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Each time you open your mouth.. I see Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman..
June 28, 2013 7:05 AM   Subscribe

A Letter to Rachel Jeantel, the prosecution's key witness in the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin (tag) by Khadijah Costley White.
posted by jeffburdges (690 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Right f'ing on. Wow. Thank you for posting this.
posted by spitbull at 7:16 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a better response then the one I have contemplated, which is basically HULK SMASH.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:17 AM on June 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Will you white crackers please stop whining?
posted by chrchr at 7:17 AM on June 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Mostly agreed, chrchr, though I can think of one group of white people who have had nasty things done and said to them by pretty much everyone, but they're often graciously left out of the conversation and/or not considered white.
posted by Mooseli at 7:26 AM on June 28, 2013


I liked this until the mentions of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Fannie Lou Hamer. To me, that’s over the top. Rachel Jeantel is an awesome person who did the right thing by testifying even though she didn’t want to, who has been unwittingly thrust into the national spotlight and subject to horribly racist, sexist and ethnic prejudice, and who probably just wants to be left alone. She’s not Harriet Tubman. She’s herself.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:26 AM on June 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Just a friendly reminder to not read the Gawker comments.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:31 AM on June 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


The mainstream media is enthralled with thin, pretty, white, blonde victims so it's no surprise that they collectively show disdain for witnesses who don't fit that description.

I've seen so many reporters fixate on her lack of reading skills and seem to translate that into her reliability as a witness that it gladdens my heart to read this open letter.

I feel a whole lot more compassion for this young woman and her lack of self-pity than I do for Paula Deen and her self-serving weeping.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:34 AM on June 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


I actually like reading the comments sometimes because it helps to remind me that no matter how pissed off I get at the vile and hateful people of the world, it is never going to be an overreaction.
posted by elizardbits at 7:35 AM on June 28, 2013 [50 favorites]


Anyone got a cache?
posted by oddman at 7:35 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like reading Gawker comments because it makes me think there, but for the grace of a good decision and $5, go I.
posted by jaduncan at 7:37 AM on June 28, 2013 [17 favorites]


I saw a lot of twitter handles with black avatars bemoaning that she was killing the case during her testimony. I liked her and found her mostly credible, she is a scared 19 year old girl and a lot of the criticism is over the top, but she admitted lying A LOT. Not all of the criticism regards her appearance and speech.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea I can't read it.
posted by sweetkid at 7:42 AM on June 28, 2013


Also:

The smearing of Rachel Jeantel
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly why there should never be cameras in the courtroom. I have no problem with the defense attorney grilling her--that was his job. But TV makes it so journalists can give their crappy, uninformed opinion on a court case that even the participants don't fully understand.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [17 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. Please pretend you like this place at all and refrain from actively, weirdly derailing threads. Folks could maybe talk about the content of the linked material, that'd be a good way to make this thread have any reason to exist.]
posted by cortex at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


achel Jeantel is an awesome person who did the right thing by testifying even though she didn’t want to

She's been subpoenaed. She doesn't have the right to refuse.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


The main link isn't working for me. Any other ways to see it?
posted by dry white toast at 7:53 AM on June 28, 2013


With all due respect to my liberal friends, the "attack' by the defense it what they get paid to do.
Did this young lady lie ( a few times) or not and, if she did, will this in fact will set the defendant free.
posted by Postroad at 7:55 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Will you white crackers please stop whining?

As an Alabama prosecutor once remarked to me, "In this state we believe in a fair trial and a quick hanging." That's the legacy of the South. No black person really needs or deserves a fair trial - let's get right on to the justice part. We know who is guilty just by the color of their skin.

Now it seems the same rule applies, only the color has changed. Given the history of the South, ensuring that everyone - regardless of the color of their skin - gets a fair trial might actually be something liberals should get behind. What they seem to want is a quick hanging for whitey.

I liked her and found her mostly credible.... but she admitted lying A LOT.

Yes she did. And that whole business about hearing "wet grass" is completely incredible. I liked her too and I feel sorry for her. This poor woman/girl has been put into an impossible situation by the prosecutor - who doesn't have much of a case without her - and I hope she doesn't end up perjuring herself and adding insult to the injuries already suffered.

It's nice that people are supporting her - she's really in a terrible situation - but I would withhold judgement about the truth of her story until the jury comes back with a verdict. Nothing is true until the jury says it is.
posted by three blind mice at 7:56 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


What they seem to want is a quick hanging for whitey.

Gah, we're better than that here.
posted by jaduncan at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've never used a term like 'whitey' in my life.
posted by sweetkid at 7:59 AM on June 28, 2013


Fantastic essay. Thanks so much for posting it.
posted by zarq at 8:06 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nothing is true until the jury says it is.

That's an interesting notion of truth.
posted by hoyland at 8:07 AM on June 28, 2013 [25 favorites]


The only coverage of the trial I actually saw this week was CNN replaying the video where she says she can't read cursive. It was completely without context, just the clip and then Wolf Blitzer saying something like, "a humiliating moment for the 19-year-old witness." I wanted to hit the TV with a golf club.

I mean, if she seems to be lying, fine. Show us the testimony. Not ridicule-porn.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:10 AM on June 28, 2013 [26 favorites]


The fact that this isn't an open and shut case without her testimony is the racist bullshit here. An armed white man makes aggressive statements, follows an unarmed black teenager around, and shoots him dead.

Slam dunk in any just world. But this is the American south we're talking about.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 AM on June 28, 2013 [37 favorites]


If not being able to read cursive is supposed to be humiliating, then half of my students should be humiliated. I have students who went to good k-12 schools who never even learned cursive. Talk about a shibboleth.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:13 AM on June 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


With all due respect to my liberal friends, the "attack' by the defense it what they get paid to do.

It's also the accused's Constitutional right and the obligation of his defense attorney. "Attacking" the credibility of the prosecution's key witness is not just fair game, it's correct and proper.

I've never used a term like 'whitey' in my life.

I might out of date. I lived a long time in Atlanta, Georgia (in another lifetime) and heard the term more times than I can remember. Cracker too, but only in the kindest way from my black friends and I never associated it in any other way.

That's an interesting notion of truth.

Um it's how the law works in a criminal trial. In a jury trial, the jury is the trier of fact. That's what they are there for.
posted by three blind mice at 8:13 AM on June 28, 2013


I'm just happy that the jury is sequestered so there's no chance that they can see the crap that passes for news.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:20 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think people are more upset about the attack of Jeantel from the US media than they are about attacks from the prosecutor.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:20 AM on June 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Gah, we're better than that here.

Some of us are, anyway.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:23 AM on June 28, 2013


Um it's how the law works in a criminal trial. In a jury trial, the jury is the trier of fact. That's what they are there for.

Yeah, but we know that they're not always right. If juries determined truth in the way you suggest, there would be no such thing as a wrongful conviction.
posted by hoyland at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that this isn't an open and shut case without her testimony is the racist bullshit here. An armed white man makes aggressive statements, follows an unarmed black teenager around, and shoots him dead.

Racist bullshit? So you were there and saw this with your own eyes? You best hurry down to Florida and introduce yourself to the prosecutor, I think he needs your help.

The problem for the prosecutor is that the only other witness is dead and despite what you might wish to think, the prosecutor has to present FACTS to the jury to make the state's case. Ms Jeantel was on the phone with Mr. Martin when he was shot, she's the closest thing the state has to an eye-witness, and that makes her testimony key to the prosecution. As such, undermining her credibility is key to the defense and again absolutely proper and correct.

I fear it will not end well for her. She knows a lot of people are counting on her to deliver a guilty verdict - as surely she wants to see happen - but she's not a great witness.

If juries determined truth, there would be no such thing as a wrongful conviction.

And OJ would not have been acquitted, but that's how the system works. It is not "if juries determined truth" it's "juries are the trier of fact".

Of course if what you want is a quick hanging, all of this "trial" foolishness is a waste of taxpayer time and money.
posted by three blind mice at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would withhold judgement about the truth of her story until the jury comes back with a verdict. Nothing is true until the jury says it is.

That's true of any trial (at least as regards guilty/not guilty) and is good advice. But, the problem with this case has always been that it took public outrage to get charges at all. It subverts the trial: guilty or not guilty there will be the perception of injustice.

Regardless of how the trial turns out, the incident illustrates that race and privilege trump the rule of law in this jurisdiction. The whole "hispanic" issue is a red-herring, Zimmerman is the son of a judge and was treated like he was a cop and Martin is, of course, black.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:38 AM on June 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Of course if what you want is a quick hanging, all of this "trial" foolishness is a waste of taxpayer time and money.

Who wants a quick hanging and doesn't want a trial?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:39 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


In a jury trial, the jury is the trier of fact

They should probably change the names of the verdicts to "guilty" and "innocent" then, instead of the now-in-vogue "not guilty."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:40 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


sweetkid : I've never used a term like 'whitey' in my life.

I have, usually in the context of "You know who I don't trust? Old man whitey in a business suit. That fucker is out to get us."

As I am an increasingly old white man who wears business suits, I think I am qualified to make this statement.

As to this letter, I can't say "Bravo" enough. The way we continue to vilify victims is both disgusting and a clear sign that racism, but unconscious, subtle and systemic is still a very real problem that we are not even close to having fixed yet.
posted by quin at 8:40 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem for the prosecutor is that the only other witness is dead and despite what you might wish think, the prosecutor has to present FACTS to the jury to make the state's case. Ms Jeantel was on the phone with Mr. Martin when he was shot, she's the closest thing the state has to an eye-witness...

That's not true:
So far, three former residents have testified for the prosecution that they saw someone who appeared to be Zimmerman on top during the incident, which took place by a walkway between units in the community of townhomes.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Juries do not "try facts". They ascertain guilt, and to what degree. That is not the same thing.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:42 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Juries do make findings of fact. Unless a jury trial is waived, they are the only ones who can decide the truth or falsehood of relevant facts. The Supreme Court actually affirmed this last week, finding that if a judge wants to hit a convicted defendant with enhanced sentencing, it has to be based on facts confirmed by the jury.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:45 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Juries do not "try facts". They ascertain guilt, and to what degree. That is not the same thing.

In a jury trial the jury is the trier of fact. Google it yourself, I don't need to.

You're telling me that the background of Metafilter is not blue. I'm out.
posted by three blind mice at 8:47 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You deny the professional white background at your peril.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Racist bullshit? So you were there and saw this with your own eyes? You best hurry down to Florida and introduce yourself to the prosecutor, I think he needs your help.

Actually, Zimmerman's own statements to the police actually do state that he was an armed white man making aggressive statements who initiated the original following, and killed Martin. Also, let's not forget that the defense is now trying to claim that Martin was profiling Zimmerman, despite the fact that Zimmerman told the police that he was going to follow Martin merely because he looked like a bad guy. Claiming that a black kid is "profiling" a white guy who had already told the police that he had come to his own conclusions already carries quite a bit of racist bullshit implicit in the accusation. But in the South? That's pretty much a textbook case of it..
posted by zombieflanders at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Juries do not "try facts". They ascertain guilt, and to what degree. That is not the same thing.

And they're not mutually exclusive. Juries ascertain guilt by trying the facts presented.

From my experience (alternate on a five-week murder trial jury), our job was to decide whether or not the prosecution had proved its case. This is what we were told a number of times by the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and let's not also forget that this was in a municipality with quite a bit of racism in the recent past, including that of law enforcement and the judicial system.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:51 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


"You are a thousand Nat Turners"
Sorry but that's just asinine.
posted by fingerbang at 8:59 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Modern-day Metro Orlando is not "the American South," although it's physically located in the American Southeast. I mean this as neither good nor bad nor anything. This just is.
posted by raysmj at 9:11 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea that's absolutely true.
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 AM on June 28, 2013


If I was in Rachel's position, a teenager who was on the phone with a significant other while they were being aggressively stalked, and the last person to speak with my friend and love, I would be angry and traumatized.

If I was in Rachel's position, I perhaps wouldn't know or care that witnesses are unreliable generally speaking... that the human mind naturally erects defenses and against shocking and horrific events. That the end result is that there exists a creation of misperceptions and sometimes complete fabrications of portions of the events, let alone in a "phone" witness. Combine this with the vengeance I would feel in my heart for someone, who in my opinion, murdered my love in cold blood, I would likely remember (consciously or unconsciously) whatever I needed to have the justice I sought served.

If I was in Rachel's position, I would hope that I saw this letter, to read it and allow it to bring me whatever comfort I could absorb from it. I doubt I would cringe at the comparisons to any historic figures, I doubt I would perceive this missive as a collection of over dramatic statements. I would hope I could read it as a heartfelt expression of love, a quiet counterpoint to the vitriol towards me existing elsewhere. I would not care about the internet discussions of what exactly juries are charged with determining, or the fact that the defense attorney is just doing their job. I would be embarrassed and humiliated by my portrayal in the media, perhaps painfully drawn to it like a toothache, or avoiding it all together. But I know that through it all, I would likely feed the burning desire in my heart to do what I needed to do to see that this person is brought to the justice I feel he so profoundly deserves.

I hope this letter is read by Rachel.

Because although it's available to be read by me, I don't think I'm the intended audience of this letter. I'm a cynical, ex-New Yorker living in South Florida, and I do have a personal opinion of this letter, where the nicest term I can come up with is: saccharine.

However, I'm not immune to empathy, and I realize that opinions are like assholes: Everyone's got one, and most of the time they're full of shit.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:16 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


> > Juries do not "try facts". They ascertain guilt, and to what degree. That is not the same thing.

> And they're not mutually exclusive.

They are, in fact, mutually exclusive.

Indeed, jury nullification means that juries have the ability to acquit someone even if the prosecution managed to prove all the facts in question.

When a jury in a criminal trial comes back from deliberation, there are three possible outcomes for each charge - guilty, not guilt, or deadlocked.

> From my experience (alternate on a five-week murder trial jury), our job was to decide whether or not the prosecution had proved its case. This is what we were told a number of times by the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney.

And often none of these people are allowed to mention jury nullification.



Overall, I don't see this case as "glaringly obvious". My heart is very much against the guy who went wandering around with a gun and then shot someone, but I think I'd like to wait until the trial is over before actually making up my mind.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:16 AM on June 28, 2013


Based on what I've heard, I don't think Jeantel would lose any credibility in my eyes at least. The things she lied about are completely understandable. The "wet grass" thing? What a weird thing to focus on. What does it establish if it was something other than people rolling in wet grass that she heard?
posted by Hoopo at 9:18 AM on June 28, 2013


The full line is "You are a thousand Nat Turners, a quiet spring of rebellion, and some folks don’t know how to handle that." (bold emphasis mine) I think out of context the "thousand Nat Turners" line could easily be read as asinine, sure. As if someone is trying to say that she is 1000 times bigger or more rebellious or noble than him or what he accomplished. That's not the intention, in my opinion. The next clause "a quiet spring of rebellion" (with its very clever multiple associations) flips the "thousand Nat Turners" to explicitly NOT mean she's greater than him to the power of 1000, but that each of us in our own smaller and quieter ways fight these battles (sometimes when we have no choice in the matter) and Rachel right now is the voice representing those thousands, if not more.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:20 AM on June 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


the "attack' by the defense it what they get paid to do.

Of course, and I hope that -- G-d forbid it happens -- if I ever find myself caught up in the American justice system I have an attorney who spits mad game.

But in the case of Ms. Jeantel and this particular attorney, even the judge thought he crossed a line several times [warning: auto-play video]:

At one point, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson asked West to lower his voice as he asked Jeantel if she knew whether Martin used his fist and drove it into Zimmerman's face. She did not, Jeantel said. Nelson asked West to step back from Jeantel as he leaned over her while going over Trayvon's cellphone records from the night of the shooting....

...Later, Nelson stepped in as West questioned Jeantel about a transcript of her interview with state attorneys in April 2012.

"Don't ask your question while she's trying to finish her answer," Nelson said to West.


I simply can't shake the thought I have that if Rachel Jeantel looked like Taylor Swift, Mr. West would not have been as aggressive. I think he still would have been in attack-dog mode but just not nearly as vicious.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:24 AM on June 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I read that the same way iamkimiam.
posted by quin at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2013


although yeah the letter is saccharine, I don't think that the author is saying that the young woman is attempting to be say the next MLK; the author is saying that the woman is acting with integrity against a racist society, like a civil rights hero would. I guess the tricky part is that the author elides the distinction between those with a civil rights ideology and fighting for same and the witness
posted by angrycat at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2013


Isn't it pretty common for teenagers not to be able to read/write cursive now? It's not being taught anymore in a lot of schools, I believe. I had a student tell me this several years ago - he would now be about 25? - that there is a requirement on the SAT that you sign your name in cursive, and he and many of his friends were flummoxed because they'd never been taught cursive. I think people on Mefi have said similar things about no cursive in schools today.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Between his terrible opening joke, and this bullshit, I'm starting to think that Don West is setting up the Lionel Hutz defense as a last resort: "Your honor, I move for a bad court thingy."

But serously, bigots- you want Zimmerman? You can have him. Go ahead and make a creepy, paranoid, vigilante gun nut the face of your movement. Go and make a guy, whose hobby was apparently driving around at night looking for random black teenagers to hassle, the poster boy for "oppressed whites." See how that works out for you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:39 AM on June 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


I simply can't shake the thought I have that if Rachel Jeantel looked like Taylor Swift, Mr. West would not have been as aggressive. I think he still would have been in attack-dog mode but just not nearly as vicious.

I am learning lately how much of what lawyers do in court settings and mediations etc is calculated for an intended effect. I've recently come out of some pretty heated mediations where the opposing lawyers who appeared to be at each others' throats all day ride out in the same elevator and share cabs to the airport, like Ralph the Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog punching out for the day.

West is doing what he thinks will register best with the jury and his client for the purpose of defending Zimmerman. It doesn't answer the question of whether or not his approach would have been different if the witness looked like Taylor Swift, but appearance and demeanor would certainly have been a factor in how he decided to treat her on the stand.
posted by Hoopo at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't it pretty common for teenagers not to be able to read/write cursive now? It's not being taught anymore in a lot of schools, I believe. I had a student tell me this several years ago - he would now be about 25? - that there is a requirement on the SAT that you sign your name in cursive, and he and many of his friends were flummoxed because they'd never been taught cursive.

I'm 26. We were taught cursive in the third grade, but never forced to use it. The SAT has/had a sentence you had to copy out in cursive about how you were who you claimed you were and then sign your name. The issue wasn't that we didn't know how to sign our names, it was that we'd not written anything in cursive besides our names in nearly a decade.
posted by hoyland at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


there is a requirement on the SAT that you sign your name in cursive, and he and many of his friends were flummoxed because they'd never been taught cursive.

I...

How do people sign their names these days?
posted by Hoopo at 9:43 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The defense is obliged to be zealous, and did its job of trying to cause the jury to question her credibility. The cursive thing is no outrage, either: the prosecution presented the document as a letter from her and her being unable to read it was evidence that she did not, in fact, write it. A piece of good, relevant and non-prejudicial lawyering.

That said, people who think this is all cruising to an acquittal may not appreciate how often jurors convict on the testimony of admitted liars and worse, such as accomplices in the same crimes who took plea deals in exchange for testifying against their buddies. In that context, this witness's credibility issues are not significant, and you can expect the jury to give them significant weight.
posted by MattD at 9:44 AM on June 28, 2013


I was in grade 6 or 7, in the mid-90's, in British Columbia when the teaching of cursive was phased out. As it was explained to us, cursive as a faster method of writing was being replaced by word processing for most tasks, and rather than have students become moderately proficient at longhand and moderately proficient typists, it was better to focus on typing skills and computer literacy.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:54 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slam dunk in any just world. But this is the American south we're talking about.

Actually, no. It's Central Florida we're talking about. If Sanford were in North FL, you'd have a case for calling it the South. They fly the rebel flag up that way (the biggest one I've ever seen flies along 75 just south of GA). But Central Florida? It may be geographically south, but it's not "The South". There are racists, sure, just as there are anywhere. But my experience there was nothing like my experiences in the South. Not only that, but the racial dynamics are different with much of the tensions directed towards hispanics.

Admittedly, I am white and never really dealt with any bureaucracy in the area, so I can't speak to how the various races are treated in that sense. I also lived in a more affluent area than Sanford which, at least 10 years or so ago, was a rather poor & struggling area which led to increased crime and tensions. I'm definitely not saying that race isn't an issue. Clearly it is and Stand Your Ground has a more negative impact on blacks than on whites. But to say that's because it's "The South" is justifying the behavior in a way that isn't deserved or productive. This could and does go on anywhere in the US.

Another thing that I've seen thrown around a lot on the internet is that it was an "affluent" area. Sanford is not affluent. People seem to think that because it was a "gated community" it must be this wealthy enclave. While there are more than a few wealthy gated communities in Orlando, this place is not one of them. It's just a standard low to middle income townhouse complex. Lots of those are gated in FL as are a lot of apartment complexes. A quick check shows townhouses in the complex going for right around $100k.
posted by imbri at 9:56 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will you white crackers please stop whining?

Years back, my (white) roommate in Chicago was riding the train and joking around about street smarts with an older black man ...

"Yeah, I know ... I'm totally being a cracker right now ..." D says self-effacingly, as most white people have done at some point or another.

Suddenly, the guy gets real serious.

"Don't call yourself a cracker."

"What?"

"Don't call yourself a cracker."

"Why?"

"What do you think that means?"

"Like, a saltine cracker ... pale, frail ..."

"No, no. People think that, but, the cracker was the guy who cracked the whip."

Now, that was just one guy on the train, and I'm not sure half the people who use the term in a derogatory way know the etymology. But like the other infamous piece of slavery slang that gets bandied about, the word isn't just a racial epithet. It's loaded with a history of oppression, of racial power dynamics, and of a real fucking painful action taken on another human being. A white person calling themselves a "cracker" is like someone joking about being a slumlord, or a dictator, or whatever other abusive power role you could take.

Don't do it.

But I also can't demand that word be washed out of the mouths of people who feel the analogy of the cracker from the other side of the dynamic.

Like ... Is it really all that inappropriate for a black kid being followed by a white man – who the kid knows is watching his every move for him to do something wrong – to refer to the man as a "cracker"? Or inaccurate?
posted by pokermonk at 10:05 AM on June 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Now, that was just one guy on the train, and I'm not sure half the people who use the term in a derogatory way know the etymology...A white person calling themselves a "cracker" is like someone joking about being a slumlord, or a dictator, or whatever other abusive power role you could take.

That ("the guy who cracked the whip") is actually a folk etymology, and not the real etymology, as far as I can tell. So the latter part does not follow.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:10 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


In regards to that cracker essay, I was just thinking today how you can tell a lot about a person if their only real concern about racial relations in America is whether or not they can say the n-word.

And it's not just that they want to say it, they want to say it without consequence. They want to say it and not get fired.

I don't recall seeing signs above water fountains that said "blacks only" and "crackers only."

I've had to deal with "why can't weeeeeee do it?" and "black people are the real racists" whines and arguments practically my entire sentient life. It makes me tired.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


We had a lengthy discussion about the word "cracker" in meta back in January, if anyone is interested. The OED entry on the etymology of the word can be found in this comment.
posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


How do people sign their names these days?

Your signature can be anything at all, legally speaking. Doesn't even have to be your name. You can draw a little picture on there if you want, as long as you draw it exactly the same way every time.

My signature isn't in cursive, it's just written sloppily and quickly so people know it's a signature.

/derail

posted by echo target at 10:15 AM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


How do people sign their names these days?

Well, if your name starts with an S like mine does and you've always thought the Palmer cursive formerly taught in schools for S looks incredibly stupid, you develop a weird, hybrid signature with a swishy-but-blockstyle S and remaining letters that are only barely cursive-ish...to the point that the clerk at the marriage license bureau makes you write it out again because they won't let you semi-abbreviate your dumb signature in the way you always write it, and have always written it, pretty much for 30+ years.

Oh wait, that wasn't bitter, was it? Eponysterical.

I think the best general answer is: "it depends how old you are."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:15 AM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm 32 and was taught cursive in elementary school, but I've pretty much forgotten it. I sign my name, but that has totally degenerated. The first "S" is vaguely recognizable.
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Dear god, the comments on that post...)
posted by brundlefly at 10:21 AM on June 28, 2013


The problem with the "juries decide truth" controversy is that three_blind_mice is arguing about "truth" in the legal sense, and his/her opponents in this debate are arguing about "truth" in the more common, laymen definition of "things that actually happened, regardless of belief".

We hope that the legal sense of the word is subset of the more usual definition, but in truth, they are only overlapping sets.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 AM on June 28, 2013


pokermonk — Thanks, I did not know that! (Not that I use that word anyways but still.)

There is a Wiki page that confirms that that is likely (possibly?) the source of this usage of "cracker".
posted by Eyebeams at 10:27 AM on June 28, 2013


We had a lengthy discussion about the word "cracker" in meta back in January, if anyone is interested.

Thanks for the link to that! I've wondered just how legit it is but never dug beyond Wikipedia.

That said, that people fairly commonly read and use the term pejoratively because of its folk etymology has been enough for me to 'appreciate' how its use plays in conversation.
posted by pokermonk at 10:33 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. I saw rather a lot of Rachel Jeantel over the last couple days. I didn't see much of Sojourner Truth or the others. That's stretching hyperbole way past the breaking point. I saw almost all of defense's cross and there was nothing particularly remarkable about it. In fact, he was generally rather restrained and not very aggressive.

Also, she's almost 20 years old. She is an adult in the eyes of the law and should know better than to lie under oath on multiple instances.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 AM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is a Wiki page that confirms that that is likely the source of this usage of "cracker".

It probably isn't, for reasons discussed above. Note that the term dates back to Middle English.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:35 AM on June 28, 2013


Yes, it appears I jumped the gun re: the Wiki page. Though, if people think that's where the term came from, that would be reason enough (to me at least) not to use it — again, not that I'd be much tempted anyway. That MeTa thread is also interesting. /Derail over.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2013


Also, she's almost 20 years old. She is an adult in the eyes of the law and should know better than to lie under oath on multiple instances.

There are a lot of reasons why people might remain sympathetic regardless, including people on the jury.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad used to get *so mad* because my cursive was crappy (and we actually did do assignments all in cursive, because lo, I am ancient). At any rate, in his day it was a hard-core thing, so much so that his cursive looked like calligraphy next to mine. I would blame typewriters, but there were plenty of those when he was a kid in the 50s, so I don't know what was making the rot set in when it came to cursive in the 70s. It certainly wasn't computers yet.

My kid, like this young lady, cannot read cursive at all. That doesn't make him illiterate, merely young.

So these are the lies she is supposed to have told:

While under oath Thursday, the state's star witness in the George Zimmerman second degree murder trial, Rachel Jeantel, admitted she left out in earlier interviews several things Trayvon Martin told her over the phone minutes before he was killed.

When pressed, Jeantel said one reason she omitted some things was to spare the Martin family from additional grief.

"You didn't tell Ms. Fulton [Trayvon Martin's mom] that the man that was following him was a creepy a-- cracker did you?" defense attorney Don West asked.

Jeantel replied, "No."

"You didn't tell Mr. Crump in the recorded interview that Trayvon Martin described George Zimmerman as a creepy a-- cracker?" West asked.

The 19-year-old Jeantel again replied, "No."

On the stand Wednesday, Jeantel also testified Martin used the N-word to describe Zimmerman.

But the crux of Thursday's cross examination centered on inconsistencies in Jeantel's testimony. The defense alleged the state walked Jeantel "down a path" to get her to say she heard Martin tell Zimmerman to "get off, get off" him -- a comment she left out in initial interviews with law enforcement officials.

"I did hear 'get off' sir," Jeantel insisted.

"But you don't know what it meant because you didn't see any of this correct?" West said.

"No sir," Jeantel replied.

During cross examination Jeantel also admitted she couldn't rule out Martin hitting Zimmerman first and that she initially lied to the Martin family about her name.

"The parents do not know my real name. They only knew me as Diamond."

On Wednesday, Jeantel admitted on the stand that she lied earlier about both her age and being at the hospital.

Stetson College of Law Professor Charles H. Rose III says because of Jeantel's inconsistencies it's possible that could lead to the jury being told to disregard her entire testimony.


I can see them being used to throw out her testimony, but none of them seem malicious. I wonder if I could be interviewed three times about the same very upsetting event and tell the same story without inconsistencies each time?
posted by emjaybee at 11:24 AM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think her untruths are necessarily malicious, emjaybee, but they do indicate she doesn't take her oath to tell the truth very seriously. Which would make me very wary of putting much stock on her testimony.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2013


Lies?? Nothing in comparison to the whoppers Zimmerman told in his police interview in zombieflanders's link.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Was she under oath in the "earlier interviews"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:47 AM on June 28, 2013


Some of them, yes.
posted by Justinian at 11:49 AM on June 28, 2013


leftcoastbob: has any of that been introduced into evidence at the trial, though?
posted by Justinian at 11:50 AM on June 28, 2013


Not yet.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:56 AM on June 28, 2013


So many times during her testimony I was all THAT IS NOT WHAT SHE SAID! I had the advantage of a quiet room and DVR (go back and listen again.) I have no doubt that some of the transcripts misquote her.
posted by maggieb at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of these witnesses for the prosecution might as well be defense witnesses. The witness to the struggle suggested that it was Martin on top of Zimmerman. The cop who cuffed Zimmerman has testified to his head injuries and that his back was wetter than the rest of him and that he had grass stuck to his back.

I wonder if the defense will find it necessary to put Zimmerman on the stand at this point. Leaving him off the stand would prevent the prosecution from confronting him with some of the statements to which leftcoastbob alludes.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting. The new witness is establishing by implication that it was Zimmerman on top of Martin. I wonder if the previous witness wasn't going completely off script when he implied it was Martin on top.
posted by Justinian at 1:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just checked the entry for "cracker" in the Dictionary of American Regional English. There is no indication at all that the word has anything to do with cracking of whips.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:49 PM on June 28, 2013


no matter how pissed off I get at the vile and hateful people of the world, it is never going to be an overreaction.

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." – Lily Tomlin
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some of these witnesses for the prosecution might as well be defense witnesses. The witness to the struggle suggested that it was Martin on top of Zimmerman. The cop who cuffed Zimmerman has testified to his head injuries and that his back was wetter than the rest of him and that he had grass stuck to his back

I know, right? Given how totally rock solid the case is against Zimmerman why are they wasting their time trying to cobble together a case with barely functional witnesses who are confusing the narrative?

Total waste. They should just convict him instead of wasting our time.
posted by rr at 2:11 PM on June 28, 2013


I... can't tell what the target of your snark is.
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2013


I teach (or rather review) cursive with my sixth graders. They had it in third grade but can't read it in the beginning of the year. When they stop teaching it in third grade I'll stop teaching it in sixth.
posted by Peach at 4:52 PM on June 28, 2013


Google Cache
posted by jeffburdges at 7:03 PM on June 28, 2013


All due respect to notions of legal propriety, but I stand by my "racist bullshit" comment above.

Trayvon was lynched.
posted by spitbull at 7:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that this isn't an open and shut case without her testimony is the racist bullshit here. An armed white man makes aggressive statements, follows an unarmed black teenager around, and shoots him dead.
It's interesting how this case flips script on the usual racial predispositions towards the defense and prosecution.

I actually saw Marc Garrigos on TV talking about this the other day. He's always taking the defense side, even making, er, optimistic noises about Arias and Sandusky (well, with Arias she he was basically saying she might avoid the death penalty)

So, in this case he's doing what he always does and argues the defenses case on TV. Except on this he was arguing that this witness was terrible for the prosecution because the white jurors wouldn't "relate". He gets some pushback and then basically goes on this huge rant about how race is like the driving force of the criminal justice system. I don't remember the exact words. He was arguing with Toobin and Sunny Hostin, who's a black prosecutor. It was interesting, he comes on to basically always argue that the defense will win, but in this case he's essentially arguing that the defense will win because of the intrinsic racism of the court system.

Anyway, I liked this witness. I found her treatment of the defense attorneys highly entertaining. Because seriously, it's not like those guys really deserve a lot of respect (everyone deserves a defense, but you don't necessarily need to like the people doing it). I think her testimony of the key facts is largely true, why would she have Trayvon use derogatory terms if she was going to lie about what happened?

Also, she doesn't seem like she's smart enough to come up with a lie that perfectly matches the call logs and other evidence.

(And by the way, did they ever find Martin's blue tooth headset? Seems like that would establish where the fight actually started. Did it just disappear or what?)
Isn't it pretty common for teenagers not to be able to read/write cursive now?
I can't even read other people's cursive without struggling. The problem in this case is that she wrote the letter. She dictated it to a friend. The fact she couldn't read her own letter made her look dishonest.
Exactly why there should never be cameras in the courtroom. I have no problem with the defense attorney grilling her--that was his job. But TV makes it so journalists can give their crappy, uninformed opinion on a court case that even the participants don't fully understand.
Well, it shouldn't be a problem if the Jurors stick by their commitments not to read any social media or watch any TV about the case, right?
Now it seems the same rule applies, only the color has changed. Given the history of the South, ensuring that everyone - regardless of the color of their skin - gets a fair trial might actually be something liberals should get behind. What they seem to want is a quick hanging for whitey.
I'm pretty sure everyone expected Jodi Arias and Sundusky to be convicted. Some people are just fucking guilty as hell.
Racist bullshit? So you were there and saw this with your own eyes? You best hurry down to Florida and introduce yourself to the prosecutor, I think he needs your help.
Do you think Zimmerman would stand a chance if he shot a 17 year old white girl? I don't. But I don't think he'd be following her around either.
I don't think her untruths are necessarily malicious, emjaybee, but they do indicate she doesn't take her oath to tell the truth very seriously. Which would make me very wary of putting much stock on her testimony.
Well, you're not on the Jury, so it doesn't matter what you, personally, think.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know, right? Given how totally rock solid the case is against Zimmerman why are they wasting their time trying to cobble together a case with barely functional witnesses who are confusing the narrative?

Total waste. They should just convict him instead of wasting our time.
Putting them on as defense witnesses means the defense gets to shape the narrative of their testimony. If they didn't the defense would just put them on anyway.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on June 28, 2013


Well, you're not on the Jury, so it doesn't matter what you, personally, think.

By that logic nobody who isn't on the jury should comment in this thread?
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think her untruths are necessarily malicious, emjaybee, but they do indicate she doesn't take her oath to tell the truth very seriously. Which would make me very wary of putting much stock on her testimony.

If we enumerate the untrue things Zimmerman has said during the past year and a half, and then discount the whole of his statements based on his failure to take his oath to tell the truth very seriously, what happens to his defense?
posted by mikelieman at 8:32 AM on June 29, 2013


If we enumerate the untrue things Zimmerman has said..

Which untrue things are you thinking about here?
posted by snaparapans at 10:29 AM on June 29, 2013


mikelieman: As of now absolutely nothing happens to his defense. Zimmerman has not taken the stand. Maybe he will, in which case any potential untruths he is confronted with will become relevant.
posted by Justinian at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2013


As far as untruths, there's the whole finance and passport kerfluffle which goes right to his character.
posted by mikelieman at 10:58 AM on June 29, 2013


the whole finance and passport kerfluffle which goes right to his character.

Oh, sounded like you had a lot of things on your list, not two. Passport was a non-issue, imo, but the finance issue was real, but possibly less of an issue than the prosecution and MSM made it out to be.

If you are interested in a (loooong) defense position on the financial kerfluffle, you can look here. and here
posted by snaparapans at 11:35 AM on June 29, 2013


Then there's the whole "getting his head bashed against the concrete, so he had to kill Trayvon Martin", while Martin's body is far enough away from the concrete for that to not make any sense. And the whole "I got out of my car to get an address" thing, which I think could be interpreted as "I suspected Martin lived there and wanted to see where he went".

And I'm not real comfortable with Zimmerman's adderall script. He also had one for downers so he could sleep. "Speed Kills", indeed.

I think that being under psychiatric care, and having scripts for abusable psychoactive drugs should have made him suspend his habit of carrying a firearm. Depraved Indifference.
posted by mikelieman at 11:50 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're putting forward the position that Zimmerman should be found guilty because he was taking ADHD meds?
posted by Justinian at 12:06 PM on June 29, 2013


By that logic nobody who isn't on the jury should comment in this thread?
By that logic no one should post anything because none of it actually matters in the end?

I was just pointing out that it didn't have a lot of predictive power, because there's no reason to think the people on the Jury will think the same way you do. I mean, I know what I would do if I were on the jury, but "lock 'em up and throw away the key*" isn't really that interesting.

(*unless it turns out there's reasonable doubt Zimmerman wasn't the shooter or something crazy like that, obviously)

Part of the reason for that is because you seem to have some kind of specific definition of "reasonable doubt". The definition in the Florida standard jury instructions is (page 10):
A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable
That doesn't sound like what you mean when you say reasonable doubt. The standard there is that if a member of the jury is sure he did it, in a way that's not temporally unstable then he's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Or if they're not sure but the reasons for doubt are speculative/imaginary/forced then they're also guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The other part of the problem for the defense is that there are several aspects that need to be true to use self defense, and the prosecution only has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one of them isn't true. In particular, if Zimmerman provoked the confrontation then he's not allowed to use force to defend himself at all unless he both did everything he could to escape and he was in grave bodily harm.

So, in order to get a conviction, all they have to do is prove that Zimmerman provoked the fight, and that he had an opportunity to run away and didn't take it. John Good testified that he saw Zimmerman and martin vertical before they ended up on the ground with Trayvon on top. Selma Mora testified she saw Zimmerman on top earlier.

So, if Good and Mora are credible witnesses, then that proves Zimmerman had an opportunity to run away when he was on top or when they were both standing, and didn't take it. Because of that, and because he provoked the confrontation, he can't claim self defense.

The other problem for the self defense claim is that Zimmerman wasn't being beaten that badly. He knew the police were on the way, and in fact Good told them both that he was going to call the police about the fight seconds before Zimmerman pulled the trigger. If Zimmerman knew the police were on the way, that they would know exactly where he was, and he wasn't being hurt that badly how can he credibly claim to have feared for his life?

A: what reason is there to doubt that Zimmerman provoked the confrontation?

B: What reason is there to doubt that Zimmerman could have run away at some point, and didn't?

C: What reason is there to doubt that Zimmerman wasn't at risk of death.

Remember, there needs to be reasonable doubt about either A or both B and C in order for Zimmerman to walk. So what is it?
posted by delmoi at 1:36 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Delmoi: I still maintain you've got the burden of proof backwards. The defense does not have to show that Zimmerman did not provoke the confrontation, the prosecution has to prove that he did. So what reason is there to doubt these things? The prosecution has not proven them.

If we're just chatting then, sure, I think Zimmerman provoked things and could have run away at some point. But if I were on the jury that's not the position I would start from. I would start from "What has the state proven?".

I mean, I know what I would do if I were on the jury, but "lock 'em up and throw away the key*" isn't really that interesting

That's pretty close to sentence first - verdict afterwards Red Queen stuff given the prosecution hasn't even rested yet and the defense case has not been presented.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


To put it another way, delmoi, it seems like the prosecution could have simply stood up and said "the prosecution rests" without presenting any evidence at all and you'd have been willing to convict the defendant based on information that was not presented at trial.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The prosecution has not proven them.
Justinian: you keep repeating that like some kind of mantra. The problem is I don't actually understand what you actually mean by that.

I mean, Philosophically you can't prove anything - Descartes only believed he could prove the existence of himself and god, because the senses can't be trusted. Hume didn't think you could prove anything at all using pure reason alone, due to the problem of induction.

Earlier you were talking about proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And that has a specific definition in Florida law - basically the members of the jury must have the emotional sensation of certainty that does not vary over time, or be free of irrational or speculative doubts.

Using prepositional calculus, my view about reasonable doubt is something like: REASONABLE-DOUBT(X) ↔ P(X) >= k, REASONABLE-DOUBT(¬X) ↔ P(X) < 1-k and we can define REASONABLY-POSSIBLE(X) == REASONABLE-DOUBT(¬X) === , given probability theory where k is some threshold likelihood. (for example 0.99 if you require 99% certainty). I wrote a longer comment in the other thread explaining what that meant in prose form, but the formatting got trashed

I'm not trying to be pedantic here, I think this is an interesting conversation. But you can't have a productive discussion without a common terminology .
It seems like the prosecution could have simply stood up and said "the prosecution rests" without presenting any evidence
The prosecution has already presented evidence.

My view is that they've already provided enough evidence to create a time-stable sensation of certainty in the jury members that Zimmerman is guilty. And, as I said that is what they specifically need to do to get a conviction in Florida:

1) The 911 tape proves Zimmerman was following martin, and that martin saw him following him ("he's looking at me now").
2) Rachel Jeantel's testimony that Martin said Zimmerman was following him
3) Rachel Jeantel's testimony that Martin asked Zimmerman why he was following him and Zimmerman asked why he was there, before the earpiece dropped and the call was lost
4) Selma Mora's testimony that she heard a 3-part exchange between two people stating she saw Zimmerman on top, but not running away
5) John Good's testimony that he saw both of them standing before Martin got on top, giving him a chance to flee that he didn't take.

Now, let's assume that Mora and Good's testimony is accurate, and Jeantel's is questionable. The thing is, both of those facts from her testimony were corroborated by other evidence. That Martin saw Zimmerman following him is corroborated by the fact that Zimmerman said "he's looking at me now", and the brief exchange is corroborated by the fact that Mora heard one person, then another person, and then the first person again.

So, to be clear enough evidence has been presented to say the following is true, to the specific standard for certainty outlined in FL's standard jury instructions:

1) Zimmerman followed Martin, and martin tried to get away from him
2) Zimmerman caught up with Martin, and words were exchanged, provoking a fight.
3) Fisticuffs ensued between the two.
4) At one point Zimmerman was on top, and Zimmerman didn't flee.
5) At a point after that they were both standing and Zimmerman didn't flee
6) At the penultimate point, Martin is on top of Zimmerman, he doesn't pose a serious threat to Zimmerman's life
7) At the final point, Zimmerman shoots martin in the chest, killing him.

So, specifically:
1) What is it you specifically think the prosecution hasn't proven 'beyond a reasonable doubt'?
2) What do you actually even mean when you say "prove" and "reasonable doubt"? Because it's not clear at all.

(Again, not trying to be overly pedantic, and I actually do want to understand what it is you mean when you say this, since you've been saying it over and over and it still isn't clear what specifically you are saying needs to be done.)
posted by delmoi at 4:39 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe you're mischaracterizing Selma Mora's testimony. She didn't testify that she saw Zimmerman on top before the gunshot, she testified that she heard the gunshot, went outside, and saw Zimmerman on top of Martin, then get up and start pacing. That's a huge difference. With Martin's testimony the timeline is that Martin was on top of Zimmerman pummeling him with both fists, then a gunshot happens, then Zimmerman ends up on top of Martin. Secondly, I disagree with your point 6. The state is implying that Zimmerman shouldn't have been in fear of his life because his injuries weren't that severe. But I think the defense did a decent job of showing that the injuries he received could easily have resulted from a significant physical assault. Thirdly, it isn't enough to show that Zimmerman was following Martin. That's not provoking the fight in the sense we mean it. Consider; if I follow you around for a while can you assault me? No, you'd be arrested.

So what hasn't the prosecution proven beyond a reasonable doubt?

First, that Zimmerman started the fight. I agree they've shown he was following Martin or at least that he followed Martin for some period of time. But that's not attacking Martin. Secondly, as I said, they haven't proven that a reasonable person couldn't have feared for his or her life under the circumstances.

As to what I mean when I say reasonable doubt, I can point to the very definition Florida uses but I don't see how that's helpful. You have to have an "abiding conviction" that the state has proven what it needs to prove. I do not have, after the testimony so far, an abiding conviction that Zimmerman attacked Martin. Was he an asshole? Sure. But you can't attack someone for being an asshole.

Here's what I think probably happened:

Zimmerman saw Martin and started observing him. He calls 911. 911 tells him not to follow Martin. Zimmerman, being a tool mall ninja, still hangs around observing Martin. Martin gets pissed off and confronts Zimmerman. A fight ensues. Martin ends up on top of Zimmerman beating him up. Zimmerman shoots Martin, they roll over and Zimmerman ends up on top of the bleeding Martin, stands up, and starts pacing and the police are called.

So here's the issue: that "a fight ensues". For a conviction of 2nd degree murder the state has to prove that Zimmerman killed Martin with a depraved mind. Following someone is not a depraved mind. I think this was overcharged badly.
posted by Justinian at 5:19 PM on June 29, 2013


In other words if the charge was manslaughter we'd probably be having a different conversation.
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on June 29, 2013


oops, I meant "With Good's testimony" above, not of course "with Martin's testimony."
posted by Justinian at 5:33 PM on June 29, 2013


Manslaughter is a lesser included offense, so it's quite possible to convict on that basis.

'a fight ensues'. Given that Zimmerman's following of Martin induced in Martin a fear for his own safety, the moment Zimmerman got closer to Martin to become a direct threat to his safety, Trayvon Martin's right of self defense started. If you're wondering what that distance might be, just consider Officer Friendly.

If Zimmerman approached a police officer that night instead, at what distance would the officer begin to be concerned about his own safety?

That's the line Zimmerman crossed, starting the fight.
posted by mikelieman at 5:37 PM on June 29, 2013


And no, I don't think ADHD meds are reason to convict. They do however support the charge of 'depraved indifference', since the package inserts warn about extreme side effects, and the possibility of them should cause a reasonable person to question whether they're capable of exercising proper judgement in respect to their firearm. I think given the chain of BAD FUCKING DECISIONS Zimmerman made, the possibility should be well considered.
posted by mikelieman at 5:40 PM on June 29, 2013


You CAN attack someone who you have reason to believe is trying to abduct and lynch you, and the get close enough to threaten your safety.

Is the history of racial violence in the south forgotten or something?
posted by mikelieman at 5:41 PM on June 29, 2013


Have Zimmerman's ADHD meds been introduced at trial?
posted by Justinian at 5:46 PM on June 29, 2013


Like ... Is it really all that inappropriate for a black kid being followed by a white man – who the kid knows is watching his every move for him to do something wrong – to refer to the man as a "cracker"?

Yes. Yes, it is always inappropriate for people to use racial slurs, regardless of which side of the discrimination line they happen to stand on. And it is the height of moral hypocrisy for anyone to be angry because Zimmerman supposedly profiled Martin, while defending the idea of Martin profiling Zimmerman because "it's so true!"
posted by corb at 6:15 PM on June 29, 2013


They do however support the charge of 'depraved indifference', since the package inserts warn about extreme side effects, and the possibility of them should cause a reasonable person to question whether they're capable of exercising proper judgement in respect to their firearm.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I was a soldier. I carried a firearm often. I had charge of a platoon, whose medicines and capability to carry a weapon I had to be intimately familiar with. I am very, very aware of what medications you can't carry a weapon with, and which ones you can't.

ADHD meds? Not one of them. Not even one I had to really worry about, except for urinalysis, at which point I had to notate that they were on them.

It is very clear that you want Zimmerman to fry. But maybe you could refrain from making up accusations that slander an entire class of people just because you want Zimmerman to fry. By your standard, anyone with ADHD is acting with "depraved indifference" every time they pick up a kitchen knife.
posted by corb at 6:20 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The accusation against Zimmerman is that the potential profiling may have led to the death of a kid who was not doing anything wrong. It's not really about the level of rudeness involved.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:21 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


ADHD meds are commonly knows as "Amphetamines". With all the associated issues of abuse. And if you need uppers to stay focused AND sleeping pills to go to bed, I'm going to be concerned if they're not being monitored effectively.

My problem isn't people who take meds for ADHD. My problem is people who abuse ADHD meds. Zimmerman really should have had his blood drawn as part of the investigation. Guess that's one reason to avoid a trip to the hospital.
posted by mikelieman at 7:15 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


You CAN attack someone who you have reason to believe is trying to abduct and lynch you, and the get close enough to threaten your safety.

I really, really do not think American law works such that if you have "reason to believe" you might be lynched, by virtue of someone following you in public, you may then attack that person. There are people here who have practiced criminal law who might correct me, but I think following this advice is likely to lead to assault and battery charges.
posted by dsfan at 7:23 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


As to what I mean when I say reasonable doubt, I can point to the very definition Florida uses but I don't see how that's helpful.
That definition is from the standard jury instructions The jury is legally required to use that definition. They're no penalty if they don't, but - that is the standard they would use if they're doing their jobs properly. The supreme court of Florida is responsible for the text.
You have to have an "abiding conviction" that the state has proven what it needs to prove.
That's an illogical circular definition. You can't just say that in order to prove their case the state needs to prove they've proven their case. That is a completely meaningless statement.

If you want to have a coherent definition of 'prove' you need a definition that made from words other then prove. And yeah, this can go on indefinitely, but the FL standard is ultimately based on the jurors subjective assessments.

___
Consider; if I follow you around for a while can you assault me? No, you'd be arrested.
Sorry, no. In Florida, they could legally shoot you dead and they'd likely be immune from prosecution walk under the stand your ground law. This isn't a hypothetical, this is actually what happens in most cases. Of course, the fact that you would be dead would mean there wouldn't be any witnesses to challenge their story.

(also remember, Zimmerman isn't claiming SYG.)

Second of all, what you said has nothing to do with what the law says. Again:
776.041 The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who ... (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.
The statute does not say that the use of force against you needs to be legal. All that matters is that you provoked it

You're making things up that aren't in the text of the law.
First, that Zimmerman started the fight.
They only need to provoke the fight.
But that's not attacking Martin.
The word in the law is provoke. you can't blather on about legal theory then ignore the actual text of the law.
But you can't attack someone for being an asshole.
Trayvon Martin isn't on trial. George Zimmerman is. If Zimmerman was an asshole to Martin, and then he shot Martin, then he is guilty under Florida law. Hypotheticals about whether or not Martin would be charged with a crime (or be immune under SYG) isn't relevant.
Zimmerman saw Martin and started observing him. He calls 911. 911 tells him not to follow Martin. Zimmerman, being a tool mall ninja, still hangs around observing Martin. Martin gets pissed off and confronts Zimmerman. A fight ensues. Martin ends up on top of Zimmerman beating him up. Zimmerman shoots Martin, they roll over and Zimmerman ends up on top of the bleeding Martin, stands up, and starts pacing and the police are called.
You left out the fact that they 'exchanged words', which Mora overheard but couldn't parse. Arguing with someone can be provocative.

In any event, if the jurors believe that that story is true and follow the jury instructions properly, Zimmerman should be convicted. The reason is that at no point in that story does Zimmerman try to run away. That makes him guilty under the law.

This is about the text of the law, which says that if you provoke an attack then you must exhaust every possible means to escape before using deadly force.
Secondly, as I said, they haven't proven that a reasonable person couldn't have feared for his or her life under the circumstances.
They don't have too if they can prove he didn't exhaust every attempt at escape.  both776.041(2)(a) and 776.041(2)(b) need to be true in order for Zimmerman to be able to use deadly force if he provokes the attack. In turn, the prosecution only needs to prove that one of them was not.


___

Now, you seem to think that the law says that if you legally provoke someone into illegally using force against you, then you can kill them without needing to try to run away.

The problem with that is that such a law would be completely insane. if someone went into a bar, found someone they didn't like and started yelling about how their mother is a whore who gave them herpes, they would likely go to jail if they punched you. But if you're version of the law were true, you could legally kill them if they did. And that would be ridiculously stupid. It would basically be a loophole that allowed anyone to kill someone if they could manage to legally goad them into illegally attacking them.

But this is a side issue which is irrelevant. All that matters is the actual text of Florida law. The law says provoke. Zimmerman provoked a fight. He didn't try to escape.

You can't drone on about some abstract, circularly defined legal principle and then completely ignore the text of the law and instructions the jury is supposed to follow.

None of what you are saying has any relevance to either the law itself or how the jury is required to decide the case.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes. Yes, it is always inappropriate for people to use racial slurs, regardless of which side of the discrimination line they happen to stand on. And it is the height of moral hypocrisy for anyone to be angry because Zimmerman supposedly profiled Martin, while defending the idea of Martin profiling Zimmerman because "it's so true!"
Profiling people to avoid is not illegal. If a white woman sees a black man and runs away from him, is she being racist? Maybe. Does that make it legal for that black man to chase her down and shoot her dead? No. Nor is it true if the races are reversed.

You can't shoot people dead in the street because you feel they're being hypocritical.
I really, really do not think American law works such that if you have "reason to believe" you might be lynched, by virtue of someone following you in public, you may then attack that person.
It's a little ironic, originally people defending Zimmerman were making the claim that he had the right to shoot Martin due to the stand your ground law. Now you're claiming the stand your ground law doesn't exist. Here's what it says:
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.
The exceptions mentioned earlier apply. You can't provoke the attack. The trick is that if you do shoot them dead, there won't be any witnesses to contradict your story. And again, this isn't hypothetical, it really does happen in Florida. People shoot each other, claim they were reasonably afraid for their lives, and a judge will find they are immune from prosecution, before the trial even starts.

So again, this isn't about "American" law. This is about Florida law. And under Florida law, if you shoot someone because you are reasonably afraid you might be "lynched", or brutally raped, or whatever you will likely walk. There is a good chance that if Martin had been an adult with his own legally owned fire arm, and he shot Zimmerman he would walk, because Zimmerman was armed. And, there would be a much better chance that if Zimmerman shot Martin while he was armed, he would walk, since he could credibly claim to have been in imminent mortal danger.

This is an important thing to understand about this law - it's insane. It basically makes dueling legal again. If two people get into a fight and they're both armed, they both have a reason to fear for their lives, they both have a right to "stand their ground" and they can legally shoot at each other with no legal consequences for the survivor.

While interesting, it's not relevant to this particular case since Zimmerman isn't even claiming what he did was legal under the SYG law.
posted by delmoi at 7:45 PM on June 29, 2013


They only need to provoke the fight.

Delmoi, you're assuming your conclusion. Yes, if Zimmerman provoked Martin to attack him then he cannot claim self-defense. But the state has to prove that and following Martin isn't reasonable provocation of a physical altercation of the sort that occurred. This is exactly why both sides are so intent on introducing profiling and race and so on into the trial. Because they both know that the case will hinge on whether or not the jury believes Martin attacked Zimmerman for following him or Zimmerman attacked Martin because he thought he was a criminal.

But "provoke" in this context doesn't simply mean an action without which the fight would not have happened (such as Zimmerman following Martin) but an action which a reasonable person would have known would lead to the physical altercation. Following Martin is not a provocation to a physical assault.

I predict right now that this is going to come down to the judge's jury instructions on the requirements of self-defense and provocation and whether he (as suggested above) includes lesser offenses like manslaughter. Whether or not Zimmerman's provocation of Martin rose to the level of denying him a self-defense claim is exactly what is at issue and is what the jury is going to decide the case on, in my opinion.
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


following Martin isn't reasonable provocation of a physical altercation of the sort that occurred. '

I can't for the life of me come up with any rational explanation why Trayvon Martin would -- unprovoked -- attack George Zimmerman. Could anyone give me any insight? I *cannot* accept the narrative that Trayvon Martin "Just Snapped" since it presumes this Crazy Black Man stereotype that I wholeheartedly reject.
posted by mikelieman at 8:14 PM on June 29, 2013


This is an important thing to understand about this law - it's insane. It basically makes dueling legal again.

Dueling is more civilized. At least with a formal duel both parties are consenting and prepared.
posted by homunculus at 8:19 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


My problem isn't people who take meds for ADHD. My problem is people who abuse ADHD meds. Zimmerman really should have had his blood drawn as part of the investigation.

There is literally no way that a blood draw can determine whether or not Zimmerman medically needed medication to control his ADHD, or at what dosage he need it if in fact he did need medication. The only purpose of having his blood drawn to determine his level of ADHD medication is if you are bent on stigmatizing peope with ADHD.

I can't for the life of me come up with any rational explanation why Trayvon Martin would -- unprovoked -- attack George Zimmerman. Could anyone give me any insight?

Absolutely, and that's why I think this whole thing is such a tragedy.

Let's suppose you are Martin. You have kind of a rough life. Your parents are divorced. You attend a school which is educationally poor enough that a fellow attendee cannot read cursive and where multiple attendees have trouble with the English language as it is commonly understood. You have been suspended from that school and found with burglary tools. You smoke pot and are spending time with illegal firearms. You pose in macho "thug" poses - not necessarily because you are a bad person or a violent person, but because this is what you have been socially conditioned to do to puff yourself up and make yourself a person who survives. Who is not attacked. You live in a poor neighborhood of a densely populated city. It is possible you are frisked on a daily basis. People like you are dying around you. You do not know any way to succeed, other than through various types of your masculinity - through becoming a football player. Through becoming a "big man."

As a condition of being suspended, you are sent to your father's house. Your father lives in an alien environment, with a woman you may not relate to, in a gated community where the people do not look like you. They do not act like you. You do not know the code here. You do not know what the pose is to survive, what protective coloring or camouflage you need to use. You are used to thinking of survivability. You may even have some mild level of anxiety disorder, as a result of the life you have lived. And so you cut close to the houses. You are aware of your surroundings - because you need to be. Because sometimes that has been life or death for people you know, or the families of people you know. Because young brown men are used to knowing that they have a good possibility of ending up dead far younger than average.

And someone gets out of a car. Someone who is, in fact, carrying. You have handled a gun. You share one with some friends. You know what someone carrying looks like. He looks white to your eyes. You are brown. You know those odds don't always work well. And he is coming closer and closer. You have started running, and he has started running to follow you. You look around, and you're closed off. You don't see an escape. You stop, and he stops and walks towards you. He asks some variant of the age old "What are you doing around here?" The unspoken word left off at the end is "boy." You have heard how this story ends. Perhaps the man rests his hand on the butt of his pistol as he asks the question. You think that it is possible you have moments to live. But you are a football player. You are young and strong and alive and you have faith in the strength and power of your body. So you lean forward in a tackle. A tackle, to stop the man from killing you. Perhaps, to take away the gun.


This is just one possible scenario outlined. But is it really that improbable?
posted by corb at 9:37 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: Somebody obviously started a physical altercation. Either Zimmerman attacked Martin because he thought he was a criminal getting away with something or Martin attacked Zimmerman because he was a "creepy-ass cracker" following him around. One of those two things happened and the prosecution has to prove it was the former.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 PM on June 29, 2013


Delmoi, you're assuming your conclusion.
So?

State doesn't need to prove anything the jurors already believe. They don't have to prove that guns people, they don't have to prove that it's hard to see at night.

Remember this is an all female jury. I guarantee you many of these women have probably had frightening experiences with creepy men following them around. Go read some of the threads here where women share their experiences. There was one in particular where a woman described being followed late at night by strange men and how frightening it was. My guess is that this is something that their life experience will inform them is true.

The jurors are not Turing machines with completely blank tapes that the prosecution needs to completely fill in with a string that will cause them to halt in an accepting state.
But the state has to prove that and following Martin isn't reasonable provocation of a physical altercation of the sort that occurred.
Following around, then exchanging words. Not just following him around. Presumably he didn't say "dude you dropped your wallet"
"provoke" in this context doesn't simply mean an action without which the fight would not have happened ...but an action which a reasonable person would have known would lead to the physical altercation.
This is so ridiculous. You claim you're sticking up due process, yet you keep inventing random legal principles out of nowhere with no basis in anything whatsoever. The word "provoke" isn't even defined for that statute, as far as I know.

There's a handful of caselaw, and in 1952 an appeal was dismissed because the appeals court decided that following someone in a car, with your wife and kids provoked the "difficulty". However, the law was different at that time and the defendant needed to be "without fault" in order to use self-defense. I assume by "difficulty" they mean the conflict.
The appellant and the man he later admitted killing had an altercation while the appellant was sitting in his jeep, the other man standing at the side of the vehicle. The appellant drove to his home nearby where he procured a revolver, while his adversary continued along the highway, afoot. The appellant, accompanied by his wife and their young daughter, then drove in the same direction until he overtook his former antagonist when both stopped.
...
But the facts believed by the jury point too strongly to a deliberate pursuit by appellant, after the original difficulty had ended and the parties had separated. The law is quite clear that one may not provoke a difficulty and having done so act under the necessity produced by the difficulty, then kill his adversary and justify the homicide under the plea of self defense
Could a reasonable person who drove back to where this guy was have known it would result in a conflict? As far as the court says all that matters is whether or not it was intentional, not whether or not it could be 'reasonably' expected start a conflict.

But, the law was different at the time. That was about provoking a difficulty, not provoking a person.

Ironically, the judges use the word "provoke" to mean exactly what you claimed it did not mean: an action taken, without which there would be no conflict.. The only difference is that they said it had to be deliberate.

There's another general definition of the word provocation with regards to mitigating circumstances in sentencing if a crime was 'provoked'
Provocation may be alleged as a defense to certain crimes in order to lessen the severity of the penalty normally imposed. For example, provocation that would cause a reasonable person to act in a heat of passion —a state of mind where one acts without reflection—may result in a reduction of a charge of murder to a charge of voluntary Manslaughter.
Not the wording. The question isn't whether or not a reasonable person would expect someone else to do something, but rather whether or not a reasonable person would themselves enter into a passionate and presumably irrational state.

So, if that's the definition used, the all female jury won't be asked to put themselves in Zimmerman's shoes to see if what he did was reasonable, but instead asked to put themselves in Trayvon Martin's shoes and asked if being followed around by a strange man in first in a car and then on foot in the pitch black dark of the night between houses with no streetlights would have angered, or frightened them enough to "act without reflection"
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


And someone gets out of a car. Someone who is, in fact, carrying. You have handled a gun. You share one with some friends. You know what someone carrying looks like. He looks white to your eyes. You are brown. You know those odds don't always work well. And he is coming closer and closer. You have started running, and he has started running to follow you. You look around, and you're closed off. You don't see an escape. You stop, and he stops and walks towards you. He asks some variant of the age old "What are you doing around here?" The unspoken word left off at the end is "boy." You have heard how this story ends. Perhaps the man rests his hand on the butt of his pistol as he asks the question. You think that it is possible you have moments to live. But you are a football player. You are young and strong and alive and you have faith in the strength and power of your body. So you lean forward in a tackle. A tackle, to stop the man from killing you. Perhaps, to take away the gun.


This is just one possible scenario outlined. But is it really that improbable?
If it's true, then Zimmerman is guilty.
mikelieman: Somebody obviously started a physical altercation. Either Zimmerman attacked Martin because he thought he was a criminal getting away with something or Martin attacked Zimmerman because he was a "creepy-ass cracker" following him around. One of those two things happened and the prosecution has to prove it was the former
Again. That is false. All Zimmerman had to do was provoke the attack. How many times does it have to be stated before you stop telling this lie?
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Justinian:and whether he (as suggested above) includes lesser offenses like manslaughter.

Apparently, lesser charges are automatically included in the 2nd degree murder charge:

Jury Instructions

and because Martin was under 18 manslaughter converts to a first degree felony instead of second degree felony.

782.07
Manslaughter; aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult; aggravated manslaughter of a child; aggravated manslaughter of an officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic.—

posted by snaparapans at 9:56 PM on June 29, 2013


Jury Instructions
You mean random speculative jury instructions written by nutjobs on talkleft?

You seriously think the judge is going to give out "jury instructions" with raw HTML source code pasted into them?
posted by delmoi at 10:02 PM on June 29, 2013


Nutjobs? Sorry delmoi, I was hoping to add to the discussion, but baseless personal attacks?
posted by snaparapans at 10:13 PM on June 29, 2013


I'm attacking the people on that site. You linked to a random, poorly formatted PDF of unknown provenance on talkleft and called it "Jury Instructions" How is that adding to the discussion?
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on June 29, 2013


Again. That is false. All Zimmerman had to do was provoke the attack. How many times does it have to be stated before you stop telling this lie?

Lie? Bite me. It's patently obvious you're not trying to analyze what the jury is going to do but are acting purely as an advocate for convicting Martin.

It's patently obvious that a provocation has to be something beyond just an act without which there would have been no fight. It's absurd to claim otherwise since that would make virtually every action leading up to the physical altercation an act of provocation.

The bit about provoking a heat of passion is much more on the mark. But that doesn't back up your position, it backs up mine. A physical attack is not a reasonable response to simply being followed. If I were to follow you around and you attacked me, you would be charged with assault. I could defend myself and I would not be charged with assault. Could I kill you? That depends on if I was in reasonable fear of my life.
posted by Justinian at 10:18 PM on June 29, 2013


Lie? Bite me. It's patently obvious you're not trying to analyze what the jury is going to do but are acting purely as an advocate for convicting Martin.
Some facts are subjective, others ones are not. The law does not say anything at all about striking first. The law only says the victim needs to be provoked in order for the defendant to lose the right to self defense unless they exhaust all other attempts to escape.

If you say otherwise, you're lying.
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2013


If it's true, then Zimmerman is guilty\

Is he? Because the same sort of thing can be done with Zimmerman as well.

You're Hispanic. Sure, you're the son of a well-off judge - and a Peruvian mother. In the circles you move because of your parents, you've had to fight harder to be accepted. You've had to prove yourself against the color of your skin and your heritage, against the expectations that gated communities, gated hearts, tend to have. You work harder for everything. You are used - especially in Florida - to people deciding that people who are like you, are ignorant, criminals, lazy, uneducated. You are going to prove them wrong. You are going to prove your right to be a part of this community. You're going to be a cop - a part of the law. You're taking classes at a local university to try to make this dream come true. You're a part of the Neighborhood Watch. You make a difference. When you walk down the street, people nod to you. They know you. They know you're keeping them safe. They don't see your mother. They don't see the faint brown tint to your skin. They see you as one of them. They see you as so much one of them that a police officer, later, will list your race as white. You have become accepted.

There's a string of robberies, threatening this home, this area you have chosen to protect. What does that mean? What does that mean for your community? What does that mean for you, who have vowed to protect the community, and yet it is being robbed? You don't know. You're more on edge. Patrolling the neighborhood, your eyes are sharp for anything out of the ordinary.

And there comes someone that you don't know. Someone not from the neighborhood - this small neighborhood where so many people know you or your father that later, jury selection will be delayed by it. He doesn't look right. He's dressed a little funny, he's walking a little different. He is looking behind him. He is sticking close to the buildings. He looks guilty as sin. You start following him in your car. You get out. Maybe you're attacked - but more likely, the man you see starts to run. You have no idea he is seventeen. He is a football player, tall. He is trying to look older and so you read him as older. He is running, therefore he is guilty. He is running, thus the instinctual thing to do is to give chase. Which you do.

He stops, and you are glad, because you are out of breath already from chasing him. You are wheezing. Your face is a bit red. You put your hands on your hips as you catch your breath, as you ask, "What are you doing here?" You have no idea you will be read as white, carrying on a history of violence. You have no idea that your resting your hand on your hip, on the butt of your gun, will be read as a threat. You think that if this man is like you - an innocent - then he will be eager to establish himself with law and order. You grew up in a small town with your father a judge. You do not know why someone who is not guilty would be afraid.

And he hits you. You did not expect it, suddenly you are down, scrabbling, while this man - because he is almost full grown and because he seems like a man to you - is beating you. You do not know what to do. He is hurting you. Your head is gashed open and you are bleeding. On the pavement? On the grass? You don't know. All you know is pain. You are dizzy from your head being hit - and you feel someone going for your gun. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren't. Maybe the fists are just raining where the gun is. Why would he hit you? Only a criminal would hit you. A criminal only wants one thing. You don't have friends who are criminals. You are on the side of the law. You are scared of the gun being taken and used against you. You grab for it - and in the struggle, you fire.


Is this, also, so hard to imagine?
posted by corb at 10:23 PM on June 29, 2013


If you say otherwise, you're lying.

Or maybe you're just wrong and are stating with confidence things you should not be. For example, here is what the state of Connecticut (where I lived for a long time) says about provocation:
A. Provocation – § 53a-19 (c) (1)

(One such / Another) circumstance under which a person is not justified in using any degree of physical force in self-defense against another is when (he/she) provokes the other person to use physical force against (him/her).

In order to provoke the use of physical force by another, it is not enough that the defendant by (his/her) conduct elicited the use of physical force by another; rather the defendant must have embarked upon such conduct with the specific intent to provoke the other into using physical force and intending to cause the other physical injury or death.

The defendant must have specifically intended to provoke another into using physical force, and then used force to defend (himself/herself) from the ensuing use of force by the person provoked.

It is important to remember that the defendant has no burden whatsoever to prove that (he/she) did not provoke into using physical force against (him/her). To the contrary, you may only reject (his/her) defense on the basis of this statutory disqualification if you find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant provoked the use of physical force by against (him/her).
Do you have evidence that the Florida usage of Provocation is not consistent with the above? Or are you talking out of your ass?
posted by Justinian at 10:26 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is he? Because the same sort of thing can be done with Zimmerman as well.
...
Is this, also, so hard to imagine?
That would be very relevant if Trayvon Martin on trial for killing George Zimmerman and trying to argue he did it in self defense.

However, he's not, so it isn't.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Talkleft has not read as a great source to me, they provide some good links and analysis but they have been pretty consistently pro-Zimmerman, to the point of deleting comments that advise against donating to his defense fund on what I consider to be the pretty dubious grounds of leveling the playing field with the prosecution. If possible, try and find some different sources when you can.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:29 PM on June 29, 2013


Do you have evidence that the Florida usage of Provocation is not consistent with the above?
This is ridiculous. The evidence is that different states have different laws. In CT you're required to retreat no matter what. It wouldn't matter if he provoked Martin or not, he would be guilty either way.
posted by delmoi at 10:39 PM on June 29, 2013


Ok, so demonstrate that Florida's definition of provoke is different. IF not, it would appear I was correct that the judge's instructions are going to be the key.
posted by Justinian at 10:41 PM on June 29, 2013


I mean, we have a statute here that defines provoke. It's not a Florida statute, I agree. If we can find a Florida statute that would take precedence. But otherwise why should we accept your completely out of the blue definition of "provocation" instead of an actual codified one in a self-defense statute?
posted by Justinian at 10:45 PM on June 29, 2013


Ok, so demonstrate that Florida's definition of provoke is different.
The fact that CT and Florida are different states is sufficient to prove their laws do not apply to each other.
I mean, we have a statute here that defines provoke.
That's also false. This is the statute. There's no definition of provoke in it. Most of the text you quoted doesn't appear at all.

If you want to be taken seriously you should stop making so many errors. You quoted from some jury instructions

Here's some more text from those instructions:
(One such / Another) circumstance under which a person is not justified in using any degree of physical force in self-defense against another is when (he/she) is the initial aggressor ... To prove that the defendant was the initial aggressor in (his/her) encounter with , the state need not prove that the defendant was the first person to use physical force in that encounter. The initial aggressor can be the first person who threatened to use physical force, or even the first person who appeared to threaten the imminent use of physical force under circumstances.
So, even if this were happening in Connecticut, rather then Florida, what you said about striking first would still be a lie. which would have been obvious if you'd read the entire document you quoted and falsely claimed was the statute.

Again, there are subjective facts, and there are objective facts. The fact is you don't need to strike first to lose your right to self defense in CT. The fact is CT law doesn't apply to Florida. The fact is the text you quoted wasn't a statute. The fact is FL law does not specifically define 'provoke'.

The fact is any claim that Florida law requires a defendant to be the first to strike, or do anything other then provoke the victim in order to lose the right to self-defense is not true, and anyone who keeps saying it is lying.
posted by delmoi at 10:58 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


what you said about striking first would still be a lie

Hey, I'm not a mod, but this is a hard and shitty subject. It would be really cool if we could try saying things like "I think you're wrong, and here's why" rather than "YOU ARE A LIAR."

Someone who genuinely believes what they are saying, even if they are wrong, even if they have read something wrong, is not a liar, and it makes this conversation much suckier with no positive effect.
posted by corb at 11:01 PM on June 29, 2013


I have said repeatedly that I thought the jury instructions were key. How could jury instructions which define provoke in a way not consistent with your theory of the word (legally) not support my position!

I said "here is what the statute says about provocation". The jury instructions are the judge TELLING THE JURY WHAT THE STATUTE MEANS.
posted by Justinian at 11:05 PM on June 29, 2013


Anyway, I'm finished for tonight. I think the thread speaks for itself.
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on June 29, 2013


But otherwise why should we accept your completely out of the blue definition of "provocation" instead of an actual codified one in a self-defense statute?
One example was from a Florida supreme court decision, which would actually be relevant. Another was a common legal definition, and is just an example. In fact I said "So, if that's the definition used", At no point did I ever say that definition would actually be used. I never once claimed it was anything other then an example.
How could jury instructions which define provoke in a way not consistent with your theory of the word (legally) not support my position!
The fact that they come from a completely different state with completely different self defense laws. And not only that, aside from the definition of 'provoke' I said it was a lie to claim that the defendant had to strike first to lose the right to use self defense and that's exactly what the instructions say, they only appeared to support your claim due to selective editing and the lack of a hyperlink.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 PM on June 29, 2013


[Delmoi, you need to dial it back; this is (supposed to be) a conversation, not a shouting match.]
posted by taz at 11:29 PM on June 29, 2013


I think it's getting a little hot in here too. That said, the laws and jury instructions of any state other than Florida are irrelevant to the discussion of what happens in a Florida court, and I can understand how looping back around to irrelevant texts from other states ramps up the frustration.
posted by mikelieman at 4:46 AM on June 30, 2013


It's absolutely not irrelevant unless you can show me jury instructions from Florida which contradict that interpretation of "provoke".

Look, we have two competing interpretations of what constitutes a provocation in Florida's self-defense laws. I have shown that my interpretation is used in some states legal systems. Your certainty is misplaced.

We'll see soon enough, though, when the judge issues his instructions.
posted by Justinian at 12:44 PM on June 30, 2013


Self-Defense Instruction as Read by Judge Nelson to the Prospective Jury Panel June 20, 2013

An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which George Zimmerman is charged if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.
"Deadly force" means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent (1) imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or (2) the imminent commmision of aggravated battery against himself or another.

Aggravated battery is intentionally touching or striking another against his or her will, and in committing the battery, intentionally or knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the other person.

In deciding whether defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing the defendant need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the
same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, the defendant must have actually believed that the danger was real.

If the defendant was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of the defendant and Trayvon Martin.

If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty.

However, if from the evidence you are convinced that the defendant was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved.
posted by snaparapans at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you! He didn't mention provocation at all. I wonder if that will hold true for the pre-deliberation instructions! Is this whole discussion moot?
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on June 30, 2013


I believe the following will clarify who is correct here and who is not:

Joelle GIBBS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
We agree with appellant that the jury instruction given by the trial court was inadequate to properly charge the jury in this case. The instruction stated that appellant could not defend herself with non-deadly force if she "initially provoked" 445*445 the victim. By not limiting provocation to the use or threat of force, the court failed to make the jury aware that the word "provoked," as used in the instruction, did not refer to mere words or conduct without force.

Stated another way, the instruction given by the court eliminated the use of non-deadly force in self-defense if there was any provocation by the defendant—no matter how slight or subjective the provocation. By that standard, a mere insult could be deemed sufficient to prohibit defending oneself from an attacker.
Soooo... delmoi, do you want to walk back your multiple accusations of "lying" or what?
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, IMO, it is a moot point. The state is not trying to prove that Zimmerman provoked the fight, as far as I understand. (and Judge Nelson is a she)
The Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Standard Criminal Jury Instruction 3.6(f) to clarify that the trial court should only include the aggressor instruction when the defendant has been charged with a contemporaneous independent forcible felony other than the one for which the defendant claims self-defense pursuant to Giles v. State, 831 So. 2d 1263 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). In re Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (2007-3), 976 So. 2d 1081 (Fla. 2008).

--- End quote ---

I have also highlighted the Florida jury instruction 3.6 on this point (2010 edition) which states the same thing.

Because George Zimmerman is not charged with an independent forcible felony, the first section of the aggressor statute does not apply to him, even if he was the aggressor. If he was the aggressor, the second section would apply, but that allows him to assert self-defense so long as he was reasonably in fear of serious bodily injury or death, and he had no alternative lesser means available to avoid the danger he feared.
tl

And from the FL standard jury instruction sheet provided above here is the aggressor statute that has been left out:
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(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.
See, Mosansky v. State, 33 So. 3d 756, 758 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010).
posted by snaparapans at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2013


Joelle GIBBS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.. good find justinian! Illuminating. It should set the question to rest. Would not bet on it though..
posted by snaparapans at 2:25 PM on June 30, 2013


Soooo... delmoi, do you want to walk back your multiple accusations of "lying" or what?
Based on a copy and paste from a talkleft forum post? with no apparent legitimate verification whatsoever?

No.

It's pretty telling that you guys don't even bother linking to the things you quote.
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on June 30, 2013


Ah, the appeals court decision you linked too is a little more legitimate, but still doesn't verify what you said prior about the state needing to prove that Zimmerman struck first.
asked that the standard instruction be modified to clarify what "provocation" means. The standard instruction read:
The use of force not likely to cause death or great bodily harm is not justifiable if you find Joelle Gibbs initially provoked the use of force against herself.
Appellant sought addition of the words "by force or threat of force" to the standard instruction, so that it would read:
The use of force not likely to cause death or great bodily harm is not justified if you find Joelle Gibbs initially provoked the use of force against herself, by force or the threat of force.
(Emphasis added).
Note the "threat of force", not force alone. (and note they added the emphasis and the "(Emphasis added)" is part of the quote)

In this case the question was whether or not "merely provoking someone by complaining that they didn't say good morning" was enough to give up the right to self defense. I would certainly agree that that kind of thing shouldn't qualify. I obviously don't think that doing some normal, every day thing that you wouldn't expect to bother someone should qualify. Like if you say "moist" around someone who hates the word "moist" and they try to kill you, you shouldn't lose your right to self defense.

All that happened here was that the defendant complained that the victim didn't respond when she said good morning. That's it.

Obviously there should be some kind of common sense standard.

___

Now, you wrote:
mikelieman: Somebody obviously started a physical altercation. Either Zimmerman attacked Martin because he thought he was a criminal getting away with something or Martin attacked Zimmerman because he was a "creepy-ass cracker" following him around. One of those two things happened and the prosecution has to prove it was the former
And nothing you have linked too shows that that isn't false. Having someone follow you around in a car, then get out of the car and follow you on foot could reasonably considered by some people to be threatening, particularly women - which the jury is comprised of.

You have no basis for claiming, none whatsoever that what matters is who threw the firs punch. Not even in Connecticut, which is the only place the jury instructions you selectively quoted have any relevance.
posted by delmoi at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2013


Based on a copy and paste from a talkleft forum post? with no apparent legitimate verification whatsoever?

No.

It's pretty telling that you guys don't even bother linking to the things you quote.


The very link that you just posted had a link to the court video. Right here, I believe it starts around 7:20. As far as I can tell, it was transcribed perfectly.
posted by dsfan at 4:41 PM on June 30, 2013


Quite a lot of the "information" posted in this thread is the result of random bits of legal stuff stripped out of context. The quote was actually part of a question to a prospective juror by the defense team, asking whether or not a juror would be willing to find someone guilty under the self defense statute. However, the judge decided to read that text herself after the prosecution objected to the way the defense was reading it.

The problem is that the instruction is a description of 776.012, however, 776.041 is a separate statute that modifies 776.012 to exclude defense by an aggressor, except under certain circumstances.

So here the defense is simply asking a potential juror if she would be willing to acquit someone under 776.012. The defense isn't asking about 776.041, why would they?

The problem is that gets transcribed and posted on talkleft completely as if it was coming from the judge, as actual instructions for the actual jury to use in the case. In fact, it's just a part of one of the defenses questions to a potential jury.

Once again, completely misleading and out of context information is being presented as something it's not.
posted by delmoi at 5:25 PM on June 30, 2013


(To be more specific, the defense was specifically trying to determine if the juror would be willing to acquit if self defense wasn't disproven beyond a reasonable doubt. If Zimmerman could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be the aggressor, then that would disprove self defense. But that question is premised on that not being true)
posted by delmoi at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2013


If anyone is posting misleading information here Delmoi it is you. I provided Standard Jury Instructions pertinent to this case, and for whatever reason you decided it was bogus cut and paste. Then I provided the jury instructions Judge Nelson intends to give transcribed and posted by Jeralyn Merritt, a respected criminal defense lawyer who does not spout bullshit, and you call her a nut job? And use personal attacks to bolster your points. Pretty unconvincing way of arguing, imo.

Really delmoi, it appears that you are more interested in slamming others with great disrespect, and pumping out your theories, than having any type of discussion here. It is really not so interesting. Your position is clear, and it does not have anything to do with law, imo.
posted by snaparapans at 5:48 PM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"We beat stupidity." - George Zimmerman's Lawyer, Daughter Celebrate With Ice Cream, Share Photo On Instagram

nice.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2013


I provided Standard Jury Instructions pertinent
No, you posted some random PDF hosted on TalkLeft that literally includes raw HTML source code for some reason. It's completely different from the other supposed "jury instructions" you posted so they can't both be the jury instructions.
Then I provided the jury instructions Judge Nelson intends to give transcribed and posted by ...
No. I explained what it was you posted in this comment. It was specifically a portion of the instructions regarding 776.012 that the defense wanted to raise during jury selection so they could ask prospective jurors about it. It is not the complete set of instructions that the Jury will get.

That's the problem here. You guys keep taking portions of random things and trying to use them to argue whatever it is you think is true, which as far as I can tell is that the prosecution needs to prove that Zimmerman threw the first punch.

The reason the judge read that portion of the instructions was because the defense wanted to ask potential jurors if they understood it and would be willing to acquit if it were true. The problem is that if the defense can prove that Zimmerman provoked martin under section 776.041, then 772.012 becomes irrelevant unless Zimmerman tried to run away and couldn't.

I'm not denying 772.012 exists. But for some reason you are refusing to acknowledge 776.041 - and pretending that that that excerpt represents the final and complete set of jury instructions is another example of the same thing.

If you want to persist in ignoring 776.041 that's obviously your choice, it's not like anything you do is going to change the outcome, so it's confusing why you're putting in so much effort to denying it.

You said earlier that people on TalkLeft didn't even think there was probable cause to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, and if that's accurate then they are definitely nutjobs.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


but still doesn't verify what you said prior about the state needing to prove that Zimmerman struck first.

Can you point to where I said this, please?
posted by Justinian at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2013


In this case the question was whether or not "merely provoking someone by complaining that they didn't say good morning" was enough to give up the right to self defense.

No, if you read the entire thing you'll see that the "provocation" included racial slurs and obscene gestures. If, by your theory, merely following someone is sufficient provocation to deny a self-defense claim then without question racial slurs and obscene gestures would also be sufficient. But the court specifically rejected that position.
Because the instruction did not limit provocation to some force or threat of force, the instruction could have misled the jury to believe that appellant's pointedly asking the victim why she failed to acknowledge her greeting and/or appellant's racial retorts and obscene gestures were sufficient provocation to preclude appellant from defending herself from an attack by the victim.
That's pretty clear. Racial slurs and obscene gestures are not sufficient provocation. Therefore it is a reasonable position that following someone is likewise not a sufficient provocation. Why you can't acknowledge this is completely beyond me.
posted by Justinian at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2013


Therefore it is a reasonable position that following someone is likewise not a sufficient provocation.

The historical context of young black men being abducted, tortured and murdered need to be considered. This isn't just two people having an argument. This is one person put in fear of his life BEFORE the confrontation even started. Zimmerman's pursuit **was** the provocation.
posted by mikelieman at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I've demonstrated repeatedly now, legally speaking it isn't enough for Martin to have felt provoked, Zimmerman needs to have intended to provoke him into a response. Did you read the thing I quoted? Had Zimmerman hurled racial slurs and obscene gestures at Martin it would, according to the decision, not have constituted provocation under Florida law. It seems disingenuous to argue that following him would qualify under that standard.

You're basically arguing that Martin reasonably FELT PROVOKED. But that's not the standard. The standard is whether Zimmerman meant to provoke him to violence.
posted by Justinian at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2013


Can you point to where I said this, please?
I already did.
Racial slurs and obscene gestures are not sufficient provocation.
The appellant wasn't the first one to use racial slurs.
The standard is whether Zimmerman meant to provoke him to violence.
Again, you're just making that up. You've never linked to or cited anything that says anything like that.
posted by delmoi at 1:37 PM on July 1, 2013


I already did.

No, you're trying to mix two things together. You're claiming I said that as a legal matter that's what the prosecution has to prove. But when I said that the case was going to come down to the prosecution needing to show Zimmerman attacked first it's clear I was speaking on a practical level. If the jury believes Martin attacked Zimmerman first physically I think they will acquit.

The appellant wasn't the first one to use racial slurs.

That's not relevant. It's either sufficient provocation or it isn't. Given that it isn't, it's fair to conclude following is not sufficient either.

You've never linked to or cited anything that says anything like that.

I've proven that's how provocation is used in other states. But, hey, whatever. Here is Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Florida, Volume 49.
but if a person with malice and hatred in his heart towards another, purposely acts towards such other person as to provoke a difficulty either by acts or words with the intent to induce such other person to strike the first blow ... then the defendant could not avail himself of the right to self-defense
Intent. Right there. Black and white. In the Supreme Court of Florida. I have no doubt that you'll try to find some reason why this doesn't count either and will continue claiming that what you want to be true is actually true.

Let me prevent what would undoubtedly be your first objection. The appelant lost and had their claim of self-defense rejected. But they were not rejected, as is clear if you actually read the whole thing, because that reference to intent is wrong but because the judge had already instructed the jury as to who was to be considered the aggressor and so it was not a matter for the jury.
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok, so now I've shown that intent to provoke is the key in both other states AND FLORIDA. What will it take for you to accept that the law does not always fall exactly in to line with what you wish it to be? The seems like an article of faith or something: I think this is how the law should be, therefore this is how the law must be. But that's not how it works. The law is the law even if you think it is stupid.

No, seriously, I've provided a bunch of evidence for my position. At what point do you provide some evidence for yours rather than simply demanding more and more evidence? How about some from you now?
posted by Justinian at 1:54 PM on July 1, 2013


(To show I can try to be reasonable, you are correct it wasn't clear whether I was speaking legally or practically in the bit about the prosecution needing to attack first. So I'm making it clear now: It may not be a legal requirement but I think it is a practical one.)
posted by Justinian at 1:55 PM on July 1, 2013


You're claiming I said that as a legal matter that's what the prosecution has to prove. But when I said that the case was going to come down to the prosecution needing to show Zimmerman attacked first it's clear I was speaking on a practical level.
A) you didn't indicate you were speaking "practically" and B) Now you're claiming the jury should ignore the law and do what you think is "practical" despite the fact that they don't know you and couldn't care less what you think.
Here is Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Florida, Volume 49.
Another example of you selectively quoting something that clearly indicates what you are saying is false. For example, here it says:
An aggressor is not necessarily a person who may strike the first blow in a personal encounter or make the first demonstration indicating an intent to strike
So again, a clear and explicit statement claiming the exact opposite of what you said, which you obviously read because it immediately precedes the part you quoted.

And amazingly, if you look at the entire passage it actually states the opposite of what you claim it states. What you excerpted is a quotation from an objection, which the supreme court said was in error. They say:
It is contented that this charge is erroneous because it does not state that the act done or the words spoken by the defendant should have been reasonably calculated to produce a difficulty with the deceased. The objection is not well taken. This charge is that "if a person with malice and hatred in his heart towards another, purposefully acts towards such other person as to provoke a difficult," &c., then the right of self defense is not available. Where conduct is intended to provoke and does provoke a difficulty is not a practical one in considering the matter of self-defense.
You are literally quoting the erroneous decision the court struck down as evidence that what you are saying is true.

You've been saying that the Zimmerman needed to reasonably believe his actions would provoke, and this proves that in 1905, that was not the case. It was true that in 1905 the provocation had to be purposeful.

However, since then the laws have changed. In fact, in the 1952 case I linked too earlier the law had already changed provocation wasn't required to be intentional.

So in 1905 the law required intentional provocation, but did not require 'reasonably belief on the part of the defendant' that the provocation would work. It wasn't a question of what the word "provoke" meant, the word "intentional" was there in the text of the law.

In 1952, the law no longer required the provocation to be intentional.
I've shown that intent to provoke is the key in both other states AND FLORIDA
All you showed was that the law changed sometime between 1905 and 1952. And since then, it's changed again.
No, seriously, I've provided a bunch of evidence for my position.
You've misleadingly quoted a bunch of stuff out of context that actually disproves everything you've claimed. Zimmerman would be unquestionably guilty in 1905 and 1952, Because in the past people were required to attempt to escape whether or not they were the aggressor. That's still true in Connecticut

You seem to think there's some kind of loophole in Florida law that lets you follow people around and then shoot them dead as long as there aren't any witnesses around to prove they didn't attack you. It's a completely insane position and no "practical" jury who actually lives in Florida is going to buy it.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on July 1, 2013


Oh and by the way, the Jury won't hear any evidence at all to even suggest that Martin started the fight unless Zimbo takes the stand, in which case he will be completely destroyed. So far the only evidence they've heard is Jeantel's testimony, and that's consistent with what other witnesses heard.
posted by delmoi at 3:22 PM on July 1, 2013


Oh and by the way, the Jury won't hear any evidence at all to even suggest that Martin started the fight

I believe that is incorrect, delmoi, John Good's (Witness 6) testimony is enough so that Zimmerman does not have to take the stand.
posted by snaparapans at 3:46 PM on July 1, 2013


Haha, It's over, Zimmerman is done.
"You're in the rain getting wet… you see where the obstacle is here? I want you to think about that. I'm speaking for you... it doesn't sound like you quite recall exactly what happened at that point,” said Serino. "It sounds like you're looking for him... you want to catch the bad guy. [Expletive] punk can’t get away... Did you pursue this kid? Did you want to catch him?"

"No," said Zimmerman.

The investigator then played a 911 call made by one of Zimmerman’s neighbors, which captures screaming in the background and the gunshot that killed Martin.

"You hear that voice in the background? That's you. You hear yourself?" asked Serino.

"That doesn't even sound like me," said Zimmerman.

“I can’t pinpoint where you were smothered, that’s the problem I’m having,” said Serino. "We don’t hear [Martin] at all either. Is he being quiet? Is he whispering to you or something? Is he calm?"

"He’s on top of me and he’s telling me to, ‘Shut the [expletive] up, shut the [expletive] up,’” said Zimmerman.
posted by delmoi at 4:44 PM on July 1, 2013


I believe that is incorrect, delmoi, John Good's (Witness 6) testimony is enough so that Zimmerman does not have to take the stand.
Zimmerman's interview with the police directly contradicts Good's testimony. He said himself he wasn't saying anything, and specifically that the screams were not his own.

So I take it you think he was lying to the police about what happened?
posted by delmoi at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2013


John Good stated that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and it appeared that Zimmerman was struggling to get out from under him. That statement, is enough so that Zimmerman does not have to testify in order to claim self defense.
posted by snaparapans at 5:04 PM on July 1, 2013


That statement, is enough so that Zimmerman does not have to testify in order to claim self defense.
That's not even close to what Good said. And that interpretation of the law isn't even close to correct. See prior discussion on 776.041.
posted by delmoi at 5:22 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Er, sorry. That is close to what Good said. But it is slightly off. What I meant to type was just that your interpretation of the law wasn't close to correct, which has already been explained. Martin being on top of Zimmerman does not mean Zimmerman's life was in danger.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on July 1, 2013


What I meant to type was just that your interpretation of the law wasn't close to correct. Zimmerman was only justified in using deadly force if his life was in danger and he'd exhausted every opportunity to escape

Zimmerman only needed to believe that his life was in danger.

I posted the jury instructions above which, for reasons I cannot understand, you maintained were incomplete or a detail raised by the defense to ask prospective jurors.

It was specifically a portion of the instructions regarding 776.012 that the defense wanted to raise during jury selection so they could ask prospective jurors about it. It is not the complete set of instructions that the Jury will get.

This is disinformation on your part. Judge Nelson read the instructions twice to the selected jurors who will decide the case.

Here is a report mentioning the jury instructions From June 20 the day the jurors were selected:
Judge Nelson drove home the same point in her instruction on "justifiable use of deadly force" during the final phase of jury selection. She also made a pointed reference to Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law, under which the use of lethal force is deemed lawful if an individual fears grievous bodily injury or death in a confrontation with an assailant.

"The danger facing the defendant need not to have been actual," Nelson told potential jurors. "However, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force.

"If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense, you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty," the judge added.
Here is the verbatim transcript of those instructions transcribed by Jeralyn from Talk Left

Here is the pertinent clause:
An issue in this case is whether the defendant acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the offense with which George Zimmerman is charged if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.

"Deadly force" means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent (1) imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or (2) the imminent commission of aggravated battery against himself or another.....

....In deciding whether defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing the defendant need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, the defendant must have actually believed that the danger was real.
None of this is my interpretation. I did not write the laws. Zimmerman will not have to take the stand as there has already been enough evidence for the Judge to instruct the jury that this is a case about whether Zimmerman acted in self defense. The jury will decide, of course and they will base their judgement on the evidence put forth.
posted by snaparapans at 6:18 PM on July 1, 2013


Judge Nelson read the instructions twice to the selected
Can you explain why you think she was reading those instructions at that point in time? Because you don't appear to understand what was going on. It doesn't mean what you are claiming it does, and it certainly wasn't the complete, final instructions the jury will receive.
Here is the verbatim transcript of those instructions transcribed by Jeralyn from Talk Left
Yeah, you posted that already. You don't need to do it again. You've been seriously mislead by that site.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 PM on July 1, 2013


Yeah, you posted that already. You have been seriously mislead by that site.

Can you explain why instead of just asserting it? IIRC, someone posted the video of which that is the transcript?
posted by hoyland at 6:51 PM on July 1, 2013


IIRC, someone posted the video of which that is the transcript?

I watched the video, and I explained what was going on here. There's no need for me to repeat it.

What was said was in no way the complete and final instructions that will be given to the jury to decide the case. Presenting them as if they were is nonsensical - I have no idea why anyone would.
posted by delmoi at 6:56 PM on July 1, 2013


Yeah, I was pretty sure of this but I wanted to look it up to double check. Final Jury instructions are given at the end of the trial after all the witness testimony, not at the start of the trial. See page 166 of the Florida rules of criminal procedure

RULE 3.390. JURY INSTRUCTIONS
(a) Subject of Instructions.
The presiding judge shall instruct the jury only on the law of the case before or after the argument of counsel and may provide appropriate instructions during the trial. If the instructions are given prior to final argument, the presiding judge shall give the jury final procedural instructions after final arguments are concluded and prior to deliberations. Except in capital cases, the judge shall not instruct the jury on the sentence that may be imposed for the offense for which the accused is on trial.

(b) Form of Instructions.
The instruction to a jury shall be orally delivered and shall also be in writing. All written instructions shall also be filed in the cause.

(c) Written Request.
At the close of the evidence, or at such earlier time during the trial as the court reasonably directs, any party may file written requests that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the requests. The court shall inform counsel of its proposed action on the request and of the instructions that will be given prior to their argument to the jury.
So apparently instructions can be given at the start of the trial, or during it. But the final jury instructions come at the end of the trial. I thought everyone knew this, but apparently not.

At the point in time that those supposed "jury instructions" were read the jury hadn't even been seated yet. There were only potential jurors being asked questions to help the lawyers decide who they wanted to oppose.

snaparapans is taking something that was said as part of a defense question to a prospective juror and presenting them as being the final and complete instructors that the jury will use to decide the case, and those aren't even going to exist until the end of the arguments from both sides.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on July 1, 2013


You know, I started off thinking that Zimmerman was not the best guy at neighborhood watchness or at gun ownership, and being mildly irritated that this was the face of concealed carry. But at this point, I really hope Zimmerman gets cleared of all charges whatsoever, and gets given a free ice cream sundae into the bargain. Just because I'm so sick of the lynching so many people want to engage in on this case.

People who are chortling with glee and wanting to be incredibly hypocritical might want to consider how much their opinions polarize others.

If you think that Jeantel might have had reasons for not telling the truth immediately, some of which being shock, but think that Zimmerman had absolutely no excuse, you are biased as hell and part of the problem, not the solution.

(Not to mention: have you ever been shot? Seen someone shot around you? Shot someone? Do you think you could remember the exact chain of events? Particularly if you're asked to repeat them so many times? A better question: can you remember what the last three sentences your lover, mother, or boss said to you today? I would bet you can't, because that's not how memory works, and we are wrong to assume that it does.)
posted by corb at 8:10 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb. suggesting that Zimmerman is facing a lynching is really insensitive, and highly provocative, to say the least:

so sick of the lynching so many people want to engage in on this case.
posted by snaparapans at 8:12 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seen someone shot around you? Shot someone? Do you think you could remember the exact chain of events? Particularly if you're asked to repeat them so many times?
Then here's a suggestion: Don't fucking shoot people if you don't think you'll be a good witness in your own defense.

Sorry, yeah. I do think that if you shoot an innocent and kill them you'd better have a damn good explanation. I don't have any sympathy. I don't have any problem sending you to jail for the rest of your life if you don't.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You want someone to be cleared of murder charges just because you don't like how people talk about the trial? That's...bizarre.

People get angry about this case because a minor was shot to death, it's an emotional topic that has potential interactions with other issues people are passionate about such as racism and gun ownership. It's fair to criticize how people handle it sometimes, but it's not a particularly good reason to hope for acquittal.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The case law from 1952 does not imply what you are claiming it does. I assume you mean Mixon vs State. That was a case in which two people got into an argument, one guy left and armed himself and then deliberately pursued with the intent to provoke an altercation the guy who had left.

Jesus this is brutal.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Look, we'll find out soon enough which is correct, won't we? Once the case goes to the jury we can just read the damn jury instructions.
posted by Justinian at 8:36 PM on July 1, 2013


Yeah, uh, I'm not with corb here. If the prosecution proves its case I want Zimmerman to go to jail no matter what people are saying about it. Delmoi and I are arguing about what the prosecution has to prove, not about what should happen if they prove it.
posted by Justinian at 8:40 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


one guy left and armed himself and then deliberately pursued with the intent to provoke an altercation the guy who had left.
Right. And the point is that the court found that deliberately pursuing someone while armed constitutes a provocation that results in the loss of the right to self defense.

So you apparently agree with that now?

There was no claim that he intentionally did anything to provoke other then the armed pursuit.
posted by delmoi at 8:54 PM on July 1, 2013


corb: " I'm so sick of the lynching"

F7U12
posted by tonycpsu at 9:10 PM on July 1, 2013


Drinky Die: You want someone to be cleared of murder charges just because you don't like how people talk about the trial? That's...bizarre.

Not sure if you are talking to me, but if your are I do not want Zimmerman cleared of anything. I am interested in a fair trial, and if the prosecution finds Zimmerman guilty, that is fine with me. I do not find him appealing in any way.

But for whatever it is worth I will almost always root for the defense. The game is usually rigged to benefit the State, imo. so I do not think that they need me rooting for them as the US jails are already way overcrowded.
posted by snaparapans at 9:44 PM on July 1, 2013


I was responding to corb, sorry it wasn't clear.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:12 PM on July 1, 2013


The game is usually rigged to benefit the State
So why are you so sure the game will suddenly become 'un-rigged' for this case?

I agree there are lot of problems with the courts generally, and I think reasonable doubt is an important thing when it comes to reasonable about whether or not the person actually did it. We also have way too many people in jail for drug offenses.

But this is a case where Zimmerman shot someone dead over what was essentially a simple misunderstanding, in a confrontation that he could easily have avoided and in fact probably sought out. There's no doubt that he did it.

I'm not interested in the internal mindset of someone who's such a pussy they can't even go grocery shopping at target without carrying a gun.

___

Think about it this way, suppose a cop does an improper search on a car and finds some weed. Should the driver go to jail? To me that seems like an unfair injustice.

On the other hand, suppose the cop finds the chopped up bodies of a bunch of kids who had recently gone missing. Should the driver go to jail? Um, duh of course they should. I don't have a problem with that.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


But at this point, I really hope Zimmerman gets cleared of all charges whatsoever, and gets given a free ice cream sundae into the bargain. Just because I'm so sick of the lynching so many people want to engage in on this case.

Shame on you. Seriously.
posted by eunoia at 5:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Delmoi: So why are you so sure the game will suddenly become 'un-rigged' for this case?

For one, because of team Crump the State was forced to respond to the media blitz and bring the case on way too early, leaving it short of evidence, and the State overcharged Zimmerman, which creates a high bar, particularly when the evidence is so thin.

For two, I have been following the details of the case since its inception and believe that the defense will show that Zimmerman acted within in his rights regarding Florida law. And, I am not so sure about it as you opine, but I do believe that the State has a lousy case, and is losing at this point. The State's own witnesses are making the defense case, that is not good for the prosecution. Am I happy about what happened to Martin, hardly, his death was tragic.
posted by snaparapans at 6:40 AM on July 2, 2013


Without the internet-rage, would we even be having a trial?
posted by mikelieman at 6:47 AM on July 2, 2013


[Just because I'm so sick of the lynching so many people want to engage in

For the record, we need you to be more mindful of the way the words you choose affect the way a conversation is going on MetaFilter. This is not a good way to get across any point other than "I might be trolling" and it stops a conversation dead. I would like that to not happen. I would like you to be able to continue to have conversations here, but you need to choose your words more carefully than this. The choice is yours, but this sort of thing is not okay. Follow up via the Contact Form if you have any questions at all about this. Other folks, please drop this. We understand if you need to go to MetaTalk but please drop it here.]

posted by jessamyn at 6:55 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


The game isn't necessarily rigged against the state, the game is rigged for gun owners with aggression problems and/or cultural paranoia by a law that seems to cause more unlawful homicides than prevent actual crimes or lower crime rates. Without SYG as a shield for wanna-be Dirty Harrys like Zimmerman, this would have been an open-and-shut case. That the prosecution does not seem particularly skillful is almost besides the point.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:02 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders:The game isn't necessarily rigged against the state...

Not sure you are responding to my comment, but if you are I said the opposite. IMO, the game is rigged favoring the State. The State has endless resources, plenty of time, and the power to jail someone while they are awaiting trial, amongst other advantages.

And this case is not invoking SYG law, but self-defense.
posted by snaparapans at 7:34 AM on July 2, 2013


Not sure you are responding to my comment, but if you are I said the opposite. IMO, the game is rigged favoring the State. The State has endless resources, plenty of time, and the power to jail someone while they are awaiting trial, amongst other advantages.

And this case is not invoking SYG law, but self-defense.


SYG is what allowed Zimmerman to escape arrest in the first place, and it has not been ruled out as an argument by the defense, just the immunity grant in a pretrial.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:51 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


True SYG has not been ruled out, and the Judge did explain SYG to the jury, but the Detective who was on the scene testified that he believed it was straight out self-defense, not SYG. Zimmerman claimed self-defense not SYG.

Also it is true that SYG has had brought to the public eye due to the national prime time publicity this case has attracted, so your point is well taken. But, regarding the actual case, I doubt that SYG will be brought up by the defense, but IANAL, so I am not sure that SYG is DOA here.
posted by snaparapans at 8:03 AM on July 2, 2013


There was no claim that he intentionally did anything to provoke other then the armed pursuit.

It's clear from the case that they believed he broke off contact, armed himself, and then engaged in armed pursuit for the purpose of a physical confrontation. The relevant passage is "But the facts believed by the jury point too strongly to a deliberate pursuit by appellant, after the original difficulty had ended and the parties had separated. ".

For this to be the same as the current case the initial confrontation would have to be unarmed and Zimmerman would have had to have left to get his weapon then returned to pursue Martin, as Mixon says, "after the original difficulty ended." There was only one physical struggle in the Zimmerman case.

I'm sure you disagree that the cases are different. The prosecution will undoubtedly argue your position. The defense will undoubtedly argue mine.
posted by Justinian at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2013


FWIW if Zimmerman is convicted I fully expect it will be because the jury believes deadly force was not justified because his life was not really in danger and not because the jury believes he forfeited the right to self-defense through provocation. The unjustified force angle is much stronger for the prosecution IMO.
posted by Justinian at 11:14 AM on July 2, 2013


"armed himself, and engaged in armed pursuit" I think is the point here, rather than the particulars before... Is there any citation which qualifies provocation as REQUIRING the armed pursuit to be for the purpose of a physical confrontation, or was just just an incident fact in Moxin?
posted by mikelieman at 11:14 AM on July 2, 2013


mkelieman: Even delmoi admits that prior to Mixon the provocation had to have the intent to cause a physical confrontation, he just is taking the position that Mixon supercedes that prior-to-1952 interpretation with a new one that doesn't require intent. So the crux of our disagreement seems like it comes down to what Mixon says.
posted by Justinian at 11:17 AM on July 2, 2013


Remember when the daily newspapers had this kind of analysis? I wouldn't have had to ask a question predicated on not following the prior discussion. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to have asked the question, insightful or otherwise. Oh, technology, you viscous bitch goddess...

uh. Thank you for that clarification.
posted by mikelieman at 11:20 AM on July 2, 2013


For those of you with actual lives instead of a television, the medical examiner today is the first witness I think did serious damage to the defense. She really went after Zimmerman's injuries as being extremely superficial. Every other witness was neutral at best, in my opinion, but she really hammered the idea that Zimmerman's life was in danger.

The defense argument has to be that you don't have to wait for your injuries to be life-threatening before defending yourself, only that you feel like your life is in danger (which is true) but that's a much more nuanced argument than "look at how he was beat to crap!".
posted by Justinian at 11:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


For two, I have been following the details of the case since its inception and believe that the defense will show that Zimmerman acted within in his rights regarding Florida law.
Show based on what?
And, I am not so sure about it as you opine, but I do believe that the State has a lousy case, and is losing at this point.
They are showing a story that seems real. Real life is messy and complex. What it looks like is that the state is trying to present all the relevant evidence instead of trying to tell a sugar coated perfect story by leaving things out.

They only need to show a couple things to be true:

1) That Zimmerman provoked martin by following him (or some other way), losing his right to self defense
2) That he didn't exhaust every effort to escape. or
3) That his life wasn't reasonably in danger.

If they do that, then Zimmerman loses his right to self defense with deadly force. And note, they only have to prove 1 and 2 or 1 and 3. They don't even need to prove all three.

You and Justinian, for whatever reason, simply refuse to believe this even though it's been explained multiple times. It's completely spelled out in FL code 776.041.

And obviously if you don't believe that section of code exists, it would be easy to think that Zimmerman is winning his case, but I don't get why you would be so persistent in denying the facts of the law.

___
the game is rigged for gun owners with aggression problems and/or cultural paranoia by a law that seems to cause more unlawful homicides than prevent actual crimes or lower crime rates. Without SYG as a shield for wanna-be Dirty Harrys like Zimmerman, this would have been an open-and-shut case -- zombieflanders
But here's the thing. Zimmerman isn't claiming SYG. In order to claim SYG he has to show that he was justified in using force with the preponderance of evidence, before the trail even starts. So the standard of evidence is different. In fact he would actually need to prove his innocence, (via preponderance of evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt).

And after all the law is "stand your ground" not "advance on your 'threat'"

Since he's not claiming SYG he loses that "shield."

I agree the law is insane, but it's not an issue here. And because of that, it basically is an open and shut case, IMO.

___
For this to be the same as the current case the initial confrontation would have to be unarmed and Zimmerman would have had to have left to get his weapon then returned to pursue Martin, as Mixon says, "after the original difficulty ended." There was only one physical struggle in the Zimmerman case. -- Justinian
Justinian - the laws were different at that time. Also, of course the situations are not exactly the same, they're similar. That's how caselaw works.

Finally, is the jury actually going to believe Zimmerman got out of his car and went between the buildings just so he could read the street number on the back of the houses (instead of the front)? I doubt it. It's likely they'll believe Zimmerman deliberately perused Martin (especially since he said he was to the 911 operator).

The basic point is that deliberate pursuit while armed -> provoking a situation and losing the right to self defense.

But, the law was different in 1952. The defendant needed to be 'without fault', that is none of what happened could have been their fault. If this case were being tried under 1952 laws, Zimmerman would unquestionably be guilty. In 1952 you just had to provoke the 'situation'. Today you have to provoke the victim. That is different.
he just is taking the position that Mixon supercedes that prior-to-1952 interpretation with a new one that doesn't require intent.
Uh, no. The actual laws changed, not just the interpretation. Law changed from 1905 to 1952, and has changed again since 1952. So you can't say the 1905 decision or the 1952 decision can be directly applied. We can look at them to see what the court thinks about the word 'provoke'.
only that you feel like your life is in danger (which is true) - Justinian
You have to reasonably feel like your life is in danger. And of course, you need to have not lost your right to use force in self defense by being the aggressor (unless certain other criteria are met)
posted by delmoi at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but we're clearly not going to agree on what "being the aggressor" means in this context. You believe the mere fact of following Martin makes Zimmerman the aggressor. I believe that's not the case. You can keep saying the same thing over and over about the word "provoke" and it doesn't make it true but I don't think anyone wants us to hammer this point any more. We may find out during jury instructions which one of us is correct. Until then this is a dead horse until and unless we have new evidence.

And, yes, you have to reasonably feel like your life is in danger. Which is exactly why, in my next comment, I said the state is on much stronger ground with that aspect of the case. Because the medical examiner really went after whether Zimmerman's professed belief was reasonable. If his injuries were insignificant and very, very minor it's tougher to argue he could reasonably believe he was going to die if he didn't shoot.

It's not impossible because as I pointed out you don't have to wait until you actually do have life threatening injuries but it's a more difficult case to make.
posted by Justinian at 1:06 PM on July 2, 2013


Oh, it should be noted that Zimmerman claims Martin went for his gun during the struggle. That would, if believed, probably be sufficient to make Zimmerman's fear reasonable. But you have to believe Zimmerman's indirect testimony given he likely won't be put on the stand. I'm not sure how much weight the jury will give Zimmerman's words when he isn't put on the stand and all they have are videos and such.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2013


Oh, it should be noted that Zimmerman claims Martin went for his gun during the struggle. That would, if believed, probably be sufficient to make Zimmerman's fear reasonable.
You would agree that if Martin was going for Zimmerman's gun, he would also have reason to believe his life was in danger, right? I mean, clearly his life actually was in danger, since he's dead.
posted by delmoi at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2013


Let's not lose sight of the fact that regardless of the outcome, a victory of sorts should be declared. Were it not for the public outcry, Zimmerman never would have even been brought to trial. The fact that there is a trial at all is a huge step.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:41 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


TSA reports record number of guns found in carry-ons
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:31 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You would agree that if Martin was going for Zimmerman's gun, he would also have reason to believe his life was in danger, right? I mean, clearly his life actually was in danger, since he's dead.

When Zimmerman went for his gun then, yeah, Martin obviously had reason to believe his life was in danger. Whether he had reason to believe his life was in danger before the physical confrontation started is a more complicated question and goes back to our previous argument over whether just being followed is a sufficient provocation to blah blah blah and so on.

But I will say that because of the way burden of proof is handled here it's more than possible that two people could get into a fight and regardless of which of the involved ends up dead the state might not have enough evidence to convict either of murder when presented with a self-defense claim. I'm pretty sure lots of people brought up this concern in Zimmerman threads.
posted by Justinian at 9:07 AM on July 3, 2013


The gun expert testified well but boy is the prosecution's point stupid. They are trying to make it look sinister that Zimmerman had one in the chamber. But with the type of firearm he had that's really standard. It's a heavy pull double action. Every cop in the place probably had one in the chamber.

The jury might buy it so, hey, good for the prosecution. But it's why I hate trials. The stuff that matters is often glossed over and the stuff that isn't really a thing but can be made to look like a thing gets a lot of play. That's true of prosecution and defense.
posted by Justinian at 9:17 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another legal opinion on the aggressor question.. Maybe this will make it clearer to you Demoi as to why it is extremely unlikely that the jury will see Zimmerman's provocation as qualifying him to be the Aggressor as is understood by Florida Law.
posted by snaparapans at 10:11 AM on July 3, 2013


...it is extremely unlikely that the jury will see Zimmerman's provocation as qualifying him to be the Aggressor as is understood by Florida Law.

Except the opposite of that. From the link:

The First Aggressor Rule is a rather simple common law rule that says “a defendant who provokes an encounter as a result of which he finds it necessary to use deadly force to defend himself, is guilty of an unlawful homicide and cannot claim that he acted in self-defense.”...So if George Zimmerman is to be the aggressor, and thus forfeit his right to self defense, it must be shown that he “provoked” Trayvon Martin to attack him in someway. This begs the question though, what would constitute sufficient provocation by George Zimmerman such that he would forfeit right to self-defense?

Sufficient Provocation:[...]

Assaulted the deceased;
Unlawfully arrested the deceased;
Fires the first shot in a standoff;
Leaves a fight, only to return with a weapon; and
Is caught sleeping with the deceased’s wife.


Florida Law:

784.011 Assault.—
(1) An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.

Being chased down in the dark by some random older guy would seem, in my opinion, to fall under the umbrella of "assault" according to Florida law.
posted by eunoia at 10:54 AM on July 3, 2013


No, see the word "unlawful". Zimmerman following Martin was not unlawful, therefore it can't qualify as assault under that statute. Is it your contention that Zimmerman was breaking the law? As far as I am aware not even the prosecution has alleged that.

snaparapans: don't hold your breath.
posted by Justinian at 11:05 AM on July 3, 2013


Being chased down in the dark... well maybe that could be construed as assault, although IANAL, so I would not opine...

but there is no evidence that Zimmerman chased Martin down, as you put it. At best the State has used the language pursued.. from the evidence presented in discovery, it is not clear that Zimmerman was even closely following Martin. In fact there is evidence that Zimmerman lost track of Martin who doubled back and approached Zimmerman.
posted by snaparapans at 11:07 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


snaparapans: don't hold your breath. That would be suicidal.. or... um.. murder?
posted by snaparapans at 11:17 AM on July 3, 2013


In fact there is evidence that Zimmerman lost track of Martin who doubled back and approached Zimmerman.

Ah, of course. Carry on.
posted by eunoia at 12:30 PM on July 3, 2013


Another legal opinion on the aggressor question.. Maybe this will make it clearer
From the article
According to Wharton’s Criminal Law treatise, an encounter is provoked, thereby branding the defendant as an aggressor and stripping him of his right to self-defense, where the defendant ... Is caught sleeping with the deceased’s wife.
That seems like a weirdly specific list. I don't see how following someone around in the middle of the night is less provocative then sleeping with someone's wife. It's entirely possible that this case will be precedent setting.
Noticeably absent from the Probable Cause affidavit was any evidence of who provoked the fight; but we do know that George Zimmerman claims that it was Trayvon Martin who not only followed him back to his car, but who also threw the first punch. If that is true, or goes un-rebutted by the State, then Trayvon Martin was clearly the first aggressor as a matter of law.
Rachel Jeantel's testimony contradicted his story. If the Jury thinks she's telling the truth then Zimmerman will probably be found guilty.
posted by delmoi at 8:01 PM on July 3, 2013


I don't think it's going too far out on a limb to suggest the "sleeping with the deceased's wife" thing is a weird anachronism from the past. Sleeping with somebody's wife makes you an asshole but I'm pretty confident it wouldn't be found these days to make it okay for the husband to kill you without you being able to defend yourself.
posted by Justinian at 9:24 PM on July 3, 2013


This whole 'doubled back' thing. Let me suggest that while Martin was waiting by the mailboxes, Zimmerman walked by him without seeing him, then was surprised when his own lack of situational awareness let him down. Upon being caught up by his own ineptitude, words were exchanged, etc...

Similarly, Zimmerman's complaint of 'he's coming right towards me', isn't really an issue, given that Zimmerman parked his vehicle to observe Martin -- in Martin's path of travel.

In the context of a black kid alone in the south, Zimmerman's actions alone -- while technically lawful -- had instilled in Martin a credible fear for Martin's own life -- given the historical prevalence of abducting, torturing and murdering black men in the south, and how each of Zimmerman's actions supported that fear.
posted by mikelieman at 9:46 PM on July 3, 2013


"sleeping with the deceased's wife".....I'm pretty confident it wouldn't be found these days to make it okay for the husband to kill you without you being able to defend yourself.

Actually it may refer to voluntary manslaughter aka crime of passion..
782.03 Excusable homicide.—Homicide is excusable when committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent, or by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, without any dangerous weapon being used and not done in a cruel or unusual manner.
History.—s. 6, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2379; GS 3204; RGS 5034; CGL 7136; s. 1, ch. 75-13.
link
posted by snaparapans at 10:01 PM on July 3, 2013


Bloopers (Skype, Twitter, CNNfail)
posted by maggieb at 10:59 PM on July 3, 2013


Wow, the medical examiner brought personal notes to the stand and was reading answers off of them. And then was not happy when the judge ordered copies made for the attorneys. Crazy. The guy must testify a lot, there is no way he should have thought bringing personal notes up to the stand and reading off them was a good idea.
posted by Justinian at 8:59 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesus Christ this is the worst witness I have ever seen.
posted by Justinian at 10:41 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'll say... a year later, in the middle of another autopsy, he suddenly changs his mind about how long Martin was alive after the gunshot.. ,
posted by snaparapans at 11:25 AM on July 5, 2013


This testimony is a real-life seminar on how NOT to testify. Anyone who is going into any kind of forensic sciences should watch this.
posted by Renoroc at 11:39 AM on July 5, 2013


The thing is, yeah, his testimony has been rendered crap but I'm not sure the jury hasn't zoned out by now. What is being gained at this point? It looks like the defense is stalling for time because they don't want to start today.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on July 5, 2013


It looks like the defense is stalling for time because they don't want to start today.

The State asked for 10 min recess and has another witness, no?
posted by snaparapans at 12:09 PM on July 5, 2013


Wow, I thought he was a great witness. He changed his estimate because he observed an autopsy of someone with a very similar wound who lived for ten minutes. Makes complete sense to me.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:15 PM on July 5, 2013


I can practically guarantee you that the state disagrees with you and will be having strong words with this guy. He was a masterclass in terrible testimony. He brought notes up to the stand! And read off them! He consulted with third parties and didn't tell anyone. He changed his mind and then didn't even tell the prosecution.

He blindsided his own side! And that's just scratching the surface.
posted by Justinian at 12:20 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I missed something but it looks like the defense is making their normal motion to dismiss. Or a directed verdict. Or whatever.

SPOILER ALERT:

They won't get it.
posted by Justinian at 12:24 PM on July 5, 2013


Talk to him about demeanor and notes and stuff sure, but I didn't see him give an inch to the defense.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:34 PM on July 5, 2013


I think defense made a very good case for the judge to dismiss 2nd degree while the prosecution made a good case for sustaining manslaughter charges. I think that's what should happen. I doubt that will happen but it seems like the right thing to do to me.
posted by Justinian at 1:37 PM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure why the Jury would care that this guy was reading from notes or whatever - a lot of people seem to be treating this case as if it were a political campaign where every witness needs to be judged on style points or whatever - it has nothing to do with finding out what happened, there's no reason for a medical examiner to be dishonest. If he's a little disorganized on the stand, so what? It doesn't change the science of what happened - if you go to an academic conference and a presenter is nervous and reading from notes, it doesn't mean the underlying research is problematic.

I'm sure the prosecution is irritated at this guy, but I don't really see why it has anything to do with the outcome. From what I understand they just brought this guy on so they could introduce the photos of Martin's dead body, right?
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2013


Because the prosecution hadn't seen the notes, has no idea what was in them, and now the defense gets access to them all. There could have been really bad stuff for the prosecution in there and I'm assuming the defense is going to go over all of it with a fine toothed comb. Maybe there won't be in which case the prosecution will breathe a sigh of relief.

But the real problem is that it completely distracted from what should have been a stellar one-two punch close with Martin's mother followed by the ME with pictures of Martin. So what would have been a minor hiccup early in the prosecution's case really messed with the timing and theatrics. Should that matter? Probably not. Does it matter? It does to some extent in my experience.

But maybe the jury won't care. He was hilarious though with his whole "nature of memory" shtick. I mean... he's absolutely correct that most of those people swearing they remember what happened don't actually remember the events, they remember their later reconstruction of those events. And they will be quite faulty. But that's not something you're supposed to talk about. The polite fiction that keeps the trial system going is that these people actually do remember the events very well.
posted by Justinian at 4:48 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the real problem is that it completely distracted from what should have been a stellar one-two punch close with Martin's mother followed by the ME with pictures of Martin.
Yes, but that's a ridiculous way of looking at it. This isn't theater, the jury's job is to determine the truth, not grade the prosecution for theatrical performance.
And they will be quite faulty. But that's not something you're supposed to talk about. The polite fiction that keeps the trial system going is that these people actually do remember the events very well.
WTF are you talking about? Why would you want a jury to use "polite fiction" to determine the truth. It's good that the jury got an explanation of how memory actually works.
posted by delmoi at 4:55 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The jury was not really exposed to the "theatrics" with him, they were outside the room when they discussed the notes in depth.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2013


Yes, but that's a ridiculous way of looking at it. This isn't theater

You're arguing that the jury shouldn't be swayed by theatrics. I even agreed that's probably true in the very comment you quoted! Did you miss that part? Apparently so. But people are often swayed by optics even if we wish they were not.
posted by Justinian at 8:44 PM on July 5, 2013


I will note that every single legal analyst they had on CNN or MSNBC agreed that the guy was poor at best and terrible at worst, but I'm glad you guys could set them all straight!
posted by Justinian at 8:46 PM on July 5, 2013


You can't expect a jury to be "swayed by theatrics" on the one hand and then apply this rigorous system you've built up in your head about the precise definition of reasonable doubt about the absence of things on the other. If they're going to be emotional about this witness, then they'll be emotional about all the different things Zimmerman said in his various interviews and statements, all the inconsistencies, saying he thought it was "gods plan" and that he shouldn't second guess it (implying he thought it was gods plan for him to kill Martin) and everything else.

You can't say on the one hand that the jury is going to be swayed by emotion, subjective assessments and theater on the one hand and then on the other hand expect them to apply this "logical" system you think they will about the epistemological meaning of reasonable doubt of the absence of things.

The obvious emotional thing to do is convict Zimmerman because he's the one who followed Martin when he didn't need too, he's the one that brought the gun to the situation and he's the one who pulled the trigger when he didn't need too.
I will note that every single legal analyst they had on CNN or MSNBC agreed that the guy was poor at best and terrible at worst, but I'm glad you guys could set them all straight!
No problem. I don't usually pay much attention to legal coverage on TV, so it was surprising to see how stupid these people are. At least, unlike with their equally moronic political coverage, they don't have any actual influence with the actual sequestered jury.

I'm not saying "perform well", I'm simply pointing out there's no rational reason why the jury would take his "performance" into consideration when deciding the verdict, since they have no reason to do so.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on July 5, 2013


Justinian: But people are often swayed by optics even if we wish they were not.
As an optical engineer, I would that it were so, but by and large the science of vision is rarely persuasive, nor even mentioned, in court trials.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:59 AM on July 7, 2013


*Backs away to the far end of the thread*




How many fingers am I holding up?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, IAMBroom, your moment in the sun will arrive. Be ready.
posted by Justinian at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


(prepares aberration types slide, USAF resolution chart, and chromaticity diagram, and sits patiently by the phone...)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2013


The multiple detectives testifying that Martin's father told them it was not Martin shouting for help is just devastating.
posted by Justinian at 11:29 AM on July 8, 2013


Kind of balanced out by Zimmerman saying the voice doesn't sound like him.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kind of balanced out... I don't know about you but hearing my voice on a recording does not sound like me.. we are not used to hearing ourselves the way other hear us, and screaming is in another category as it is very rare for anyone to hear themselves on tape screaming..

So I do not think that they balance out. But I do think that Martin's mother saying that the screams were her son's, provides some balancing out of defense claims. May be a wash in the end, with a tilt toward the defense side, imo.
posted by snaparapans at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2013


I've come to believe that it was Zimmerman screaming because he seems to be that kind of wuss. Martin used his fists when threatened. Has there been any evidence at all that Mr. MMA Zimmerman fought back other than pulling his gun? The only unsettling detail counter to my theory is how abruptly the screaming stopped as the gun was fired.
posted by maggieb at 11:57 AM on July 8, 2013


Your position is that if someone is attacked in the dark they are a wuss if they scream for help?
posted by Justinian at 12:10 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree Martin's mother was a powerful witness. But given Martin's father's words, Zimmerman's mother's words, his uncle's words, and the testimony of half a dozen other people, I don't see how the jury doesn't at best for the prosecution consider it a wash and throw it all out. That's the best they can reasonably hope for, I think.

I am becoming more and more certain in my earlier assessment that the state's best argument is that the force Zimmerman used was disproportional to the threat and not that Zimmerman was the aggressor in the first place. Who knows that the jury is thinking, obviously, but that's what I would be thinking.
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2013


Well, you are pretty much balancing the honesty of Rachel Jeantel against Zimmerman on who initiated contact, since the "Get off" she heard from Trayvon is not really consistent with starting the fight.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2013


Not someone. This one. He seems so self-satisfied today, smiling, as his friends stick up for him.
posted by maggieb at 12:49 PM on July 8, 2013


I think calling someone a wuss because they are screaming for help when being attacked is awful no matter who you're talking about. The argument for Zimmerman's guilt does not in any way rest on the idea that he's a big wuss who didn't fight like a real manly man. It's sexist and terrible.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am calling him a wuss because that is what I believe he is, he quacks like a wuss to me. If the term offends anyone, I am sorry. I am using my words here as best I can to express my opinion about one person. I think he is the worst kind of wuss, a wuss who plays at bullying. He once had a shovefest with a cop, for crying out loud, where are your boundaries? His personality is what put him in Trayvon Martin's path on that terrible night and his choices that leave an innocent soul dead and him fighting for his own future.

Yep, I am upset. I think there is a good chance the wuss is going to get off with a handslap. If he does, to me, that means the jury is following the law because the prosecution's case has failed to show he broke the law. But it doesn't leave much in the way of justice for the life lost. I'd be happy if there was some way he could never own a gun ever again. Wuss!
posted by maggieb at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, I've called him a mall ninja tool. I just don't think criticizing him for doing the right thing by calling for help is what he should be criticized for. (Whether that is what happened is of course in question but your comment was predicated on it being true.) He should be criticized for DOING THE OPPOSITE of calling for help.

In any case the jurors are clearly just trying to get this over with. They are asking the judge to skip breaks when possible. That indicates to me they've made up their minds but I have no idea for which side!
posted by Justinian at 6:57 PM on July 8, 2013


Well, they are sick of sequester for sure, anybody would be. Wanting to limit their days doesn't neccesarily mean they aren't open minded to what they are hearing. The Judge is pushing the pace because of that too. O'Mara looked pretty shocked at how quick she shot down the motion to dismiss and told him to start calling witnesses before the holiday.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:01 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come to believe that it was Zimmerman screaming because he seems to be that kind of wuss. Martin used his fists when threatened. Has there been any evidence at all that Mr. MMA Zimmerman fought back other than pulling his gun? The only unsettling detail counter to my theory is how abruptly the screaming stopped as the gun was fired.
There's actually not much evidence that anyone threw a punch at all. None of Zimmerman's DNA on martin's hands, for example. I'm thinking the "fight" was more grappling then throwing punches, and a very low-risk situation before Zimbo pulled his gun.
I am using my words here as best I can to express my opinion about one person. I think he is the worst kind of wuss, a wuss who plays at bullying. He once had a shovefest with a cop, for crying out loud, where are your boundaries?
He also beat up his girlfriend.
Hey, I've called him a mall ninja tool. I just don't think criticizing him for doing the right thing by calling for help is what he should be criticized for.
Now you're flat out assuming it was Zimmerman who was calling for help? Where did that come from. If it was him then "doing the right thing" would have been to wait for the police that he was just told were coming, instead of shooting martin through the heart.

It makes way more sense that Martin was calling for help then Zimmerman, It doesn't make much sense to me that he would be calling for help in that tone of voice if he had a gun, nor that he would immediately go silent as soon as the shot was fired and seem calm afterward.
I don't see how the jury doesn't at best for the prosecution consider it a wash and throw it all out.
Or they could, you know, actually analyze it and see what's more likely. There's no reason to think anyone is going to hold your non-scientific approach to evidence.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on July 8, 2013


Why the Zimmerman Verdict Will Be All or Nothing
posted by dsfan at 9:10 PM on July 8, 2013


Now you're flat out assuming it was Zimmerman who was calling for help?

...

From maggieb's comment: I've come to believe that it was Zimmerman screaming because he seems to be that kind of wuss.

That it was Zimmerman calling for help was the premise of maggie's "wuss" comment. You can't criticize me for assuming something that was taken as a given in the very comment to which I was replying!
posted by Justinian at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2013


Why the Zimmerman Verdict Will Be All or Nothing
That article is paywalled off - are they talking about what the sentence would be if it ends up being manslaughter?

From what I heard the sentence he would get if is dropped to manslaughter would be pretty heavy - from what if you use a gun while committing a Felony doubles the penalty, and if he's convicted of Man 1 then he obviously used a gun in committing a felony.

Secondly, since he shot someone under the age of 18, the sentence doubles again.

So, from what I understand Zimmerman would face a mandatory minimum sentence of around 30 years, if he's convicted of Man 1.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 PM on July 8, 2013


Or they could, you know, actually analyze it and see what's more likely.

But as to my actual opinion, I think it was probably Zimmerman. He reported that he was screaming for help immediately after the incident to the police who first responded. The only semi eye witness to the event says he thinks it was Zimmerman. And, lastly, when told there was a recording of the event, Zimmerman was ecstatic and replied "Thank god." The police were lying about that, but it is evidence that Zimmerman told the truth at least about parts of the event. Yes, he could have been devious and assumed the police were lying and playing up to them. But life isn't a television show and Zimmerman is obviously no shakes in the ol' brain department. The most likely interpretation is that he actually believes much of his story.

That doesn't necessarily mean he shouldn't be convicted of manslaughter even if he yelled for help. But your contention that it is more likely to have been Martin is an opinion not a fact. And I think the evidence presented at trial makes slightly more likely than not to be incorrect.
posted by Justinian at 9:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


He reported that he was screaming for help immediately after the incident to the police who first responded.
Are you sure? The first version of his story I heard was the the one he told to the cops, as well as to his friend who wrote the book - that Martin had his hands over Zimmerman's mouth and Zimmerman couldn't say anything at all. When the detective asked him about it, he said it didn't even sound like him.

It wasn't until his "reenactment", after Zimmerman had already heard the 911 tapes, that he changed his story to say he was screaming for help.

So, what are you talking about?
That doesn't necessarily mean he shouldn't be convicted of manslaughter even if he yelled for help.
The same self-defense rules apply to Man 1 as they do to Homicide, as far as I know. If what you've been saying about self-defense and reasonable doubt is the the way the jury sees it, they'll find him innocent.

On the other hand, I agree it might be difficult to totally prove malice and ill will beyond a reasonable doubt, from a practical perspective because he used a gun and the victim was under 18, there wouldn't be much of a practical difference given the length of the sentence, likely about 30 years for Man 1.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on July 8, 2013


That article is paywalled off - are they talking about what the sentence would be if it ends up being manslaughter?

Sorry, it loaded fine for me before (I'm not a WSJ subscriber, but luckily I still have the tab open). It's Paul Robinson, a Penn law prof who writes about good and bad ways to construct criminal codes, arguing that the way Florida treats self-defense as an all-or-nothing increases the likelihood of a complete acquittal. I'll try to quote the most relevant part but not too much for copyright reasons):
The 1962 Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute, upon which the criminal codes of three-quarters of the states are based, provides an elegant solution to the problem: If the jury concludes that the defender honestly but unreasonably believed he had to kill to save himself—i.e., a reasonable person in his situation would not have made the same mistake—then he is liable for something less than murder but gets more than a complete acquittal. His liability would follow a sliding scale to match the culpability of his mistake: A negligent mistake gets him negligent homicide; a reckless mistake gets him reckless homicide (manslaughter).

But some states, including Florida, have not adopted this sliding-scale approach of the Model Code but instead use an all-or-nothing formulation. Either the defendant's mistake was reasonable, in which case he is innocent of murder, or it was not, in which case he is liable for murder.

This formulation was meant to be tougher on people who kill in self-defense, holding them to a high standard if they use deadly force. But in practice the rule commonly has the opposite effect. Juries are loath to treat as a murderer a person who made mistakes, even culpable mistakes, during the chaos of self-defense. So presented with an all-or-nothing choice, juries can end up giving defendants a free pass when they actually deserve some (perhaps mitigated) punishment.
From what I heard the sentence he would get if is dropped to manslaughter would be pretty heavy - from what if you use a gun while committing a Felony doubles the penalty, and if he's convicted of Man 1 then he obviously used a gun in committing a felony.

Secondly, since he shot someone under the age of 18, the sentence doubles again.

So, from what I understand Zimmerman would face a mandatory minimum sentence of around 30 years, if he's convicted of Man 1.


I've heard this too, but I've heard other lawyers argue otherwise. Richard Hornsby, who successfully litigated this issue in front of the same judge that's handling the Zimmerman trial, argued that neither aggravated manslaughter of a child nor 10-20-life are applicable.
posted by dsfan at 9:52 PM on July 8, 2013


I've heard this too, but I've heard other lawyers argue otherwise. Richard Hornsby
Hmm, interesting. To bad he doesn't say what he thinks manslaughter sentence would actually be.
posted by delmoi at 9:57 PM on July 8, 2013


When the detective asked him about it, he said it didn't even sound like him.

The police testimony is that they didn't read this as Zimmerman saying it wasn't him screaming or that he wasn't screaming, but that Zimmerman was saying it didn't sound like him in the way that a record of your own voice sounds different to you than when you're talking. That's not my interpretation so don't get all up in my grill over it, that is the police testimony.

So they didn't claim Zimmerman said it wasn't him, my understanding is that Serino testified that he believed Zimmerman was screaming and his comment was about how the recording sounded odd to his ears, not a denial.
posted by Justinian at 9:57 PM on July 8, 2013


Hmm, interesting. To bad he doesn't say what he thinks manslaughter sentence would actually be.

I haven't heard many people talk about what the guidelines sentence would be, which drives me nuts in general (I particularly hate it in federal cases where the guidelines are generally way less than the maximum). Here's Florida's sentencing manual. As far as I can tell--and I have to say this is extremely speculative as I am not a lawyer, and these are really confusing guidelines--manslaughter is a level 7 offense, so the calculation would be (this is from pg. 24 of the document): 56 + 120 (because of a death) + 18 (because of a firearm) = 194. 75%*(194-28) = 125 months minimum (I know Zimmerman has a criminal history, but I do not think it would change much based on this). I would say the odds that I did this correctly are basically zero, but I think that's the right source anyway.

I will say that Hornsby says the minimum for manslaughter is 9 1/4 years, which is what you get if you run through the calculation I did above without the 18 points for firearm usage, which makes me feel a little confident in it...
posted by dsfan at 10:13 PM on July 8, 2013


I wonder if being a neighborhood watch captain could technically make you somewhat responsible for the caretaking of children in the neighborhood. Seems slightly plausible.
posted by delmoi at 10:22 PM on July 8, 2013


There are a couple reasons why the Jury would be more likely to think it's Trayvon martin over George Zimmerman, just from the tape itself.

1) The screams stop as soon as the gun was fired - if you heard the tape with no context, you would assume that they stopped because the person screaming just died.

2) The screams sound completely panicked and terrified, so, it sounds a lot more like someone with a gun pointing at them, not someone who was pointing a gun at someone else.

3) Since The prosecution did a good job of showing through forensics that Zimmerman wasn't actually being badly beaten, likely just one or two hits to the head and one to the face during the whole fight - and none of Zimmerman's DNA on Martin's knuckles or fingernails. So, if you buy the forensic evidence then it doesn't seem like he had any reason to be screaming like that.

4) Everyone said he was basically calm and collected after the shooting, with doesn't jibe with him screaming that way.

5) His first version of the story was that his mouth was covered and in fact he did say he couldn't say anything. It wasn't until after he heard the 911 tape that his story changed

6) He did say it didn't sound like him when he heard it. The fact the police they didn't pick up on the significance doesn't mean the jury won't, at the time they hadn't even considered the possibility it might be Martin

(And they hadn't even really considered the possibility it wasn't cut and dried self defense. They weren't really even doing a real murder investigation, otherwise it would have been a major issue in the investigation, just like it will be a major issue with the jury)


Then there's the testimony of the witnesses. There's John Good, who said on the stand he could only make out shapes and colors, but said it sounded like the person on the bottom because of echoes? That doesn't really make much sense, the far wall was too far away for the echo to be any different, and wet grass isn't exactly a very good sound reflector, so I don't see how you could tell that way. It's more likely he just assumed the guy on the bottom was the one calling for help, because he couldn't have seen the gun.

Then you have a bunch of family members testifying that it sounded like Zimmerman or Martin. The problem is, you can't expect family members to tell the truth if telling a lie means keeping their son or nephew out of prison. You can discount the Martin family testimony somewhat for the same reason - but there is one critical issue: The fact that Martin's father testified that he did recognize his son's voice and that the police misinterpreted him - he was noncommittal only because he was grief struck and still couldn't fully process the fact that his son was really dead.

Now, you've also said that you think the "theatrics" matter, and there is one huge theatrical problem - the fact that Zimmerman could give a sample of his own screaming voice and have it analyzed or at least let the Jury hear it. If he did sound the same it would go a long way to actually proving his innocence, yet if it sounded obviously different it would basically prove his guilt. It would certainly go a long way to resolving who the scream belonged too

Now you can say all you want that the jury shouldn't consider that - but the reality is you can't turn your brain off and ignore information. You can't say the "theater" aspect matters on the one hand and that that won't sit in the back of the juror's heads. It's going to seem like Zimmerman doesn't want to have the issue resolved.

It's interesting that you say the jury will just ignore all the evidence relating to the screams because it's ambiguous and multiple people say different things. That sounds like the kind of thing someone would say if they supported Zimmerman you thought the balance of evidence favored the screams being from Martin.

If they thought the evidence favored the Zimmerman theory they'd be all over it.

What evidence, other then family testimony and Good's guess from when he couldn't actually see who was yelling, is there that the screams were Zimmerman's?

(And by the way, it's not my view that the theater aspect doesn't matter, I just think that it heavily favors the prosecution so far, and the defense witnesses so far have been pretty weak - maybe they will put him on the stand and have him give a sample scream, the prosecution will definitely ask for one if he testifies.)
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now you can say all you want that the jury shouldn't consider that - but the reality is you can't turn your brain off and ignore information. You can't say the "theater" aspect matters on the one hand and that that won't sit in the back of the juror's heads. It's going to seem like Zimmerman doesn't want to have the issue resolved.

Theatrics or not, it's not up to Zimmerman to prove his innocence. This isn't even a matter of circumstantial evidence.
posted by jaduncan at 10:52 PM on July 8, 2013


it's not up to Zimmerman to prove his innocence.
You can say that all you want, it's not going to affect the way a jury actually thinks.

It's one thing to be unable to prove your innocence.

But, being able to give evidence that would either prove your guilt or innocence and choosing not to do so is going to make you look subjectively guilty in the eyes of the jury. That's just human nature, and it would be difficult for normal people to overcome that intuitive common sense. That's not to say they can't do it, but it would be hard.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on July 8, 2013


Well, ish. One would hope that the jury would follow their directions. It's a lot easier to guess the impact when looking at the jury in person, so both counsels will be making judgement calls regarding this type of emotional orchestration.
posted by jaduncan at 2:02 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The instructions can be pretty wide open to interpretation, first of all, and second of all they can't control their subconscious coloration of the facts anyway, especially when the instructions ultimately require them to judge reasonable doubt based on their subjective feelings of "abiding conviction", invariant over time. It's not an objective standard.

From a purely philosophical or epistemic point of view, reasonable doubt isn't even a coherent concept - no one could ever be convicted if we going to go by pure logic, so there has to be a subjective assessment about what doubts are "reasonable" and which are not. And these subjective factors will play into that subjective feeling whether or not they want it too.

Oh and beyond that, it's likely going to have an effect on their thinking as well. As Hume said, approximately, "reason is a slave to the passions" How we feel affects what we think, and getting around that is very difficult. It's a very hard thing for people to do and I wouldn't think 6 randomly selected people would be capable of it.

The wildcard, of course is what their preconceived notions are, and how strong they are.
posted by delmoi at 4:06 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now you can say all you want that the jury shouldn't consider that - but the reality is you can't turn your brain off and ignore information. You can't say the "theater" aspect matters on the one hand and that that won't sit in the back of the juror's heads.

I don't disagree with you but it seems really weird to have you saying this after giving me crap for saying the jury could be swayed by theatrics and optics earlier in the thread.

It's interesting to watch a competent lawyer work. I've said repeatedly that the strongest argument for the prosecution to make was not that Zimmerman was the aggressor but that the use of deadly force was unreasonable. Their forensic expert testifying today is aimed straight at that argument. Compare this guy's testimony to the prosecution's ME. The difference is night and day. Just speaking in general as to the quality of testimony this guy is as excellent as the ME was terrible. He's a professional witness at this point in his career so that is unsurprising. But since delmoi and I both agree now (apparently) that the theatrics of the thing does sway the jury, I think it is relevant.

But, yeah, the defense clearly knows what they are doing with this witness. His testimony is strong and the cross was unable to shake him off it in any meaningful way.
posted by Justinian at 11:46 AM on July 9, 2013


I guess I can't actually tell if you agree that the theatrics do affect the jury or not. Do you?
posted by Justinian at 11:48 AM on July 9, 2013


The Zimmerman Trial, Day Ten: Stand Whose Ground?
While speculation about the trial has centered on whether or not Zimmerman will take the stand, Trayvon Martin, in a real sense, already has. In a creeping set of rulings, Judge Debra Nelson decided to allow discussion of the traces of marijuana that were found in Martin’s system during his autopsy. The contours of the defense, like a great deal of the discussion of this case, are shot through with an antiquated brand of rape-think. What was he wearing? Was he high or drunk? Why was he out at night? Beneath these questions is a calcified skepticism toward Martin’s innocence that all but blurts out “He was asking for it.”

Amid their frustratingly uneven presentation, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda and the rest of the prosecution have pegged their second-degree murder charges largely on the idea that Martin was losing the fight on February 26th of last year, that he shouted for help, and that Zimmerman, a vigilante would-be cop, shot and killed him anyway. In plotting their route to conviction, they necessarily bypass another set of questions. What if he wasn’t losing the fight? What if Zimmerman is the one who called for help? What if Martin did swing first? And, most crucially, is an unarmed black teen-ager ever entitled to stand his ground?
[...]
What remains frustratingly marginal in this discussion is the point Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel raised in her testimony—that Martin himself was afraid, that a black person might assess a man following him in a car and on foot as a threat, never mind that he might have seen Zimmerman’s weapon and suspected his life was in danger. The defense paid a great deal of attention to the implications of Martin referring to Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker,” but, to the extent that we think about the epithet, we’re concerned with the wrong C-word. Imagine George Zimmerman being followed at night, in the rain, by an armed, unknown black man and you have an encounter that far exceeds the minimal definition of “creepy.” Indeed, you have a circumstance in which anyone would reasonably fear for his life. Add a twist in which that black man fires a shot that ends a person’s life, and it’s hard to imagine him going home after a brief police interview, as Zimmerman did.

De la Rionda’s team is charged with prosecuting a crime, not a set of social attitudes that facilitate it. But whatever its legal merits, the prosecution’s approach has left intact the suspicion that Florida’s proactive self-defense laws are color-coded, intended for people in fearsome encounters with blacks, not blacks in fearsome encounters.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here's another article that touches on society's views about black men and fear. From the beginning I never understood why anyone would believe that Trayvon would attack someone during a phone conversation during which he clearly stated how afraid he was, so afraid that he actually began to run. It wasn't until I read this article that it made any sense:

Trayvon Martin and Black Manhood On Trial

Because it’s clear that, whoever instigated the altercation, Zimmerman followed Trayvon that night. He was instructed not to, but he did anyway. That Zimmerman fumbled for an answer when the lead investigator asked whether he thought Trayvon was afraid of him is emblematic of the way society has trained us to think about black manhood. Of course he didn’t think Trayvon could be scared. Young black men never are. They are the danger. Which is also why, for some, Zimmerman’s story, even with the cartoonish language he ascribes to Trayvon, doesn’t sound far-fetched. A black man jumping from behind the bushes to sucker-punch someone they don’t know and attempt to kill them only a short distance from their home. It makes perfect sense if you believe that black men are preternaturally violent.
posted by eunoia at 3:20 PM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Angry Trayvon" Game Removed From App Stores, Then Reappears
posted by homunculus at 4:11 PM on July 9, 2013


And by the way, it's not my view that the theater aspect doesn't matter, I just think that it heavily favors the prosecution so far, and the defense witnesses so far have been pretty weak

Ah, caught this after my last comment.

I dunno, if you thought, for example, the prosecution's ME was a better witness than the defense's forensics guy there's just not a lot to talk about. I thought the defense guy was so much better that to compare them is almost non-sensical.
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2013


I thought the defense guy was so much better that to compare them is almost non-sensical.

No-one said that Zimmerman's injuries met the requirements for deadly force, however. And at the end of the day, isn't that what the trial is about?
posted by mikelieman at 5:59 PM on July 9, 2013


No, (among other things) it is about whether the prosecution has proven he could not have reasonably been in fear for his life. That's subtly but importantly different.
posted by Justinian at 6:22 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(For example, the guy today testified that blows to the head make it very easy to overestimate how much damage you are taking because you are being stunned repeatedly.)
posted by Justinian at 6:23 PM on July 9, 2013


I don't disagree with you but it seems really weird to have you saying this after giving me crap for saying the jury could be swayed by theatrics and optics earlier in the thread.
Theater that affects the jury's perception of the defendant and the eyewitnesses matters, because they are going to try to judge their character. Theater about the medical examiner isn't going to have much of an effect, because it's irrelevant.

They're not going to be judging the prosecution or defense lawyers based on whether or not they put on a good show and use that to decide the case.

Technically speaking - they are not supposed to judge things on "theatrical" issues.

So specifically "theater" issues matter when they go to the character of the defendant, or to whether or not key eye witnesses are telling the truth. But they're not going to judge expert witnesses that way, unless you have two expert witnesses who disagree about key issues, in which case their expertise might come into play. But in this case no one really even disagrees about what the forensics say, as far as I know.
I dunno, if you thought, for example, the prosecution's ME was a better witness than the defense's forensics guy
Well my point is that the forensics guys don't really even disagree at all - they're just there to establish the basic facts that people agree with right? So what difference does it make?
I thought the defense guy was so much better that to compare them is almost non-sensical.
Except it doesn't really matter, the jury isn't going to acquit Zimmerman because they thought the forensics guy the defense brought on was "better" then the one the prosecution brought, if they all agree on the facts, why would they?
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on July 9, 2013


Regarding what we were talking about with the pace of the trial after last night...the defense is clearly exhausted by it if how they ended tonight is any indication.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:58 PM on July 9, 2013


Wow, they are not happy campers. At all. That was way more interesting than most of what is shown on TV. I assume some of it was posturing in case an appeal is necessary. They can claim Zimmerman's rights were violated because his team was not allowed the time needed to prepare Zimmerman's defense.

Not allowing Martin's texts because they are prejudicial or irrelevant would be fair but because they aren't authenticated seems weak sauce. Did someone steal his phone for 5 minutes and text his friend randomly? Yeah no.
posted by Justinian at 10:14 PM on July 9, 2013


Well, Jeantele testified that he shared his phone at times, iirc. It seems plausible to me. I let my friends text and browse and call from mine all the time. It's kind of like the RIAA cases where an IP address is not enough to prove someone downloaded something.

The part where it gets sketchy is that the defense is claiming these texts were withheld from them so they did not have time to do the necessary additional authentication the Judge wants.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 PM on July 9, 2013


Trayvon Martin is the victim, not the defendant. This stuff isn't relevant at all. Martin could testify to their authenticity if he was alive, but he's not. Maybe Zimmerman should have considered that before shooting him dead.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the defense argument is that the prosecution opened the door to some of the texts when they went after Zimmerman for the MMA stuff. They want to use some of the texts in which one of Martin's friends asks to be taught how to fight and grapple and so on as evidence that Martin knew how to fight in the same way that the prosecution wanted to use Zimmerman's gym as evidence that he knew how to fight.

At least I think that is the argument. I didn't see most of it. Sometimes testimony works like that; using certain lines of questioning opens up similar lines of questioning for the other side.

But I think they mostly just want to paint Martin as some sort of thug. Which I'm guessing you'd agree is their actual purpose in trying to get the texts in.
posted by Justinian at 10:33 PM on July 9, 2013


Defense witness, Zimmerman benefactor improperly in courtroom prior to his testimony (mentioned at end of video linked by Drinky Die above)
posted by maggieb at 10:59 PM on July 9, 2013


Now, you've also said that you think the "theatrics" matter, and there is one huge theatrical problem - the fact that Zimmerman could give a sample of his own screaming voice and have it analyzed or at least let the Jury hear it. If he did sound the same it would go a long way to actually proving his innocence, yet if it sounded obviously different it would basically prove his guilt. It would certainly go a long way to resolving who the scream belonged too

Some time ago, I went for a woman-focused Krav Maga self-defense class. The instructor started out by asking us to scream. He said the ability to scream, on command, whether or not we were in deadly fear, would be incredibly useful in attracting attention that might scare off an attacker.

For me and some of the other women, it was the hardest part of the class. There's a lot of social conditioning against screaming that acts against consciously doing it. Even when we managed to, none of our screams sounded real. We just were not able to consciously recreate a terrified scream.

I think it's not unreasonable that Zimmerman couldn't either, and even if he 100% was the person screaming, would not think it would act in his favor - because a real scream of terror is going to be different than a staged one, and so it would seem to disprove an actual fact.
posted by corb at 6:29 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Justinian: But I think they mostly just want to paint Martin as some sort of thug.

Possibly, although here is another POV, from Jeralyn at TL who does not see it that way:
Trayon's texts about fighting are relevant to his state of mind and a hearsay exception. They also go to his physical condition. These are relevant areas for Zimmerman to bring into evidence. It's not character evidence, instances of prior bad acts or reputation evidence.
posted by snaparapans at 8:21 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, the state of mind that most black people are in because every area of their lives is under attack every day. Combined with the BS about Martin being the real profiler, this is just the defense veering straight into blatant racism.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wrote earlier in this thread that if Rachel Jeantel looked like Taylor Swift, she would have had a very different experience on the stand. It's becoming increasingly clear that if Trayvon Martin looked like Taylor Swift, this whole thing would be playing out a lot differently.

We -- here on MeFi and the folks in the courtroom -- wouldn't be doing this "angels dancing on the head of a pin" discussion about who was really following and profiling whom and which of the two people involved in the events of that night was ready to enter the UFC to contend for a title because of their grappling/ground and pound skills.

It's so fucked up that the "Giant Negro Attacks!" angle is still a viable line of defense in America.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:29 AM on July 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I guess I understand the wider social point you're making but society isn't on trial, George Zimmerman is on trial. The only thing that is supposed to matter is whether the state has proven the elements of the case.
posted by Justinian at 10:26 AM on July 10, 2013


His state of mind? Maybe his state of mind when he sent the texts, not when he was encountering Zimmerman. We have the testimony of someone who was actually on the phone with him at the time to speak to that better than months old texts. We can't verify anything about his fitness from them either. TalkLeft is presenting everything from the defense perspective, they aren't a good source for unbiased analysis.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:38 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


That may be the only thing that matters in this specific case, but it's clear that this is also where modern American racial issues vis a vis the justice system, gun culture, and socioeconomic interactions are being writ large. And the tack the defense (and their supporters in the media and general populace) is taking is both playing on and solidifying the idea of minorities and black men in particular as being simultaneously unworthy of the same protections as "real Americans" and requiring extra scrutiny in their every move.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is striking to me how the defense is presenting this grown ass man with a year of martial arts training, some training for a potential law enforcement career, and experience as a bouncer as totally soft and useless in a fight but we are just kind of supposed to assume it goes without saying that the black teenager is a ground n' pound MMA fighting master who is ready and willing to beat someone to death practically in his back yard between buying candy and watching a basketball game because maybe he bragged about some schoolyard fights?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 AM on July 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's so fucked up that the "Giant Negro Attacks!" angle is still a viable line of defense in America.

These days they're just called thugs. It's more PC or something, because it can also apply to mob guys, union folk, and apparently, if you ask George Zimmerman, Mexicans. Also, gang-bangers.

It doesn't matter what the defense, or anyone, tries to give as a justification- Zimmerman's defense was intentionally trying to play into racist stereotypes by having his texts about guns and fights included as evidence. It's sort of like how defense attorneys representing rapists will try to make up some reason to have a female victim's sexual history admitted. Regardless of what they say the reason is, they really just want to show that she's a slut.

I guess I understand the wider social point you're making but society isn't on trial, George Zimmerman is on trial.

Yeah, it's pretty clear that that's the thread you're participating in. It is, however, totally possible that this case is, for some people, larger than whether or not this defense witness said that or how the demeanor of blahblahblah helped/hurt the prosecution/defense. And those larger issues are valid and are, in fact, more in line with the original FPP.
posted by eunoia at 10:57 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I missed the stream coming back up, I'm hearing Zimmerman has not decided if he is going to testify? Dude. Why even consider it at this point? It could only hurt him.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:04 AM on July 10, 2013


I can remember my shock when O.J. was acquitted.

I won't be shocked when Zimmerman is acquitted. Saddened, yes. But not shocked.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


That may be the only thing that matters in this specific case, but it's clear that this is also where modern American racial issues vis a vis the justice system, gun culture, and socioeconomic interactions are being writ large.

The problem is that all of these issues really shouldn't be leaking into the trial and wishes for the trial, but are anyway - and making people argue against stereotypes, even if they are countering things that are accurate in the specific. And this is not giving Zimmerman a chance for a fair trial.

For example: the image of all young black men as criminals is a wrong and racist one. But Martin does appear to have been a criminal - a drug user and someone who owned an illegal gun. To say that each mention of Martin as a criminal is wrong because a perception of all young black men as criminals as wrong is highly problematic.

The same thing with the size/"child" issue. There are very real issues with young black teens being treated as adults and even small children being viewed as threatening. But Martin was a 6'2 football player, old enough to be legally tried as an adult, have a drivers license or carry a rifle or marry with parental permission.

To talk about the broader issues without acknowledging those points is to be unfair to Zimmerman.
posted by corb at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2013


To talk about the broader issues without acknowledging those points is to be unfair to Zimmerman.

No one who is posting in this thread has any duty or responsibility to be "fair" to anyone involved in this case. We're not on the jury (I hope!) and we're not the judge. And since the jury is sequestered, I'm not sure how talking about the broader social issues wrapped up in this case/incident have any effect on Zimmerman's ability to receive a fair trial.
posted by eunoia at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can remember my shock when O.J. was acquitted.

OJ should have been acquitted. The prosecution, then as now, is failing the public.

It's as pathetic as striking out in T-ball.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2013


No one asked him to continuously accuse young black men of crimes, or make a drug use determination on a dark rainy night from a distance within a closed space, or to replace the police in his own mind despite them admonishing him for it repeatedly. Unless Zimmerman was a witness to those aspects of Martin's life and had hold of Martin's personal data before initiating pursuit and contact with him and the police, any accusations of Zimmerman being treated unfairly are bullshit, and it's clear that you know it.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:38 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zimmerman is alleged to have engaged in serial sexual assault, assaulting a police officer, domestic violence, and assaulting a female patron at a bar. That's a lot more criminal than possibly owning a gun that was never apparently used for anything and smoking a mostly harmless drug, but we are asked to believe George is a fine upstanding citizen. We don't work with past allegations though because the two people involved could not have judged each other based on that past.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 AM on July 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I didn't think that self-defense guy was a very good witness. He hasn't testified in front of a jury before and it showed. He wasn't actively detrimental to the defense but he was all over the place and seemed like he was opining on things he couldn't possibly know.
posted by Justinian at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2013


Is It Time to Give Up on CNN?
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on July 10, 2013


I couldn't really tell with him, it seemed like he scored some points at times but he did make mistakes.

As an aside, he denied advertising his testimony on Twitter but someone from his business did at least. Lots of people have someone else handle that stuff though and it's no big deal anyway.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:59 AM on July 10, 2013


They just called Zimmerman's father. That's gotta mean this is the last witness and defense is going to rest.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2013


Is It Time to Give Up on CNN?

What, is it last June already?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:09 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are they not going to call his brother? He has been a very eloquent spokesman in my experience. Had a bad Twitter moment though. (or did they already and I missed it?)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:11 PM on July 10, 2013


They just called Zimmerman's father.

Annnnd he's done testifying.... Just called a break. After the recess, they're asking Mr. Zimmerman if he'd like to testify.
posted by mikelieman at 12:12 PM on July 10, 2013


corb: "And this is not giving Zimmerman a chance for a fair trial."

Please to be pointing out any point at which the dynamic you describe has denied Zimmerman a chance for a fair trial. Thanks.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:15 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The jury is sequestered for exactly that reason; to preserve Zimmerman's right to a fair trial. Nothing we say in this thread is gonna affect that one way or another.
posted by Justinian at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2013


SPOILER ALERT: The judge will not dismiss the case.

I hope I didn't ruin the suspense.
posted by Justinian at 12:47 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and folks, take a minute to step back and admire the sheer beauty of an ostensible civil libertarian citing the alleged violation of laws pertaining to use of marijuana and possession of an unregistered firearm as indicative of someone who deserves to be labeled as a criminal.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:48 PM on July 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and folks, take a minute to step back and admire the sheer beauty of an ostensible civil libertarian citing the alleged violation of laws pertaining to use of marijuana and possession of an unregistered firearm as indicative of someone who deserves to be labeled as a criminal.

Look, I don't think anyone deserves to be labeled as a criminal, and in fact, no, I don't believe possession of unregistered firearms or smoking pot are moral failings. But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist.

The jury is sequestered for exactly that reason; to preserve Zimmerman's right to a fair trial. Nothing we say in this thread is gonna affect that one way or another.

At this point, that's true - they are sequestered. I'm not sure how fully they are sequestered - does anyone know if they're allowed to talk to family, etc? And at this point, nothing we say matters. But this stuff is indicative of that which has gone before the jury was selected - making the jury not ignorant of the case when they started. They have already viewed the case through prejudicial lenses, and I think it taints the outcome of the trial.
posted by corb at 1:30 PM on July 10, 2013


But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist.

Everyone is a criminal if the definition is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code".
posted by Drinky Die at 1:44 PM on July 10, 2013


Look, I don't think anyone deserves to be labeled as a criminal, and in fact, no, I don't believe possession of unregistered firearms or smoking pot are moral failings. But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist.

Again, how did Zimmerman know that Martin had engaged in criminal acts? Hell, even we don't know for sure that he did. Your entire presupposition of how the case is being biased and unfair is based on something that I don't think anyone is saying--I certainly haven't--and depends on Zimmerman having superpowers. You can go on and on about how you don't want to label him a criminal but you seem perfectly happy with letting the jurors do so in something that had absolutely zero bearing on Zimmerman's entire interaction with Martin other than his preconceived notions. It's unsurprisingly not a very convincing argument as to how you don't seem him as a criminal or that you're willing to put aside your skepticism of drug use and unregistered firearm possession as criminal acts when it's convenient.

They have already viewed the case through prejudicial lenses, and I think it taints the outcome of the trial.

And yet you have both ignored prejudicial lenses that don't adhere to your pet hypotheses (a juror remembering "riots" that never happened, for example) and talked up prejudicial lenses that don't seem to exist (such as Martin engaging in un-witnessed criminal activity being justifiable reasons for pursuit), and I very much doubt you'll complain about the former if Zimmerman gets off.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:50 PM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb: "But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist. "

Well then you should have a conversation with this lady about how she's engaging in faulty switching of the English language into a language she would like to see, but does not currently exist:
Zimmerman's history of attempting to protect his community is relevant to the validity of his actions, and I've never said that they aren't. I just don't interpret them the same way that you do. It's the same way that Zimmerman doesn't have an adult criminal history, because charges were dropped. An arrest is not a charge, nor should it be if you want to rely on the rule of law.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it sounds like you're saying that Trayvon Martin's alleged drug and gun possession charges (for which he was never arrested) make him a criminal, but George Zimmerman's many assaults (one of which he was arrested for) do not. What am I missing?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a criminal. I've never been convicted or even arrested, but I break laws every day; am I criminal even if I've never been convicted? In case I ever go on trial for something, I guess this can be evidence of my criminality.

"Evidence of criminality" being a thing that Zimmerman lacked knowledge of when he confronted Martin that night.
posted by rtha at 1:54 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) The screams stop as soon as the gun was fired - if you heard the tape with no context, you would assume that they stopped because the person screaming just died.
2) The screams sound completely panicked and terrified, so, it sounds a lot more like someone with a gun pointing at them, not someone who was pointing a gun at someone else.
...
4) Everyone said he was basically calm and collected after the shooting, with doesn't jibe with him screaming that way.


Huh, I don't understand any of this reasoning. Clearly there was a two-way tussle; either of the two could have been screaming for help. I'm not sure I'd sign on to the "wuss" description up above in this thread, but I do think it's clear Zimmerman's a bit paranoid (I mean that colloquially not like a diagnosis). It seems VERY likely that if he saw a guy he thought was "up to no good" and then got in a physical fight with him, he'd yell for help. He'd already called the police; why not scream for the neighbors?

someone with a gun pointing at them
The yells were going on for >40 seconds while the fight was happening; it seems implausible that they were in response to the gun being pointed at all, or at least not at the beginning. It doesn't appear that either man was ever in control of the situation. The two of them could have been fighting over possession of the gun, but in that case, again, either could have been yelling for help.

And then after Zimmerman fired the gun, it seems more likely he'd stop yelling than that he'd continue. Martin was incapacitated. Zimmerman was probably in shock, not sure if he'd just killed a person or not; and then people were on the scene immediately after.

NB, I don't have any sympathy for Zimmerman; the tragedy was in any case born of his paranoia, stupidity and officiousness. I do think it's plausible though that the situation happened about as he described it, and the jury might buy it.

It makes me feel sick to think of the tensions surrounding this verdict.
posted by torticat at 9:48 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


But Martin does appear to have been a criminal - a drug user and someone who owned an illegal gun. -- corb
Bullshit. George Zimmeran was arrested for fighting an actual cop, and had a restraining order placed against him by his ex-fiancé for domestic violence. Of the two, he's the one with an actual criminal record here, for violent crimes. Trayvon martin had no criminal record, and smoking weed has nothing to do with violent crime. In fact, marijuana is a drug that makes you less violent, as opposed to the prescription amphetamine Zimmerman had been taking.
But Martin was a 6'2 football player, old enough to be legally tried as an adult -- corb
You only need to be 12-14 to be "tried as an adult", and he wasn't. And he's not on trial here, George Zimmerman is. Amazing how his supporters can't seem to get that through their heads.
Look, I don't think anyone deserves to be labeled as a criminal, and in fact, no, I don't believe possession of unregistered firearms or smoking pot are moral failings. But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist. -- corb
So you would agree that George Zimmerman is a violent criminal based on his violent criminal legal record, correct? Because if you don't agree with that, clearly you are being completely logically inconsistent between Zimmerman being a criminal and Martin being a criminal, with one key difference between the two being their skin color.

Another key difference being that one is dead and the other is on trial for murder. Last I checked it's not legal to murder people just because they smoked weed in the past.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


. I'm not sure I'd sign on to the "wuss" description up above in this thread, but I do think it's clear Zimmerman's a bit paranoid (I mean that colloquially not like a diagnosis).

I don't support calling anyone a wuss, but I'm pretty sure the defense would love it if the jurors see him that way. They spent a lot of time making sure it was very clear via direct testimony from his instructors that the year of martial arts training George received still left him completely soft and incapable of fighting and afraid of confrontation. It's like, a major plank of their defense.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:28 PM on July 10, 2013


Hmm, missed my edit window, I guess when I said: "You only need to be 12-14 to be "tried as an adult", and he wasn't." I mean he's not being charged as an adult here, because he's not been charged with anything. The problem here is that you don't seem to be able to view Trayvon except through the lens of a potential criminal, a person who would be put on trial, not as a potential kidnap victim who was afraid of someone in the dark. It's hard not to see that as being pretty racist.

I also had this bit on my clipboard and didn't get it pasted in.
The problem is that all of these issues really shouldn't be leaking into the trial and wishes for the trial, but are anyway - and making people argue against stereotypes, even if they are countering things that are accurate in the specific. -- corb
None of this shit has been proven to be "accurate in the specific" about Trayvon Martin, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that Martin was the kind of person who would engage Zimmerman out of the blue except Zimmerman's own testimony which has been proven to be contradictory on other aspects - and racial stereotypes.

Calling Trayvon martin a "criminal" because he smoked weed is just absurd, especially when you're not calling Zimmerman a criminal for beating up his fiance or shoving a cop. Marijuana is an extremely popular drug these days, and I'd be shocked if none of the members of the jury had ever smoked it. As far as the gun, it could easily be a photo of someone Else's perfectly legal firearm, there's no evidence he was the owner. This country is overflowing legal guns, and the 2nd amendment doesn't somehow not apply to black people.

You can't live in a country where companies make and advertize rifles for todlers and somehow imply that, well, because it was a black kid taking a picture of a gun, somehow that implies some kind of criminality.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems VERY likely that if he saw a guy he thought was "up to no good" and then got in a physical fight with him, he'd yell for help. He'd already called the police; why not scream for the neighbors?
According to John Good's testimony, he came out of his back door and saw the fight, and told them to cut it out. Only then did the screams for help start. They weren't screams in "general" they were specifically to get Good to help in the current situation, which he didn't do, other then go back in to call the cops.
I don't support calling anyone a wuss, but I'm pretty sure the defense would love it if the jurors see him that way. They spent a lot of time making sure it was very clear via direct testimony from his instructors that the year of martial arts training George received still left him completely soft and incapable of fighting and afraid of confrontation. It's like, a major plank of their defense.


Which raises the question of why the hell the prosecution isn't putting people on the stand who have actually been in fights with Zimmerman, including his ex and the cop who arrested him? It's really ridiculous, and it's directly relevant to the case the defense put on. They need to do a rebuttal, and it would be insane if they don't.
I guess I understand the wider social point you're making but society isn't on trial, George Zimmerman is on trial. The only thing that is supposed to matter is whether the state has proven the elements of the case.
George Zimmerman is on trial by members of society And in particular, white, female, members of society. If you watch some of those trial-related entertainment shows (which is all they are) on HLN you'll see a lot of white people taking Zimmerman's side, and black people taking Martin's side. There's some overlap, usually white people taking Martins side, but rarely any black people on Zimmerman's side. I suppose it might look different if you're watching FOX news.

They actually do this thing on one of the shows where they have "sample jurors" give "verdicts" about the issues of the day in the trail. Today the issue was whether the shooting was justified. They had 12 people, I think half black and half white. Every black person said it wasn't justified, and about half the white people said it was.

To think race doesn't play in to what people subjectively consider "reasonable" behavior is absurd.

What's going to matter more then anything in this case is whether or not the white women on the Jury are the kind of white women who think all black men are violent thugs, or the kind who don't. Basically, this case was decided during jury selection. I haven't really seen any evidence that's going to change anyone's mind - what everyone testified too is basically the conclusions you'd draw from hearing the initial reports in the media - there was a fight, then Zimmerman shot martin. I guess they established that Martin was likely on top when the shot was fired, but also that Martin didn't hit Zimmerman very much at all - no injuries to his hands, none of Zimmerman's DNA on his fists, etc. There was a lot less fighting from either side then it sounded like initially.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on July 10, 2013


Which raises the question of why the hell the prosecution isn't putting people on the stand who have actually been in fights with Zimmerman, including his ex and the cop who arrested him? It's really ridiculous, and it's directly relevant to the case the defense put on. They need to do a rebuttal, and it would be insane if they don't.

There was extensive discussion in court about bringing the alcohol cop to the stand as rebuttal to the idea Zimmerman is not confrontational yesterday. I'm pretty sure the Judge ruled it isn't happening for a reason I am not clear on (or they may have left the decision for the morning), but the bottom line is it was not that serious a case or Z actually would have been convicted for it. They don't really look the other way on hitting cops if it is the real thing.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:48 PM on July 10, 2013


but the bottom line is it was not that serious a case or Z actually would have been convicted for it. They don't really look the other way on hitting cops if it is the real thing.
Well, the cop can still testify that Zimmerman wasn't a creampuff or couldn't fight or something like that, even if he wasn't convicted of anything.

And the other question is why they aren't having his ex take the stand. Might be she want to testify against him.
posted by delmoi at 10:53 PM on July 10, 2013


I think overwhelmingly the most likely reason the prosecution isn't calling someone is they don't think it will help the case.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, it sounds like they put some witnesses to these things on the list for tomorrow, but maybe taken them off? It's strange.
posted by delmoi at 11:21 PM on July 10, 2013


The judge shot down every rebuttal they proposed while I was watching, aside from the alcohol cop I am not quite sure on. There were only 3.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:22 PM on July 10, 2013


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it sounds like you're saying that Trayvon Martin's alleged drug and gun possession charges (for which he was never arrested) make him a criminal, but George Zimmerman's many assaults (one of which he was arrested for) do not. What am I missing?

This case, like many others, brings up a lot of issues that many different people would like to talk about, as zombieflanders accurately wrote above. What you're "missing", I think, is that you're conflating all of those separate pieces into one coherent argument, when those pieces are not just separate pieces of one whole, they are pieces that are islands unto themselves.

So it is possible to argue one piece of the issue - what makes a criminal? Is it actual breaking of the law? Is it an arrest? Is it a conviction? What makes someone have a "clean adult criminal record"? How would we define "clean" in that case? How might others? We might in that discussion decide that Martin was a criminal by our definition, or Zimmerman, or both or neither.

Then there is another piece: was Zimmerman justified in following Martin, and would he have been justified if his assumptions were correct? In that piece, we might look at what Zimmerman believed about Martin, and why he believed it. It is possible, for example, to (per our earlier discussion) believe that Martin would indeed be a criminal, or have a tendency to give a wide berth to the law, and still think that Zimmerman had no basis for considering Martin a criminal, because he personally did not know these items. It is also possible to believe that Martin was not a criminal, but that Zimmerman was justified in following him because of the perception of criminality. Or neither of these. Or many, many more.

Calling Trayvon martin a "criminal" because he smoked weed is just absurd, especially when you're not calling Zimmerman a criminal for beating up his fiance or shoving a cop. Marijuana is an extremely popular drug these days, and I'd be shocked if none of the members of the jury had ever smoked it.

I don't think that Zimmerman had an adult criminal history. He may have been a criminal - I'm not sure and don't have enough evidence. I do think that Martin was probably a criminal, judging from the evidence on display, particularly the medical report, on the pot alone. I do not, however, think that these definitions and assertions automatically translate into anything else about the case or about the morality of anyone involved. Whether a crime is popular or not, or whether the jury will view pot as harmless or not, don't really have much to do with the external question of what makes someone a criminal.

(a juror remembering "riots" that never happened, for example)

What was this?
posted by corb at 12:00 AM on July 11, 2013


What you're "missing", I think, is that you're conflating all of those separate pieces into one coherent argument, when those pieces are not just separate pieces of one whole, they are pieces that are islands unto themselves.
I have no idea what you're talking about.

My comment wasn't about George Zimmerman, or anyone else. It was about you.

It was about the fact that you called Trayvon Martin a "criminal" despite not having a criminal record because he smoked pot and took a photograph of a gun, and that earlier you didn't want to call Zimmerman a criminal despite an actual criminal record, which I didn't notice until tonycpsu pointed it out.

So in your mind Trayvon martin, a 17 year old black teen is a "criminal" despite not having a criminal record, and George Zimmerman is not, despite the fact that he does, and for violent crimes as well, a clear double standard.

It looks pretty racist to me.

(And yes, arrests are part of your criminal record whether or not you're ultimately convicted of anything. They absolutely show up on background checks and the like, it's absurd to claim otherwise.)
posted by delmoi at 12:05 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt you'd call this kid a "criminal" who "owns an illegal gun". There are plenty of pictures and videos of white kids playing with real guns.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on July 11, 2013


There aren't any more witnesses; both sides have rested. All that's left are closing arguments and jury instructions. The instructions still look to be key. If they don't resolve Delmoi and my dispute over what it takes to be considered the aggressor for purposes of losing your right to self defense Imma gonna be pissed.

What's going to matter more then anything in this case is whether or not the white women on the Jury are the kind of white women who think all black men are violent thugs, or the kind who don't.

Or maybe some of them will simply be people who attempt to apply the judge's instructions as impartially as they can, imperfectly or not. Which may mean finding Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter. Or may mean acquitting him. Or something else. The idea that a person could not possibly think the state failed to meet its burden unless they are racists who think all black men are violent thugs is crazy. You can think Zimmerman is morally culpable here without believing the state met its burden.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is also possible to believe that Martin was not a criminal, but that Zimmerman was justified in following him because of the perception of criminality. Or neither of these. Or many, many more.

Wait, what? Step outside your usual tactic of wild hypotheticals for a second, and tell us what, exactly, gave Zimmerman any justification at all other than Martin being a black kid in his neighborhood. He wasn't a LEO, representatives of law enforcement were actively warning him away, it was scientifically impossible for him to know of any current drug use or weapon possession (let alone personal history), and there was no crime being committed. In what world is it "justification" for a citizen to pursue another citizen merely walking around with the intent to confront, especially if they have been repeatedly told not to do so by law enforcement?

What was this?

[Juror] B37: "A white mother of two who volunteers rescuing animals and made a point to note that she used newspapers only to line the bottom of her parrot’s cage. The woman, who once had a concealed weapons permit but let it expire, remembered that there had been “rioting” in Sanford during the uproar over Trayvon’s death."

The "rioting" canard is often used as shorthand for breathless concern trolling over how black people just can't seem to control their animal impulses, and is especially popular as a justification for gun ownership. That was most recently on display by the head of the NRA in a lengthy apocalyptic diatribe about "looters running wild" in Brooklyn in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that was (unsurprisingly) paranoid lies.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:57 AM on July 11, 2013


Or maybe some of them will simply be people who attempt to apply the judge's instructions as impartially as they can, imperfectly or not.
I seriously doubt it.
what, exactly, gave Zimmerman any justification at all other than Martin being a black kid in his neighborhood.
HE LOOKED LIKE HE WAS ON THE DRUGS!!!!///
The "rioting" canard is often used as shorthand for breathless concern trolling over how black people just can't seem to control their animal impulses
If Zimmerman gets off a lot of people are going to die, but not from rioting, from "Stand your ground" - it will be a solid signal to everyone in Florida that if you kill someone without any witnesses around there is no way you'll go to jail. And as I've said before this isn't a hypothetical lots of people in Florida, black, white, whatever have shot people to death and not even been put on trial – they were freed by judges before any of this jury stuff got going.

In fact, most of the black people who shot and killed white people and claimed SYG have been freed. There's a slight racial bias, but in fact most people who pull the trigger walk, regardless of their race or their victim's race.

If Zimmerman walks it's going to send a strong message to every black person in that state that they need to arm themselves, which for most will be completely legal and if any trouble starts shoot first and claim they threatened you.

And it will cement the fact for everyone that in florida, human life has no value, and that the person who walks away from any conflict is the one who shoots first.

(Walks in the sense of being alive, and out of prison)
posted by delmoi at 4:40 AM on July 11, 2013


The whole thing about being a "criminal" is kind of goofy because this

But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code"

Is wrong. You would be extremely hard pressed to find a native speaker of American English who uses "criminal" to refer to any person who has ever committed at least one crime (ie, everyone). That's simply not the definition of the word in American English, no matter what your dictionary says.

I think you'd find that native speakers of American English would only consistently use the word for someone who either derives their living from criminal activity, otherwise commits many nontrivial crimes, or who commits grave and seriously harmful crimes. It's only consistently used in contexts where one wants to claim that criminality is some essential characteristic of their being.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:57 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think if you polled English speakers about whether someone who has smoked pot and taken a photograph of a gun is a "criminal" you'd get ~1% saying yes. Show them a picture of a black person, though and you might be able to boost the stats a bit.
posted by delmoi at 5:02 AM on July 11, 2013


If Zimmerman walks it's going to send a strong message to every black person in that state that they need to arm themselves, which for most will be completely legal and if any trouble starts shoot first and claim they threatened you.

Presumably the smart criminal would just keep a weapon to plant on the corpse. With no witnesses, SYG and a claim that they raised their weapon it's hard to see that ending in conviction.
posted by jaduncan at 5:21 AM on July 11, 2013


Presumably the smart criminal would just keep a weapon to plant on the corpse.
Honestly the risk/reward on that isn't even enough. Someone might see you plant the gun, and you might have your DNA on it and not theirs. On the other hand, just claim they threatened you and you'll get off for sure.

Given the racially integrated groups of teens rampaging across Florida and killing for fun. who could blame anyone for pulling the trigger and asking questions later? What do you expect to happen when the state officially declares that human life has no value?
posted by delmoi at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2013


[Comment deleted. Please discuss the topics and issues instead of making it personal.]
posted by taz at 5:46 AM on July 11, 2013


I don't think that Zimmerman had an adult criminal history. He may have been a criminal - I'm not sure and don't have enough evidence. I do think that Martin was probably a criminal, judging from the evidence on display, particularly the medical report, on the pot alone.

This makes no sense. Zimmerman has two mugshots. Trayvon Martin has zero. To say that Zimmerman "may have been" a criminal, but that Trayvon "probably" is a criminal because he had THC in his body (when he was shot after someone chased him down as he ran unarmed in the dark doing nothing wrong) is so messed up, I can't even.

It's really at the point that I can't wait for this whole thing to be over. The covertly blatant (oxymoron alert) racism that this case has garnered is emotionally draining. And as the sister of black men, the daughter of a man who self-identified as black, the aunt of 5+ mixed race boys and 1 boy who is not mixed race (just black), all of whom probably have or probably will, at some time, smoke pot and walk somewhere in the dark, I want this case to be over because then I can stop constantly thinking about how much danger they're in in America just by existing, and how little shit some people give about their lives.

The end of this trial can not come fast enough and I only hope that, whatever the verdict is, Trayvon's loved ones can find some peace.
posted by eunoia at 6:09 AM on July 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


This makes no sense. Zimmerman has two mugshots. Trayvon Martin has zero. To say that Zimmerman "may have been" a criminal, but that Trayvon "probably" is a criminal because he had THC in his body (when he was shot after someone chased him down as he ran unarmed in the dark doing nothing wrong) is so messed up, I can't even.

Aside from agreeing with this wholeheartedly, I think it's worth saying that it also doesn't matter at all if Martin had breached the law in the past. Well, I guess that applies unless we're making the argument that having broken the law means that people deserve to be shot, and whilst I hope that's not what's being said here some of the descriptions of Martin as a 'thug' on newspaper comments come very close to openly stating this.

I'll just be very clear and say that every person deserves legal protection from being shot on the street based on purely on the fact that they are human. I don't care if they used to supply crack to half the Eastern seaboard, let alone maybe smoked some weed in the last month. I wouldn't see this case differently either way; it's not better to kill people based on their race, criminal history, haircut, clothing, gender or the fact that you dislike the way they eat their icecream.

People are people, and lots of us do think that way. My best wishes to you, yours, and the general population.
posted by jaduncan at 6:28 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, what? Step outside your usual tactic of wild hypotheticals for a second, and tell us what, exactly, gave Zimmerman any justification at all other than Martin being a black kid in his neighborhood. He wasn't a LEO, representatives of law enforcement were actively warning him away, it was scientifically impossible for him to know of any current drug use or weapon possession (let alone personal history), and there was no crime being committed. In what world is it "justification" for a citizen to pursue another citizen merely walking around with the intent to confront, especially if they have been repeatedly told not to do so by law enforcement?

I think we don't know if Zimmerman was following "with the intent to confront" Martin. We do know that he was following him, which I think may have been justifiable for him given the information he had at the time. Confronting him, however, would not have been.

Firstly, as far as I know (which I could be wrong, and would totally appreciate anyone with more knowledge of Florida law here), following someone is perfectly legal - creepy, definitely, and alarming as hell if you are the one being followed, but still legal. If that is the case, then Zimmerman would not need a particularly high standard in order to engage in it - there would be nothing wrong with following only on mild suspicion.

Secondly, Zimmerman said that Martin was cutting close to the houses and moving erratically, which was suspicious for the area. I don't think this was due to Martin's negative intent - more likely just a city vs country/suburb regional difference. I do also think it was possible that Zimmerman profiled Martin, but I think it was probably on class lines, rather than racial lines, if so - looking economically out of place for the gated neighborhood. (This is something police engage in as well - when I once lived near a very rich neighborhood, people who did not look as though they lived there were often questioned about why they were there.)

Thirdly, law enforcement wasn't warning him away, the dispatcher (not a LEO) was saying "You don't need to do that." Not, "Don't do that, get back in your car and do not engage further" or some similar order - but a suggestion that his actions were unnecessary. Kind of like how I do not "need" to help someone who is in trouble, but I might want to and am not prohibited from doing so.
posted by corb at 6:46 AM on July 11, 2013


FWIW bmaz has a post up at emptywheel: Uncomfortable Truth: The State Of Evidence in the George Zimmerman Prosecution.

Worth a look for anyone interested in the facts that have been presented in the case.
posted by snaparapans at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2013


corb: "So it is possible to argue one piece of the issue - what makes a criminal? Is it actual breaking of the law? Is it an arrest? Is it a conviction? What makes someone have a "clean adult criminal record"? How would we define "clean" in that case? How might others? We might in that discussion decide that Martin was a criminal by our definition, or Zimmerman, or both or neither. "

I could kind of sort of almost go along with this Unfrozen Caveman routine you're doing here were it not for the fact that you were insisting that people use your very own specific definition of the word when talking about Martin:
But I do think that to say "He was not a criminal" when the definition of a criminal is "one who commits a crime under the existing legal code" is a faulty switching of the English language into a language we would like to see, but which does not currently exist.
You're chastising anyone who refuses to apply your very broad definition of "criminal" to Trayvon Martin based on some cell phone pictures and a trace amount of pot in a toxicology report, but when it comes to George Zimmerman, you want to stretch the definition of words beyond recognition, such that Zimmerman's verifiable of criminal activity does not constitute a "criminal record."

This is not a good faith argument. If you are going to demand others use your definition of criminal, you must apply that same definition to the other party. You can't switch it up based on who you're talking about at the time and expect to be taken seriously.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:08 AM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Corb, does this picture make me a criminal? It's a lot more intense than the Martin image, given that I'm actually out there shooting things. If you like, we can posit for the sake of argument that I'd test positive for THC.
posted by jaduncan at 7:24 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it is possible to argue one piece of the issue - what makes a criminal? Is it actual breaking of the law? Is it an arrest? Is it a conviction? What makes someone have a "clean adult criminal record"? How would we define "clean" in that case? How might others? We might in that discussion decide that Martin was a criminal by our definition, or Zimmerman, or both or neither.

Sure. Whilst I wouldn't wish to put words in people's mouths, you're being asked what your definition of it is. It seems hard to construct a definition that fits your chosen classification of Martin as a criminal and Zimmerman not.
posted by jaduncan at 7:27 AM on July 11, 2013



I think we don't know if Zimmerman was following "with the intent to confront" Martin.


Getting out of the car, armed not only with his CCW weapon, but a mag-lite? Shit, we learned in Judo class how to use a mini-maglite as a kubota and apply joint-locks, strikes, various painful etceteras...

So, he's got a gun and a nice comfortable club -- or 'impact weapon' -- in hand, and there's no 'intent to confront?'
posted by mikelieman at 7:29 AM on July 11, 2013


I think we don't know if Zimmerman was following "with the intent to confront" Martin. We do know that he was following him, which I think may have been justifiable for him given the information he had at the time. Confronting him, however, would not have been.

Zimmerman repeatedly referred to Martin as an "asshole" and "fucking punk" that he didn't want to get away from the scene of an imaginary crime, and had removed himself from the vehicle when Martin allegedly spotted him. At that point, he's not merely following.

Firstly, as far as I know (which I could be wrong, and would totally appreciate anyone with more knowledge of Florida law here), following someone is perfectly legal - creepy, definitely, and alarming as hell if you are the one being followed, but still legal. If that is the case, then Zimmerman would not need a particularly high standard in order to engage in it - there would be nothing wrong with following only on mild suspicion.

Sure, it's legal, but what you're building your case against Martin on is that it wasn't just legal, it was necessary and that Zimmerman is absolved from all of the consequences coming from following Martin, and indeed that Martin was the one responsible for acting like someone who should be followed. That's the problem.

Secondly, Zimmerman said that Martin was cutting close to the houses and moving erratically, which was suspicious for the area.

No, what he actually said was this (from the 911 call):
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?
Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or
sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He's [unintelligible], he was just staring…
Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area
Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses.
And later, this (from his statement to the police):
I was on my way to the grocery store when I saw a male approximately 5’11' to 6’2' casually walking in the rain, looking into homes.
At no point does he mention proximity to houses or erratic movement. If anything, just the opposite: he's "casual," which also somehow suspicious, which means that to Zimmerman, there was literally no possible way Martin could walk around in his neighborhood without being followed.

I don't think this was due to Martin's negative intent - more likely just a city vs country/suburb regional difference.

Both Zimmerman and Martin were from the suburbs.

I do also think it was possible that Zimmerman profiled Martin, but I think it was probably on class lines, rather than racial lines, if so - looking economically out of place for the gated neighborhood. (This is something police engage in as well - when I once lived near a very rich neighborhood, people who did not look as though they lived there were often questioned about why they were there.)

George Zimmerman was not a police officer, and even if he was profiling is not justification for interception even if you are LEO. In any event, it was not his job to profile anybody, and at no point did he actually ask Martin why he was in the neighborhood. Furthermore, in the past, Zimmerman had gone door-to-door in the neighborhood and sent out e-mails talking about young black men who didn't look like they belonged. In any event, here's the other problem:
A few moments later, [the police officer] asks Zimmerman why he kept following Martin even after the police dispatcher told him not to. Zimmerman’s answer is staggering.

“I wanted to give them an address.”
[...]
[This] means that even he suspected that Martin was a legitimate visitor to the complex, staying in an apartment and legally on the property, Zimmerman continued to pursue him. And it makes sense that Martin was staying there because of the terrain, the complex being isolated from other complexes and a mile distant from the nearest shopping center. A professional thief would be moving intentionally, not wandering down the middle of the street in the full light of the streetlamps.
So why are you giving Martin 0% benefit of the doubt and Zimmerman 100% here?

Thirdly, law enforcement wasn't warning him away, the dispatcher (not a LEO) was saying "You don't need to do that." Not, "Don't do that, get back in your car and do not engage further" or some similar order - but a suggestion that his actions were unnecessary. Kind of like how I do not "need" to help someone who is in trouble, but I might want to and am not prohibited from doing so.

Actually, I said representatives of law enforcement were warning him away. And since you can't stay away from the hypotheticals, I should point out yet again that no one was in trouble, no crime was being committed, and that he had no legal justification for pursuit.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:45 AM on July 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


sent out e-mails talking about young black men who didn't look like they belonged.

Wow, I didn't know that. That's really quite depressing.
posted by jaduncan at 7:48 AM on July 11, 2013


FWIW, My creeper-sense was tingling pretty hard during the testimony yesterday about the 'attention' he gave the vulnerable home-invasion victims. Sure it appeared well meaning, but something just didn't strike me right about it...
posted by mikelieman at 7:53 AM on July 11, 2013


(And not the cool 'Creeper' Ditko invented in 68, neither....)
posted by mikelieman at 7:55 AM on July 11, 2013


By the way, does anyone have any theories as to why the defense didn't bring up the THC in Martin's blood in their argument? (From a tactical standpoint, I mean. I know that pot doesn't make you violent and etc., but the defense had argued for the information to be admitted, and then they didn't use it.)

eunoia, I'm sorry for the stress and sadness this case raises regarding your family. I do not have to worry about how much danger my 17yo son is in in America "just by existing," and god knows I worry enough about him in other respects. Honestly I can't imagine. :(
posted by torticat at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2013


Another tactical question. From this cnn story:
In arguing unsuccessfully against the manslaughter charge, West told Nelson that Zimmerman believes that because the "state has charged him with second-degree murder, they should be required to prove it, if they can."

Does this suggest the defense is feeling quite confident about the verdict? If not, it seems like they would welcome the possibility of a lesser charge, which would give the jury the option of stopping short of murder but not letting Zimmerman off completely.
posted by torticat at 9:07 AM on July 11, 2013


I should point out yet again that no one was in trouble, no crime was being committed, and that he had no legal justification for pursuit.

Likewise, I had no legal justification for eating lunch today. This is not a problem because eating lunch does not require a legal justification. In Florida, neither does following a person. Following a person, whether on foot or by automobile, is not against the law in Florida. This was discussed at length at this morning's charge conference.

By the way, the evidence presented shows that Zimmerman stopped following several seconds after the dispatcher said, "we don't need you to do that". If you have ever listened to the 911 tape, you will hear that the "pursuit" lasted for 31 seconds. What the evidence showed, which was again discussed at today's charging conference, was that Martin doubled back several minutes after Zimmerman lost sight of him. There was no evidence presented at trial that Zimmerman "chased down" Martin.

Florida lawyer, BTW.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:25 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aside from agreeing with this wholeheartedly, I think it's worth saying that it also doesn't matter at all if Martin had breached the law in the past. Well, I guess that applies unless we're making the argument that having broken the law means that people deserve to be shot, and whilst I hope that's not what's being said here some of the descriptions of Martin as a 'thug' on newspaper comments come very close to openly stating this.
On the other hand, it very much does matter if Zimmerman had a history of violence (on the other hand, I would agree that whether or not he smoked weed in the past wouldn't be relevant)
but I think it was probably on class lines, rather than racial lines,
Is Mark Zuckerburg a low-class thug because he wears hoodies? There is literally nothing that could have suggested to anyone Trayvon Martin was somehow déclassé other then his skin color. It was raining and it was, you know cold the kind of weather that gets people of all classes wearing hoodies. In fact, Trayvon martin seems to have been somewhat upper class, going on ski trips, taking flying lessons and going horseback riding. And they lived in the same apartment complex so obviously Zimmerman and Martin's fathers were both in the same socioeconomic status, the only difference is that Zimmerman was unemployed and living with his parents at the age of 29.

Assuming that Trayvon Martin was of a lower socioeconomic status then Zimmerman when the reverse is actually true is another example of racist stereotyping in this thread.
By the way, does anyone have any theories as to why the defense didn't bring up the THC in Martin's blood in their argument? (From a tactical standpoint, I mean. I know that pot doesn't make you violent and etc., but the defense had argued for the information to be admitted, and then they didn't use it.)
Because it's a fucking stupid argument? Seriously, would you bet your life that out of six randomly selected women in Florida, none of them smoke pot?
I had no legal justification for eating lunch today. This is not a problem because eating lunch does not require a legal justification. In Florida, neither does following a person. Following a person, whether on foot or by automobile, is not against the law in Florida. This was discussed at length at this morning's charge conference.
Yeah, it was discussed and the judge decided not to include a statement that following people isn't illegal in the jury instructions.
Nelson said she will not include that following Martin was a lawful activity. She sternly told West not to continue to disagree after she has made a ruling. The defense will be allowed to tell the jury during closing arguments that following Martin the night of the shooting was a lawful activity.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, does anyone have any theories as to why the defense didn't bring up the THC in Martin's blood in their argument? (From a tactical standpoint, I mean. I know that pot doesn't make you violent and etc., but the defense had argued for the information to be admitted, and then they didn't use it.)

Too easy to counter. Setting aside the possibility that the jury would accept Reefer Madness as a mitigating factor, the amount was so low that Martin wouldn't have even been breaking the law by driving, which means the possibility that he would walk differently because of the THC is remote, to be polite.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:42 AM on July 11, 2013


Following a person, whether on foot or by automobile, is not against the law in Florida. This was discussed at length at this morning's charge conference.

And how does that justify pursuit? You can keep on telling us that following someone is legal, but no one speaking out against Martin has yet to come up with a justifiable reason why it needed to be escalated by a civilian. Simple question: had Zimmerman not been following Martin on false pretenses, and had he not initiated pursuit, would Martin still have ended up shot to death by Zimmerman that night?

By the way, the evidence presented shows that Zimmerman stopped following several seconds after the dispatcher said, "we don't need you to do that". If you have ever listened to the 911 tape, you will hear that the "pursuit" lasted for 31 seconds...There was no evidence presented at trial that Zimmerman "chased down" Martin.

So he pursued him for 31 seconds (in the 911 call this comes after Zimmerman says "Shit he's running," and gets out of his truck) but he didn't chase him? Do you see how explaining this away sounds messed up?

What the evidence showed, which was again discussed at today's charging conference, was that Martin doubled back several minutes after Zimmerman lost sight of him.

No, what Zimmerman stated was that Martin doubled back, and statements from others contradict that. In other words, when push comes to shove (pun not intended), you choose to take the testimony of the man who has admitted to profiling and pursuing a teenager for no particularly justifiable reason (and in fact made up at lease one scientifically impossible one), who never bothered to identify himself or inquire as to the teenager's reason for being there, and whose paranoia left him no other option than to see the teenager as a criminal to be pursued.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2013


(and in fact made up at lease one scientifically impossible one)

To what scientifically impossible reason are you referring?
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2013


To what scientifically impossible reason are you referring?
"he looks like he's on drugs" - when in fact he was talking on the phone (which might make someone look like they're distracted if you didn't know they were having a conversation)
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on July 11, 2013


And how does that justify pursuit?

I think I made it clear that no legal justification is required. You talk about "false pretenses" but no pretense is needed.

statements from others contradict that

Who said that? Since these witness statements would be pretty important, I have to imagine they will be discussed during the state's closing argument. Care to give me a spoiler?
posted by Tanizaki at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2013


To what scientifically impossible reason are you referring?

In the 911 call, Zimmerman states that one of the things he thinks makes Martin suspicious is that he appears as if "he's on drugs," yet never provides any evidence in the call or his statement to police of any behavior or physical residue indicating drug use. The defense and their supporters among some commentors have tried to push the angle that there were signs that Martin used marijuana, which has no outward signs after use other than odor and some cardiovascular activity, neither of which would have been apparent to a witness who was in a car, at night, at a distance.

I think I made it clear that no legal justification is required. You talk about "false pretenses" but no pretense is needed.

Again, had Zimmerman not been following Martin on false pretenses, and had he not initiated pursuit, would Martin still have ended up shot to death by Zimmerman that night? I know you're a lawyer, but that doesn't mean you have to act like one when asked a direct question.

Who said that? Since these witness statements would be pretty important, I have to imagine they will be discussed during the state's closing argument. Care to give me a spoiler?

Jeantel's statement was that Martin told her he was being followed and that Zimmerman "was still behind [him]" when the fight occurred.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:33 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I made it clear that no legal justification is required. You talk about "false pretenses" but no pretense is needed.
What are you talking about? No one is saying that, for example, if there had been no conflict that Zimmerman should have been charged with a crime simply for following Martin.

The argument is that Zimmerman following martin contributed to the conflict occurring. Why does it matter, as far as the jury is concerned that it was legal for Zimmerman to follow martin?

That's an issue for an appeal, and that's not me saying that, that's what the judge said when she excluded the fact that it was legal for Zimmerman to follow martin from the Jury instructions.

Why are you arguing about something that's been explicitly excluded from the Jury instructions? Sure, maybe it's something Zimbo can appeal on but that's not really the focus of the thread at this moment. The Jury aren't lawyers, and it's not in their instructions, so why are they going to care?

The only "law" that matters here is the jury instructions. It's up to them and the closing arguments at this point.

(And by the way has the final version been posted anywhere? I know they still need to remove the part about 3rd degree murder from the defense version - but it would be nice to see exactly what they have so far)
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on July 11, 2013


Again, had Zimmerman not been following Martin on false pretenses, and had he not initiated pursuit, would Martin still have ended up shot to death by Zimmerman that night?

That actually is not how legal causation works. Rather, it is the last proximate act. Right now, "initiating pursuit" was not the last proximate act before Zimmerman shot Martin. For example, intervening proximate acts were Martin coming back to confront Zimmerman and Martin breaking Zimmerman's nose.

Jeantel's statement was that Martin told her he was being followed and that Zimmerman "was still behind [him]" when the fight occurred.

Oh, and that statement went uncontradicted by any other evidence, of course. I am quite interested to see how much is made of Sojourner Truth's testimony during the state's closing argument, which is about to begin. I will not be back until today's closing argument is closed.

The argument is that Zimmerman following martin contributed to the conflict occurring.

Legally, that is a very bad argument.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


That actually is not how legal causation works. Rather, it is the last proximate act. Right now, "initiating pursuit" was not the last proximate act before Zimmerman shot Martin. For example, intervening proximate acts were Martin coming back to confront Zimmerman and Martin breaking Zimmerman's nose.

Yes, yes, we get that you're a lawyer and that the whole idea of how black people are treated in this country must be meaningless to how this case and trial has been conducted, and that Zimmerman was the real victim and Martin should have just tried harder to Not Be Black, because otherwise none of this would have happened Because Reasons.

Yes or no: had Zimmerman not been following Martin on false pretenses, and had he not initiated pursuit, would Martin still have ended up shot to death by Zimmerman that night?

Oh, and that statement went uncontradicted by any other evidence, of course.

Zimmerman's testimony about being so injured that he was going to die was, how come you're not talking about that?

I am quite interested to see how much is made of Sojourner Truth's testimony during the state's closing argument, which is about to begin.

Hey, display some more sarcastic racism, folks. It's classy!
posted by zombieflanders at 10:51 AM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


That actually is not how legal causation works. Rather, it is the last proximate act. Right now, "initiating pursuit" was not the last proximate act before Zimmerman shot Martin. For example, intervening proximate acts were Martin coming back to confront Zimmerman and Martin breaking Zimmerman's nose.
So what? What does this have to do with what the Jury is going to decide?

The jury aren't lawyers, they aren't going to consider any legal issues that aren't covered in the Jury instructions. And the Jury instructions are done, and the fact that it was legal for Zimmerman to follow martin was excluded.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with what the verdict is going to be?
posted by delmoi at 11:00 AM on July 11, 2013


Does this suggest the defense is feeling quite confident about the verdict?

It indicates they're at least fairly confident about 2nd degree murder. Given the choice between 2nd degree and acquittal they think the jury would probably choose acquittal. But they're worried that the jury won't want Zimmerman to walk completely and could settle on manslaughter as a compromise verdict.

Compromise verdicts are not allowed but juries do it all the time anyway.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 AM on July 11, 2013


Hey, display some more sarcastic racism, folks. It's classy!
Well, at least we know who they are, right?

And btw, the prosecution is talking about Jeantel's testimony right this moment.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2013


Justinian: " Compromise verdicts are not allowed but juries do it all the time anyway."

The judge explicitly ruled manslaughter in today, so yes, it's definitely allowed in this case.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2013


That's not what a compromise verdict is.

If the entire jury believes Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder then that's a verdict. But what can happen is that some of the jurors want to convict on 2nd degree murder and some want to acquit. But rather than hang the jury they agree to convict on manslaughter. To compromise on a verdict in between what they believe to be the true verdicts.

That's a compromise verdict and is not allowed, but as I said it happens anyway. The defense no doubt fears such a thing in this case where they settle on manslaughter because jurors don't believe the 2nd degree charge but some of them are willing to compromise on a lesser charge rather than letting Zimmerman walk.
posted by Justinian at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am quite interested to see how much is made of Sojourner Truth's testimony

Very much not cool.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You always see racial biased expressed using coded language, "thugs", "welfare queens", "illegals", or in this thread calling a black person with no criminal record "a criminal" while refusing to the same thing with a white person with an actual criminal record.

It's kind of interesting how, in this closing you have the use of coded language to talk about racists: "assumptions" "profiling".
posted by delmoi at 11:13 AM on July 11, 2013


You always see racial biased expressed using coded language, "thugs", "welfare queens", "illegals", or in this thread calling a black person with no criminal record "a criminal" while refusing to the same thing with a white person with an actual criminal record.

Knowing next to nothing about the jurors, the outcome may have more to do with whether or not they feel this way than it has to do with the competing "facts."
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2013


here's a livestream if you want to watch the closings yourself. I was watching HLN but the ad breaks have gotten on my nerves.
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on July 11, 2013


The prosecutors are talking about Jeantel again, going on and on about her. So the idea that the prosecutors wouldn't talk about her in closing has been proven false.
posted by delmoi at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2013


Awkward race joke of the year: "I have a dream that a witness will be judged not on the colorfulness of her personality, but the content of her testimony"
posted by delmoi at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2013


The problem with the content of her testimony was that she was shown to be willing to lie under oath. For understandable but not exactly compelling reasons.
posted by Justinian at 11:45 AM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with the content of her testimony was that she was shown to be willing to lie under oath. For understandable but not exactly compelling reasons.
Are you watching the closing? The prosecutor explained why it wasn't a big deal - not material, she wasn't lying about what actually happened or anything related to the case, she just wanted to maintain her own privacy. The fact that she lied for understandable reasons early on does not mean she's lying now, and the prosecutors explained why it's likely she's being honest.

This idea that you need to disregard everything she says because she lied once about her age is completely absurd.
posted by delmoi at 12:01 PM on July 11, 2013


Of course the prosecutor said that. He's a prosecutor. He's going to put the absolute best spin on his case just like the defense will put the best spin on their case! As to Jeantel she lied about other things, delmoi, not just her age. It's absolutely clear that she didn't take her oath very seriously. She even said more or less that! It's reasonable to take her testimony with a large grain of salt under the circumstances.

Look, if one of Zimmerman's friends had taken the stand and testified that he saw the fight and Zimmerman was defending himself, and was caught in a couple lies while under oath, you would be completely discounting his testimony. Even if those lies weren't material. Anyone reading this entire thread knows that would be true. You can't hold the defense and defense witnesses to a very high standard and hold the prosecution and the prosecution witnesses to a lower standard. That is exactly the opposite of how it should work.
posted by Justinian at 12:08 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This idea that you need to disregard everything she says because she lied once about her age is completely absurd.

And if you discount the entirety of her testimony based on one lie, then you must also discard the entirety of Zimmerman's testimony based on -- let's go with the lie that he needed to find out what street he was on.

Not that there is NO TESTIMONY that Trayvon Martin assaulted Zimmerman in any way, what does that do to his defense?

Or is the white male with a criminal record more credible for some reason?
posted by mikelieman at 12:14 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course the prosecutor said that. He's a prosecutor. He's going to put the absolute best spin on his case just like the defense will put the best spin on their case!
Sure, but there's no reason to think the jury won't listen to what he said, it was completely reasonable.
It's absolutely clear that she didn't take her oath very seriously.
She may not have taken it as seriously when the case was just beginning, but that doesn't mean she wasn't taking it more seriously in later depositions and during the trial itself.

This idea that credibility was completely destroyed forever and ever is just idiotic, there's no reason to think the jury will view it that way, no matter how much you whine about it.
if one of Zimmerman's friends had taken the stand and testified that he saw the fight and Zimmerman was defending himself, and was caught in a couple lies while under oath, you would be completely discounting his testimony.
It always annoys me when people call others hypocrites because of what they imagine they would do say in other situations. Making an argument based on contradiction between something someone says and something you imagine them saying has is completely pointless, but it's at least usually about a third party.

But the idea that you are telling me what I would say is completely ridiculous. There is no way you could ever predict what I would say in another situation.

There is no way this hypothetical could ever occur, because if Zimmerman had a friend with him he could have pulled martin off and could have avoided the situation.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2013


[Folks, in a fast moving thread, using the edit window to add new content is not at all okay. Please try again.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:32 PM on July 11, 2013


Ah, sorry I wasn't really paying that much attention - I think I just wanted to ad clarity to what I was saying. My final comment was:
Not that there is NO TESTIMONY that Trayvon Martin assaulted Zimmerman in any way, what does that do to his defense?
That's a good point - Justinian, can you summarize the evidence that shows trayvon martin struck or attacked Zimmerman even once? At all, in the entire fight? How do we know, for example that he didn't fall on his ass and hit is head, and then smack himself in the face in order to make it look more like a serious fight?

What evidence is there, specifically?

There's no physical evidence that martin punched Zimmerman, no bruises or injuries to his hands. How exactly do you explain that?
IIRC my first version of the first paragraph was just "That's a good point - Justinian, can you summarize the evidence that shows trayvon martin struck or attacked Zimmerman even once? At all, in the entire fight?" - I only meant to clarify my point, I didn't mean to imply that I thought zimmerman beat himself up, just that there wasn't any way to separate to separate those two scenarios based on the evidence that actually exists.
posted by delmoi at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2013


The point I'm making is that you are viewing every piece of evidence in the best light for the prosecution. Which is the opposite of what a juror is required to do. Now, you're not a juror so that's perfectly fine. But you're saying you think the jurors will do the same thing! Hell, maybe you're right. But if they do it's because they didn't understand their duty as jurors.

can you summarize the evidence that shows trayvon martin struck or attacked Zimmerman even once

The burden of proof is on the prosecution not the defense.

That said, sure. There are Zimmerman's injuries. Secondly, there is physical evidence that Zimmerman was on his back. Grass stains and so on. Thirdly we have direct eyewitness testimony that Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating on him. That supports the physical evidence.

and then smack himself in the face in order to make it look more like a serious fight

Unless you are putting forward the theory that Zimmerman injured himself instead of just speculating they are prima facie evidence that Martin struck Zimmerman. The prosecution has provided no evidence that Zimmerman deliberately injured himself. And given the burden of proof is on the prosecution, the jurors are supposed to take the plausible scenario that Zimmerman injuries were caused by Martin at face value.

You can say that evidence doesn't prove Martin was beating on Zimmerman but that isn't required. Martin's injuries plus the physical evidence plus Good's testimony when put together make a plausible case that Martin was on top of Zimmerman hitting him at least once.

You are free to disbelieve that since you're not a juror. That's fine. But to say the jurors don't need to consider it is counter to their duty. The idea that they should just decide, with no evidential basis, that Zimmerman's injuries were self-inflicted is counter to our entire system of justice.
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awkward race joke of the year: "I have a dream that a witness will be judged not on the colorfulness of her personality, but the content of her testimony"

Ow. Someone really said that out loud?

I don't know what kind of drugs you folks who are following the livestream need to be on in order to follow it, but kudos to you. I would've kicked my television (or computer) to pieces in about three seconds.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2013


Ow. Someone really said that out loud?
The prosecutor, to the Jury, when talking about Rachael Jeantel. Seriously.
____
That said, sure. There are Zimmerman's injuries.
Common sense says that Trayvon Martin is the source of those injuries, sure. But what specific evidence is there that martin was the one who struck Zimmerman?
Unless you are putting forward the theory that Zimmerman injured himself instead of just speculating they are prima facie evidence that Martin struck Zimmerman.
That's not what I'm saying at all, that was just one example (the most likely alternate explanation) But how do we know that he wasn't already beaten up before the confrontation? How do we know there wasn't a second person walking around who punched him in the middle of the fight, who ran off? Maybe he accidentally walked into a sign after the fight because it was so dark.

What I'm asking, what is the actual evidence that Martin ever struck Zimmerman even once, that's been testified too under oath?
There are Zimmerman's injuries.
We know he was injured, we don't know how he got the injuries.
there is physical evidence that Zimmerman was on his back. Grass stains and so on
We know he was on his back, we don't know Martin ever hit him.
we have direct eyewitness testimony that Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating on him.
We do not. That's totally false. No one ever testified during the trial they saw Martin strike Zimmerman. Did you actually see his testimony, or are you going by summaries? I saw the whole thing live, and he never once said he saw Martin strike Zimmerman.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2013


Circumstantial evidence is evidence. That Martin has injuries, claimed he was on his back and was being beaten up, has physical evidence to support that contention, and that an eye witness put Martin on Zimmerman with "arm movements going downards" is evidence.

Good testified that the person on top had "arm movements going downwards" towards Zimmerman. If you want to say that doesn't mean he testified the person on top was hitting the person on the bottom, fine, but it strains credulity.
posted by Justinian at 1:20 PM on July 11, 2013


Delmoi you're still stuck on the defense having to prove their case. They don't. The prosecution has to disprove it. I don't understand why you refuse to acknowledge that.
posted by Justinian at 1:21 PM on July 11, 2013


Heh, they show Zimmerman every once in a while during the close. He doesn't look very happy.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on July 11, 2013


Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the burden of proof is on Zimmerman there.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2013


Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that the burden of proof is on Zimmerman there.
I think that's not the case here, It would be if he was using stand your ground not "traditional" self defense.
posted by delmoi at 1:30 PM on July 11, 2013


No. That's what I thought as well when this thread started. But it's not the case in Florida. Look at the thread.

on preview: delmoi is correct.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2013


Can you point me to anything in particular? There are many many many posts and searching for things like "affirmative" and "proof" and "prove" isn't turning up anything that deals with the burden of proof in Florida.

(Also, a cursory Googling turns up this Jacksonville law firm, which states that self-defense "is a type of affirmative defense" under Florida law.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2013


As a practical matter, if the prosecution convinces the jury that the self-defense claim is proven to be bullshit they don't have much choice but to convict for something. They decided to try and prove that because they can't possibly prove exactly what happened, which is the case in a lot of murders where nobody recorded precisely what occurred. They argue they have proven the story false and full of lies, it's up to the jury to decide.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2013


[Don't bring people's profile information over here, don't make things personal.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the idea that the prosecutors wouldn't talk about her in closing has been proven false.

I do not know who said that. The state certainly did not rehabilitate her testimony during closing argument.

All of the prosecutors are excellent lawyers, but that closing argument was a diarrhea dump.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:41 PM on July 11, 2013


HZSF: See Murray v. State. It's true that self defense is affirmative but all that means in Florida is that the defendant has to introduce some evidence that he acted in self defense and then the burden is on the state to show it isn't true.

It's pretty clear if you read even the first couple of paragraphs of that decision/
posted by Justinian at 1:44 PM on July 11, 2013


We know he was injured, we don't know how he got the injuries.

Yes, good point. The state had a great illustrative reenactment about how Zimmerman sustained his injuries.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:45 PM on July 11, 2013


Justinian: The point I'm making about the evidence is that you have this idea that the jury is going to disregard everything Jeantel says because she lied about her age.

The problem is that if they use that standard for admissibility then there is nothing to suggest that Trayvon Martin was the one who hit Zimmerman. Now I don't think that the Jury will use that standard. I think they will assume that some of the things Jeantel said was true, and they will assume that some of of what Zimmerman says is true.

But if they exclude all of it, there is basically nothing to even raise a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman might have need to act in self defense.

Do you see what I'm saying? The point is that the idea that the jury would use that standard can't be right, and if they did then Zimmerman will probably be convicted.
That Martin has injuries[1], claimed he was on his back and was being beaten up[2], has physical evidence to support that contention[3], and that an eye witness put Martin on Zimmerman with "arm movements going downards" is evidence.[4]
1) What injuries, besides the gun shot?
2) Excluded because it came from Zimmerman
3) What physical evidence? There wasn't any physical evidence that Martin struck Zimmerman. None of Zimmerman's DNA on Martin's hands, remember?
4) Why? Downward motions could be Martin trying to keep the gun from pointing at him, there is nothing to suggest that Martin was punching Zimmerman. And, in fact that can't be true because Zimmerman was only punched once - not multiple times, and his right hand was completely injury free, while his left only had a little scratch, no bruising or anything like that.

Zimmerman's statements are the only thing that points to Martin ever striking Zimmerman. And Zimmerman has lied way more then Jeantel, about far more material facts.
Can you point me to anything in particular? There are many many many posts and searching for things like "affirmative" and "proof" and "prove" isn't turning up anything that deals with the burden of proof in Florida.
That's what both sides have been going on in court, from what I've seen.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on July 11, 2013


But, hey, tl;dr about the burden of proof thing:
To repeat, the law did not require defendant to prove his justification of self-defense to any standard measuring an assurance of truth. He did not have to prove the exigency of self-defense to a near certainty (reasonable doubt) or even to a mere probability (greater weight). His only burden was to offer additional facts from which it could be true, that his resort to such force could have been reasonable.
That's from the case I linked above.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on July 11, 2013


1) What injuries, besides the gun shot?

I mistyped, should have said that ZIMMERMAN had injuries, sorry.

3-4) Why?

Because it's reasonable to believe those were punches. See the case law I linked. They don't have to prove they were punches, it only has to be reasonable.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on July 11, 2013


Justinian is correct regarding Florida's self-defense as affirmative defense:
The way this works is that “when a defendant claims self-defense, he bears the initial burden of presenting a prima facie (a bare minimum) case of self-defense. Once he meets that minimum threshold, the burden shifts to the State to prove that the defendant did not act in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.” Stieh v. State, 67 So. 3d 275, 278 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011).
link
posted by snaparapans at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2013


Justinian: I asked you this before but I don't think you answered, what proof is there that that Jodi Arias didn't act in self defense when she killed Travis Alexander?

Because she claimed self defense, and the State didn't really do anything at all to try to prove it wasn't the case, except for arguing the timeframe was too short, 51 seconds. That's it. But a lot can happen in 51 seconds.

Now, true, it was in another state - but presumably the reasonable doubt thing carries over.
Because it's reasonable to believe those were punches.
Yes, but there is no reason to think that Martin was the one who punched him, it could have been anyone. We can only assume it was Martin because we assume that at least some of the things that Zimmerman are true. If we exclude everything, there is no evidence it was Martin. There could have been multiple people, and Martin could be a bystander. Zimmerman is the only one who testified there was only person, for example.

The problem here is that you haven't actually thought through your own claimed standards for reliable evidence and what the consequences would actually be.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2013


Damn, that might be the most readable court ruling I've ever seen. And yeah, it lays the standard out pretty clearly. Assuming it's precedential for the Zimmerman trial (keeping state appeals courts straight is kind of a nightmare), all you need to do is introduce enough evidence to create reasonable doubt about the state's claim that self-defense wasn't a factor.

If that is the standard, then the best they're going to get Zimmerman on is manslaughter.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:57 PM on July 11, 2013


Delmoi: I don't know anything about the Arias case, sorry. Except that the media liked to post sexy pictures of her and pretend they were relevant.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on July 11, 2013


That's what I've been saying HZSF! Yay!

Actually it's always possible for the jury to feel as delmoi does and convict on 2nd degree. I just don't think they are doing their duty as jurors correctly if they do so.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on July 11, 2013


Assuming it's precedential for the Zimmerman trial (keeping state appeals courts straight is kind of a nightmare),

The way the district courts of appeal work in Florida is that the rulings of any DCA are precedential for the trial court so long as the DCA for that trial court does not have different law.

In this case, the trial court is in the 5th DCA. There is not a circuit split on this self defense issue. As the 5th DCA case of State v. Rivera, 719 So.2d 335, 337 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998) provides, "If a defendant establishes a prima facie case of self-defense, the state must overcome the defense by rebuttal, or by inference in its case in chief. If the state fails to sustain this burden of proof, the trial court is duty bound to grant a judgment of acquittal in favor of the defendant." (citations omitted)
posted by Tanizaki at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2013


Well, I would agree there is a problem proving "ill intent" beyond a reasonable doubt. But they could certainly convict on manslaughter. (Some legal analysts are on TV talking about how Zimmerman's failure to identify himself could be culpable negligence)
Delmoi: I don't know anything about the Arias case, sorry. Except that the media liked to post sexy pictures of her and pretend they were relevant.
Well, different states have different laws - and this was in Arizona. But the basic point is that the prosecution didn't really do much to counter her claim that she killed him in self defense. There was some evidence it was premeditated, but they didn't really give any evidence that it wasn't self defense, except the timing.

In that state the jurors actually got to ask the witnesses their own questions which I think is a good idea.
I just don't think they are doing their duty as jurors correctly if they do so.
Well, the problem is that your definition of "reasonable doubt" is completely different from the the way it's defined in the Florida jury instructions. You essentially believe that the Jury has a responsibility to ignore their own instructions - which is pretty incoherent.
posted by delmoi at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2013


Wouldn't manslaughter be a "compromise verdict"? I thought that the State would have to disprove self-defense for the jury to decide manslaughter, because manslaughter precludes self-defense.
posted by snaparapans at 2:21 PM on July 11, 2013


Well, technically they could pick manslaughter if they thought Zimmerman was the aggressor, but weren't sure if he actually had any "ill will" in his mind when he pulled the trigger.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on July 11, 2013


Murder requires the prosecution to prove that the killing was the act of "a depraved mind without regard for human life," while manslaughter just means you caused the person's death either through intentional actions or through "culpable negligence." Proving that Zimmerman pursued Martin and provoked the fight, even if he was legitimately in fear for his life during the fight, would arguably satisfy that standard. That's how I'd vote if I were on the jury. But to convict based on his state of mind when he pulled the trigger, with no witnesses and no clear indication of the scene from forensic evidence....that I wouldn't be able to do. What happened at the end is impossible to know for sure without evidence or eyewitnesses that we don't actually have.

I mean, if you ask me what I think happened, I'd say murder. But I can't prove it, and I wouldn't vote for it as a juror. The standard's too high for that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:30 PM on July 11, 2013


they could pick manslaughter if they thought Zimmerman was the aggressor

From what I understand (IANAL) the jury instructions have not included the aggressor statute, presumably because of self-defense.
posted by snaparapans at 2:31 PM on July 11, 2013


The defense asked for a special instruction about provocation and were denied. If they do lose the case I predict that will be bullet point number one on their appeal.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I understood the wrangling before closing statements began, the lesser included charge is Manslaughter by Intentional Act (Voluntary Manslaughter.) Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence (Involuntary Manslaughter) is not going to be available or referenced in the Instructions. Hornsby suggests
Specifically, because the State did not allege (in the alternative) that the death was by culpable negligence, the State should be unable to have Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence (Involuntary Manslaughter) given as a lesser included offense. See Ayala v. State, 879 So. 2d 1, 2 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004) (“It is fundamental error to instruct the jury on a variety of manslaughter that had not been included within the information.”)

What this means is that, should the defense object, they might be able to convince the judge only to have the jury instructed on Manslaughter by Act. If the judge overruled this request and also instructed on Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence, it would set up another excellent appellate issue.


posted by maggieb at 2:51 PM on July 11, 2013


Also regarding manslaughter:
the state has to both prove second degree murder and/or manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt and disprove self defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
If they don't prove intent on murder 2, they can consider manslaughter. But if they find the state didn't disprove self defense, then his conduct was lawful and he didn't commit a crime.
Jeralyn TL
posted by snaparapans at 6:50 PM on July 11, 2013


I mean, if you ask me what I think happened, I'd say murder. But I can't prove it, and I wouldn't vote for it as a juror. The standard's too high for that.
I think it depends on what level of ill will or spite you need. I mean, people feel ill will and spite about something or other every day, but it usually doesn't result in murder.

Like, if someone gets your order wrong at a fast food place, you might feel spiteful about it. It's not what most people would consider a big deal, but if you were too pull out a gun and shoot the worker, that would obviously be murder, right? Not manslaughter.

I actually don't like arguments, in general based on what's going on inside someone's head - it's completely impossible to ever really know, I prefer judging people based on their actions, and in my view puling out a gun, pointing it at someone is enough to assume ill will in general. You might have a situation where someone legitimately uses self defense, but that doesn't mean in my view there was no ill intent, just the facts indicate that even if they had ill intent, they were legally justified in killing the person.

(For example the recent case in Texas where a guy shot his wife's lover when he found them fucking in his house. Was it legal? Apparently in Texas. Did he have ill-will/spite? Um, obviously)

There's also the question of how long it takes for Ill will to dissipate, if he had it when he got out of his car, did he still have it in his "system" when he pulled the trigger?

The other thing is Florida's specific definition of "reasonable doubt"
A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable
That actually is different from saying that that thinking an alternate scenario is possible he's not guilty, if that alternate scenario doesn't affect your "abiding conviction" - it's mostly about whether or not you feel certain about what happened.

So in other words, if a Juror believes that Zimmerman is guilty, and that belief rises to the completely undefined value of "abiding conviction", and sticks over time then according to the instructions, they have prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of course, people on the jury can ignore that and use their own definitions if they want. And that definition itself is subjective also.

But simply believing that an alternate scenario is consistent with the evidence doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt if that alternate scenario without guilt doesn't affect the juror's "abiding conviction" that one of the possible scenarios where the defendant is guilty happened.

The other thing is that from my perspective, jurors routinely convict people with way less evidence then I would need to prove a murder charge.

I mean, if you look at the Casey Anthony case that everyone was outraged about, I thought there was reasonable doubt about the case. I would probably never convict anyone on the basis of testimony from people who took deals, or from nothing but bystander witnesses who didn't know the defendant. But people convicted on those things all the time.

So from my perspective, my own standards of 'reasonable doubt' are way higher then juries in the US in general.

But we'll just have to wait and see at this point. I wouldn't be too surprised to see a manslaughter charge, even though it doesn't make a lot of logical sense.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the basic point is that the prosecution didn't really do much to counter her claim that she killed him in self defense. There was some evidence it was premeditated, but they didn't really give any evidence that it wasn't self defense, except the timing.

But premeditation precludes self-defense. And the state's whole case against Jodi Arias was that she meticulously planned the killing. That, and that she is a manipulative liar. The prosecution gave a great deal of evidence for both, which effectively cut the self-defense story to shreds. They didn't have to argue against the specifics of the self-defense story, because the alternative narrative (premeditation) was far more plausible and fit all the facts.

That's not really the situation in the Zimmerman case, where the facts are more murky.
posted by torticat at 8:45 PM on July 11, 2013


What's going to matter more then anything in this case is whether or not the white women on the Jury are the kind of white women who think all black men are violent thugs, or the kind who don't.
...
Or maybe some of them will simply be people who attempt to apply the judge's instructions as impartially as they can, imperfectly or not.
>>>I seriously doubt it.


You should be careful with those kinds of statements, delmoi. I'm a white woman who most definitely doesn't see all black men as violent thugs (good god), and I see this case as a lot more difficult than you do.

I haven't really seen any evidence that's going to change anyone's mind - what everyone testified too is basically the conclusions you'd draw from hearing the initial reports in the media

The original thread on Metafilter about Trayvon Martin does not bear this out. A very common initial interpretation was that there was no way a skinny kid was going to take on a big guy like Zimmerman. Of course Trayvon was scared and would have just gone straight home, etc., and therefore, clearly, Zimmerman stalked him and gunned him down. Now, at the end of the trial, we still don't know who took on whom, but it doesn't seem so obvious that the early assumptions about Martin's actions were correct.

And I'm not suggesting Martin did anything wrong (even if he did throw a punch!), much less anything deserving of death. But Martin doesn't have to have been at fault for things to have escalated in a way that ended the way they did (and for those circumstances to have been different from how things appeared in the beginning), and yet for Zimmerman, in the eyes of the law, not to be guilty of murder. It's not a zero-sum game.
posted by torticat at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Getting out of the car, armed not only with his CCW weapon, but a mag-lite?

I think that to assume anyone "armed with a CCW" is demonstrating an intent to confront is a bad assumption. For people who regularly carry concealed, the firearm is more just a part of their daily dress. For example - I recently visited a friend. When he rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, I could see he was carrying. Does that mean he intended to confront me at breakfast? No, it just means that for him (and many others) the firearm is put on with their clothes. It's just a normal fact of everyday life.

While a flashlight can be used as a weapon, I think it's more likely that if it is being brought out at night it's more for visibility than anything else.

Assuming that Trayvon Martin was of a lower socioeconomic status then Zimmerman when the reverse is actually true is another example of racist stereotyping in this thread.

I think it is an error to think that Martin was a higher socioeconomic status than Zimmerman, the son of a judge, because he had extracurricular activities. Martin lived in Miami Gardens, which has a population density twice as Sanford and a crime rate significantly higher than both the Florida rate and the national average. He attended a high school where 56% of the students were eligible for free or reduced lunch. Zimmerman lived in a gated community, while only Martin's father's girfriend did. Martin is the child of an extremely unstable family situation and has had custody switched multiple times on him.

Zimmerman, of course, could know none of this and was probaby acting on more visible caass markers - the hoodie, the rest of his clothing and behavior.
posted by corb at 10:50 PM on July 11, 2013


I recently visited a friend. When he rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, I could see he was carrying. Does that mean he intended to confront me at breakfast? No, it just means that for him (and many others) the firearm is put on with their clothes. It's just a normal fact of everyday life.

What if instead of seeing you at breakfast, he was a stranger who followed you in his car as you walked alone at night, repeatedly moving to keep you in his sights. In fear, you ran from him. Then, he got out of his car and continued to chase you, never identifying himself in any way or explaining what is going on...

Now is he intending to confront you?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zimmerman lived in a gated community, while only Martin's father's girfriend did. -- corb
HOLY SHIT, MARTIN LIVED THERE TOO. Your justifications are just getting more and more insane. If you have two parents that you trade off with then you live in both places. He was a child, he lived wherever his parents lived.

Zimmerman was an unemployed adult, a college dropout who lived with his parents. When you're 29 your judged by your own income living standards, not your parents just because you can't find a job or income and are living with them.

The only thing that Zimmerman could have used to determine that Martin was "lower class" then he was was his skin color. You not only make the same assumptions you're going out of your way to argue that it's actually an accurate indicator. The only thing you're actually arguing is that Zimmerman actually was as much of a racist as you are.

___
You should be careful with those kinds of statements, delmoi. I'm a white woman who most definitely doesn't see all black men as violent thugs (good god), and I see this case as a lot more difficult than you do.
Yeah, but just look at corb. Obviously the people I was talking about exist, they're posting in this thread!

Also I was responding specifically to Justinian who has this bizarre idea that jurors are robots who are going to jettison all common sense and follow the instructions exactly except the parts he disagrees with (like the definition of reasonable doubt) where he assumes they will agree with him for some unspecified reason.

What I mean is that preconceptions are going to have a huge impact on how the jurors process information, intentional or not. I'm sure the jury is going to try to follow the instructions, and will believe that they are doing so, but there's a huge amount of ambiguity where preconceptions can fill in and determine how things are interpreted.

If they think it's totally reasonable to think Trayvon martin was a violent thug based on the fact he was black, it might seem likely that he punched Zimmerman out of nowhere. If they assume he's a normal teenager, like any other - then it's not reasonable to make that assumption.

Like I said, if this was a white girl a couple days past yer 17th birthday, no one would even take the claims seriously. I doubt they'd take it seriously if it was a white boy either. But I doubt Zimmerman would ever have gotten out of his car in the first place.
Now, at the end of the trial, we still don't know who took on whom, but it doesn't seem so obvious that the early assumptions about Martin's actions were correct.
Of course it is. There's no evidence whatsoever that Martin struck first, except for Zimmerman's words, which are all over the place and self contradictory and contradict with the physical evidence. He has a history of violent law breaking, etc.

___

The prosecutions basic argument is that if Zimmerman were actually innocent, he wouldn't need to lie, in other words that his lies are actually evidence of his guilt.

I think a lot of people are basically completely ignoring the value of this as evidence of guilt. the claim seems to be that maybe Zimmerman was lying about somethings, but the basic story is probably right and the fact that he's lying means nothing.

Does that matter - I think it will. Look at the ,a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Reiser">Hans Reiser trial, for example. It was widely suspected he killed his wife, but there was no body. One of the pieces of evidence against him was that he bought a bunch of books about forensic science on Amazon the night of the murder, probably to figure out how to cover his tracks. He also bought a set of wrenches and removed the seat for his car.

The problem is, it probably worked - there was hardly any forensic evidence at all. The only evidence was a little bit of DNA on a bag in his car, and his weird behavior when she went missing. He claimed she might have gone back to Russia (even though no one there knew where she was)

But here's the problem, no body, no real evidence, so how do you convict? That's obvious reasonable doubt, just like with Casey Anthony.

The problem is Reiser took the stand in his defense He had a bunch of crazy excuses to justify his weird behavior and basically he looked totally guilty to the Jury.

The Zimmerman is innocent brigade in this thread are basically arguing the fact that Zimmerman lied is totally irrelevant and is evidence of nothing at all.

That's not how it worked for Hans Reiser. His lies made the Jury think he was guilty, even though the prosecution didn't have much of a case at all.

Oh, and by the way, was Hans Reiser actually guilty? Well, after he was convicted to life without parole, he agreed to show the cops where the body actually was in exchange for a reduction to murder 2 and the possibility of parole. And he did. Does that sound like someone who was wrongly convicted could do?

It seems unlikely to me that the jury is going to ignore the fact that Zimmerman was so dishonest.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, it just means that for him (and many others) the firearm is put on with their clothes. It's just a normal fact of everyday life.
An everyday fact of life for people who are such cowards they literally can't walk down the street without being in fear for their lives.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman was an unemployed adult, a college dropout who lived with his parents.

He was employed at the time, in school, and living with his wife not his parents.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:10 AM on July 12, 2013


Like I said, if this was a white girl a couple days past yer 17th birthday, no one would even take the claims seriously. I doubt they'd take it seriously if it was a white boy either.

It would take a brave 17yo girl to take on a big guy she thought was following her, no doubt. Most women would get to shelter as quickly as possible. A guy taking on another guy? That's more plausible.

As to the white boy... I think you're right that had Trayvon Martin been a white boy, Zimmerman probably wouldn't have been following him. But even if this had happened, it's a lot less likely the white boy would have even noticed Zimmerman, because white boys don't worry about this as much. This is the thing: Martin was likely very attuned to the idea that someone might think him suspicious just by virtue of being a young black man in a hoodie. And it could have rightfully pissed him the hell off.

Under those circumstances, it would not be surprising if he'd decided to confront Zimmerman and tell him off. He didn't know Zimmerman was armed.

The "early assumptions" I was talking about were that Trayvon naturally would have run away. I do think it's clear that didn't happen.
posted by torticat at 2:21 AM on July 12, 2013


This is the thing: Martin was likely very attuned to the idea that someone might think him suspicious just by virtue of being a young black man in a hoodie. And it could have rightfully pissed him the hell off.
Yes, and as we all know black men become violent as soon as anyone pisses them off, right?

How is that not a racist assumption?
posted by delmoi at 3:08 AM on July 12, 2013


As a white person (guy) who walks at night a lot...I've never had some random person following behind me in their vehicle..and if I did I would be scared shitless and calling 911.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:13 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the thing: Martin was likely very attuned to the idea that someone might think him suspicious
Even that assumption - the idea that he would have assumed that Zimmerman was a racist who was 'suspicious' of him and had some kind of 'legitimate' reason to follow him, as opposed to a rapist or a kidnapper or something like that, is racist.

The only difference between what a white kid would think and what a black kid might think is that the black might additionally worry that it was some KKK skinhead looking to curb stomp him or worse, after all Zimmerman did have a shaved head at the time.

This idea that Travon would have assumed that Zimmerman was just a concerned citizen who was 'suspicious' of him is racist. Why would that even cross his mind?

The second racist assumption is the idea that he would make that assumption and then, offended by it, become violent. Why would you assume he would become so offended that he would just smash him in the face for no other reason is also pretty racist - it does assume that black men are unable to control their violent impulses when offended.

So yeah, I have no problem calling those assumptions racist, and they are exactly the kind of racist assumptions that I think might cause the all-white jury to acquit Zimmerman.

I don't personally consider any of those things to be "reasonably" likely to be true, and so they don't contribute to "reasonable" doubt in my mind.
posted by delmoi at 3:22 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


EVERY single time I demand someone give me a RATIONAL reason that Trayvon Martin would, unprovoked, assault George Zimmerman, all I get is the same bullshit hand-wavy non-committal frustrating bullshit answers I want to scream. Because all the arguments are predicated on this "Crazy "Black Kid" Attacked Me" stereotype that I wholeheartedly denounce.
posted by mikelieman at 3:26 AM on July 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Jury Instructions are up.
posted by mikelieman at 3:36 AM on July 12, 2013


I recently visited a friend. When he rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, I could see he was carrying. Does that mean he intended to confront me at breakfast? No, it just means that for him (and many others) the firearm is put on with their clothes. It's just a normal fact of everyday life.

Wow, so now he's a good rep for CCW...and again with the hypotheticals? Zimmerman was a man with a violent history, excessive complaints to the police regarding crime, who even neighbors got the idea was itching for vigilante justice (even if they agreed with it), and was out that night explicitly to find criminals, in particular young black men. He was even in a mindset where someone walking "casually" was obviously perpetrating a crime, and prepared to make snap judgments on intent and drug use without any evidence whatsoever. He was not at home with a friend, making breakfast, and it's clear that the gun wasn't just something he had with him as just a normal part of his life, but rather was part of his mindset, his "uniform" for a job that he was not supposed to take on.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:12 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting, the final Jury instructions actually don't say anything about who struck first, or who was the aggressor at all. So presumably they could find Zimmerman guilty even if Martin struck first, or find him Innocent even if Zimmerman struck first.

All it says about self defense is this:
JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE

An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the crime of Second Degree Murder,and the lesser included offense of Manslaughter, if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.

“Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm. A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force isnecessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon apearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.

However, if from the evidence you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmermanwas not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved.
That seems really ambiguous to me. Nothing in there says that Zimmerman isn't guilty if Trayvon struck first so long as Zimmerman did something "unlawful" during the fight.

On the other hand, even if the Jury were to think that Zimmerman struck first but really wanted to acquit, they could decide for themselves that even if the strike was illegal, they might have stopped doing anything illegal before he shot Martin.

The media has been going on and and on about how it's "all about who struck first" - but that's not what appears in the jury instructions. Hopefully the Jury has been avoiding that noise like they're supposed too, as if they had been paying attention to it they would come to the wrong conclusion about what they're actually supposed to do.

Oh, one other thing. The defense wanted to include a line that Zimmerman following Martin wasn't illegal, but the judge refused to do that.

So how is the jury supposed to know if something is illegal or not, if it's not in the instructions? Are they just supposed to guess, or do they have access to the legal code? If the judge refused to put that in the Jury instructions, what happens if the Jurors ask about it? Will the judge just say they have to decide for themselves?

___
Anyway, there's enough ambiguity there that the jury can pretty much just do whatever it wants without failing to follow the instructions. There is clearly nothing in there that says they have to acquit if they think Martin threw the first punch.
posted by delmoi at 4:56 AM on July 12, 2013


Here's florida's code on stalking

Key section:
(2) A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
They also define Harass:
(a) “Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Now, there is the word "repeatedly", but the jury might not know the specific definition of the law, or might think he followed him in his car, then on foot, then after he saw him again around the building. And anyway, they're the jury, so they get to decide.

The jury could even decide he was engaging in a public nuisance by following Martin.
Nuisances; penalty.—All nuisances that tend to annoy the community, injure the health of the citizens in general, or corrupt the public morals are misdemeanors of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083, except that a violation of s. 823.10 is a felony of the third degree.
All they need to do to convict is come up with some law he violated in a way that's plausible to them and no one else, and they can convict without violating the instructions. They don't even need to explain their rational.
posted by delmoi at 5:24 AM on July 12, 2013


(2) A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

I'm not sure it's ever been suggested that Zimmerman followed Martin more than once - juries aren't supposed to just invent things. It's very unlikely that they would.

(a) “Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.

There's also the argument that crime detection is a legitimate purpose. YMMV on that one.

Nuisances; penalty.—All nuisances that tend to annoy the community, injure the health of the citizens in general, or corrupt the public morals are misdemeanors of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083, except that a violation of s. 823.10 is a felony of the third degree.

Public nuisance seems a huge stretch. It's annoying one member of the community, and in any case public nuisance tends to be loud music etc. Even if we could claim that detection of crime by Zimmerman was a nuisance to Martin and potentially others (although it was only a nuisance to Martin in the event in question as far as we know), it would appear that the community as a whole were broadly in favour. You'd do better to claim that the screaming was a nuisance, and that's a clearly risible claim as well.

I think that the case is unlikely to come down to a novel interpretation of unrelated law, and in this contentious a case it would be frankly problematic if it did.
posted by jaduncan at 5:54 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Crime detection," while a legitimate purpose, is not served by following random black people around.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:03 AM on July 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, hence my YMMV. I wouldn't personally agree with the argument, but I can see it would be likely to be made (and, indeed, it's very likely it would be argued by the defence that Zimmerman followed all ethnic groups).

It's also worth saying that the jury members are unlikely either to be uniformly racist against the black community/Martin specifically or all gunning to send Zimmerman down. Most juries are actually quite responsible, try hard to fulfill their duty, and are unlikely to pull wild interpretation stunts.

It's far more likely that this is going to come down to the nonsensical reversal of the SYG burden of proof; the prosecution have a big bar to clear here given that Zimmerman has to prove a prima facie case that he could have been using self-defence, the burden then lies on the prosecution, and the obvious opposing witness is dead.
posted by jaduncan at 6:06 AM on July 12, 2013


I'm not sure it's ever been suggested that Zimmerman followed Martin more than once - juries aren't supposed to just invent things. It's very unlikely that they would.
A) They're probably not going to see the legal code itself, it would just be based on their recollection that the law exists.

B) Where in the jury instructions does it say this? You're the one who said they should follow the instructions, now you're making up additional things you think the jury should do based on nothing at all.
There's also the argument that crime detection is a legitimate purpose. YMMV on that one.
And who exactly is going to give that argument to the jury? And again, they're not going to see the letter of the law.
Public nuisance seems a huge stretch. It's annoying one member of the community, and in any case public nuisance tends to be loud music etc.
He did this to multiple people in the community, following people around and posting fliers about black people he saw that he thought were suspicious, other neighbors did complain, and actually said the fliers made them feel unsafe, that they were being targeted. So, he was annoying people with this behavior before the shooting.

So it's not the single instance of following Martin around, but following around black people generally and posting fliers up about it. That could be considered a public nuisance.

I don't know if the jury heard about his fliers, they did here his prior calls.

And furthermore the jury has no instructions on this. All they have to do is think he might have been doing something unlawful based on their recollection of the law. That's what the instructions say.
I think that the case is unlikely to come down to a novel interpretation of unrelated law, and in this contentious a case it would be frankly problematic if it did.
It only depends on how creative they are, and whether or not they want to convict.

You're the one who's been saying they should follow the jury instructions, this is completely within the jury instructions, which don't say anything about figuring out who the aggressor was, just whether or not Zimmerman was doing anything illegal.
(and, indeed, it's very likely it would be argued by the defence that Zimmerman followed all ethnic groups)
Following around people from different ethnic groups does not make him less of nuisance, if people are complaining.
nonsensical reversal of the SYG burden of proof
How is it nonsensical? That's what the people who wrote the law said it should be. Before the law was passed there was no SYG at all. Not including it would basically amount to free license to kill anyone in Florida so long as you could figure out a way to maintain any plausible deniability about the need to use self-defense at all. The law is already insane, that would have cranked the lunacy up to 11.

You seem to really want it to be legal to kill people and get away with it. I have no idea why that is but it's not at all nonsensical that legislators would want to prevent that.
posted by delmoi at 6:39 AM on July 12, 2013


The nonsensical part, I believe, would be the that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense does not apply.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2013


Oh. Well, maybe that's what he meant - that's a "traditional" self defense claim, while the official "stand your ground" law everyone talks about puts the burden on the defendant, and it makes them immune from prosecution entirely, it's decided by a judge before the trial even starts. It doesn't even go to the jury.

When this first came out, a bunch of people were claiming that you had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that SYG did apply.

The language on self defense is similar to the SYG law, though.

anyway, as I said there isn't anything about the initial aggressor - and that's a big part of how the SYG law is supposed to work. It seems really strange to me that that stuff wouldn't be in the instructions. Maybe it's because neither side wanted it in there, or they couldn't agree on a way to frame it?

___
Also, there are a couple of less outside the box reasons why they might find Zimmerman guilty

1) If they think Zimmerman continued to chase martin after the initial fight started. It's Stand Your Ground not Advance On Your Enemy. If the Jury believes that Zimmerman chased Martin at any point in the fight then they can convict.

2) If Zimmerman tried to restrain Martin at any point. That would also be illegal.

And the thing is, it's almost certain that at least one of those things happened. Even if you think Martin threw the first punch, does anyone think that Zimmerman didn't chase Martin?

I mean come on even if you think martin threw the first punch, don't you think he would have thrown the punch and then run off, trying to get away? Do you really think that Martin just wanted to sit there and beat up Zimmerman until the police showed up?

We know for a fact that Zimmerman was on top at one point, there is direct witness testimony to this point. Why was he on top? Was it legal for him to be on top holding him down and trying to restrain him?

It's pretty obvious that Zimmerman wanted "the suspect" to be caught by police, he probably wanted to restrain him until the police showed up. And if Martin did throw the first punch, he would want to do that even more.

So: is there any reasonable doubt that Zimmerman tried to restrain Martin? Is there any reasonable doubt that Zimmerman chased Martin at some point after the fight started?

The path for the jury to convict while following the instructions, and without creative theories about what might be "unlawful", is clear to me.

But it will depend on what they want to do.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2013


mikelieman: "EVERY single time I demand someone give me a RATIONAL reason that Trayvon Martin would, unprovoked, assault George Zimmerman, all I get is the same bullshit hand-wavy non-committal frustrating bullshit answers I want to scream. Because all the arguments are predicated on this "Crazy "Black Kid" Attacked Me" stereotype that I wholeheartedly denounce."

Well, you see, Trayvon was a "criminal" because he smoked some weed and may have had access to an unregistered firearm, whereas George Zimmerman was just a concerned citizen whose violent behavior, including his arrest for assaulting a cop, do not count as a "criminal record", and NO THAT IS NOT RACIST BECAUSE SHUT UP SHUT UP.

Exactly the kind of logic you'd expect from someone who thought the problem with the civil war is that we didn't pay the slaveholders enough compensation for their lost labor force.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


anyway, as I said there isn't anything about the initial aggressor - and that's a big part of how the SYG law is supposed to work. It seems really strange to me that that stuff wouldn't be in the instructions. Maybe it's because neither side wanted it in there, or they couldn't agree on a way to frame it?

The defense never actually raised SYG - they claim he had no opportunity to retreat once the fight started - so I doubt they'd have spent much effort on that part of the instruction.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2013


The nonsensical part, I believe, would be the that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense does not apply.

It is, yes.

How is it nonsensical? That's what the people who wrote the law said it should be. Before the law was passed there was no SYG at all. Not including it would basically amount to free license to kill anyone in Florida so long as you could figure out a way to maintain any plausible deniability about the need to use self-defense at all. The law is already insane, that would have cranked the lunacy up to 11.

You seem to really want it to be legal to kill people and get away with it. I have no idea why that is but it's not at all nonsensical that legislators would want to prevent that.


Calm down, delmoi. It might be that I am pointing out legal counterarguments rather than secretly desiring murder to be de facto legal, especially given that I also already specifically stated in this thread that I thought that all people deserve protection from being shot regardless of criminal history, race, gender etc.

More generally, I'm not sure that people pointing out possible flaws in your argument necessarily want for it to be legal to kill people. In fact, assuming that is rather uncouth and is a bit of an ad hom flaw in reasoning; the fact that one person don't agree that the legal arguments of another are of high quality implies nothing more than that, so there's no need to jump pointlessly to personal insults.
posted by jaduncan at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


anyway, as I said there isn't anything about the initial aggressor - and that's a big part of how the SYG law is supposed to work. It seems really strange to me that that stuff wouldn't be in the instructions. Maybe it's because neither side wanted it in there, or they couldn't agree on a way to frame it?

I think that it is because self-defense precludes the aggressor clause:
The Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Standard Criminal Jury Instruction 3.6(f) to clarify that the trial court should only include the aggressor instruction when the defendant has been charged with a contemporaneous independent forcible felony other than the one for which the defendant claims self-defense pursuant to Giles v. State, 831 So. 2d 1263 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002).
Link
posted by snaparapans at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2013


Put another way, one can disagree that the law says something without believing that the law that the debate is based on is desirable.
posted by jaduncan at 7:37 AM on July 12, 2013


they claim he had no opportunity to retreat once the fight started

That seems obviously untrue. The idea that Zimmerman was a total creampuff who couldn't fight at a all and was just being dragged around by Martin? That seems preposterous.

Oh, the defense is doing their close. livestream.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on July 12, 2013


*doesn't

That'll teach me to depersonalise without checking the surrounding bits.
posted by jaduncan at 7:40 AM on July 12, 2013


What if instead of seeing you at breakfast, he was a stranger who followed you in his car as you walked alone at night, repeatedly moving to keep you in his sights. In fear, you ran from him. Then, he got out of his car and continued to chase you, never identifying himself in any way or explaining what is going on...

Now is he intending to confront you?


He might be, but the presence or absence of a weapon on the person of a CCW holder should not be viewed as a part of that determination.

This is one of those things where gun culture really clashes with gunless culture. If you don't routinely know CCW holders, their habits can seem strange, or "cowardly" to some. The presence of a gun can seem less like a fact of life and more like an intentional choice. But strapping on a holster is less of a conscious choice each time for those who regularly carry them. Fortunately, I think this is something that may be more easily understood by a jury in Florida, which has robust CCW permissions, than in the largely urban-based internet jury from outside Florida.

EVERY single time I demand someone give me a RATIONAL reason that Trayvon Martin would, unprovoked, assault George Zimmerman, all I get is the same bullshit hand-wavy non-committal frustrating bullshit answers I want to scream.

The best reason that I can think of why Martin might assault Zimmerman involves one of a few scenarios. The first is that Martin might have seen Zimmerman's gun or seen that Zimmerman was carrying, and concluded - as many in this thread have concluded - that the presence of a gun and a chase meant that Martin's life was in danger through malicious intent. In such a case, if Martin felt he could not talk his way through a confrontation, he may have believed his best tactical chance was to strike first.

Another possibility though is that Martin did not mean to assault Zimmerman in the sense of an all-out fight, but did anyway. How could this happen? Perhaps some kind of physical contact that to him translated as normal - maybe shoving someone who he felt got too close to him, which Zimmerman interpreted as the start of the fight.

The third possibility, though this is more speculative, is that Martin was actually on drugs at the time of the conflict. A well written out account of this speculation is here - it notes Trayvon Martin's social media discussion around something called "Lean", which allegedly contains Robitussin, Arizona Watermelon Juice, and Skittles and whose effects have been compared on Erowid to PCP. This speculation goes into the coroner's report about the liver - I don't know enough about medicine to know how valid this is, and the guy seems like kind of a jerk, but the post is very well researched. He also points out details involving the length of the walk it would have been back to the house and the unusual time taken - I don't know if I buy this, but it is a fascinating read.
posted by corb at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first is that Martin might have seen Zimmerman's gun or seen that Zimmerman was carrying

Since George Zimmerman's permit was expressly for concealed carry, that sounds a lot like brandishment to me.

Is there really any doubt, once you discount Zimmerman's claims, that he tried to detain Trayvon Martin for the police?
posted by mikelieman at 7:48 AM on July 12, 2013


"Skittles and Watermelon"

I should have expected it sooner. I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by mikelieman at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


[don't call other users insane - consider taking a break if you can't comment without editing for content after the fact]
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


alright, I'm gone. Bye.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


He might be, but the presence or absence of a weapon on the person of a CCW holder should not be viewed as a part of that determination.

This is one of those things where gun culture really clashes with gunless culture.


No, this is one of those things where someone who loves to remove actual cases from any sort of context and generate hypotheticals out of thin air likes to try and turn the conversation away from the actual activities and motivations of the CCW holder, in this case searching for criminals.

If you don't routinely know CCW holders, their habits can seem strange, or "cowardly" to some. The presence of a gun can seem less like a fact of life and more like an intentional choice. But strapping on a holster is less of a conscious choice each time for those who regularly carry them.

You think it wasn't a conscious choice for Zimmerman to strap on a gun and go out in the neighborhood looking for criminals? Are you actually being serious here?

Fortunately, I think this is something that may be more easily understood by a jury in Florida, which has robust CCW permissions, than in the largely urban-based internet jury from outside Florida.

Man, the self-satisfied contempt dripping from this statement couldn't be more bold. Again, what's being misunderstood by the "urban-based internet jury" amongst the "gunless culture" about a man strapping on a holster and going out specifically to find and stop crime, despite not being a member of law enforcement who refuses to identify himself?

The best reason that I can think of why Martin might assault Zimmerman involves one of a few scenarios.

Of course.

The first is that Martin might have seen Zimmerman's gun or seen that Zimmerman was carrying, and concluded - as many in this thread have concluded - that the presence of a gun and a chase meant that Martin's life was in danger through malicious intent.

This is known as "being black in America," BTW, which is the subtext of this entire trial.

Another possibility though is that Martin did not mean to assault Zimmerman in the sense of an all-out fight, but did anyway. How could this happen? Perhaps some kind of physical contact that to him translated as normal - maybe shoving someone who he felt got too close to him, which Zimmerman interpreted as the start of the fight.

Yep, here we go again with "those black folks just see violence as a normal, acceptable interaction."

The third possibility, though this is more speculative, is that Martin was actually on drugs at the time of the conflict.

Odd, his parents certainly didn't notice him hallucinating or acting aggressive.

A well written out account of this speculation is here - it notes Trayvon Martin's social media discussion around something called "Lean", which allegedly contains Robitussin, Arizona Watermelon Juice, and Skittles and whose effects have been compared on Erowid to PCP.

I just--
I--

Wow.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since George Zimmerman's permit was expressly for concealed carry, that sounds a lot like brandishment to me.

Well, concealed carry can only be so concealed. Guns are kind of large and bulky. People don't usually receive charges for brandishment if their shirt rides up, for example. If you're familiar with how people generally carry, then you can often spot it by the bulge.

(I should note, also, on your sidenote, that I am pretty ignorant of drug culture overall, having spent ten years of my life under enforced urinalysis, so I have no clue how viable the "Lean" thing is, I just found it a really interesting speculation I hadn't seen before.)

You think it wasn't a conscious choice for Zimmerman to strap on a gun and go out in the neighborhood looking for criminals? Are you actually being serious here?

I do think that it was a conscious choice to go looking for criminals, I don't think that the gun was specifically and consciously chosen for that purpose.
posted by corb at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2013


I do think that it was a conscious choice to go looking for criminals, I don't think that the gun was specifically and consciously chosen for that purpose.

You are aware that this is even worse, no?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2013


There's a wikipedia page on Lean. I don't think I'd ever heard of it until this moment.
posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on July 12, 2013


the guy seems like kind of a jerk, but the post is very well researched.

He seems like a racist asshole actually. And at that point I'm reluctant to dig much more into any of his "research" because it seems like he's just cherrypicking it to back up his racist presumptions. The guy makes a big deal about this Lean stuff and totally downplays Martin's pot use (which has completely opposite effects to what he's ascribing to Lean, why isn' that important?) and then starts getting dog whistley about how "teenage boys, especially those from within Trayvon’s cultural demographic, are not known for their temperance" and I'll actually wait until I can get information from someplace other than here.

Let me be clear, I don't want to debate any of this stuff with anyone here, but as a sometimes recreational drug users and someone who knows how to do actual research, that post is just embarrassing.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


Guns are kind of large and bulky

Here is a sample of the exact make/model of the weapon used to end Trayvon Martin's life.

It's advertised as "the flattest and lightest 9 mm pistol ever mass-produced." Doesn't look very large nor bulky.
posted by mikelieman at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2013


For example - I recently visited a friend. When he rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, I could see he was carrying. Does that mean he intended to confront me at breakfast? No, it just means that for him (and many others) the firearm is put on with their clothes. It's just a normal fact of everyday life.

You've made some very open and honest comments on this site about your feelings and experiences around issues of sexual assault and harassment.

I do not believe that if you were walking through a quiet subdivision on a rainy night and noticed first that a car seemed to be following you, and then that the male driver had gotten out of the car and seemed to be following you on foot - and as a person experienced with guns, you might also notice that he's carrying - that your first thought would be "Oh good, a fellow responsible gun owner who is just wearing his gun like he wears shoes!"
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Even that assumption - the idea that he would have assumed that Zimmerman was a racist who was 'suspicious' of him and had some kind of 'legitimate' reason to follow him
...
This idea that Travon would have assumed that Zimmerman was just a concerned citizen who was 'suspicious' of him is racist. Why would that even cross his mind?
The second racist assumption is the idea that he would make that assumption and then, offended by it, become violent.


Oh my god, delmoi, will you back off. Why are you so quick to throw these accusations? What's wrong with you?

There is nothing racist about saying that a black man, or teen, is likely to be "attuned" to the idea that someone will find him suspicious just by virtue of his skin color. This is a well documented aspect of the African American experience; it's been described by black mefites plenty of times. Or look here or here or a hundred other places.

Likewise women, according to the testimony of many, are attuned to the possibility they might be assaulted by a man. There is no fault attached either to black people or to women for having this kind of awareness.

I never remotely suggested Zimmerman had any "legitimate" reason to be suspicious. I believe he had none. I also never said anything close to "black men are unable to control their violent impulses when offended"--that is a bullshit belief you attributed to me because for some reason you like to assume the very worst motivations of anyone who disagrees with you.

But if you think it's racist to say a young black man walking at night might have his antennae up--that his basic experience of this might feel different from that of a young white man--then you haven't listened to the testimony of an awful lot of black Americans.
posted by torticat at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh. Wow. On non-preview... delmoi's account is disabled?
posted by torticat at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2013


I do not believe that if you were walking through a quiet subdivision on a rainy night and noticed first that a car seemed to be following you, and then that the male driver had gotten out of the car and seemed to be following you on foot - and as a person experienced with guns, you might also notice that he's carrying - that your first thought would be "Oh good, a fellow responsible gun owner who is just wearing his gun like he wears shoes!"

No, it wouldn't - but the gun would not be the determining factor in that determination, but rather the following. The gun would be an element in my tactical calculations, though - but this kind of thing is exactly why I think Martin might have done that. Because I would have done the same - not taken the exact same actions - but switched to tactical thinking.

If I were followed by a strange man (and, unlike drinkydie, I have been, more than a handful of times), I would absolutely, one hundred percent, either try to head to a high-population area or I would try to duck the tail - walk the wrong way down one way streets where he can't follow via car, etc. And I might well try to run to confuse him. I wouldn't physically attack him, but I woud definitely take evasive maneuvers that might well be viewed with suspicion. I would trespass in whatever yards I needed to. I might, in some cop or neighborhood watch guy's mind, be viewed as a criminal.

But I wouldn't think he was suspicious because he had a gun - I'd view him as suspicious because he was following me, and I am a woman who is used to men having bad intentions when they act differently than the norm.
posted by corb at 9:11 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reefer Madness, an Unfortunate Redux
posted by rtha at 9:20 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


> There's a wikipedia page on Lean. I don't think I'd ever heard of it until this moment.

Wow. Reading all the stupid going on makes me feel like I've had some purple drank.
posted by desuetude at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a wikipedia page on Lean. I don't think I'd ever heard of it until this moment.

I made a post about it over nine (9!) years ago. Looks like both links are still good, too.

I have some very fond memories of going to see Screw play when he'd come to Austin in the late '90s and buying premixed bottles of the stuff from his crew for 10 or 20 bucks. This was back when I was indestructible, young and full of the stupid.
posted by item at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The trial is about George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, and Florida law.

The case itself is about something else entirely.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I should point out that as far as I know there was never any candy added to the syrup we bought - it was just codeine cough syrup & sprite and the recipes in the link from the post I made in 2004 backs that up. Either the candy's a new thing or it's total bullshit, and I'm gonna go with the latter there.
posted by item at 10:05 AM on July 12, 2013


Oh wait, maybe some people do mention candy (Jolly Ranchers), but I never saw that in person.
posted by item at 10:08 AM on July 12, 2013


The candy angle has to be some trumped up paranoid nonsense to implicate black teens who like candy. It's sad that anyone on this website would be gullible enough to link to that inane post in earnest.
posted by planetesimal at 10:23 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The judge denied the defense request to include a special jury instruction clarifying what does and does not constitute provocation in this case. Why, judge, whyyyyyyyyy?
posted by Justinian at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because why shouldn't the appeals court get to join in on the fun?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm pretty sure that this is going to ultimately get settled at the appeals level.
posted by corb at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2013


If the appeals court orders a new trial I'm just going to punch the universe.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


The state's rebuttal closing was an embarrassment. O'Mara did an excellent job with his closing.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2013


Well, if there's any justice then Zimmerman will have to serve time during his appeal. But, maybe more loonies will donate even more cash for him to stay lawyered up and out of a cell.
posted by planetesimal at 10:48 AM on July 12, 2013


I am still not quite clear on how that doesn't constitute "double jeapordy" - but it's really uncommon, though, right?

(also, do we have a source for the defense closing yet?)
posted by corb at 10:48 AM on July 12, 2013


I'm not sure what you mean about double jeopardy, corb. Being retried after an appeal?
posted by Justinian at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2013


The appeal would be if he was found guilty. Then it would be a standard appellate court thing. This isn't uncommon.
posted by planetesimal at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2013


Yeah, the state can't retry you after you're found not guilty. For the same crime, anyway. This isn't Italy.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 AM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh. Wow. On non-preview... delmoi's account is disabled?

Aw crap. I hope he's just taking a break and he comes back.
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on July 12, 2013


The instructions the judge is giving is exactly why I was so flabbergasted when people were asking what proof there was that Martin hit Zimmerman and so on. The judge clearly, obviously, and in plain direct English instructed the jury that Zimmerman doesn't have to prove anything or disprove anything. It really seems to me that some people misunderstand the burden of proof here.
posted by Justinian at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW I think the jury may well convict on manslaughter as a compromise verdict.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2013


\He might be, but the presence or absence of a weapon on the person of a CCW holder should not be viewed as a part of that determination.

This is one of those things where gun culture really clashes with gunless culture. If you don't routinely know CCW holders, their habits can seem strange, or "cowardly" to some


Here is what I think about CCW holders. They get up and get dressed everyday and part of that process is the consideration that they might shoot someone to death that day. They have a greater than average idea that they might be faced with the situation where they must extinguish a human life, when going to the grocery store or the pharmacy. If they call someone an asshole and a fucking punk and chase them down I think confrontation is likely the goal.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:24 PM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Regarding gun toting types, Dinky Die, does your description also characterize the police, or are they special?
posted by snaparapans at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generally speaking, the police are not supposed to be acting in an enforcement capacity while off-duty, nor are they supposed to be viewing everybody around them as assholes and fucking punks. The way they're being armed and indoctrinated in violent behavior and/or the rise of belligerent and militaristic stances in the modern US gun culture are subjects for a whole host of other FPPs, and have been so in the past.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2013


Regarding gun toting types, Dinky Die, does your description also characterize the police, or are they special?

They are kind of special, since they're mandated to carry a gun when on the job (in the US anyway). Luckily, they're also mandated to try and diffuse tense situations without shooting unarmed people through the heart.
posted by eunoia at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


mandated to carry a gun
Yes, guns terrify me, but the fact that police are mandated to carry a gun is good argument for the 2nd amendment, imo. When the State is disarmed, then we can talk about disarming the population.
BTW, it is interesting that with all the Police mandates, many have been proven to be quite racist, and not so great at diffusing tense situations.. I guess not so lucky..
posted by snaparapans at 12:48 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding gun toting types, Dinky Die, does your description also characterize the police, or are they special?

Police are forced into situations where the use of a gun might be likely and necessary, in a country with this many guns in civilian hands.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2013


Yes, guns terrify me, but the fact that police are mandated to carry a gun is good argument for the 2nd amendment, imo. When the State is disarmed, then we can talk about disarming the population.

I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying that the police/government might some day start randomly shooting people?

BTW, it is interesting that with all the Police mandates, many have been proven to be quite racist, and not so great at diffusing tense situations.. I guess not so lucky..

This is also confusing.
posted by eunoia at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2013


While I agree that the history of police use of force is, to put it charitably, not good, the threat of armed civilians - especially recently, with the spread of more and more military-grade hardware and thinking - has acted less as a deterrent than as an excuse to use greater and greater levels of force against anyone whose hands go near their pockets.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, guns terrify me, but the fact that police are mandated to carry a gun is good argument for the 2nd amendment, imo.

Apart from the fact that there's no reading of the 2A that supports this, the converse side to your argument is that the fact that citizens are allowed to arm themselves mandates that law enforcement must also be armed to prevent criminals from being more powerful than both the state and other citizens they wish to oppress.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:57 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


the threat of armed civilians - especially recently, with the spread of more and more military-grade hardware and thinking - has acted less as a deterrent than as an excuse to use greater and greater levels of force against anyone whose hands go near their pockets.

I really do not know what the answer is. And I am not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination, certified lefty.. but I do somehow believe that there was a good reason for the founding fathers to include gun rights in the constitution. Not that it has worked out so well, but still, it would make me more nervous to know that only the State was allowed to have guns.
posted by snaparapans at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


planetesimal: "The candy angle has to be some trumped up paranoid nonsense to implicate black teens who like candy. It's sad that anyone on this website would be gullible enough to link to that inane post in earnest."

Eh, candy sounds plausible, we were putting Jolly Rangers in Zima in the early mid-90s. But "Arizona Watermelon Juice and Skittles" is pretty dogwhistley.

And the Wikipedia article on purple drank seems to take the popculture aspect so seriously as to imply that the cocktail is somehow druggier than the sum of its parts. It's the dextromethorphan (OTC Robitussin) which taken in large quantities causes dissociation, and has therefore been compared to PCP. Mixing it with soda or fruit juice is just a way to get more of it down your gullet faster; this cocktail cycles through as the "alarming new way teenagers get high" every few years.
posted by desuetude at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2013


Dude, Skittle-brau. Drink The Rainbow!
posted by mikelieman at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I apologize, I didn't click through on all of the research links in the post I linked - I checked on the Erowid stuff but not on the sourcing for specifically Arizona Watermelon Juice, which seems to have been some guy on the internet said he did it, and not necessarily a trend sweeping the nation. If it's just generic sweet drink + sugary candy + Robotussin, it's still possible, but goes down to extremely unlikely. Thanks for those of you with actual drug knowledge checking in and giving your expertise.
posted by corb at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2013


Something I need to get off my chest: The state of Florida's rank hypocrisy in constantly referring to Martin as a child was something to behold. This is a state that will enthusiastically try and convict kids years younger than Martin as adults and send them to very adult prisons. Please understand this is a criticism of prosecutors in general and the state of Florida in specific, not of Martin in any way.
posted by Justinian at 2:48 PM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Report: George Zimmerman special prosecutor fires IT chief who raised discovery concerns
posted by futz at 7:22 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oops. Full story here.
posted by futz at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted; as always, let's keep the focus on the case/issues, not on individual people here. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:27 AM on July 13, 2013


The jury is asking for clarification on the instruction regarding manslaughter. They're clearly looking at a compromise verdict on it.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2013


Boo, I had a feeling that might happen. What's the lowest sentence he can get on it?
posted by corb at 3:02 PM on July 13, 2013


I should say that the reason I think that points towards considering a compromise verdict is that self defense is a defense to both manslaughter and murder. So if they were going self-defense they wouldn't need clarification on manslaughter. Similarly, if they all disbelieved self defense I would expect them to ask for clarification on second degree murder rather than manslaughter. Because second degree is the one involving what was going on in Zimmerman's head.

So why would they ask for clarification on manslaughter? I think its because some are pushing for not guilty and some for second degree.
posted by Justinian at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2013


Or maybe they're just dumb and don't know what manslaughter is, I guess.
posted by Justinian at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2013


True. Though I hope those that think he's not guilty at all hold onto their principles. I hate the very idea of compromise verdicts. If not everyone agrees with murder 2, you shouldn't be able to bargain down - it just means you can't get that one. But sadly sequesterization I think pushes for those compromise verdicts more.
posted by corb at 3:12 PM on July 13, 2013


Could also be a question about about excusable homicide (accident) in the manslaughter category, and if that is precluded by self-defense. Which of course it is, but they may be trying to come up with a compromise verdict.
posted by snaparapans at 3:20 PM on July 13, 2013


Jeralyn makes a good point at TL about the question on manslaughter:
If the jurors are following instructions, it means they have rejected Murder 2 because the instructions tell them not to consider manslaughter unless they have rejected Murder 2.
Also the way the jury instructions are written self-defense is the last thing to consider. So, even though O'Mara told them to consider self-defense first, and even if it is logical because then why bother with anything else, they may be going in the order the jury instructions were written.
posted by snaparapans at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The jury seems to think that he's guilty of something, which seems to be blatantly obvious to most rational people. In Florida, Manslaughter that involves a firearm carries a sentence of up to 30 years, without a firearm the sentence is up to 15. The right to bear arms seems to have its downsides.
posted by eunoia at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2013


Hah! The attorney's response is the same as mine: What the fuck are you guys actually asking?
posted by Justinian at 3:49 PM on July 13, 2013


That's a good point, snaparapans. Especially on a case this contentious, they might actually be trying to do things by the book. And it's possible they were arguing so long about Murder 2, that they didn't even remember what the instructions for manslaughter were.

eunoia, does Florida have mandatory minimums?
posted by corb at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2013


they didn't even remember what the instructions for manslaughter were.

I believe that they have the instructions written down so that they can refer to them.
posted by snaparapans at 4:07 PM on July 13, 2013


Exactly. They have the manslaughter instructions in front of them and they still came back with "tell us about manslaughter."
posted by Justinian at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2013


corb: No clue. I only searched for the maximum sentence.
posted by eunoia at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2013


does Florida have mandatory minimums?

Not a lawyer, but I think there is a minimum based on guidelines which would be around 9 1/4 years, depending on some findings and how Zimmerman's slight criminal history is treated. I believe judges can depart but need specific reasons for doing so.
posted by dsfan at 4:13 PM on July 13, 2013


I am trying to go through this worksheet, but it's just making me mad, with its "sexual contact" points and "Sexual penetration" points.
posted by corb at 4:20 PM on July 13, 2013


Okay, it /looks/ like the lowest sentence he could /possibly/ receive would be...
When the total sentence points exceed 44 points, the lowest permissable sentence in prison must be calculated by subtracting 28 points from the total sentence points and decreasing the remaining total by 25 percent
So I have a minimum of 138 points (any victim death + 18 for possession of a firearm), - 28, or 110, - 25%, or 27.5 sentence points, so 82.5 sentence months, or 6 years, 10.5 months. Possibly reduced for time served - I can't remember how long Zimmerman was in jail before making bail, though....
posted by corb at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2013


But it appears a split sentence can also be imposed, jail + probation..but I'm not sure I see that judge giving Zimmerman an inch.
posted by corb at 4:28 PM on July 13, 2013


I am trying to go through this worksheet, but it's just making me mad, with its "sexual contact" points and "Sexual penetration" points.

I think the minimum points calculation is (from pg. 24):

Manslaughter level 7 - 56
Victim injury (death) - 120

Therefore (56 + 120 - 28)*75% = 111 months (9 1/4 years)

But, since the judge would almost certainly find a firearm was used, the calculation would be:

Manslaughter level 7 - 56
Victim injury (death) - 120
Firearm - 18

Therefore (56 + 120 + 18 - 28)*75% = 124.5 (10 1/3 years)

On preview, I think you're missing the initial points for the primary offense at the very beginning of the calculation, corb. The 9 1/4 years is something I have heard from local lawyers who discuss the case, FWIW.
posted by dsfan at 4:32 PM on July 13, 2013


No, you're undoubtedly right! I think I did miss that page because I tried to start from the beginning. And apparently the State of Florida....doesn't do parole? I don't even know what is going down there in their system.
posted by corb at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2013


Next notes from the jury: "Can you clarify the word "is"?" and "Who can really know anything?"
posted by Justinian at 5:57 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Verdict reached. Not read yet.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:51 PM on July 13, 2013


Jesus that was fast.
posted by rtha at 6:53 PM on July 13, 2013


Thirteen hours, I think.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:54 PM on July 13, 2013


Not guilty.
posted by Justinian at 6:59 PM on July 13, 2013


Aaaaand not guilty. Florida's reputation as a state is maintained.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:00 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


What the fuck.
posted by donajo at 7:01 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would have gone for manslaughter, but I can't really blame the jury having watched a lot of the trial. The bottom line is he took some very reckless actions that ended in the death of a child, it's insane he walks with no punishment for that even if it isn't murder or manslaughter. Well, civil case incoming.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:01 PM on July 13, 2013


I think its what I was saying the whole time; there's a difference between what we think may have happened and what the state can prove happened. I guess I wasn't "lying" after all.
posted by Justinian at 7:04 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think the state should have reached for what they could prove - even something like reckless endangerment - and they would have gotten it.
posted by corb at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2013


I'm happy to call absolute bullshit on this verdict. He shot and killed a kid - reckless endangerment is laughable.

Will George Zimmerman get away with murder? Looks like he just did.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:08 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I expected this, but it still makes me feel sick.
posted by bearwife at 7:12 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is incredibly sad, but unfortunately, not a surprise. 16 hours of deliberation is just about what the life of a black 17-year-old boy is worth.
posted by eunoia at 7:14 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The state did not meet the burden of proof; the defense has nothing they have to prove. As far as Zimmerman being a free man, how free can he be? Unless he moves far far away, he'll have to sleep with one eye open and jump at every shadow for the rest of his life.
posted by Renoroc at 7:15 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't been following the trial, because it just seemed so obvious that he should get manslaughter at the very least. To me, this is completely unexpected and gut-wrenching. I can't imagine what Trayvon's family must be going through.
posted by donajo at 7:15 PM on July 13, 2013


One word: DISGRACE.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:21 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


NOT GUILTY!
posted by Tanizaki at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2013


I can't imagine what Trayvon's family must be going through.

It's called "Being Black in America in 2013"
posted by mikelieman at 7:24 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't George Zimmerman, the case the prosecution presented, or the jurors who decided the verdict. The issue is that there is apparently a law that allows citizens to deliver lethal force whenever they feel threatened. Now that the law has been so publicly tested, I imagine this case and verdict will get referenced in similar trials. It's insanity.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:25 PM on July 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Shockingly inept prosecution I guess - cannot see how else this result could have happened - after all Chief Justice Roberts thinks we're living in post-racial times. Somehow I doubt Trayvon's family thinks so. What a precedent - one more reason to stay the hell out of Florida.
posted by leslies at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2013


Will George Zimmerman get away with murder? Looks like he just did.

Be aware that gawker link has a thumbnail picture of Martin's dead body at the crime scene. It links to this piece: This, Courtesy of MSNBC, Is Trayvon Martin's Dead Body.
posted by homunculus at 7:27 PM on July 13, 2013


I can't stop thinking about the precedent that this will set about the things you can do in the name of alleged "self defense" after preying on someone, meanwhile you just shot dead the only witness to the whole of events. I feel such grief for Trayvon Benjamin Martin's parents and brother, but also what this means for cases going forward. I want to throw up.
posted by raztaj at 7:28 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shockingly inept prosecution I guess

The prosecutors are all excellent. They just couldn't polish a turd.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:28 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, also in Florida, a black single mother gets 20 years prison for firing a warning shot to abusive husband. Obviously race didn't play a part in any of this.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:29 PM on July 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


As I recall, in those cases, you get punished more for firing a warning shot than shooting to kill - because they think somehow you weren't really in danger if you only fired a warning shot.
posted by corb at 7:32 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't understand the rage and pain of my black friends. But the tiny bit of it I can understand is soul crushing.

.

For Trayvon.

.

For Justice.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:33 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


American courts are a bigger joke every motherfucking day. Got money or enough wealthy lunatics to pay your way? Innocent of all charges!

Now we have to sit back and wait for Zimm to eat himself to death, I guess.
posted by item at 7:33 PM on July 13, 2013


.
posted by glhaynes at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2013


.
posted by raztaj at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2013


As I recall, in those cases, you get punished more for firing a warning shot than shooting to kill - because they think somehow you weren't really in danger if you only fired a warning shot.

I am aware of the Jacksonville case. If I were the state's attorney in Duval County, I would not have sought charges against her. I hope she has some appellate remedies.

For the reasons you mention, I do not recommend "warning shots". If you pull out a gun in self defense, that means you intend to shoot your assailant. No half measures.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


There does seem to be a disconnect between people for whom justice is getting the result they want and people for whom justice is the impartial application of a system of (one hopes) just laws.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


There does seem to be a disconnect between people for whom justice is some abstract principle unrelated to their lives and people for whom justice is someone going to prison for killing someone else on purpose for no particular reason.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:44 PM on July 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, the laws all being flat?
posted by Justinian at 7:50 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I love that movie, Justinian. I think I want to see if it's on Netflix so I can watch it tonight.
posted by corb at 7:52 PM on July 13, 2013


What if the laws aren't Just, nor the application Impartial?
posted by mikelieman at 7:53 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't see how this can be interpreted as "welp, that's the law" when the whole thing happened because Zimmerman initiated the situation. There is literally nothing Trayvon or any victim could have done to keep Zimmerman from stalking and killing him, despite the police themselves telling him to let the kid alone. Once he got out of his car, there was no ground to stand. He was intent on assault or murder. There is no way to prove or disprove what Trayvon did, because he's dead. And I'm not sure that even video evidence of the kid doing nothing but cowering would be enough, here. I would have thought being unarmed and not initiating a confrontation with a random dude while walking home would be enough to make you innocent.

I mean, I'm not a lawyer, clearly. But if the law makes it impossible not to be killed, no matter how innocently you are conducting your life, then I don't know why you'd even bother having law at all.

I am so sad and sorry for this family. I have a son. I can't imagine knowing that the world thinks he's a walking target and has made it safe to shoot him for any and all reasons they can come up with.
posted by emjaybee at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


The new defense attorney playbook: "If the vigilante isn't fit, you must acquit."
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:56 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would have thought being unarmed and not initiating a confrontation with a random dude while walking home would be enough to make you innocent.

Stevie McFly answers that, I think fairly well.
posted by mikelieman at 7:57 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."
- MLK H/t to Victor Leon Cyrus-Franklin
posted by hydropsyche at 7:58 PM on July 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


What if the laws aren't Just, nor the application Impartial?

If the laws are unjust you lobby to have the laws change, of course! That's not easy but it's the remedy.
posted by Justinian at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2013


Seriously someone explain this to me. What about the lesser includeds? How is he not guilty of reckless or negligent homicide? Involuntary manslaughter? A man is dead!
posted by likeatoaster at 8:00 PM on July 13, 2013


Those weren't included, likeatoaster. It was 2nd degree murder, manslaughter, or not guilty.
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The prosecutors are all excellent. They just couldn't polish a turd.

Maybe not, but they certainly polished an obviously racially motivated killer's ass with an innocent boy's blood.
posted by item at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the laws are unjust you lobby to have the laws change, of course! That's not easy but it's the remedy.

How much does that cost, and where do I buy it?
posted by mikelieman at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the laws are unjust you lobby to have the laws change, of course

that's a good idea! we should make a law that says it's illegal to shoot guns at unarmed teens
posted by Greg Nog at 8:03 PM on July 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


How many noses has he broken?

Trayvon Martin didn't break any noses, so is there a point other than "Blame The Victim"?
posted by mikelieman at 8:03 PM on July 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine what Trayvon's family must be going through.

I would imagine they're preparing the civil suit that will probably end any chance Zimmerman has of living a normal life.

Shockingly inept prosecution I guess

That or at least a small probability of throwing the case because they never wanted to charge Zimmerman in the first place and only did so to stop the bad press.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:05 PM on July 13, 2013


mike: Zimmerman's nose was fractured. It was a prosecution witness who testified to that.
posted by Justinian at 8:06 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously someone explain this to me. What about the lesser includeds? How is he not guilty of reckless or negligent homicide? Involuntary manslaughter? A man is dead!

Essentially, the prosecutors took a gamble - they thought they'd be able to get a conviction for the higher charge, and they didn't want to include too many lessers in case the jury took those instead. They included manslaughter, probably because they were feeling shaky about the case, but didn't want to add more. I agree, they should have charged him lower initially and included more lesser includeds, but they made the decision not to do that.
posted by corb at 8:07 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate to throw this out there since it's not going to make people happy, but I believe Zimmerman is immune to civil lawsuits having been found not guilty.
posted by Justinian at 8:08 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


mike: Zimmerman's nose was fractured. It was a prosecution witness who testified to that.

Do you have a link, because iirc, without X-Rays, how could they know that? Remember, other than Zimmerman's claims, there is no evidence that Trayvon Martin was responsible for any of his injuries.
posted by mikelieman at 8:09 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the press conference with the attorneys. They said they would "seek and get" immunity from civil actions for Zimmerman. See, perhaps.... (ianal)
posted by maggieb at 8:09 PM on July 13, 2013


I hate to throw this out there since it's not going to make people happy, but I believe Zimmerman is immune to civil lawsuits having been found not guilty.

The acquittal does not automatically confer any sort of civil immunity. I am sure there will be a wrongful death case. They would need to plead the statutory immunity as an affirmative defense.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


mike: Zimmerman's nose was fractured. It was a prosecution witness who testified to that.

The medical report said it was fractured, true. The medical report that was taken the next day after he was able to go home and break it himself. I wish my dad was a judge so I could get that kind of treatment by the police, but alas.
posted by item at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


That seems unlikely, Justinian. He wasn't found innocent, and civil suits could focus on his negligence, which would require a less demanding burden of proof.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:10 PM on July 13, 2013


The world is really Zimmerman's oyster now: he's got a legitimate claim to feel "threatened" by any black person who appears to recognize him from now on, and after that it's his ground to stand. He can only grow more hated and therefore more powerful each time he kills, and the law can't touch him.
posted by contraption at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


but I believe Zimmerman is immune to civil lawsuits having been found not guilty.

Not automatically. O'Mara said:
We will seek and we will get immunity in any future civil proceeding.
posted by snaparapans at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2013


("legitimate" because he's a racist and they have a reason to be very angry with him, I mean)
posted by contraption at 8:12 PM on July 13, 2013


Tanizaki: Is it only in stand your ground cases then?
posted by Justinian at 8:12 PM on July 13, 2013


(i.e. I know that you do get immunity from civil lawsuits in stand your ground cases.)
posted by Justinian at 8:12 PM on July 13, 2013


The medical report said it was fractured, true. The medical report that was taken the next day after he was able to go home and break it himself.

The thing is, the state has to prove that's what happened. You don't get to assume it. If you're on the jury, I mean. You (item) can assume it all you want.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, I see. They have to plead the immunity which isn't the same thing as being automatically immune. Sorry!
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on July 13, 2013


that's a good idea! we should make a law that says it's illegal to shoot guns at unarmed teens

The NRA would never allow that.
posted by homunculus at 8:15 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


so, is there a case for any black person to shoot zimerman on the street and claim a stand your ground defense?
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:16 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


[People, this is not the time for snark or personal attacks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:16 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Twain Device at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2013


so, is there a case for any black person to shoot zimerman on the street and claim a stand your ground defense?

My 'take away' from all this is that you can, in private, kill anyone you want to without warning, and as long as you throw down a knife, you're going to get the Jury Seal of Approval.

Used to be you needed to be a cop or something for that to work, but you know. Florida...
posted by mikelieman at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just for a moment, please remember that many of us live in communities that are deeply, painfully affected by this, where our friends are mourning, feeling once again that the color of their skin makes them unsafe in our country.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


If my kid was being stalked and assaulted by some asshole with a gun while just trying to walk home, I would not give the tiniest fuck whether he broke that guy's nose. For the record.

That's the point here; defending yourself against a random assailant should not carry the death penalty. Or any penalty.

Zimmerman's injuries were in every sense of the word self-caused. He initiated. He is responsible. Not the boy he attacked.

What next, you going to prosecute rape victims for fighting back too? After all, they could leave bruises and scratches on the rapist's face. I remember one story where a lady nearly pulled one dude's testicles off when he was trying to rape her. Guess he should have the right to kill her or put her in jail for that.
posted by emjaybee at 8:17 PM on July 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


.
posted by limeonaire at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is absolutely fucking despicable.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:19 PM on July 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


They have to plead the immunity which isn't the same thing as being automatically immune. Sorry!

I do not have a criminal practice, but my read is that the stand your ground statute confers automatic civil immunity i.e. if you prevail at a criminal stand your ground hearing, you are automatically immune from any civil liability regarding that incident. In this case, Zimmerman waived his right to a stand your ground hearing, so he would have to plead Fla. Stat. 776.032 as an affirmative defense in a civil case.

I am sure Zimmerman is judgment-proof.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:20 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Tanizaki.
posted by Justinian at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2013


Judgement proof or not, if Zimmerman hasn't left the country for a nice quiet life in say, Mexico, he's a moron. Oh, wait...
posted by mikelieman at 8:22 PM on July 13, 2013


I am sure Zimmerman is judgment-proof.

In the sense that he would win any civil trial, or in the sense that he doesn't have anything to take?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:22 PM on July 13, 2013



In the sense that he would win any civil trial, or in the sense that he doesn't have anything to take?


Some from column A, Some from column B. O'Mara and West are going to look to get paid before anyone else from that returned bail money...
posted by mikelieman at 8:23 PM on July 13, 2013


Zimmerman's lawyers should STFU about race issues in their press conferences. They are not helping.
posted by Justinian at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2013


I'm not so sure about "doesn't have anything to take". I think he could write a book (or have one ghostwritten), and Tea Partiers, Republicans, NRA members, racists and other assorted crazies would lap it up.
posted by Flunkie at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2013


In the sense that he would win any civil trial, or in the sense that he doesn't have anything to take?

Judgment-proof means that if a person were to have a judgment entered against him, it would not be collectable. So, the latter. I am quite confident that he has few executable assets. (he may win a civil trial, but that is not what "judgment-proof" means)

That is not a criticism, by the way. I recommend that judgment-proof is a good way to be. My state (Florida) has a lot of statutory and constitutional protections of personal assets. It can be very frustrating to me as a creditor's rights lawyer at times. Florida is a good place to be a debtor.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2013


Wait, he has all the bail money returned? What was that again? I feel like it was high.
posted by corb at 8:27 PM on July 13, 2013


His bail was $1 million. That means he had to post $100k.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:29 PM on July 13, 2013


“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” - Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
posted by mynameisluka at 8:30 PM on July 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


They're talking federal civil rights charges on TV now but I really don't see that happening here.
posted by Justinian at 8:34 PM on July 13, 2013


I am sad for those who think that the prosecution didn't do it's job, because that ignores the history of race and privilege in this country.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:37 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know what Robert Zimmerman Jr.'s background is in terms of profession, etc?
posted by HuronBob at 8:42 PM on July 13, 2013


Zimmerman waived his right to a stand your ground hearing

Not permanently, he reserved the right to use the SYG immunity at least up to the end of the states case. He may even be able to use SYG immunity for civil case.
posted by snaparapans at 8:51 PM on July 13, 2013


Been collecting Twitter responses for the last hour, missed the handles on some. I find them considerably more insightful than 99% of what's being spouted on TV right now.

All of you are seeing what we see every single day. This verdict is what my parents warned me about from an early age.

Michael Vick can go to jail over fighting dogs , and this guy is innocent.

Walking while black now a capital offense.

The danger of an acquittal is not rioting, but more George Zimmermans.

@zhombiehunter: All I can do is look at my beautiful black 15 mos son and know that this country finds him absolutely without value.

@erintothemax Justice system must change. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his life.

@rembert My mom has had a black boy for 26 years and it increasingly makes sense why she's still terrified every day.

@mychalsmith How many times do they have to tell us we ain't shit? We get the fucking message.

@fivefifths A system cannot fail those it was never built to protect

@JuddLegum Zimmerman lawyer: "I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful" Also disgraceful: Killing an unarmed 17-year-old boy.

@theferocity Tell me, friend, where were you when America reminded you that your life was disposable?

@rudepundit Florida: The state where the sidewalk is considered more of a deadly weapon than a gun.

@floyding Zimmerman's lawyer says his client "lives in fear for his life." What an awful feeling that must be, to feel chased or hunted.

@FrangelaDuo It's 2013 & Emmet Till is trending tonight, that says it all #JusticeForTrayvon

@tnwhiskeywoman My sister's church member called, scared. White folks in her suburban neighborhood are setting off fireworks in celebration.

@beauty_jackson We had to beg and plead and scream just for this to go to trial. Remember that when you forget to see color.

posted by emjaybee at 8:56 PM on July 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


@tnwhiskeywoman My sister's church member called, scared. White folks in her suburban neighborhood are setting off fireworks in celebration.

WTF?
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought people were setting off fireworks over this in my neighborhood too, but someone pointed out that it's the first Saturday after the fourth and this may be coincidental.
posted by corb at 8:59 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


People in my neighborhood set some off too. And last night. And the night before. We are on day 13 of the 4th of July.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:00 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, homunculus. Apparently Geraldo Rivera also said white people are now "relieved" (I am still looking for this online, so take it with a grain of salt). Had to block one post from a friend's page on FB that was neutral but had comments full of his friends saying shit like "Justice was served!" "The system works!" and so on.
posted by emjaybee at 9:01 PM on July 13, 2013


How many times do they have to tell us we ain't shit? We get the fucking message.

Certainly. Thanks for that emjaybee.
posted by cashman at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry, can someone explain to me how this is a linchpin for shifting race relations in the US and isn't just an indicator of the assload of work that still needs to be done? I'm finding it difficult to see how this particular trial, in light of Fisher or Shelby County v. Holder which had actual legal effects on society at large, is somehow more about race than it is about the extended interaction a racist asshole had with Trayvon Martin.

And on preview, most places that sell fireworks sell them at a fifth of the price after the 4th (so only 2x retail markup, who knows how much from the factory floor). It's likely that people are setting off those fireworks they bought after the 4th the first weekend they could.
posted by dubusadus at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2013


This statement, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is worth reading.
posted by HuronBob at 9:06 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


racist asshole had with Trayvon Martin.

When did George Zimmerman espouse racism? Just because you do not like a person do not mean he is a racist.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder what Marissa Alexander is thinking right now, as she sits in jail.
posted by cashman at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry if the Tweet I quoted introduced a firecracker derail. Even if her fear is unjustified, I don't think it's unreasonable for a black person watching this verdict, seeing the near-gleeful attitudes of lawyers and Zimmerman supporters, and then thinking maybe those firecrackers going off really are white folks celebrating. Or maybe she saw them do so and knew for sure. I don't know, it's fourth-hand from Twitter...but we really shouldn't derail on it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:09 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


When did George Zimmerman espouse racism? Just because you do not like a person do not mean he is a racist.

Do not like him for following and then killing a black child.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:11 PM on July 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I wonder what Marissa Alexander is thinking right now, as she sits in jail.

I think she frankly would feel worse if there had been a conviction. Given her case, she obviously believes in using a gun in self defense.

I hope that she is able to get appellate relief. I do not think she should have been charged.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:11 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think she frankly would feel worse if there had been a conviction.

No, and this is where I think some people don't understand. You're probably thinking "two wrongs don't make a right".

Well we have a saying. Two wrongs don't make a right, but it damn sure makes it equal. If you think she's happy he's free while she's in jail - that she watches while she is not afforded the same protections under the law, you're wrong.
posted by cashman at 9:13 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who said I didn't like Zimmerman? I thought it had been established that Zimmerman was profiling Martin and had been following him based on nothing more than visual cues. That's usually the type of thing you'd associate with implicitly racist attitudes, a la the old joke that black men always get pulled over or people with darker pigments always get checked when they go through airport security.
posted by dubusadus at 9:14 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope that she is able to get appellate relief. I do not think she should have been charged.

She should be charged and in jail. 20 years seems a bit much, but given her record, maybe not.

Zimmerman should have been convicted, too. Along with OJ.

The prosecution failed, in the case, but I never believed that their hearts were in it anyway.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:15 PM on July 13, 2013


Well we have a saying. Two wrongs don't make a right, but it damn sure makes it equal.

I do not know who these "we" are, but I do not think I wish to know them.

In any event, unless you have some comment from Ms. Alexander, you (and I) are speculating. Nothing more.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2013


I do not know who these "we" are, but I do not think I wish to know them.

Oh we've noticed.
posted by cashman at 9:18 PM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


When did George Zimmerman espouse racism? Just because you do not like a person do not mean he is a racist.

'They always get away,' he said.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:19 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


"We are not post-racial. Post-racial is not even on the horizon."
posted by cashman at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


'They always get away,' he said.

Yes, "they". The dreaded t-word.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:22 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Tanazaki, you, personally, need to dial down the snark in this thread. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:23 PM on July 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I really admire the people in this thread who can speak dispassionately about this case and coldly dissect the tactics on display in the courtroom and speak nobly about what the jury told us tonight.

As for me, I just turned to my wife (white) and told her that we'll have to have a talk with our son when he becomes a teenager about how he will have to live his life quite differently from his white friends -- and how he could still end up shot to death by a "concerned citizen" or a cop who didn't know he was reaching for his wallet and just assumed he had a gun because all young black males are critical threats to people's safety.

(Come to think of it, I could probably still be shot by people like that too. I wonder when we black males get to move out of the danger zone? 40 is right around the corner for me: how much longer do I have to go?)

Anyway...she cried and said she doesn't want the world to be like that and that she just wants to take our son and run away. Me, I'm way past tears myself. And I know there's nowhere in this world where the life of a black man is worth a damn.

But at least, should I or my son or one of my younger cousins or nephew wind up in the ground while the killer walks free, there will be people who can clinically and dispassionately talk about how the system works and go on and on about how while they can certainly sympathize with the loved ones and how they feel, the fact remains that race very obviously was not a factor and the decedent must have done something -- something!...anything at all, really -- to warrant being shot.

So...there's that, I guess.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:23 PM on July 13, 2013 [48 favorites]


I think race was very obviously a factor.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2013


"There will be a great deal said about what the verdict in this trial means, but most fundamentally we should understand that it means validation for the idea that the actions Zimmerman took that night were rational, the conclusions he drew sound, and that a black teen-ager can be considered armed any time he is walking down a paved street."

- Jelani Cobb, who notes in the post that he just saw “Fruitvale Station,” a film about the police-shooting death of (22 year old black male) Oscar Grant four years ago in Oakland.
posted by cashman at 9:27 PM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm very sorry, lord_wolf. I hate that this world looks at you that way and will one day look at your son that way. I hate that you have to have that talk with your son. And I hate that you came to Metafilter for a discussion of something awful that happened to you tonight and saw this thread full of "rational opinions" and (thankfully mostly deleted) snark instead.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:30 PM on July 13, 2013


lord_wolf...thanks for that comment...
posted by HuronBob at 9:33 PM on July 13, 2013


we should understand that it means validation for the idea that the actions Zimmerman took that night were rational,

no, i think it means that, in the eyes of the law, it is legal. i think the crucial thing is that the legality depends on the defendant's state of mind. if it were martin who killed zimerman, perhaps he would be acquitted to. i think the really scary thing is that if you can show that there is at least one reasonable way that you can show that you were afraid to be hurt, you can get away with murder.

it's not a great incentive structure. two people are afraid of each other, and either is legally able to kill the other. in those situations it's best to have a gun and be able to kill the other person. this is exactly what the gun lobby wanted
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel for a lot of people who are clutching their children close tonight. And it is true, that as a somewhat white-looking Hispanic, I will not have to do that as fiercely. And someday, someone might mistake me, like Zimmerman, for being white, and assume that I have not undergone suspicion or harassment by the police for my color or class.

But the greatest threat that young black men or young Hispanic men or women face on the streets is not each other, but the police. This situation does not change that. This verdict does not change that. And I am sad that people are focusing on Zimmerman as the reason to be concerned for their children. I am sad that people are focusing on the fact that Zimmerman carried a gun while neglecting the fact that militarized police forces march our streets with booted feet and guns far stronger than that of any civilian, every day, with much less need for excuses when they kill.
posted by corb at 9:39 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought both of the press conferences were approaching shameful. Did anybody else see them? The defense team should never have been commenting on race issues, nor some of the other things they commented on. And Angela Corey's conference was like a victory lap. For a case she blew.
posted by Justinian at 9:42 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tonight, I'm hugging my kid.

Tomorrow, I'm going to start work getting California's Stand Your Ground law repealed.

This shit has to stop. ALEC's and the NRA's fear-embracing future is not the one I want for anyone's kids.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:44 PM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


if it were martin who killed zimerman, perhaps he would be acquitted too.

But those of you who believed Zimmerman was innocent, cannot tell me if the roles were reversed it would be the same. Because at the end of the day you're not stupid. You're just stubborn. And wrong.
posted by cashman at 9:48 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


OJ was similarly acquitted, and ended up losing $33,500,000 in the ensuing wrongful death civil suit. I suspect this story isn't over quite yet.
posted by mullingitover at 9:52 PM on July 13, 2013


cupcake1337: "no, i think it means that, in the eyes of the law, it is legal."

Nope, it just means that there was a reasonable doubt.
posted by mullingitover at 9:53 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


OJ was similarly acquitted, and ended up losing $33,500,000 in the ensuing wrongful death civil suit. I suspect this story isn't over quite yet.

What does Zimmerman have to take? His home, if he owns it, is completely out of reach of any civil suit.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:56 PM on July 13, 2013


please don't take my comment as supporting zimmerman. he's only innocent because the stand your ground law is defined in a way to make him innocent.

"it is legal" vs reasonable doubt is splitting hairs: you can kill someone and get away with it as long as there is some doubt that you were not (double negative) in fear of being hurt. as long as you can show that there is at least one reasonable explanation as to why you might be afraid of being hurt you won't be convicted of murder.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:58 PM on July 13, 2013


I hope some prominent NFL players do a tribute. Like in the opening game's kickoff, everybody comes out with Martin in place of their name on the back of their jersey. Or wear their regular stuff, but have the kicker kick off, but all the players just stand there, heads bowed, until the whistle blows.
posted by cashman at 10:02 PM on July 13, 2013


cupcake: this was a normal self defense case, not stand your ground. But I agree with you about Florida's standard on self defense. It just seems crazy to me that you don't have to prove you were acting in self defense, you just have to present a semi plausible theory of the event and all of a sudden the state has to prove you weren't acting in self defense.

Unless there's like a video of the event it seems like it would be really hard to get a conviction unless the defendant is a moron. Luckily there are a lot of dumb defendants.
posted by Justinian at 10:05 PM on July 13, 2013


What does Zimmerman have to take? His home, if he owns it, is completely out of reach of any civil suit.

It's not about having anything to take, as much as it is about saddling him with a multimillion dollar financial albatross. Essentially, "you don't have anything to take, and now you never will."
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:06 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that's kind of stretching the purpose of a civil suit.
posted by corb at 10:08 PM on July 13, 2013


well, yea, it seems crazy that after you start a fight with someone, if they attack you back, you can kill them and claim self defense. it reminds me of this Bill Hicks bit.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:10 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not about having anything to take, as much as it is about saddling him with a multimillion dollar financial albatross. Essentially, "you don't have anything to take, and now you never will."

What, you think he won't file for bankruptcy if he loses a civil case?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:11 PM on July 13, 2013


it reminds me of this Bill Hicks bit.

Love that bit. The scary thing is that in this case, he didn't even have to say pick up the gun. At the end he would just say "You all saw him, he was black".
posted by cashman at 10:12 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


What, you think he won't file for bankruptcy if he loses a civil case?

I don't think you can do that, can you? I feel like that guy that killed the guy on the subway in NYC back in the 80s wasn't able to do it, anyway..can't remember the name or I'd google.
posted by corb at 10:14 PM on July 13, 2013


Bernhard Goetz?
posted by mochapickle at 10:16 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no doubt that this would be the verdict, but it sickens me anyway.

.
posted by winna at 10:17 PM on July 13, 2013


Civil trial from my link above.
posted by mochapickle at 10:18 PM on July 13, 2013


I'm not so sure about "doesn't have anything to take". I think he could write a book (or have one ghostwritten), and Tea Partiers, Republicans, NRA members, racists and other assorted crazies would lap it up.

He could get Ann Coulter to write the introduction.
posted by homunculus at 10:20 PM on July 13, 2013


I don't think you can do that, can you?

I think the would-be creditor has to contest it, but in any case, there's no way to force a Floridian to sell his house to pay such a judgment.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:23 PM on July 13, 2013


Yeah, thanks, mochapickle, that's the one. I don't know why I blanked on that. But yeah, I think it's an indicator that these judgments are hard to set aside through bankruptcy.
posted by corb at 10:23 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know this has to be one of those "could have got a lesser charge" things, but I really do wonder what the thought process was that led the jurors to think they couldn't convict for manslaughter.

.
posted by immlass at 10:23 PM on July 13, 2013


"That was an all woman jury that let Zimmerman go. Don’t let that fact slide. These women let this monster walk off with black blood on his hands. These women unanimously decided aggressing against black children in the middle of the night and ending their lives is an acceptable thing to do. But we’re supposed to just let race be a non-factor, right? Antiblackness is not a woman’s issue. Something that gets our people, our babies unreasonably killed and demonized for their death is just a tangential inconvenience for the plight of women, I suppose."

~"White women are definitely white before they are women. It doesn’t make sense to cling to a marginalized identity more than your privileged one. Except when you want to cry about your need for elitist power feminism of course."

Link
posted by cashman at 10:25 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


immlass: self-defense applied equally to the murder and manslaughter charges. The difference between them was about Zimmerman's frame of mind, not whether he was in fear of his life.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:29 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


There does seem to be a disconnect between people for whom justice is getting the result they want and people for whom justice is the impartial application of a system of (one hopes) just laws.

The problem with this is that impartial application of the law is a mirage. If you can't see that you need to take a long hard look at your society.
posted by awfurby at 10:41 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's clearly a mirage; african americans are preferentially charged with many crimes, particularly drug crimes, and receive harsher sentences when they are convicted. It's shameful. But the way to address that is to try to stop that bullshit rather than to get the system to crap on everyone equally.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the greatest threat that young black men or young Hispanic men or women face on the streets is not each other, but the police. This situation does not change that. This verdict does not change that. And I am sad that people are focusing on Zimmerman as the reason to be concerned for their children. I am sad that people are focusing on the fact that Zimmerman carried a gun while neglecting the fact that militarized police forces march our streets with booted feet and guns far stronger than that of any civilian, every day, with much less need for excuses when they kill.

The police weren't the militarized ones here, Zimmerman was. The police didn't make a judgement of drug use and intent to commit crime for a kid walking "casually," Zimmerman did. However, the police were the ones who were capable of making that judgement under the law, Zimmerman was not. And because of that, because of the current undercurrent of paranoia and "tactical thinking" that (for the lack of better term) infects modern American gun culture, this was allowed to happen.

The people who speak longest and loudest, who testify in front of Congress under the aegis of "2nd amendment defenders" while really representing corporate interests, have invented a world where every natural disaster is an excuse to lie about looting in black neighborhoods. They've enabled an entire set of the media to falsify stories about a government agency run by a black man who reports to a black President fomenting unrest amongst black people. They write laws that ensure that domestic abusers and those with mental issues are allowed to keep firearms unhindered and question-free; or that let you "stand your ground" no matter where and no matter when despite proving to be just as likely to cost innocent lives and limbs than to save people from violence. And those people are writing laws to make all of that even easier to pass off with every passing day, and all they get are attaboys from so-called "responsible" gun owners.

Judging by the attempts to steer the conversation away from the militarization a populace inclined to be paranoid, or the naked triumphalism and not a little racism that I'm seeing all over the Internet and the media right now, this is only going to get more dangerous with every passing day. People who aren't white, especially young men, are being reminded that any person with a gun can identify them as a criminal just for the way that they walk. And at that point, it doesn't matter how fucking militarized the police are, because they've got help now, from the paranoids in their neighborhood up to lobbyists and members of Congress.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:52 PM on July 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Blood on the leaves: There will be a great deal said about what the verdict in this trial means, but, most fundamentally, we should understand that it means validation for the idea that the actions Zimmerman took that night were rational, the conclusions he drew sound, and that a black teen-ager can be considered armed any time he is walking down a paved street.
posted by mcmile at 10:53 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


~"White women are definitely white before they are women. It doesn’t make sense to cling to a marginalized identity more than your privileged one. Except when you want to cry about your need for elitist power feminism of course."

Wow. What an exceptionally shitty thing to say.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:55 PM on July 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the end, this wasn't a trial of George Zimmerman, this was a trial of Trayvon Martin. From beginning to end, the person who received the most scrutiny for his behavior, even when it was entirely unrelated to the incident at hand, was the kid with Skittles and a soft drink walking home casually in the rain, not the guy looking for "assholes" and "fucking punks" who had armed himself with a gun and got out of his truck to chase the kid down.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:57 PM on July 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


if it were martin who killed zimerman, perhaps he would be acquitted too.

If you are white, homicide is 354% more likely to be found justified if your victim is black instead of white.
posted by emjaybee at 11:00 PM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Except that again, Zimmerman wasn't white. Try looking at your statistics for Hispanic crime, or black-on-Hispanic crime. I think you'll find that there are generally no special favors there either way.
posted by corb at 11:15 PM on July 13, 2013


White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman, Aura Bogado, The Nation, 14 July 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 11:20 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except that again, Zimmerman wasn't white.

The fact that he is Latino does not mean that this wasn't a case in which a notoriously racist judicial system conferred privilege upon him. As race plays out in systems of power, it has always favored lighter skin over darker skin. We can argue the specific details of this case until the cows come home, but in the end it falls right in line with the statistically consistent fact that darker skinned people get treated more harshly by the law than lighter-skinned people. For the purposes of this case, Zimmerman ma as well have been white.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:25 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Corb I got that from Twitter-er @derekjjohnson and someone else had the same objection.

His response: FBI only has 4 race classifications - white, black, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander.

Per Wikipedia: The UCR classifies most Hispanics into the "white" category. The NCVS classifies some Hispanic criminals as "white" and some as "other race". The victim categories for the NCVS are more distinct.
posted by emjaybee at 11:26 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Disturbing chart shows rise in “justified killings” of blacks in U.S.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:29 PM on July 13, 2013


So the FBI is racist: that isn't news. But when I hear people calling Hispanics/Latinos "White", against their preferences, that feels like a deliberate choice to use a word that people do not apply to themselves, in order to erase their culture and experiences. It offends me, as someone who identifies as a Hispanic/Latina, that someone could peer at my face and decide to erase my family, because maybe they think I'm not dark enough for their prejudices.

As race plays out in systems of power, it has always favored lighter skin over darker skin.

This is true here, but that power play does not erase who people are. That power play is much the same for all different shades of brown, and all it does is an ugly tearing people apart for being a shade or two different from each other. It does not lead to good places in either direction.
posted by corb at 11:34 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is true here, but that power play does not erase who people are.

Well, since "here" is what we're talking about, if you don't mind, that's what I will be addressing myself to. The fact that Zimmerman is not white doesn't mean he went without benefiting from white privilege in this instance, and it is that system of privilege that will be my primary focus right now.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:36 PM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


The celebratory response in many places is turning my stomach. Like the verdict or not, Zimmermann's actions were morally apalling from beginning to end.

I certainly wouldn't move to the US were I black; in the UK this would have been a fight or open and shut conviction because nobody save the army and police firearms squads get handguns (or indeed rifles) at all. The whole case and set of facts doesn't make me jealous over the second amendment, that's for sure.

Oh, and if Zimmerman had been a black man who had shot a light skinned Hispanic man for coming into the wrong area he'd be in prison right now.
posted by jaduncan at 11:47 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


New FPP on the verdict. (Good work mai!)
posted by cashman at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2013


there will be people who can clinically and dispassionately talk about how the system works

With a great deal of respect for your comment, lord_wolf, I don't think there's much consensus that the system works. The system failed at several points (which different people will agree or disagree about): the writing of the Florida self-defense laws; the failure to arrest Zimmerman immediately; the permissiveness re CCWs; the prosecution's gamble that it could get Zimmerman on murder or manslaughter.

I think the system "worked" in the sense that the jury probably came to an honest conclusion based on the law and their instructions. I don't think the jury is at fault (that quote up above is abominable), but they were constrained by circumstances caused by flaws in the system all along.

There is no question that Zimmerman caused the altercation (regardless of who started the physical part) by following Martin. There is no question that he caused the fatal outcome because he was carrying a gun and was prepared to use it in a fight. It's fucked up that that might not be enough even for manslaughter, but I can understand the jury arriving at that conclusion given what they had to work with.

But I absolutely do not understand the people celebrating that "justice was served." Because, lacking Trayvon Martin's account of the story, we do not know what happened. As the defense attorney pointed out with his "burden of proof" chart, the jury could have arrived at "not guilty" even thinking Zimmerman's actions were "highly unlikely self defense." Given that, it seems like a little deference might keep people from claiming this outcome was just. Deference to the very good possibility that Zimmerman didn't actually meet the standard for self-defense, but that the prosecution was simply unable to prove that. In which case--the trial system might have worked fine, but justice was not served.

By the way did we ever find out what the question was the jury wanted answered about manslaughter? I haven't see it. Also, were the jurors seen on TV? I haven't been able to find pictures. I had read that one was either black or hispanic and was interested to know if that was true.

lord_wolf, thank you for your comments on the whole subject. I remember appreciating your contributions in the very first thread about Trayvon Martin. I'm sorry for the sorrow & cynicism that follows this verdict, for you and your family.
posted by torticat at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


So much pinhead writing.

A racist murderer just got acquitted of an obvious lynching of a black man by an all white jury in the American south.

Again.
posted by spitbull at 3:58 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Justinian:But I agree with you about Florida's standard on self defense. It just seems crazy to me that you don't have to prove you were acting in self defense, you just have to present a semi plausible theory of the event and all of a sudden the state has to prove you weren't acting in self defense.

Apparently self-defense in FL has basically the same mechanics in most all states, except Ohio. A low bar for the defendant to show self-defense and then the state bears the burden of proof.
posted by snaparapans at 6:29 AM on July 14, 2013


I think the prosecution should have gotten the point across that Zimmerman's fears weren't REASONABLE. Whether it was due to impairment from the drugs he was taking, or whether he was just a moron, I can't believe that they didn't get that point across, since that's the key here.

Of course, after Amadou Diallo, I have a great respect for how the process can be executed in such a way to appear totally legitimate, yet give the Jurors no real options in delivering a verdict.
posted by mikelieman at 6:37 AM on July 14, 2013


I love how people are having exactly the same discussions we had in this thread in the other thread. I told them to read this one for more detail than they could ever want but it didn't help.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except with more anger. Yeah, you did your best. It is what it is.
posted by corb at 2:36 PM on July 14, 2013


There was a lot of anger in this thread too, a lot of it got deleted.
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is basically dead but I wanted to include a link to an interesting analysis of provocation over at Volokh since it was such a point of contention earlier. Key quotes:
The general answer in most states, as best I can tell, is that the law tends to conclude that D loses his right to lethal self-defense on grounds of provocation only if he had the specific purpose of provoking V into threatening D with death or serious bodily injury, so that D would have an opportunity to kill or seriously injure V. If D simply knew that it was very likely that V would react violently, that is not enough
and
It thus appears that the law in Florida is that the defendant loses his self-defense rights on “provocation” grounds only if he is involved in a “forcible felony” or provokes the target by “force or threat of force.”
Which is more or less exactly what I said (despite being accused repeated of "lying" when I said it). I thought this was better here than in the new thread where it would no doubt cause a derail.

So, yeah, I think that puts to bed the debate about provocation.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude, stop fighting a vendetta with a disabled account. Delmoi nailed it on the jury being vulnerable to theatrics, so prodding him after he is gone on precise legal technicalities is pretty ironic.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Seriously, don't argue with disabled accounts. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:15 AM on July 16, 2013


Whoops, didn't realize!
posted by Justinian at 7:49 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now some comments other people made make sense. D'oh.
posted by Justinian at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2013


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