The Zimmerman Indictment: Reactions

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The “Justice for Trayvon” crowd seems pretty enthused with State’s Attorney Angela Corey’s second degree murder indictment of George Zimmerman. The overwhelming consensus among people who study or practice criminal law, however, seems to be that Corey caved to public pressure.

Here’s Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft:

Incredibly, it claims without support that Zimmerman was “profiling” Martin. It misrepresents what the dispatcher said to Zimmerman, calling it an “instruction” not to follow Martin. (The dispatcher said, “We don’t need you to do that” to which Zimmerman responded “Ok.”)

It says, without providing a basis, that Zimmerman confronted Trayvon. It then says a struggle ensued, at the end of which, Trayvon was dead. It says witnesses heard arguments, a struggle and cries for help. It does not say anyone saw the actual struggle. (It doesn’t refer to the one witness, John, who told police on his 911 call he did observe the struggle and has later said Zimmerman was on the bottom crying out for help.)

The only support for its belief the voice crying for help was Trayvon’s is his mother’s identification. There’s no reference to Zimmerman’s father or brother saying they believed the voice was Zimmerman’s, or that the officer at the scene overheard Zimmerman say he cried out for help.

It makes no reference to who initiated the physical struggle. Or that Zimmerman was observed bleeding at the scene. It only says “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.” . . .

The only independent investigation they mention, interviewing witnesses, is the least reliable method of investigation they could have pursued. New versions of witness statements are inherently unreliable. These statements are the product of “post-event information.” in which the witness’ current memory is a co-mingling of actual memories from the event and information learned later, from the media and others.

The likelihood of error in these later statements is even greater if they were made after they “pooled information” with other witnesses, learning what others thought they heard and saw. Memories influenced by post-event information and pooling of information are major causes of faulty eye-witness identification, which in turn is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in this country.

Affidavit = FAIL. That a judge signed off on this as establishing second degree murder which according to Florida jury instructions and case law requires the killing be done with “ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent” is perplexing, to say the least.

Merritt again, in a separate post:

Given that Trayvon and Zimmerman were strangers, if the state’s argument for finding enmity and ill-will is that Zimmerman’s hatred of criminals extended to Trayvon because he assumed Trayvon was a criminal, I don’t think it will prevail. It seems to be just a story, intended to cover the gap in the intent requirement between murder 2 and manslaughter, in a way that that avoids the topic of race. Since it neither proves Zimmerman was the aggressor nor disproves he acted in self-defense or had a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm, the state’s story may be insufficient to establish either offense.

No wonder Angela Corey wanted to bypass the grand jury. She only had 1/2 a ham sandwich and forgot the mustard.

Here’s Ken at Popehat:

It’s a piece of crap.

Explaining why could be an epic post, but I don’t have much time, so I will make it brief.

The affidavit is argumentative, it’s conclusory, and it lacks attribution.

The affidavit takes the lazy way out, starting with a paragraph that says, in effect, “we investigated a bunch of stuff, and here’s what we learned,” followed by a narrative of what the affiant believes happened. Almost nothing is specifically attributed — that is, for most facts asserted in the affidavit, it is impossible to determine whether a witness told the affiant the fact, how the witness knew, or whether it is just a conclusion drawn by the affiant.

This makes the argumentative and conclusory elements of the affivadit that much more problematical. For instance, the affidavit states that Zimmerman “profiled” Martin. But it’s impossible to determine if (1) that’s the affiant’s characterization of the narrative that follows, or (2) that’s intended as a separate factual assertion based on unspecified facts or evidence or witnesses. Similarly, the affidavit makes numerous statements about what Zimmerman thought or intended. It is impossible to determine whether these statements are (1) conclusions based on Zimmerman’s actions and statements to the 911 dispatcher, (2) admissions Zimmerman made in some unspecified statement, or (3) mere argument.

The affiant occasionally gets it right — for instance, stating that Martin’s mother identified his voice on the 911 tapes as the person calling for help. But for the most part, the affidavit offers a narrative of events, not a description of evidence supplying probable cause. Moreover, it is bizarrely vague at the most critical juncture — it blandly states “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.”

This is not the worst affidavit I’ve ever seen — but it’s damn close, and the decision to proceed based on it in such a high-profile case is stunning.

Here’s Dan Markel:

I watched with surprise at the unfolding decision by state attorney Corey to file second degree murder against Zimmerman.  Corey is reputed to be a prosecutor who is both tough and possessing integrity. For all I know, she and her colleagues have all sorts of evidence that hasn’t yet been leaked and that would support a murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

But if everything we’ve seen reported is true (and I’ll assume this provides a useful summary), and there aren’t other missing pieces of evidence, I cannot fathom how a jury would return a guilty verdict for murder. If that’s right, what could justify bringing a murder charge? Certainly, the idea of charging high with the hope of inducing a plea could explain bringing a murder charge as a matter of tactics. But it would not be a justified basis for bringing a murder charge. To my mind, it would be repugnant to bring a high charge if the prosecutor herself does not readily believe in it, and if it is not readily provable beyond a reasonable doubt. Some jurisdictions or prosecutors’ offices might say: this is complicated stuff, we have an adversary system, let the jury sort it out. That’s a cop-out. Prosecutors are not partisans or advocates; they’re agents of public justice. I have no special insight into Corey’s evidence files but I sure hope she knows more than we do. Otherwise, a murder charge seems like a terrific injustice, and one that happens so frequently that it’s become difficult to see in plain sight.

Mark Bennett, in his Blawg Review:

Last week saw the arrest of George Zimmerman for second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin. How far we’ve come since 1963: here the protesters, rather than being willing to go to jail for their principles, wanted the government to put a man in jail for their principles.

The blawgosphere has, to its credit, been generally critical of the charge . . .

Alan Dershowitz:

Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge. There’s simply nothing in there that would justify second degree murder. It’s not only thin, it’s irresponsible.”

I think what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation and overcharged. This case will not – if the evidence is no stronger than what appears in the probable cause affidavit – this case will result in an acquittal.

This affidavit does not even make it to probable cause. Everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense. Everything.

“Bmaz” at Marcy Wheeler’s emptywheel blog breaks the indictment down paragraph by paragraph, and concludes:

 It is completely lacking in requisite and necessary attribution for the extremely few and, really, innocuous facts it does present, and the rest comprises nothing but unsupported and wholly conclusory statements meant to infer criminal activity, but which do not even do a competent job of that.

In short, it is shit. To be honest, this affidavit, within its “four corners” arguably does not even meet the necessary burden of probable cause for Manslaughter under Florida section 782.07, much less the “depraved mind” necessary under Florida’s Second Degree Murder charge under section 782.04(2) as charged in the information. George Zimmerman may have committed a crime, but it is not demonstrated in this affidavit, and certainly is not as to the crime charged, Second Degree Murder. Charles Blow can praise this thing until the cows come home in the august pages of the New York Times, but it is still a pile of junk.

But the above discussion is all about what is in the affidavit, let’s talk about what is not in the affidavit as well. The affidavit goes out of its way to spin innocuous and perfectly legal activity into some nebulous vignette of implied criminality, yet self servingly there is not a single fleeting reference to Zimmerman’s claim of having acted in self defense. To be sure, in charging a case, a prosecutor is going to frame the facts to support her charge. But that does not mean she can blithely ignore patently exculpatory facts known to her and germane to the interests of justice. Angela Corey’s affidavit is thusly not just deficient, but dishonest in a very slimy, even if not unethical way. It is patently offensive in that regard.

The case is also patently overcharged. As stated above, I think it is more than arguable that the probable cause affidavit does not even support manslaughter, but it is not remotely close to supporting second degree murder. This is an embarrassment not only for Angela Corey, but the magistrate who signed off on this bunk. It makes the criminal justice system look horrible.

Monroe Freedman looks at the Corey press conference, and questions the prosecutor’s ethics.

Corey:  “We know only one category as prosecutors, and that is a ‘V.’  It’s not a ‘B,’ it’s not a ‘W,’ it’s not an ‘H.’  It’s ‘V,’ for victim.  That’s who we work tirelessly for.  And that’s all we know, is justice for our victims.”  Corey also referred to “our precious victims.”

ABA Std. 3-2.1, cmt.:  “The idea that the criminal law … is designed to vindicate public rather than private interests is now firmly established.”
ABA Std. 3-3.2, cmt.: “the prosecutor’s client is not the victim.”

Corey:  The first thing my team and I did upon being appointed was to meet with Trayvon’s family and pray with them.  “We opened our meeting with prayer.”  Also, Ms. Corey thanked “all those people across this country who have sent positive energy and prayers our way,” and she asked them to continue to pray for Trayvon’s family and for her team.  “Remember, it is Trayvon’s family that are our constitutional victims….”

At this point, do we need the due process of a trial by jury?  Can Zimmerman receive the due process of a trial by an impartial jury?  Why should anyone care?

The one thing I’d add is that I was taken aback by Corey’s statement at the press conference that the first thing she did after she was appointed to the case was pray with Trayvon Martin’s family. I find the idea of a prosecutor praying with a victim’s family off-putting in general. But it’s particularly troubling in this case.

Here’s why: In this case, Corey’s job wasn’t to discover who committed what everyone acknowledges was a crime. Her job was determine if a crime was committed at all. Remember, George Zimmerman claims that he is the victim here. You can disagree with that, even scoff at it. Personally, while I’m not yet convinced he committed a crime, I certainly don’t think he’s a victim. But Corey’s job here was to determine who the victim actually was. Her task was to conduct an investigation, weigh the evidence, then determine what charge, if any, was appropriate. By meeting with Martin’s family, praying with them, and implying in her press conference that she immediately saw them as the victim’s family, she gave the impression that she had made up her mind before she started investigating. And her weak indictment did little to vindicate her of that notion.

None of this is to say Zimmerman didn’t commit a crime. I still really have no idea. But what’s happened in the last couple weeks doesn’t feel like justice. It feels like a railroading. It’s remarkable how many items have been wrongly reported about the case thus far, and nearly all of the false reports were damaging to Zimmerman. (There are a few exceptions involving right-wing sites posting allegedly incriminating photos of Martin that turned out to have been faked or Photoshopped.) Zimmerman’s size relative to Martin was exaggerated, the racial slur he uttered is now discounted even by Corey, and his apparent unsolicited reference to Martin’s race in a 911 call turns out to have been selectively edited. There are other examples. This to me suggests a media and commentariat that very much wants there to be a crime here, not a media and commentariat in search of the truth.

There does seem to be a rift forming between people who practice criminal law (and as far as I know, all the people cited above lean left or libertarian in their politics) and the mostly progressive commentators who are cheering on the indictment. That speaks well of the criminal law crowd. It doesn’t speak well of the others.

The anger and outrage about how black people are treated in the criminal justice system is well-founded, well-supported, and consistent with my own experience reporting on these issues (although I think the common denominator is increasingly more poor than black). And there appears to be some of that history in Sanford as well, particularly in the way police investigate crimes—including this one. I’ve read in several places the proposition that if the races had been reversed that night in Sanford, Trayvon Martin would have spent the last month awaiting his murder trial from a jail cell. I think there’s plenty of history to support that sentiment. But we can’t hang all of the inequities of the criminal justice system on George Zimmerman. He deserves to be tried only on the facts specific to his case. Even gung-ho, wannabe cops deserve due process, and a fair crack at justice.

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279 Responses to “The Zimmerman Indictment: Reactions”

  1. #1 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I’ll reserve judgement until I hear Zimmerman’s 45 prior calls to the Sanford pd. Hearing those calls would definitely shed a light of light on what Zimmerman was all about.

    But, the important point is that I know what evidence I need to decide the case:

    those 45 calls.

  2. #2 |  Burgers Allday | 

    o, yeh: they put this prosecutor on so that the case would be effectively thrown. they are using the murder charge to try to lose the manslaughter charge. they are trying to help Zimmerman (just like they were on the night of the arrest).

    They (that is, the people who put the current prayerful prosecutor on the case) know what is on those previous 45 calls. we don’t.

  3. #3 |  Mike T | 

    I find the idea of a prosecutor praying with a victim’s family off-putting in general. But it’s particularly troubling in this case.

    Some of her other reported behavior suggests she’s got more than a little bit of Nancy Grace in her.

  4. #4 |  Law Prof | 

    ” . . . those 45 calls.”

    In eleven (11) years. That’s less that 4 PER YEAR.
    That’s not much from a neighborhood Watch Captain.

  5. #5 |  Max | 

    This to me suggests a media and commentariat that very much wants there to be a crime here, not a media and commentariat in search of the truth.
    We havent had a media looking for truth for a lot of years now; they lie, distort, invent whatever suits them.

  6. #6 |  Evan | 

    I’m mostly curious whether there will be any consequences for the police department’s apparent botched investigation. I’ve seen reports that they didn’t test Zimmerman for alcohol or drugs, nor did they collect his clothing for blood spatter evidence, they didn’t canvass the neighborhood for witnesses, and they didn’t check the call log on the cell phone found on the ground near Martin’s body. Routine police work could have resolved most of the ambiguities in the affidavit, and either made the case a slam dunk or eliminated the calls for charging Zimmerman.

  7. #7 |  MattJ | 

    From Merritt’s second post:

    The state believes there is no need to show Zimmerman had a racial bias, if it can show he disliked and had a bias against criminals and he thought Trayvon was a criminal. (emphasis added)

    Is that a thing, now? Bias against criminals?

    Because I thought disliking criminals was still cool.

  8. #8 |  Burgers Allday | 

    In eleven (11) years. That’s less that 4 PER YEAR.
    That’s not much from a neighborhood Watch Captain.

    depends upon what he says and how he says it.

    If the 45 calls make him seem like a responsible neighborhood watch program, then I will go with that.

    If the 45 calls make him seem like he had a habit of following people around on foot after the police were called, then I will go with that alternative hypothesis.

    One way, or the other, and it could be either, the best, most probative evidence lay in the aggregate image of Zimmerman as presented in those 45 calls. The only way to really understand, and have that understanding be based on the most probative evidence, would be to lissen to those 45 calls.

  9. #9 |  Mike T | 

    #5,

    Not to mention the abject hypocrisy of the media in the reporting. The New Black Panthers can put a bounty on the man’s head–a literal solicitation to murder–and it barely registers as a blip on the media’s radar. The racial violence being spawned, such as the white man who was beaten at random by black teenagers shouting “remember Trayvon” has also been downplayed.

    If the roles were reversed on either of those, the media would have been foaming at the mouth about white racism.

  10. #10 |  Evan | 

    About the 911 calls, you can see them here:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/22/george-zimmerman-s-history-of-911-calls-a-complete-log.html

    He made 33 calls between the beginning of 2009, which is a little under one a month. I don’t think it’s very important, since that alone barely raises him to neighborhood busybody status (some of the calls were about open garage doors, potholes, stray dogs and parties), but there it is.

    Also, most of them were to the non-emergency number, not 911.

  11. #11 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Oh, and if you want to see a case where probable cause was really lacking, then check this one out:

    CORREA v. TORRES (M.D.Fla. 4-11-2012)

    This was a typical case where someone was aggreived much more grieviously than Z. I only chose this case because it is the latest good example (the main thing tying the plaintiff’s car to the shootout that happened was a report of bullet holes in this Expedition/Explorer — but these “bullet holes” turned out be stickers and the police knew they were stickers prior to arrest and impoundment). the more qi cases that you read, the less you will feel any sort of sympathy for Z.

    I don’t think the case is up on the internet, but if its not there, then your local law library probably has it.

  12. #12 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Neither the Justice nor the Legal systems in the US handle tragedies very well.

    But then again most of the Internet doesn’t either.

  13. #13 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @10: not good enough. Like I said, we need to hear those 45 calls. We do not need to read written synopses of a selected 33 of them — that is not helpful.

  14. #14 |  Lefty | 

    I’m wondering why the self defense law doesn’t apply to a 17 year old who is being stalked by a man with a gun. I imagine he felt threatened.

  15. #15 |  Eric Y | 

    Routine police work is full of routine holes. An interesting case that would demonstrate this would be Larry Hickey, who was tried twice in Pima county and again in a civil trial between the two. Almost all exculpatory evidence was overlooked (both resulted in a hung jury, the second with prejudice (ie no more retrials)) to the point of misplacing his holster, never taking his official statement at the scene or with detectives at the station, the hospital hanging onto exculpatory photos showing the shooting happened at point blank range, and the prosecution arguing the incident took place in the middle of the street because the “victims” claimed as such even though every single police photo documenting on-scene evidence showed that it took place on Hickey’s driveway and sidewalk. The supposed victims during filing of the civil suit changed the location of the incident to his property, otherwise homeowner’s insurance wouldn’t pay out. Then, they changed the story back during the second trial.

  16. #16 |  Fred Mangels | 

    I’m wondering why the self defense law doesn’t apply to a 17 year old who is being stalked by a man with a gun.

    Nothing I’ve read says he was aware Zimmerman had a gun. Common sense would suggest if he knew Zimmerman was armed, he wouldn’t have confronted him in any way.

  17. #17 |  Radley Balko | 

    Burgers Allday:

    Our level of sympathy for Zimmerman should be contingent on whether there are other cases in which people have suffered more egregious injustices? That’s absurd.

    I’m also not sure why you’re so fixated on his prior 911 calls. Those may be persuasive if you’re trying to figure out what sort of person Zimmerman is. But the issue here is who instigated the physical confrontation, and most importantly, whether Zimmerman reasonably believed his life was in danger when killed Martin. What he may or may not have said on the phone during prior incidents has very little bearing on those two questions.

    I want to hear from the paramedics who examined and treated Zimmerman at the scene. I want to hear about the extent of his injuries. I’d like to see photos of those injuries, if any were taken. If memory serves, Zimmerman got medical treatment a few days later. I’d like to hear from the doctor who treated him. I’d like to hear from the cops who took him in that night. Was he bleeding? Was that a gash on his head? Was his nose swollen?

  18. #18 |  Eric Y | 

    People are very unfamiliar with the nuances of self-defense laws. Even criminal trial lawyers aren’t very familiar because, let’s face it, they normally defend criminals. Mounting a criminal defense is completely different than a self-defense defense. Self-defense is typically an affirmative defense. You admit to homicide. Now you have to prove that it was justifiable homicide. The burden of proof shifts to the defense and justifiable or excusable homicide are very narrowly defined definitions. However, the path towards these two are cloaked in shades of gray Being justifiable homicide, murder, or manslaughter can change if he pulled the trigger a few seconds earlier or a few seconds later. It will depend on the exact conditions under which Zimmerman pulled the trigger.

  19. #19 |  Caleb | 

    @ Burgers Allday

    I very much doubt those calls are admissible in evidence. Regardless of whether they make GZ look good or bad, I’m almost positive their prejudicial effect outweighs their permissible probative value.

  20. #20 |  Mattocracy | 

    Regardless of the verdict, half the population is going to be pissed off no matter what. Had the authorities handled this better, maybe some evidence would have been collected to definitively prove what really transpired.

  21. #21 |  Some Questions | 

    Good point on Corey; that is the central issue: She prejudged the central issue of this case. Who the “real victim” was the essential factual question. She picked a side and went out to prove it and, judging by the affidavit, still must answer all the unanswered questions in the public domain and did not have any awesome, super secret evidence to allay those concerns. There’s so many unanswered questions it’s not even funny.

    Why Didn’t Martin Family Know What Happened Earlier?

    Trayvon was supposedly buying tea and skittles for his little brother. He went to store and never came back. Later that night–but earlyish, 7:30–there’s a shooting in the complex. Tons of cop cars appear and likely stick around for hours. People mill about and talk about what happened. His father and his fiancee, according to some reports, come back from a date later that night. In other reports–including their words the day after the shooting–it sounds like they were there all along. But they don’t find out he’s dead until the next day. Now they say they were looking all night. Regardless, whether early or late, they come home or they are home and there is no Trayvon. How old is this little brother? Why didn’t Traci Martin say, “Hey little man, where’s your brother?” Why didn’t little brother say, “Hey dad, Trayvon didn’t come home, and some crazy stuff went down here earlier tonight.” It doesn’t make sense.

    The Top Secret 7-11 Visit.

    Travyon supposedly went to the store to get “tea and skittles” for his younger brother. Where’s the video of him at that store? Why isn’t the “last scene of his young life tragically cut short” not being played on endless loop on the TV news? Why hasn’t clerk been interviewed? Does this information exist? Is something embarrassing on the tape? Did he shoplift? Was he home with his Dad “watching NBA” or home alone, since other accounts say his dad and the fiancee were on a date. Or was he home with this unnamed younger brother? Is this story–which originated with Benjamin Crump, the occasionally dishonest family lawyer–a bunch of nonsense to make the 17 year old Trayvon appear both noble and childlike? Don’t know, but let’s at least think about this.

    Who Commits a Murder When He Knows the Cops are Coming Because He Called Them?

    Zimmerman calls cops and knows they’re on way. Why in hell’s name would he also proceed to intentionally kill Travyon in accord with the second degree murder charge? Does that make sense? And does it make sense he’d start a fistfight under those circumstances, if his aim was to kill, and he had a gun on him the whole time? If he started fight–since we’re all analyzing the depth of his head gash on the jail video–how many contusions, bruises, gashes and the like appear on Trayvon in his autopsy? In other words, did Zimmerman land any punches? And, if no, can he in any world be called the aggressor?

    The biggest issue is who started swinging. It’s not criminal to ask people questions in the neighborhood, particularly if you don’t recognize them. The word “confrontation” in the affidavit obscures this. Neither stand your ground nor any other part of the law requires one never to ask questions, talk to people, or be “confrontation.” It happened to me the other day in fact in a rural area when I was doing a work project. I was asked who I was and gladly explained it. It’s part of life, particularly in healthy functioning communities where people know each other.

    But the young Trayvon, who clearly has an attitude problem based on his school record and his busdriver assault, likely didn’t take kindly to this. Perhaps he was scared, that’s reasonable enough. But he didn’t need to pound Zimmerman’s head into sidewalk and go bezerk. Indeed, wagist.com suggests he doubled back and had plenty of time to get home. So what happened? My guess is a young hothead who didn’t like being dissed or talked to with anything less than total respect started swinging, Zimmerman cried in fear, but Trayvon soon realized he picked the wrong guy. The only eyewitness “John” supports this account.

    Good for you Radley for keeping an open mind on this case. There’s no reason to think prosecutors are A OK here, even though the original prosecutors appear to have done the right thing before the Al Sharptons and Obamas of the world got involved.

  22. #22 |  Caleb | 

    @ Eric Y

    That’s true for self-defense. But GZ is claiming immunity under Florida’s SYG law. Under that law, the burden does not shift. Check it out:

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html

  23. #23 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Fred Mangles; Common sense seldom has anything to say about a 17 year-old male. I remember being one.

    Burgers Allday; I find it interesting that your requirement to entertain the idea that the shooting might be justified is that we dig for dirt in the defendant’s past, and in a way that is very likely not possible (they can’t possibly keep recordings that long, can they? Think of the sheer numbers.)

    In general;

    I think that, whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, what is happening is a government staged lynching to placate the wowsers. All I can say is that we – society at large – are teaching large segments of the population to threaten and/or performs acts of violence to get their way. I have to wonder what is going to happen when they wake up to how badly they are suckered by Sharpton, Jackson, and the rest of the Professionally Black parasites … and their lily white western intellectual fan clubs.

  24. #24 |  Eric Y | 

    I still don’t see how SYG applies. This doesn’t appear to be a Stand Your Ground situation. It appears, with a degree of speculation and what typically happens in conflicts, a verbal confrontation which escalated into a physical confrontation, which escalated into lethal force. If what

  25. #25 |  shecky | 

    “Nothing I’ve read says he was aware Zimmerman had a gun. Common sense would suggest if he knew Zimmerman was armed, he wouldn’t have confronted him in any way.”

    I’ve wondered if Zimmerman would have confronted Martin if he wasn’t carrying a gun? Regardless, I’m not sure if this matters whether Zimmerman was armed, or Martin was aware he was packing. Seems just as plausible, and relevant, if Martin was simply standing his ground against a confrontational person.

  26. #26 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I very much doubt those calls are admissible in evidence. Regardless of whether they make GZ look good or bad, I’m almost positive their prejudicial effect outweighs their permissible probative value.

    a court might very well say that, but the court would be wrong.

    there is no better way to decide what happened than to lissen to those 45 calls (all of them).

    If I had to bet my life on how it really went down — those calls would be pretty much the only thing I’d be lissening to.

    But what will a Florida judge do? well, for starters see my link @11. you can’t tell what a Florida judge will do.

    I can’t speak for the court, or to the court, but, to you I say: please listen to those 45 calls b4 making up your mind. If you never get to hear all 45 calls, then please don’t make up your mind. realistically, those calls (unedited of course) represent our best shot at determining the truth.

  27. #27 |  Eric Y | 

    Stupid phone. Anyhow, if what Zimmerman says is true, he never purposely stood his ground where an opportunity was present to retreat. He was, as he claims, attacked and beaten to the ground and attacked in the head (the shod foot being considered lethal force) or he was a mutual combatant parially or fully responsible for continually escalating conflict into a lethal situation. Those aren’t a Stand Your Ground situation unless FL has a really whacked version of similar laws many states have.

  28. #28 |  La Rana | 

    Are aspects of this troubling? Yes. Is there substantial doubt about whether Zimmerman committed any crime? Yes.

    But to pretend that the prosecutors behavior in this case, or the conclusory one-sided nature of the indictment, are somehow abnormal is just fucking delusional.

    Almost all prosecutors give press conferences in high profile cases in which they clearly and obviously violate ethics rules. Almost all indictments are thin, conclusory, and just supported enough to survive in court. Cases like this are routinely overcharged. And here you clearly have probable cause for an indictment (at the very least manslaughter – getting out of the car with a weapon to follow the guy, which is all we know for sure, is probable cause that he was the aggressor).

    This is the normal operation of the system, which even the “experts” seem willing to concede (I put that is quotes because it is not clear to me which, if any of these folks regularly see criminal indictments). Merritt doesn’t really address the legal sufficiency (though it probably seems like it to a non-lawyer). Ken says he’s seen worse. Markel is just speculating about everything. Bennett doesn’t address the issue. Dershowitz is, as usual, a scumbag (after essentially conceding that this is normal, he makes makes a series of I’m-from-harvard-so-of-course-i’m-right unsupportable assertions). Etc. Etc.

    As with the Duke case, the tragedy after the tragedy will be pretending that this is all somehow unique.

  29. #29 |  Some Questions | 

    Stand your ground is not the issue. He has not claimed immunity. He has filed nothing in this case. There is an across-the-board self-defense immunity in Florida. It allows a pretrial hearing and shifting of fees to prosecutor for defense attorneys’ fees. Stand your ground is a small subpart of Florida self defense law, and stand your ground says there is no duty to retreat if able to safely do so, which used to be required under Florida law and led to extensive and excessive speculation of whether there was avenue of retreat in some self defense cases. It takes what used to be the narrow “no retreat” immunity of the home, also called the castle doctrine, and extended it to the world at large. It simply requires the showing that one was reasonably in fear of death or great bodily harm. Period.

    There is no requirement under stand your ground or any other law never to talk to people, confront them, ask them questions, etc., and the confusion on this point in the media seems to be why everyone’s talking about stand your ground. It literally has nothing to do with this case, as Zimmerman claims he was on ground, pinned, and getting head bashed in when he shot Trayvon. No opportunity for retreat there–realistically–and thus no stand your ground issue.

  30. #30 |  Burgers Allday | 

    is that we dig for dirt in the defendant’s past

    lissening to those calls is not digging for dirt. It will show what his attitude was when he was calling the police on people. Did he have a history of not “letting it go” when the police told him to let it go? I want to know that. Did he use racial slurs in the other calls? I want to know that. Did he call on things that turned out to be exaggerated or untrue? I want to know that. Were his calls reasonable, measured and businesslike? I want to know that.

    I can’t believe anybody would want to decide this case without lissening to all 45 calls.

  31. #31 |  MassHole | 

    To add to what Radley mentions in #17:

    Was Martin shot at point blank range? Physical evidence should easily reveal that by looking for powder burns at the entry wound.

    Did Zimmermans clothing have Martins blood on it consistent with a point blank shooting?

  32. #32 |  Some Questions | 

    Also, calls may be admissible as “statements of a party opponent,” which is not defined as hearsay in Florida or any other state’s law. However, it may be eliminated as prejudicial, irrelevant, etc.

  33. #33 |  el coronado | 

    Same Shit, Different Era.

    All the legal beagles quoted above seem to think the charge is a load of crap that’ll collapse at the first touch of a gentle breeze, but that was never the point, I suspect. Just as the betoga-d elites in Rome did when the Mob got restive, the wearers of the purple have decided to distract them with bread and circuses. Or, in this case, the ‘promise’ of a trial of the Evil White Hispanic. Then something else bright and/or shiny will capture their attention, (“Brad & Angie getting hitched!” “Jen finally knocked up!” “Whitney still dead!!”), and things can go back to normal.

  34. #34 |  Some Questions | 

    I also find it ironic that Sharpton and company wanted this murder charge, as their chief complaint in the Jena Six case–where some black teenagers stomped a white kid into a coma–was that they were overcharged with second degree murder rather than mere aggravated assault or something similar. Funny how that one went down the memory hole in a hurry!

  35. #35 |  nigmalg | 

    “If I had to bet my life on how it really went down — those calls would be pretty much the only thing I’d be lissening to.”

    Listening to unrelated calls would not satisfy ANY burden of proof. Even if he “wouldn’t let it go” and demanded that the police come over and over again, it doesn’t suggest he chased and attacked Martin.

    Jesus please don’t ever be on a jury.

  36. #36 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Listening to unrelated calls would not satisfy ANY burden of proof. Even if he “wouldn’t let it go” and demanded that the police come over and over again, it doesn’t suggest he chased and attacked Martin.

    what planet are you living on. Those calls are highly related to the Trayvon Martin call. Calling the police is a pretty specific thing. If you lissen to 45 calls you will have a great idea how Z. handled himself around criminal suspects when he thought nobody would be lissening besides his pals at the Sanford pd.

  37. #37 |  MH | 

    “lissening to those calls is not digging for dirt.”

    For God’s sake, it’s spelled listening, with a ‘t’.

  38. #38 |  Some Questions | 

    The calls may help paint a picture of Zimmerman. To me a more probitive thing is he had a CHL. You can’t get one if you’ve ever been in any kind of big trouble; even a domestic violence misdemeanor will ding you. So most people who have them are very law abiding, no felonies, no major history of violence, etc. There is some question of testing the two indivdiuals’ character. Wouldn’t we want to see Trayvon’s “fight club” videos, hear about the beating up the bus driver incident and all the rest. Indeed, the deck is stacked in favor of defendant; past actions to show conformity therewith not typically admissible, whereas, in a self defense case, the “victim’s” propensity for violence is. See Fla. Stat. Sec. 90.404 (stating victim’s character evidence may generally be offered by accused, whereas perpetrator’s character evidence only admissible in rebuttal if raised by def.).

  39. #39 |  JSL | 

    #7, as the fine folks in NJ say, thats “bias intimidation” against criminals. A hate crime for sure. :)

  40. #40 |  Yet Another Case of Overzealous Prosecution | The Beacon | 

    [...] Anthony Gregory | Monday April 16, 2012 at 11:24 AM PDT Radley Balko has a great roundup of bloggers’ reactions to the Zimmerman indictment. The common thrust in most of these [...]

  41. #41 |  Burgers Allday | 

    oh, the evidence can, and would, show plan, pattern, motive, intent and a bunch of other things (I forgot the mnonic thhey teach for the bar on this, but there is one).

    If he has a history of siccing the police on innocent people and situations then that is strong evidence that his crimes followed a pattern and that he was motivated by malice.

  42. #42 |  Robert | 

    @ #14: “I’m wondering why the self defense law doesn’t apply to a 17 year old who is being stalked by a man with a gun. I imagine he felt threatened.”

    Red Herring. Gun was concealed so Martin had no idea that Zimmerman had one. Nice try though.

  43. #43 |  nigmalg | 

    Burgers,

    You said that’s all you’d listen to. Damn the actual evidence. I believe your actual quote was:

    “those calls would be pretty much the only thing I’d be lissening to”

    Character attacks are NOT evidence of criminal conduct in an isolated case; they’re character attacks. You cannot make your entire case on character assassination.

  44. #44 |  Sam | 

    While I understand the concern that Zimmerman might be railroaded, there is a dead, unarmed teenager involved in this equation, right? Or does that simply not even register at this point?

    Because Zimmerman is getting a huge advantage in all this if we simply trust him to be telling the truth, even though the incentive he has to tell a version of the story most sympathetic to him is overwhelming. Why would he ever say, “I saw a black kid, suspected he was guilty of something, confronted him, we scuffled, I feared for my life, and then I shot him.” It won’t happen. So instead we have him saying, “I was attacked by this kid and I defended myself!” with an awful lot of people seeming to say, “Yep, that must be what happened. There’s no other interpretation available.”

  45. #45 |  Sam | 

    Robert,

    How do you know the gun was concealed?

  46. #46 |  Robert | 

    “The Top Secret 7-11 Visit.”

    Yeah. From what I understand the closest 7-11 was 2 miles from the apartment. Like he was going to walk a 4 mile round trip in the rain. I also have wondered which store it was that he was supposed to have visited, and where the (time stamped) security video is.

  47. #47 |  Jay | 

    “lissening to those calls is not digging for dirt.”

    For God’s sake, it’s spelled listening, with a ‘t’.

    Thank you. Being the defendant in a trial by a jury of my ‘peers’ scares the bejeezus out of me, and I hope that something never happens to me to have that happen.

  48. #48 |  Robert | 

    Sam,

    How do you know it wasn’t?

    Otherwise, Martin would have to be one of the most stupid people in the world, to return to the area of a man holding a pistol after he had already run away.

  49. #49 |  Some Questions | 

    Closest 7-11 is not on google maps and was about a mile west near the Sam’s Club on Rinehart Road. No gas station, just a pure convenience store version of 7-11.

    As for “why we believe his account,” there was an eyewitness who confirmed this account–a man named “John”–who said Zimmerman was getting his ass beat and crying for help, and that when it was over he was standing over the dead Trayvon. Further, there was physical evidence of Zimmerman’s injuries clearly visible in the enhanced ABC tape, which they not-so-cleverly concealed with the ABC logo chryon during their initial display of the jailhouse video. Finally, before all the hype, the local prosecutors chose not to prosecute, and that itself is pretty telling by any standard, as the cops initially thought prosecution was warranted.

  50. #50 |  nigmalg | 

    Sam,

    It’s not that that’s no other interpretation available, it’s that there’s no other evidence available. I’d rather let a murdering scumbag go free that made up an elaborate tale of self defense with no contradictory evidence, then have an innocent shooter go to jail because he couldn’t prove it was self defense beyond the reasonable doubt that it *wasn’t*.

  51. #51 |  Sam | 

    Radley,

    With all due respect, if Zimmerman instigated the confrontation, what does it matter what his own injuries were? And that’s something we’ll never know, which is where the anger comes from: because one of the two participants is dead, Zimmerman’s telling of the story is almost certainly going to hold sway, even if it is a telling that isn’t accurate.

  52. #52 |  Sam | 

    Robert,

    Are you willing to consider the possibility that Zimmerman instigated the confrontation, then murdered Martin? Is that even a possibility in your mind, or is it plainly and simply that Martin attacked the man with the gun and then shot him?

  53. #53 |  Some Questions | 

    Also, as for gun being concealed, it seems more likely Trayvon runs away from guy with gun rather than punching him and continuing to do so if he didn’t know he had a gun. And a murderously inclined gun-toting guy doesn’t get in a fistfight under these circumstances; he just shoots, right? Even a tough young kid knows you don’t attack an armed man for no good reason. Also, with cops on way, Zimmerman surely would not have run around with his gun in his hand, as he would know he stood a good risk of being shot. So yeah it’s theoretically possible he was running around, gun in hand, and confronted Zimmerman like that, but pretty unlikely and pretty inconsistent with the known and unidsputed facts involved in this case.

  54. #54 |  Some Questions | 

    ” if Zimmerman instigated the confrontation, what does it matter what his own injuries were?” It does matter because if he instigated an ordinary confrontation–verbal or otherwise–Trayvon had privilege to “meet force with force” under Florida law. However, if at some point in that fight Trayvon escalated his use of force, then Zimmerman’s right of self defense is restored under Florida law. The question is, at the time the force is used, who is being the aggressor. That said, in that case, there is a duty of retreat if possible, which doesn’t sound possible in Zimmerman’s telling. So, who started the fight is probitive but not dispositive of the self defense claim. So it matters a lot not if he was injured but what situation was right before he shot.

    Fla Stat. 776.041:

    Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

    (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

  55. #55 |  Sam | 

    There isn’t a single scenario in which we’ll know Martin’s side of this, because he’s the one that was killed, and yet, in these conversations, there doesn’t seem to be a lick of concern given to Martin’s side of this. That’s where the imbalance and the outrage stems from.

  56. #56 |  Eric Y | 

    Instigation and escalation are not finalities that automatically makes one party solely responsible. We don’t know who escalated and what levels of escalation occurred, and if any attempts to disengage were tried by either party. These are all important details that we don’t have.

    At the end of the day, we still don’t know much.

  57. #57 |  Leonson | 

    Actually, the thing that will do the most for me (as far as evidence I haven’t seen), is the proximity of the shooting to Zimmermans truck.

    It will give me a better idea if Zimmerman was heading back to his truck, or if he chased Martin down while he was “running home” (as his girlfriend has said).

  58. #58 |  Some Questions | 

    “There isn’t a single scenario in which we’ll know Martin’s side of this . . .” True in every self defense case, no? We have to piece together what happened with the evidence that exists; if reasonable doubt remains, Zimmerman walks. It’s the American way.

  59. #59 |  Some Questions | 

    56: go to wagist.com, lots of maps.

  60. #60 |  nigmalg | 

    Sam,

    Isn’t the conversation supposed to be more about facts involved in the case and less about speculation and what-ifs? If there’s evidence to suggest Zimmerman attacked Martin, then by all means introduce it into the process.

  61. #61 |  Sam | 

    Nigmalg,

    You know precisely what you’re doing. Because Martin is dead, and because there were apparently no eyewitnesses, you know that evidence doesn’t exist. The facts of the case are all being presented by Zimmerman, who has an obvious interest in those facts producing a particular outcome.

  62. #62 |  nigmalg | 

    We don’t put people in jail for that Sam. The absence of evidence, even when do to a unfortunate circumstance, isn’t evidence of guilt. We can’t have the conversation in relation to Martin because it would be almost 100% speculation.

  63. #63 |  Sam | 

    Which is precisely the objection: this situation is weighted HEAVILY in favor of Zimmerman, who might have murdered an unarmed teenager in cold blood. Frankly, he is being given an advantage because he killed Martin, which is before you even start to account for the unbelievably shoddy investigation.

  64. #64 |  zendingo | 

    @54: well said…..

    @59: i love how zimmermans own 911 recording of him saying that he was following trayvon as trayvon ran away and the testimony of trayvons girlfriend, DeeDee, who heard zimmerman start the physical confrontation doesn’t count as evidence of george zimmerman starting the fight, i’m guessing anything that might contradict george zimmermans story is false and should be discounted, right?

  65. #65 |  nigmalg | 

    You’re right Sam, he might have murdered Martin. But if the State can’t introduce evidence to show that, then Zimmerman rightfully walks.

    Right now the little evidence that we do have appears to support Zimmerman’s testimony. I understand that his testimony is almost meaningless; however, we can’t ignore the eye witness and the injuries. If the “crime maps” are accurate at all, that casts even more doubt on the murder charge.

  66. #66 |  nigmalg | 

    Zendingo,

    I haven’t heard that Zimmerman’s girlfriend testified that Zimmerman started a fight. Do you have a link/citation for that?

  67. #67 |  Sam | 

    Nigmalg,

    What evidence are you relying on?

  68. #68 |  nigmalg | 

    I mentioned it in my previous comment. I feel that the injuries, the witness, and corresponding account of him mentioning he yelled for help and having grass stains are relevant. The investigators were seemingly unable to impeach his testimony after interviewing the witness.

    Although I would take interest in his GF’s interview about him having started a fight with Martin. Did she make any official statements about that to the police?

  69. #69 |  zendingo | 

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-arrest-now-abc-reveals-crucial-phone/story?id=15959017

    google trayvon martins girlfriend phone call, t-mobile confirms that call occurred but since it contradicts george zimmermans story it must be false…..

  70. #70 |  Eric Y | 

    Physical evidence should exist. His injuries should be documented somewhere in a case file at the police station. After all, Zimmerman’s story better match up with his injury or we have a serious inconsistency in his story. I am not sure if there was an autopsy on Martin but there exists photos which should show, or show an absence of stippling on the wound typical of a close-range discharge of a firearm which would support the idea of a physical struggle.

    As of now, we have yet to hear fully from all the various witnesses and none of their stories have been cross-examined to see if it stands up to scrutiny and if any detals overlap. While eyewitness testimony can be factually biased or erroneous, it might be the best evidence available unless there is additional physical evidence the public isn’t privvy to (quite probable).

  71. #71 |  Some Questions | 

    65: She (DeeDee) never said that, at least not initially. She said the call was dropped, right before she heard her boyfriend say what do you want or why are you following me, and she speculated it was hit out of Trayvon’s here. Zimmerman confirms this more or less and said that Trayvon said , “Do you have a problem?” and then said “you do now” before suckerpunching him.

    DeeDee is a) not there b) trying to figure out what happened from a muffled fuzzy phone call and c) is obviously highly biased in favor of Trayvon for understandable reasons and d) spoke to Ben Crump and media before speaking to police. John, by contrast, is a neutral by all accounts who described who was where and what they were wearing and who was screaming. It is an unusual and good thing we have an eyewitness here, as that is unusual in a self defense case. Without him, this would admittedly be a harder case.

    The exact details of this or any other alleged crime will probably never be known with absolute certainty. But it’s fairly certain we have more than reasonable doubt here.

  72. #72 |  Some Questions | 

    Also Crump is slick and ABC is irresponsible. They say the parents” listened to the call” and talk about the “details of the call,” but this is details of a call related to Crump by DeeDee before she spoke to police and the wild-eyed Angela Corey. DeeDee’s secondhand account is being treated as if the call were recorded and as if were crystal clear gospel, but it was not, even by their account. It’s her memory of a call now intermingled with her memories of everything in the news, what she was coached to say by Crump, etc.

  73. #73 |  Popeye | 

    But what’s happened in the last couple weeks doesn’t feel like justice.

    Really? What happened in the last couple weeks — a guy who killed an unarmed teenager within a few hundred feet of the kid’s home finally got arrested? Now he’ll face a trial where a jury will go through various bits of evidence and his lawyer will defend him. That seems like justice to me.

    Without the public outcry, Zimmerman never gets arrested at all. I don’t know about you, but that really doesn’t feel like justice to me.

  74. #74 |  zendingo | 

    @70
    link please, i’ve never heard the version you claim. since the fact that trayvon was on the phone with deedee as the confrontation began i’ve all ways read her testimony to be:

    “Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”

    if you have a source listing her as saying something other than what is posted, please share.

  75. #75 |  Sam | 

    Okay, so we can’t believe any evidence that might benefit Martin, but we can believe every single thing that might benefit Zimmerman. Got it.

  76. #76 |  Leonard | 

    #56: wagist.com has maps that are very helpful in clarifying what happened where. (See this post in particular.)

    Martin could have run home in 20 seconds. He could have strolled home in 2 minutes between he had lost Zimmerman, and the shooting. So how was it that Martin and Zimmerman managed to co-locate, near Zimmerman’s SUV? The most obvious explanation is that Martin doubled back to confront Zimmerman.

  77. #77 |  nigmalg | 

    “Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”

    Alright, if her testimony is 100% accurate, then it would appear that Zimmerman “caught up” to Martin and questioned what he was doing there. Then the line went dead during what sounded like a scuffle.

    Did Zimmerman state that he didn’t approach Martin?

  78. #78 |  zendingo | 

    @73, now you’re getting it!

  79. #79 |  nigmalg | 

    Another possibility is that Martin did double back to meet Zimmerman, as he’s the first to ask Zimmerman the question of “What are you following me for?”.

  80. #80 |  nigmalg | 

    The entire case really does come down to who initiated the aggression. And that is completely unprovable.

  81. #81 |  Some Questions | 

    Cops and prosecutors choose not to prosecute all the time for a lack of evidence, evidence of a strong affirmative defense, etc. This is justice; this is an important protection. Prosecutors are supposed to drop cases where they have serious doubt. Any reasonable prosecutor–like the original prosecutor–would not pursue a murder charge here. At most, manslaughter. But it’s not there job to roll the dice with a screwy case. They have an ethical obligation to pursue justice, not merely to win, and part of that pursuit requries looking out for the innocent.

    Imagine it did go down the way Zimmerman said, but there was no eyewitness. It would be much tougher for him. He would probably get arrested by the great majority of prosecutors. But that’s what often happens in a life or death situation, and people sometimes do long prison sentences on account of it (or die because they hesitate). Unfortunately w e don’t have a perfect lie detector; we have to work with the facts as we find them, and thus the system is rightly tilted in favor of the accused.

  82. #82 |  Radley Balko | 

    With all due respect, if Zimmerman instigated the confrontation

    There’s no law against following on a public sidewalk or public street someone whom you think is suspicious. There’s no law against calling the police because you find that person suspicious, even if you’re explicitly racially profiling. Yes, Zimmerman by all appearances was wrong about Martin, and Martin is dead because of that. And that’s awful. But there’s a difference between a tragedy with moral culpability, and a crime. Unless there’s evidence we haven’t seen showing that Zimmerman started a physical confrontation, or that he was unreasonable in thinking his life was in danger when he shot Martin, he isn’t guilty of any crime.

  83. #83 |  Some Questions | 

    78/79 Wagist and others have suggested there were two conversations, an initial one with DeeDee on the line and another one at Point F on the wagist map. This makes the most sense of the various chronologies provided.

  84. #84 |  Gary McGath | 

    A news item on CNN claims that forensic audio analysis shows there’s a 48% likelihood that the voice calling for help was Zimmerman’s, yet in the same paragraph has audio experts saying there’s a “huge chance” the voice isn’t his. I don’t know whether to call this bias for or against him. My guess is that the writer turned a 48% correlation, or some such esoteric statistic, into a probability, and the writer didn’t bother to notice that a 48% probability would be nearly even odds.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/02/justice/florida-teen-shooting/?hpt=hp_c1

  85. #85 |  Sam | 

    Radley,

    You know that evidence can never exist, because you know that Martin is dead. If Martin lived, he could tell his side of the story but he didn’t, so the entire situation is to Zimmerman’s advantage. The law essentially rewards Zimmerman for having killed Martin, because it throws up its hands in frustration. That isn’t justice.

  86. #86 |  Miroker | 

    A little off topic, but some of you people seem to be stuck in the 1940′s the way you write your comments in such a manner that a KKK member would be proud of.

  87. #87 |  nigmalg | 

    Sam,

    Testimony is not the only factor in a criminal investigation. There are a ton of other forensics including injuries, powder burns, residue, blood & DNA, casings, disturbed earth, etc..

    Zimmerman is either an incredibly lucky murderer, the police destroyed a crime scene, or he’s telling the truth. In either one of those scenarios, he’s walks.

  88. #88 |  nigmalg | 

    Miroker,

    Any comment in particular?

  89. #89 |  Robert | 

    Sam,

    “Are you willing to consider the possibility that Zimmerman instigated the confrontation, then murdered Martin? Is that even a possibility in your mind, or is it plainly and simply that Martin attacked the man with the gun and then shot him?”

    Well, we have a few different scenarios.

    1: Middle Age Zimmerman chases down a running football player Martin after Martin has broken contact, and manages to get to fisticuff range, and then shoots Martin when he starts loosing the fight. Highly unlikely.

    2: Martin runs at first, and Zimmerman stops following him after dispatcher suggests that they don’t need him to do that. Zimmerman repsonds “OK” and his breathing on the 911 tape becomes more normal, and he begins to retun to his truck and he states to the 911 operator that he will meet the police there. Martin doubles back and comes to close range with Zimmerman (who is not displaying a weapon) and a confrontation begins. Unknown who starts physical action. Most likely scenario from available data.

    2a: Martin doubles back and comes into close range contact with Zimmerman who IS displaying his weapon: Highly unlikely.

  90. #90 |  Eric Y | 

    An instigator doesn’t mean everything falls in their lap. There are differejt degrees of escalation, which is important to point out. If someone at a bar instigated a confrontation with you by shoving you around and you take a swing in return, you’re typically at least half to blame because you reciprocated in kind. You might even be more to blame since you escalated the situation. This is especially true if the instigator attempts to disengage. There are scenarios one can create which would satisfy any number of conclusions and most of them are plausible.

    We don’t know who started what and who escalated what in the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman. Following someone in a public space isn’t necessarily an aggression. People like private investigators and paparazzi make a living following folks. Likewise, you have no legal or ethical obligation to do what 911 requests of you. They won’t ever suggest you take an active role, even if someone is breaking into your bedroom and you have no choice but to fight. If you want a case where someone blatantly disregards 911, look up the audio of Joe Horn’s call to 911 while he blasts away two burglars on his neighbor’s property.

  91. #91 |  Medicine Man | 

    I think you pretty much nailed it, Mr. Balko. They need to determine to what extent Zimmerman was actually threatened during his encounter with Martin. It seems that the entire situation has gotten screwed sideways because some of the local uniforms didn’t want to do their due diligence and now the prosecutor has embraced the spectacle for whatever reason (career, politics?).

    It’s frustrating because I really only want to know the truth at this point. Was Zimmerman short a few screws and opened fire on the boogyman in his head? Did Martin have a stupid teenager moment and decide to jump the guy who was following him? Are we going to have any confidence in what the court tells us happened?

    Fucked if I know.

  92. #92 |  Jay | 

    “Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”

    Alright, if her testimony is 100% accurate, then it would appear that Zimmerman “caught up” to Martin and questioned what he was doing there. Then the line went dead during what sounded like a scuffle.

    Did Zimmerman state that he didn’t approach Martin?

    Nigmalg,

    I don’t really find the girlfriend to be credible, for the reasons listed, and also because I don’t believe that anyone, with any certainty, could possibly say with any accuracy what she did, about him falling as a result of being pushed, or anything else. It also doesn’t lend her any credibility that she spoke to the lawyer before police.

  93. #93 |  Burgers Allday | 

    It certainly seems like Zimmerman wanted to have Martin unjustly arrested. The evidence on that point is strong, and legally it amounts to malice.

    Now maybe a citizen who is inexperienced at calling the police might not realize that they cannot call the police at every little suspicion. Some people learn that the hard way.

    However, with 45 calls under his belt I think it is clear that Zimmerman knew both that the police had no good reason to detain Martin, but he wanted them to anyway.

    People want some kind of blanket rule that calling the police cannot be evidence of an evil motive. But it is. It may not be “conclusive evidence” or “dispositive evidence,” but it is stronger evidence than anything else we have been offerred or are likely to be offerred.

  94. #94 |  lunchstealer | 

    “There’s no law against following on a public sidewalk or public street someone whom you think is suspicious. There’s no law against calling the police because you find that person suspicious, even if you’re explicitly racially profiling.”

    The idea that a murder charge is supported by the facts as I have seen them is laughable, but I don’t think a manslaughter charge is much of a stretch.

    That Zimmerman’s behavior prior to the fight is not explicitly illegal doesn’t, to my layman’s mind, necessarily rule out a manslaughter charge. Manslaughter is ‘reckless’ behavior that leads to a death, not criminal behavior.

    Good people can disagree on the degree to which Zimmerman’s actions were negligent or reckless. I think they were – Martin’s behavior as described by Zimmerman is certainly enough to call the cops to come investigate, but not really enough to go chasing someone. He had no rational reason to suspect actual wrongdoing, so chasing was not necessary, and chasing someone is a pretty aggressive and intimidating action. Being needlessly aggressive seems reckless to me. And the single point on which I agree with the prosecutor is that his “These assholes always get away” and “Fucking punks” statements do show a certain level of letting his emotions get away from him, which would support the idea that he was behaving recklessly.

    Now, if Florida law allows the aggressor to use deadly force in the face of a significant escalation, that would seem to close the book on getting a reasonable conviction. It’s hardly implausible that Martin might get carried away in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, that’s probably where Florida’s self-defense law is inappropriate. Starting a fight that gets out of hand is reckless behavior, and if that fight then results in a death, that absolutely SHOULD be something you are criminally liable for, regardless of whether you legitimately feared for your life. That should be manslaughter if the opposite number escalates, and murder otherwise.

  95. #95 |  Burgers Allday | 

    (2) OTHER CRIMES, WRONGS, OR ACTS.—
    (a) Similar fact evidence of other crimes, wrongs,
    or acts is admissible when relevant to prove a material
    fact in issue, including, but not limited to, proof of
    motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowl­
    edge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident, but it
    is inadmissible when the evidence is relevant solely to
    prove bad character or propensity.

  96. #96 |  lunchstealer | 

    I’ll amend my previous statement, where I say “Martin’s behavior as described by Zimmerman is certainly enough to call the cops to come investigate….” I don’t think it’s certainly enough, more like possibly. It’s certainly not enough to go chasing him.

  97. #97 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Thanks, lunchstealer. I was tempted to call you out on that.

  98. #98 |  Some Questions | 

    93: Why did he necessarily want the cops to arrest Martin? How is that malic? What universe are you in to think that? Maybe he wanted him investigated? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do when we see suspicious behavior in a neighborhood experiencing tons of burglaries 8 of 8 of those arrested for which in the two years before the incident were black?

    If cops said, “actually he’s staying here with his dad and his dad’s fiancee,” do you really think Zimmerman wanted him arrested?

    Anyway, Martin has a bad character by all accounts: graffiti, burglary at school, beating up bus drivers, talking like a thuggish punk with no respect for anyone including whites and women at his No Limit N****A twitter account, etc. Some of this is just forgivable and juvenile, but three suspensions is far more than juvenile. It happens when you’re an out of control character, possibly sociopathic, and at the very least young, dumb, and aggressive. In any case, it’s far more plausible to me this “don’t diss me” aggressive young man who ran a fight club threw the first punch than a 28 year old homeowner with a CHL and no serious criminal record.

    And, oh yeah, THAT’S WHAT THE ONLY EYEWITENSS TO THE CRIME SAID TOO.

  99. #99 |  nigmalg | 

    Burgers,

    Don’t forget about that last bit of your criminal procedure citation. “…but it is inadmissible when the evidence is relevant solely to prove bad character or propensity.”

    “It certainly seems like Zimmerman wanted to have Martin unjustly arrested. The evidence on that point is strong, and legally it amounts to malice.”

    I don’t even know where to start with this. Are you looking to hang this guy so badly that you’re going to define calling the police as malice? I suppose if he’s not guilty of murder or manslaughter we can always fall back to nabbing him for harassment..

  100. #100 |  RKF | 

    I am an attorney but my experience is only on the civil side. My local paper, but Tampa Bay Times, has detailed a series of cases, from a lay perspective, in which it seems surprising in that someone who “initiated the confrontation”, and I appreciated that factual issue remains in doubt here, was able to successfully use the “stand your ground” defense.

    That said, my brief understanding of the law is that you cannot use it if you are doing anything illegal at the time. I have wondered, and I concede this is nothing but speculation, if the prosecution’s “theory” is that Zimmerman had falsely imprisoned Martin and was thus not able to use the defense.

    I state that based upon my reading of the probable cause affidavit. It seems to emphasize that Zimmerman was frustrated that Martin is going to “get away” and that he continued to try to find him, apparently due to Zimmerman’s fear that Martin would “get away” even after being told police were on the way.

    Accepting what appeared to be the uncontroversial facts, i.e., the call transcripts, and the fact that Zimmerman continued to pursue Martin, even if just to monitor him, after being told police were on the way and that it was unnecessary, suggests to me that there was a confrontation in which Zimmerman attempted to tell Martin he was not free to leave but had to wait for the police to due to being suspicious. Obviously, we don’t know what was actually articulated, but, query, presuming that is what occurred, does that disqualify Zimmerman’s ability to use the defense?

    Here is the statutory language:

    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    Two things jump out my admittedly untrained mind doing that statutory language. First, if and when the defense must “not [be] engaged in unlawful activity.” Again, presuming that Zimmerman attempted to detain, does that disqualify his invocation of the defense? Second, first to meeting “force with force”? So does he have to prove that Martin attempted to use force on him? It seems that he must, and obviously so his testimony. However, that does seem to require that, regardless of who started the confrontation” the defense must prove that the other side attempt to use force on them.

    Here are a couple of potentially relevant annotations:

    Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon qualifies as “unlawful activity” within the meaning of the Stand Your Ground law, providing that the “no duty to retreat” applies only where a person is not engaged in an unlawful activity. Dorsey v. State, App. 4 Dist., 74 So.3d 521 (2011), rehearing denied.

    Retreat by victim

    Defendant was not entitled to immunity from prosecution for aggravated assault under statute that provided immunity when protecting a residence, where, at the time deadly force was used by defendant, victim was not inside defendant’s garage or in the process of entering it, rather, victim was retreating from defendant’s garage to his vehicle. State v. Heckman, App. 2 Dist., 993 So.2d 1004 (2007). Assault And Battery 69

  101. #101 |  BamBam | 

    How quickly everyone has forgotten their rage about Sgt Bales and the story we’re to believe about him murdering 16 innocent Afghan villagers all by himself with no knowledge by anyone else.

  102. #102 |  Art | 

    Zimmerman initiated the aggression, Martin chose to Stand his Ground. Perhaps after the fight started, nothing prior matters, but we charge DUI drivers involved in deadly accidents with murder when they obviously had no intention of killing anyone, just a display of depraved indifference according to the law.

  103. #103 |  Some Questions | 

    Is asking someone if they live in a neighborhood “initiating aggression” Art? What about just talking to someone, “Hey, good morning?” What about offending someone? Can we do that; can I go up to blacks and say “I hope Obama loses” or “Zimmerman’s innocent” without giving them legal license to pound me into a coma?

    This story is the apotheosis of liberal tyranny; the line to “Thought Crimes” is not far off. We have replaced the old rule of KKK in hoods not with fairness or sensible color-blindness, but by black mob rule and veiled threates of violence undertaken by people wearing hoodies. And Obama and Holder and Angela Corey are all too cowardly to say, “This is a bunch of BS. This has nothing to do with me and shouldn’t be a national case.”

  104. #104 |  Zargon | 

    #85

    You know that evidence can never exist, because you know that Martin is dead. If Martin lived, he could tell his side of the story but he didn’t, so the entire situation is to Zimmerman’s advantage. The law essentially rewards Zimmerman for having killed Martin, because it throws up its hands in frustration. That isn’t justice.

    It certainly is a cruel world we live in, where the only admissible evidence in court is the testimony of those directly involved, which explains why no murderer has ever been convicted of their crime.

    Yes, the fact that one of the witnesses is dead makes determining the truth harder. Who’s throwing up their hands in frustration again?

  105. #105 |  Art | 

    Reply:
    Some Questions | April 16th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    93: Why did he necessarily want the cops to arrest Martin? How is that malic? What universe are you in to think that? Maybe he wanted him investigated? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do when we see suspicious behavior in a neighborhood experiencing tons of burglaries 8 of 8 of those arrested for which in the two years before the incident were black?

    8 burglaries in the prior 15 months is hardly a crime wave.

  106. #106 |  RKF | 

    Let me mention one other thing about the fact that there is no nearby “7-11”. I don’t know about the Miami or Orlando area, but I grew up in Tampa, and for many a year, 7-11 was the only convenience store around, and they dominated. Thus, it is common to refer to all convenience stores as 7-11s, and close to the same manner that we refer to all tissues as Kleenexes. I’m curious where the reference to 7-11 originated, as it could’ve been used generically

  107. #107 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Sam,

    Maybe you want to live under a system where Zimmerman – AND ANYBODY IN A SIMILAR POSITION – is considered guilty until proven innocent. I don’t. I suspect that very few people do. It runs against the tradition of British Common Law, which is the basis of our legal system. It also runs toward the legal systems of most of the horrific mass murdering regimes of the 20th century.

    Yes, if Zimmerman instigated a confrontation hoping the kid would punch him out so he could shoot the kid, he is likely to get away with it. Suck it up. It’s an improvement on the alternative.

  108. #108 |  ben tillman | 

    People are very unfamiliar with the nuances of self-defense laws. Even criminal trial lawyers aren’t very familiar because, let’s face it, they normally defend criminals. Mounting a criminal defense is completely different than a self-defense defense. Self-defense is typically an affirmative defense. You admit to homicide. Now you have to prove that it was justifiable homicide.

    I’m a lawyer (not a criminal lawyer) who passed the Georgia and Texas bars, and I presumed this was the case. However, it turns out that in Flotida the defendant does not have the burden of proof on self-defense. He has an initial burden of production requiring him to introduce evidence supporting the claim of self-defense, but if he does so the state then has to disprove his self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt. See here:

    http://www.ohioverticals.com/blogs/akron_law_cafe/2012/04/zimmermans-low-burden-of-proof-on-the-issue-of-self-defense/

  109. #109 |  Some Questions | 

    There’s like 100 houses in that little neighborhood. Seems like a lot to me. More important, my main point was that it wasn’t unreasonable to call cops to investigate under those circumstances. And . . .yes . . . Trayvon’s race made him more suspicious than an old white lady or even a young white kid of the same age, though Zimmerman called cops on whites too, and didn’t recognize Trayvon, though he probably recognized everyone in that small neighborhood.

    Art, have you owned a home? You tend to take more pride in and care about the community more when you do.

  110. #110 |  nylon_string | 

    Thank you, Radley Balko. Totally agree. “I think there’s plenty of history to support that sentiment. But we can’t hang all of the inequities of the criminal justice system on George Zimmerman. He deserves to be tried only on the facts specific to his case. Even gung-ho, wannabe cops deserve due process, and a fair crack at justice.”

  111. #111 |  Eric Y | 

    Almost everywhere I look, people already have a conclusion and they’re on a snipe hunt to pick only tidbits that support their conclusion. People seem afraid to say, “I don’t know”. The folks that work as expert witnesses and folks who have gone through self-defense trials themselves are tearing their hair out at all this ridiculosity which transcends sciciopolitical beliefs. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be amusing.

  112. #112 |  Eric Y | 

    #108, is Corey specifically saying that applies to self-defense in general or specifically the Stand Your Ground statute? Because that initial paragraph seems vague. The idea of proving a negative seems very strange to me and nothing Zimmerman has said in his own defense brings SYG into play.

  113. #113 |  Art | 

    | Some Questions
    The HOA says 260 homes.

    Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that Martin had run off, and Zimmerman exited his vehicle in pursuit. He chased the kid. Thats aggressive stalking. I would have confronted him too.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/us/trayvon-martin-shooting-prompts-a-review-of-ideals.html?_r=3&hp=&pagewanted=all|

  114. #114 |  Cynical in New York | 

    One theory I’ve seen on the 2nd degree murder charge was it was brought to cover the initial botched investigate by the local cops while fully knowing that 2nd degree murder charge was not going to follow through but just to give a dog and pony show to the family. With such a charge failing Corey can just throw her hands up and say “sorry we tried” and be “free” of any criticism of being lackluster in the case.

    The other theory is that the murder charge was originally intended to scare Zimmerman into taking a manslaughter plea vs facing a jury.

    If Zimmerman is convicted which again I don’t see happening because actual justice went out the window weeks ago. Zimmerman and his lawyers can simply point to Corey praying with the Martin family and call for a mistrial.

  115. #115 |  nigmalg | 

    “Zimmerman initiated the aggression.”

    Finally. Case closed. Due to your infinite wisdom and indisputable recollection of the previously unknown events, we can all stop posting about it.

  116. #116 |  nigmalg | 

    “He chased the kid. Thats aggressive stalking.”

    We don’t know *how* he followed the kid. We don’t know if it was in an aggressive fashion. Zimmerman admitted to “following” Martin, not chasing him.

    “I would have confronted him too. ”

    Would you have struck the person following you as well?

  117. #117 |  Art | 

    nigmalg | April 16th, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    “Zimmerman initiated the aggression.”

    Finally. Case closed. Due to your infinite wisdom and indisputable recollection of the previously unknown events, we can all stop posting about it.
    ________________________________________________________________
    That is a fact. He followed Martin in his car and pursued Martin on foot. That is the proximate cause of the altercation. “Were it not for the actions of the defendant…” Martin would be alive. As I said, once the fight started, I dont know how important the preceding events are in the construct of a self defense claim.

  118. #118 |  Art | 

    Zimmerman can be heard on the 911 tapes chasing Martin on foot. That is not in dispute.

    I dont have to run away, I can Stand my Ground, and confront the person following me with impunity. And I would. And I would be armed, just like always.

  119. #119 |  nigmalg | 

    Nonsense Art.

    Name for us the crime you’ve committed by following someone. And if you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to see the Florida Statute backing it up.

    Do we need to have the butterfly effect conversation regarding “If not for the defendants action” bullshit charges? Why about the guy running from the cops on foot being charged for the murder of an officer carelessly rushing to the scene in his patrol car? It’s never as simple as you make it seem. There are literally hundreds of variables that change every moment in a situation like this.

    How are cops and security guards not getting constantly knocked out for following individuals in the various malls and parking lots? They deserved it right?

    “I dont have to run away, I can Stand my Ground, and confront the person following me with impunity. And I would. And I would be armed, just like always.”

    You are right that you don’t have to run away. But if you engage someone who is following you with violence first, you’re the aggressor, not them. You are allowed to meet “force with force”. Follow them in response, if you’d like.

  120. #120 |  Some Questions | 

    This proximite cause argument is bogus. You have a right to do anything illegal before something illegal happens. If Zimmerman didn’t leave his house it wouldn’t have happened either. Martin’s legal culpability can’t be fully imposed on Zimerman; he has to take responsibility for his own actions, including any physical acts or phsical escalation. You may not liek it, but it’s a question of law; there are legal standards of self defense here. Proximitely causing something, as in “but for” causation ain’t it. You have to cause something illegal by intentionally doing something illegal. Zimmerman can talk to Martin and Martin can talk back. Obviously, there is some possibility there may have been a mutual mistake even–perhaps Trayvon was scared and preemptively struck, like a George W of the alleyway–but sucker punching him, as alleged by Zimmerman, and pounding his head into concrete sounds disproportionate, even if he was a little scared. People talk to people, ask people questions, and this is not that scary in a normal neighborhood.

    Seriously is it so hard to believe a hotheaded 17 year old young man would start swinging without thinking about consequences because he felt dissed?

  121. #121 |  Some Questions | 

    Oops should be “anything legal” in first sentence above.

  122. #122 |  nigmalg | 

    The strangest scenario here is that there was an altercation at all… I can’t see why Martin or Zimmerman would turn this into a fight. It just doesn’t sound logical at all.

    Martin would really double back to attack Zimmerman? Why risk that? He didn’t even know who Zimmerman was.

    The same applies to Zimmerman. Why would the “community watchman” violently attack someone who he didn’t know and thought may have been armed? It’s just as unlikely.

    Either scenario hurts my brain.

  123. #123 |  Some Questions | 

    I think why Martin might confront Zimmerman is pretty obvious: he’s young, he’s aggressive, he feels this guy is disrespecting him, and he wants to show off what a man he was.

    And even the alternate scenario is pretty easy to see: Zimmerman thinks this guy is up to no good, is about to get away, and he maybe wanted to keep him around until the cops showed up. He thought he could stall, but perhaps Martin got mouthy. Thinks escalated.

    The former strikes me as more plausible, since Zimmerman had a gun and knew he had a gun, and also knew the cops were coming. Fight of any kind equals someone’s getting arrested more often than not. Also, you might think that would make you more aggressive, but, as a CHL holder, it makes me far less confrontational. Once you have a gun, every fight is a gunfight, since your gun can always be taken and used against you. I’m not a huge fistfighter, but I’m much less inclined to risk that when I’m packing.

  124. #124 |  nigmalg | 

    Some Questions,

    The guy who you’re worried was reaching for his waistband and acting funny seems like a perfect target to detain? With no “backup”? I just can’t see it.

    Or I just live in a protective bubble of neighborly behavior. I don’t see people running around punching each other indiscriminately.

    I’ve been jumped by a group of people before. Even when their motives were clear (robbery), the violence took a bit of a ramp up; it wasn’t immediate.

  125. #125 |  Goober | 

    Sam – I’m curious what you are suggesting that we do about your concern that we are only getting Zimmerman’s side fo the story.

    Trayvon is unfortunately dead, so no one gets to hear his side, and yes, Zimmerman is probably benefitting from that.

    So what should we do about it?

    Should we make up Trayvon’s side of the story and give him a voice, even if it is a total fabrication? Should we just assume that in any situation where a person dies and we don’t get his side of the story, that the survivor of the incident is lying and spinning a story in his own benefit and put him in jail?

    I truly don’t understand what you’re getting at, here. What, exactly, do you want to do about it?

    We’ve heard the complaining. Believe me, we’ve all heard it. But what I’ve not heard from you or anyone like you is WHAT ARE YOU SUGGESTING WE DO ABOUT IT?

  126. #126 |  Robert | 

    Art,

    “Zimmerman can be heard on the 911 tapes chasing Martin on foot. That is not in dispute. ”

    It is not in dispute that Zimmerman exited his vehicle to attempt to ascertain where Martin had run off, and also that he ceased doing so when the dispatcher told him it was not needed, and that he told the dispatcher that he was returning to his vehicle to wait for the officers. At that point he was no longer “chasing”, “following”, “pursuing”, “stalking”, or any other loaded word that you choose to use.

  127. #127 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Eric Y.

    I am perfectly happy to say I don’t know. Further, I doubt anybody but Zimmerman knows, and given what I have read about the aftermath of such encounters I suspect that Zimmerman probably isn’t any too sure.

    What do I know? I know that the people who are interested in convicting Zimmerman are happy to blow the “You should never confront a criminal, that what the police are for” horn. Which is too bad, because it isn’t true. The Supreme Court has made a series of rulings to the effect that the Police are for investigating AFTER THE FACT, not catching criminals at the scene. I know that the “poor little boy gunned down by a white bigot” crowd have introduced several deliberate falsehoods to the narrative. Maybe Zimmerman’s version of events is also largely fabricated and they are merely as bad as Zimmerman. They aren’t any better, no matter what. I know that several people learned in the customs of the Law say that the Indictment is an inexcusably sloppy and arguably unethical piece of dung.

    And so far I haven’t seen anybody on the “Damn Zimmerman” side who actually knows even THAT much.

  128. #128 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Oh, I know one more thing;

    In the absence of evidence that has not yet been introduced, if Zimmerman is a lying sack of sh*t and shot that kid in cold blood, for the good of the Law (and for NO OTHER REASON) he should get away with it. We do not want a State that feels justified in convicting somebody of murder on no better evidence than I have seen plus the conviction that he’s a bad person. And anybody who thinks otherwise, frankly hasn’t thought about it at all. They may have emoted, but they haven’t thought.

    I refer you to the passage from A MAN FROM ALL SEASONS about the Law and the Devil.

  129. #129 |  Xenocles | 

    “The law essentially rewards Zimmerman for having killed Martin, because it throws up its hands in frustration. That isn’t justice.”

    Rewards? Have you ever been to jail?

    You’re essentially complaining that he’s going to walk because of a lack of evidence. Unless you want to make the claim that we should convict based on intuition or feeling, the result seems to me to be as just as is possible. You do your best to find out, but if in the end you don’t know, you don’t convict. That’s the way it should be, because even though sometimes it produces the “wrong” answer it’s better than all the other possible methods.

    A radio caller in DC the other day said that justice would be “a bullet in Zimmerman’s head.” Is that what you’re after?

  130. #130 |  ben tillman | 

    Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that Martin had run off, and Zimmerman exited his vehicle in pursuit. He chased the kid. Thats aggressive stalking. I would have confronted him too.

    Wonderful.

    And completely irrelevant.

    What matters is who was the first to use illegal force. Confronting someone isn’t illegal and it’s not force.

  131. #131 |  Art | 

    Zimmerman confronted Martin and at some point, perhaps after Zimmerman tried to brandish his weapon, a fight began. Zimmerman attempted to be a real life barney Fife, with predictable results. Now, his life is over. He cant ever live a normal life or have a regular job.

  132. #132 |  CTD | 

    ” But there’s a difference between a tragedy with moral culpability, and a crime.”

    Well-said. But you must know by now that virtually nobody in our society believes this. Someone must be punished.

  133. #133 |  Eric Y | 

    You would “Stand Your Ground” if someone followed you? You can’t invoke SYG unless you were in reasonable fear that you were under immediate threat of death or great bodily injury.

  134. #134 |  Eric Y | 

    SYG simply expands the lattitude on justifiable homicide that if, in a confrontation there was a path of escape, you aren’t legally obligated to make an attempt to escape and you can “stand your ground”. The rationale behind using lethal force still has to pass the legal sniff test under what is commonly called the reasonable man doctrine, or some variation thereof.

  135. #135 |  Art | 

    SYG merely means that I have no duty to retreat. I am free to confront the other person, and defend myself with any force required to prevent the use of force upon me, or to prevent a forcible felony.

  136. #136 |  Some Questions | 

    “Now, his life is over. He cant ever live a normal life or have a regular job.”

    And if he didn’t shoot Trayvon, perhaps he’d be dead or in a coma. It happens all the time. Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, Bro.

  137. #137 |  Art | 

    Zimmerman wont survive incarceration.

    Better to abide by the Neighborhood Watch guidelines and leave crime fighting to the pros. The cell phone in the hand of a grandma is a better crime fighting tool than a gun in the hand of an amateur.

  138. #138 |  Some Questions | 

    He was doing fine–both legally and from a gunhandling perspective–until Al Sharpton and company all got involved.

    PS Where’d your proximate cause brilliance go, Art? I mean if Zimmerman was never born, this never would have happened! Though this doesn’t mean Trayvon wouldn’t have been shot or ended up in jail at some point judging by his No Limit N****A lifestyle.

  139. #139 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I don’t even know where to start with this. Are you looking to hang this guy so badly that you’re going to define calling the police as malice? I suppose if he’s not guilty of murder or manslaughter we can always fall back to nabbing him for harassment.

    No. I mean exactly what I sed I mean. I will not form any opinion on his guilt or innocence until I hear every one of those 45 calls.

    What is funny about the comments section is how afraid alls, y’all, are afraid of hearing the calls. The way the pd and prosecutor’s office is acting so far, I get the distinct impression that they don’t want us to hear those calls. They may get their way in the end. If Z. doesn’t want us to hear the calls and the prosecutor’s office doesn’t want us to hear those calls, then it is unlikely the judge is going to demand, on a sua sponte basis that that evidence will be heard.

    But, that means nothing for us, the truth-loving members of the American public. We want to hear all the calls (or at least let a critical mass of people hear them and blog about them) because we know that they are as likely to suggest that Z. was good as they are likely to suggest he is bad. At least in theory. Nothing would prove Z.’s innocence to me more than 45 cool, calm collected calls to the police, heard in their respective entireties, with no calls left on the proverbial cutting room floor.

  140. #140 |  Radley Balko | 

    I’m not “afraid” to hear the calls. I don’t have any skin in this game. I’d like to see them released, just in the interest of getting as much information out as possible.

    I just doubt that they’re relevant to Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.

  141. #141 |  Radley Balko | 

    Though this doesn’t mean Trayvon wouldn’t have been shot or ended up in jail at some point judging by his No Limit N****A lifestyle.

    And with one sentence, you undermine everything else you’ve written by revealing yourself to be a racist asshole.

    Nice work.

  142. #142 |  Some Questions | 

    That was his Twitter handle; he wanted to be call that. How’s it racist to call him what he called himself, just curious? I didn’t pick that name. He did, and it wasn’t just a teenage joke but part of a broader pattern of disrespect for authority and lawbreaking and general contempt for basic moral standards as best I can tell. Teenage rebellion? A thug in the bud? We’ll never know.

  143. #143 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @140: Yes, I didn’t mean you Mr. Balko. Sorry about the overly broad statement. Look at it this way: better to hear the calls and decide they mean nothing, then to not hear the calls and decide they mean nothing. That is the part some of the others seem afraid of. When layppl start to cry for the exclusion of “other bad acts” evidence, then you KNOW the world has gotten topsy turvy.

    What if Trayvon lived and then sued Z. for stalking and attacking him. Z. defended by saying that he wasn’t trying to follow Trayvon with an improper purpose (that is, harrassment). Would you still exclude the calls as irrelevant in that sort of civil suit?

  144. #144 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @140: Yes, I didn’t mean you Mr. Balko. Sorry about the overly broad statement. Look at it this way: better to hear the calls and decide they mean nothing, then to not hear the calls and decide they mean nothing. That is the part some of the others seem afraid of. When layppl start to cry for the exclusion of “other bad acts” evidence, then you KNOW the world has gotten topsy turvy.

    What if Trayvon lived and then sued Z. for stalking and attacking him. Z. defended by saying that he wasn’t trying to follow Trayvon with an improper purpose (that is, harrassment). Would you still exclude the calls as irrelevant in that sort of civil suit?

  145. #145 |  MAK | 

    “By meeting with Martin’s family, praying with them, and implying in her press conference that she immediately saw them as the victim’s family, she gave the impression that she had made up her mind before she started investigating.”

    I don’t know about that. Regardless of Zimmerman’s (or Trayvon’s) degree of culpability, the Martins are still the parents of the dead teenager. They’ve suffered a horrible and tragic loss, and offering them sympathy (and prayer, if that’s what you do), doesn’t seem at all out of line or incompatible with keeping an open mind as to the degree of criminality of this particular homicide. Immediately after Angela Corey stated she prayed with the Martins she stated that she did not promise them anything and that she asked if there was anything she could do to ease their minds in the event her office decided not to prosecute. In fact I highly doubt any of us, were we to encounter the Martins, would not offer them our deepest sympathies first thing, no matter what our other beliefs about this case.

    My point is that this isn’t like, say, the Duke Lacrosse case (which I’ve often seen it compared to, with the only apparent similarity being the racial component), where there was a genuine dispute as to whether the alleged victim suffered any injury at all. Here, there’s no dispute that Trayvon was killed and that Zimmerman killed him – a horrible thing for his family to bear, regardless of the circumstances.

  146. #146 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Or, to put it another way, if there is a racist “slip” on Z.’s part in one of the calls — imagine that he called a suspect the “N-word.”

    What would you do at that point vis-a-vis your opinion of Z.’s guilt or innocence? Would you still defend Z.? Would you be the only one at that point?

    Maybe where we part company is that you think that if Z. used the N-word (say in his Feb 2012 call where called the police because the black guy was wearing pyjamas), then that will definitely come out and you will get to find out about that at some point in the future. I totally lack that confidence in the system. I want to hear the calls. All of ‘em.

  147. #147 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Oh, and you know how you are puzzled by the fact that the new lead prosecutor seems so so so stoopid. Well . . . how do I start here . . .

  148. #148 |  Caleb | 

    @ Burgers Allday

    And which exception under 404(2)(a) do you assert prior calls to police fit under in this case? What material fact does it establish?

    Proof of motive? How does being a local busybody prove motive for killing someone?

    Opportunity? We already know he had the opportunity, seeing as we know he shot TM.

    Intent? This is the first time GZ had seen TM. How do previous calls to police establish specific intent toward this victim?

    Preparation? Again, we know GZ shot TM. He was prepared enough. No added probative value.

    Plan? The only even remotely plausible one. But I think if GZ had used a call to police as a predicate to self defense in order to kill someone before, I think we’d know about it by now.

    That last point actually highlights the flaw in your obsession with the calls. Admissible character evidence must prove a fact material to the crime in question. The calls may prove that GZ is a busybody, racist, aggressive, or even dangerous. But none of that is material to whether he killed this person at this time.

    This is why we have the rules of evidence. There’s a whole lot of stuff out there that people think is relevant, but really isn’t.

  149. #149 |  Caleb | 

    -that should read *illegally* killed this person this time.

  150. #150 |  Xenocles | 

    The calls don’t mean anything. It doesn’t really matter why Zimmerman was following Martin, because following someone isn’t a crime (unless prohibited by court order, which does not apply here). Everything depends on what happened when they finally met up close, and it’s there where the details are at their sparest. I can imagine a scenario where Zimmerman gets excited, goes to draw his gun, and Martin tries to tackle him to nullify the weapon’s advantage. I could also see a scenario where Martin gets pissed off and decks Zimmerman, who shoots him in the course of the ensuing fistfight. There are an infinite number of possible scenarios in between. Everything depends on who provided that first spark of force into the tinder of that tense situation. It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman is a racist unless it can be shown that the racism contributed to his making an aggressive move or to using more force than he otherwise would have. Racists have a right to self defense too. (Conversely, murder is just as illegal for a racist as it is for a non-racist.)

  151. #151 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Possible motive: wanting a Terry frisk to discourage black guys from walking around the subdivision. we will know about this better when we hear all the calls.

    Opportunity: was it likely, based on course of dealing, that Z. Knew the Sanford police would come out and hassle the black guy regardless of other circumstances. If so, this is a form of opportunity. Specifically, opportunity to hassle the black guy using blue meanine proxies. Is this an accurate assessment? Don’t know. Roll tapeS.

    Intent: was his intent sincere suspicion, or fake suspicion that could be used as an excuse to hassle a black guy? Again, roll tapeS.

    Preparation: Was Z. testing the limits as far as determining a floor for the slightest made up “suspicion” that would get the Sanford pd out? Maybe, maybe not. Need to review the tapes in camera to say.

    and so on (we are not doe analyzing alternative, sufficient grounds for admission).

    If the tapes sound good Z. will WANT them in. If Z. wants the tapes in when he gets to trial, would you deny his motion as the judge?

    TIP FOR THOSE HERE WHO EVER DECIDE TO TAKE A BAR EXAM: The “other bad acts” always comes in. This is because making a hypothetical where the “other bad acts” evidence stayed out would just seem too unrealistic and downrite fantastical.

  152. #152 |  ben tillman | 

    And with one sentence, you undermine everything else you’ve written by revealing yourself to be a racist asshole.

    Nice work.

    Suggesting that a budding young criminal is likely to wind up in prison is racist? Silliness like this is why “racist” has lost its sting.

  153. #153 |  Caleb | 

    Re:”Terry frisk.” And this is relevant to the elements of murder 2 how? If GZ wanted TM frisked, shooting him was a bad way of going about it.

    “Opportunity” Same thing. If anything, showing that GZ used the police as a proxy for harassing minorities shows he was not planning on directly harming TM. He was going to let the fuzz do it for him. So if the tapes show he is a race-baiting asshole who sicked police on minorities, they are if anything, exculpatory. (Or at least highly equivocal.) If the tapes show that he’s a upstanding citizen, they are if anything, exculpatory. (Or at least highly equivocal.) But you seem to think that the former would harm him in court. And you’re right. That’s the definition of an impermissible character inference.

    Re: “Intent.” Doesn’t matter. What matters was his intent toward TM right before he pulled the trigger. Even if he profiled every minority that entered into his area before, that fact is not material in showing whether GZ had the requisite intent toward TM. Suspicion is suspicion, and we already know that GZ was suspicious of TM. The only purpose of showing that it was “racist” suspicion is to prejudice GZ.

    Hopefully, you get my reasoning.

    Yes, of course the defendant can introduce evidence of his own good character. c.f.: 404(1)(a). Then the prosecution can use relevant evidence to rebut the claim. But the accused has to open the door. There is no symmetry here.

    If “bad acts” always come in, what is the point of 404?

  154. #154 |  Burgers Allday | 

    If “bad acts” always come in, what is the point of 404?

    To keep people who can’t recognize when an exception has swallowed the rule out of bar. It is simply a skill lawyers must have. Anyway, I quoted the Fla version, upthd, bcs presumably that is much more likely to apply in due course.

    as far as your other points: not worth responding to — weak.

  155. #155 |  parsimon | 

    Suggesting that a budding young criminal is likely to wind up in prison is racist?

    Oh, good grief. That sort of remark is an embarrassment, to put it mildly. Why on earth would one think that Trayvon Martin was a budding young criminal?

  156. #156 |  ben tillman | 

    Well, apparently he had been dealing dope; according to his cousin, he had assaulted a bus driver; he was caught with a bunch of stolen jewelry including wedding rings.

    That’s why I would think he was a budding young criminal.

  157. #157 |  MAK | 

    “. He did, and it wasn’t just a teenage joke but part of a broader pattern of disrespect for authority and lawbreaking and general contempt for basic moral standards as best I can tell.”

    As best you can tell? Based on what … the fact that he smoked pot? Used some dirty words? He was a teenaged boy – one who also taught the neighbor’s kid how to ride a bike, baked cookies for his little cousins, and was studying for the SATs. Not to mention, a black teenager is likely to have a different relationship to the N-word than (I’m just guessing here) a middle-aged white guy. That doesn’t make him a thug. Hell, I did plenty of stupid things as a teen and even early 20-something myself, including drinking, cursing, and a little drug experimentation, and still managed to grow up into a productive citizen who’s never been to prison. Then again, I’m white so I guess that’s okay.

    Anyway, as someone who has studied and practiced (a little) criminal law, I think some of the criticism of the probable cause affidavit is off-base. I’ve seen a lot of people objecting that the prosecutor didn’t mention any of the exculpatory evidence in her probably cause affidavit. But she’s not supposed to. Love it or hate it, in the adversarial system, it’s the defense’s job to present that evidence after the government has made its case. And many if not most prosecutors will play their evidentiary cards close to the vest early in the proceedings, so as not to give the defense undue time to think of ways to undermine the evidence they do have. In fact, some defendants are advised to waive the P.C. hearing in the first place because it’s generally such a useless exercise.

    The problem in this case is that it’s already been tried in the media to such an extent that everyone thinks they know what the evidence does or does not “prove” – and it’s pretty much an inkblot test. To my admittedly biased eyes, it looks like they’ve got quite a lot of evidence against Zimmerman. The girlfriend’s affidavit strongly suggests that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation, and no one other than the defendant has contradicted her story. And the two forensic experts both found that the voice crying for help was not Zimmerman’s, but rather the voice of a young man. (And these same experts were the ones who found that Z called Martin a “punk” rather than a racial slur, so they don’t seem to be anti-Zimmerman shills.) That in turn suggests that Zimmerman was in control of the situation when he shot Martin. There’s also contradictory eyewitness testimony, which is not unusual given the notorious unreliability of eyewitness testimony. But even if the one anonymous eyewitness who thinks he saw Martin on top at one point is telling the truth, if Zimmerman initiated the confrontation and Zimmerman was in control at the end, Martin getting a few licks in somewhere in the middle doesn’t make it okay to shoot him.

    But the thing is, none of these conflicting accounts have any legal validity until someone takes the stand and swears to them and undergoes cross-examination. Not Zimmerman’s story, not any of the eye or ear witnesses, none of them. So to suggest there shouldn’t even be a trial because of something some guy said in such and such paper is getting it backwards, it seems to me.

  158. #158 |  More Questions | 

    Well, he was found with burglary supplies in his bag at school along with ladies jewlery, he was found by the school to have engaged in graffiti, at least once facebook posting suggested he was a drug dealer, and his own brother said he punched a schoolbus driver. Now, is this petty crime? Perhaps. Is it the precursor of more serious crime? Perhaps that too. But taken together, along with his online persona, gangsta grill, etc., it suggests an anti-social personality, someone likely to become a more serious criminal.

    There is a tragic element, as others pointed out. We’ll never know for sure if this was just a phase, and perhaps Zimmerman would have thought twice for sure if he knew Trayvon’s age and the fact he was unarmed. It’s not an ideal situation, that’s for sure. But put yourself in Zimmerman’s shoes. Imagine it went down the way he said. How’d you like to be him: fearing for your life, getting beat up, screaming for help, shooting after a minute of such screaming, and then having the whole country turn into a lynch mob against you. That would suck. And it would suck even worse if this eyewitness John didn’t see who was beating up whom.

  159. #159 |  Eric Y | 

    Art:

    “State of Florida Justifiable Use Of Force 776.013(3)
    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity AND WHO IS ATTACKED in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

    Feel free to stop walking away from the individual and confront them, but you aren’t legally in the right to use force unless they attack, or you preemptively attack them for articulable reasons. Even then, you’re only allowed equal force, not even the lattitude of necessary force, which law enforcement is entitled to. You can’t bring lethal force into an assault situation unless you want to escalate the situation and having the blame shift to you. If someone is following you, feel free to follow them back.

    #118: “I dont have to run away, I can Stand my Ground, and confront the person following me with impunity. And I would. And I would be armed, just like always.”

    #135 “SYG merely means that I have no duty to retreat. I am free to confront the other person, and defend myself with any force required to prevent the use of force upon me, or to prevent a forcible felony.”

    776.013(3), the SYG you’re so fond of parading isn’t some standalone statute. It’s a subsection of the entirety of 776.013 and the entire thing goes back to 776.013(1):
    “A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm ”

    This is the keystone that defines justifiable homicide and it’s about the same in every state in the USA. You can’t simply “be in fear”, it is a “reasonable fear” where by reasonable is defined by the Reasonable Man Doctrine. SYG isn’t an excuse to bypass 776.013(1). It tells you 776.013(1) can be applied in situations where you can retreat, but refuse to because you aren’t legally obligated to. 776.013(1) still has to be satisfied. 776.013(3) exists because it completely opposes old laws such as Duty To Retreat, where you are legally bound to run away if possible. Both are worthless pieces of legislation because standing your ground can escalate the situation and running away isn’t always tactically sound, but I digress.

  160. #160 |  parsimon | 

    156: ben tillman, I’ll outsource my reply to MAK’s first paragraph up there in 157.

  161. #161 |  MAK | 

    @156, oh c’mon. It’s not at all clear he dealt pot or just smoked it, and the “stolen” jewelry was investigated and found not to have been stolen at all. And as for the “assaulting a bus driver”, based on a joke someone made on his twitter feed, that’s laughable. If you read my facebook, you could find equally damning “evidence” of my “brutal beating” of a friend (in fact, I accidentally wacked him in the arm while gesticulating. Friends like to tease each other, especially when they are high school kids.) The need to smear this kid is frankly gross and undermines whatever point you might have.

  162. #162 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    parsimon

    Some of the “facts” (and I use the scare quotes deliberately) that have “come out” about Martin AFTER the initial whitewash (who decided to use pics of him at 12? And can we keelhaul the fool?) do tend to make him look like a young thug by comparison. Or – assuming they are true, and I don’t at this point – if the whitewash attempts hadn’t come first, they might have made him look like a fairly normal stupid teen-aged boy (and I remember being one; “stupid” is redundant). I tried to look and act “Tough” at that age, and it’s the mercy of fate that nobody called me on it. I did things that, had I been shot dead, could have made me look like a budding young criminal and scofflaw. I grew up and got over it. Martin won’t. Maybe Martin wouldn’t have if he had lived. We. Don’t. Know.

    What we do know is that the assorted lies, changes, and shifts have made it less likely than the truth will ever be known …. and there wasn’t much chance to start. They have made it harder to come to any conclusions about the character of the two people involved. They have insured that IF Zimmerman is convicted it will almost certainly be for wrong reasons. If he is guilty of a crime and is convicted of any charge that even resembles that crime, at this point it will have been pure coincidence.

    The only “justice” we can hope for is that if there are race riots the swine who stirred them up (please Karma!) get tramped in them. And that’s a pretty sad thing to hope for. So, much as I despise Al “photographic negative of a white cracker KKK bigot” Sharpton, I hope that he DOESN’T get the Karma he deserves in some spectacular and messy fashion. Instead I hope that the God he purports to serve visits him as He visited Saul of Tarsus.

    I ain’t holding my breath, though.

  163. #163 |  ben tillman | 

    And the two forensic experts both found that the voice crying for help was not Zimmerman’s, but rather the voice of a young man.

    Which is hilarious when one considers that Z is … a YOUNG MAN. One of those clowns made his estimate using software that requires the analysis of more than one voice to allow the assignment of relative probabilities based on which voice matches best. Yet he only tested Z’s voice.

    The other guy is just a guy who uses HIS EARS to decide what it sounds like, something that any of the rest of us could do. First, he enhances or cleans up the recording, but ultimately he just listens and draws a conclusion. He might be better at it than some of us, but it’s still just a guy saying it sounds like a young man.

  164. #164 |  Caleb | 

    Anyway, I quoted the Fla version, upthd

    That is what I’m referencing as well. Here:http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0090/SEC404.HTM&Title=-%3E2009-%3ECh0090-%3ESection%20404#0090.404

    as far as your other points: not worth responding to — weak.

    I’m flattered. I’ve always taken it as a compliment when people don’t reply to my actual arguments. But perhaps you could deign to descend down to my level and explain why they are weak?

  165. #165 |  ben tillman | 

    It’s not at all clear he dealt pot or just smoked it, and the “stolen” jewelry was investigated and found not to have been stolen at all.

    That’s news to me. Cite?

  166. #166 |  Eric Y | 

    Caleb, I think some people have a hard time understanding that even racists, asshats, and jerks have a right to defend themselves, even lethally, if it was a confrontation where such an act under those conditions were justifiable in the eyes of the law. Apparently, some feel there is no justice in the world if a jerk doesn’t get punished simply because they’re a jerk.

    Some feel justice is being served because a vocal minority screamed until big government came down to spank little government and take over. I bet those same people will scream justice wasn’t served if the charge gets dismissed. Since we don’t know what actually happened in the confrontation…the part that matters, folks are simply going elsewhere to grasp at straws to support their conclusions.

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
    - John Adams, 1773

  167. #167 |  MAK | 

    “Which is hilarious when one considers that Z is … a YOUNG MAN.”

    Yeah, but there’s a big difference between the voice of a teenager and that of a nearly-30-year-old man, and the expert specifically excluded a near 30-year-old. And we only know that the newspaper had no sample of Martin’s voice; there’s no indication that the experts didn’t follow usual protocol by testing Zimmerman’s voice against that of others. I honestly can’t vouch for the worth or lack thereof of this kind of forensic evidence – I suspect few here can – but that is something that can hopefully be determined in an actual court rather than the court of public opinion.

    “Cite?”

    I’ve seen it reported in a lot of places that the school turned the jewelry Martin had in his backpack over to the police, who found that it did not match any that was reported stolen. Put it this way: there’s a hell of a lot less evidence that Martin either stole jewelry or bought stolen property than there is that Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder. And even if you think he did… what does that prove about his death? After all, Zimmerman was not only arrested for assaulting a cop, he was apparently fired from his job as a security card for assaulting party-goers. If we’re convicting or acquitting people based on their backgrounds, I think the guy with the criminal record and history of violence comes out the loser here. Or we could just stick to what actually happened that night.

  168. #168 |  Caleb | 

    @ Eric Y

    I love me that Adams quote.

  169. #169 |  ravenshrike | 

    Actually, the jewelry was found not to have been reported stolen. Which doesn’t mean it was or was not stolen, just that nobody had reported the theft. But how often do you lose something and then report it to the police? Unless it’s a VERY expensive piece of jewelry or they remember exactly what they last did with it most people will not immediately assume stolen and report it’s missing status to the police.

  170. #170 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Under Florida stalking law, one can follow another person with intent to harrass them once, but not twice.

    It would be interesting to see whether Z.’s initial following of Trayvon could be considered as the first act of stalking, and then the call to the police was considered as a second independent act of stalking. If so, then Z. had committed a crime (of Florida stalking) against Trayvon before the fatal encounter.

    Cf:

    Subsection (1) defines “harass” as “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.” § 784.048(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2006). “Course of conduct” is “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.” § 784.048(1)(b), Fla. Stat. (2006) (emphasis added). Subsection (2) then provides that any person who “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows [or] harasses . . . another person commits the offense of stalking. . . .” § 784.048(2), Fla. Stat. (2006).

  171. #171 |  ben tillman | 

    Yeah, but there’s a big difference between the voice of a teenager and that of a nearly-30-year-old man….

    Too funny. The media insist on calling Trayvon a “boy” or a “teen”; I’m happy to call him a “young man”, but your argument hits a big snag when you consider that the “expert” didn’t say that it sounded like a 17-year-old. GZ is a young man, and so was TM, so the “expert’s” opinion gets you nowhere.

  172. #172 |  MAK | 

    I would think that in most circumstances in which jewelry is apt to be stolen, one would know about it. But admittedly, I’m no expert on this topic. But regardless: the situation was investigated and there was absolutely no evidence that the jewelry was stolen, let alone that Martin stole it, as opposed to buying it or whatever. It’s rather odd, but on the other hand it seems hypocritical to say that while we have insufficient evidence to indict Zimmerman for murder and we have to accept that because it’s the American way, we can just assume based on absolutely no evidence that Martin was guilty of theft, and therefor guilty of assaulting Zimmerman Rambo style until he feared for his life. Especially given Zimmerman’s own apparent history of violent behavior, which unlike theft or marijuana use is possibly relevant evidence in a self-defense case.

  173. #173 |  ben tillman | 

    Actually, the jewelry was found not to have been reported stolen. Which doesn’t mean it was or was not stolen, just that nobody had reported the theft.

    Even that’s not quite right. They didn’t find a report that it was stolen, which is very different from checking every jurisdiction in the world and finding that it was not reported stolen. In other words, they probably checked the local records and didn’t find anything, but maybe it could have been reported stolen in the next town or the next county or whatever.

  174. #174 |  Jay | 

    “It certainly is a cruel world we live in, where the only admissible evidence in court is the testimony of those directly involved, which explains why no murderer has ever been convicted of their crime.”

    Most of the physical evidence (that I am aware of at this time) points to the fact that an unarmed man was shot to death. The only thing contradicting that is biased testimony; and possibly some injuries, which (at this point) have not been shown to be life-threatening or serious. And YOU think that WE are putting to much weight on testimony?

    What physical evidence could possibly disprove Zimmerman’s assertion?

    “Maybe you want to live under a system where Zimmerman – AND ANYBODY IN A SIMILAR POSITION – is considered guilty until proven innocent. I don’t. I suspect that very few people do. It runs against the tradition of British Common Law, which is the basis of our legal system. It also runs toward the legal systems of most of the horrific mass murdering regimes of the 20th century.”

    Wow, that’s a stretch that would make rubberband man flinch.

    If you shoot someone (especially an unarmed person), and admit to doing so, you should be assumed to have committed the crime of homicide. You may then present an affirmative defense that what you did was actually JUSTIFIABLE homicide, and thus be found not guilty or have the charges dropped…if objective evidence bears out your defense.

    I don’t want to live under a system where whoever shoots first and makes sure the other guy can’t tell his side is let go, because no one can contradict his story.

    “And if he didn’t shoot Trayvon, perhaps he’d be dead or in a coma. It happens all the time. Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, Bro.”

    And you know this because he had been seriously injured, perhaps even life-threatening injuries, right?
    Oh right, he was in a fistfight. I had no idea that the losers of all fistfights are dead or in comas…high school was so much worse than I remembered.

  175. #175 |  MAK | 

    Ben Tillman: based on what relevant scientific background do you conclude that there is no discernible difference between that of a male in his late teens and that of a male in his late 20s? Because my personal opinion derived from my own experience tells me there is such a difference, and it’s pretty significant, and apparently your personal opinion based on your own experience is that there is. But as far as I can tell, neither one of us is a forensic expert, and one of the actual experts said that the voice was too young to be Zimmerman’s. The other expert didn’t say anything about age but specifically excluded Zimmerman. Could they be wrong? I’m not qualified to say, but I’d submit that none of us commenting here are truly in a position to convict or acquit anyone, and that’s why there should be a trial – which is all the probable cause hearing exists to determine.

  176. #176 |  MAK | 

    “Even that’s not quite right. They didn’t find a report that it was stolen, which is very different from checking every jurisdiction in the world and finding that it was not reported stolen.”

    Wow. And so when exactly does the presumption of innocence apply, and to whom? Because by this logic, unless someone can definitively prove Zimmerman’s innocence, I guess we could just go ahead and convict, and why stop at second degree? Can he prove he *didn’t* premeditate?

    “And you know this because he had been seriously injured, perhaps even life-threatening injuries, right?”

    Which is another thing – if the fight had been anything like what Zimmerman described, I cannot believe the medics who attended to him would not have insisted on putting him in a collar and taking him straight to the hospital. They don’t screw around with possible head or spinal cord injuries… which is what you have when your head has been slammed into the ground. It would also be a huge liability for the police if he suffered permanent damage because they questioned him when he should have been checked out in a hospital. Every EMT I’ve seen comment on this case has said that this makes Z’s account suspicious.

  177. #177 |  zendingo | 

    @MAK

    you’ve said it better than i could have, thank you for your logic.

  178. #178 |  ben tillman | 

    Most of the physical evidence (that I am aware of at this time) points to the fact that an unarmed man was shot to death. The only thing contradicting that is biased testimony….

    No, there isn’t anything contradicting that.

  179. #179 |  ben tillman | 

    Wow. And so when exactly does the presumption of innocence apply, and to whom? Because by this logic, unless someone can definitively prove Zimmerman’s innocence, I guess we could just go ahead and convict, and why stop at second degree? Can he prove he *didn’t* premeditate?

    You simply didn’t understand what I said. I said that not finding a report is different from there not being a report.

  180. #180 |  ben tillman | 

    Ben Tillman: based on what relevant scientific background do you conclude that there is no discernible difference between that of a male in his late teens and that of a male in his late 20s?

    Based on what mind-reading technique do you conclude that I conclude that there is no discernible difference? I sure as hell didn’t say anything like that.

  181. #181 |  Herb | 

    It’s sad that someone so attentive to puppycide would be so blithe about a homicide.

  182. #182 |  Yet Another Case of Overzealous Prosecution | FavStocks | 

    [...] Balko has a great roundup of bloggers’ reactions to the Zimmerman indictment. The common thrust in most of these [...]

  183. #183 |  Xenocles | 

    “Most of the physical evidence (that I am aware of at this time) points to the fact that an unarmed man was shot to death. The only thing contradicting that is biased testimony; and possibly some injuries, which (at this point) have not been shown to be life-threatening or serious.”

    I don’t believe anything contradicts the idea that Zimmerman was armed and Martin was not. But I don’t believe either that it matters much. I knew people who have been beaten to death; fists and feet are as deadly a weapon as a firearm if the mind behind them wants them to be. If Zimmerman was under attack and doesn’t have a lot of bad injuries it could well be because he chose to use deadly force before letting Martin hurt him too badly. I don’t see much of a problem with that choice IF that’s what happened.

  184. #184 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Well, I have spent some time researching it. It turns out that a stalking charge cannot be based on Z.’s call to police (and this would be true even if Z. lied about Trayvon, which there is, to be clear, no evidence of). So that is good news for the Zimmerman partisans:

    *open quote*
    We write only to clarify that the definition of “domestic violence” does not include “stalking by law enforcement” or “stalking by use and threat of court.” In this case, it was alleged in the proceedings that one party frequently called law enforcement officers to complain about the other party merely for harassment purposes. However, the crime of “harassment” does not include filing reports and complaints to law enforcement agencies as a matter of law under section 784.048(1)(b), Florida Statutes, because constitutionally protected activities such as petitioning the government for redress are exempted from the definition. “A report to an arm of government, concerning a matter within the purview of the agency’s responsibilities, serves a `legitimate purpose’ within the meaning of section 784.048(1)(a), regardless of the subjective motivation of the reporter.” Curry v. State, 811 So.2d 736, 741 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Poindexter v. Springer, 898 So.2d 204 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005). Because reporting a violation of law or an existing injunction, even with malicious intent towards the supposed violator, does not constitute harassment, it also cannot qualify as stalking for purposes of section 784.048, or domestic violence under section 741.28, Florida Statutes. Abuse of court processes and filing false reports with law enforcement are serious matters, to be discouraged indeed, or even prosecuted. However, the statutorily created actions for injunction against violence are not the proper remedies to sanction these acts. Unfounded reports to authorities or requests for judicial relief, even if repeated or for malicious purposes, do not support the entry of an injunction against domestic or other violence.
    *close quote*

    Still need to hear Z.’s phone calls. the failure of a prospective stalking against Z. does nothing to change that. Z.’s true intent when he called police and when he followed Trayvon remain as relevant as ever, and the previous phone calls remain as potentially (read: certainly) probative as ever.

  185. #185 |  highnumber | 

    @#89:
    “Middle age Zimmerman” was 28 years old.

  186. #186 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Quiz time:

    Here are your facts:

    An intruder had been in Mr. Halvorsen’s neighbor’s home, and had fled. The neighbor, Mr. Slack, had called the police. While awaiting their arrival, he and Mr. Halvorsen went outside to look for the intruder. Mr. Slack carried a shotgun in case they encountered him. It was around 11 P.M. on a summer evening. [5] When the first policeman came, he treated Halvorsen and Slack as the suspects, and did not pursue the intruder. He saw the two men, one (Slack) with a shotgun, and ordered them to drop the gun and get on the ground. The police officer probably drew his gun and pointed it. Slack told the police officer that his wife was the person who had called the police, and the intruder was black (Slack and Halvorsen were white). The officer wanted the weapon down before listening to the argument. Slack did not want his shotgun on the ground, so he walked behind some

    Page 683
    bushes, left the gun on the hood of his truck, and came back. [6] The officer ordered the two of them to the ground and waited for backup. He patted down Halvorsen. When a second officer came as backup, the two officers handcuffed Halvorsen and Slack. A number of people gathered. Halvorsen’s wife was yelling that the police had the wrong people, the ones who had called them instead of the intruder. Halvorsen’s child was screaming “don’t shoot my daddy!” The Halvorsens’ dogs were barking. Other people were telling the police they were wrong. The police were yelling themselves to make Halvorsen and Slack get on the ground and to make the spectators go away or be quiet, making it even harder to hear what was being yelled at them. [7] The police officers brought the men to a gas station about three blocks away to decide how to proceed. They did not decide to arrest Halvorsen for anything. But they thought he was drunk, because of his obtuseness in not getting down on the ground when ordered to, and his continuing to call them vulgar names and making vulgar remarks. They decided to drop Halvorsen off at a private detoxification facility. About eighteen minutes elapsed between the beginning of the police encounter with Halvorsen and departure for the facility. [8] The facility was a detoxification center operated by a private nonprofit corporation, under contract with the county. A state statute provides for holding intoxicated individuals at such facilities. The owner and several employees of the facility were named as defendants in this case. The testimony established that the facility made its own admission decisions, and sometimes rejected people the police dropped off, so it was not bound to hold Halvorsen because he had been taken there by the police. [9] Halvorsen insisted that he was sober and requested that he be tested so he could prove it. It was the practice of the facility not to give blood tests or breathalizer tests to see whether people dropped off were really drunk. The facility also did not give field sobriety tests — walk a straight line, touch your nose with your eyes shut, count backwards from 20, etc. — such as police give to suspected drunk drivers. The facility’s witnesses did not remember Halvorsen when they testified, because they processed thousands of admissions. The admissions form classified “behavior” in four categories. The first was mental state: “Alert,” “Drowsey”[sic], “Stuperous” [sic], or “Unconcious” [sic]. Halvorsen was graded as alert. The second was speech: clear, slurred or unintelligible. Halvorsen was graded as clear. The third was gait: steady, unsteady, or unable to walk. Halvorsen was graded as unsteady. The fourth was physical: parasites, vomiting, or diarrhea, and nothing was noted for Halvorsen. The comments said that”[client] appears unable to care for self” and “odor etoh [ethyl alcohol] on breath.” The facility had a practice of recording all admissions in a book and checking the book when someone was brought in, so since Halvorsen had been there once before, the admitting employees may have checked the book and found his name. Halvorsen was held against his will from about 11:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., when he was released with a group of other people held overnight.

    THE QUIZ:

    The state wants to introduce evidence that Halvorsen is an alcoholic and has been for a long time.

    Will the judge let them?

  187. #187 |  Mike T | 

    Art,

    I dont have to run away, I can Stand my Ground, and confront the person following me with impunity. And I would. And I would be armed, just like always.

    And if Zimmerman was retreating when Martin finally confronted him, that means Martin was the violent criminal under Stand Your Ground.

  188. #188 |  Art | 

    Mike T | April 17th, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Art,
    I dont have to run away, I can Stand my Ground, and confront the person following me with impunity. And I would. And I would be armed, just like always.
    And if Zimmerman was retreating when Martin finally confronted him, that means Martin was the violent criminal under Stand Your Ground.
    ____________________________________________________
    Thats exactly what Zimm should assert in his defense. Only he knows if its true. What if he was carrying his weapon in his hand when Martin approached and questioned why a grown man was following a kid walking home in the rain. At that point, Martin is in fear for his life and takes action. Zimmerman created the situation, brought the gun, and used the gun against a boy armed with only Skittles. Manslaughter is the crime he is guilty of, but during incarceration it will be a death sentence.

  189. #189 |  Nick T. | 

    Haven’t read all the comments here so sorry if this is repeating others’ points:

    Radley, I admire your judicious reaction. As someone who sees the horrible iniquities of the criminal justice system first hand, it would be easy for you to see race issues, incompetent police, a lax approach in an otherwise merciless justice system, and thus conclude that Zimmerman must be guilty because that just naturally follows. Your maintaining your principles is commendable. Similarly, more people need to realize there is significant injustice here in ways that are independent of Zimmerman’s legal culpability.

    That said, I personally beleve the evidence supports the strong probability that Zimmerman committed a crime (Murder 2? meh). This affidavit being total crap, and the holes in the evidence, notwithstanding. This conclusion is based mostly on the law but also the understanding of how are criminal justice system works. I’ve used the example of a husband who shoots his wife and tells a story of self-defense (“she went crazy, grabbed a knife, I did everything I could until she gave me no choice”) Prosecutors have and would trot out comparable body weights, a history of loud arguments, maybe a life insurance policy and little else, and a jury would (and has) convict. We’ve seen this happen.

    GZ’s pursuing Martin is evidence that he initiated the confrontation. Martin’s mother’s ID is evidence that that is Martin’s voice screaming for help. All fo that gets to a jury and they can draw the inferences based on that. It’s not a bad case to make to a jury.

    It might be worth comparing with the Casey Anthony case, and how there the evidence was completely circumstantial and based on weird behaviors, and the overwhelming consensus was that she was obviously guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In many ways this case is stonger.

  190. #190 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I’ve used the example of a husband who shoots his wife and tells a story of self-defense (“she went crazy, grabbed a knife, I did everything I could until she gave me no choice”)

    So, are you saying this would work or not?!?!?! Need to know asap!

  191. #191 |  plutosdad | 

    I thought the basis for Zimmerman confronting Martin was Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with Martin at the time Zimmerman walked up to him and they started talking, then she was cut off.

    When I read her interview I wasn’t entirely clear what happened, but definitely remember there was speaking, not one person jumping another from behind. (At least in the first contact, but Zimmerman does not claim there were two contacts).

    So no, there is a reason to say Zimmerman confronted him, not the other way around. Of course, I understand the indictment is so horribly written it does not even say that much.

  192. #192 |  Eric Y | 

    When I read some of these comments, sometimes I DO wish there was mandatory legal education and training required for people to carry firearms or even debate the topic. It’s apparent many are working from their own interpretaion of the law, rather than the law as it is generally recognized, taught, and applied. Since we have no facts, people come up with increasingly bizarre arguments to pass the time.

    Having both trained under and regularly interact with folks who serve as recognized expert witnesses on lethal force and ballistics in cases like these provides knowledge on the legal framework regarding go/no-go of lethal force. It draws upon knowledge and experience that most laymen simply don’t care about because it exposes the reality of self-defense being more complex than “I was scared”. That is unfortunate.

  193. #193 |  Caleb | 

    The state wants to introduce evidence that Halvorsen is an alcoholic and has been for a long time.

    Will the judge let them?

    I’m guessing yes, for the following reasons:

    1. Alcoholics tend to lie about being drunk. They also tend to underestimate their level of intoxication. If the P was an alcoholic, that fact is probative to the question of whether he was lying or mistaken about not being drunk on that night.

    2. Damages. I’m guessing P claimed IIED. If he had been in the facility before, or had something similar happen to him, it is probative to whether he actually experienced emotional distress, and to what level.

    So yes, I think it comes in. But not for the reasons you seem to imply. It is still impermissible to draw an inference from past bad acts to the probability of the act in question.

    Notice, also, the consideration of relevance. Establishing the proposition “P was more likely to lie or be mistaken about being drunk” is directly relevant to P’s claim. Likewise, establishing the proposition “P had already experienced a night in the tank” is directly relevant to the level of emotional distress.

    My question remains: what permissible use, for what relevant proposition do the calls serve?

  194. #194 |  Some Questions | 

    192: In Florida there is such training when you get your CHL. That said, the best rule of thumb both practically and morally is to use deadly force as an absolute last resort, particularly if you’re not inside your home.

    Equally disturbing is the suggestion among some commentators that in every justifiable homicide case you should get arrested, face 30 years plus in prison like Zimmerman is facing, and prove your innocence to a jury. This is not the way it’s supposed to be; the prosecutor has discretion and should not indict unless convinced of the accused’s guilt, including with respect to being able to prove any affirmative defenses false beyond a reasonable doubt. (Prosecutor bears burden of proof at all times in criminal case; no preponderance requirement for aff. defs.)

  195. #195 |  Some Questions | 

    Also the alcoholic thing could be habit evidence under FRE 406. That’s probably the most apposite rule of evidence. “Evidence of a person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practice. The court may admit this evidence regardless of whether it is corroborated or whether there was an eyewitness.”

  196. #196 |  EBL | 

    Well said.

    All I know is it is tragic Trayvon Martin died (even if he caused it). I am not sure if George Martin is guilty of a crime or not. He might be. Or it might be self defense. From what I have seen and heard (assuming that is the totality of evidence), I would vote for an acquittal on any crime. But if he is criminal liable, I am pretty sure it is not 2nd Degree Murder.

  197. #197 |  Caleb | 

    @ Some Questions

    Interesting argument. I’m not sure if “being and alcoholic” counts as a “habit.”
    Habit tends to mean a particular pattern of behavior that is reliably repeated. Unless “being an alcoholic” means “constantly, incessantly drunk”, I’m not sure it fits. Perhaps if there was evidence that the P tended to be drunk at a particular time, or in a particular circumstance. Or we just need a better definition of “alcoholic.”

    As an interesting side note: Florida has removed their 406′s applicability to persons.

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0090/SEC406.HTM&Title=-%3E2009-%3ECh0090-%3ESection%20406#0090.406

    Interesting.

  198. #198 |  BoogaFrito | 

    #189 | Nick T. | April 17th, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Martin’s mother’s ID is evidence that that is Martin’s voice screaming for help.

    And Zimmerman’s father’s ID is evidence that that is Zimmerman’s voice screaming for help.

    But then I suppose Zimmerman could have been preemptively planning his defence, like a cop shouting “Stop resisting!” while repeatedly kicking a perp in the face.

  199. #199 |  Some Questions | 

    I always found the voice ID stuff kind of questionable on the part of everyone. First, the forensic experts that the media brought forward are a joke. One guy is trying to promote his software, is the president of the same group that gave him his big time certification, and this kind of expertise is often excluded on Frye/Daubert grounds. Plus, it seems to me it can only do matches, not “not matches” and the 48% match means what exactly? Plus they lacked a Trayvon sample. What if his voice were only a 30% match, what would that prove? I have no particularly reason to trust this expert or this evidence, though I’d be open to persuasion.

    As for my horse sense on the issue, if that were my voice or a brother’s voice I wouldn’t recognize it, but if you said it definitely was, I wouldn’t necessarily dispute it either. A screaming voice in fear or pain or rage is many times different from an ordinary voice. As they said after the Civil War, the Confederate veterans couldn’t recreate their old “Rebel Yell” at reunions and reconciliation meetings becuase of the absence of actual combat conditions.

  200. #200 |  Nick T. | 

    Boyd, I’m saying the husband/defendant would be found guilty so his defense would not work. IOW, use a different story for your wife’s death – or better yet don’t kill her ;)

    BoogaFrito, yes you’re correct (in your first, non-sarcastic sentence). Those things are “evidence” as in something that tends to make a certain fact more likely or less likely. Evidence is different from definitive proof. I used the word to mean what it means, sorry if this threw you off.

    My point was that there is “evidence” of a crime being committed by Zimmerman and a jury can weigh that evidence and decide if it is sufficient/credible/not canceled out by contradicting evidence etc. This is often the case in jury trials and murder cases where convictions rest entirely on circumstancial evidence and the jury must draw inferences and conclusions from incomplete facts.

  201. #201 |  Jeff | 

    Good grief, I didn’t like the news conference either, but even if this is an overcharge, this is _not_ the case to do anything different than is standard practice for prosecutors. Yes they do really believe in the strength of their case (even if it looks flimsy from outside), or at the very least they really are confident that a jury will convict from their evidence. I was on a jury where the evidence was very very far from solid, and they were still going 10-2 for conviction (attempted murder 2).

    Get a good judge on the case, and let the defense and the law tear down the prosecution’s assertions if they’re really off base.

  202. #202 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Wait, so you can use the fact that somebody is an alcoholic to show that they were drunk on a particular night (when the person claims to have been sober and was refused a test to prove that sobriety), but you can’t use any past calls to the police if they tend to show* that Z. had a habit of calling police in order to hassle black people who weren’t doing anything wrong and not doing anything suspicious.

    You are way thru the looking-glass there, Some Questions.

    FOOTNOTE:
    * Just to be clear, I am not saying that the other 45 calls will show that Z. had a habit of calling police to hassle innocent black people. I do not know what they show. They are highly likely to be relevant one way or the other (that I do know), but I can’t tell you which way they cut until I have heard their content, tone, demeanor and had explained their internal indicia of reliability (or lack thereof).

  203. #203 |  Radley Balko | 

    Good grief, I didn’t like the news conference either, but even if this is an overcharge, this is _not_ the case to do anything different than is standard practice for prosecutors.

    I’m having a difficult time understanding your thinking, here. Because prosecutors overcharge in other cases, we shouldn’t object when they overcharge in high-profile cases? What if we also object when they overcharge in all those other cases? Then can we be upset about this one?

    I was on a jury where the evidence was very very far from solid, and they were still going 10-2 for conviction (attempted murder 2).

    This doesn’t exactly support your argument that we should be okay with it when prosecutors overcharge.

  204. #204 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Also, it is quite possible that the calls would help Z., but also hurt the police at the same time.

    Some of you have probably read the famous novel called To Kill A Mockingbird. If you have not read it, you should. If the Trayvon case has not yet made you recall the experience of reading To Kill A Mockingbird, then you should re-read it. Bob Ewell was a pawn. the town pretended that Ewell was better than he was. Atticus allowed them to pretend that. Because he lived in a racist America where those kinds of delusions had to be fostered in the Deep South. Trayvon, errrrr I mean “Tom,” was a dead man the second Mayella opened her mouth to let out a fake scream. Radley . . . well, Radley just took things in from a distance, inscrutable and objective as all Radleys are.

    Now this doesn’t mean that Z. really is Bob Ewell, and the bumbling prosecutor is playing a sort of Atticus Finch role (shifted in color and demeanor to fit modern times), that Trayvon is Tom Robinson or that the police of Sanford are like the policemen in the novel. But, these things are distinct possibilities. Those who deny these possibilities, or, worse yet, would conceal evidence that could help us, as a society see what the dealeo really was, are just turning Harper Lee’s art into real life. Sort of like when the Book of Acts happened to Philip K. Dick in real life.

  205. #205 |  Some Questions | 

    I think Corey is behaving like the worst kinds of prosecutors, the Nancy Grace kind. The good prosecutors don’t make headlines or news very often. Believe it or not in some jurisdictions defense and prosecutors aren’t at each other’s throats. She sounds pretty lame and obsessed with “victim’s rights” to the point she’s losing the required objectivity.

  206. #206 |  Some Questions | 

    And who is concealing what? I too would love to hear all those calls. If they’re admissible great. Rules of evidence are tricky and require judgment calls in my view. Not even sure either side would want to make a lot of hay about them. I imagine they could move the dial or not depending what they say, but, as other said, even if they prove Zimmerman was a vindictive, racist, jerk, it doesn’t mean he didn’t have the right of self defense in this case. After all, he could be all those things, and Trayvon could still be a hothead, angry, aggressive, and violent young man.

    I also sense many are in despair over this case. How will we ever know what really happened? We may never know. Our criminal justice system has a solution to this problem, the reasonable doubt standard. We must be really really sure before we convict of a crime. Sometimes we have a hunch, but we still acquit. There is imperfect justice in this life under any set of circumstances, and there is not always a handy-dandy forensic means of sorting out the issues. That said, we, like the best of doctors, should endeavor in our criminal justice system to “first do no harm” even if that means some crime or evil is sometimes left without redress. This is preferable to creating a new, very great evil in sending an innocent man to prison.

  207. #207 |  Sam | 

    Some Questions,

    I think at least part of the reason that some people are upset is that they rightly recognize that if the skin colors were reversed in this scenario, we wouldn’t have seen outcome that played out in exactly the same fashion. If Martin had killed Zimmerman, he surely would have been arrested. If Martin had killed Zimmerman, variously politically aligned players wouldn’t be going to bat for Martin. If Martin had killed Zimmerman, various commenters here (and in plenty of other places) wouldn’t be fabricating justifications for the killing out of whole cloth.

  208. #208 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Not even sure either side would want to make a lot of hay about them.

    Z. is the defendant. He can try to get the calls in or not as he sees fit.

    the prosecutor’s office has a duty to justice, preferably speedy justice. they need to let us here those other calls. If they make an effort to get the calls in (whether they help the prosecution or not, and in the interests of maximal justice). If they try to get the other 45 calls admitted and the judge blocks it, then that is on the judge. My fear (which I am relatively sure will come to pass) is that the prosecutor will not try to put the calls in. Just like Atticus did not impeach Bob with his drunkenness and rampant racism. He should have. One would hope that a modernday Atticus would do this. But I am not sure the prosecutor’s office has the intestinal fortitude to do what they really need to do with the other 45 calls (even if it means losing a conviction and opening the Sanford PD up to a civil rights investigation by the FBI and a section 1983 civil suit by T. Marti’sn successors).

  209. #209 |  Caleb | 

    but you can’t use any past calls to the police if they tend to show* that Z. had a habit of calling police in order to hassle black people who weren’t doing anything wrong and not doing anything suspicious.

    As I pointed out above, Florida’s Rule 406 doesn’t apply to individuals.

  210. #210 |  Burgers Allday | 

    As I pointed out above, Florida’s Rule 406 doesn’t apply to individuals.

    As you will see above, FRE isn’t the first ground of admission I spelled out for you. I first spelled out three grounds under the Forida version of FRE 404. The Some Questions brought up 406 to say that that was why he thought the state could use a person’s alcoholism to show intoxication notwithstanding 404. All I wanted to show was that if FRE 406 is in play (which it seldom, if ever, would be in a FLA state court) then that would be just another cumulative redundant reason for admission.

    What is funny is how aggressive some of you will play lawyer to keep these calls (which you haven’t even heard) out of court. Why can’t you folks get this fired up when I want to discuss the nuances of antitrust law or intellectual property law?

  211. #211 |  Jay | 

    “Equally disturbing is the suggestion among some commentators that in every justifiable homicide case you should get arrested, face 30 years plus in prison like Zimmerman is facing, and prove your innocence to a jury. This is not the way it’s supposed to be”

    You should be required to demonstrate that your action (killing someone) was actually justifiable, based on physical or otherwise objective evidence, based on what a reasonable person in your position would have thought/done.

    If Martin had been armed, or if Zimmerman had been hospitalized with serious injuries, or if there had been 5 eyewitnesses who said Martin initiated hostilities, or any number of other things, I would have no problem letting Zimmerman walk without charges.
    But in a case as vague as this, where Zimmerman’s defense LITERALLY hinges on only his own unverifiable claims, I think there should be a more thorough investigation, and it should be put to a jury of his peers if his explanation is reasonable.

    It is not enough for Zimmerman to have shot because he was in fear of his life or limb. There must have been a perceivable threat sufficient that a reasonable man in his position would also be in fear of their life or limb.
    I’m sorry, but getting beat up is not, in and of itself, sufficient.

    Otherwise you would have homophobes gunning down gay people, and using the argument “I was afraid he would give me AIDS” or similar such defenses. Your personal fear is not relevant; your fear of threat must be reasonable. And the best way we currently have to determine if something is reasonable is a random pool of jurors.

  212. #212 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Otherwise you would have homophobes gunning down gay people, and using the argument “I was afraid he would give me AIDS” or similar such defenses.

    You should read Matthew Sheppard’s mother’s book. It will open your eyes. It did mine.

  213. #213 |  Caleb | 

    As you will see above, FRE isn’t the first ground of admission I spelled out for you. I first spelled out three grounds under the Forida version of FRE 404.

    To which I responded with argument, and to which you responded with “weak.” You then proceeded to ignore my humble pleading to explain why my arguments were weak. I take that as a concession, up until you persuade me with rational argument otherwise.

    All I wanted to show was that if FRE 406 is in play

    No, it’s not. Not in this case. It doesn’t apply to individuals in Florida.

    Why can’t you folks get this fired up when I want to discuss the nuances of antitrust law or intellectual property law?

    I’m new here. :) I’ll gladly get into the nitty gritty on those subjects as well. (I admit my knowledge there is much weaker.) I hope your arguments on those topics are stronger then your ones here.

  214. #214 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Okay Caleb:

    Imagine the Trayvon incident happened in a jurisdiction where both 404 and 406 applied.

    Are you seriously taking the position that the calls (assuming Z. said something unseemly in one or more of the other calls) could be used to show habit under 406, but not intent under 404. really? REALLY?

    The answer is that “other bad acts” evidence always comes in. There are always plenty of grounds, in FLA and everywhere else. I said that above. Then I demonstarted it by showing several examples of how to lay a basis. Can’t help you any more than that.

  215. #215 |  Caleb | 

    You’re fun!

    Are you seriously taking the position that the calls (assuming Z. said something unseemly in one or more of the other calls) could be used to show habit under 406, but not intent under 404. really? REALLY?

    Not at all. You’ll notice my comments on substance of 406 were entirely about the alcoholism fact pattern you posted. To which I was intrigued, but skeptical. I don’t think 406 applies in the alcoholism case, either.

    That case and this are distinguishable. You have yet to show that any potential content on those tapes is relevant to the charge of murder 2. The only hypothetical inculpatory inferences you have made only go to show that GZ is potentially a busybody racist asshole. In other words, bad character. But those aspects of his character have no bearing on the probability of his acts satisfying the elements of murder 2.

    The answer is that “other bad acts” evidence always comes in.

    I very much doubt that. But I can be persuaded if you show me evidence. Not bald assertion. Have a law review article or practice treatise handy which says anything to that effect? Any authority other than your word?

    There are always plenty of grounds, in FLA and everywhere else.

    Such as? Are we allowed to know? It’s not secret knowledge is it?

  216. #216 |  Geez | 

    Zimmerman was an idiot who got himself into a mess that could have easily been avoided at a couple of points, based on his own story (could have stopped following, could have stayed in his vehicle, perhaps other oppurtunities). Even if he’s “innocent,” in the criminal sense he’s not the kind of neighbor I want – walking around playing batman. I had a couple of busybodies come to my door a few months back asking about organizing a neighborhood watch, and I told them where they could shove it. This event just reinforces my opinion of these crusader-types.

  217. #217 |  Some Questions | 

    Jay, there was an eyewitness and only one real eyewitenss. His name was John. He was a neutral by all accounts. If there was one or ten, it doesn’t matter. You also had the 13 year old who lost his dog and missed the main fighting and you had the “ear witness” who didn’t see anything and speculated on the source of the screaming which she “felt was Trayvon.” So, cops & prosecutors had John’s testimony, they had some physical evidence (grass stains, abrasion on head, EMS reports), they had Zimmerman screaming by his own account and John confirming Zimmerman was screaming and on the ground right before the shooting based on seeing the fight, you have common sense re: why Zimmerman would murder when he knew cops were coming, you have common sense re: why he would get up close and personal when armed when this increases danger to himself (versus a guy not knowing he was armed getting up close and person), you had Zimmerman’s statement the night of the shooting, and you had his statements the next day apparently, where he walked the cops through the crime scene. Plus from media accounts you have reports that suggest it was not impossible Trayvon was a hothead and a troublemaker, i.e., numerous disciplinary problems in school, punching a bus driver according to brother’s Twitter, “gangsta” persona on Twitter.

    If no eyewitness, I agree this is a tougher case. But the physical, eyewitness, and Zimmerman testimony all lined up, and the original prosecutor saw this as reasonable doubt if not an open and shut case.

    30 years in jail this poor bastard is facing from this vindictive prosecutor in what appears on the known and most reliable evidence to have been self defense. On the other side, you have Martin’s mother saying it was her son’s voice screaming (which is not dispositive of what happened) and you have his girlfriend DeeDee’s account regarding the confrontation where the phone went dead, which likely references the first of two confrontations according to the time records of the various calls (see wagist.com) and does not show what happened before the actual fistfight of Zimmerman and Martin. And finally you have the legally irrelevant stuff about Zimmerman “profiling” Martin, whatever that means.

    This is a major injustice designed to appease the unappeasable forces of race hatred fomented by Sharpton, NBC news, the Black Panthers, and other malevolent forces.

  218. #218 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Caleb,

    You don’t agree with the case where alcoholism was used to prove drunkeness. Good. That shows some common sense. Where were you when Halvorson needed you? Saving yourself for Z.? What was the chance that you would “go to bat” rhetorically for Halvorson, the way you are for (what you perceive to be) Z.’s best interests?

    Here is the common sense scoop as far as the Halvorson case and the Zimmerman case and what their comparison should show us:

    Being an alcoholic (especially one who has been thru rehab) is not strong evidence that a person was drunk on some given night.

    OTOH, making even one “bad” call to the police can and should cast a pall over all the calls you make to police for the rest of your life. It doesn’t NECCESSARILY mean that if a person makes one “bad” call then all the others are bad, but, yeah, it is relevant if there is a call that looks pretty hinky on the surface (as the Trayvon call re Z. did). Black guy in a hoodie walking in the rain is not a reason to call police. It just isn’t. Again, common sense.

    I don’t think you have the analytical wherewithal for statutory analysis, but the common sense dynamics should be within your grasp.

  219. #219 |  Eric Y | 

    #194: The mandatory courses for CHL/CCW are pretty sparse. A few hours in the classroom, half which is safety, and a basic marksmanship test. Think of state driver’s licensing difficulty and how many bad drivers cruise the road. You can easily spend a week of instruction alone on judicious use of deadly force. We haven’t even touched on post-shooting concerns or the body’s effects under extreme stress and actual physical training of technique. Having hundreds of hours of classroom instruction and on a dynamic range is quite different than an afternoon in a classroom and firing 10 shots at a piece of paper. It really takes hundreds or thousands of hours to achieve proficiency (and goes a long way in explaining why so most cops are bad shots. They qualify once a year and leave it at that).

    Of course, I’m willing to concede that in a free society, as much as I wished folks got real training, I would never support activism to make it mandatory. Such is the risk that goes with freedom. The problem is we aren’t cops, so if we find ourselves in a self-defense situation, most of us don’t have the resources a cop does, like department lawyers, a PR rep, a union to back us, a giant war chest of taxpayer funds and insurance, or access to expert witnesses to testify on our behalf. You’re on your own, and the folks I’ve bumped into that have gone through this will tell you it is a lonely road indeed.

  220. #220 |  Some Questions | 

    I’ve taken hundreds of hours of instruction with Trident Concepts, Massad Ayoob, TacPro, Andy Stanford, Pat Rogers, etc. Plus I’m a lawyer. So i agree it can all get complicated both tactically and legally, and even a “good shoot” may not turn out the way you like with the legal system. At the end of the day, though, most people are best advised to use it as an absolute last resort. Assume you’ll get arrested, and remember to shut your trap. If you assume those things, you should avoid most conflicts. The worst are the people looking for exceptions like stopping a felony or criminal mischief in the nightime in Texas. Most are just trash talkers; overall the statistical record of CHL holders is pretty good all around.

  221. #221 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Here is a good rule for gun owners to follow:

    If you wouldn’t feel safe going to a certain location unarmed, then don’t go there armed.

    If you don’t feel safe going anywhere unarmed, then you should consider getting rid of your guns.

    Seriously.

    All this should go without saying.

  222. #222 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Assume you’ll get arrested, and remember to shut your trap.

    It is pretty clear to me that Z. would be in a much, much worse position now if he had refused to talk to police.

    i don’t like pointing that out.

    it makes things complicated in a way that I cannot make shg understand (I have tried explaining to him about situations where it IS better to TALK to police as a suspect).

    but its true.

  223. #223 |  Potential problems with Zimmerman Indictment - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum | 

    [...] [...]

  224. #224 |  Eric Y | 

    #220: I haven’t had the pleasure of catching Mr. Ayoob’s LFI class here in the northwest as he is an annual guest instructor at FAS but I’ve had several exchanges with him before. To drive home your point about “getting arrested”, did he mention the case he served on several years ago as an expert witness on behalf of Larry Hickey? He and Marty Hayes had to fight through two criminal trials and Mr. Hickey was also dragged through the civil wringer. The ACLDN has a 46-pg pdf summarizing how that case went. I can forward a copy if you’re interested. Hickey did everything right but law enforcement dropped the ball at every step, including misplacing exculpatory evidence and never getting a statement at the initial scene or an official one at the station from Hickey. All photographs showed the incident took place on his property but the “victims” and prosecutor insisted it happened in the middle of the street. The “victims” went as far as stating it happened on Hickey’s property during civil litigation, between the two criminal trials, in order to collect from homeowner’s insurance.

  225. #225 |  Eric Y | 

    #220, actually if you Google for “ACLDN Larry Hickey”, the link has been reposted several places so I guess its widely available now.

  226. #226 |  Jay | 

    Jay, there was an eyewitness and only one real eyewitenss. His name was John. He was a neutral by all accounts. If there was one or ten, it doesn’t matter.

    And is that eyewitness willing to testify that he saw Trayvon Martin inflicting grievous bodily harm on Zimmerman? Because the only reports I saw stated that he saw one guy hitting another guy, and that the descriptions fit Martin as the hitter and Zimmerman as the punching bag.

    Again: I do not believe that if someone punches me in the face, I should be allowed to gun him down. I need to have a reasonable fear that he will not just black my eye or bloody my nose, or even give me a few stiches, but that he will KILL OR CRIPPLE me. If not, I am using disproportionate force.

    All self-defense should be founded on the concept that you are allowed to retaliate only with like force. You can only use a gun if you are seriously in fear of life or limb…not of getting beat up.

    Yes, people can kill with their bare hands, and it has happened. But was it happening or likely to happen in this case? Is there evidence (based on injuries) that shows that Martin was trying to kill Zimmerman, or likely to do so?

    Finally: did the eyewitness see the START of hostilities? Sure, he saw Martin with the upper hand (maybe)…but was Martin attacking, or defending? What did Zimmerman say or do before that moment? We have no one’s word but Zimmerman’s, and his account is (understandably) self-serving.

    To me, the most crucial aspects of this case are twofold:

    1.) Martin was unarmed. Using lethal force against an unarmed assailant is VERY different to me than using it against an armed one, because it is much more likely that a weapon will prove lethal than barehanded combat (with minor exceptions). Check some statistics on the lethality of unarmed fights vs. those involving weapons.

    2.) No one knows who started the fight. I place the primary blame for any death on the person who caused it to happen. And it makes no sense to me that Zimmerman would approach Martin calmly and rationally and that Martin would suddenly respond with violence. So I doubt that’s what happened. We know that Zimmerman followed and initiated contact with Martin…that does not look good to me, because it unnecessarily escalated the situation.

    No, it’s not ‘illegal’ to walk up to people and talk to them. But it’s not a good idea, if you are armed, to walk up to people and act like a cop or a watchdog. It moves you into an aggressive position, and (IMO) makes you more responsible for violence resulting.

    Plus from media accounts you have reports that suggest it was not impossible Trayvon was a hothead and a troublemaker, i.e., numerous disciplinary problems in school, punching a bus driver according to brother’s Twitter, “gangsta” persona on Twitter.

    I have not seen this supposed “evidence” of Martin being a troublemaker; if you have links from credible sources, I will review them. It sounds like victim-smearing to me, honestly.

    But again: being a hothead is not deserving of a death sentence.

    And finally you have the legally irrelevant stuff about Zimmerman “profiling” Martin, whatever that means.

    So you believe that a bunch of supposed stuff making Martin look like a thug is all relevant, but the possibility of Zimmerman being racially motivated or influenced is automatically irrelevant? Nice double standard.

    At the end of the day, though, most people are best advised to use it as an absolute last resort. Assume you’ll get arrested, and remember to shut your trap.

    I actually agree with this. And I think that’s how it should be. I want people to be able to use force in the last extreme, but I definitely do not want people resorting to it unless it is necessary. And yes, I’m aware that is a fine line to walk. But I feel we have to walk it.

    To go in opposition to what you (I believe it was you) said earlier, I would rather someone is killed or seriously injured by a criminal because they held back from using lethal force than that someone should kill an innocent person (supposedly in “self defense”) and walk for it. I don’t believe the state should be casual in taking life, and I feel the same way for private citizens.

  227. #227 |  Jay | 

    Addendum: If you feel it is truly “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6″, go right ahead…but I expect you to be judged. So complaining that you’re arrested, charged, and tried is a little hypocritical.

  228. #228 |  Deoxy | 

    Burgers Allday:

    EVery freaking one of those 45 calls you keep mentioning could show Zimmerman to be a racist and an idiot who sees criminal intent in every person he doesn’t personally know (or just every black person, even), and it would not tell us whether Martin attacked him or not. THAT is why it’s not relevant. THAT is why everyone is mystified that you say it’s the most important thing.

    The evidence we have strongly suggests that Martin doubled back to have a confrontation with Zimmerman.

    Who threw the first punch? WE DON’T KNOW.

    The evidence strongly suggests (neutral third party witness) that Zimmerman was on the ground getting pounded when he shot Martin (who was doing the pounding).

    Unless Zimmerman physically started the fight (and possibly even then, depending on levels of force and who escalated, etc, etc), from a legal perspective, it’s an open/shut case of self defense.

    So, there you have it. To show that Zimmerman is guilty of even manslaughter, much less murder 2, you need to show that Zimmerman either started the fight or at the very least escalated it sufficiently that holding him down and pounding him was a reasonable thing for Martin to do.

    I can grant you ALL the other issues here (racism, getting out of the truck, etc), and it’s still self-defense unless Zimmerman was sufficiently PHYSICALLY aggressive (not just in proximity, following, etc).

    Based on the available evidence, I can’t see any way to get there.

    So, just to pre-empt the BS: yes, if you can convince someone to lay you out on the ground and pound you, then, by the standards in place here, you might be able to get away with murdering them and claiming self-defense (assuming that was your plan to begin with). Give me a better standard, or shut up.

    OK, or come up with some way to discount the neutral witness who claims that Martin was on top pounding Zimmerman. No, ignoring him doesn’t count.

  229. #229 |  Burgers Allday | 

    This morning at about 10.30 am I was taking a picture of a building (an interesting looking store, long closed), using my cell phone, on a “rough” street in the city in which I live. As I was trying to adjust the camera settings in the bright sunlight, I noticed that someone was heading towards me on a bicycle, riding slowly and seeming like they were trying to sneak up.

    When the person got about 15-20 feet away, I lifted my head and turned to look at the person squarely. It was a Hispanic male, probably 5 years younger, or so, than Zimmerman. He was not happy that I turned to look at him, but I kept my eye on him (and his friend, who wasn’t trying to menace me) until he slowly rode past. When he got about 20 feet past, the Hispanic guy said to the friend, in a voice loud enough for me to hear:

    “Nigger is looking at me like I was was going to steal his phone.”

    The friend did not seem too concerned about the whole thing and the pair continued to ride off, quickly going out of earshot.

    I had to wonder what a typical Tatortotski would have done. Pull a concealed hand gun? Call the police?

    I have to admit that I didn’t like being called a “nigger.” But, seriously, why court trouble? I have to take more pictures, but I’ll just go earlier.

  230. #230 |  Bob | 

    @ Burger Allday: What I want to hear is the previous 45 calls made by Trayvon. Actually, if one looks at Trayvon’s previous 45 facebook postings, one can make a pretty good guess of which of the two are the most likely to have initiated a violent confrontation.

  231. #231 |  Some Questions | 

    You make some good points. Just two short responses.

    Who started the fight matters and Trayvon and Zimmerman’s character matters to some extent in figuring out whose story is more credible. So the “smears” of Trayvon matter, I’d suggest they’re easy enough to find out on the interent, and the rules of evidence are tilted in favor of defendant here.

    As for your last point, that perhaps should be the law–I disagree–but the law is indifferent as to use of force to protect life or to prevent great bodily harm. Either one allows deadly force. You’re not required to get pummeled or even allow a single punch to land, though that may be evidence of the extent of your fear. The question is your fear and the reasonableness of the same. This may not be best rule, though I think it is, but that is the only rule that matters in this legal case.

  232. #232 |  Burgers Allday | 

    The evidence we have strongly suggests that Martin doubled back to have a confrontation with Zimmerman.

    If Zimmerman chased Martin in a “threatening” manner (or to “molest” Trayvon) twice, then Z. committed the crime of “aggravated stalking” under Florida law.

  233. #233 |  Deoxy | 

    I would rather someone is killed or seriously injured by a criminal because they held back from using lethal force than that someone should kill an innocent person (supposedly in “self defense”) and walk for it.

    Those two things are exactly the same crime. There is no distinction to make. In fact, they can both happen in the same instance.

    As such, the objective here is to minimize BOTH such cases. Assuming that all cases of killing are murder would facilitate people holding back and being killed by criminals, with the very minor benefit of giving one less method of trying to avoid culpability for murder (that is, if you want to murder someone, that particular method of trying to get away with would be unavailable… so you would just try another one).

    The “sweet spot” is the one with the fewest non-criminals being dead or (at some discounted rate to “dead”) wrongly incarcerated from protecting themselves from a criminal. Also, minimizing people killing each other mistakenly (that is, too low a threshold or perceived threshold for lethal force) is also a factor.

    Historically speaking, we can say with some certainty that a “NO lethal self-defense” standard is insane. (Actually, you can go look in the UK for the results of that right now, no “historical” stuff necessary.)

    Since there are many ways to plan to kill someone and try to get away with it, I see to reason or benefit to heightening the requirements for a self defense claim. The honest claimant will have nothing more to offer than they already do, while the dishonest one (that is, an intentional murderer) will have little difficulty either A) taking the heightened standard into account or B) trying a “more traditional” method of getting away with it.

    Yes, too low a standard is abusable, but that’s not the only concern when you want to minimize the innocent body count.

  234. #234 |  Some Questions | 

    Burgers, you a lawyer? Law student? I’m not sure that’s right.

  235. #235 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Deoxy:

    Look, I get the “divide-and-conquer” strategy, and you have expressed it a bit better than some of the other Totski’s. If you look at Zimmerman’s tone and demeanor during the 911 call on Trayvon, it does not in and of itself indicate a problem. If you look at the fact that Zimmerman calls police a lot more than the average citizen then that does not in and of itself indicate a problem. If Zimmerman is tooling around inside a gated community, armed with a gun, and looking to investigate people in his capacity as a private citizen, then that is not in and of itself a problem. If Zimmerman wants to follow Martin after the dispatcher says “you don’t need to do that” then that is not in and of itself a problem (actually this one is kind of a problem in and of itself, but Sanford pd doesn’t seem inclined to push the issue — they probably could). If Zimmerman wants to respond to an attack by fisticuffs by both brandishing and then shooting a gun then that is not necessarily a problem in and of itself. And so on.

    The problem for the Zimmerman partisans is that none of these things happened in and of themselves. These circumstances are packed all together into one tightly wound series of events. Of course, some people are going to take this combination as strong evidence that Z. was the true aggressor. I don’t exactly agree with that. But my suspicions are raised to the point where I need to hear those tapes to decide if this really is a contemporary To Kill A Mockingbird remake. It looks like it might be. The ppl who so much don’t want to hear all the previous calls convince me of this as much as anything else.

  236. #236 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Burgers, you a lawyer?

    I am Burgers. Burgers Allday. I write a blog. It is linked in my sig line.

  237. #237 |  Some Questions | 

    I understand that. But you seem to be making some pretty bold, unqualified, and controversial legal pronouncements, and I just wanted to see if any of us might have any reason–beyond what you prove here–to believe your ipse dixit pronouncements.

  238. #238 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I just wanted to see if any of us might have any reason–beyond what you prove here

    Oh. Let me clarify. Please don’t accept, or reject, any arguments that I am making based on any credentials I may or may not have. Please do not even assume that I am human being. There is simply no need for you to know whether I am human or otherwise.

    Please do accept, or reject, my arguments based ontheir intellectual, logical, prudence and/or humanistic merits (or lack thereof).

  239. #239 |  MAK | 

    @Some questions: the beating up a busdriver thing is laughable. I’m assuming basing that on some friend tweeting Martin that “you ain’t tell me you swung on a bus driver,” or whatever. That doesn’t even rise to the level of double-hearsay. Seriously, the day I accidentally wacked a friend of mine while gesturing a little too emphatically I got endless ribbing from my friends about the “brutal beating” I’d inflicted. I’d hate to think of what the Daily Caller would make of all that if some random guy shot me in the street.

    We know (confirmed by the AP) that Martin had no criminal record; if he’d actually swung at a bus driver, it’s difficult to understand how he’d have escaped assault charges. Besides which, if you’re seriously going to say that a random tweet from a friend is damning evidence against a homicide victim, what about the shooter’s violent background? Zimmerman was arrested for assaulting a cop, his girlfriend accused him of assault and took out a restraining order, he was reportedly fired from his job as a security guard for literally picking a woman up and throwing her because she was drunk and unruly, and his co-worker described him as a Jekyll and Hyde personality who would be fine one moment and then go apeshit on people the next. That’s a lot of baggage. It may or may not be relevant, and it may or may not be admissible in court. But I can’t fathom why the same people who are opposing a rush to judgment on Zimmerman are willing to go out on the tiniest limb to find “evidence” that the dead teenager must have had it coming.

  240. #240 |  BlueDotty | 

    I think you’re mixing uses of the word “victim” when you say “But Corey’s job here was to determine who the victim actually was.”

    You seem confused, so here’s a hint: The dead one.

    Regardless of how the case plays out, Trayvon Martin is the VICTIM of a fatal shooting. George Zimmerman may or may not be guilty of a crime, but Trayvon Martin is indeed by any measure of the word, a “victim.” Don’t get all hung up on semantics.

  241. #241 |  Eric Y | 

    If someone disengages and you choose to engage the again, you’re now the aggressor on a new conflict. This is why it is generally considered manslaughter if you use lethal force on someone who broke off the conflict, even if the attacker was using a level of force considered lethal upon you. Once immediate threat of death or great bodily injury ceases, your right to apply lethal force ceases as well. I think it I important to state again that you can only use equal force, not necessary force or excessive force.

  242. #242 |  MAK | 

    “The evidence we have strongly suggests that Martin doubled back to have a confrontation with Zimmerman.”

    The only evidence that suggests that is Zimmerman’s story. Z’s story – that Martin doubled back to confront him- not only contradicts the statement of Martin’s girlfriend (who is probably a more credible witness given that of the two, she has far less motive to lie), it also contradicts common sense. The one thing we can be reasonably certain we know for a “fact” is that this incident began with Zimmerman chasing Martin and Martin “running” away from Zimmerman. To believe Z’s story, we have to accept that for some unknown reason, *both* of them had a simultaneous change of heart. Zimmerman decided to give up the pursuit, and Martin decided ‘hey, screw this running away, even though I have no history of violent or threatening behavior, I’ve decided that tonight is the night I’m gonna kill or be killed, and I think I’ll start with that guy.’ Possible? Anything’s possible. But not very plausible.

    As for “John’s” statement to Fox News – it may or may not be highly significant. “John” does not claim to have seen the beginning of the confrontation or the end of it. To weigh his testimony you’d have to have him actually, well, testify and be cross-examined (where was he standing, how good is his eyesight, had he been drinking that night, was he under stress, etc.) There’s also another reported eyewitness who saw the actual shooting and thought the man on top was the man who got up after the gun went off – though he was uncertain due to the dark. But it was equally dark for John.

    Point being not that we have enough information to convict Zimmerman yet, but that there’s enough to hold a trial. And of course, there’s lots of information presumably out there that we the internet-surfing public don’t have access to, like Zimmerman’s medical records and the autopsy report.

  243. #243 |  Art | 

    The Sanford PD wanted to arrest GZ but before the case could be put to a grand jury, the Governor intervened and put the SP in charge. This says alot about the faith in the story told by GZ as told to the PD.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/27/2718130_sanford-cops-wanted-to-charge.html#storylink=addthis

  244. #244 |  Martin/Zimmerman: the Murder Two rap | 

    [...] Jeralyn Merritt on the affidavit’s unsupported assertions [via Balko] And via Steele, Legal Ethics Forum: George Conk “sensed trouble when Florida Special [...]

  245. #245 |  Az Slim | 

    It seems that everyone agrees that the length of time between the time Trayvon’s phone was dropped (time verified by phone co and the copy of the phone bill) and the time the police arrived (verified by police report) to find Trayvon already shot and Zimmerman standing up, was 3 minutes or less.
    I run through this scenario in my mind and wonder about how long it takes to think you have no other option but to shoot some one at point blank range. I wonder how strong, or how fast, or how scary looking this young man, one month into his 17th year, could have been. I wonder about Zimmerman being 10 yrs older. Did he understand he was shooting a teenager? I wonder about him being a criminal justice major, where usually a great deal of coursework involves de-escalating a situation. I wonder about the last call Zimmerman had with the dispatcher when he was told the police were very close. I wonder why this cop wannabe couldn’t hold off a teenager for literally 2 minutes. I wonder how creeped out the teenager was feeling to be followed at least 10 minutes but some guy in a truck. He must have wondered if he was a sexual predator.

  246. #246 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    He sought a confrontation. Is anyone doubting that? That’s cause for a trial. On murder charges.

  247. #247 |  ben tillman | 

    Wait, so you can use the fact that somebody is an alcoholic to show that they were drunk on a particular night (when the person claims to have been sober and was refused a test to prove that sobriety), but you can’t use any past calls to the police if they tend to show* that Z. had a habit of calling police in order to hassle black people who weren’t doing anything wrong and not doing anything suspicious.

    But that’s completely irrelevant since he’s not charged with “hassling” someone who wasn’t doing anything wrong. And you know what “habit” those calls show? That Z had a “habit” of calling the police and NOT subsequently shooting them!

  248. #248 |  Caleb | 

    You don’t agree with the case where alcoholism was used to prove drunkeness. Good. That shows some common sense.

    Oh stop it you. I’m blushing.

    Where were you when Halvorson needed you?

    I’m assuming this is Halvorson v. Baird you are referring to? 1998? In all likelihood, I was running, jumping, climbing up trees and being a general menace to the local populace.

    What was the chance that you would “go to bat” rhetorically for Halvorson

    High, given that I think the lower court’s evidentiary ruling was in error and clearly prejudiced his case. Higher, if he were paying me.

    the way you are for (what you perceive to be) Z.’s best interests?

    Really? At what point have I given any indication that I per se want GZ to go free? If he’s guilty, he should go to prison for a very long time. But it is imperative to our system of justice that the state prove his guilt within the legal bounds set forth in the law. That means it is critical that the state follow legal procedures to the letter, and not let themselves be pushed around by the extra-legal (and often irrational) forces of public opinion. Ultimately, I don’t care what happens to GZ. I care that the rule of law is followed. That is what I and the vast majority of commenters have been arguing. Are you so blinded by partisan mentality that you can’t acknowledge that?

    OTOH, making even one “bad” call to the police can and should cast a pall over all the calls you make to police for the rest of your life.

    Debatable. I think you’d need at least one more to establish a pattern for intent purposes. However, those prior calls would only be relevant in showing intent to make other bad calls.

    Black guy in a hoodie walking in the rain is not a reason to call police. It just isn’t. Again, common sense.

    That. Doesn’t. Matter. GZ could have been following TM while goose-stepping in white robes singing “Die Fahne Hoch.” He could have had the police on speed dial, and called them whenever he felt lonely or scared. Doesn’t matter. GZ isn’t on trial for racism (officially). He isn’t on trial for filing false police reports. He’s on trial for murder. He’s asserting some form of self defense. And being a nosy, racist jerk who calls police at the drop of a hat has nothing to do with the reasonableness of his self defense.

    I don’t think you have the analytical wherewithal for statutory analysis, but the common sense dynamics should be within your grasp.

    Thank you, oh Wise One, for sparring me the travails engaging in critical thought. I will bow to your superior intellect and insight on this matter.

    Seriously. I may be dense, but don’t think I won’t recognize the ol’ “appeal to authority” gambit when I see it. Consider your bluff called. Whatcha got?

  249. #249 |  ben tillman | 

    And you know what “habit” those calls show? That Z had a “habit” of calling the police and NOT subsequently shooting them!

    Wow – that was poorly written. I meant to say he had a “habit” of calling the police and not subsequentky shooting the people he reported to the police.

  250. #250 |  More Questions | 

    Someone’s breaking into my house. They have burglary tools and a long and varied rapsheet. I shoot them. Everyone agrees it’s self defense. Who is the victim? Most wouldn’t describe the now-dead burglar as such, other than in a very technical sense.

    That’s a clear case. The Trayvon/Zimmerman one is admittedly much less so. But to say Trayvon was the victim here is simply to make him indistinguishable from the real victims of serial killers, rapists, etc. He may be a victim. He may not. But it’s not right for the prosecutor to take sides like that so early in the game. Who the real victim was is the central question of the case, i.e., whether Zimmerman was a victim of an assault which reasonably put him in fear of death and great bodily harm which afforded him the legal privilege of self defense.

  251. #251 |  More Questions | 

    Here’s an interesting case I heard about at a Florida criminal law blog. No million hoodie marches for this one. And I find it somewhat surprising in all candor:

    For instance, just last month, a Florida judge dismissed Second Degree Murder charges in the killing of Pedro Roteta, an unarmed 26 year old man. The defendant, Greyston Garcia, allegedly saw Roteta steal a radio from Garcia’s truck. Unlike George Zimmerman, Greyston Garcia didn’t call the police before running after Pedro Roteta. Instead, Garcia grabbed a large knife and chased Roteta for at least a block. Upon catching up with Roteta, Garcia proceeded to stab Roteta to death. After the brutal killing, Garcia took Roteta’s bag of stolen radios and allegedly pawned two of them; he also hid the knife and never called 911 to report the incident. Nevertheless, thanks to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” immunity clause [ed.'s note: this was part of same legislative change that added "no retreat" requirement, but implicates self defense generally], Greyston Garcia never faced a jury. Instead, Garcia filed a Motion to Dismiss and testified that Roteta swung a bag of stolen radios at his head. Fearing for his life, Garcia claims that he stood his ground–and stabbed Roteta to death.

    That’s right: Garcia ran down and stabbed an unarmed man to death; pawned the items taken from the dead man; and hid the knife from police. Yet, Garcia never stood trial or faced a jury. How is that possible? Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” immunity clause.

    Under F.S. 776.032, a person is “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action,” if a person justifiably uses deadly force. This is an extraordinarily important aspect of the law, because immunity provides a greater level of protection than an affirmative defense. In the case of an affirmative defense, the accused must go to trial and convince a jury that he acted justifiably. With immunity, the case will never get to a jury in the first place. In order to win immunity, the accused need only convince a judge, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the killing was justified.

  252. #252 |  LongHairedWeirdo | 

    Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I am.

    But here’s the thing.

    George Zimmerman deliberately caused the death of another human being. So, I think he committed a crime.

    That’s the starting point: killing people is wrong. He killed someone; he’s in the wrong, unless something changes.

    Ah, but he does change something – he says “but I was attacked!” Which, if true, *might* make his actions legal (let’s ignore “right”), depending on the law. (Per one interpretation I’ve seen, since he initiated a confrontation with Trayvon Martin, he did, in fact, have a duty to retreat – Trayvon had the right to self defense against this guy who was following him in a threatening manner! – and only after trying his best to retreat or otherwise de-escalate, would he re-obtain the right to use deadly force. I’m not a lawyer, but that would make sense to me.)

    Okay, fine – he gets to make his case. But you can’t just kill someone, and insist you were attacked, and expect the state to leave you alone, and not even charge you with a crime.

    I’ll grant you – there are circumstances in which the prosecutor would be unjust in charging him. But I find it incredibly puzzling that there’s this sense of *shock* that a man who killed someone might face criminal charges, and might have to actually *prove* that he engaged in self defense, and if he can’t demonstrate that, might go to jail.

    There was a time when the RKBA-supporters I knew dispassionately advised gun owners that “it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6″ (i.e.: jury, or pallbearers? take your pick…) – and told folks to assume that if you use a gun to save your life, you might spend that life in jail, and even if you don’t, expect to spend many thousands of dollars in legal fees before you’re exonerated.

    Apparently that time is gone, and that’s why I no longer respect gun rights organizations.

  253. #253 |  GayPatriot » Watcher of Weasels Nominations (Immediate Post-Ides of April Edition) | 

    [...] Agitator –The Zimmerman Indictment: Reactions submitted by The [...]

  254. #254 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Wow – that was poorly written. I meant to say he had a “habit” of calling the police and not subsequentky shooting the people he reported to the police.

    I big issue on the previous calls is whether they were done to “molest” or “threaten” the targets of those calls. Would get too hung up on “habit” or “character.” Think “intent” and “motive.” These are important in deciding whether Z.’s selfdefense defense is a good defense or a bad defense. The key remains those 45 previous calls. Do NOT take yr eye off the ball here.

  255. #255 |  Burgers Allday | 

    but don’t think I won’t recognize the ol’ “appeal to authority” gambit when I see it. Consider your bluff called. Whatcha got?

    Oh. Let me clarify. Please don’t accept, or reject, any arguments that I am making based on any credentials I may or may not have. Please do not even assume that I am human being. There is simply no need for you to know whether I am human or otherwise.

    Please do accept, or reject, my arguments based on their intellectual, logical, prudence and/or humanistic merits (or lack thereof).

    You want to poke a whole regarding what I am saying about “other bad acts” evidence used to show intent or pattern? Show me a case. Happy hunting and I look fwd to hearing back:

    http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/help.html

  256. #256 |  Watcher’s Council Nominations – Death And Taxes Edition | Virginia Right! | 

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  257. #257 |  More Questions | 

    Burgers, no real lawyer with real experience in criminal defense seems to agree with you regarding the key to the case. This obviously causes you not a moments doubt or reflection. This is a character flaw.

    I agree it may be interesting to hear those calls. Since they’re all recorded and what not, any sane person, even if he had bad intent or mischievous or racist motives would probably conceal that. Don’t most people learn to start doing that in middle school or thereabouts? Plus, as others have said, he did call the cops a bunch of times without shooting anyone, and, equally important, even stipulating that he “maliciously sicked the cops on suspicious people” he could have been a bad guy, busybody, and all the rest. The relevant thing is not whether had those traits or even necessarily who started the fight but who was the aggressor right before he pulled the trigger. That is why the eyewitness testimony, medical examiner testimony (where was Trayvon shot), and paramedic testimony regarding Zimmerman’s injuries are much more important. This is why when you read self defense cases sometimes you’re dealing with some pretty transparent “Blue on Blue” attacks involving rival criminals; even they have a right of self defense.

    Incidentally, a lot of people think “mental state” in the criminal law and start thinking about cosmic motives: was he a busybody, racist, nasty, etc. Burgers seems to be doing this, even though the law does not (formally) concern itself with this sort of thing. In reality, the inquiry is much narrower: was the act intentional, in the heat of the moment, reckless, etc. Even the depraved mind stuff in Fla.’s 2nd degree murder statute really means, in practice, an intentional killing.

  258. #258 |  Burgers Allday | 

    no real lawyer with real experience in criminal defense seems to agree with you

    How many criminal lawyers are there to whom you presented my statements on this thread? Maybe your sample size is too small to be sure that no real criminal lawyers agree with me.

    Frankly, I haven’t heard any real criminal lawyers opine on the admissibility of the other 45 phone calls at Z.’s murder trial.

    I also haven’t heard any real criminal lawyers opine on whether it would be ethical (and/or ethically mandated) for the prosecutor to release the previous 45 calls to the public, right now, forthwith and without further delay.

    If you see some real and experienced criminal lawyers opining on these central (or, at least, should-be-considered-as-central) questions in the case of the homicide of Trayvon Martin, then please consider providing us the link. I, for one, would be much obliged. That type of info is highly useful to me.

  259. #259 |  Wax zip | 

    Did Trayvon know Zimmerman was carrying a gun? Did Zimmerman know Trayvon was unarmed? (perhaps he should have waited to be shot himself?) define stalking. Neighborhood watchman are now considered stalkers?

    People are great at 20/20 vision / Monday morning quarterbacking. Trayvon andZimmerman played it out in real time and none of us were there. Qui t assuming and applying what we know know vs. what was known then on a dark night.

  260. #260 |  Adirondack Patriot | 

    If the 45 previous calls to police will help determine what Zimmerman’s intent was, let’s also look at Martins hundreds of tweets regarding drug use and violence and racism to determine what his intent was.

  261. #261 |  This Week’s Watcher’s Council Nominations | therightplanet.com | 

    [...] Agitator –The Zimmerman Indictment: Reactions submitted by The [...]

  262. #262 |  BoogaFrito | 

    #200 | Nick T. | April 17th, 2012 at 11:31 am

    BoogaFrito, yes you’re correct (in your first, non-sarcastic sentence). Those things are “evidence” as in something that tends to make a certain fact more likely or less likely. Evidence is different from definitive proof. I used the word to mean what it means, sorry if this threw you off.

    Oh, I understood.

    You also said you believed Zimmerman had committed a crime, presumably based on this evidence. I was merely making light of your biases in my response. Perhaps I was too subtle.

  263. #263 |  Miroker | 

    @ 141
    Radley, thanks for saying what needed to be said. I did not want to call out “some” one for the obviously racist commenting being done. It seems there may be one or two others who harbor the same tendencies, but what do I know.

  264. #264 |  Trevor Loudon's New Zeal Blog | 

    [...] Agitator – The Zimmerman Indictment: Reactions submitted by The [...]

  265. #265 |  Burgers Allday | 

    If the 45 previous calls to police will help determine what Zimmerman’s intent was, let’s also look at Martins hundreds of tweets regarding drug use and violence and racism to determine what his intent was.

    If there are tweets (serious ones, not jokes) about Trayvon beating anybody up, then, yeah, that is going to come in, too. As it should.

    I mean, getting in a fight at school is not as bad, or as likely to be repeated behavior, as a “bad” call to police. A lot of us here have gotten in a fight or two at school. I know when the bully (turns out he had a real bad undiagnosed chromosome disorder) knocked my glasses off my head, even I fought back.

    I have never called the police to report a black man walking in a hoodie in the rain. Without more I would not do that. It is not nice to sic police on people for innocent behavior, especially when the real reason for the way-overly-solicitous suspicion is racism.

  266. #266 |  Burgers Allday | 

    define stalking

    this was presented upthd:

    Subsection (1) defines “harass” as “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose.” § 784.048(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2006). “Course of conduct” is “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.” § 784.048(1)(b), Fla. Stat. (2006) (emphasis added). Subsection (2) then provides that any person who “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows [or] harasses . . . another person commits the offense of stalking. . . .” § 784.048(2), Fla. Stat. (2006).

    That is a quote from a Florida quote and it seems to be accurate.

    the requirement of “repeatedly” is the most controversial. the courts of Florida have basically determined that stalking (the criminally actionable kind which the statute refers to as “agravated stalking” but courts sometimes simply refer to as “stalking”) requires not merely that one preson follows another with malicious intentions, but, more particularly that one person follow another single individual person TWICE, having malicious intentions both times. As you can see from the quote, the two separate acts of malicious following required by the statute may be separated by only a relatively short amount of time.

  267. #267 |  Deoxy | 

    But you can’t just kill someone, and insist you were attacked, and expect the state to leave you alone, and not even charge you with a crime.

    In a clear cut case of self-defense, I wouldn’t expect it realistically (because I’ve had too much experience with the real world), but I would expect it morally.

    If someone comes to my house and tries to break in, they are putting me at risk (check the stats on how often someone breaking in to a home with people there is violent to them). I have every moral and ethical right to defend myself, and the state has no moral or ethical right to punish me in any way for it.

    Some level of investigation that it was indeed self-defense is reasonable. Expecting criminal charges in every case (which involves going to jail for at least some period of time and spending large amounts of time and money – that is, the charging itself is punishing) is NOT.

  268. #268 |  libarbarian | 

    There was a time when I thought that it was at least universally acknowledged that Martin was innocent of the suspicions of Zimmerman and was not engaged in any criminal conduct … at least until the alleged “attack”

    Sadly even this is was too fast.

  269. #269 |  libarbarian | 

    “Martin would really double back to attack Zimmerman? Why risk that? He didn’t even know who Zimmerman was.

    The same applies to Zimmerman. Why would the “community watchman” violently attack someone who he didn’t know and thought may have been armed? It’s just as unlikely.”

    nigmalg,

    It doesn’t have to be a case of either person “attacking” the other.

    The idea that Zimmerman executed Martin in cold blood is far-fetched. The idea that Martin would turn around and try to crush Zimmermans skull without even any argument between them is also far-fetched.

    Most likely is that Zimmerman confronted Martin and was basically told to “piss off” by a kid angry at being followed. The argument escalated (a neighbor testified there was at least a full minute of argument before he heard sounds of fighting – a clear contradiction of Zimmermans story that he was attacked with hardly any exchange of words) and it became physical*. Zimmerman found himself taking a beating and shot. Then, realizing that his pursuit, confrontation, etc. could open him to legal liability, lied and said Martin attacked him without warning.

  270. #270 |  Burgers Allday | 

    If I were Trayvon: (i) I would not have been especially concerned about Zimmerman following me; but (ii) I would be concerned (and frankly angry) that he was trying to get the police to give me a Terry stop and frisk.

    If this were just a case of simple following there probably would not have been nearly the level of problems that there ended up being.

    Following somebody is not the same as following them for the purpose of getting them a police detainment. It seems like it might well have been clear to Trayvon that that is what Zimmerman was trying to do. Not just simple following. If this wasn’t true when the argument started, it was probably true by the time it got physical.

    Going home wouldn’t help. Trayvon probably wanted the cops at his house even less than he wanted to deal with them in the street.

    I mean, get real here, folks.

    Do you even think there really was mj residue in Trayvon’s plastic bag a couple weeks earlier. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, Trayvon knew the score and he knew he did not want to be dealing with the Sanford pd (“If you have a black suspect, please hit zero for immediate assistance from a live operator . . .”).

  271. #271 |  Druid | 

    A straightforward question – being that all this went down on private property, frontyard, backyard, streets, sidewalks, all; was Trayvon Martin a bona fide guest of a resident that night or was he simply prowler roaming the neighborhood of somebody he happened to know?

  272. #272 |  meginphoenix | 

    What the what? Why is Trayvon Martin referred to as “Trayvon” and Geoge Zimmerman referred to as “Zimmerman”? Seems one of the hugefully off-balance things in the medias reporting. Should it not be “Trayvon” and “George”, or “Martin” and “Zimmerman” for unbiased reporting?

    We are obviously living in a parallel universe.

  273. #273 |  Burgers Allday | 

    What the what? Why is Trayvon Martin referred to as “Trayvon” and Geoge Zimmerman referred to as “Zimmerman”? Seems one of the hugefully off-balance things in the medias reporting. Should it not be “Trayvon” and “George”, or “Martin” and “Zimmerman” for unbiased reporting?

    Trayvon is Trayvon because he died and died young.

    Zimmerman is Zimmerman because he lives as a free man and is a grownup.

    These are not conventions that have been made up for this case. They pre-existed.

  274. #274 |  GayPatriot » Watcher of Weasels — Most Recent Results | 

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  275. #275 |  Burgersarebadforyou | 

    @Burgers,

    I truly hope you’re not an attorney or in any way linked to the legal system because you really don’t have a good grasp on the rules of evidence. Granted, Florida might have some exceptions that most don’t know, but what you keep stressing about is more likely than not prejudicial CHARACTER EVIDENCE and is INADMISSIBLE if offered by the prosecution. We can also go down the hearsay route…

    Maybe you can pick one of these, but please support it with something substantial:
    There are several exceptions to the rule against hearsay in U.S. law.[1] Federal Rule of Evidence 803 lists the following: (1) present sense impression, (2) excited utterance, (3) then existing mental, emotional, or physical condition, (4) … medical diagnosis or treatment, (5) recorded recollection, (6) records of regularly conducted activity, (7) absence of entry in records …, (8) public records and reports, (9) records of vital statistics, (10) absence of public record or entry, (11) records of religious organizations, (12) marriage, baptismal, and similar certificates, (13) family records, (14) … property records, (15) statements in documents affecting an interest in property, (16) statements in ancient documents, (17) market reports, commercial publications, (18) learned treatises, (19) reputation concerning personal or family history, (20) reputation concerning boundaries or general history, (21) reputation as to character, (22) judgment of previous conviction, and (23) judgment as to personal, family or general history, or boundaries.[1] Also, some documents are self-authenticating under Rule 902, such as (1) domestic public documents under seal, (2) domestic public documents not under seal, but bearing a signature of a public officer, (3) foreign public documents, (4) certified copies of public records, (5) official publications, (6) newspapers and periodicals, (7) trade inscriptions and the like, (8) acknowledged documents (i.e. by a notary public), (9) commercial paper and related documents, (10) presumptions under Acts of Congress, (11) certified domestic records of regularly conducted activity, (12) certified foreign records of regularly conducted activity

  276. #276 |  Zimnerman’s Bail : Can We Call It Racist? | 

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