This past Tuesday, April 22, I participated in a debate on Stand-Your-Ground hosted by UC Berkeley Law School.

As you might expect, hilarity ensued.

It turned out there were actually three sides to the debate. The two lawyers on the anti-SYG side of the issue were opposed to the debate proposition that “Florida state law may be flawed, but Stand Your Ground is a fundamentally sound policy that protects the innocent.”

I, of course, was on the pro-SYG side.

My debate partner, a lovely woman and law professor, Andrea Roth, was nominally on my side, but in fact did not take a pro-SYG position. Her position would more accurately be described as “undecided on SYG.”

The way the debate was structured was we each had a 6 minute slot for opening statements. I spoke first (awesome). You can see my opening statements here (the full-length video of debate is at bottom of post):

The way the debate winner was determined was by greatest change in audience opinion. The audience voted prior to the start of the debate, and again at the conclusion. The starting vote had me at 18, the anti-SYG side at 53, and the rest undecided.

The voting at the end of the debate had the anti-SYG having changed nobody’s opinion, so they stayed at 53.

My number, in contrast, had doubled to 36. In effect, everybody who’s mind was changed–every one–came to my side.

Hence, I was the official winner of the UC Berkeley Stand-Your-Ground Debate. 🙂

Along the way, however, something interesting happened.

One of the people on the anti-SYG side of things was Sunny Hostin, a CNN legal analyst. At one point her debate partner. Attorney Rice-Lave, made the statement that it was “indisputed” that George Zimmerman had gotten out of his car after being told by police not to.

Well, I pretty much know the relevant 911 audio by heart, and knew that was wrong. Zimmerman never was ordered not to get out of his car.

I immediately offered her a $100 wager that Zimmerman had never been told by police to stay in his car.

While Rice-Lave paused in silence, Sunny Hostin (participating via Skype) said “I’ll take that bet.”

The next morning I sent Sunny the link to the 911 audio, which lacked any mention of the police telling Zimmerman to stay in his car, and offered to send her my mailing address so she could send me my $100.

She has not paid, changed the subject when I contacted her on Twitter, and now refuses to communicate on the issue.

You can read all about it–including the short piece of debate video in which the wager was offered and accepted, the 911 audio, and a “Downfall” parody of the events–here: “The Wager Sunny Hostin Refuses to Honor”

Finally, for those who would like to view the full-length debate video, start to finish, you can do so here:

OK, folks that’s it for now. I’m currently at the NRA Annual Meeting, having spoken here on Stand-Your-Ground yesterday, and having spent the night hanging out with some of the crew from the Ace of Spades HQ web site and Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review online. I’ll be on the exhibit floor wandering around all day today, so if you see the tall dude in the fleece jacket and the LOSD ball cap, say hello!

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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