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 |  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.

  2. #2 |  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.

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  4. #4 |  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.

  5. #5 |  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

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  7. #7 |  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.

  8. #8 |  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.

  9. #9 |  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.

  10. #10 |  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.

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  12. #12 |  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.

  13. #13 |  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.

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  15. #15 |  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.

  16. #16 |  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.

  17. #17 |  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.

  18. #18 |  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.

  19. #19 |  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.

  20. #20 |  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 . . .”).

  21. #21 |  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?

  22. #22 |  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.

  23. #23 |  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.

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  25. #25 |  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

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