to make that sort of claim. that would not have done. ly say -- >> have you ever defended a person accused of rape? >> personally? >> mhm. >> i have. >> have you ever questioned the victim. >> i have. i guess the point for miss martin's point of view. your son was a fine young man. i'm trying to sit there and think as a parent listening to this court. i would feel and -- i've been a defense lawyer.
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and the person expects do you vigorously defend the interest of the client. that's why we have rape shield laws. we're trying to get that balance between how far can you go in attacking the victim to protect the right of the accused and in term of the racial implications of that case, i think it's obvious it seems to be from an objective point of view that "stand your ground" laws tend to apply most violent crime is within the community itself; is that correct? >> that's exactly right. and i'm trying to come to grip with the idea that somehow this law is has a racial injustice about it. and i -- , i mean, do you think it does, mr. sullivan? >> i think the impact of the law
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as a despair racial tilt. and troubles me profoundly. that stand your ground was used in the particular case, if i can just amend what senator cruz said. dc not entirely correct to say that stand your ground was not part of the case. mr. zimmerman did not avail himself of the immunity portion of stand your law; however, the judge instructed consistent with florida lo which included an express statement of stand your law if you people you were imminently -- mr. zimmerman had a right to, quote, stand his ground and use deadly force and response. i may have cited it in the written testimony. if i didn't i'll provide. it stand your ground was front and certain in the case. just not the immunity portion of stand your ground.
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the renner -- rendition of statistics were compelling. i don't claim to be an exinert the area from a politician's point of view. when you have people like the governor and joe machin, somebody i actually know, i don't believe in their mind at the time they signed the law in to law that they felt that's what they were doing. can you understand how somebody would come a different conclusion? >> of course. i certainly don't mean to claim that legislator said down and said let's see how we can prejudice minority in writing the law. sometimes because this is a human enterprise juries are human beings, juries carry the baggage, unfortunately this country has times but the laws express themselves in various sorts of ways. in term of the statistic, i spent a lot of time probably bored.
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when you see examples like george and trayvon martin. my only point to the committee and the american public is that those are individuals. there is not data points and statistics. they were living and breathes citizens, whom we should care about. and to the degree that the law produceserer verse results. i submit the result are trayvon martin was perverse. we don't know what is going to happen in the mac bath case. to the degree, that's anne possibility. it's something we should look at.
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i guess about the trial having been in court a few times. if you believe that mr. zimmerman was -- mr. martin was inflicting punishment it would be a different view if you believe that he was just walking to get candy and a soda. which he obviously was. you wonder how can somebody be dead because of that? and this is so complicated and the one thing i don't want us to do as politicians is to take away the ability when the assured day in court to avail yourself of a lawful defense that was recognized and the question for me is have we gone too far? that's exactly what i was feeling and wanted to present. there's been a lot of discussion of justice harris county lynns.
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i had, at the moment honestly believed and has reasonable grounds to believe were necessary to save his own life and protect himself from great bodily injury. that's exactly the problem. that's why there's been so much prosecutor opposition to this sort of direction. the florida law and we standby the verdict as you said, many times a disappoint of what happens in court. i've handed and not guilty. that occurs. based upon the law as they drafted it, that if there is a subjective belief what did he believe at that time was occurring versus it being objective as well as the immunity and that's when you get trouble. and that's also -- in 2007, when i was director -- we were concerned about the rational implications when you go what that person believes and when you have such a hit to gene
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use population. what you don't know what the person believes about the individual especially the skin, age, and whatever it might be. one is if you look at the date, look at the tampa bay tribune data. there. you find that minorities both blacks and his hispanics are more successful in raising stand your ground self-defenses. than whites are. there's another point that needs to be made. that is the ambiguity. it's one hype than discussed. there's also the ambiguity having to face the person acting in self-defense. what is an appropriate amount for them to go and retreat when they have to defend themselves.
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when somebody is facing very quick decisions they have to make in term of life and death, we want to make them have to bear the burden to try to figure out at that time how far they're going to have to retreat. then make them realize they be second guessed as an i have an appendix that shows a number of cases where they were second impressed and legislatures and others thought it was wrong there. apply even though you may have, the initial aggressor there. he misses part of the law that he quoted. it goes on to say you can use it
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but then it puts strict restrictions how you can use it in that case. "stand your ground" law is not available to person initially provoke the use of force against himself or herself unless, a, he or she exhausted every reasonable means to escape such a danger other than the use of force which was likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the asill i can't. or b, in good faith the personal withwithdrawal from personal -- and indicate clearly that they desire to withdrawal and terminate the use of force. the bottom line is pretty simple. under stand your ground, if someone initially provokes someone else they are required to retreat. >> i want to thank the panel for the testimony and once again thank miss fullton and miss mac bath. thank you for coming and reliving some very painful moments so we can put this whole
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hearing in to context. i thank all the witnesses for your testimony. there's been a great deal of interest at the hearing. you can see from the attendance, a large number of individuals and organizations have submitted testimony for today's hearing including the naacp. , the leadership conference on civil and human right, the center for media and democracy, america's essential hospitals and the american academy of pediatric, the only counsel against handgun violation, the education fund, the newtown action alliance, moms demand action, and many, many more. they'll be included in the record without objection. i also like to say that when solicitation was set out for those members publicly listed members of al throbbing tell me their status or position on this volunteering, if they wish, that information some ask their statement be part of the record. they will at the request. those who didn't make the request will not be included.
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again, i don't want to create any chilling effect on participation and american politics. it's important we preserve all of our constitutional rights do so. i thought it was appropriate to find put to the member of the organization stood by the policy position that was stated. the hearing record is going to be open for one week to accept addition statements. if there no further comments from the panel or the colleagues. i thank the witnesses for attending and my colleagues for participating. the hearing stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] earlier today the commerce department hosted a summit on the future of u.s. business investments. the ceo larry said the united states is well positioned to attract business investment, but he criticized washington citing the recent dispute over raising the debt ceiling. here is a look. >> foolish in america. but washington is making it more difficult for me to remain bullish. we are a standard barrier of principles, democracy in america
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is a standard. countries worldwide are look together united states as a barer of standards. we are the principled nation in the world, and by that -- by the hundreds ever years of principles we've had the luxury of being the currency that is in trade worldwide. we are the reserve currency of the world. as a result of it, we have a luxury we can borrow billions of dollars, trillions of dollars of money oversea. over 50% of the outstanding debt of the u.s. treasury -- not talking about the debt owned be i the federal reserve at the moment. the debt owned by the federal government that is issued by the treasury is held by foreigners. and when you have a narrative that is talking about default, a narrative of threat.
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it goes against all the prince. s. i challenge anyone in the room can you got bank and say i'm not going pay the the loan. what type of behavior the bank is going give back. we should expect the type of behavior if we continue to act in the pet lent way we think we can use a statement of walking away from commitments, walking away from principles. and so, you know, and i was a source of many angry phone calls from many foreigners who have investing billions of dollarsing in the u.s. and i do believe i calmed everybody down but we are in the midst of another negotiation as we speak. we have a process in which we are going learn in january where we are again. this process has to be much smoother. it is important that we drop the
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conversation about default. and importantly i talked about foreigner need, but i can tell you ceos in the united states i folk -- doesn't matter what industry they are pausing on hiring and putting a pause on investing until they have understand. i have to remind everybody the average in the united states is five years. to build something andrew is building is eight or ten-year project to complete response you need to have a lot of confidence that you're building out of these factories for hundred of thousands of jobs. and this narrative in washington right now is forcing irch to put a pause button on. i was talking to bill earlier. i'm sure consumers in the
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country are putting a pause button at the very important time when we have christmas sales coming up. so i'm alarmed. i remain to be alarmed. and the one last thing i would say if washington understood how many tens of millions of dollars were wasted with every company setting up contingency plans if there was a default. i had work streams working all weekend long of people working toward the what-if scenarios. what do we tell our client? ..
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talking about things like walking away from standards and principles. >> i never expected to write an entire book on cancer until i was diagnosed at a relatively
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young age. i was diagnosed at the age of six and i was astonished at how different i thought going through treatment than what i heard about cancer and what i found cancer to be. i sort of expect it a well oiled machine and where the cure wasn't obviously guaranteed by people knew about my particular cancer. i had been followed in what i found was something really different so i couldn't help start to write about it. >> this painting was originally painted as my grandmother's official white house portrait. in the 1960s, lady bird
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johnson went looking for portraits of first ladies to rehang in the white house. she thought that was important and she looked high and low and she could not find my grandmothgrandmoth er's official portrait so she called my grandmother and she said mrs. truman do you know where that painting is? my grandmother said yeah is all my wall. mrs. johnson said, you really shouldn't have that at the white house. my grandmother said no, that's my painting. it's on my wall and that's where it's going to stay in in the think mrs. johnson tried a couple of more times but eventually she gave up. next a discussion on money and politics. from "washington journal" it's 25 minutes.
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>> host: just on pennsylvania avenue between the white house and the capital is the offices of the washington bureau of "mother jones" where we will take you back now to talk to "mother jones" dark money reporter andy kroll. andy kroll thanks for coming on. what is dark money for folks who haven't heard that term? >> guest: dark money is this term that we have used to describe the secret on me that is flowing through our elections at the state, the local and of course at the national level. it's money that moves through nonprofit groups like crossroads gps which is karl rove's group or priorities usa that it was aligned with president obama. it's really an explosion of what we call dark money and it's his money where we don't know who the donors are. we don't know in many cases how the money is actually being
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spent and so we have made it a priority of ours here in mine in particular to try to shine a light on the secret money that is having an incredible impact on our elections. we know little about how it's shaping are debating campaigns and politics. >> host: how do you go about doing your work for "mother jones"? how much of it is mining the public databases versus having documents given to you by source is? >> guest: is an all at the above approach to be honest. if you really want to know anything about tax forms and 990's i'm your guy and a crash course in tax law and how nonprofit organizations work and how super pacs work. using the federal elections commission as well. as you said there's a lot of mining those sorts of information sources and there's a lot of information on health care. also corporations tell us how they spend their political money
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where they hide it with a little link on their web site in the bottom left-hand corner so you don't where to find it. there's a lot of a lot of that and as you mentioned as well there's a lot of publishing -- a lot of work in getting your name out there and your e-mail address out there and helping people who care about this issue that are out there will send you information that you can't otherwise get and that you can find it at date of days from nonprofit groups or on a corporations web site and there's also a lot of building up a network of folks here shinkman and elsewhere, sources, who are entrenched in this stuff and you may not want their name attached to it but they will give you the label and her give you some tips or insights as to how this whole money moving machine works today and this cash drenched post he united citizens world. >> host: do they care about campaign finance and follow the money issues? what is the state of journalism on that particular coverage?
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>> guest: there are two levels to this from what i can see. i think there are a lot of great reporters here in washington who are covering this beats. the folks at political and folks that "national journal." you have a center for public integrity and a lot of good folks who are friends of mine competitors as well who are sniffing around this eats but where you don't see this kind of coverage and frankly where this money can have some of the biggest impact is at the state level. state legislatures and capitals around the country. i just came back from a reporting trip in lansing the capital of michigan, my home state. it was amazing to turn up some things and wonder how did the state press corps not figure this out or dig this up months and months ago when it happened? those groups and publications are decimated in many states and
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those follow the money stories are being told. >> host: if you want to talk to andy kroll about some of his work for "mother jones" or phone lines are open republicans can call 2025853881 and democrats 202-58-53880. independents 2025853882. you can begin dialing and now our poster comment on twitter or facebook or e-mail us but in the meantime andy kroll we want to point to the latest issue of "mother jones." her story is the "triumph of the drill". tell us about this story. >> guest: the story came out of an idea or whether a conundrum which is you have oil companies that are the wealthiest corporations in the world recording some of the largest profits in the history of corporations. at the same time they are receiving generous tax breaks and subsidies and other kinds of perks totaling many billions of dollars from the federal government. it just doesn't make sense.
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why do they need that when they have all the money in the world? more money than they can count in more money than they know what to do with. that was the premise of the piece. digging into okay what are the ways that they preserve what they have? what are the ways they got these breaks? how did they keep them? what are they worth? what is the history? the piece is a visual spread that veers from basic numbers about these tax breaks in who gets them to conspiracy theories about how oil subsidies might have a role in the assassinaassassina tion of john f. kennedy and it goes all over the place but the core question is influence in politics and how does the oil industry keep the seemingly unjustifiable tax breaks to live? >> host: a few numbers from that story from the charts. with your story the estimated annual tax breaks with the big five oil company chevron about $700 million and mobile $600 million conoco philips 600 million ep3 entered million and
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shelled 200 le and in plenty of other charts throughout your story there. we want to bring in vanessa from washington d.c. calling on our line for republicans. vanessa we are talking with andy kroll the dark money reporter for "mother jones." thanks for joining us. vanessa are you there? i think we lost vanessa. we will go to mark this morning from acolla florida. mark, good morning. >> caller: good morning guys. i host and andy i loved your level of enthusiasm for seeking out the truth. i am the john kennedy fan and as a child i campaign for bobby after john was shot. i grew up in a lucky household that listen to martin luther king speeches so the first time my uncle at age 18 posted for -- voted for president carter is a young marine. i couldn't wait to get on
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infantry duty. i was stationed in okinawa and i have a question for andy. i just wanted to give background as a young marine i couldn't wait to get on infantry infantry duty and i ended up in central america in 1978 on honduras and from their couple of years later i ended up in argentina. i learned so much about the world and our domestic economy and what andy talked about actually ties all of this together. concessions of an economic kidnap a john perkins is a great book and i'm sure andy is familiar with john perkins. >> host: what is your question for andy? >> caller: i just want to come -- complement him. there are open sources with "mother jones" and i'm still on infantry duty listening to agents that teach people what's going on. my question for andy is if what he might know concerning dark
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money and the connections to the reagan administration bain capital and the el salvadorian -- and that death squad and helmut romney was warned possibly not to do this and that is how the creation of bain capital got started so they could prevent people from making a living wage by killing union workers by myself and college students in latin america so we could -- [inaudible] >> host: andy kroll something you have looked into at all? >> guest: i can't say that i've looked into that subject before. to pull a piece i guess output marquette to say there he mentioned that romney and bain capital and the 2012 presidential campaign. this is really an election where we saw the issue of dark money and super pacs and a flood of outside money into our elections. it was a fascinating period to be a reporter on this. >> because i think it's the first time really since
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watergate when we got the scandal that led to the laws we have today in large part. we just saw the money pouring in in a completely unprecedented way. it's only going to get i guess bigger or money worse if you don't think that's how should be in 2014 and 16. >> host: let's go to matt from plano on our line for independents trade you are on with andy kroll. >> caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call and thank you for c-span. good morning andy. but i do not think it passed congress. is that correct? >> guest: i think what we ended up with was a neutered version of it in which it did not cover congressional staff or at least that was the latest data of the ads and that was the most important parts. >> caller: i remember hearing
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stories about maxine waters staff involved in a scandal with the bank. i think that's the biggest problem all the money that comes into elections and the so-called independent tax but it's even worse when you have members of congress using donations from their committees to help their friends. hopefully you could do a lot more reporting on that and the dark money going on inside of congress. i believe there are something like 400 lobbyists in congress and once they are in office and showing -- it's just going to continue. >> host: andy kroll we want to point out a highlighted piece from june 19, 2012 before the 2012 elections you're followed the dark money peace and in that
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pc not the basic pattern of campaign finance is scandal and reform. i wonder what part of that pattern are we in now lacks. >> guest: i think we are absolutely in the pattern in which the laws and the safeguards that were built up in the wake of the watergate scandals are eroding and falling away and they are falling away because you have a very well organized very well funded very smart conservative movement that has chipped away at these laws. there is a lawyer that i write about in the piece named jim bach who happen to have led that charge. we are really out of place now where again like i said the money is coming in from the outside from the supposedly independent super pacs that the caller mentioned and now the supreme court is poised to open up more money for the parties if it decides in a more conservative way on the standing case of mccutcheon versus the
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federal elections commission so i absolutely think we are in the former part of that scandal reform equation then we are in a lather because on the reform side they aren't -- where is the folks with more money coming in they are the ones who have the movement. >> host: kent weeks asks can we expect balanced news coverage from your organization specifically on the issue of dark money reporting to investigate folks on the left as well as the right? >> guest: absolutely. that is one of the reasons i like this job and i like "mother jones." i can go after both sides and i recently wrote a piece looking at it plan developed by sort of the largest democratic donors congressional donors in the country the group called the democracy alliance. they are paying what they call it $40 million search to push back against the conservative side of this fight against the gym bach's and the gym
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mcconnell's. i broke that story and i can tell you from my e-mails from the people that i wrote about were far from pleased that those were people on the progressive side in there have been other stories as well. this is absolutely a bipartisan issue and we cover it in exactly that way. >> host: a.j. is from memphis tennessee on our line for democrats. a.j. you are on with andy kroll. >> caller: hello. >> host: hi, go ahead. >> caller: yeah this is interesting. i would like to comment on how this country is selling itself out to these big companies and i would like to comment on how the company is selling itself out to these big companies these big superpower companies and they
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are tying the country up with their money. i also believe that chief justice roberts set this all up by putting in a bill where they could do that. i think this is nothing but greed. greed in the country divides people up, divides the country up and then they run the country like they want to. >> host: andy kroll i think a.j. was referring back to the citizens united case. if you could talk a little bit about the continued impact of that case. >> guest: absolutely. citizens united was the case that impart brought us super pacs in the case that helps unleash this torrent of dark money through nonprofit groups into our elections. you know citizens united is an interesting case to study when you look at it over the course of justice roberts and chief justice roberts tie in with the
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cori. court. a lot of accord experts really see him being on a sort of progression of slowly dismantling the campaign finance laws, the foundation of those laws that we saw in the 1970s. citizens united is by far the biggest that this upcoming mccutcheon case will be another instance of that and in this case loosening the rules for parties and then potentially some court watchers believe he could not down the limits given directly to candidates and parties themselves and maybe even the limits on corporations giving to candidates and that's been in place for century. the citizens united case is the most high-profile decision on this issue but the roberts court but very much in a string of cases that we don't know how this is going to end either. >> host: marianas on our line for independents. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i have a question about money. when the representative who are
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supposed to be representing us shut down the government over obamacare -- the market went up the same day. he is representing a heads up over market movements. how many of them made money, who were they and how much? >> host: andy kroll. >> guest: that's a good question and it gets packed with the previous caller said about the s.t.o.c.k. act. there absolutely is the potential for those on the hill to you now act on information that they have acquired about the stock market and how the government uses markets in a way that the average public camp. the way that members of congress disclose their financial holdings we don't know right now , who profited off of that markets have been its increase
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in the government got back into working business again. but it's going to be interestiinteresti ng to see when those particulars do come out of anyone made a few bucks off of that. again this is what the s.t.o.c.k. act was intended to fix and it's sort of took a small bite into the issue but the folks behind the s.t.o.c.k. act say it hasn't gone far and off yet and they continue to try to tighten up those reforms so that we don't see people profiting off of that information. >> host: joseph vas mr. kroll desecrating free speech gives those with it -- >> guest: there are folks that believe we need to have helped these drawn restrictions. if you are a las vegas casino magnate sheldon adelson or george soros you have the ability to put out a lot our speech than the average person making 40 or $50,000 a year does.
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the conservative side of this including -- any restriction act is an restriction on free-speech rights in this is the fundamental intention of this issue. it's interesting and at times difficult to write about but i can definitely see that argument the average person can start a super pac and fund a super pac and hope to play in a house or senate race or presidential race like someone with 1 million or 2 million or $10 million to spare can and it's big difference that matters in elections. >> host: steven from what rich virginia on our line for independents. steven good morning. >> caller: hi, good morning. i'm glad i got through. i have to agree with the one lady that just called about influencing the stock market. to use a metaphor i think the republicans and the democrats are actually wings of the same bird. the right left-wing with the
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head of the bird being whatever precedent there is. i feel that this is all a charade this dysfunctionality between the parties and the charade of opening and closing the government, closing the government and opening it knowing full well you know that these actions influence directly the stock market and the stock phrases. and they profit from this tremendously. i think you know it's just a charade and just a way of you know to make money. >> host: we will go to jack from prescott arizona on our line for democrats. jack, good morning. >> caller: good morning guys and i want to make a couple comments. wanting to make people aware how
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ridiculous speeches money in monday's speech. i pay the family electric bill in the cable bill and the grocery store and make those people aware. i asked them how long i would have to speak to pay my bill. and guess what? all of them wanted money which makes the distinction that money is not speech and people -- there's just too much money. it's the corporations controlling our congress and the best way that people want to it but if we would all float for the guy that has less money to run his campaigns. that would give them something to think about but i appreciate c-span and "mother jones." keep it up.
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>> host: andy kroll brings up the question -- you studied this issue a lot. if you could reform the campaign finance system how do you think you would do it to make it work well? >> guest: from looking at the different kinds of reforms out there and looking looking at least the legal climate right now you were putting hard restrictions on how much a candidate can't accept or give for how much a party can spend and so on in all these insured -- restrictions are doomed from the start because you have a supreme court who does not believe they should exist and doesn't believe they are constitutional. there are reforms that if intrigue me the most or seem to have the best chances are what are called public finance elections or citizen led elections. this is a system that instead of capping were talking about restrictions are caps it rewards candidates for raising lots of small donations and then it basically takes public money and matches up to a couple hundred ducks or something like that. it encourages a candidate for
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instance will de blazio the democratic candidate in new york used this system masterfully in the democratic primary. he ran around and raced a lot of money in small batches from a lot of different people. he won their support and that money was matched. that doesn't seem to raise the same kind of constitutional restrictions. you are talking about rewarding people for recording as many small donors as they can and that's the preferred form of folks on the left right now and seems to be the best chance of taking some kind of step toward tamping down this big money political system everett now. >> host: one more caller. joel from lynchburg virginia on our line for republicans. joel good morning. >> caller: good morning. how are you all? verse 1 comment and then a question. the comment is as long as we keep getting the same people
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back in there that dark money will always be there. the only way you can ever change that is to get people in there that have integrity and will not take money. the question is, did you do an article on president obama's first election about you now john mccain wanting to have the private financing more public financing and mr. obama ended up not doing it and i don't think anybody ever knew where the money came from. >> host: andy kroll? >> guest: we do know where his money came from because in terms of the money he raised for his campaign it was a record-setting amount, more than $700 million something like 715 million from 2008. we know where it came from because it was disclosed in me know who raised the dollar
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amounts because of the so-called super fund-raisers were named by the campaign but the caller is right. president obama said he used public financing and then he opted out and john mccain a longtime advocate of campaign finance reform felt a little burned around that and that's something that we did cover and we covered it again in 2012 looking at how much president obama relied on big donors. looking at postelection how organizing for action be rebooted version of the campaigns has moved donors by offering access to the president. money and politics applies applies to president obama without a doubt and we have covered it along the way and we will continue to do so and then looking towards 2014 and 2016 to cover those candidates. >> host: andy kroll's's most recent pieces. leaks documents reveal the secret finance and the
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pro-industry signs with the california watchdog koch brothers network behind 15 million-dollar dark money donations. all of those at "mother jones".com and andy kroll thanks so much for joining us this morning. >> guest: thank you. >> what's the most important issue congress should consider in 2014? just a question for middle and high school students at c-span's video competition. make a five to seven minute
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documentary that shows varying points of view and include c-span video for your chance to win the grand prize of five dozen dollars. this year we have doubled the number of winners in total prizes. entries must be in by january 20, 2014. need more information? go to thursday the son of homeland security committee held a hearing examining the shooting at the washington d.c. navy yard that killed 12 people trade witnesses include defense department and office of personnel management officials. this is two hours and 50 minutes.


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