Zimmerman acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin
July 13, 2013 11:51 PM   Subscribe

After more than 16 hours of deliberating, a six-woman jury in Florida has acquitted George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Many commentators are outraged by what they see as another failure of the criminal justice system to deliver justice for an African-American. Others point out that this verdict depended on the unique nature of the law in Florida.
posted by mai (2002 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey, so here's a fucked up thing that occured to me. Zimmerman is going to be able to get his damned gun back.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:55 PM on July 13, 2013 [30 favorites]




Stalk and shoot or be stalked and shot. That's how I live.
posted by iloveit at 11:57 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh. Holy. Fuck. The reaction to this is going to be ugly.
posted by dejah420 at 11:58 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will anyone be surprised if George Zimmerman gets his gun back, shoots and kills another unarmed black kid, and then gets acquitted again?
posted by andoatnp at 11:59 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


George Zimmerman is going to be too busy making the rounds doing talks for racists and gun nuts to kill again - it's them that will do the killing.
posted by Artw at 12:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


America: where abortion is illegal in Texas after 20 weeks and legal in Florida after 884.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [143 favorites]


Others point out that this verdict depended on the unique nature of the law in Florida.

Fla. mom gets 20 years for firing warning shots
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [132 favorites]


It would be nice if the sight of a gun made him want to vomit uncontrollably for the rest of his life but I would bet ready money that he will be a guest speaker at an NRA convention in the near future.
posted by elizardbits at 12:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


It would be nice if the sight of a gun made him want to vomit uncontrollably

It would have been nice if the sight of a black kid hadn't.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:04 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


I've been reluctant to follow this case since the trial began--and even a long while before that. I just didn't want to let the disgusting media circus of it all into my life. I didn't expect any decent reporting, I didn't expect to feel like I actually understood all the facts, and I knew that the cable news networks would draw every possible shred of drama out of this that they possibly could for the sake of ratings...

...and as a result, it's hard to have much to say about the case or the verdict. I feel like I should have an opinion about the case, but all I can say with any real confidence is that our media just plain sucks.

I wish they had to come out and admit publicly that they suck. I wish Nancy Grace and all the rest had to endure some harsh, public, come-to-Jesus interview on live TV (by a real journalist, probably someone who worked for an indie paper or a non-US entity) where they explained why they took incidents like this and made them into courtroom sports entertainment, and where they'd be confronted by the real people they hurt and had to face up to the harm they do to this country.

But I'll never get that. And neither will Trayvon. And that part of it all sucks, too.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


It would be nice if Obama pulls his thumb out of his ass, stops wasting taxpayers time and money eavesdropping on us, and sends the DoJ to investigate the gangsterism that is the Floridian and Texan legal systems.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


I don't know the law. Maybe this was the right decision legally, I can't speak to that. Innocent until proven guilty and all, and the prosecution couldn't make a persuasive case about what exactly happened that night.

But this is just wrong. If that man hadn't decided to be a yahoo vigilante with a gun, and if he hadn't looked at that young man and only seen a criminal, Trayvon would be alive today. He should bear the responsibility for that.
posted by gkhan at 12:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [64 favorites]


For those worried that the US might steal all the shame for itself on this one, it's good to see Britain's moral carbuncle Louise Mensch getting stuck in on the pro-shooting-children side over on Twitter.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:06 AM on July 14, 2013


Bury the rag deep in your face...
posted by chortly at 12:07 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


This tweet pretty much sums up the week.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


A friend and I had a discussion about this case last week. The friend opened it up with "what do think will happen when Zimmerman gets acquitted?" I was floored, said there was no way the guy would walk from this. He then pointed out Zimmerman wasn't even charged with anything by local cops, that it was weeks of national outrage that even brought charges, and we had a frank discussion about how bad this would be.

I can't believe it actually happened though (my friend is extra cynical), I feel terrible about his parents. I'd be beyond angry, depressed, etc to lose my son and then get no justice for his killing.
posted by mathowie at 12:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [50 favorites]


Zimmerman acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin

Well I guess that settles that.
posted by mazola at 12:08 AM on July 14, 2013


posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:05 AM on 7/14

Most eponysterical comment ever.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


What are the chances Zimmerman ever faces an investigation for the sexual assault allegations? It's amazing how much pain this guy has left in his wake.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:05 AM on 7/14

Most eponysterical comment ever.


I don't know whether that should make me laugh or if I should just go hide under a rock. :/
(No, I'm not taking that personally.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


What are the chances Zimmerman ever faces an investigation for the sexual assault allegations?

I can't imagine anyone will bother.
posted by elizardbits at 12:11 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


jay smooth on twitter: "The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George ZImmermans."
posted by andoatnp at 12:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [122 favorites]


Six women on the jury acquitted George Zimmerman. The state failed to prove what was a difficult case. Hard to see the right-wing conspiracy in this. The racial prejudice that convicted him outside of the courtroom, OTOH, is hard to miss.
posted by three blind mice at 12:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


I can't believe it actually happened though

The fix was in since before the trial.
posted by Artw at 12:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The racial prejudice that convicted him

Really. You really think that Zimmerman's race, and not him killing a teenaged black kid is the outrageous race related thing here. Ok sure.
posted by cashman at 12:14 AM on July 14, 2013 [97 favorites]


I just don't understand how everyone defending Zimmerman keeps saying how he was defending himself from Trayvon sitting on top of him beating him. Which, even if we assume this is totally true (BIG if!), just completely ignores that Zimmerman got out of his car and followed him against explicit instructions. He wasn't defending himself at that point. Had he never done that, he never would have had to supposedly "defend" himself.

I mean, wtf. How can people even go on and on in great detail about how Trayvon was such a big threat to poor Zimmerman, who was scared for his life and completely ignore that Zimmerman initiated the whole thing, without reason and against instructions? That's what blows my mind.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:15 AM on July 14, 2013 [140 favorites]


the difference between the warning-shot firing mother and zimmerman just shows how cra-zy our criminal legal system is. there are people in california serving life sentences for stealing socks under their 3-strikes law. not to mention tossing people into jail for years for minor drug offenses.
posted by camdan at 12:16 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


You should refer to the previous thread triggerfinger. The legal issues were hashed out in excruciating detail.
posted by Justinian at 12:16 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Legally speaking he's walking because Florida self defence reverses the burden of proof; all the defence have to do is demonstrate a prima facie case for self defence that the prosecution then have to disprove. The main opposing witness is dead, so that's a problematically high bar.
posted by jaduncan at 12:17 AM on July 14, 2013 [29 favorites]


Justin Peters, writing for Slate, predicted that this would happen.

So, I suppose the system worked...?
posted by peripathetic at 12:17 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hard to see the right-wing conspiracy in this. The racial prejudice that convicted him outside of the courtroom, OTOH, is hard to miss.

Zimmerman hunted and killed a kid. Go home.
posted by samofidelis at 12:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [157 favorites]


How can people even go on and on in great detail about how Trayvon was such a big threat to poor Zimmerman, who was scared for his life and completely ignore that Zimmerman initiated the whole thing, without reason and against instructions?

For a terrifyingly large segment of the US population, black men are apparently a serious threat by virtue of their very existence. The only thing Martin had to do to scare Zimmerman was to be alive.
posted by elizardbits at 12:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [77 favorites]


Dear Florida,

My two sons are dark-skinned and, as children often do, they sometimes misbehave. They challenge authority and push limits and don't like to be told what to do. Because they are children, I don't consider them fully capable of making good decisions in the middle of night under threat of violence. My children are also intelligent, gifted, loving, talented people, who've traveled the world and have much to contribute to whichever community they're choose to participate in. It's clear that dark skinned children in your state who are challenged by non uniformed personnel of authority are lawfully fair game to be shot and killed under some bizarre racial paranoia you live under. My kids, the sons of two community activist physicians, are likely to become positive forces for good wherever they find their path in life leads them.

Their path will not lead them to Florida, a place that could obviously use the help of intelligent talented young people to improve a whole shitstorm of social problems. In fact, they might be drawn there, because that's where the need is great. But I will forbid it. There's plenty to do in places where the rule of law isn't guided by paranoia and enforced by lone civilians With firearms making decisions to kill children based on what they were afraid in the middle of the night. You've created a brutal, obscene society down there and you deserve all that you will inherit. Maybe it's time we start to evacuate certain "threatening" people out of there, so they can possibly lead normal lives where they aren't presumed guilty by people with heavier fire power in the middle of the night.

In summary fuck you, once again, Florida. Everything bad in this country comes from you, and this is the growing consensus through rest of the country.

Sincerely,
The father of 2 rebellious kids of color
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:20 AM on July 14, 2013 [183 favorites]


If you're interested, look up the case of Robert Thomas Sr. in Seattle. More than a decade ago, almost this exact thing happened. Black guy minding his own business on a neighborhood street in the middle of the day, when a white guy decides he thinks the black guy doesn't belong there and comes out of his house to confront the black guy. Guess who was shot in the chest and died? The black guy. Who killed him and got found not guilty? The white guy, who was an off-duty police officer but never said that, just approached with a weapon.
posted by cashman at 12:20 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Zimmerman hunted and killed a kid. Go home.

The prosecution wasn't able to prove this. We know that Zimmerman followed Martin. But there was no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt presented by the prosecution that Zimmerman had followed this kid with the intent to kill him. We know that Zimmerman followed Martin, but Zimmerman was in his right to do so, just as I'm able to approach people in the streets freely. He wasn't obligated to listen to dispatch advice. We don't know what happened next. We don't know if Martin attacked Zimmerman. We don't know if Zimmerman attacked Martin. Innocent until proven guilty.
posted by SollosQ at 12:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


Other letters from parents of black children, related to this case: The Bullet Next Time: An Open Letter to My Unborn, Black Son.
posted by cashman at 12:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Zimmerman's brother worries for George's safety: "There are people that would want to take the law into their own hands as they perceive it, or be vigilantes in some sense."

I just...augh.
posted by naoko at 12:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [113 favorites]


I just don't understand how everyone defending Zimmerman keeps saying how he was defending himself from Trayvon sitting on top of him beating him. Which, even if we assume this is totally true (BIG if!), just completely ignores that Zimmerman got out of his car and followed him against explicit instructions. He wasn't defending himself at that point. Had he never done that, he never would have had to supposedly "defend" himself.

Because he had a right, a lawful right - and I'm willing to bet this is one of the pieces the aquittal hinged on - to be there. Whether or not we think he was a dick for doing so, he had a lawful right to follow Martin. And he had a lawful right to follow Martin without being punched in the face, or grabbed, or any of that stuff. Zimmerman's words do not a legitimate attack by Martin make. We may think he had no moral right to follow, but under the law he was not acting improperly.

And the law does not accept "following" as a legitimate provocation to a fight. A legitimate provocation to a fight has to be something that everyone would understand was initiating a physical fight. And that is just not the case. No matter how outraged people are about what they think Zimmerman was doing, it was just not the case.

Zimmerman was also not legally required to listen to the suggestions of the dispatcher. It'd be nice if he did - but he is not required to do so. And him failing to do so does not mean he doesn't get to defend himsef. It doesn't mean he needs to watch his brains get beaten in without raising a protest.
posted by corb at 12:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [26 favorites]




It doesn't mean he needs to watch his brains get beaten in without raising a protest.

He didn't raise a fucking protest. He raised a fucking gun.
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 AM on July 14, 2013 [115 favorites]


Hang on are those not the same in the states
posted by ominous_paws at 12:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


It doesn't mean he needs to watch his brains get beaten in without raising a protest.

He didn't raise a fucking protest. He raised a fucking gun.
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


And do we know that this happened? I didn't watch the trial, but this seems like a pretty big piece of evidence that the prosecution would have wanted to have run with.
posted by SollosQ at 12:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Er... there is no dispute that Zimmerman shot Martin. We know that happened for a fact, SollosQ.
posted by Justinian at 12:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


Maybe take a minute and think about why you're so desperate to see a way that it was totally okay for this armed man to stalk and kill a kid.
posted by samofidelis at 12:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [105 favorites]


This was a MINOR. A teenage boy, alone at night being followed and confronted by a grown adult man that he perceived and described as "creepy" with, frankly, a suspicious sounding reason for following him (neighborhood watch? out looking for teenage boys? orly?). When does self defense start, can someone who thinks an armed man is fabricating a reason to approach them alone on a dark street late at night fight back or not? How can this be anything but manslaughter? Zimmerman created the situation that resulted in the young mans death.

I'm a woman and one time a guy grabbed my ass on the street and I punched him out and broke his nose and he fell down and most likely hit his head on the ground. Is it OK for him to respond by shooting me now? Because I'm starting to wonder.
posted by fshgrl at 12:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [165 favorites]


And do we know that this happened? I didn't watch the trial, but this seems like a pretty big piece of evidence that the prosecution would have wanted to have run with.

Everyone (including Zimmerman) agreed that Zimmerman intentionally shot Martin. Thanks for gracing us with your well researched reckons.
posted by jaduncan at 12:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Er... there is no dispute that Zimmerman shot Martin. We know that happened for a fact, SollosQ.
posted by Justinian at 12:31 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


Everyone (including Zimmerman) agreed that Zimmerman intentionally shot Martin. Thanks for gracing us with your well researched reckons.
posted by jaduncan at 12:32 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


But the whole question is whether or not Zimmerman had the right to shoot Martin in self-defense. And that right rests on whether or not Zimmerman simply followed Martin, or if he followed Martin with his gun pulled out and pointed at Martin thereby giving Martin a justifiable reason for self-defense.
posted by SollosQ at 12:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


he had a lawful right to follow

I beg you. I urge you. Please use this the next time some woman on metafilter says she had someone following her who got close and she struck the first blow. When the woman says she watched some stranger follow her leading to her house, and he got close, and she punched him rather than waiting for the stranger to attack, please interject with "he had a lawful right to follow you".

Extra points if it's a teenaged girl saying this. Please promise you'll say this, I can't wait to see you do it.
posted by cashman at 12:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [347 favorites]


And everyone agrees that Zimmerman got him where nobody could see what was going on. Case closed, clearly.
posted by Artw at 12:34 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it OK for him to respond by shooting me now? Because I'm starting to wonder.

In Florida? The answer would appear to be yes. Double yes if you are black, or at least darker than your assailant.
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I often take late night walks around my neighborhood, by myself.

If I saw a guy -- of any race -- following me in his car I'd be suspicious. If he stopped and got out to follow me on foot, I'd be down right terrified. If he got closer and closer, you can bet my fight or flight response would kick in.

You say Zimmerman had a right to follow Martin. But what about Martin's right to walk around his neighborhood peacefully, unmolested, unthreatened?

I don't personally think Zimmerman is guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. But the moment he got out of his car with his gun he knowingly, needlessly created a dangerous situation that lead to Martin's death. That's manslaughter to me, and I don't know how the jury failed to see that.
posted by sbutler at 12:34 AM on July 14, 2013 [122 favorites]


I just wanted to add that I'm not slamming the jury here. It sounds like Zimmerman was technically in the right. But that is a fucked up right, to be able to confront a legal minor in that way and then claim self defense.
posted by fshgrl at 12:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel like we're talking past each other, because no one here seems concerned with whether what Zimmerman did was lawful or not, but rather whether they thought it right or not.
posted by SollosQ at 12:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


he had a lawful right to follow.

I beg you. I urge you. Please use this the next time some woman on metafilter says she had someone following her who got close and she struck the first blow. When the woman says she watched some stranger follow her leading to her house, and he got close, and she punched him rather than waiting for the stranger to attack, please interject with "he had a lawful right to follow you".



This, this, this, million times.
posted by ducky l'orange at 12:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


The not guilty verdict on manslaughter is fucking bizarre.
posted by Artw at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


Maybe take a minute and think about why you're so desperate to see a way that it was totally okay for this armed man to stalk and kill a kid.

Some people - commenters, in the media, certainly online - have had over a year to think about why they take 100% the word of the shooter over any evidence that he might be lying, including many of the lies he has already told.

I think their positions are etched in stone.
posted by gadge emeritus at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Having watched almost the entire trial, I now wish I hadn't, because this lingering disgust for the media will not fade for a while. Or for the prosecution, because what they've shown was not enough to ethically bring the case: no reasonable jury could have reached any verdict but acquittal.
posted by cheburashka at 12:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


That's manslaughter to me, and I don't know how the jury failed to see that.

Because the law makes this sort of manslaughter legal. The issue really really is that Florida has made it completely legal for somebody to follow a black teenager, unprovoked by anything other than a hoodie and skin color, and then shoot him to death.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [74 favorites]


"The system worked!"
posted by Artw at 12:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think their positions are etched in stone.

It's funny, because since Day 0, people have been on either Zimmerman or Martin's side, without waiting until today or later, after due process, and evidence could be presented.
posted by SollosQ at 12:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


no one here seems concerned with whether what Zimmerman did was lawful or not

Quite on the contrary, it seems a lot of people are concerned that what Zimmerman did was considered lawful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [109 favorites]


The jury decided it was lawful.

The problem is that the law is bad.
posted by mephron at 12:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [62 favorites]


Kinda mind boggling that our version of the system working is that we have a law that would let me follow someone and then shoot them if they get scared and try to slug me or something.

Sure it may be the law but it sure as hell ain't right.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Artw: "The not guilty verdict on manslaughter is fucking bizarre."

Word. You can accidentally hit someone with your car and get manslaughter. You can fail to wash your hands at a place you prepare and serve food leading to a customer's death and get manslaughter. You can build a house that falls apart years later and get manslaughter.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [57 favorites]


I've read the previous threads and I'm sure I'm forgetting some details or other of the SYG law in FL. But by almost any reading of what happened here, George Zimmerman was in the wrong. And if there's some crazy law that somehow makes what he did okay? That he, unprovoked, racially profiled and followed and killed a boy who did absolutely nothing to him? Well then the law is wrong. And that we sit and argue about technicalities of a bad law while ignoring the bigger picture of what really happened is maddening and tragic.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Very disappointing...but unfortunately, not surprising.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever been literally horrified by a jury's decision before. I can't believe this.
posted by a hat out of hell at 12:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Having watched almost the entire trial, I now wish I hadn't, because this lingering disgust for the media will not fade for a while.

Embrace it, embrace it.
posted by mannequito at 12:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


There isn't much question in my mind that Trayvon Martin fought Zimmerman. But in any sane system, we'd give the jury legal instructions that said it was Martin who was using lawful self defense -- and that Zimmerman, as the first aggressor, couldn't claim the defense.

You could see this outcome coming but it is nonetheless Kafkaesque.
posted by bearwife at 12:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


In its majestic equality, the law permits the lighter-skinned men and the darker-skinned men alike to follow strangers, confront them with a firearm, and shoot them if they use their fists to defend themselves. (Apologies to Anatole France.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Trayvon Martin was convicted here.
posted by Artw at 12:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [80 favorites]


Artw: “The not guilty verdict on manslaughter is fucking bizarre.”
I wondered about this when it was reported that the jury asked for clarification on manslaughter. The report I read, which I of course cannot find the link for now, indicated that self-defense makes it a justifiable homicide and meant that Zimmerman could be found guilty of neither murder nor manslaughter.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Zimmerman's brother worries for George's safety: "There are people that would want to take the law into their own hands as they perceive it, or be vigilantes in some sense."

Zimmerman's Brother Calls Trayvon Martin a Gun-Running Dope Fiend
posted by homunculus at 12:58 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the whole question is whether or not Zimmerman had the right to shoot Martin in self-defense. And that right rests on whether or not Zimmerman simply followed Martin, or if he followed Martin with his gun pulled out and pointed at Martin thereby giving Martin a justifiable reason for self-defense.

Ah, I see my mistake. I'm afraid I was responding to the question you actually asked (do we know he raised a gun) rather than the one you changed it to.
posted by jaduncan at 12:59 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Zimmerman's brother worries for George's safety: "There are people that would want to take the law into their own hands as they perceive it, or be vigilantes in some sense."

What does one even say to this?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


"I want to know if it's true, and I don't know if it's true, that Trayvon Martin was looking to procure firearms, or growing marijuana, or looking to make lean," he told Piers Morgan and Don Lemon.
Aaaand your humanity card is hereby revoked, please exit the species to your left.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [42 favorites]


I'm afraid I was responding to the question you actually asked (do we know he raised a gun) rather than the one you changed it to.

I didn't change my question, you just don't understand. We all know he raised his gun (as a logical necessity in order to Zimmerman to shoot Martin while Zimmerman was being beaten). But there's no evidence (from what I've been told) that Zimmerman had raised his gun before he and Martin found themselves in a fight, which would be evidence that Martin was just acting in self-defense and that therefore Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter.
posted by SollosQ at 1:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't mean he needs to watch his brains get beaten in without raising a protest.

He didn't raise a fucking protest. He raised a fucking gun.
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 AM on July 14 [+] [!]

And do we know that this happened?


Given that elizardbits was saying that he pulled the weapon during the fight, I feel you may be misreading her then.
posted by jaduncan at 1:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Artw: It's very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Trayvon Martin was convicted here.

To me it really felt more like a failure of the evidence. Most of the plausible scenarios where Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter/murder (Zimmerman starting the fight, Zimmerman brandishing the gun ahead of time, etc.) wouldn't necessarily have left behind physical evidence. So all you're left with is his account, and it's hard to overcome reasonable doubt (I think the cops coached him in how to properly give an account at the very beginning, to make his testimony consistent).

Of course I think he should have gotten manslaughter for causing the entire stupid situation to occur in the first place by stalking a stranger while openly armed, but I'm not sure that's legally valid. Pity.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I assume there's a reason there was only a jury of six people on this trial? I mean, I was on a civil suit jury earlier this year in California, and it had 12 people and no burden of "beyond reasonable doubt." I wonder if it would've been different.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:05 AM on July 14, 2013


I assume there's a reason there was only a jury of six people on this trial? I mean, I was on a civil suit jury earlier this year in California, and it had 12 people and no burden of "beyond reasonable doubt." I wonder if it would've been different.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:05 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


The Florida rules of criminal procedures say that “twelve persons shall constitute a jury to try all capital cases, and 6 persons shall constitute a jury to try all other criminal cases."
posted by SollosQ at 1:07 AM on July 14, 2013


Zimmerman's Brother Calls Trayvon Martin a Gun-Running Dope Fiend

Those comments.

The commenters seem very sure that the skittles were for making "lean". Proof that Martin was some kind of dope fiend is that he posted on Facebook "robitussin and soda makes bomb ass lean". Skittles are apparently a major ingredient in your bomb ass robitussin lean.

Somebody tell the DEA about this shit. I could go across the street the the Duane Reade and get all that stuff.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Random question - why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?
posted by newdaddy at 1:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


That statute is bizarre to me.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:08 AM on July 14, 2013


I'm going to cut & paste what I said earlier (last comment in the other thread) which was in response to something lord_wolf had said.

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 1:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


@Celsius1414: Civil cases require a preponderance of evidence whereas criminal trials require beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why your juror instructions were different.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


This has been bouncing around my facebook feed a lot.

That said, i have a feeling this is going to be a seriously historic verdict and case. The kind of thing that a modern "eyes on the prize" update would feature. Something that will be discussed in classrooms in 50 years, or even more.

Zimmerman's brother worries for George's safety

And he should. I'm actually pretty concerned that this story is going to end with him getting shot by someone, who then gets absolutely pilloried by the justice system.(note that i'm not saying i think they shouldn't be for murdering someone, just that they'll end up getting the death penalty or something)

This is absolutely not the end of this story. But i really doubt that there's any more of it that will play out in court.
posted by emptythought at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jacqueline - I was referring to the fact that even a civil case (with those "lesser" requirements) had 12 jurors.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Celsius1414: “I assume there's a reason there was only a jury of six people on this trial? I mean, I was on a civil suit jury earlier this year in California, and it had 12 people and no burden of "beyond reasonable doubt." I wonder if it would've been different.”
Are Florida's six-member juries constitutional?, Howard Troxler, The Tampa Bay Times, 7 January 2009
Florida, like most states, routinely uses juries of only six members. The exception is for first-degree murder, which gets a 12-member jury.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


self-defense makes it a justifiable homicide

The take away lesson here is that, if in Florida, if someone starts following me down the street at night, that I shouldn't defend myself. At least then the police will be able to charge them correctly.

Florida's legal system is appalling.

My sympathies to Trayvon's family, they must be having an awful time.
posted by arcticseal at 1:11 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


... I think that if you look at the chart the defense held up, it does kinda show the tough job the prosecution had to get a verdict.

(and yeah, I know, that chart is grandstanding and theatrics, but it works as an illustration.)
posted by torticat at 1:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The take away lesson here is that, if in Florida, if someone starts following me down the street at night, that I shouldn't defend myself.

You should shoot them dead is the lesson, especially if there are no witnesses.
posted by Artw at 1:13 AM on July 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


Here's hoping Zimmerman just randomly dies of extremely painful cancer

Artw, come on man.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:17 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the use of a 6-person jury in a Florida criminal case, ruling that neither the language nor the history of the U.S Constitution mandates a 12-person jury. Instead, the Supreme Court, referring to the 12-person jury as a “historical accident,” held that the purpose of a jury is to provide a cross-section of the community, and juries of less than 12 persons in serious felony cases do not violate that purpose or the constitution. Nevertheless, only two states in the U.S. (Florida and Connecticut) allow for 6-person juries for serious felony accusations.
-- Bonnie Sudderth (judge)
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The take away lesson here is that, if in Florida, if someone starts following me down the street at night, that I shouldn't defend myself.

The takeaway lesson is don't be black in Florida.
posted by immlass at 1:20 AM on July 14, 2013 [40 favorites]


This is absolutely not the end of this story. But i really doubt that there's any more of it that will play out in court.

It may become a Federal civil rights case if the DoJ decides to file it. The NAACP has an online petition up. There's also the possibility of a civil suit, a la OJ Simpson.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, fuck Florida for good on this one. Some kinda negaverse OJ trial shit.
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


arcticseal: “The take away lesson here is that, if in Florida, if someone starts following me down the street at night, that I shouldn't defend myself. At least then the police will be able to charge them correctly.

Florida's legal system is appalling.”
The 24 States That Have Sweeping Self-Defense Laws Just Like Florida’s, Cora Currier, ProPublica, 22 March 2012
posted by ob1quixote at 1:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Trayvon Martin was convicted here.

"The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found innocent: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty."
posted by homunculus at 1:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


I think a lot of people living in Northeast Florida had doubts that much would go well for anyone connected with this case, except Angela Corey, once her office and prosecutorial team took over the case. It will be interesting to follow Mara's attempts to have her and her team of crack prosecutors censured for prosecutorial misconduct, and prevailing wisdom in Duval County legal circles is that Mara and West may well hang something on her, that is well deserved.

But my takeaway from this case is a smaller, and far more quiet one, than any I've seen or read in media. It happened in the middle of a conversation I was having Friday morning at breakfast, in a local cafe, while talking with a young black guy that also eats there fairly regularly, as we both sat under CNN on the television, which was rehashing the previous day's trial updates. He works as a counselor at the Jacksonville Beach Boy's Club, and while he doesn't have a lot of education, he's generally a pretty thoughtful guy, and we've had a few good conversations about local topics, including race relations in Florida beach towns.

So we're sitting there, each plowing through our breakfasts, half listening to CNN, and I said something to the effect that this all might have worked out so differently, if Trayvon Martin had called 911, like George Zimmerman was, instead of a girl he knew in Miami, and been willing to let the cops sort it out between he and Zimmerman. And then my young black acquaintance said something like "That would never happen. Even I wouldn't have called the cops, if I were in Trayvon's shoes, that night. Not very many black kids ever would be taught to do that."

And I got his quiet point, sitting there, seeing him slightly shake his head at my initial lack of comprehension.

It's not the back end of the criminal justice system that failed Trayvon Martin, it's all of us who didn't make it safe and normal for him to call 911 on the front end, throughout his life, when ever he felt threatened. Like the song from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific says "You've got to be taught to hate and fear, you've got to be carefully taught." And maybe you've got to be taught to call 911, knowing you'll have a decent chance of getting a prompt response that takes your welfare seriously, when the cops do show up.

Like George Zimmerman was taught. (And I don't mean this at all ironically.)
posted by paulsc at 1:30 AM on July 14, 2013 [191 favorites]


why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?

I suppose it's only relevant because of the rarity of such a situation. For whatever reason, both the defense and the prosecution thought that these six people would be most sympathetic to their respective cases. I believe they are all mothers, and I've seen speculation that the prosecution was hoping that the loss of a child would resonate, as well as speculation that the defense was banking on the idea of fear and defenseless while under attack would strike a chord with the older women. (Never mind that the idea of Zimmerman being defenseless is frankly appalling.) The alternates consisted of two men and two women, so it's not like the lawyers dismissed the idea of a sympathetic male juror entirely, they just happened to coalesce on those six.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


jaduncan: "Legally speaking he's walking because Florida self defence reverses the burden of proof; all the defence have to do is demonstrate a prima facie case for self defence that the prosecution then have to disprove. The main opposing witness is dead, so that's a problematically high bar."

So that Marissa Alexander woman in Blazecock Pileon's comment would have had a better chance legally if she'd killed her husband? If you get into a fight in Florida, the easiest thing to do if you want to avoid jail is shoot your opponent? That is a strange state.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?

Perhaps it's a useful way for the media to distract readers from the less-reported fact that none were African-American (while still suggesting legitimacy of the outcome).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm a 46 year old, black male and in light of this and so many other racially charged killings, I long for a cold, dispassionate Justice. Not to be tried in the court of public opinion or by vigilantes. Not to become a victim of mob hysteria or the target of the self-righteous.

There is no George Zimmerman; he's just an ugly cog doing its job in an ugly machine. We still know little about the guy and honestly, from the bit we have seen, it's hard to believe he has the intelligence to understand the larger implications of this trial.

I'm willing to live in a world where the law is the law and everyone has to follow the law. And meanwhile we work night and day to protect each other while we create an equitable and just set of laws.

The saddest part (to me) is that the entire situation reads like a nightmarish word problem where the only solution is death. Trayvon and Zimmerman as archetypes trapped in a pattern that everyone is familiar with and we still can't break it. Even though it is choking the life out of everything meaningful in our lives.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [89 favorites]


Regarding shooting into the air vs. shooting someone: The underlying principle is that if you are not genuinely and reasonably in fear for your life or of grave bodily harm then you should not pull a gun on someone.

So it's not that it's better to shoot someone than to shoot into the air, but that there are acceptable circumstances to shoot someone (self defense) whereas there are no acceptable circumstances to just shoot into the air in an attempt to scare someone because that's not what guns are for.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


In my heart I believe that Zimmerman was guilty but please remember that he wasn't proven innocent - the prosecution simply didn't present enough information to convict him.

And at least there was a trial. In most of the cases that have been most important to America, from the Iraq War to the global financial crisis, there wasn't even that much.

Still, it's depressing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?

After the initial reporting of the makeup of the jury, I always see the next 6,374 mentions of jury gender per day as sign that the media has nothing to report. So each anchor nervously repeats what the news directors think is relevant until they are forced to take a gulp of air at which time another talking head knocks them away from the camera and takes over for the next 8 hours, reporting the same jury-gender story, but this time with a slightly more furled brow.

In other words, it has relevance in a general sense, but not past the initial reporting in most cases. Maybe after the trial is over, it can be determined whether it had an impact one way or another, but juries always seem to be a fickle group to predict. So it seems that reading into it too early is not that productive.
posted by lampshade at 1:52 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a woman and one time a guy grabbed my ass on the street and I punched him out and broke his nose and he fell down and most likely hit his head on the ground. Is it OK for him to respond by shooting me now?.

If you live in Florida, and especially of there are no witnesses around, the answer is "yes".

Look, America puts up with 33,000-35,000 gunshot deaths every year from person-on-person violence and suicide, and roughly 2-3 times that per your in gunshot injuries. Here are some 2010 statistics, just for starters.

We're 4th, right behind right behind South Africa, Columbia and Thailand in annual gun deaths.

Here's more stats

Just think, let's say someone in Florida (or any other Neanderthal "stand your ground" state) doesn't like a person. All they have to do is shoot them when no witnesses are around and then claim that they felt like their lives were threatened as a way to go free. A good attorney and a good story gets you off. That's insane, especially in a civilized country - or a country that purports to brag about its "values".

I've come to the conclusion that most people who passionately defend the stupid - yes, stupid - gun laws in places like Florida are just ignorant, and maybe even a little sick - sick from ginned up fear; or wannabe headhunters; or just plain wacko. Certainly, they are ignorant people - there is no other word for them.

Also, the NRA and its senior officials - and their gun manufacturing overlords - are little more than terrorists. How can they be called anything but? After all, they lobby and buy their way into legislation that permits more than 30,000 annual deaths in America from the products they peddle, every year.

Incidentally, who are the people that run the gun companies? What are their names? Where do they live? Why isn't anyone peacefully picketing their chic homes - in tony neighborhoods - carrying signs with pictures of gunshot slaughtered people (men, women, children, pets).

Guess what? the real terrorists have won! there are well over 300 million guns in this country. Sure, gun ownership is down, and 20% (roughly) of new purchases are made by repeat buyers. That's somewhat comforting, but how do you solve the problem of access, even if you closed down every gun manufacturer in America. 300million+ guns!. And now, we have an ignorant yahoo geek advocating the manufacture of 3D printed guns at home (not perfected, yet - but it's only a matter of time).

This is a really, really sick society - far more sick than the fear-ginning press and their advertising overlords lets on. May the gods help us all!!!
posted by Vibrissae at 1:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [62 favorites]


So it's not that it's better to shoot someone than to shoot into the air, but that there are acceptable circumstances to shoot someone (self defense) whereas there are no acceptable circumstances to just shoot into the air in an attempt to scare someone because that's not what guns are for.

This is a tricky thing though. It's come up before that the military and certain police forces are allowed to fire warning shots, but that random person A in the US isn't allowed to at all ever.

It's just too easy for me to see her reasoning here. She was prepared to use deadly force, he likely did not think she was even though she was armed. What she's communicating there is "i am fully prepared to use deadly force".

What proponents of no warning shots seem to want is a situation in which he advances in a way that she believes is a Legitimate Threat until she has no choice but to fire.

Which seems to just be a one way ticket to a world with more dead people, since those who disregard "i'm going to fire if you come any closer" type warnings will simply advance until they're fired upon.

Overall i agree with the high burden required to legally use a firearm in self defense, but i think that specific clause of the whole thing is crap. Not allowing any sort of nonverbal warning involving the weapon just doesn't completely make sense to me.

And her situation especially highlights my problem with it. An aggressive abusive guy probably has shitty opinions about women, and likely especially that woman. These seem to include "she's a wimp and won't fire if i push her".

So the question is pretty much, would you rather she just shot him if he "crossed the line" rather than fired warning shots? a lot of peoples answers seem to heavily imply "yes" even though they couch them in "but i'm not saying she should have just shot him". That rings about as hollow as "i'm not blaming the victim but.." shit.
posted by emptythought at 1:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


One step closer to legalizing showdowns in the streets, I guess. Whoever won was just acting in self defense, your honor.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


there are well over 300 million guns in this country.

This floored me, to put this in perspective there are 313.9 million people IN THIS COUNTRY.

There is likely more guns in this country than people, if not just a parity.

inb4 some kind of modest proposal type thing about how the government should collect all the guns and redistribute them so that every single person in the country is armed at all times.
posted by emptythought at 2:00 AM on July 14, 2013


There is no George Zimmerman; he's just an ugly cog doing its job in an ugly machine.

It's impossible to pull any one quote from this amazing Bill Moyers interview with Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson, but I find myself watching it every couple of months, so I'll try:

"MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Yes. Well, on [Obama's] election night, I was filled with hope and enthusiasm. Like much of America. And as I poured out of the election night party, along with, you know, hundreds of others folks, there in the gutter, was an African American man handcuffed behind his back, kneeling on his knees in the gutter. And he was surrounded by a number of police officers who were talking and joking, you know, completely oblivious to him, to his human existence.

And as people poured out of the party, people glanced over, briefly, took a look at him, and then went on their way with their celebrations. And I thought to myself, "What does the election of Barack Obama mean for him? Mean for him? In what way are those folks who are truly at the bottom of the well in America, in what way have they benefited?" And I think the difficult reality that we have to come to terms with is that not much has changed or will change for the folks at the bottom of the well. Until we as a nation kind of awaken. Awaken to their humanity."
posted by phaedon at 2:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [57 favorites]


No sir. I don't like it.
posted by mazola at 2:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Comment deleted; guys, let's not be suggesting/promoting who should be murdered as revenge, or anything like that. ]
posted by taz at 2:13 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Brothers and sisters, this is not a test
I've been asked by Public Enemy leader Chuck D to make this emergency announcement:
The police in your cities, for all intents and purposes, have declared open season on black people"


.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Dammit, it was a boy minding his own business walking down the street.

Jesus.
posted by droplet at 2:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that, had the roles been reversed, Trayvon Martin would NOT have been convicted of Murder in the First Degree?

No, of course not. Because that is a deeply delusional concept.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [37 favorites]


Jay Smooth's Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Case
posted by Blasdelb at 2:30 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your governments gangster so cut the crap
A war goin on so where you at?
Fight the power comes great responsiblity
Fuck the police but whos stoppin you from killin me?

posted by Ad hominem at 2:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would believe it, oneswellfoop.

I'm a little bit concerned by the fact that everyone that hates this outcome simply thinks that they know better than the rule of law and the legal system as a whole. In saying that the outcome is wrong, you also assume that the women on the jury are, what, stupid? Delusional? Wrong? How do you know better than them?

"The six women, five of them mothers, who will decide the verdict range in age from their early 30's to their 60's. Four of the women have experience with guns or relatives who own them. Two of them rescue animals. One of the jurors is either Hispanic or black."

Here's what I know. A man shot another man. An investigation was started, the DA pressed charges (granted, after some public pressure), and then was up to the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was guilty of the charges that he was charged with.

If that doesn't happen, then the jury must find the defendant innocent. That appears to be what happened in this case. Why does everyone think that they know better than the jury? What information do they have that the jury does not? Were they there that night?

It's notable that the charge of manslaughter was introduced late in the case, presumably when the prosecution realized that they might not get the conviction on murder. It's notable, also, that the jury didn't just sit there and nod and accept things, but asked a question on clarification on the instructions regarding that specific charge of manslaughter.


I don't know what the truth is. Perhaps only George Zimmerman knows. I only know that killing people is generally wrong, and yet there are occasions when it is lawful. But to presume that the court of law is wrong, to presume that a jury of capable people were unable to find the correct judgment - I think that presumes a lot. I think it indicates a problematic mistrust in a judicial system that seems to have worked exactly as it would work in any other homicide case.
posted by Han Tzu at 2:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Han Tzu: "I think that presumes a lot. I think it indicates a problematic mistrust in a judicial system that seems to have worked exactly as it would work in any other homicide case."

Well, yeah, it's been doing a pretty good job of keeping down the already marginalized.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Han Tzu, there are unjust laws...
posted by artof.mulata at 2:52 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Prosecutorial incompetence seems to have been a factor.

Why did the prosecution decide to introduce in its own case the several audio and video statements made by George Zimmerman to the police after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? Clearly, these statements could not have been admitted by the defense. The statements are hearsay and under one of the most firmly established rules of evidence, are not admissible if offered by the defense...Thus, in allowing Zimmerman's statements to be heard by the jury, and his demeanor seen by the jury, without being able to confront and cross-examine him in court, the prosecution made its biggest mistake in the trial.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think quite a few people are saying that the law is what's wrong, not necessarily the process. Specifically, the "Stand-Your-Ground" law that enables the use of force in self defense without compelling retreat first. Zimmerman stalked Martin, then initiated the confrontation that (he claims) resulted in a fight for his life - but none of the reasons why the confrontation happened seem to matter. All that mattered in the end was that a confrontation occurred, and he was defending himself.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally I think Zimmerman was at fault for provocation leading to manslaughter. But I also think that the prosecution didn't have enough evidence - you've got 1 911 call and zimmermans side if the story. That's it. No other evidence is admissible since it would be hearsay or speculation. For how screwed up people think the justice system is (and rightly so) I think there's not much you can do to convict a guy with zero evidence.

If it's any consolation to the people who are angry in this thread the man has been basically been branded an outcast on national news for 6 weeks. He'll have to change his name and start over and his chances if living a normal life are now basically over. I doubt any employer will ever want to hire him. So there you go there's some vengeance I guess.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 2:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


In saying that the outcome is wrong, you also assume that the women on the jury are, what, stupid? Delusional? Wrong?

Just wrong. I personally feel the state met the burden of proof necessary for the manslaughter charge.

It's notable that the charge of manslaughter was introduced late in the case.


That is not accurate.

But to presume that the court of law is wrong, to presume that a jury of capable people were unable to find the correct judgment - I think that presumes a lot


Juries do get cases wrong sometimes, you don't need to have a total lack of respect for the system to feel this is one of those times. Though,

I think it indicates a problematic mistrust in a judicial system


There are some very good reasons to mistrust this justice system, especially as it regards African Americans who are treated terribly by it at every level. What are they supposed to do about that? Vote? In Florida nearly 25% of African Americans are disenfranchised as felons because of that same system. Mistrusting it is pretty sensible.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


there is irony in the zimmerman trial. it might not have been murder. it might not have been manslaughter. these are legal technicalities. but, the stand yr ground laws was born out of centuries of white men killing black boys. the murder and manslaughter laws were constructed in an environment that were intended to police black bodies. there might be no legal justice, because in the american south, the history of policing black bodies, results in white men killing black boys. 50 years ago, there wouldn't have been a trial. and that is progress.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


And you're telling me a jury in Florida would acquit a black man who shot a white man if there are no witnesses and he claims self-defense? How naive can you get?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


ishrinkmajeans: "If it's any consolation to the people who are angry in this thread the man has been basically been branded an outcast on national news for 6 weeks. He'll have to change his name and start over and his chances if living a normal life are now basically over. I doubt any employer will ever want to hire him. So there you go there's some vengeance I guess."

Not really-- he can just set up another donation site and get tens of thousands in donations from other racists around the country just like last time.
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [38 favorites]


There were witnesses and they seemed to be conflicting, oneswellfoop, or we wouldn't be here.
posted by Han Tzu at 3:03 AM on July 14, 2013


So that Marissa Alexander woman in Blazecock Pileon's comment would have had a better chance legally if she'd killed her husband? If you get into a fight in Florida, the easiest thing to do if you want to avoid jail is shoot your opponent? That is a strange state.

Absolutely she would have. If she'd killed him she'd likely never even have been charged. Eliminate the witnesses and you're better off.

I'm a woman and one time a guy grabbed my ass on the street and I punched him out and broke his nose and he fell down and most likely hit his head on the ground. Is it OK for him to respond by shooting me now? Because I'm starting to wonder.

Or for you to shoot him. As long as there's no witnesses, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it could not have been self defence. Historically, self defence has been an affirmative defence with a reversed burden of proof. Precisely for this reason, it makes killing people much easier to get away with.
posted by atrazine at 3:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems very USA that the whole thing is played out as a show trial - really whatever the outcome. Surely there are other issues in this case (e.g. the fact that Zimmerman was able to walk away without issue after having killed a man in questionable circumstances, and the system that allows this) that could be concentrated on. But no, let's have a media circus instead. See also, all mass shooting incidents.
posted by iotic at 3:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]




Absolutely she would have. If she'd killed him she'd likely never even have been charged. Eliminate the witnesses and you're better off.

Well with the important caveat that you need a good attorney.
posted by empath at 3:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a tragic case. It's a tragedy when any young life ends like this. What saddens me though is that there's so little perspective in this discussion.

Did you know that despite the fact that African Americans make up about 12-13% of the US population (see Census 2010 data), approximately 50% of murder victims are African American males (see FBI data here)?

The truth of the matter is that young men like Trayvon Martin are far more likely to be killed than their white or Hispanic peers. Furthermore, they are almost always killed by other African Americans- about 87% of the time if my math is right (see FBI data here). Furthermore, about 3/4 of the time, these homicides involve an acquaintance, friend, or family.

Total things up, and approximately 10,000 African American males have been murdered since this case began in February 2012.

For a concise summary of data involving homicide, see this report.

Put it together and you see that what happened to Trayvon Martin is certainly tragic, but it was a rare occurrence when you look at the statistics and consider the bigger picture.

There's an epidemic of massively disproportionate violence out there happening between African Americans, usually acquaintances... especially in certain violent states... and we aren't talking about it despite the fact that it is claiming thousands of lives every year. Why can't our media focus on this rampant problem? Why are most people totally unaware of it? Why aren't we interested in discussing it as a society... or even here, for that matter?
posted by Old Man McKay at 3:13 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


"He'll have to change his name and start over..."

So if you come across a smug looking fuck calling himself George Dylan, that'll probably be him.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 3:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


From the far side of the Atlantic, what seems to have happened here can be summed up in 12 words:

George Zimmerman was given a fair trial—by a corrupt legal system.

The solution is a root-and-branch replacement of Florida's—and quote possibly the USA's—entire legal system: encompassing not just laws, but law enforcement agencies, courts, and prosecutors.

Preferably with a system that makes it impossible to hide, or to defend, racism-motivated violence.

(Before you complain that this is impossible I'd like to note that something like this has been/is being attempted in Northern Ireland, where sectarianism on the order of serious racial discrimination was the order of the day until the 1990s.)
posted by cstross at 3:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


I'm really interested in these Stand Your Ground laws and what we can do about them.

Also, I found this blog post brief but really helpful: Adulting – Semi-constructive things to do with your anguish.

According to her post, the following states have some form of Stand Your Ground laws or Castle Doctrines: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

I have been unable to find information about California so far, but maybe somebody can help with this (and other states). What can we do? (perhaps some options for people currently not residing in the US, too please)

Additionally, press statement from the Southern Poverty Law center on the verdict.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:27 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you are defending this based solely on Florida's justice system you are missing the forest for the trees. And the forest is full of strange fruit.
posted by chaz at 3:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [41 favorites]


To my mind, it's worth distinguishing between stand your ground laws that apply in public places and those that only apply to the home (Castle doctrine). Expecting a person to retreat in a public place makes sense to me; expecting them to do so in their homes does not.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Strange fruit
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:45 AM on July 14, 2013


Right now on reddit: "Iama close relative of George Zimmerman. I was with George directly before the shooting, and with his wife when he called and told us what had happened. AMA"

Last edit: I've made a terrible mistake.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's always funny to see people bickering about "stand your ground laws" in the Zimmerman case. Because in doing so they instantly identify themselves as utterly clueless.

Stand your ground was _no_ factor in the case. The defense waived the pre-trial hearing that it could have had about stand your ground. Because they knew stand your ground didn't apply.

The case was decided simply on the normal, everyday self-defense theory.

Go, read the jury instructions. They lay out the relevant law. They even include a sentence that no law not addressed in the jury instructions is pertinent to the case. Now realize, stand your ground is not mentioned anywhere.
posted by 2uo at 3:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Right now on reddit: "Iama close relative of George Zimmerman. I was with George directly before the shooting, and with his wife when he called and told us what had happened. AMA"

This relative is ad that the light has gone from George's eyes and he's no longer as jovial as he used to be. Also, there is a difference between shooting someone while feeling slightly threatened, and shooting someone while getting the crap beat out of you by someone you don't know and George is very sad he had to shoot Trayvon, but he knows he can't change the past and anyway this case was obviously trumped up by the media, who need a bogeyman, even though worse things happen between black people everyday and the black community really needs to talk about that because George has been a shut-in and depressed and its just terrible how for the rest of his life he'll have to always be hiding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thanks for reading that crap so we don't have to Brandon. Blech.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:52 AM on July 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Last edit: I've made a terrible mistake.

Going online to make jokes about the racial tensions the night of the verdict? Yeah, good call dude.

I also find it interesting that he notes Zimmerman had a gun in part because people were being jumped in the neighborhood. Don't recall that being mentioned before, just the burglaries. They had said he bought the gun because of an aggressive dog owned by a neighbor.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure most of that has been in the public record for about 2 years now, Drinky Die, via records of all Zimmerman's calls to the police in that area in the months before the shooting.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:59 AM on July 14, 2013


I plan to boycott Florida and its products, for a start.

Yet another lynching goes unpunished.
posted by spitbull at 4:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, totally the same as a lynching. /hamburger
posted by ShutterBun at 4:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


three-fifths, that's all we are.

...at most
posted by Eideteker at 4:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm fresh out of ally cookies.
posted by Eideteker at 4:04 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


So that Marissa Alexander woman in Blazecock Pileon's comment would have had a better chance legally if she'd killed her husband? If you get into a fight in Florida, the easiest thing to do if you want to avoid jail is shoot your opponent? That is a strange state.

If you're going to claim that the person you shot did something to activate your right to self-defence, it will indeed be easier to walk if there is no opposing witness to say they did not (assuming no witnesses).

This naturally leads to a certain tendency to bring the other person's character into the trial; some of the battle is how likely that person was to undertake the actions you claim, and how reasonable it was to believe they were going to severely harm you.
posted by jaduncan at 4:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I plan to boycott Florida and its products, for a start.

Florida isn't the only state that has a legally-mandated problem with minorities, but it definitely is up there on the list. Why the Department of Justice is not doing its job and charging members of Florida's government as accessories to violent hate crimes is an ongoing matter of amazement, to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me among the outraged.
posted by Gelatin at 4:15 AM on July 14, 2013


NAACP website is down at the moment. Anyone know what that's about? And when it happened? Or is it just that so many people are trying to sign the petition?
posted by Stewriffic at 4:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right now on reddit: "Iama close relative of George Zimmerman.

Where on this computer is the 'Reach Through The Internet To Give Someone A Slap Upside The Head' button? Is it under the Bad Idea Prevention panel? I can't find anything! Stupid Windows 8!

Last edit: I've made a terrible mistake.

Ah. Found it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.
posted by surplus at 4:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


This brings back something for me: a long time ago, I lived in a house next door to a place there was a murder. One of my housemates was a young black woman. She saw most of the murder - not the critical moment, but she saw the quarrel through a window and saw the victim run out fatally stabbed to die on the street in the rain. The cops came, and then they left for a while, and they left the body out there, uncovered, in the rain for 14 hours until my housemate called the mayor's office. (I was out of town when all this happened). My street was mostly black and latin@ at the time. She was telling me about it later and saying that it was so terrible to treat the body like that, and so terrible to leave it where the little kids on the block had to see it. And that was the first time that I realized - me a pretty sheltered, clueless white kid - the utter, entrenched, poisonous disregard for black humans that is entrenched in almost every US institution and that this disregard is invisible and unimportant to most white people.

If this case weren't taking place in a white supremacist society (well, it probably wouldn't have happened except in a white supremacist society) then it would just be a terrible tragedy. As it stands, it's one more in a long list of incidents that demonstrate that the system and the white folks who enable it....just don't even care about the lives of black people. That you can shoot someone down like a dog (and that's what happened to Rekia Boyd, and Amadou Diallo and two different black guys that friends of mine actually witnessed get shot by cops, as I've recounted elsewhere here, and too many other people) and whoa, nobody gets punished and lots of people line up to smear the name of the victim. (I would care a lot more about 'oh maybe Trayvon Martin was dodgy in some way' except that everyone says that every fucking time - he could have been in choirboy robes toting a basket of kittens on his way to visit at the old folks' home and people would still say it.)

I mean, this is the message that white-centric society is sending - that the very lives of black men and women aren't important. This is what just gets me. On a different axis, I know what it's like to grow up absolutely certain that you are hated and reviled by mainstream society (being fat and queer and trans) and I know how it erodes your sense of well-being and chews away at you even when you're around friends - but I have never felt that someone could just kill me out of the blue (as happened to Rekia Boyd, just out of the blue - not even in the murky circumstances of Martin's death) and get away with it. No one should have to live that way, but no one wants to look at that fact. It's so terrible and cruel that it's almost incomprehensible to me, it's like trying to imagine infinity.

Again, if this were a totally isolated and random case, it would just be tragic. But it's the same thing that happens over and over and over, and by happy coincidence, virtually every single time there are no consequences (or trivial, insulting consequences, as with Oscar Grant) for the killer. By happy coincidence, society always decides that "in this case", it's justified to kill the unarmed African-American.
posted by Frowner at 4:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [138 favorites]


There was a young black kid on Twitter last night who broke my heart when he tweeted, "How many times you gotta tell us we ain't worth shit? We get the message."

Seriously, this is just all kinds of fucked up.
posted by Kitteh at 4:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [88 favorites]


I don't have much to add to this except to say that as someone who was born, grew up, was educated and currently still lives in Florida I'm so disgusted and ashamed that I don't really know what to say. I knew Zimmerman would be aquitted and yet I was still shocked when it happened. The state has been completely taken over by the right-wing crazies and the corporate oligarchs and is beyond repair. I don't see anything improving in my lifetime no matter what I and other progressives do and so my only option is to leave. I'm done, I just can't care about this place anymore.
posted by photoslob at 4:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


So that Marissa Alexander woman in Blazecock Pileon's comment would have had a better chance legally if she'd killed her husband? If you get into a fight in Florida, the easiest thing to do if you want to avoid jail is shoot your opponent? That is a strange state.

Apples and non-apples. There is a LOT more to the Alexander case that what fits in a Facebook headline, to the extent that bringing it up here as some kind of comparison point ought to be pretty embarrassing. Far from being any sort of "heat of the moment" or "imminent threat" situation, that case involved a verbal argument (with children present) culminating in Alexander going to her car, retrieving a gun, and going back inside to shoot at* her husband, with their children nearby. Had he been hit, she would have been facing the electric chair, no doubt. Totally, totally different. No reason to bring it up here as a comparison at all.

* It's of course impossible to determine what (or whom, if anything) she was aiming at, but the shots were fired in the direction of her husband & their kids, who fled the scene together.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is horrendous. I remember when this came in the news, with people using Skittles to symbolize support for Travyon Martin. I'm really, truly sorry to hear about this verdict.
posted by ipsative at 4:49 AM on July 14, 2013


x-post from my Facebook

The Zimmerman verdict is America buying into the idea that anyone darker than a cup of coffee with cream in it is a threat. (Doubly so if you happen to be Muslim, triply so if you're Sikh. But I digress...)

I'm mad at that, but maybe I'll start enjoying the the space I get when people cross the street to avoid me. Maybe I'll stop feeling worried when my fists ball up when someone walks up behind me. Maybe I'll take extra relish in someone telling me "your English is real good, son!" or "tell your mother she's beautiful" (as if she doesn't speak English herself). [1]

But no. That isn't what's going to happen, because as a young American who *is* darker than a macchiato [2], who wears "the wrong things" and listens to "the wrong music" I "deserve" what happens to me and that if I do try to stand my own ground, I'm liable to be put beneath it. And furthermore, because law is built upon precedent, this will probably happen again in an even more mundane context and the shooter will get off...

Even without a word from the president, because he's too busy politickin' [3] and has his hands tied, because even in America today, you can't both be black and the President. You have to choose one or the other. He can "only imagine" [4] because he can't really do anything about it.

[1] = All things that have happened.
[2] = Want.
[3] = "...that's that Sarah Palin." Definitely an example of "the wrong music".

Bonus article: Cord Jefferson absolutely nails it in his piece, "The Zimmerman Jury Told Young Black Men What We Already Knew".
posted by raihan_ at 4:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm done, I just can't care about this place anymore.

Granted, this is on top of all the other bullshit that happens in Florida, but...you're going to let 6 people convince you an entire state is no good?

I live in California, where "we" let O.J. off the hook, along with the Rodney King assault squad. Has our state been overrun by right-wing wackos? (eh, maybe. But I'm not ready to leave just yet.)

The fact of the matter is that (in San Franciso, California, anyway) 70% of all murder jury trials end in acquittal, hung juries, or mixed verdicts. Even the public defender's office has about a 50% batting average. And that's really just on cases where the D.A. wouldn't (or couldn't) make deals. Imagine their average on a situation like this, which was pushed forward for reasons other than simply "a strong evidentiary case."

The bottom line is that it's just plain difficult to get a murder conviction fair & square. It's OK to be "not surprised" and yet disappointed with the outcome. But I think what was really missing from the case was not "a competent, impartial jury," but rather "a more clear-cut case." As much as people want this all to boil down to "Trayvon Martin is dead, and he shouldn't be, so someone's got to pay," the truth is that there is indeed more to it than that, legally speaking. There were no tricks, no technicalities, no loopholes employed by the defense, (that I know of) it was simply the legal standard of "guilty (under these circumstances) beyond a reasonable doubt" that could no be overcome. Again, looking at the numbers above, it's clearly not the exception.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is a total failure of justice - not just in the verdict but in the state and environment that let this happen. If the young man he killed were white, Zimmerman would be considered a Latino murderer and probably already convicted. Black life doesn't matter to this country.
posted by graymouser at 4:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


To me it's simple. If you have to get out of your car to follow someone, it's no longer "your ground" you're standing on.
posted by tommasz at 5:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


God, Trayvon's parents. I can't imagine going forward with the rest of my life after something like that; I would be consumed with hate.
posted by angrycat at 5:11 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


To expand on my comment from the last thread:

To everybody telling us that the court works the way it should have, you're missing the issue. The courts were the problem. From the the unjust gun and self-defense laws through the way the prosecution handled the case, it was a brilliant examination of how farcical the US "justice" system can be when it comes to the social and legal problems with large segments of the population. Remember, this happened in a state where there was a good chance that Martin would have been denied his right to vote due to an ever more Byzantine set of roadblocks publicly stated to be about voter fraud (that didn't exist) but privately set up to prevent people that look like him from voting. His entire life was going to be unjust, and being IDed as a violent drug user by a paranoid gun owner being told about the specter of black bucks running amok by other paranoid gun owners was part of that.

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 5:14 AM on July 14, 2013 [69 favorites]


So... pretending, for a moment, that the guy isn't an avowed racist and the whole thing isn't the latest national disgrace. Legally speaking, what prevents ANY person who shoots and kills another person, in the absence of witnesses, from claiming they did it in self defense and getting off? Surely I can't just kill somebody and say, "Presumption of innocence, reasonable doubt, self defense, seeya."
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find myself looking at the situation as a programming decision tree (I'm a programmer, go figure). To get to the result that ends with Trayvon Martin dead of a gunshot wound to the chest, you have to have consistently made poor choices, many of which require racist motivations. Any deviation from stupid and/or racist, and Travon lives.

When someone has to die because you're a racist coward, you're a murderer. That seems simple enough to me.
posted by Mooski at 5:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


The problem is that the law is bad.

That's true, but let's not forget that there is still discretion in its application. There is more than one wrong, here.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:21 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Others point out that this verdict depended on the unique nature of the law in Florida.

Fla. mom gets 20 years for firing warning shots
"


Not even a close analogy. This woman left the house and came back with a gun. That is NOT standing your ground. Furthermore the husband said it was not a warning shot that she simply missed. Considering the location of the bullet holes it was not clear that it was a warning shot.



graymouser: "This is a total failure of justice - not just in the verdict but in the state and environment that let this happen. If the young man he killed were white, Zimmerman would be considered a Latino murderer and probably already convicted. Black life doesn't matter to this country."

If Mr Martin was white, you are right that Mr Zimmerman would be recognized as Latino. We wouldn't have had the media deliberately editing comments to make Zimmerman seem like a racist. We wouldn't have had the federal government and the opportunity-seekers such as Sharpton sweeping in. There would have been no uproar, no national news, and Mr Zimmerman would not have been arrested. There would been no games played with showing a picture of the victim from several years ago, no manipulation by calling the victim by his first name and the killer by his last, none of the bs with comments like "trayvon is African-American. Zimmerman considers himself Latino".

In the end you have 2 people. The killer claims self defense. The evidence and eyewitnesses seemed to support this claim or at the very least insufficient evidence was found to prove it wasn't. The skin colors didn't change those facts.

What we have here is NOT a failure of the justice system. Amazingly it worked just as it should - considering the evidence, the prosecutors actions, and the charge presented. Despite the political pressure, despite the threats, the jury kept to the idea of guilty until proven innocent.


At the most I would say it is a failure of the political system and our ability to keep politics separate from the justice system. Without the political pressure Zimmerman would not have been charged with Murder. He would have been charged with Manslaughter. Manslaughter would have been far easier to prove and would have had a much greater chance of a success. Yes, the judge allowed the last minute change in the jury's instructions so they could consider manslaughter but that just seemed like a desperate attempt by a prosecutor who recognized the case for murder wasn't proven.
posted by 2manyusernames at 5:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Citizen juries are a ridiculous concept and should have been eliminated ages ago.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


73-year-old Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers assaulted onstage after dedicating a song to Trayvon Martin.
posted by metaman livingblog at 5:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Citizen juries are a ridiculous concept and should have been eliminated ages ago.

You have a right to be tried by a jury of your peers. Unfortunately, in this case, with such a small, overwhelmingly white jury, we will never know if that made a difference.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


no surprise; the prosecution never had anything approaching beyond a reasonable doubt. the more interesting question - which appears to be unsettled under FL law - is whether the acquittal automatically results in immunity from civil suit.
posted by jpe at 5:41 AM on July 14, 2013


The jury did their job, it's the law that is broken. The system can be fixed as the system allows itself to be fixed. Vote, volunteer, speak out.
posted by Mick at 5:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shutterbun, this isn't about 6 people. It's about the millions of Floridians that have no problem with the verdict and think stand your ground laws are the answer to a non-existent problem.
posted by photoslob at 5:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Without the political pressure Zimmerman would not have been charged with Murder.

Without pressure, he wouldn't have been arrested and charged at all. Remember, the police questioned him, decided his story was true and let him go after about five hours.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


I think it's debatable whether the jury did their job and/or came up with a respectable verdict. There's a lot of racial/class privilege that the defense seems to have taken advantage of.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


" In the end, this wasn't a trial of George Zimmerman, this was a trial of Trayvon Martin"

it was a self-defense claim. how could self-defense be argued without looking at the alleged attacker's conduct?
posted by jpe at 5:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


My own brother lives in Florida, and I still think the state deserves to be boycotted and ostracized. Like few other states, a tourism boycott would hurt Florida. Come on, people. Lets do it.
posted by spitbull at 5:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Legally speaking, what prevents ANY person who shoots and kills another person, in the absence of witnesses, from claiming they did it in self defense and getting off? Surely I can't just kill somebody and say, "Presumption of innocence, reasonable doubt, self defense, seeya."

Well, if your victim isn't a black male the jury is going to be less likely to believe a claim that someone randomly tried to murder you for no reason constitutes reasonable doubt.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can understand that people are angry about the verdict, but really, the prosecution did an absolutely shit job. I watched a couple of shorts of the "lowlights" on YouTube and it was completely cringeworthy. There was one instance where the prosecution was cross-examining a witness about her Twitter account and he didn't appear to know the difference between Facebook and Twitter, and alleged that she was following people when she was only receiving automatic recommendations to follow them. The PowerPoint summary was also extremely amateurish. Perhaps this kind of thing shouldn't make a difference but the fact is that it does, and it's perhaps unreasonable to expect the jury to be mentally compensating for the difference in courtroom skill of the prosecutor and defense attorneys during their deliberations. Given a case of this high profile, couldn't they have done a better job? I think if O'Mara was the prosecutor and "Dr Phil" as the defense the verdict could easily have gone the other way. So in a sense I think O'Mara deserved his victory today.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


2manyusernames: if you think that shooting a young white man wouldn't have gotten George Zimmerman arrested and charged in Florida, you don't understand the United States well enough to comment on this case.
posted by graymouser at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


@ drinky die: if there's a witness and physical evidence supporting the defendent's story and no evidence to the contrary, this plays out the same regardless of race.
posted by jpe at 5:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


We wouldn't have had the media deliberately editing comments to make Zimmerman seem like a racist.

If you can come up with a better reason for a guy saying that a black kid "walking casually" was on drugs, armed, and about to engage in criminal activity, we're all welcome to hear it.

We wouldn't have had the federal government and the opportunity-seekers such as Sharpton sweeping in.

Hey, you want to know how I can tell when someone is eager to defend racists? It's when they use the wack-a-doodle faked stories other people are using to defend racists.

There would have been no uproar, no national news, and Mr Zimmerman would not have been arrested.

Actually, the original uproar surrounded Stand Your Ground, among other things.

There would been no games played with showing a picture of the victim from several years ago, no manipulation by calling the victim by his first name and the killer by his last, none of the bs with comments like "trayvon is African-American. Zimmerman considers himself Latino".

Maybe you should tell that to the defense, who trotted out every stereotype about young black men (drug user! never knew a life without violence! angry football player!) and basically ran Jim Crow literacy tests on his friend that testified in the trial of Trayvon Martin. Oops, I meant George Zimmerman (HINT: No I didn't).

In the end you have 2 people. The killer claims self defense. The evidence and eyewitnesses seemed to support this claim or at the very least insufficient evidence was found to prove it wasn't. The skin colors didn't change those facts.

What we have here is NOT a failure of the justice system. Amazingly it worked just as it should - considering the evidence, the prosecutors actions, and the charge presented. Despite the political pressure, despite the threats, the jury kept to the idea of guilty until proven innocent.


Yeah, if you haven't yet got that self-defense laws are batshit crazy by now, you're missing the point, apparently deliberately.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [33 favorites]


I'm just saying its time to stand our ground, as it were.

No more Florida citrus for me either. And if any academic society I belo g to plans a meeting in Florida I'm calling on my colleagues not to go.

Zimmerman is just the tool. It's the community that is racist.
posted by spitbull at 5:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Mr Martin was white, you are right that Mr Zimmerman would be recognized as Latino. We wouldn't have had the media deliberately editing comments to make Zimmerman seem like a racist. We wouldn't have had the federal government and the opportunity-seekers such as Sharpton sweeping in. There would have been no uproar, no national news, and Mr Zimmerman would not have been arrested. There would been no games played with showing a picture of the victim from several years ago, no manipulation by calling the victim by his first name and the killer by his last, none of the bs with comments like "trayvon is African-American. Zimmerman considers himself Latino".

It's fascinating how you blame everyone except the person who injected himself into the situation and killed an innocent human being who was just standing his ground.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on July 14, 2013 [51 favorites]


it was a self-defense claim. how could self-defense be argued without looking at the alleged attacker's conduct?

But to make the entire case out of it? Trying to introduce wildly irrelevant tangents like Martin's alleged pot use that would have scientifically impossible for Zimmerman to identify and wouldn't have created the situation Zimmerman described? Creating a picture of Martin as a thug with ghetto friends and having the fucking gall to say that he was the real profiler, nevermind that fear of being an unarmed black kid followed at night by someone who comes off as white was the crime he was in turn being profiled for?

Why did that have to be argued? Oh, right, because that's what black men do.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:55 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Stand your ground was _no_ factor in the case. The defense waived the pre-trial hearing that it could have had about stand your ground. Because they knew stand your ground didn't apply.

Well, save for the case that the police initially didn't arrest him for the stated reason of SYG, and the arrest and subsequent trial only ever happened because of public pressure after that decision. The misunderstanding of the legal status of the actions pre-trial was itself important as a matter of public policy.
posted by jaduncan at 5:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


@ drinky die: if there's a witness and physical evidence supporting the defendent's story and no evidence to the contrary, this plays out the same regardless of race.

The 5/6 white women jury is going to be less likely to believe the kid in this picture decided to murder the other guy for no reason and if they don't believe that claim they are much more likely to convict. We live in a country where black kids sleeping in a car get more 911 calls than white kids actively vandalizing a car in broad daylight, we don't get to pretend that sort of thing doesn't impact juries.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


There is a growing call for a civil suit against Zimmerman. Not sure it'd do much in terms of telling the rest of the nation this is wrong, but damn I wanna see it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:57 AM on July 14, 2013


If Mr Martin was white, you are right that Mr Zimmerman would be recognized as Latino. We wouldn't have had the media deliberately editing comments to make Zimmerman seem like a racist. We wouldn't have had the federal government and the opportunity-seekers such as Sharpton sweeping in. There would have been no uproar, no national news, and Mr Zimmerman would not have been arrested.

In many ways, all white people are the real victims here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:58 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


" But to make the entire case out of it?"

Self-defense was their entire case, and that's how they prevailed.

I guess they could've spent time on how the weather sure is nice, or how airplane food isn't very good, but typically trial attorneys will spend most or all of their time on their their theory of the case.

re pot use etal: you'll recall that the defense didn't introduce that.
posted by jpe at 5:58 AM on July 14, 2013


I see the gun control angle of this story is getting lost in racism accusations.
posted by deathpanels at 6:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ta-Nehisi Coates: "I think the jury basically got it right."
posted by BobbyVan at 6:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


how could self-defense be argued without looking at the alleged attacker's conduct?

This discourse-- both in the context of the legal trial and in the public discourse around it-- are not about conduct, but about character. They are attempting to devalue the victim by making him look less upstanding and they're doing it with allegations of drug use, with Zimmerman's brother's claims about gun running, etc etc. It's exactly the same technique that attempts to diminish the crime of rape by painting victims as sluts. (Obviously the cultural context is different between misogyny/slut-shaming and the racism that is being used in this case, but this technique is nonetheless used the same way here.)
posted by NoraReed at 6:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


If Zimmerman had been an off-duty policeman or an on duty policeman - how many of you would have a different opinion of the outcome?

(and would this have even come to trial, what with the "blue wall of silence")?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:04 AM on July 14, 2013


The case was decided simply on the normal, everyday self-defense theory.

It wasn't really "everyday" theory, and in any case, the self-defense laws are part of the problem/

Go, read the jury instructions. They lay out the relevant law. They even include a sentence that no law not addressed in the jury instructions is pertinent to the case. Now realize, stand your ground is not mentioned anywhere.

Actually, it was:
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.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:04 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


2manyusernames wrote, "Despite the political pressure, despite the threats, the jury kept to the idea of guilty until proven innocent."

As a foreign observer, I am mightily puzzled by this "guilty until proven innocent" business. Is this a recent revision in the US criminal justice system? Or just a Florida thing? Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ta-Nehisi Coates: "I think the jury basically got it right."

Wow, way to cut that one down to fit the conservative talking points. Let's try this again:
1.) Last year--after Zimmerman was arrested--I wrote something hoping that he would be convicted. A commenter wrote in to object, saying that arguing for his arrest was justifiable. Arguing for his conviction was not. I acknowledged the point at the time. The wisdom of it seems even more appropriate today.

2.) I think the jury basically got it right. The only real eyewitness to the death of Trayvon Martin was the man who killed him. At no point did I think that the state proved second degree murder. I also never thought they proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted recklessly. They had no ability to counter his basic narrative, because there were no other eye-witnesses.

3.) The idea that Zimmerman got out the car to check the street signs, was ambushed by 17-year old kid with no violent history who told him he "you're going to die tonight" strikes me as very implausible. It strikes me as much more plausible that Martin was being followed by a strange person, that the following resulted in a confrontation, that Martin was getting the best of Zimmerman in the confrontation, and Zimmerman then shot him. But I didn't see the confrontation. No one else really saw the confrontation. Except George Zimmerman. I'm not even clear that situation I outlined would result in conviction.

4.) I think Andrew Cohen is right--trials don't work as strict "moral surrogates." Everything that is immoral is not illegal--nor should it be. I want to live in a society that presumes innocence. I want to live in that society even when I feel that a person should be punished.

5.) I think you should read everything my friend Jelani Cobb has written about this case.

6.) I think the message of this episode is unfortunate. By Florida law, in any violent confrontation ending in a disputed act of lethal self-defense, without eye-witnesses, the advantage goes to the living.

An intelligent, self-interested observer of this case, who happens to live in Florida, would not be wrong to do as George Zimmerman did--buy a gun, master the finer points of Florida self-defense law and then wait.

7.) Circling back to the first point, it's worth remembering that caused a national outcry was not the possibility of George Zimmerman being found innocent, but that there would be no trial at all. This case was really unique because of what happend with the Sanford police. If you doubt this, ask yourself if you know the name "Jordan Davis." Then ask yourself how many protests and national media reports you've seen about him.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [35 favorites]


Changes the whole meaning if you don't quote something wildly out of context, doesn't it?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


@ Nora Reed: its about the evidence of what happened that night. that and that alone.
posted by jpe at 6:08 AM on July 14, 2013


Not really.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


@ Nora Reed: its about the evidence of what happened that night. that and that alone.

You mean the evidence as to how the confrontation started that came entirely from the person accused of committing the crime? The one who already had a history of violent confrontation and who had stated in his call to 911 and statements to the police that he saw a kid walking casually and inferred that he was on drugs, armed, and casing the neighborhood?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:14 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad that NPR chose to put brother Zimmerman on the air so I could upchuck my pancakes
posted by angrycat at 6:15 AM on July 14, 2013


let me put that differently, BobbyVan. Nora simplistically presupposes that there is one, homogenous, undifferentiated discourse, rather than a myriad of different speakers and different discourses.

some of these discourses haves focused on character, but not all of them do; some of them have focuses on the evidence at hand re that night to the exclusion of character.
posted by jpe at 6:15 AM on July 14, 2013


" You mean the evidence as to how the confrontation started that came entirely from the person accused of committing the crime?"

if you followed the case and, in particular, the legal thread of it in any detail, you'd know that that was neither proven nor relevant.

(edit: I thought you were making the common but dumb argument that Zimmerman was guilty because he provoked Martin. I may be misreading you, though.)
posted by jpe at 6:17 AM on July 14, 2013


I may have a more nuanced response later, but for now it's just, "Fuck this country."
posted by Legomancer at 6:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


if you followed the case and, in particular, the legal thread of it in any detail, you'd know that that was neither proven nor relevant.

Uh, what? The entire acquittal came from the fact that there was no eyewitness evidence proving that Zimmerman had started or escalated the direct confrontation. Because, the eyewitness was, y'know, shot dead by Zimmerman.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:21 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mister Bijou: "2manyusernames wrote, "Despite the political pressure, despite the threats, the jury kept to the idea of guilty until proven innocent."

As a foreign observer, I am mightily puzzled by this "guilty until proven innocent" business. Is this a recent revision in the US criminal justice system? Or just a Florida thing? Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?
"

ha ha, pretty bad mistake there. Yes, I meant "innocent until proven guilty". Sorry about that. :)
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought you were making the common but dumb argument that Zimmerman was guilty because he provoked Martin. I may be misreading you, though.

A) Don't use the edit function to add entire paragraphs, you're not supposed to do that.

B) If there was eyewitness evidence that Zimmerman had provoked the fight, it died with Martin. But the self-defense laws say that that was what was required. It's stupid self-defense law because it means, as Coates says above, that when two people go into an un-witnessed interaction and only one comes out alive, all the latter has to do is say it was self-defense and they're good.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much can't feel about this. Hurts if I try. Like some kind of rage integer rollover.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


[Reminder: Please don't use edit to change or add to your comment (other than typos), especially in a fast-moving thread. Just post another comment if you need to clarify.]
posted by taz at 6:26 AM on July 14, 2013


I plan to boycott Florida and its products, for a start.

Feel free to go to Buycott and get busy crowdsourcing that effort.

(of course, creating political pressure on the judiciary via economic issues is within ones rights, it does make for the interesting cause/effect of: Will business then create a demand for more competent Judiciary? Or perhaps a 'must have video of your killings for you to have a defence in court ' outcome?)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keith Knight's reaction: Zimmerman Walks.
posted by scruss at 6:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Essentially the self-defense laws are being used to create a very dangerous legal and social construct. If being young and black is enough to get you considered "dangerous," then any non-black person can make a claim that they felt threatened by a black person. Self-defense laws then lead to their logical conclusion as seen in this case:

It has been made legal to kill a black person in the state of Florida.

That is the meaning of this verdict. Nuance about evidence misses the point.
posted by graymouser at 6:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apart from SYG law in Florida, which was not used in this case, Florida self-defense laws are not different from most states except Ohio. IANAL, but from what I have researched this is true.

Self-defense is an affirmative defense, but the bar is low for the defendant to show that s/he acted in self-defense. Once this bar is met, the burden of proof shifts to the State. This is the case in most if not all states, save Ohio.

So IMO, this is not about Florida laws.
posted by snaparapans at 6:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The prosecution really shit the bed on this, and I sorta half wonder if their hearts were ever in it -that they set up that long shot murder charge and then mishandled proving their case to get it on purpose.

Because it just boggles my mind that they did that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a legal question that may have been answered in the other thread I forget: if the police tell you to stay in the car, and you fucking don't, why isn't that some sort of extreme negligence? Can't it be argued that his failure to stay in the car was the proximate cause of Martin's death?
posted by angrycat at 6:42 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


He was told not to follow after he was already chasing, not while he was in the car. Anyway, I think they could have convicted him on some sort of negligence charge but they couldn't exactly argue that at the same time they argued it was an intentional killing.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, this is the message that white-centric society is sending - that the very lives of black men and women aren't important.

The lives and property of POOR folkes arn't important to the system either. Are these 'unimportant' people well off? If so, like OJ, they can buy the justice they want. (how did Zimmerman afford this legal representation BTW?)

If you don't own land you can't vote was a founding idea of the nation. The Nation is built of screwing 'da poors'.

As for gun violence VS others - that comes from the top. Iraq, Afghanistan, et al all show the citizens that violence and bullying is the way one should address issues. Few on the Blue get outraged about that.

As for 'get the DOJ in there' - shouldn't the DOJ be going after people who lie to Congress and fraud like MJ Global also? If the DOJ can't be bothered to show up for perjury and millions in fraud, how they gonna have enough skill to do the cleaning that is being demanded? There is nothing stopping local bottom up action in Florida to use the local political process to root out the corruption, other than that taking actual WORK and EFFORT vs just saying "Hey DOJ - you do something" and then walking away from the problem.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


More to the point, how could the prosecution bungle showing clearly that Zimmerman's beliefs the entire night weren't REASONABLE, in the legal context unless it wasn't an accidental oversight. I mean -- once you show that Zimmerman's beliefs weren't reasonable -- and given the chain of bad decisions he made that night that was pretty easy -- there's no self-defense.
posted by mikelieman at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're black and have a kid you care about, I'd go out and buy them a gun today.

A handgun makes an excellent graduation gift.

And if this country ever wants a serious conversation about gun control, just imagine a sea of heavily armed black kids who need guns for self defense when they want to walk around at night. that should get the ball rolling nicely...
posted by Renoroc at 6:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Others point out that this verdict depended on the unique nature of the law in Florida.

Huh? As far as I know, Zimmerman would have been (appropriately) acquitted under the self-defense law of any state. I don't see anything in that article to the contrary. The case wasn't about Florida's "stand your ground" law.
posted by John Cohen at 6:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


zombieflanders: "B) If there was eyewitness evidence that Zimmerman had provoked the fight, it died with Martin. But the self-defense laws say that that was what was required. It's stupid self-defense law because it means, as Coates says above, that when two people go into an un-witnessed interaction and only one comes out alive, all the latter has to do is say it was self-defense and they're good."

And how would you change that fact? Do you propose that the one that comes out alive should have the burden of somehow proving the other guy started the fight?
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand, I thought the point of manslaughter is to declare that even if it wasn't intentional, you still killed someone.

When you shoot and kill another person the bar to show self-defense should be way, way higher than it appears to be.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


And if this country ever wants a serious conversation about gun control, just imagine a sea of heavily armed black kids who need guns for self defense when they want to walk around at night. that should get the ball rolling nicely...

It's already happened. The last time a minority group also became a gun advocacy group (the Black Panthers), gun control laws were enacted with a quickness by none other than Ronald Reagan.
posted by absalom at 6:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [46 favorites]


Here's a legal question that may have been answered in the other thread I forget: if the police tell you to stay in the car, and you fucking don't, why isn't that some sort of extreme negligence?

It was a dispatcher, not a police office that advised, not ordered, Zimmerman to stay out of it. I forget the exact statement, but at the trial, the dispatcher said they had a policy of only advising, not ordering, as doing the latter might make them legally culpable for whatever actions follow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And how would you change that fact? Do you propose that the one that comes out alive should have the burden of somehow proving the other guy started the fight?

I think you need to refine the definition of 'started the fight'. As a Jew from New York, if I was walking around my mom's \gated community at night and a skinhead started following me, the moment they got close enough to be a real threat to my safety, they have 'started the fight', and therefore MY RIGHT OF SELF DEFENSE begins at that moment.

So, in this context, given the historical prevalence of lynching in the south, it's reasonable that Trayvon Martin was in fear for his life the moment he heard Zimmerman exit the car. And then when Zimmerman tried to detain Martin, Martin resisted the unlawful arrest.
posted by mikelieman at 6:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


By the same logic, one might seek to avoid a relatively minor conviction (Say, Florida criminal statute 790.053) by killing the other party and claiming self-defence.

(Although in practical terms a young black man in this situation would be about as likely to get justice for having been threatened with a firearm as for having been killed by one, absent witnesses.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:51 AM on July 14, 2013


I thought the point of manslaughter is to declare that even if it wasn't intentional, you still killed someone.

For some strange reason, that part of the law (involuntary manslaughter) was left out of the Jury Instructions, leaving them to consider only manslaughter due to overt acts. Again, this is how you game the system to get the result you want, and still appear legitimate.

See also: Amadou Diallo
posted by mikelieman at 6:52 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Surely I can't just kill somebody and say, "Presumption of innocence, reasonable doubt, self defense, seeya."

If you have the magical job title of 'police', then is does seem to be that way. Go out of Country with a job associated with the military, once again the odds favour you.

The DA's work in a system where the bulk of their interactions end up in plea deals and as ShutterBun pointed out upthread - there is a good chance one can walk if one has the money to spend to go to trial.

Outspend the other guy and you've got a good shot at winning the case.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:53 AM on July 14, 2013


And how would you change that fact? Do you propose that the one that comes out alive should have the burden of somehow proving the other guy started the fight?

If there is evidence including his direct statements that the entire interaction was started on false pretenses, or that they had a history of violent confrontations, or that they were operating under a highly paranoid state of mind or were engaging in always-on "tactical thinking" in a place that is not an active war zone or crime being committed? Yes.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


For some strange reason, that part of the law (involuntary manslaughter) was left out of the Jury Instructions, leaving them to consider only manslaughter due to overt acts

Is there a particular legal or judicial reason why this was done?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 AM on July 14, 2013


And if this country ever wants a serious conversation about gun control, just imagine a sea of heavily armed black kids who need guns for self defense when they want to walk around at night. that should get the ball rolling nicely...

People in this thread seem to think that the law would treat black people fairly under any law, current or future. If a bunch of black people shot white people in self-defense, they'd all go to jail.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


George Zimmerman is going to be too busy making the rounds doing talks for racists and gun nuts to kill again - it's them that will do the killing.

I think that's one of the more disgusting things about the acquittal--that Zimmerman is probably going to get rich from it. I can only hope those jurors have the decency to stay off of the talk show circuit.

And you're telling me a jury in Florida would acquit a black man who shot a white man if there are no witnesses and he claims self-defense? How naive can you get?

In that instance I believe the applicable terms would be "under the jail" and "awaiting execution".
posted by fuse theorem at 7:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a particular legal or judicial reason why this was done?

The Cynic would opine that it is precisely the way Jury Instructions are crafted which subverts the independence of the jury itself. And that it is in this way that a pre-arranged verdict is obtained without looking like a third-world-show-trial. Then the libertarians would chime in about Jury Nullification, and then the Cynic would respond how, of course, trends like that drive the adoption of giving the Jury yet even more limited authority.
posted by mikelieman at 7:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And BTW, I think that the act of strapping on a gun should by itself increase the burden of proof for the defense. If you have armed yourself, it means you have a reasonable expectation that you will be involved in a violent encounter requiring deadly force. No bullshit excuse about how it's just like putting on a pair of shoes changes that. A pair of shoes isn't expressly designed to maim or kill another human being.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


If a bunch of black people shot white people in self-defense, they'd all go to jail.

What do you mean "if"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think the psychology of this case is interesting. Zimmerman follows Martin with the idea that he may be a burglar. He's fixated on this idea. If true, the suspect would try to run away and would not be aggressive - burglars generally don't attack people on the street. When Martin does fight back strongly, Zimmerman is taken by surprise, in his mind it does not just confirm that Martin is a criminal but that he's a more dangerous one than a burglar. He doesn't have the mental capacity to step back and question his assumptions.

The psychology of folks defending Zimmerman is also interesting - to them, he may be likened to a volunteer firefighter who makes a series of incompetent mistakes which result in a fire spreading and people being killed. On one hand, his incompetence killed people, on the other hand, he volunteered to help the community which is commendable, so they are inclined to be more charitable than if he were on the police force.
posted by rainy at 7:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


The right of self-defense should be proportional to the severity of the threat/assault and the bar for a successful use of it should be proportionately higher with the severity of outcome. An unarmed person killed by an armed person should almost never qualify as self-defense. When it does, it should be extremely difficult to prove.

Insofar as this is often, in practice, the case and should be the case, this rightly dissuades people from using the most deadly force possible to defend themselves, particularly with guns. And that's why the gun nuts so avidly resist this view and why there are SYG laws — they prefer a world where the only choices are to run away or kill. Why do they prefer this? Because they like the idea of being able to kill with ease.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:04 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


When Martin does fight back strongly,

Here's the thing. That's just Zimmerman's narrative. Which doesn't have any actual evidence to support it.

I prefer the one where Zimmerman tries to unlawfully detain Martin first. THEN the struggle occurs. THEN Zimmerman kills Martin.

Makes a whole lot more sense if you don't buy into the "Crazy Nigger Went Crazy" hypothesis, which I don't.
posted by mikelieman at 7:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [41 favorites]


Charlie Pierce, doing what he does best: What George Zimmerman Can Do Now
And, of course, this was not about race because nothing is ever about race. The prosecutors even told us that it wasn't about race. The defense won its case because this was not about race. The sharp guys and pundits will spend all weekend explaining how race was an element of the events that night, but that the case, ultimately, was not about race. And because this case was not about race, nothing out of our history counts, because our history, here in the land of the free, is not about race, either. Because our history is not about race, a few weeks ago, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was not relevant. Because our history is not about race, last night, Emmett Till was not relevant, even though a few people inconveniently brought him up. But that was years ago, and the country has changed, and it is John Roberts' Day Of Jubilee, and this trial was not about race because nothing is about race any more.

Calm is prevailing. For now. At least, that's something. There will be much for George Zimmerman to do. Things may be a little rough back home, but there will be the victory tour on Fox. And the inevitable book deal. There will be the long career as a hero to the people in the communities that feel themselves besieged by assholes and fucking punks in their hoodies. There will be a long, lovely ride surfing the strange and wonderful celebrity that will befall him now because he stood up to the people who defend the rights of asshoes and fucking punks to walk in their hoodies through neighborhoods where they don't belong, according to him, George Zimmerman, American hero.

But, sooner or later, what American society has told him he can do, what it has now made possible, is that George Zimmerman can load his piece, tuck it into the back of his pants, climb into his SUV, and cruise the rainy streets of Sanford in the night, all of his senses a'tingle, all his instincts honed, on the lookout with his hunter's eye for assholes and fucking punks. There's one down the block. What the hell's he doing here? Asshole. Fucking punk. Better pull over and check this out.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [80 favorites]


Maybe this is a good time to point out that elections have consequences. As artw pointed out at the top of this thread, so much of this can be traced back to ALEC's batshit-insane policy views and influence.

Isn't it more productive to look at the legal climate that makes full acquittal a possibile (and in my opinion, probably, unfortunately, the legally correct) outcome here?

Why are we okay with untrained neighborhood watch volunteers monitoring streets, following nothing but their own discretion while armed?

Without regard to any particular outcome, that's a terrifying situation, and its unquestioned acceptance is almost certainly rooted in fear and prejudice that are both exploited and codified by active groups. And let's be honest: by a particular party.
posted by graphnerd at 7:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


the case, ultimately, was not about race. And because this case was not about race, nothing out of our history counts, because our history, here in the land of the free, is not about race, either. Because our history is not about race, a few weeks ago, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was not relevant. Because our history is not about race, last night, Emmett Till was not relevant, even though a few people inconveniently brought him up. But that was years ago, and the country has changed, and it is John Roberts' Day Of Jubilee, and this trial was not about race because nothing is about race any more.
Oh, man.. Right there he articulates something I've struggled with. How the entire discussion has been moved off the table. "It's not about race".

Yes, it fucking well is. But since "The Man" controls the medium of discussion, "It's not about race".
posted by mikelieman at 7:11 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't know how many of you have been in a jury or witnessed a jury trial but if you have, it really will shake your faith in a jury system.

I once covered a murder trial where, during deliberations, a juror requested to leave the jury. When the judge asked her how she was leaning on a verdict she said, "I don't know. I don't care." I mean, this was after hours of testimony and deliberations and she didn't care? And she was responsible for the fate of a man's life. I found it unsettling.

I covered another murder trial where a juror said they convicted the defendant because the defense didn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn't kill his wife, of course, the exact opposite of where the burden of proof should lay.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Why are we okay with untrained neighborhood watch volunteers monitoring streets, following nothing but their own discretion while armed?

Trained N/W volunteers never patrol while armed. Zimmerman's really trashed their reputation by claiming himself to be the poster boy for it.
posted by mikelieman at 7:16 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


newdaddy: "Random question - why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?"

Othering.
posted by notsnot at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's the thing. That's just Zimmerman's narrative. Which doesn't have any actual evidence to support it.

I prefer the one where Zimmerman tries to unlawfully detain Martin first. THEN the struggle occurs. THEN Zimmerman kills Martin.


I think it's likely that Zimmerman tried to grab him first. When I said "fights back" I meant against either verbal or physical attempts to stall him by Zimmerman. This doesn't change the psychological aspect of it. Zimmerman expected either compliance or running away, the push-back didn't figure into his assumptions at all.
posted by rainy at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The whole issue of whether the police dispatcher told Zimmerman to "stand down" is really a red herring. The police are never going to explicitly authorize force (or anything that could lead to an exercise of force) for legal liability reasons.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]




Zimmerman expected either compliance or running away, the push-back didn't figure into his assumptions at all.

Over the years, I've adopted this personal thing where I don't try too hard to get into other people's heads, especially when they're probably more than a little crazy. I've learned that since they're probably more than a little crazy, and I'm not, the -- let's call it -- impedance mismatch -- is so great that it's impossible to really understand where they're coming from.

Some people, the sky in their world is green. Trying to understand why? That's for other professional disciplines than my own.
posted by mikelieman at 7:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


6.) I think the message of this episode is unfortunate. By Florida law, in any violent confrontation ending in a disputed act of lethal self-defense, without eye-witnesses, the advantage goes to the living.

That's right. In retrospect, Martin should've killed Zimmerman and claimed self defence.
posted by Greener Backyards at 7:25 AM on July 14, 2013


mikelieman: I'm just trying to make sense of what happened, if only to myself.
posted by rainy at 7:27 AM on July 14, 2013


1- I kind of agree with the advice above for brown people to go out and legally acquire a gun for self defense. Hell, I think everyone should at least try. (Sell it legally once you get it if you want, the point being to go through the system and see what it actually entails.) This will do two things: one, it will terrify racists. Two, it will educate law abiding citizens on how the system works.

2- Don't blame the courts when the problem is the legislative and executive. They were the ones with the bad laws where an affirmative defense doesn't change the burden of proof, and they were the ones with the awful, awful prosecutor's office. The courts are just the machines that execute the code. And in that respect, I think they pretty much did what they were supposed to.

3- I think the jury instructions and possibly the prosecution did a piss poor job of emphasizing that "an act" when it comes to disregard for human life, can be a series of events. The pro-self-defense people try very hard to make it clear that the incident somehow began with Zimmerman on his back and Travon hitting him. Sure, from that perspective, it seems like self defense applies. But that wasn't the whole incident, and Zimmerman's pattern of behavior leading up to that moment is what showed a disregard for human life.

3b- And that the standard of fear was not "was George Zimmerman in fear of his life", because it's pretty easy to see that he was. But that the standard is "would a reasonable person be in fear of his or her life in a similar situation." That I'm not so sure about.

So that Marissa Alexander woman in Blazecock Pileon's comment would have had a better chance legally if she'd killed her husband? If you get into a fight in Florida, the easiest thing to do if you want to avoid jail is shoot your opponent? That is a strange state.

Absolutely she would have. If she'd killed him she'd likely never even have been charged. Eliminate the witnesses and you're better off.


That is not really it at all. The point is that the two cases aren't really the same, trite facebook headlines notwithstanding. The point is that you don't pull the trigger of a gun until you are legally allowed to do so. You are not legally allowed to fire a warning shot, end of story. You ARE legally allowed to defend your life, if you are reasonably in fear of it.
posted by gjc at 7:27 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


In retrospect, Martin should've killed Zimmerman and claimed self defence.

Considering that the defense already put him on trial and won, it's almost certain that Trayvon would've been charged as an adult, found guilty and sentenced to death. Because this is about race, not self-defense.
posted by graymouser at 7:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [38 favorites]


I think it's likely that Zimmerman tried to grab him first. When I said "fights back" I meant against either verbal or physical attempts to stall him by Zimmerman. This doesn't change the psychological aspect of it. Zimmerman expected either compliance or running away, the push-back didn't figure into his assumptions at all.

He never would have gotten out of his car if he wasn't packing heat. The weapon gave him the courage to go confront "the perp". Then the adrenalin of the chase got to him.
posted by gjc at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Remember everyone, an armed society is a polite society.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


it's almost certain that Trayvon would've been charged as an adult, found guilty and sentenced to death.

It's absolutely certain this wouldn't have happened.
posted by dsfan at 7:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The whole issue of whether the police dispatcher told Zimmerman to "stand down" is really a red herring. The police are never going to explicitly authorize force (or anything that could lead to an exercise of force) for legal liability reasons.

The "order" to stand down IS a red herring, since the 911 operator has little to no authority to order people around. But I think that part of the tape is important for a different reason. Why did the dispatcher say "are you following him?" Because he heard the "ding ding ding" of the car's door opening. He tells Zimmerman that he doesn't need to follow Trayvon, and Zimmerman says OK. All in the span of 10 seconds or so. The rest of the call goes on for at least another 30 seconds, if my memory serves. So if Zimmerman says he was trying to go back to his car, and got jumped before he got back, what took so long? Answer: Zimmerman's story is missing something. And the prosecution fucked up in not pushing that point the entire time.
posted by gjc at 7:34 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's absolutely certain this wouldn't have happened.

OK, conceded - life imprisonment, then.
posted by graymouser at 7:37 AM on July 14, 2013


"The right of self-defense should be proportional to the severity of the threat/assault"

Strong disagree. Defending yourself is a basic right ("Naturrecht"). The attacker always has the option to stop his attack.

What you're effectively proposing is giving attackers the opporunity to set up an attack in such way, that it cannot be averted and must not be defended against. A guaranteed win for the attacker (if the victim is staying on the side of the law). Bad idea. Really.

I'm always amazed how controversial stand your ground is in the United States. When it still doesn't come close to the broad right of self-defense that German law provides.

And, lo and behold, in general it all seems to work much better here than in the US. Probably because we haven't equipped the whole populace with guns.
posted by 2uo at 7:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


gjc: It might have given him courage, my read is that he'd have gotten out of the car regardless, but it's anyone's guess.

I doubt anyone on the jury bought the Zimmerman story entirely. It's pretty plain that he flourished up the story because he's afraid of a lifetime in prison.
posted by rainy at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


As the parent of a black boy, and a black boy who is not naturally compliant or obedient even at age seven, I'm both furious and worried sick by this trial.

Hordes of wannabe George Zimmermans are now emboldened to go out and play cop or vigilante and the Florida courts have basically declared it to be open season on people like my son.

My wife was weeping this morning from worry and upset. We're seriously discussing moving to a country with fewer guns. We do not want our kid to be the next Trayvon Martin.
posted by sotonohito at 7:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [60 favorites]


Considering that the defense already put him on trial and won, it's almost certain that Trayvon would've been charged as an adult, found guilty and sentenced to death. Because this is about race, not self-defense.

But as Coates notes, being dead is a big disadvantage in a case of self defence. Of course it's about race, and it's also about the insanity of these self defence laws in Florida
posted by Greener Backyards at 7:43 AM on July 14, 2013


And the worst part is that George Zimmerman gets to keep his guns and go hunting more black kids. The massive failure of the justice system is no more evident than in that fact.
posted by sotonohito at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I kind of agree with the advice above for brown people to go out and legally acquire a gun for self defense. Hell, I think everyone should at least try. (Sell it legally once you get it if you want, the point being to go through the system and see what it actually entails.) This will do two things: one, it will terrify racists. Two, it will educate law abiding citizens on how the system works.

Nevermind the arguments about mutually assured destruction in this case, but what makes you think that they won't just pass laws making it harder for brown people to go out and legally acquire guns? Remember, they just got the go-ahead to make it harder for brown people to vote, after all, and that was supposedly protected by the Constitution as well.

We live in a country where the most powerful gun and ammo (manufacturer) lobbies in the country have leaders that testify in front of Congress about citizens protecting themselves and then go home and write op-eds for major newspapers where they lie their faces off about "urban" neighborhoods rioting and looting after natural disasters as justifications for armed citizenry. I mean, it's not even subtext at that point as to the color of the skin of the armed and the targets. And I don't see the so-called "responsible" gun owners here or elsewhere saying "Holy shit, that guy just said a bunch of racist shit." Quite the opposite in fact, they cheer it on.

No, the white guys and the crazy paranoid (ex-)military and wannabe military types run the gun law show in this day and age, and will for the foreseeable future. They'll pass a law or there will be a decision by a SCOTUS run by a guy who had the job of gutting civil rights under Reagan that will make it harder to get a gun in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and the yahoos will salute it as a fine and measured decision. After all, we all know the violence was started in those neighborhoods, that they live in a world of drugs and violence that they impose on themselves, that the real racists are the brown folks walking around casually and getting antsy when a Real American wonders what they're doing in their part of town.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Remember everyone, an armed society is a polite society.

Well, kind of yeah. This case sort of revolves around the fact that an innocent person was killed by someone with a gun. If that innocent had a gun, and Zimmerman knew that he wasn't going to be the big man with the hand cannon, they both probably would have left each other alone.

So much violence in this society depends on the perpetrators knowing that the victims can't or won't fight back. Not all of it, of course, but a lot of it. And usually the most heart breaking cases.

If Trayvon had a legal gun in his pocket, this would have gone down differently. I'm not sure if it wouldn't have still been a tragedy, but Trayvon would have had a fighting chance.


I'm always amazed how controversial stand your ground is in the United States. When it still doesn't come close to the broad right of self-defense that German law provides.

Like so many laws in the US, "Stand your Ground" means quite a bit more than that. It can mean that you can shoot an intruder in the back, running away, if he is carrying your VCR. It can mean that you are allowed to charge into a situation and use force, if you think a felony is being committed. It doesn't just mean that you don't have to try to run away first.
posted by gjc at 7:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Trayvon had a legal gun in his pocket, this would have gone down differently. I'm not sure if it wouldn't have still been a tragedy, but Trayvon would have had a fighting chance.

Curious about the data showing that during physical assaults, the likelihood of a shot fired decreases if both participants are carrying guns vs. one person carrying a gun.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


massive failure of the justice system

Isn't one of the 'good' features of the legal system supposed to be "better 100 guilty go free than 1 innocent be imprisoned"?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just want to point out that saying "the state didn't prove its case" is salt on the wound for black people here.

Because we can point you to incidents where "the state didn't prove its case" (that is, in the same sense we see here: they constructed their argument and presented their facts very sloppily and weakly) and black people still went to jail.

Doesn't matter if you're the victim, doesn't matter if you're the defendant: if you're a black person whose life or end of life intersects with the American criminal justice system, you (or your loved ones if you're deceased) simply cannot reasonably expect good things.

Today, I'm just thankful that the boy doesn't understand why I'm being extra loving toward him, and I'm grateful that he has at least 4 - 5 more years before I have to start explaining the world to him.

Wait...I might not have that much time. I'm thinking back to my memories of growing up in Florida. How, when I was in the 4th grade, I rode my bike to visit a white friend from my elementary school, and another kid from my elementary school ran up to me as I was riding down the street and said, "What are you doing over here, nigger? You wanna get your ass kicked?" He ran alongside me for several feet, but he left me alone because I ignored him even though I did want to get off my bike and start something. I guess even at that age, I knew that would have ended poorly for me no matter what happened in the struggle between me and him.

The following year, as I was riding my bike to visit another white friend, a car with a couple of white men in it passed me and the passenger yelled almost the same thing as that kid had yelled, "What are you doing in this neighborhood, nigger?" That scared me badly, and it does to this day. The road happened to be alongside a canal, and had they decided to stop the car, do me harm, and throw me in the canal, my family would still be wondering what happened to me and why I "ran away" from home.

I never told my mother about those incidents. I never will. But they'll be fresh on my mind when my son enters elementary school. As I told my wife last night, that's just how the world is. Not much has changed in the thirty years or so since those incidents, and I don't foresee much changing between now and the time my son is a 4th grader.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [109 favorites]


zombieflanders: what I'm saying is that if more people showed up and exercised their rights, then the gun law regime would no longer be the sole domain of the white gun nut. People don't get their rights recognized by staying in the back of the bus. Peaceful, lawful resistance always works. The only difference is how long it takes.
posted by gjc at 7:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Trayvon had a legal gun in his pocket, this would have gone down differently. I'm not sure if it wouldn't have still been a tragedy, but Trayvon would have had a fighting chance.

Are you joking? Even if he had killed Zimmerman, he'd have gotten the chair.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


It is so rare in this country that a black man having a gun has made him safer, either on the streets or in the courts.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Like so many laws in the US, "Stand your Ground" means quite a bit more than that. It can mean that you can shoot an intruder in the back, running away, if he is carrying your VCR.

As long as there's no other way to get the TV back, such a thing is totally uncontroversial in German law. There are very, very few dissenters.

"In self-defense there's no proportionality" is actually a kind of saying that students learn.
posted by 2uo at 7:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Trayvon had a legal gun in his pocket

He was a minor, so no CCL for him.
And a black kid carrying open like that ? Yeah, I can see that going real well for him.

Besides, the pictures of him making a finger gun on twitter proves what a violent thug he was.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because he had a right, a lawful right - and I'm willing to bet this is one of the pieces the aquittal hinged on - to be there. Whether or not we think he was a dick for doing so, he had a lawful right to follow Martin. And he had a lawful right to follow Martin without being punched in the face, or grabbed, or any of that stuff. Zimmerman's words do not a legitimate attack by Martin make. We may think he had no moral right to follow, but under the law he was not acting improperly.

We don't know that this is true. Zimmerman's actions were indistinguishable from your average mugger or rapist. corb, my advice is that, simply because something is on your mind that you think is "a different view" or "provocative", does not necessarily mean you have to share it with us. This case is in line with a century of white-on-black violence for perceived slights.
posted by deanc at 7:55 AM on July 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


The lesson here isn't, "black people should buy guns." That's certainly cute, but ultimately a bunch of bullshit. Gun or no gun, there is no happy ending for Martin in his story the moment Zimmerman entered his life.

I'd say the lesson here is don't be black in Florida. Probably most/all America. People should get the fuck out of that piece of shit state.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


If Trayvon had a legal gun in his pocket, this would have gone down differently. I'm not sure if it wouldn't have still been a tragedy, but Trayvon would have had a fighting chance.

Or Zimmerman would have shot him in the back at a distance, for fear of armed resistance. We are not dealing with a rational actor here, nor can we really run the probabilities of what might have happened if one variable had been tweaked with any certainty, not least because we have only one person's account of what happened, and that person is not a rational agent.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re: Germany

Actually we had such a case some time ago:

Young males with immigration background (Sinti or Roma, I think) break into hut in the forest and get stuff. Owner, quite old and sitting in a wheelchair, is unfortunately also there.

Guys run away with loot. Owner shoots and kills one of them.

Outrage in the public: "He killed just for some money. And he's obviously a racist. Hate crime!"

Public prosecutor denies prosecution. (Correct decision)

After much ado in the press (always confusing perp and victim), the dead attacker's family go to court, court forces the prosecutor to prosecute. (Silly decision in that case, but in general this mechanism is needed, of course).

(Actually the court only forced him to do that because at that point in time there was some uncertainty about a forensic report pointing not to some shot in the general direction to stop the attacker, but a very perfectly aimed shot to kill -- which would probably not fall under self-defense)

Prosecutor charges victim with manslaughter. Trial court denies opening of trial, because it's obviously frivolous.

Clear case of self-defense. End of story.
posted by 2uo at 8:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can we please just rename our justice system and try to find a word that bears some semblance to the kind of system it actually is?
posted by crayz at 8:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I didn't follow the trial and don't have an opinion on the evidence, but I do have to say that I am impressed that the jury correctly understood the interplay of murder, manslaughter and self-defense.

There was simply never any basis for a manslaughter charge. Manslaughter is for when you are doing something wrong which isn't obviously likely to result in death, but which nevertheless causes death. Drive drunk and run someone over, push someone and they hit their head in a freak event? That's manslaughter. Pull your gun and shoot someone center mass? That carries an absolute intention to kill -- it's murder in the first degree if you planned it, murder in the second degree if it was spontaneous, and it's simply not a crime if in self-defense.
posted by MattD at 8:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


what I'm saying is that if more people showed up and exercised their rights, then the gun law regime would no longer be the sole domain of the white gun nut. People don't get their rights recognized by staying in the back of the bus. Peaceful, lawful resistance always works. The only difference is how long it takes.

The reaction of white people to black people not staying in the back of the bus (or GLBT people not staying in the closet, for that matter) was beatings of lawful marchers (at Pettus Bridge and many other places), spraying them with high-pressure firehoses, siccing vicious dogs on them, blackmail, extortion, accusations of treason, and much much more. And that was just the people with legal authority. On top of that, there's a whole history of massacres, assassinations, lynchings, "accidents," and a whole host of stuff that continues until today, very often with those same authorities looking the other way or throwing up roadblocks (literal and metaphorical) or dragging their feet.

So, given all that, what do you think will happen when the people who don't want to be shot because of the color of their skin or who they love start arming themselves en masse, and the people talking loudest about the need for an armed populace tend to be racist or homophobic?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:04 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


I do not know how anyone could have followed this trial and thought that the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I know almost everyone here has a certain (rather melodramatic) movie of the events running in their heads and refers to that rather than to the actual evidence available when determining Zimmerman's guilt, but if you just look at the actual evidence presented in the trial this outcome was entirely predictable. In fact, I predicted it repeatedly in the very first Trayvon Martin thread.
posted by yoink at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fourth in the world in gun death rates. Entrenched racism. Right wing media that tirelessly fans the flames of hatred and paranoia. A mind-boggling amount of guns. The NRA and the politicians in their pockets. Bizarre "stand your ground" laws.

The future doesn't look too bright for America.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Agree with yoink: watched maybe an hour of it all told and thete seemed plenty of reasonable doubt. None of which the prosecution dispelled. Didn't really think they stood a chance. Moral outrage isn't facts. The defense were smart to bring in the second medical examiner. Doubt is all you need.
posted by umberto at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"As long as there's no other way to get the TV back, such a thing is totally uncontroversial in German law. There are very, very few dissenters."

but then later

"Guys run away with loot. Owner shoots and kills one of them. Outrage in the public..."

You're not even self-consistent in your representation to MetaFilter for all of Germany and, oh, I have approximately zero fucking interest in the enlightened vigor of German self-defense theory.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


The guy chased some kid down and shot him. Where else in the known universe would the prosecution need to do anything but show up and give each other high fives to get a conviction?
posted by chunking express at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


such a thing is totally uncontroversial in German law. There are very, very few dissenters.

"In self-defense there's no proportionality" is actually a kind of saying that students learn.


That doesn't seem to be true, at my glance. If you look at the German Criminal Code, self-defence only is a defensive action necessary to prevent an imminent attack on a person. Exceeding the limits via fear/confusion/terror is allowable.

Property is governed by s.34, Necessity, and it states quite clearly that there's a proportionality requirement.

that being said, this is a derail. We're talking common law and specifically american law here.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:21 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't hope that anyone takes George Zimmerman's life. I don't believe in an eye for an eye. I wouldn't personally mind it if something happened to him, but I would never advocate it. I do hope, however, that...

1) a civil case can be brought against Zimmerman, he is found guilty, and never able to profit from Trayvon Martin's death

2) every time George Zimmerman leaves his house, anywhere he goes, he is followed by someone in plain clothes carrying a gun. Because he looks suspicious.

3) George Zimmerman takes the MILLIONS his supporters donated to him, takes his brother and his parents and his wife to a new country and starts a new life. He beat a system that never wanted to try or arrest him in the first place. He never has to look over his shoulder and I never have to hear him speak on tv.

All of these. Any of these. And obviously that he repents his actions, personally and to any god he believes in, and never takes another life.
posted by elr at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders, thank you for pointing out the error in this post, which claims that "Stand your ground was _no_ factor in the case" (and calls people complaining about these laws "clueless", to boot).

Zimmerman did not ask for a pretrial hearing on a SYG defense (as was his right) but the self-defense law he relied on and on which the jury was instructed -- Fla. Stat. sec. 776.012 - is in fact known as Florida's "stand your ground" law — see here, for example — and its current form is the result of a 2005 amendment that ALEC and the NRA (and others) had lobbied for.

On preview: See also gatorae.
posted by Eyebeams at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have noticed on Facebook and other media that the conservative folks who were outraged at FL for Casey Anthony are just all atwitter and "woo-hoo, one win for our side" about Zimmerman.
posted by Ber at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stand your ground was _no_ factor in the case. The defense waived the pre-trial hearing that it could have had about stand your ground. Because they knew stand your ground didn't apply.

I've seen a variation of this stated a few times so far, and it is incorrect. This was without question a stand your ground case because the jury was instructed on the stand your ground law. Below is the text of Florida's SYG statute and the text of the jury instructions from the Zimmerman case, so you can compare.

Florida's stand your ground statute as applicable here (776.031(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.

Jury instructions in the George Zimmerman case:

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 is necessary 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 appearances, 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 anyplace 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.

--
A few people have expressed surprise that the manslaughter charge didn't stick - this shows that SYG applied to both the murder and manslaughter charges. Given the not guilty for manslaughter, it is likely that the jury had a reasonable doubt as to whether Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.
posted by gatorae at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Can we please just rename our justice system and try to find a word that bears some semblance to the kind of system it actually is?

I think The New Jim Crow is an appropriate term. This case of course is not directly related to the drug war that Michelle Alexander is so rough on in the book, but damn if it isn't connected.
posted by graymouser at 8:27 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are we sure the prosecution was even trying? I mean they are in Florida. What's their incentive to win? Can a D.A. run on a platform of "We sent a man to prison for killing Trayvon Martin"? They also have to work with the disinterested police every day.

Also, I suspect that Zimmerman will end up like Dan White, who assassinated Harvey Milk. Being a killer who gets acquitted may mean you are found innocent but it doesn't mean anybody will want to spend time with you or let you anywhere near their family or workplace.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gary Younge in the Guardian: "Open Season on Black Boys After a Verdict Like This."
posted by spitbull at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


The entire acquittal came from the fact that there was no eyewitness evidence proving that Zimmerman had started or escalated the direct confrontation. Because, the eyewitness was, y'know, shot dead by Zimmerman.

A possible way around this in the future that's only extremely terrifying.

I kind of agree with the advice above for brown people to go out and legally acquire a gun for self defense.

That depends on how big a fan you are of being shot dead by cops.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


chunking express: Honestly, yes.

The fact that Zimmerman seems to have gotten off scot-free for some fairly reprehensible behavior probably says we have problems with our legal/judicial system. Just calling Florida names doesn't do anything to help fix that or even identify where the problems are.

If we're going to prevent things like this from happening in the future, we need to do things like modify self-defense/stand-your-ground laws, or change the culture surrounding vigilantism and gun usage.
posted by thegears at 8:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


it doesn't mean anybody will want to spend time with you

I think you are underestimating the fact that he's considered somewhat of a hero by racist people and gun nuts. They've been trading emails showing rapper The Game (who has face tattoos and is like 6'5" and 34) saying that he is Trayvon, and god bless Zimmerman for standing his ground.
posted by cell divide at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The entire acquittal came from the fact that there was no eyewitness evidence proving that Zimmerman had started or escalated the direct confrontation. Because, the eyewitness was, y'know, shot dead by Zimmerman.

I can see how that would protect him from Murder Twp. But this is open-and-shut Manslaughter. The jury apparently agreed with the Defense that if you have smoked pot in the last 30 days, you deserve to die.
posted by spaltavian at 8:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact he got off scot free implies systemic problems that go far beyond the legal system.
posted by chunking express at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


If we're going to prevent things like this from happening in the future, we need to do things like modify self-defense/stand-your-ground laws, or change the culture surrounding vigilantism and gun usage.

Let's also not excuse the media + Hollywood, who have been pushing the scary black youth narrative for decades if not longer. That partially explains how Trayvon to be victimized after his murder, as so many people think they have an idea about exactly how young black men act, what their motives are, and how violent and sociopathic they are. No way to get in the jurors minds, but if they are like most white Americans, they've been bombarded with the image of the scary thuggish black teen basically their entire lives, and from popular entertainment to the serious nightly news.
posted by cell divide at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're not even self-consistent in your representation to MetaFilter for all of Germany and, oh, I have approximately zero fucking interest in the enlightened vigor of German self-defense theory.

You either did not read what I wrote or you're lying.

This thing is totally uncontroversial in law (university professors, judges, etc.), but laymen find it strange and oftentimes even a bad idea.
posted by 2uo at 8:33 AM on July 14, 2013


[A few comments deleted. Let's leave the discussion of German law for another day, please. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Other things totally uncontroversial: not shooting children.
posted by chunking express at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2013


Couldn't the prosecution have sought some gross negligence manslaughter or similar charge in this case? Does anyone have insight into why they couldn't or at least didn't?

It's pretty clear that they had no shot at any murder (or murder-based manslaughter) conviction. But is there anything in the Florida statutes that makes it illegal to create a situation (through consciously-made poor decisions) that results in the death of a person?

That sounds like classic manslaughter, but in this particular case, it seems to have been used so narrowly as to have essentially been murder lite.
posted by graphnerd at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it's not that it's better to shoot someone than to shoot into the air, but that there are acceptable circumstances to shoot someone (self defense) whereas there are no acceptable circumstances to just shoot into the air in an attempt to scare someone because that's not what guns are for.

But what I don't understand is that she was not convicted of making threats or misusing a gun, but of attempted murder with a mandatory 20 year sentence.

They basically said she couldn't claim self-defense because she didn't aim at him, but she was still trying to kill him, despite not aiming at him. How does this even make logical sense, let alone moral sense?
posted by jb at 8:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel sick to my stomach.
posted by agregoli at 8:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


it's almost certain that Trayvon would've been charged as an adult, found guilty and sentenced to death.

Martin would not have even gotten a trial. He would have been railroaded into pleading out to 2nd Degree Murder rather than standing trial for 1st and probably losing.
posted by milarepa at 8:39 AM on July 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Maybe the riots the media are so psyched for will turn up today.
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, given all that, what do you think will happen when the people who don't want to be shot because of the color of their skin or who they love start arming themselves en masse, and the people talking loudest about the need for an armed populace tend to be racist or homophobic?

I think that was sort of his/her point. I'm a huge supporter of gun control, and while I doubt this will actually happen (nor do I support it for the reasons others already stated above) I'll be the first to point out that one of the fastest ways our Congress and local governments would pass sweeping restrictions on firearms would be to put one in the hands of every black American. Every one of Zimmerman's actions that led to Martin's death were evidence of what the true nature of the gun nut fantasy is all about.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:42 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bruce Cockburn:
If I had a rocket launcher....
posted by spitbull at 8:47 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


[One comment deleted, let's not expand this discussion to school busing incidents elsewhere in the country, there is plenty to talk about with just this case. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2013


There is a growing call for a civil suit against Zimmerman. Not sure it'd do much in terms of telling the rest of the nation this is wrong, but damn I wanna see it.

It sounds like Zimmerman has nothing that Martin's parents would be able to take, so it may not be worth it, financially or emotionally, to go through such a suit if it's going to be a purely symbolic act.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:50 AM on July 14, 2013


I beg you. I urge you. Please use this the next time some woman on metafilter says she had someone following her who got close and she struck the first blow. When the woman says she watched some stranger follow her leading to her house, and he got close, and she punched him rather than waiting for the stranger to attack, please interject with "he had a lawful right to follow you".

See, the thing is, I have been this woman. I have been this woman who has had men following me in a car and then getting out on foot to follow me. I have been this woman who had men following me in a car and then getting out on foot to follow me in the middle of a rape epidemic. And do you know what I bone-deep knew? That I couldn't touch a single one until they touched me, without going to jail myself. No matter how much they were scaring me - and they were. And my friends - some of whom post on Metafilter - were outraged that I had the idea of defending myself physically and violently the instant I was physically touched.

Some of my fear also goes into my defense of Zimmerman. Because I know, know to my bones, know, that if some guy on the street physically assaults me for whatever reason, even if he is trying to rape me, I don't have the ability to maim or kill him in response, even if it is the only way I can save myself from being beaten or raped. If I do, I will be up on trial. So I have to think, every day: how could I manage to defend myself without injuring someone? Because I don't live in a state with a Stand Your Ground law, and I wish every day that I did.

And yes. Strangers have a lawful right to follow me. And all I can do is call the cops. Or run into a nearby bar and beg for help from other men. Because no - I cannot attack them first, middle, or even last, without potentially being up on trial and risking going to jail and losing my kid. And that, that is an awful thing to live with.
posted by corb at 8:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Bruce Cockburn:
If I had a rocket launcher...."


A great song. But Bruce Cockburn is generally awesome.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2013


I kind of agree with the advice above for brown people to go out and legally acquire a gun for self defense.
...
Peaceful, lawful resistance always works.


...?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2013


It sounds like Zimmerman has nothing that Martin's parents would be able to take, so it may not be worth it, financially or emotionally, to go through such a suit if it's going to be a purely symbolic act.

Zimmerman has the ability to profit from all this attention. He can write books, sell his story rights, etc. So it wouldn't be purely symbolic.
posted by Green With You at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it's not that it's better to shoot someone than to shoot into the air, but that there are acceptable circumstances to shoot someone (self defense) whereas there are no acceptable circumstances to just shoot into the air in an attempt to scare someone because that's not what guns are for.

Even though this is bullshit. But I think they're acting on the principle that these warning shots could go wild and hurt other people because people won't check their backstop.
posted by corb at 8:55 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a growing call for a civil suit against Zimmerman. Not sure it'd do much in terms of telling the rest of the nation this is wrong, but damn I wanna see it.

It sounds like Zimmerman has nothing that Martin's parents would be able to take, so it may not be worth it, financially or emotionally, to go through such a suit if it's going to be a purely symbolic act.


If it keeps Zimmerman from becoming a Joe The Plumber-style public figure (by essentially garnishing any "honorarium" he may be able to collect for speaking to people who want to hear any bullshit he may want to spout), then I'm for it.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]



I don't have the motivation or energy to wade through Florida law and the instructions in great detail. I can understand how legally something can be deemed okay even though it's so obvious that some sort of grave injustice occured. I was on a jury where we found someone not guilty of assault when he slashed someone in the head with a hockey stick. An injury that left permanent damage. There was no doubt that the guy hit him. No doubt that the conflict incurred.

I learned tons about the difference between 'legal' assault and what I would characterize as someone assaulting someone. I would still say that guy 'assaulted' that other guy. We couldn't however find the guy guilty of legal assault because the law and instructions were specific. In this case the evidence had to meet, beyond any reasonable doubt, 4 specific criteria that made it legal assault. If there was doubt on any of the 4 it was not guilty. The trial was 5 days. We deliberated for 12 hours. Two criteria were met without any question. The other two were iffy. We went over and over it for hours but no matter how much some of might have felt that some punishment for what had happened was warranted, the circumstances we were given as evidence did not prove all 4 criteria being met.

It was a lesson for me in the interaction of law and the idea of justice interact. I felt good about the verdict we gave in the sense that we followed what the law said. We did the best we could with what we were given to work with. Even after all these years I still don't feel that 'justice' was served in a moral sense. It was right to come back with a not guilty in this case but justice in the larger sense wasn't served in my non legally defined mind.

Laws and how they are written do make such a difference. That, as many have commented on, may be the case here. In the letter of how the law is written Zimmerman may indeed be not guilty. I don't however have any real urge to comb through it in detail and figure it out for myself though. In this case it doesn't matter.

What matters to me in this case is that regardless of the lettered law details the situation happened in the first place because Tray, as his family refers to him was guilty of walking around while black.

That's it.

The 'law' may have been served properly in this case. Justice hasn't.
posted by Jalliah at 8:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


I suspect it won't be long before Zimmerman pisses away his public speaker status by doing SOMETHING stupid, he's just that kind of guy.
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Zimmerman's attorney, Mr. If-Zimmerman-Were-Black-He'd-Never-have-Been-Charged O'Mara, is much more likely than his client to be the next right-wing media star.
posted by Eyebeams at 8:59 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because I know, know to my bones, know, that if some guy on the street physically assaults me for whatever reason, even if he is trying to rape me, I don't have the ability to maim or kill him in response, even if it is the only way I can save myself from being beaten or raped. If I do, I will be up on trial.

How many court cases involve a situation like this, instead of a Stand Your Ground fiasco that results in someone's death? I live in a state with a modified SYG law and it is extremely, extremely scary to consider the implications.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:00 AM on July 14, 2013


Twenty years for shooting into the air when no one got hurt is completely insane.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Some of my fear also goes into my defense of Zimmerman. Because I know, know to my bones, know, that if some guy on the street physically assaults me for whatever reason, even if he is trying to rape me, I don't have the ability to maim or kill him in response, even if it is the only way I can save myself from being beaten or raped.

Bear in mind that there is no evidence that Martin was the aggressor in the physical confrontation beyond Zimmerman's testimony. Witnesses saw a scuffle, although reports about who had the upper hand are unclear or conflicting.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:07 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Strangers have a lawful right to follow me. And all I can do is call the cops. Or run into a nearby bar and beg for help from other men. Because no - I cannot attack them first, middle, or even last, without potentially being up on trial and risking going to jail and losing my kid. And that, that is an awful thing to live with.

but things like martial arts that don't involve guns and frankly having a fear of rape being used to justify Zimmerman's actions is one of the foulest things I've read on this site.
posted by angrycat at 9:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


what I'm saying is that if more people showed up and exercised their rights, then the gun law regime would no longer be the sole domain of the white gun nut.

There are plenty of people who already own guns and are sane about it. The preponderance of white gun nuts speaking up is not due to a dearth of sane gun owners; the preponderance of white gun nuts speaking up is due to the sane gun owners not speaking up. We do not need more people with guns, we need more people who already have guns speaking out about how to be responsible about gun ownership.

Because I know, know to my bones, know, that if some guy on the street physically assaults me for whatever reason, even if he is trying to rape me, I don't have the ability to maim or kill him in response, even if it is the only way I can save myself from being beaten or raped. If I do, I will be up on trial.

I understand that this is the way the law is. Do you honestly still feel that this is the way the law should be, though?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


(and I know about rape fear, believe me. Dig into my comment history if you're curious)
posted by angrycat at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"... If we're going to prevent things like this from happening in the future, we need to do things like modify self-defense/stand-your-ground laws, or change the culture surrounding vigilantism and gun usage."
posted by thegears at 11:29 AM on July 14

In fairness to Florida, Jeb Bush's 1999 "Use a Gun and You're Done" law was an attempt to reign in gun usage with fairly stiff sentencing enhancements for even showing a gun in the commission of a crime. Zimmerman was subject to these sentencing enhancements, too, and they are mentioned prominently in any Florida required training course that you take for your concealed carry permit, as far as I know. Had Zimmerman been found guilty of manslaughter, or murder, the fact that he used his gun in killing Martin would have resulted in a far stiffer penalty than he'd have got, had he killed Martin with a knife, or an impact weapon.

Some say that the 2005 SYG law amendment was the Legislature's attempt to offer reasonable legal cover to those who believe they've actually used a gun in self-defense, after toughening sentencing for gun use in crimes. In its intent to provide an early out from the crushing burdens of defending oneself against the entire weight of the State in clear cases of self-defense, it's less a pro-gun measure, than a protection of the ordinary lives of real people, who face home invasions, car jackings, and robbery, and meet those threats with fists, baseball bats, knives, hatchets, and even guns.

But these kinds of laws, in both their aims and effects, are necessarily balancing acts, and to some extent, on-going experiments. In a state like Florida, with large populations of older people, rural people, big cities with major crime situations, and many minorities, we're always going to have larger pools of self-interests than more homogenous states like Vermont or South Dakota. And that's going to mean that simple solutions, implemented one-by-one, are always going to result in unintended consequences.

But I don't know that there is any real alternative. So, we just keep trying, with every new election, and every new Governor and Legislature, and in our courts, and on our streets. Many among us grieve the loss of life, the injury, and the insult we do one another, in daily life, and we look to be instructed by it all, when we can. And we do see that violent crime is slowly going down in our major cities, and that people don't fight dogs much, anymore. Being a better society is a hard, long pull, and I think you have to stand back quite aways, sometimes, to rightly see the wheels of justice turn in their operation, rather than just report their clockwork like stops, starts, and sometimes seeming reversals, which are sometimes nothing more than the clockwork's ticks of discrete operation. One case of criminal law does not a society make.
posted by paulsc at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Some of my fear also goes into my defense of Zimmerman. Because I know, know to my bones, know, that if some guy on the street physically assaults me for whatever reason, even if he is trying to rape me, I don't have the ability to maim or kill him in response, even if it is the only way I can save myself from being beaten or raped. If I do, I will be up on trial. So I have to think, every day: how could I manage to defend myself without injuring someone? Because I don't live in a state with a Stand Your Ground law, and I wish every day that I did.

First things first, you are continuing to ignore the context of what happened that night. You didn't instigate those situations, you don't go out looking for trouble, you didn't take it upon yourself to be an arbiter of justice, and presumably you weren't making judgement calls about their behavior that were impossible to discern. All of that is what Zimmerman did, and that doesn't even get into the very real possibility that Zimmerman started the fight. That changes the entire situation, and quite frankly I'm shocked and rather appalled that you tried to conflate the two. Second, there are any of a number of ways that don't involve maiming or killing, and don't require a firearm. Which brings me to my last point, which is that you seem to want the tool rather than the outcome. There's no hard proof that SYG is helping in these sorts of crimes, and even the soft proof includes caveats that the risks to innocents are increasingly outweighing the safety of the potential victims. Violent crimes were falling before SYG laws were ever passed, in Florida and elsewhere, to the point where there is no real statistical proof that SYG was a contributing factor. And yet, you made it your mission here to defend it, and Zimmerman's state of mind (while simultaneously attacking Martin's), to the point of saying some very offensive things.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


speechless.
posted by oxidizer at 9:15 AM on July 14, 2013


[As ever, do not make this thread all about one user's opinions even if you think they are wrong opinions. Make the thread be the good discussion you want to see.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Trayvon wasn't "following" anyone. The analogy is flawed.
posted by spitbull at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bear in mind that there is no evidence that Martin was the aggressor in the physical confrontation beyond Zimmerman's testimony. Witnesses saw a scuffle, although reports about who had the upper hand are unclear or conflicting

Except the numerous physical injuries Zimmerman had, right? That's considered evidence that Trayvon was the aggressor, sadly.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:19 AM on July 14, 2013


Except the numerous physical injuries Zimmerman had, right? That's considered evidence that Trayvon was the aggressor, sadly.

The injuries that he had the next day after he was allowed to go home without having his condition documented.
posted by winna at 9:21 AM on July 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


Zimmerman's injuries are evidence Trayvon defended himself from a man with a gun who was following him. They prove nothing more
posted by spitbull at 9:21 AM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Much has been made in the media of the young Martin having called George Zimmerman a "creepy cracker" when he was on the phone with his girlfriend. The emphasis in the media has been on the word "cracker", and Is It A Racist Term?? - Was Trayvon Martin a Racist??, etc. To me, the salient word is "creepy". I have two teen-aged kids. If one of them uses the word "creepy" about an adult, it is in the context of "I felt like I had to get away" not "I am going to stand here and confront them". When a teenager calls an adult creepy, it is because they feel threatened.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


The injuries that he had the next day after he was allowed to go home without having his condition documented.

And that were not reflected in offensive injuries on Martin.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


It is hard to believe; but entirely possible that Zimmerman wacked his own head a few times after the event; up to and including slamming his nose against the pavement.

But I also have a hard time picturing him with his gun upholstered and following Trayvon with it barrel pointed at Trayvon.
posted by buzzman at 9:23 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I understand that this is the way the law is. Do you honestly still feel that this is the way the law should be, though?

No - I don't think that's the way the law should be, and that's why it genuinely frightens me to see so many people wanting to take away my protections. I feel safer in Florida than I do in NYC. I mean, this is not a hypothetical - when the Park Slope rapist was going around assaulting women in my neighborhood, I paused to look up the laws and to find that I was not protected at all - that I had a "duty to retreat" even from someone who was stronger, or faster, than me, or maybe two of them, no matter what was happening.

It's easy to say "well Zimmerman was following Martin", but people aren't talking about making Stand Your Ground more robust so that Martin would have been able to legally fight Zimmerman, which is something I might support, depending on how it was written. People are talking about doing away with it entirely. They're posting lists of states that have SYG/Castle Doctrine laws - states I personally feel safer in - and arguing that it's time to do away with them. And that is scary.
posted by corb at 9:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was floored, said there was no way the guy would walk from this.

The first witness that I saw couldn't read the letter she'd supposedly written (and she was extremely hostile), both mothers claimed the voice on the call was their son's voice, Travons's dad said he didn't know whose voice it was, audio experts weren't allowed to testify because there wasn't enough of a clip to evaluate, one witness for the prosecution claimed Travon was beating Martin in a MMA "ground and pound" style fight, etc.

The standard is reasonable doubt. The prosecution didn't meet the standard.

I didn't think Zimmerman was in an danger of going to prison at any point until the manslaughter charge was introduced, since juries often like to send a message, often don't think good people end up before a jury, and figure if there are multiple charges then he's probably guilty of something.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:24 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


And was there ever a more implausible story by a criminal defendant than Zimmerman's claiming that he got out of his truck to check a street sign, not to confront one of the "punks" who "always get away with it"?
posted by Eyebeams at 9:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Trayvon had injuries on his knuckles, as well as the gunshot wound. Nothing else, reportedly.

I am upset about this too, and am defriending horrible racist people on Facebook left and right, but these injuries to Zimmerman are the "evidence" people are talking about when they say Trayvon was the aggressor.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:28 AM on July 14, 2013


No - I don't think that's the way the law should be, and that's why it genuinely frightens me to see so many people wanting to take away my protections. I feel safer in Florida than I do in NYC.
[...]
It's easy to say "well Zimmerman was following Martin", but people aren't talking about making Stand Your Ground more robust so that Martin would have been able to legally fight Zimmerman, which is something I might support, depending on how it was written. People are talking about doing away with it entirely. They're posting lists of states that have SYG/Castle Doctrine laws - states I personally feel safer in - and arguing that it's time to do away with them. And that is scary.


Your feelings on relative safety are not borne out by any substantive evidence. You might feel safer in Florida than in NYC, and you, singular, might actually be, but there is very little out there that proves that the population as a whole is safer. And even that proof is questionable at best, so any accusations of evil people wanting to take away your protections is unsupported speculation for now.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


but people aren't talking about making Stand Your Ground more robust so that Martin would have been able to legally fight Zimmerman,

Right. I am seeing this through the red mist that means I am going to walk away from the thread now, and also means I may not be parsing this correctly. But as I read it it is not rooted in reality. Meaning, Martin did have the right. He just didn't have a gun.

Also, I wonder: I am not asking you to be silent. But you must know that a lot of people are hurting over the verdict. A lot of people are in despair over it. Your coming in here with a rape analogy and making statements that don't really seem to be rooted in reality (like the above comment) are really insensitive. Do you see that, at all?
posted by angrycat at 9:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


The gun question isn't: are there cases where having a gun is better than having no gun. That is not a debatable point; the answer is yes, in some very limited circumstances having or using a gun would be better than the alternative.

The gun question is also not: overall and with all ramifications considered, are outcomes with guns better than outcomes without. No debate either: the answer is no, guns make things worse for society.

The question is: why do we continue to let fear guide our policies?
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


So is the evidence that Zimmerman was following Martin silently and Martin suddenly turned around and hit him?
posted by girlmightlive at 9:32 AM on July 14, 2013


In my head, all I can see coming out of this is a net increase in white people with guns following and intentionally provoking non-white people into either attacking them (so they can kill the non-white people without repercussion) or into running away/being deferential so that the white people can feel superior. Until/unless a non-white person gets acquitted for shooting a white person under those conditions, of course. Which will be never.
posted by davejay at 9:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


when they say Trayvon was the aggressor.

I know a few people who learned a hard lesson: that starting a fight doesn't mean you end up with fewer injuries, or win in the end.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:34 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Corb wrote: And the law does not accept "following" as a legitimate provocation to a fight...

I'm clear about the requirement to prove guilt. I don't see murder or manslaughter as the relevant charges. But Zimmerman did much more that follow Martin. He got out of his car, and instigated a confrontation. It seems to me that the use of deadly force was precipitated by an act of bad judgment on Zimmerman's part. The charge ought to have been, at the very least, reckless endangerment, and Zimmerman's defense ought to have been predicated on the notion that Martin was about to commit some act of violence on somebody (other than Zimmerman). Zimmerman would need to demonstrate the exigent conditions that required his confrontation of Martin.

In many cases, a homicide committed during an illegal (or inappropriate) act is considered to be part of the illegal act. If you are robbing a store, and get in a gunfight with the cops, your stray bullet killing a bystander entitles you to have a felony manslaughter charge to added to robbery attempt. The homicide under these conditions isn't deemed an accidental death. If you are drunk and decide to do some target practice on your neighbor's car, your judgment will be part of the legal issue when you explain it to Wapner. If you decide to slow down traffic speeding down your street by standing in the middle of the road, you are not allowed to claim self-defense if you shoot the driver who honks his horn at you, even if he decided to comment on your sexual proclivities while waving the appropriate gestures out his car window.

Zimmerman's bad judgment led to Martin's death. Even if I bought his bullshit story I would consider him to be the acting agent, not the defendant, in the homicide. Even if Martin had turned out to be armed, Zimmerman still ought to have to show that he was an immediate threat to life or property.

In other news, Florida continues to be a source of wonder and awe. I believe shameful racial issues associated with that state are not the only scary items illuminated by these events.
posted by mule98J at 9:39 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Except the numerous physical injuries Zimmerman had, right? That's considered evidence that Trayvon was the aggressor, sadly.

It may be considered evidence, in the sense that a private citizen is free to consider it evidence, but it doesn't pass an evidenciary standard - it's circumstantial evidence supporting Zimmerman's testimony.

Likewise Zimmerman's lack of physical prowess - it's circumstantial evidence suggesting he would not have initiated physical combat, but it doesn't hold up as evidence in itself.

Denis Root, a public safety consultant, attested that Zimmerman was not in as good physical shape as Martin, but of course people pick fights unwisely all the time, especially when they have a gun and are not rational agents.

(Root also said that the gunshot wound could have been dealt while Martin was backing away.)

Medical examiner Valerie Rao also testified as a prosecution witness that Zimmerman's injuries were trivial - that he was not in immediate danger of death from those wounds or similar wounds - and that they were consistent with a single punch and a fall to the ground, rather than Zimmerman's account of having his head slammed against the pavement or the witness statement of Martin delivering "MMA-style" punches.

Further, none of this demonstrates conclusively that Martin initiated physical hostilities. Zimmerman could have swung and missed. Zimmerman could have attempted to pull his gun and Martin could have jumped for him to try to wrestle it away. You just have to make up your mind on the balance of probability. Or thank Heaven that you don't have to do so.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [28 favorites]


So much missing data; up to and including the knuckle injuries... scraping injuries? Frontal injuries; perhaps from blows that missed Zimmerman and went straight into the pavement?

I'd think that like an old Quincy episode; the straight on injuries would match the pavement pattern that was hit. Anything of a scrape and drag -could- have been done after the fact; -or- could have been glancing blows on the pavement.

DNA under whose nails or knuckles or where? Whose blood and where? I'd like to think the courtroom covered some of this; but I have not seen it in any media.

And all these people, in an area of repeated crime; does nobody talk to their neighbors? Pay attention outside their windows? Cameras? Nothing? The neighborhood seems so disconnected with itself no wonder it has a crime problem.

The entire incident is a perfect storm of idiocy. Ultimately; one person was armed; and the other is not around to give their side of the story. .
posted by buzzman at 9:44 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


DNA under whose nails or knuckles or where? Whose blood and where? I'd like to think the courtroom covered some of this; but I have not seen it in any media.

Someone, I think it was the person who performed the autopsy, testified that Martin had none of Zimmerman's DNA under his fingernails.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just watched a BBC report about the verdict. I've been following this thread just horrified that it is possible to legally follow a child because you "thought he might be part of a gang", confront him, and use any (alleged) resistance from him to claim self-defence and shoot him dead. It pleased me that the news anchor, cutting to the reporter said, "bottom line, this is about race, isn't it?" and she said yes. Because it is. Because the reason he thought Trayvon was part of a gang was because he was black, end of story. I wonder how many white kids fell unremarked under his glance as he looked for potential threats.

At the end of the report it showed Trayvon's cousin who spoke very movingly, I thought, sounding not angry, just despairing. "Sometimes things in life just happen. But they're not fair." I'm sorry for his family, for Americans who are shocked and not shocked and appalled at this verdict. And I'm sorry for America, because like others I look from the outside at the US justice system in relation to African-Americans and I think "It's not fair." And all Americans deserve better.
posted by billiebee at 9:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


running order squabble thanks: thank you for your wonderful comment! I am seeing a lot of people on Facebook argue that since Trayvon had injuries on his knuckles and Zimmerman had numerous injuries to his face, this meant that Zimmerman was somehow in the right in shooting Trayvon, in fear for his life. This all comes from the DiMaio testimony, I think. I was just kind of wondering why that testimony wasn't being discussed here.

I am getting real tired of all this "right to follow" bullshit I keep seeing. Anyway, I got my answer. Again, danke.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:48 AM on July 14, 2013


corb, Zimmerman had been convicted months ago after he had been (hypothetically) arrested for giving Martin, would you be outraged at the verdict, or would you just be giving us a world-weary, "well, life is unfair and sometimes it causes people like Zimmerman to go to jail" ?Because I'm wondering if this is more about your outrage that people are lamenting the unfairness of this or whether you actually believe there is a principle at stake in ensuring that violent men like Zimmerman go free.
posted by deanc at 9:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a cousin who isn't white, who grew up in Florida. His mother (who is white) still lives there. She called him the minute the verdict came in, and begged him to cut his hair, which he wears in a wild afro. He respectfully declined.

She said "Aren't you afraid of getting profiled?"

He said "No, mom, I'm sick of getting profiled. There's nothing I can do to stop it, not cutting my hair, not wearing a suit, not bowing and scraping all the time. So fuck 'em. This is how I roll."
posted by KathrynT at 9:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [67 favorites]


Maybe the riots the media are so psyched for will turn up today.

Why the Latest Zimmerman Race Riot Conspiracy Theory Is the Dumbest Yet
posted by homunculus at 10:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Couldn't the prosecution have sought some gross negligence manslaughter or similar charge in this case? Does anyone have insight into why they couldn't or at least didn't?

They did; Zimmerman was acquitted of manslaughter as well.
posted by spaltavian at 10:00 AM on July 14, 2013


SkylitDrawl: Right - DiMao and Rao basically disagreed on the likely severity of the impacts. And of course it is not an exact science - Rao, under cross-examination, acknowledged that the injuries could have been a result of a number of (sc. weaker or poorly-aimed) blows, and Root and DiMao disagreed about the possible positions of the shooter and victim - DiMao said the gunshot trajectory was consistent with the victim leaning over the shooter.

Regardless, those are still arguments about the progress of the fight rather than its origins. Legally, however, it was pretty much impossible to demonstrate (if you assume that the start of the aggression is the first thrown punch rather than the following on car or on foot) that Zimmerman's account is untrue - which comes back to the problems of the self-defence plea structurally...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:01 AM on July 14, 2013


I would like to see an infographic of every single person who has ever been found guilty of murder or manslaughter in Florida, and for someone to map out what their trials would have looked like if, instead of claiming that they didn't commit the crime, they simply announced that they had felt threatened and had committed the murder in self-defense. People talk about 'lack of evidence' in this case, but it seems to me that in most criminal trials, common sense is allowed to substitute for direct evidence so often that it becomes invisible, yet if we didn't, the justice system would cease to function.

Imagine a murder trial in which a husband stabs his wife to death in the privacy of their home, no witnesses. If he swore that, moments before, she had tried to throttle him, and he had felt threatened and killed her in self-defense, would we believe him? I would guess not, for the following reasons: she is dead, he clearly killed her, he has an obvious reason to lie about what's happened, and what's more, even if it were some version the truth, surely - common sense suggests - he could have responded to that situation in a way other than stabbing her to death. And yet, fundamentally, we don't know that he is not telling the truth. If what we need is not evidence of the crime itself, but evidence of the accused murderer's mental state and his beliefs about what was happening at the time...the barrier to conviction rises higher and higher until it begins to seem almost unsurmountable.

Every single fight that ends in a death, every single gang altercation - really, every single murder in which no one was present but the murderer and the victim...look at it through the lens of this case and tell me what you see.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


1) if Trayvon had been white, would Zimmerman have walked free?

2) if there are riots, how many of the rioters will be shot or imprisoned?

3) are things going to get better, or worse?
posted by windykites at 10:03 AM on July 14, 2013


Couldn't the prosecution have sought some gross negligence manslaughter or similar charge in this case? Does anyone have insight into why they couldn't or at least didn't?

They did; Zimmerman was acquitted of manslaughter as well.


Can one of our resident lawyers explain how someone gets charged with murder and manslaughter? I mean, it's not like where someone gets charged with using a gun and carrying a gun and killing someone with a gun, where you can kind of separate the actions -- in my untrained mind, murder is killing someone and manslaughter is killing someone, so how do you get to charge someone with both?
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on July 14, 2013


And I don't see the so-called "responsible" gun owners here or elsewhere saying "Holy shit, that guy just said a bunch of racist shit."

I'm a responsible gun owner and happy to say that shit is racist, but I'm reluctant to get much further involved in the conversation because when I've spoken up in the past to say that I'm a member of some group routinely vilified on MetaFilter and we don't all say/do whatever thing someone is generalizing that members of said group all say/do, I get accused of a derail and my comments deleted. So I don't know what you expect us to do when that's the typical response?

The truth about gun control and racism is actually the opposite of what most MeFites believe. It's not that racism against blacks prevents gun control laws from being passed, but that racism against blacks was the original motivation for passing gun control laws. The Black Panthers began encouraging black people to exercise their second amendment rights and in response state legislatures and local governments passed the most restrictive gun control laws in the cities with large black populations.

As a non-racist pro-gun-rights person, I would love to see a resurgence of the Black Panther movement. The police are obviously doing a terrible job protecting the rights of black people to live in safe communities.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think one of the things we need in our society is a black box program for our phones. Even among the poorer elements of our society smartphones are increasingly common and as time passes will become even more common.

A program that can, with one touch of an icon, be activated to record **and stream to an online archive** audio and video would at least make it easier to sort out things when, as the inevitable result of the law and this court decision, people decide that it's just easier to kill the victim to make it simpler to claim self defense.

At the very least it'll keep creepy vigilante types from getting away with murder as Zimmerman just did.

As for the rest, I don't know. My wife and I are still talking about moving to another country, or at least to a state with stricter gun control and no vigilante enabling laws. Right now we live in Texas, which is about as bad as Florida.

As for black folks arming themselves, that's a terrible idea. If the racist vigilantes of the world are murdering unarmed black folks now, just wait until they piss their pants in fear of armed black folks. Right now it's bad enough, right now thanks to this court case it's basically open season on young black men. But if young black men started arming themselves? The incidents of Zimmerman types murdering them would skyrocket.

I'll end with a statistic: in Florida when the victim of a killing is black there is a 79% chance that the killer will walk free. The odds of walking free if the victim is white are only 59%. http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/race-plays-complex-role-in-floridas-stand-your-ground-law/1233152
posted by sotonohito at 10:06 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


If the jurors didn't believe that Zimmerman was guilty of killing Martin intentionally (murder), they could've still believed that he was guilty of killing Martin unintentionally (manslaughter). The instructions gave them the option to choose. For some reason, they chose neither.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:07 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lawyers help me out. It looks to me like what Zimmerman did was aggravated stalking, a felony under Florida law. Why didn't prosecutors charge aggravated stalking and thereby get murder for free as a killing during the commission of a felony?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


The police are obviously doing a terrible job protecting the rights of black people to live in safe communities.

Yeah, I keep thinking that if we had enough cops doing their job, we wouldn't even need guys like Zimmerman and the crazy dude in my mom's old neighborhood who spies on everyone and makes trouble all the time. Then I think about what the real functions of the cops work out to be in US society (protecting property and social order, which last is fundamentally constructed in a racist manner) and I realize that's not going to work well either. This case and all the questions that spiral off it fill me with despair.
posted by immlass at 10:10 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can one of our resident lawyers explain how someone gets charged with murder and manslaughter? I mean, it's not like where someone gets charged with using a gun and carrying a gun and killing someone with a gun, where you can kind of separate the actions -- in my untrained mind, murder is killing someone and manslaughter is killing someone, so how do you get to charge someone with both?


IANAL, but manslaughter in this case would presumably be a lesser included offense, - so, you could not convict of both murder and manslaughter, but you could acquit of murder and convict of manslaughter.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2013


"Random question - why are the genders of the jury members so prominent in the news reports? What is the relevance?"

Trial lawyers are like hockey and baseball players in their superstitious beliefs about what makes them win (smelly socks, holey shoes, certain jurors). I was a research assistant for a major jury researcher, and there's actually hardly any evidence (and most of that evidence is questionable) that the makeup of a jury makes much difference -- 12 highly-educated professionals, 12 elderly retirees, 12 broke high-school educated folks, 12 white guys, 12 black guys, 12 men, 12 women, any combination of these people, virtually always come to the same conclusions. Most jurors try very hard to follow the instructions and carefully consider the evidence they're given. (They're not told, "Look at this case and decide who's in the wrong"; they get instructions more like "This crime has three elements. First, malice aforethought, which means X, Y, and Z. Considering this evidence, did X, Y, and Z all occur? If they all did, then you have malice aforethought. Second, blah blah blah. ... If you find all of these elements, you must find the defendant guilty. If any of these elements is missing, you must find him not guilty.") As long as you remove people who don't believe in crimes at all, who refuse to abide by instructions, who are virulent racists (etc.), who personally know the parties or attorneys or witnesses, and who have had that specific crime committed against them, it doesn't seem to matter very much whom you seat on the jury.

However, trial lawyers and jury consultants are all profoundly convinced it makes a difference and they all have these secret, unsupported ideas about what differences it makes. So news commentators who talk to trial lawyers and jury consultants hear a lot from those people about what difference the make-up of the jury makes, because most trial lawyers think it DOES make a difference, for superstitious, unsupported reasons. Probably in this case, the prosecution thought women would be more upset by an innocent teenager being killed, and the defense thought women would be more frightened of a threatening teenager wandering the neighborhood -- both superstitions can't be true at once. Research suggests there's nothing to that at all (but that it also doesn't matter that it's all women). Anyway, the jury's a really important cog in the trial machine but there's not much you can say about a jury because their identities are protected and the media can't talk to them during the trial, so the media typically ends up parroting random trial lawyers' superstitions about jury selection.

It's passably interesting that it was an all-woman jury, in the same sort of way it's passably interesting that you flipped a coin six times and they all came up heads, so a news guy saying, "The jury, which consists of six women, will deliberate ..." is no big deal, it's just a humanizing detail of passing interest when you can't say much about the jury. The FIXATION on the fact that it's six women, though, comes from the superstitions of trial lawyers about jury selection.

Jury selection seems to matter a little bit in large white-collar crime and tort cases, of the sorts the banks have been committing. The highly-technical, convoluted nature of the offenses can make it difficult for a jury. There's been some talk of specialist judges and juries for those sorts of trials; specialist courts have been tried in the US and other parts of the world for things like patents, medical malpractice, employment, etc. They seem to work reasonably well.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


Is there anywhere we can watch a taping/replay of the trial?
posted by Autumn at 10:13 AM on July 14, 2013


Let's forget about laws for a second. If we were tasked with creating a new, fair legal system, how many years should Zimmerman get?
posted by rainy at 10:15 AM on July 14, 2013


Is there anywhere we can watch a taping/replay of the trial?

There is a whole bunch of it at this Youtube Channel
posted by lampshade at 10:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I recall, the only evidence at trial on the issue of how the physical confrontation initiated (which of course was mostly George Zimmerman's own previous statements, but the only evidence nonetheless) was that after some verbal exchange Trayvon Martin sucker-punched George Zimmerman in the nose, took him down to the ground, and was beating him in the "ground and pound position" for 45 seconds which included hitting George Zimmerman's head on concrete. This version was the only one for which there was evidence after the prosecution's best efforts.
posted by cheburashka at 10:18 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


RTFT, dude.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except there were also accounts from witnesses at the time that Zimmerman's injuries weren't severe enough to support the idea he had been that badly beaten. This case seriously makes me feel nervous about living in Florida and I'm white. Red necks used to routinely chase and attack me and other punk/skater kids in high school. Now I'm realizing there's nothing legally to protect anyone in those kinds of situations in Florida. I already knew the courts in Florida suck, but now I really don't see how people can feel secure from harrassment and any of the various forms of cultural bigotry in the state. I'm going to be travelling through the area tomorrow. It's a horrible place full of mcmansions and nouveau riche twits. Ugh.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:30 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seriously, guys, all the stuff with the evidence and reasonable doubt and provocation was gone over in minute detail last thread. You can read it if you want! We made all of these points (on both sides) a lot.
posted by Justinian at 10:35 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's forget about laws for a second. If we were tasked with creating a new, fair legal system, how many years should Zimmerman get?
posted by rainy at 10:15 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


If we were tasked with creating a new, fair legal system, I would hope it would focus on preventing situations like this in the first place-- that young black men wouldn't be demonized, that they wouldn't be scared to call 911, that no one could carry a gun to murder a child unthinkingly.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I recall, there was opinion testimony from medical expert (and non-expert) witnesses that George Zimmerman did not have serious resultant injuries. You can have your head hit on concrete and not have serious resultant injuries, but I would say that having your head hit on concrete is being "badly beaten."


"Seriously, guys, all the stuff with the evidence and reasonable doubt and provocation was gone over in minute detail last thread. You can read it if you want! We made all of these points (on both sides) a lot."

Yet in this thread there is repeated and much-endorsed speculation, and indeed factual assertions that are simply false even on the prosecution's version of the events.
posted by cheburashka at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"...that young black men wouldn't be demonized..."

Both Zimmerman and Martin are victims of hegemonic, white supremacy. That poor kid's last moments on this earth must have been horrific. And Zimmerman? His family says he's been depressed ever since he killed the kid. Not hard to believe. If anything, that guy should be on suicide watch.
posted by artof.mulata at 10:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


They did; Zimmerman was acquitted of manslaughter as well.

Yeah, but that was an eleventh-hour lesser charge that was still subject to Stand Your Ground (ie, it was a question of whether the shooting was justifiable during the fight itself).

As mentioned above, I'm interested to see why something like aggravated stalking or harassment wouldn't apply here. Fear that it would render all neighborhood watch programs illegal, maybe?
posted by graphnerd at 10:43 AM on July 14, 2013


I would have a lot more sympathy for Zimmerman if he had apologized, admitted he should not have shot Martin, and negotiated a plea to manslaughter. Since he has never even come close to apologizing or admitting he did anything wrong, or even said that he feels bad about what he did, since he in fact has said that he would do everything the same way again, I really don't give a fuck if he's depressed, scared, sad, or anything else.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:45 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


[One comment deleted; metacommentary about MetaFilter does not go here, it goes in MetaTalk or the contact form. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:46 AM on July 14, 2013


I don't know--would 20 years be considered a fair sentence for a woman firing a gun in the air to scare away her abusive husband as he breaks the restraining order against him in this hypothetical perfect system? If so, then I guess life sounds about right.

The overarching, fundamental point of our system is supposed to be delivering justice. The system is failing us in countless ways on that count. The focus on process is just a distraction from that fact.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:46 AM on July 14, 2013






Others point out that this verdict depended on the unique nature of the law in Florida.

Huh? As far as I know, Zimmerman would have been (appropriately) acquitted under the self-defense law of any state. I don't see anything in that article to the contrary. The case wasn't about Florida's "stand your ground" law.


Without testimony? In Florida, the fact that it wasn't self-defense must be proved by the state.

Insane.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


hydropsyche, pretty sure Zimmerman had been heavily coached not to apologize. That would have jeopardized his case...
posted by artof.mulata at 10:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Karl Rove: Obama 'Ripped Us Apart' by Sympathizing With Trayvon's Parents

so, how many times is this obama guy going to be allowed to rip us apart like that? - and how many pieces are we in now?

since when have we been together, anyway?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:51 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a white mother with a young, black son. Living in Chicago. Others look at him when he is with me, his openness, his gentleness, his charm, his humor is all evident. And someday he will be 17, not 4. What will they see then?

I'm not ignorant of what other friends have had to endure...the intense lectures from their parents when they were younger about "how to act around police" to avoid getting hurt or profiled, what to wear so as to avoid suspicion/look less "threatening"/etc. And it makes my stomach turn. That someday I will have to be having these same conversations with my bright, beautiful, amazing boy...reveal to him that the world that I walk in, where I don't have to think twice about many things, is not a world that he can also enjoy. That there will be a day when someone might cross the street in the evening to avoid him, might get up and change their seat on a bus to distance themselves from him, might stalk him unbidden across a neighborhood with a gun tucked under their shirt. Just like all of the mothers before me in America, with those same fears.

Trayvon Martin stood his ground with a bag of Skittles, not George Zimmerman with his 9mm. The technicalities of the Florida case, the prosecutors' poor choices, don't negate the very real problem that we have here in this country including the persistent denial of many who say that they are not racist but deny that this case was ever about race.
posted by jeanmari at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2013 [47 favorites]


hydropsyche, pretty sure Zimmerman had been heavily coached not to apologize. That would have jeopardized his case...

Yes. And so I don't have to feel bad if he's depressed. If he wants to not be depressed, if he wants to not be scared, if he wants to ever feel better again, he should hold his own press conference without his fucking lawyers and apologize to the victim's parents. He should state unequivocally that he made many mistakes that night, that if he could do it over then he never would have gotten out of his car, and that he and he alone is to blame for Martin's death.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


but I would say that having your head hit on concrete is being "badly beaten." 

Doesn't really matter if the injuries weren't even remotely life threatening. You think Zimmerman's life was evidently at greater risk than the dead 17 year old? By your reasoning, doesn't Martin's being dead provide sufficient grounds to believe he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was the one acting in self-defense?

Systems that don't deliver the kinds of outcomes they're intended to produce (in this case, just ones) are broken. You can't just hand wave it away saying the system works as designed whether it's a justice system or a computer system.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bug status: closed - operating as intended

... makes me sick.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:57 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't think I've ever been literally horrified by a jury's decision before. I can't believe this.

It reminds me of when I found out that OJ was, er, innocent.
posted by anothermug at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Think about it: We're told over and over that if Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, according to Florida law, he had the right to put a bullet in the chamber of his concealed handgun, get out of his car after being told not to by the 911 dispatcher and follow and confront Martin and shoot him to death.

At the same time, we are told that Martin, who had far greater reason to fear Zimmerman, practically and for reasons of American history, did not have the right to confront his stalker, stand his ground and defend himself, including by using his fists. We are told that this was entirely unjustified and by doing so, Martin justified his own execution."
-- CNN: What About Martin's Right To "Stand His Ground"
posted by bibliowench at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


I see this as yet another reminder of the complete insanity of a country which protects the right of its citizens to routinely carry firearms around residential neighbourhoods. I'd wager that Zimmerman's decision to confront Martin stemmed just as much from a sense of invulnerability because he was "packing heat" as it did from racial profiling.
posted by modernnomad at 11:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to hear what Rick Perry thinks about this about as much as I want to hear what serial killers think about various body disposal methods, homonculus.

They are certain to have decided opinions on the matter, but no one needs to hear about it, especially in light of the evil, wicked things they've done to their fellow humans.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:03 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gotta admit, I am pretty disappointed in some of the sensationalist and racially charged language used in this thread. I am realizing more and more that trials like this point to there being more racial and political problems still existing in the USA than I, a white male, realize, but sometimes.... I think we fan more of this into existence than we really might need to.
posted by Jacen at 11:07 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"And so I don't have to feel bad if he's depressed."

Part of me wishes Zimmerman'd gone down in flames, too. Another part looks at him and sees a poor schmuck who's been fed shitty hero narratives and grew up believing them and wanting to embody them. And look where it get's us.

Black boys grow up hearing that we're dangerous and it makes you want to act out dangerous. I've seen this so many times and lived it myself. Lots of black guys can tell you the same thing. I can't help thinking that crappy quality of life environments, horrible, racist scorn poured on you from many disparate sources, and a desire to lash out at your attackers and tormentors, even if only symbolically/metaphorically, cause a lot of black crime. We aren't inherently 'criminal'; we are cast as such.

And the Zimmerman's come from a similar cloth. The white guy is the hero saving the day from the hordes of whatever isn't the white guy. Kids believe this shit and grow up to be adults that live it. When you can't tell reality from fantasy you end up with crap laws, unsympathetic citizens (because they can't escape mythologizing the other people around them).

That's why I feel bad for both of them. White supremacy kills everybody, not just non-white people.
posted by artof.mulata at 11:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Gotta admit, I am pretty disappointed in some of the sensationalist and racially charged language used in this thread. I am realizing more and more that trials like this point to there being more racial and political problems still existing in the USA than I, a white male, realize, but sometimes.... I think we fan more of this into existence than we really might need to.


Man, you are so right. The way people are behaving, you'd think someone had been killed or something.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:09 AM on July 14, 2013 [38 favorites]


[Reminder, metacommentary about how MetaFilter handles a topic does not go here.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2013


I just feel bad for the family who lost their son to a senseless act of violence and had to live through months of the national media dragging their dead child's reputation through the dirt just to protect some overzealous, paranoid piece of crap with a gun. Whether this was the law being pedantically applied or not, it's a shameful, disgusting and cruel outcome and process.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:14 AM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


A lot of people are in despair over it. Your coming in here with a rape analogy and making statements that don't really seem to be rooted in reality (like the above comment) are really insensitive. Do you see that, at all?

A lot of people are coming in and sharing their emotions and their fears. And to many people, their words seem insensitive.

When I see people taking about "gun nuts" it seems insensitive to mefites who own guns, by implying that they are crazy.When they talk about "crazy paranoid (ex) military types", they are insensitive to veterans. A lot of the discussion about race seems to leave out the status of Hispanics/Latinos in America today, which also seems insensitive. I think that it is hard for a lot of us whose emotions are raging to keep themselves from offending anyon - because everyone's nerves are raw, and we are bumping up against each other.

My intention is not to be insensitive to those who are in despair. But I've been in despair for months over this trial, over the potential rolling back of laws I thought would protect me. And so the verdict is no less an emotional thing for me. For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back. A reassurance that maybe sometimes it is okay to keep yourself safe. A reassurance in the American justice system, that even if the President of the United States himself wants you convicted, you still have due process of law.
posted by corb at 11:15 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


It is peculiar to me that you can only seem to put yourself in Zimmerman's shoes, and not Martin's.
posted by rtha at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [67 favorites]


let's not forget the gross insensitivity a lot of us have towards those who kill their fellow human beings unnecessarily - and the bottom line of everything that happened is that one person, george zimmerman, could have backed off at any time up until the final minute of that confrontation

morally, he was wrong - and morally, the system we have is wrong for allowing him to get away with it

as far as due process of law is concerned, at one time it was due process of law to force people to return runaway slaves and to allow them to be beaten to death by their masters

which, i fear, is a lot more relevant than it should be
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back. A reassurance that maybe sometimes it is okay to keep yourself safe.

Beautifully said.

This is larger than just a single case. People always tend to look at the outcome of one case and then wanting to change the laws so that this one case gets a "better" ending. Without looking at the greater picture.
posted by 2uo at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back. A reassurance that maybe sometimes it is okay to keep yourself safe.

Trayvon Martin is the one who was attacked and allegedly fought back. He didn't go to jail for it because he is dead.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [65 favorites]


For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back.

Against a black guy walking down the street?
posted by thelonius at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


People always tend to look at the outcome of one case and then wanting to change the laws so that this one case gets a "better" ending. Without looking at the greater picture.

there are states, including mine, where one has a duty under the law to do everything one can do to step away from a confrontation in a public space

and THAT is what the law should be
posted by pyramid termite at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


When I see people taking about "gun nuts" it seems insensitive to mefites who own guns, by implying that they are crazy.When they talk about "crazy paranoid (ex) military types", they are insensitive to veterans.

"Gun nuts" is meant to be pejorative towards those who are, in fact, nutty about guns, not those who see that the right to bear arms is neither unlimited nor a universal good. "Crazy paranoid (ex) military types" is meant to pejorative to those who have decided to see the world as a war zone that requires them to prepare for battle, not veterans who, as a whole, do not see the world this way. Both can be applied to many in power, both on the moneyed side and on the elected side.

My intention is not to be insensitive to those who are in despair. But I've been in despair for months over this trial, over the potential rolling back of laws I thought would protect me.

Are they protecting everybody? An answer in the positive has yet to be provided.

And so the verdict is no less an emotional thing for me. For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back. A reassurance that maybe sometimes it is okay to keep yourself safe.

Too bad that reassurance comes at a cost to everybody else.

A reassurance in the American justice system, that even if the President of the United States himself wants you convicted, you still have due process of law.

Oh, FFS, this overwrought purple prose is just flat-out ridiculous.

This is larger than just a single case. People always tend to look at the outcome of one case and then wanting to change the laws so that this one case gets a "better" ending. Without looking at the greater picture.

Over the course of several threads plenty of evidence has been provided as to why the laws around this case and others provide as many worse endings than better ones, and in all likelihood provide more. Maybe you haven't been looking at the greater picture, but a lot of as have, and the picture looks very, very bad, especially if you're not white.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


Corb, you say that your greatest concern is the rolling back of the stand your ground/ self-defence law, but I genuinely cannot understand why you see George Zimmerman and not Trayvon Martin as the one who would legitimately feel threatened and have the right to self-defense. Zimmerman had no need to follow this boy. They didn't bump into each other. Trayvon wasn't following him. Zimmerman set this chain of events in motion. The real analogy would be if you were followed at night (you assume by a creepy potential rapist), you confront the stalker, he kills you and gets off on self-defence. How is this law protecting you?
posted by genuinely curious at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2013 [71 favorites]


there are states, including mine, where one has a duty under the law to do everything one can do to step away from a confrontation in a public space

and THAT is what the law should be


I can see where you're coming from (life is sacred, better lose a little than the other guy loses everything) and I can respect that, but I just disagree.

It leads to unhealthy incentives. Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to "win".
posted by 2uo at 11:29 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back.

if you believe that your society is such that you have to be armed to survive in it, you're already in jail for life
posted by pyramid termite at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


Against a black guy walking down the street?

The law is race agnostic. It doesn't even know about any single case. It's a broad set of rules, applicable to everyone.

If the practical implementation in the US is racist (I don't know about that), then that's the problem, not self-defense.
posted by 2uo at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


''Attackers can now create situations where they are guaranteed to "win"''. Yes, like George Zimmerman did.
posted by genuinely curious at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


" Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to 'win'."

We can't have them winning. It's better to kill them.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]




The unspoken consideration, I think, for many racists looking at this situation is something like "at some point in the future, I or somebody I care about might find it necessary to kill a young black man - since my steady diet of Fox News has taught me that young black men are a menace to my property and my womenfolk, and only I and my guns can protect these things. I am concerned that this might cause problems in the longer term". If that is where your head at, it will be absolutely a relief to know that, at the very least, the justice system of the State of Florida has your back.

Trayvon Martin was unarmed. He was a minor. He had no record of violent crime. He posed no threat to George Zimmerman originally, and would have continued never to pose a threat to George Zimmerman if Zimmerman had not engineered a confrontation.

Now, it's very unlikely that those circumstances are going to recur in the paranoid imaginings of racists - the young African-American men in those fantasies will be more violent, more aggressive, actually intent on home invasion. But even with all of those elements, you can still kill a young black man without going to jail.

This is naturally going to be a source of relief for a lot of people - that the principles of justice that protected Bernhard Goetz are still present in the US legal system.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


It leads to unhealthy incentives. Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to "win".

Yes, this is exactly what happened in this case, isn't it? Zimmerman attacked Martin and created a situation where he was guaranteed to "win". And yesterday he won.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Trayvon Martin is the one who was attacked and allegedly fought back.

That may very well be the case, but it's equally possible that he was the attacker and Zimmerman was the victim. We'll never know. Courts don't establish "truth". They try to approximate it.

Have you heard about in dubio pro reo?
posted by 2uo at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It leads to unhealthy incentives. Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to "win".

The "stand your ground" law provides an incentive for homicide. If you don't have a witness to the contrary, you can always get off on self defense. I'm writing to my state lawmakers today to ask that stand your ground be repealed here in Texas. It may be a hopeless effort, but it's a small thing I can do, and if enough of us do it, in time those laws may be repealed.
posted by immlass at 11:33 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to "win".

no they can't - if they make it impossible for you to get away from them, you still are able to plead self-defense
posted by pyramid termite at 11:34 AM on July 14, 2013


Have you heard of in dubio pro reo?

I would love it if you gave Trayvon Martin a tiny fraction of the benefit of the doubt that you are so willing to give Zimmerman. Especially since Martin is dead and Zimmerman is alive.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


The law is race agnostic. It doesn't even know about any single case. It's a broad set of rules, applicable to everyone.

If the practical implementation in the US is racist (I don't know about that), then that's the problem, not self-defense.


It wouldn't even matter if it was race-agnostic or not. The problem is that it allows for the killer to decide the terms of crime, not the killed. And as of now, it has not proven to fulfill its duty to reduce crime, but is causing the deaths of innocent people. The fact that implementation does seem to be racist--never mind that people working for the groups that write the laws like the NRA certainly seem to have a racist bent--makes it even worse. To remove it from the context of race relations in this country just to try and prove a point is ridiculously naive and offensive.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


He had no record of violent crime.

Please tell, how could Zimmerman find out about his record on the spot?

He posed no threat to George Zimmerman originally

Very true.

and would have continued never to pose a threat to George Zimmerman if Zimmerman had not engineered a confrontation.

And that part was not proven. Look, I think it's safe to say that Zimmerman acted like an bigotted idiot, made some really poor choices and was probably motivated by some less-than-noble motives.

In the end all this buildup doesn't matter, unless he actually preplanned everything to lead to Martin's death. Possible. But not proven. And, in my opinion, unlikely.

I guess that up to the confrontation it was all Zimmerman being an asshole. What happened starting from the confrontation, who knows? The story, that Martin at some point caused was about about to cause severe risk of life to Zimmerman, has not been disproven.

But even if Zimmerman has stalked him, why did he pummel Zimmerman (if he did -- but that's what we have here, for the purposes of the trial)? Couldn't he have walked away?
posted by 2uo at 11:38 AM on July 14, 2013


"Doesn't really matter if they weren't even remotely life threatening."

If you feel that having your head bashed against concrete is not life-threatening or sufficient justification to respond with deadly force, you're entitled to your opinion and to advocate that the law be changed to reflect this.


"You think Zimmerman's life was evidently at greater risk than the dead 17 year old? By your reasoning, doesn't Martin's being dead provide sufficient grounds to believe he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was the one acting in self-defense?"

Much implicit speculation here. Even after the defense was not allowed to present evidence indicating that Trayvon Martin did street fighting as a hobby, the version of the events for which there was the most evidence was that Trayon Martin initiated the physical attack and that George Zimmerman was being beaten and screaming for help for almost a minute before the shot.
posted by cheburashka at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


How much more evidence do you need than Zimmerman by his own admission pursuing Martin even after police advised him not to? Idiotic.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would love it if you gave Trayvon Martin a tiny fraction of the benefit of the doubt that you are so willing to give Zimmerman. Especially since Martin is dead and Zimmerman is alive.

I don't because Martin does not stand trial. Look, Martin's character does nearly not matter at all.

Zimmerman stands trial. "reus" is "defendant", not "dead man".

If Martin had overcome and killed Zimmerman I would be arguing in dubio pro reo for him.
posted by 2uo at 11:41 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The pursuit in itself was the initiation of the confrontation!
posted by saulgoodman at 11:42 AM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


How much more evidence do you need than Zimmerman by his own admission pursuing Martin even after police advised him not to?

For what is that supposed to be evidence? That he's an idiot, and maybe an asshole? Sure.

That he's a murderer? Not even close.
posted by 2uo at 11:42 AM on July 14, 2013


Please tell, how could Zimmerman find out about his record on the spot?

Indeed, how could he have found out about his record? Or about his drug use, or intent, or any of a number of factors? What gave him that right, that power of judgement?

I don't because Martin does not stand trial. Look, Martin's character does nearly not matter at all.

Can I visit your wonderful alternate universe where this didn't happen? Because in that one, justice may have been served.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Good thing he wasn't on trial for murder then.
posted by Green With You at 11:43 AM on July 14, 2013


For what is that supposed to be evidence?

that the confrontation was unnecessary - and there are states where that would matter
posted by pyramid termite at 11:43 AM on July 14, 2013


Sorry "first degree".
posted by Green With You at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2013


That he recklessly initiated an unlawful series of events that ended in manslaughter.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


''Attackers can now create situations where they are guaranteed to "win"''. Yes, like George Zimmerman did.

Possible. But not proven.
posted by 2uo at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2013


I'm writing to my state lawmakers today to ask that stand your ground be repealed here in Texas.

If I were inclined to press for legal changes in response to this incident, I'm not sure I'd start with changing the existing self-defense laws. Instead, I'd press for it to be a specific crime for a person to follow another person in public while armed (along the lines of a simple assault), and for a confrontation arising from such an event to be manslaughter regardless of who throws the first punch. As much as people have tried to stretch the law to say this is already the case, I don't think so (and would guess this is what the jury was thinking about regarding the manslaughter instruction).
posted by dsfan at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Indeed, how could he have found out about his record? Or about his drug use, or intent, or any of a number of factors? What gave him that right, that power of judgement?

He could not and had not. Is that a trick question?

I don't because Martin does not stand trial. Look, Martin's character does nearly not matter at all.

Can I visit your wonderful alternate universe where this didn't happen? Because in that one, justice may have been served.


Maybe it's because I'm living far away with limited press coverage of that case and only so much intereset to read about it on the web. I gather that his character was a big issue in your press.

But it should not play a role in court. If it did, fix your justice system.
posted by 2uo at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2013


Why did the police even advise Zimmerman not to pursue Martin if it wasn't already obvious to them he was behaving recklessly and risking a confrontation? Of course it's obvious to any reasonable person Zimmerman was behaving recklessly. Causing someone's death through reckless behavior is what manslaughter charges are meant to penalize.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


2uo, with all due respect. You're not American, and you seem to not know or not care about the racial history in the American south that leads to people being upset about this.
posted by empath at 11:49 AM on July 14, 2013 [43 favorites]


2uo, it did. That's the whole basis of the 'self-defense' claim.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:49 AM on July 14, 2013


the version of the events for which there was the most evidence was that Trayon Martin initiated the physical attack and that George Zimmerman was being beaten and screaming for help for almost a minute before the shot.

Way to conflate two different things there. The only evidence we have that Martin initiated the attack is from Zimmerman, no one else. If that's not what happened, it completely changes the entire chain of events. The fact that the person who was trying not be accused of being a killer was the one who controlled the narrative of how the other was killed should be highly problematic. If you're hinging your entire argument of that as "proof," then you're assuming that, despite everything that you admit Zimmerman was doing wrong that night, he deserves to be trusted more. Bringing in drugs or street fighting or whatever else to prove that Martin deserves to be trusted less, even though it had nothing to do with that night, takes quite a bit of moral handwaving.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:50 AM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


I don't because Martin does not stand trial.

The original plan was to not bother putting Zimmerman on trial at all.
posted by deanc at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2013


You're not American, and you seem to not know or not care about the racial history in the American south that leads to people being upset about this.

I do know about that history, but it doesn't look like a good idea to throw all justice overboard and just default-convict any white defendant in cases with black victims.

The real problem seems to me that many of you have lost trust in the justice system, thus demanding "common sense rulings" that amount to lynch mobs.

As I said, fix the system.
posted by 2uo at 11:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


What did Zimmerman expect to happen when he chased Martin down? What was his plan, does anyone know?
posted by Teakettle at 11:53 AM on July 14, 2013


He could not and had not. Is that a trick question?

No, that was the point: that everything that came after Zimmerman spotted Martin was based on a whole bunch of shitty information, and that for whatever reason, you're willing to disregard that over specious arguments about something Martin may or may not have done but was not doing that night, and certainly not when Zimmerman started the chain of events. It speaks to a bias that you seem unwilling to admit.

But it should not play a role in court. If it did, fix your justice system.

Which seems to be exactly what you're arguing against.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The law is race agnostic.

Well, as long as we don't consider the last couple of centuries, yeah.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


2uo, it did. That's the whole basis of the 'self-defense' claim.

I'm honestly don't understand the second part. Can you help me?

So you say, character played a role in court. Okay, so far, so bad. But what's that to do with self-defense?

You don't defend against bad character, you defend against real actions.
posted by 2uo at 11:55 AM on July 14, 2013


corb: A reassurance in the American justice system, that even if the President of the United States himself wants you convicted, you still have due process of law.

I'm usually pretty good with google, but there's a lot of cruft today. Can you provide a link to a statement by the President saying that he wanted Zimmerman convicted?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


That may very well be the case, but it's equally possible that he was the attacker and Zimmerman was the victim. We'll never know. Courts don't establish "truth". They try to approximate it.

Yeah, we do know. We know that Trayvon Martin was minding his own business when Zimmerman started following him. It's not equally possible that Zimmerman was the victim of being followed for no reason.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:56 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


As I said, fix the system.

With what, a magic fucking wand? The entrenched power structure is balanced against that happening, and those in power are becoming more and more successful in doing so. They just got permission from the highest court in the land to prevent the very same people affected by these laws from being able to vote to change them.

So, please, if you don't have the context or the history (which is very much in evidence here), don't try and lecture us.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


No, that was the point: that everything that came after Zimmerman spotted Martin was based on a whole bunch of shitty information, and that for whatever reason, you're willing to disregard that over specious arguments about something Martin may or may not have done but was not doing that night, and certainly not when Zimmerman started the chain of events. It speaks to a bias that you seem unwilling to admit.

I wouldn't call it "information". More like prejudice or bigotry. And I don't ignore that. But as I said, unless you can prove Zimmerman preplanned all this until the death, it's just not terribly relevant (except in sentencing, I presume).

And I don't follow where I speculate about "may or may not, but did not". I speculate about the events as Zimmerman's attorney told them. That's what you need to disprove if you want to convict. Zimmerman does not need to prove his story, the state must disprove and prove its own story.
posted by 2uo at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not equally possible that Zimmerman was the victim of being followed for no reason.

Yes, bad choice of words. I'll give you that your version may be more probable than Zimmerman's. But "beyond reasonable doubt"? Please...
posted by 2uo at 11:59 AM on July 14, 2013


The real problem seems to me that many of you have lost trust in the justice system, thus demanding "common sense rulings" that amount to lynch mobs.

No, the real problem is that supposedly "colorblind" laws combined with racial prejudices have effectively turned the American justice system into a de facto tool for racial oppression. Read Michelle Alexander's book, it's important.

In the Zimmerman case, the law created a scenario where a white man can, without violating the law, hunt and kill a black youth without going to jail for it as long as he claims self defense. Saying that this is a travesty is not the same as creating a "lynch mob."
posted by graymouser at 12:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


With what, a magic fucking wand?

I can see why you're frustrated, but wrecking down the remaining bits of democracy and justice to "get back at them" doesn't sound sensible.

Honestly, if you really believe that, go for a full revolution, not some minor change in the law.
posted by 2uo at 12:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wrong. Manslaughter doesn't require intent or premeditation.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we do know. We know that Trayvon Martin was minding his own business when Zimmerman started following him.

I think this is one of the salient points here. Some feel that Zimmerman following Martin was criminal negligence at best, others feel that it was perfectly lawful behavior. And I think that's a question that's not really getting enough traction.

If you're allowed to follow people with a gun because you (not a "reasonable person") think they're "suspicious", that's just a recipe for violent confrontation. On the other hand, if people aren't allowed to walk over someone to see what they're up to, that starts becoming a legal minefield in a hurry every time you walk down the street.

I don't know the answer to this, but we need to change something here.
posted by thegears at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


even if the President of the United States himself wants you convicted, you still have due process of law.

Corb, that really reads like right-wing bullshit, I too ask for a cite, or a retraction.
posted by edgeways at 12:02 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


The real analogy would be if you were followed at night (you assume by a creepy potential rapist), you confront the stalker, he kills you and gets off on self-defence. How is this law protecting you?

Well, for me: I'm perhaps strong for my size, but I'm a short woman. I took martial arts - Krav and combatives - and I still don't know how to non-lethally, without maiming, dispatch someone who is attacking me. My instinctive first response, non-armed, would be an eye gouge -it's effective and gives you a good chance of getting away. If I was allowed to be armed, then I would be able to shoot to stop my attacker.

Firearms are referred to as the "Great Equalizer": "God created man, but Sam Colt made them equal." With a firearm, I don't need to be a big, burly guy, capable of leveling someone with a punch, in order to be safe. I am my own protection. That's a huge, liberating thing.

If I were followed at night - and again, I have been - confronting the guy is rarely my idea. It's a bad idea. I would be trying to avoid a confrontation, by going to an area with people, calling 911 from my phone, knocking on someone's door, etc. But as someone remarked above, it is likely that Martin didn't feel he could do that. He did not have enough trust in the police system or in other people that they could or would help him. And that, that is the point where I think things went wrong and where they often do go wrong. Believing that no one else will help you means you have to take things into your own hands even before the person attacks you - and that is often a bad plan.

Can you provide a link to a statement by the President saying that he wanted Zimmerman convicted?

I don't think he made one - but by expressing sympathy with Martin, not Zimmerman, from the start, and the involvement of the Justice Department, his wishes seem clear to me. However, that is definitely a matter of opinion.
posted by corb at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can you provide a link to a statement by the President saying that he wanted Zimmerman convicted?

Obviously not as no such statement exists in the real world.
posted by elizardbits at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


I speculate about the events as Zimmerman's attorney told them. That's what you need to disprove if you want to convict. Zimmerman does not need to prove his story, the state must disprove and prove its own story.

Christ, man, don't you get it? This is the problem. It's even mentioned in the OP!

I can see why you're frustrated, but wrecking down the remaining bits of democracy and justice to "get back at them" doesn't sound sensible.

"Rolling back shitty laws via the legislative process" is now destroying democracy? What the hell, dude?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:04 PM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


No, the real problem is that supposedly "colorblind" laws combined with racial prejudices have effectively turned the American justice system into a de facto tool for racial oppression. Read Michelle Alexander's book, it's important.

Thank you for that comment, that was a real highlight in the thread. Favorited.

I will look for that book on Amazon later today. But I certainly won't be able to read it in the next weeks. Still, thanks a lot for that pointer.

I guess there's much research about this interdependency of law and prejudice? Is it really the best way to change the law, not the prejudice? What are the unintentional side effects when changing the law to account for prejudices?
posted by 2uo at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


2uo, you seem to be railing against something that's not happening. The law seems specifically designed to favor dangerous, violent white stalkers like Zimmerman against African Americans walking alone with no witnesses, and things like the stand-your-ground law were specifically designed to address white anxiety about crime to give them the confidence to shoot force and ask questions later.

As I said, if Zimmerman were convicted, would you be decrying the ruling, or would you argue that, even if not exactly "fair" to Zimmerman, it was an acceptable outcome? Because a lot of people are trying to cloak their approval of this outcome in a veneer of "detached respect for the law, which isn't always fair."

A reassurance in the American justice system, that even if the President of the United States himself wants you convicted, you still have due process of law.

Actually, as I said, the original plan was for Zimmerman not even to face "due process"-- the assumption was, "just another guy shooting someone in self defense. Move along, nothing to see here."
posted by deanc at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]




Furthermore, the assumption seems to be that sympathy for the victim and his family is somehow unfair to the immoral (if not illegal) perpetrator who caused his death. It is possible to believe both, but just coincidentally the people who think Zimmerman shouldn't have been convicted are on a hate-rage against Martin and anyone who sympathizes with his family. That tends to belie any of their claims of detached understanding of the law or any supposed claims they may have about trying to teach people to understand that life is unfair sometimes.
posted by deanc at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I speculate about the events as Zimmerman's attorney told them. That's what you need to disprove if you want to convict. Zimmerman does not need to prove his story, the state must disprove and prove its own story.

Christ, man, don't you get it? This is the problem. It's even mentioned in the OP!


You want to abolish the principle "in dubio pro reo" (by not requiring the state to prove their version) and think that's not a fundamental attack on justice and democracy?

I guess we'll just find no common ground here. Let's leave it at that.
posted by 2uo at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people expected a conviction. The argument of the pro-conviction camp is that Zimmerman incited the confrontation, so he is guilty of murder. According to this argument, it doesn't matter what Martin did after that point, no matter how unreasonable (although there is an assumption among the pro-conviction camp that Zimmerman must be lying, anyway). Well, I suspect the law is not so simple, and for good reason. What's the legal principle here that argues for a murder conviction? Zimmerman may be a dickhead racist, but there was never much chance that it was going to be proved that he committed murder, and it astounds me that anyone assumed otherwise.

Again, it's worth mentioning that a lot of people assume that Zimmerman lied about what happened. Maybe he did (he certainly has motive, if his actions were not appropriate), but there is no reason to assume that he was lying without proof. Being a racist asshole doesn't also mean that you always lie. Since nobody could prove otherwise, there is this whole presumption of innocence thing...

And just because he stupidly instigated the confrontation doesn't mean that Martin was entitled to beat him to death. If, as Zimmerman claims, Martin was slamming his head against the pavement, then those who say Zimmerman was unjustified in shooting Martin are essentially saying that it would have been acceptable for Martin to split his skull open. What is it that our mothers told us? "Two wrongs don't make a right." Just because Zimmerman instigated the confrontation doesn't mean he deserved to die, and if he didn't deserve to die, he had the right to defend himself. Again, this is all predicated on his story being true, but barring evidence to the contrary, what are we to assume really happened?

It seems to me like they could and should have gone after lesser charges, although I doubt that would have satisfied those calling for a trial. I never thought there was much of a chance for a conviction, unless some piece of damning evidence appeared, or the jury was heavily swayed by the pro-conviction camp. IMO, this was largely a show trial to appease the protesters.
posted by Edgewise at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]




I guess there's much research about this interdependency of law and prejudice? Is it really the best way to change the law, not the prejudice? What are the unintentional side effects when changing the law to account for prejudices?

Alexander's book is primarily about the drug war, but much of the same logic applies here, and she lays out the case extremely well. It's an interaction of the way laws are enforced, how racial profiling works, and the difficulty of changing unjust laws. Alexander holds - and I believe this is correct - that nothing short of a new civil rights movement focused entirely on the criminal justice system as a form of New Jim Crow can change this. She looks at incremental changes in the law and how they don't help.

That a very similar logic is applying in cases of murder means, well, states have made it possible to kill people with impunity.
posted by graymouser at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


the assumption seems to be that sympathy for the victim and his family

FTR: I don't feel like that. the outcome of this affair was a nightmare. And the Martin family deserves every comfort and prayer that they get.
posted by 2uo at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2013




Alexander's book is primarily about the drug war

Sounds very interesting.

She looks at incremental changes in the law and how they don't help.

So we're back to what I was saying: just changing the self-defense laws doesn't help much.
posted by 2uo at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2013


[Please do not take this in the direction of arguing about rape. This discussion is hard enough as is. Thank you.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think he made one - but by expressing sympathy with Martin, not Zimmerman, from the start, and the involvement of the Justice Department, his wishes seem clear to me. However, that is definitely a matter of opinion.

Because heavens forfend a black President say that, if he had a son, he would look like another black family's son. Or that we should take a calm and measured look at the events of that night. Or that the Justice Department sends down not a contingent of jackbooted thugs and racial antagonists, but a team of mediators to sit down with the parties involved to the effusive praise of the local government.

Jesus wept. I mean, at the very least for once you could stop copy-pasting the arguments of the bottom-dreg racist fuckwits, y'know?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [34 favorites]


From a European point of view, you might change the first part to "If you're allowed to carry a gun...", but I know, we're just weak.

No, I'm with you there, I just do think concealed carry is going anywhere anytime soon. Probably more productive to limit its scope than to try to get rid of it.

I think where you're running into a problem with the US mefiites here is that in many states you're required to try to de-escalate violence when possible rather than charging in. Florida, as of 2005, is not such a state. As such, some of use think that were not the 2005 law on the book, he might have been found guilty, since the onus would be on him to show that he acted in self-defense.

In general, self-defense arguments place the burden of proof on the defendant in the US, not the prosecution, since it's extraordinarily hard to prove that someone didn't feel they were threatened.
posted by thegears at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess Edgewise is just more eloquent than me. Really well said.
posted by 2uo at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2013


I have a question about trial strategy that I've found confusing (probably because most of what I know about the law and trials comes from a series of popular television shows): If Zimmerman is claiming self-defense, why didn't he testify? While I understand the right not to self-incriminate means that many (most?) people who are on trial for murder don't testify to say "nope, not me wasn't there at all!" and sit back and let the prosecution prove that it WAS them; in cases where you're claiming that killing the other person was justified (either for self-defense or insanity reasons) don't you have to testify to establish your mental state or reasoning or fear or... what those justified reasons WERE?

It seemed to go down to the last minute that he might testify (I did see the back and forth about that between the defense lawyers and the judge) and then he didn't. So did his claim of justification come just from the interviews he gave? And ... weren't those introduced by the prosecution?

That part is confusing to me. If they hadn't introduced those, then it would be up to the defense to do that, right? Which... would they have done so? If they did, would that trigger a requirement for Zimmerman to testify if called then by the prosecution to rebut something?

Anyway, if someone could help me sort that out I'd appreciate it. When I heard he was pleading self-defence I thought we'd hear (some bullshitty) testimony from him.
posted by marylynn at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So we're back to what I was saying: just changing the self-defense laws doesn't help much.

Frankly, I think the only good that could come out of this would be if this verdict were to actually be the thing that starts a new civil rights movement in this country.
posted by graymouser at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do not know how anyone could have followed this trial and thought that the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I know almost everyone here has a certain (rather melodramatic) movie of the events running in their heads and refers to that rather than to the actual evidence available when determining Zimmerman's guilt, but if you just look at the actual evidence presented in the trial this outcome was entirely predictable.

I don't know how anyone could confront the exigency of Zimmerman shooting Martin and the subsequent events and restrict their focus to legal questions in the face of overwhelming evidence that systemic racism and other problems undermine if not completely destroy confidence that our justice system is in fact just.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think where you're running into a problem with the US mefiites here is that in many states you're required to try to de-escalate violence when possible rather than charging in.

Probably you#re right. my cultural background is just different, as I said earlier, all those Stand your Ground laws look pretty weak to me.

Here law professors actually write about the "ignominious flight" when discussing self-defense. :-)
posted by 2uo at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2013


When they talk about "crazy paranoid (ex) military types", they are insensitive to veterans.

I tend to agree. Most people who have these kinds of paranoid beliefs are not veterans. I would say that the dangerous ones are the (para) military types-- those not associated with the military who nevertheless (like Zimmerman) develop a fixation of firearms and violent enforcement of "order". Their association with the military is purely aesthetic, though certain people who actually were in the military are like this as well.

by expressing sympathy with Martin, not Zimmerman,

Excuse me, but I think that sympathy should have been expressed for Martin, regardless of whether Zimmerman was guilty of a crime. I didn't know you weren't supposed to express sympathy for high school students walking home to see their family.

corb, is this about "outrage over the outrage" or do you genuinely have some kind of admiration for Zimmerman, here? Because I have a feeling that you wouldn't be scolding Zimmerman's supporters for not respecting the law had he been convicted.
posted by deanc at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


I don't know how anyone could confront the exigency of Zimmerman shooting Martin and the subsequent events and restrict their focus to legal questions in the face of overwhelming evidence that systemic racism and other problems undermine if not completely destroy confidence that our justice system is in fact just.

When the jury is unable to do just that (i.e. confine their decision to the legal questions), then they have failed.
posted by Edgewise at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2013


As I said, if Zimmerman were convicted, would you be decrying the ruling, or would you argue that, even if not exactly "fair" to Zimmerman, it was an acceptable outcome?

If Zimmerman had been convicted, I would have been sad. I would have gone to Metafilter, probably seen a lot of celebratory postings, and been even sadder. And I would have gone to the internet and said how heartbroken I was that external forces were able to infuence a jury verdict. I would not have come in and started talking about how Martin was just one of a broader class of people looking to beat people every day. I think the amount of people talking about "dangerous white people" in this thread - especially when Zimmerman is not and never has been white - is really upsetting. I would not be out in the streets protesting. I would not be insulting people based on their beliefs. And you would certainly not catch me trying to boycott the entire state of Florida due to one jury verdict.
posted by corb at 12:16 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


You want to abolish the principle "in dubio pro reo" (by not requiring the state to prove their version) and think that's not a fundamental attack on justice and democracy?

Since that's not what I was saying, no. I'm talking about laws like SYG that go the entire other direction and have no factual basis in crime reduction then or now.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:16 PM on July 14, 2013


Firearms are referred to as the "Great Equalizer": "God created man, but Sam Colt made them equal." With a firearm, I don't need to be a big, burly guy, capable of leveling someone with a punch, in order to be safe. I am my own protection. That's a huge, liberating thing.

When the victim is 17 - a minor unable to legally own a firearm, there is zero chance at any equalizing, there is zero same protection, there is zero likeness in the liberation to feel safe. I mean really - my god, what the hell was this boy supposed to do?
posted by raztaj at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


Chances are, your state has some form of expanded Castle Doctrine, and these laws are changing constantly. Alaska just passed a Stand Your Ground bill, for example. Everyone concerned would do well to make their feelings known with their own state representative(s).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2013


I don't think he made one - but by expressing sympathy with Martin, not Zimmerman, from the start, and the involvement of the Justice Department, his wishes seem clear to me.

Agreed, President Obama probably wishes that George hadn't decided to cowboy up and had stayed in the car. That way, Trayvon would be probably still be alive and George wouldn't be so horribly depressed because he killed an innocent human being. WIN WIN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2013 [32 favorites]


I would have gone to Metafilter, probably seen a lot of celebratory postings

We are well-known for taking pleasure in other people's pain, here at, metafilter, dot com.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:18 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Firearms are referred to as the "Great Equalizer": "God created man, but Sam Colt made them equal."

That's a sales pitch made by a gun manufacturer, that continues to be used by the Gun Manufacturers' sales lobby with as much demonstrable truth as "More Doctors Smoke Our Brand of Cigareetes". Except Big Tobacco never had an organization like the NRA getting their users/victims to pay for their lobbying. If they had, lung cancer deaths would be rising as quickly as gun deaths.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry corb, but someone who says it's not appropriate to express sympathy for the death of a teenager at the hands of a gun-firing wacko, however legally allowable, is a monster. I don't care if the killer didn't technically commit a crime. The sympathy is to be expressed with the victim.

Your "fundamental rights" do not include the rights to be honored or admired. Zimmerman is going to be regarded by right-thinking people as vermin for the rest of his life, and Martin's family will receive sympathy as victims.

People don't understand what their "rights" are. Zimmerman had the "right" to a fair trial (which he wasn't even going to get-- the rights of the public were going to be abrogated). He doesn't have the "right" to sympathy, admiration, or the benefit of the doubt.
posted by deanc at 12:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [46 favorites]


When the jury is unable to do just that (i.e. confine their decision to the legal questions), then they have failed.

Which is why it is incumbent on everyone not presently sitting on a jury (citizens, legislators, jurists, lawyers) to do everything in their power to root out the inequities that have been codified in our system of laws and set deeply in our culture.

The fervor with which some wish to confine the debate over Zimmerman's actions to legal questions and strenuously avoid questions of racism and reforming laws contributes to our not addressing the problems that this case like so many tragic others demand that we address.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would have gone to the internet and said how heartbroken I was that external forces were able to infuence a jury verdict

But not about the external influential force of hundreds of years of institutionalized racism and violence against PoC's?
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on July 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


Which is why it is incumbent on everyone not presently sitting on a jury (citizens, legislators, jurists, lawyers) to do everything in their power to root out the inequities that have been codified in our system of laws and set deeply in our culture.

This is a great point. The fact that there were no Black women on the jury is obviously problematic, but teaching everyone about the importance of acknowledging privilege would have balanced that out a bit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:25 PM on July 14, 2013


If Zimmerman had been convicted, I would have been sad.

Why? Really, what is someone else's suffering to you? What has someone else's suffering ever been to you? Stuff happens to people all the time, and the majesty of the law, being what it is, doesn't always produce what we regard as moral outcomes, but are what they are. Life is unfair to people sometimes, and had Zimmerman been convicted, I would have hoped that you would have respected that sometimes these things happen and not everyone gets what they want, but everyone gets a fair shot (no pun intended). Certainly, I would have thought that you would have regarded it wrong to question the workings of the law, which treat everyone more-or-less equally once they get to trial (which was, obviously, sort of an effort in Zimmerman's neighborhood).

You can drone on and on about how life is unfair, sometimes, and we should all just accept it, but sometimes it's going to be your ox than gets gored. Trayvon Martin got treated unfairly and awfully and is dead, and you're like, "well, that's the way the cookie crumbles." But if you thought Zimmerman were to be treated unfairly and got some years behind bars, you would have regarded this as some kind of legal travesty.
posted by deanc at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Chances are, your state has some form of expanded Castle Doctrine, and these laws are changing constantly.

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again. I'll never buy a gun unless I specifically intend to murder somebody (which I probably won't, but I'm happy to have that option). Guns are crap as a defensive weapon but awesome for offense*. (Oh, and I'll use Zimmerman's method of ensuring I don't get convicted of murder... and no, these internet statements will not be admissible, trust me)


*and the NRA has been very effective at making sure that more effective defensive weapons are overregulated or just kept off the market, despite the fact that they SHOULD all be covered under the 2nd Amendment
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2013


Really, what is someone else's suffering to you?

I'm not sure that's a great point. Trayvon Martin's suffering means a great deal to me, and many people posting here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


But not about the external influential force of hundreds of years of institutionalized racism and violence against PoC's?

Oh. You're one of THEM.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


[I know it's really hard, folks, but we do not need another episode of The Corb Show in here. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


I would like to see an infographic of every single person who has ever been found guilty of murder or manslaughter in Florida

Not exactly what you are looking for but Tampa Bay Times did some research on SYG cases and their outcomes.

Article here, infographic here
posted by snaparapans at 12:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that's a great point. Trayvon Martin's suffering means a great deal to me, and many people posting here.

But to some people, even so much as expressing sympathy with Martin is considered offensive. But coincidentally are falling all over themselves to sympathize with Zimmerman.
posted by deanc at 12:31 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]



Oh. You're one of THEM.


YOU PEOPLE
posted by elizardbits at 12:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Racial bias reverberates in our society like the primordial Big Bang. Jesse Jackson made the point in a dramatic way when he acknowledged that he feels a sense of relief when the footsteps he hears behind him in the dead of night turn out to belong to white feet. Social scientists who study our hidden biases make the same point in a more sober way with statistics that demonstrate that we are more likely to associate black people with negative words and imagery than we are white people. It's an association that devalues the humanity of black people, particularly black youth like Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman probably saw race the night of February 26, 2012, just like so many of us probably would have. Had he not, Trayvon probably would be alive today.

The jury has spoken. Now, we must speak out against the racial bias that still infects our society and distorts our perception of the world. And we must do something about it.
7/14/2013 email from Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Zimmerman was not even cross examined, was he? So, why does his version of events gain any credibility?
posted by asra at 12:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


My personal experience is that the two incidents in which I felt most threatened, the threat came from white dudes 'like me'. So I'd be less relieved than Jesse Jackson.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:41 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zimmerman was not even cross examined, was he? So, why does his version of events gain any credibility?

Obviously the Special Prosecutor accepted his version, just like the local police who decided not to arrest him in the first place.

I said it before: a racial role reversal would've gotten a totally different result.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:43 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Zimmerman was not even cross examined, was he? So, why does his version of events gain any credibility?"

It doesn't need to have credibility. Go ahead and assign it credibility zero.

The state still needs to prove another version in court, thus disproving his version.
posted by 2uo at 12:47 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


2uo: again, it's not that simple. In the US, in most states, the state does not need to prove you didn't act in self-defense.

All the state has to do is prove you killed someone intentionally. Then it's on you to prove you acted reasonably in not doing so.
posted by thegears at 12:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hispanic is not a race.
posted by spitbull at 12:50 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nor is anti-black racism the same as all other racial hegemony, especially in matters related to justice before the law.
posted by spitbull at 12:51 PM on July 14, 2013


this whole wanting a legal right to kill somebody is something i hadn't known existed. i mean, i knew about Stand Your Ground, but had sort of thought that it was a weird thing in one state. i didn't know people were cheering on the concept of legalized killing.
posted by angrycat at 12:51 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Especially in the south.
posted by spitbull at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2013


thegears: In the US, in most states, the state does not need to prove you didn't act in self-defense.

That is incorrect thegears, Ohio is the only state that where the defendant bears burden of proof through out the trial.
posted by snaparapans at 12:52 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Biologically, humans really don't have 'races' at all, it's all a bit of jiggery joo, so you can just as accuractly say 'Hispanic' is a 'race' just as any other... Just get enough people to agree with you and it magically exists.
posted by edgeways at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Zimmerman was not even cross examined, was he? So, why does his version of events gain any credibility?

He wasn't cross examined because he chose not to take the stand, which is his right. He would have been incredibly stupid to have done so.

It's not that Zimmerman's case stood, it was that the prosecutor's case was not proven.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Beyond a racial role reversal; imagine the economic role reversal - how much did Zimmerman's defense cost? $250k? $500k? More?
Zimmerman had $100k of his own to begin with. No matter how broke he is now; without that feeder money to initiate a defense process, web funding, retainers; he'd probably be either in jail awaiting trial, or already sent through the system and passing time in hotel greybar.
posted by buzzman at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can I pose a theoretical question to those familiar with the details of the case and the law? Suppose that the one person of color on the jury was familiar with jury nullification and convinced all the jurors to convict even though the prosecution did not meet its requirements. Would the conviction stand? Would the defense file for a judgement notwithstanding the verdict, and would the judge grant it?
posted by Rhomboid at 12:57 PM on July 14, 2013


edgeways, I know that. My comment refers to socially constructed difference.
posted by spitbull at 12:58 PM on July 14, 2013


Rhomboid: I believe that if the jurors came out and said "yeah we convicted him even though the state didn't prove its case" the conviction could be vacated. But if they just kept silent about their reasoning how would anyone know that was what happened?
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on July 14, 2013


Saying Hispanic is not a race is like saying Asian is not a race.

It's all arbitrary lines based on geographical boundaries and skin tones.

Rhomboid, that's not typically how jury nullification works.Usually it's used to set aside the conviction of a shit case, not to institute one. You can't make the rest of the jury go along with you (and if you do, that's how the process works), but you can maintain your own vote in the face of the rest, thereby making a hung jury. If all vote for conviction the conviction stands.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And to elaborate, my point is that non-Black Hispanics, even in Florida, are not classified as objects of state violence or legal discrimination the way blacks (including Hispanic blacks) have been historically. Because slavery.
posted by spitbull at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went to a vigil for Trayvon last night, and there was a warning on the event's facebook page: "We are not expecting arrests but we do not trust police or ever assume they will not be violent." No violence last night, thank goodness, but who knows what will happen as the vigil/rally continues tonight.

My state has stand your ground laws too. I'm sure some creative racist, police or otherwise, could find a way to claim that a group of mourning people with candles (many of whom were people of color) constitutes a threat or a riot. It breaks my heart that public expressions of grief and rage, especially rage over institutional racism, need that kind of disclaimer.
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


this whole wanting a legal right to kill somebody is something i hadn't known existed.

"Wanting to kill" is too strong, I mean, we're not psychos. And honestly, I don't know if I could actually exercise the "right to kill" in such a situation.

But I know for sure that I don't want the law to say "die like a man" when someone attacks me.

I believe that self-preservation is such a natural urge and ethical imperative, that any law requiring a human to silently suffer his own death is prima facie unjust and against natural law.
posted by 2uo at 1:02 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's all arbitrary lines based on geographical boundaries and skin tones.

No, Hispanic is a designation based upon people who speak Spanish. It's an arbitrary collection of nations put together by Spanish imperialism and has nothing to do with skin color.
posted by elizardbits at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'm sure some creative racist, police or otherwise, could find a way to claim that a group of mourning people with candles (many of whom were people of color) constitutes a threat or a riot.

Is that for rhetorical effect or do you honestly believe that?
posted by 2uo at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2013


I find it worrisome that thirty years after its publication, Stephen King's It is still such an accurate depiction of race hatred and prejudice in America, and of that feeling of there being a horrible, festering sickness that everybody knows is there but tries to pretend they can't see, so well that they often lose their ability to see it at all.

(I know that's a very stupid way of thinking about all this, but it's something I can't get off my mind today.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Hispanic is a designation based upon people who speak Spanish. Yes, but don't call someone who believes themselves to be upper-class who is a native spanish speaker, hispanic.

They usually identify with the imperialists not the natives.
posted by snaparapans at 1:06 PM on July 14, 2013


What would be the possible civil cases against Zimmerman that might be coming?
posted by robbyrobs at 1:06 PM on July 14, 2013


Is that for rhetorical effect or do you honestly believe that?

Again, I think this is not a helpful position to take in a discussion of race issues in the USA. There have been plenty of instances throughout US history in which nonviolent protest was met with extreme violence from authorities and in which nonviolent protesters were treated as though they were violent rioting anarchists. The fact that you are somehow unaware of this widely-known historical information is troubling in the context of this discussion and the points of view that you seem unable to grasp.
posted by elizardbits at 1:07 PM on July 14, 2013 [45 favorites]


2uo: that's exactly what this ruling has said to Trayvon Martin. His only offense was defending himself with non-lethal force and the law has now sanctioned his death for fighting back against a much older man who we know was pursuing him unlawfully and against explicit police advice not to pursue him.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


robbyrobs: wrongful death, probably.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on July 14, 2013


His only offense was defending himself

Proof of imminent attack? Zimmerman claims otherwise, AFAIK.

with non-lethal force

Proof? Zimmerman claims otherwise, AFAIK.


You see, the situation in court is inherently asymmetric. Nobody cares about "probable", only about "beyond reasonable doubt".

Outside criminal law, i.e. in internet fora or in a civil case, sure, the standards are different. But in criminal court you just can't be that laissez-faire with burden of proof.
posted by 2uo at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


O'Mara seemed extremely confident that Zimmerman will receive immunity from civil action. So bizarre how he escapes from all legal consequences while the HOA had to pay out a settlement to the family and his wife may be convicted on the perjury charges.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2013


I missed this somehow- why was the jury made up of 6 women, instead of 12 people of mixed sexes?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:14 PM on July 14, 2013


2uo, considering that I live in a place where police fire-bombed a whole city block in response to an Afro-centric political movement, yes, I do stand by my statement above.
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


You don't NEED 12 on a jury unless there's a first degree murder charge. And there's no requirement at all about the racial or gender makeup of a jury.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2013




Also, Zimmerman says killing Martin was all God's plan yt .

I forgot about that. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not only Zimmerman talking to god:
In Sanford, the modest Central Florida city where Mr. Martin was killed, the Rev. Valarie J. Houston drew shouts of support and outrage as decried the “the racism and the injustice that pollute the air in America.”

“Lord, I thank you for sending Trayvon to reveal the injustices, God, that live in Sanford,” she said.
NYT
posted by snaparapans at 1:25 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, Zimmerman says killing Martin was all God's plan yt .

He said that? Maybe he belongs neither in freedom nor prison, but in some mental institution. Incredible.
posted by 2uo at 1:26 PM on July 14, 2013


[Deleted a derail. Please try to be kind, folks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:29 PM on July 14, 2013


Maybe it's because I'm living far away with limited press coverage of that case and only so much intereset to read about it on the web.

It is a national disgrace that you are being forced to post so much on this thing about which you have little interest and less knowledge. Has the European Court of Human Rights no jurisdiction in this unreasonable compulsion?
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [42 favorites]


Also, Zimmerman says killing Martin was all God's plan

I do not think this is how "suffer the children" is generally parsed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:35 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's because I'm living far away with limited press coverage of that case and only so much intereset to read about it on the web.

And yet for some reason a huge interest in having other people read what you say about it on the web. This might be a good time for some introspection.
posted by davejay at 1:36 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


National disgrace? It is a national disgrace, IMO, that so many talking heads in US media, are making up stuff to suit their agendas, with little interest in the actual case, and less knowledge.
posted by snaparapans at 1:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I hope that this is the end," Rove said. "President Obama politicized this at the beginning of it, I believe, unfortunately, by injecting himself into it and saying that if Trayvon Martin -- that if he'd have had a son it would look like Trayvon Martin."

IT would look like? Goodness.
posted by davejay at 1:47 PM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


where police fire-bombed a whole city block in response to an Afro-centric political movement, yes, I do stand by my statement above.

I'm not getting this correlation, that philly mess was 25 plus years ago. A better example may be detroit circa 1967. Alot of police sought to quell uprisings during that time as did many civil rights leaders. You lost a block, we almost lost a city and another thing my father went to help deliver relief during that time, and he was fired upon by citizens not cops.

This is why I moved away from Florida. I asked a bike cop what he thought would help with crime.
"Bring back the fleeing felon law" he said.
jebus.
posted by clavdivs at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2013


If you imagine yourself in Trayvon Martin's shoes, then what this case means is that someone can follow you without any reason, instigate a fight with you, shoot you dead, and face no consequences. Picturing that happening to you, or to someone you love, is sickening and terrifying. Regardless of what the law may have said it, you know it is an injustice.

But if your empathy gravitates towards the perpetrator, then you will imagine yourself in a situation in which you shoot someone in what -you consider- to be self-defense and Zimmerman's acquittal will seem reasonable to you. Perhaps you imagine yourself getting swept away by fear and adrenaline and shooting Trayvon by mistake...but an understandable one. If you naturally empathize with Zimmerman, you will never get to the point of 'beyond reasonable doubt'... because you will give him the benefit of the doubt over and over again. That is what we do for people we empathize with; that is what we do for ourselves.

People like me, whose imagination goes immediately to Trayvon, tend to be very open about this empathetic response. I've seen tons of posts on Facebook and Twitter, "That could have been me," "That could have been my son/cousin/best friend." You see less of that on the other side, but I believe it comes from the same place: a certain type of person looks at Zimmerman and thinks, "That could have been me." And then when the verdict comes down, they're ready to wrap it up in abstractions and say, "Yes, it might not have been pretty, but it was justice."

It's the pragmatists, right, who say that we decide how we feel first, and then construct a ladder of reason that will bring us to that conclusion? I've never felt that more strongly than listening to the two different sides of this case talk past each other. I know that the result of this case was unjust; I can reason it out, but I also feel it, deep in my gut. That said, I don't think any of my logical arguments will hold much sway with someone who, when they first heard this story, imagined themselves sitting in a courtroom accused of the shooting, instead of bleeding to death on the ground.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2013 [51 favorites]


Reading the hell out of this today, from A Letter to My Nephew, by James Baldwin (1962):

"You don't be afraid. I said it was intended that you should perish, in the ghetto, perish by never being allowed to go beyond and behind the white man's definition, by never being allowed to spell your proper name. You have, and many of us have, defeated this intention and by a terrible law, a terrible paradox, those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are losing their grasp of reality. But these men are your brothers, your lost younger brothers, and if the word "integration" means anything, this is what it means, that we with love shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it, for this is your home, my friend. Do not be driven from it. Great men have done great things here and will again and we can make America what America must become."

(via jay smooth)
posted by mellophone at 1:53 PM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Only took 6 non-black jurors to imagine themselves scared just absolutely to death by a scrawny black teenager with a bag of skittles. Funny that.

All you need to do is run the thought experiment where Trayvon wins the fight and gets anything less than a 10 to 20 spot. Let alone Trayvon armed and in pursuit of a suspicious white (Hispanic) dude in his all black neighborhood, wherever that's supposed to be?

My point above about race was that there is a discourse out there saying race isn't a factor in this episode because both parties are "not white" or "minority" identified. False equivalence extraordinaire. Them's weasel words. The law in the south especially and nationally in broad terms has always (since before the nation existed) had a special place for uppity young black men, and evidently it is still six feet underground if not locked up in a warehouse.

We all know it's true. The only question is how much denial one wishes to be in.
posted by spitbull at 2:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ross Gay, Some Thoughts On Mercy
I recently realized that I’ve never, as an adult, driven past a car that’s been pulled over without looking to see the race of its occupants. Part of every black child’s education includes learning how to deal with the police so he or she won’t be locked up or hurt or even killed. Despite my advanced degrees and my light-brown skin, I’ve had police take me out of my vehicle, threaten to bring in the dogs, and summon another two or three cars. But I’ve never been thrown facedown in the street or physically brutalized by the cops, as some of my black friends have. I’ve never been taken away for a few hours or days on account of “mistaken identity.” All in all, this traffic stop the other night amounted to nothing. It was so nothing, in fact — so everyday, so known, so agreed upon, so understood — that I am embarrassed, ashamed even, by the scale of my upset, by the way this nonevent took up residence in my body and wrung me out like a rag. I didn’t even get a ticket, after all. He just asked me some questions — questions I knew (we all knew, didn’t we?) he had before he pulled me over. We say, “Yeah, that’s just how it goes.” Given what could’ve happened, I ought to be glad, right? I ought to get over it.

But it is also the familiarity of it all (black guy has unpleasant run-in with the cops) that makes my experience, and the many thousands like it, almost invisible — which makes the significant daily terror of being a black or brown person in this country almost invisible.
posted by dubusadus at 2:11 PM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


2uo: His only offense was defending himself

Proof of imminent attack? Zimmerman claims otherwise, AFAIK.

with non-lethal force

Proof? Zimmerman claims otherwise, AFAIK.


You see, the situation in court is inherently asymmetric. Nobody cares about "probable", only about "beyond reasonable doubt".


I don't think the prosecution proved it's case on Murder Two. However, everything single thing you argue could be true and it would be textbook manslaughter. The jury was distracted by the defense's racist aspersions on Martin's character. No one is calling for "mob justice" or "common sense" decisions, the jury failed to apply the law here. This has been all too common in the American South; both the context and facts are important here, and you seem only to repeat 101-level civics here that everyone already understands.
posted by spaltavian at 2:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Attackers can now create situations where they are guarenteed to "win".

Like what?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:14 PM on July 14, 2013


I realize that jury nullification is usually used by a jury to acquit, but everything I've read has said that it can be used the other way as well, to convict. My hypothetical was that one juror convinces all the others to convict, and that as long as they remain silent about it they can't get in trouble. Would the verdict stand if that were to happen, or would the judge vacate? And what would it mean for an appeal?
posted by Rhomboid at 2:16 PM on July 14, 2013


spaltavian, the jury would have had to find that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense in order to convict him of manslaughter. Manslaughter precludes self-defense.
posted by snaparapans at 2:17 PM on July 14, 2013


"People like me, whose imagination goes immediately to Trayvon, tend to be very open about this empathetic response."

I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute while that person was screaming for help. I suppose I understand why people insist on inventing different versions of what happened based on what they want to believe, and that so many are inclined to do so is in itself evidence of serious problems in society and the justice system, but is fabrication of what is at best unknown really the way to go?
posted by cheburashka at 2:23 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope Angela Corey gets major sanctions for her handling of this case. She is everything that is wrong with the criminal justice system in this country; I hope people can recognize that no matter what side of this particular case they find themselves on.
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I suppose I understand why people insist on inventing different versions of what happened based on what they want to believe, and that so many are inclined to do so is in itself evidence of serious problems in society and the justice system, but is fabrication of what is at best unknown really the way to go?

but earlier

I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute while that person was screaming for help.

wut
posted by Benjy at 2:25 PM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


What 2uo is consciously ignoring is the role the jury plays in evaluating credibility. In short, is the defense's narrative credible given the evidence the jury has in front of it? Now, the jury just happened to find the defense's narrative credible enough. But there's no particular reason why they couldn't have said, "well, the claims of the defense don't lead to a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt." Though the role of Florida's laws contribute, as well.


I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who...

...was stalked, late at night, by a violent lunatic who was willing to kill.
posted by deanc at 2:27 PM on July 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


No, Hispanic is a designation based upon people who speak Spanish. It's an arbitrary collection of nations put together by Spanish imperialism and has nothing to do with skin color.

I think if there's one thing that is absolutely mindboggling to me, it is how some people who normally would be in favor of protecting POC rights to self-association and identification, are coming out because of this trial with anti-Hispanic/anti-Latino rhetoric.

No, you do not become a Latino/Hispanic based on "Speaking Spanish." Even going by a fairly mainstream definition, La Raza has some answers for you.

Can we get off this "Hispanics are totally made up" thing now?
posted by corb at 2:27 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Too many people are treating this like it were a sporting event where they have to root for "their side". (Primarily on the pro-Zimmerman side, yes.) Even if the prosecution failed to prove their case and the jury was correct in returning a not guilty verdict it isn't something to celebrate. Martin doesn't deserve to be dead.
posted by Justinian at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


snaparapans, 2uo was responding to someone saying Martin's only crime was self-defense, which 2uo cast doubt on. So, as I said, everything 2uo said above could be true and it would still be manslaughter, as 2uo was not saying Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.

As for the merit of the claim, starting a fight and then losing it is not "self-defense" territory; and stand your ground only applies if you are not acting illegally to begin with. Zimmerman had already failed to obey the directions of the police.
posted by spaltavian at 2:29 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spaltavian: a 911 dispatcher is not the police and his or her suggestions have no legal force.
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The best available evidence indicates that this "beating and smashing for over a minute" or whatever DID NOT HAPPEN.
posted by windykites at 2:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


Windykites is correct; even the defense was more or less conceding that Zimmerman likely overestimated the damage he was taking. They put on medical experts to testify that even relatively minor head trauma can seem much worse because you are being stunned.
posted by Justinian at 2:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Hispanic is a designation based upon people who speak Spanish.

I don't think this is true; I've seen people refer to Spaniards as "Hispanic" but that's like when an American media personality calls a black person from Canada an "African American".

Most Hispanic people have both Native American and White backgrounds; it's of course not a hard boundary but I don't think it's a generic term for people who have nothing to do with each other than being under Spanish rule 300 years ago.
posted by spaltavian at 2:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even if the prosecution failed to prove their case and the jury was correct in returning a not guilty verdict it isn't something to celebrate. Martin doesn't deserve to be dead.

The problem is the human failure to draw a line between what is "legal" and what is "right." Ideally, we would be able to understand that something might be "technically" legal but still deserves condemnation on the part of the public. We have a lot of trouble with that concept, though, on both ends of it: some people might want Zimmerman's actions to be legal, so to justify his not being guilty, they have to elevate him to the status of hero. At the same time, because he was acquitted, they feel this is a demonstration of his being "in the right" and take offense to those that would condemn him and sympathize with Martin.

What this does is create a bunch of "heroes" whose only claim to fame is not running afoul of the laws, and a culture in which it is a more admirable virtue to be clever than to be good. So, yes, today is a victory for violent, clever people, which has a history in Florida.
posted by deanc at 2:36 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute

Take the Florida Challenge: Bash your head into concrete for 10 seconds and see if you have more injuries than Zimmerman. You will!
posted by spaltavian at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Definition from the Pew Hispanic Center
posted by mochapickle at 2:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think if there's one thing that is absolutely mindboggling to me, it is how some people who normally would be in favor of protecting POC rights to self-association and identification, are coming out because of this trial with anti-Hispanic/anti-Latino rhetoric.

You don't have to use weasel words like "some people" when directly quoting my comments, corb. You may refer to me by name when you suggest that I, a person of South American origin, have "come out" as a person who is guilty of anti-Hispanic or anti-Latino rhetoric due to a nitpick over the etymology of an ethynonym.
posted by elizardbits at 2:38 PM on July 14, 2013 [40 favorites]


I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute

Yeah, um, pretty sure that didn't happen.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


@cheburaska

You're proving my point, I think. That narrative seems insane to me. Why would a young boy - a boy I'm imagining having fears, thoughts, and motivations much like own - after going for a walk to buy snacks, turn on someone who was following him and suddenly begin smashing his head in? It seems much more likely that whatever paltry evidence supports this version of events is misleading, and if there was any 'head-bashing,' going on, then Martin -frightened, unarmed, and legally underage - was himself acting out of self-defense - which means that he ought not to have been killed for doing so.

You, on the other hand, seemed inclined to sympathize with Zimmerman, so you're ready to take a small amount of evidence, combined with that man's word, as enough evidence for a story that doesn't make much sense -from Martin's perspective - but would be justification for Zimmerman's actions.

I can imagine being in Zimmerman's shoes. I can imagine being scared, confused, and even regretful after having made an awful, awful mistake. That does not change my sense that he deserves to go to prison for what he did.

Can you truly say you can imagine what it would like to be Trayvon Martin - a teenager, walking home, confronted by an armed stranger at night, possibly fighting back - and say his killing was just? That if you had been in that situation, you would have behaved differently? That the man who shot and killed you ought to walk away?
posted by pretentious illiterate at 2:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Sorry spaltavian, did not realize you were responding to a scenario where Martin was using self-defense and would have been convicted of manslaughter.. and you seem to have gotten different information on the evidence than the jury did.
posted by snaparapans at 2:42 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute while that person was screaming for help.

I imagine myself or my loved ones ambling home from the store with a bag of candy and a soda, being followed slowly in a car by a stranger (which is a thing that has actually happened to me - it is more menacing than you can imagine until it happens to you). And it's dark, and it's raining, and the guy gets out of his car after following me quite a way when all I want to do is to go home and eat some skittles.

Pretty much everything we've heard after that comes from the freak who was stalking a teenager through the dark and the rain with a gun. A self-appointed 'community watch' person, who was told to stay in his car by 911 and who made all kinds of pointless calls to 911 about people in his area who happened to be Black.

And I think about what I (unfortunately quite extensively) know about wannabe cop fetishists, and I think about how scary it was when some creep followed me in my quiet little neighborhood, and pretty much nothing that a teenager in a panic could possibly do to the stalking freak can make me feel any sympathy for the person who deliberately courted the confrontation because he had a hardon for being some kind of pudgy suburban rent-a-cop.
posted by winna at 2:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [55 favorites]


‘Kill pigs’ riot erupts in Oakland in response to Zimmerman verdict; no arrests.
A BART police car parked outside the 12th Street BART Station had its windows smashed, and protesters spray-painted "F- the police" and "Kill Pigs" on the side of the vehicle.

About 11:30 p.m., Oakland police formed a skirmish line near their headquarters at 7th Street and Broadway and came face-to-face with protesters.

As Argus, the police helicopter, monitored from above, the crowd soon moved away from the intersection and headed east on 14th Street, stopping at a McDonald's restaurant shortly after midnight to burn several flags and to spray-paint "Kill Zimmerman" and "FTP," an anti-police epithet, on the side of Alameda County's Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.
posted by corb at 2:56 PM on July 14, 2013


Part of it, I think, is the fact that we, as Americans especially, don't like the idea of feeling like we are powerless in the face of awful people who abuse their rights and still stay within the law. So we have to elevate the status of such people to the level of heroic or virtuous. That's why we get stories like this and this where bad behavior on the part of employers was excused with, "well, it's legal, so the decisionmakers are doing a good job, and if anyone doesn't like it, it's their fault and they should learn to deal with it rather than criticizing law abiding [rich] citizens." Well now, we have that same mentality playing out, and our affection for the "clever" non-criminal means that someone is dead, and we're here saying, "well, we shouldn't criticize, and we should just learn to accept it." But the person who was the target of this law-abiding person can't accept it because he is dead.
posted by deanc at 2:57 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I think about what I (unfortunately quite extensively) know about wannabe cop fetishists, and I think about how scary it was when some creep followed me in my quiet little neighborhood, and pretty much nothing that a teenager in a panic could possibly do to the stalking freak can make me feel any sympathy for the person who deliberately courted the confrontation because he had a hardon for being some kind of pudgy suburban rent-a-cop.

That is, I would not feel any sympathy for him if I believed a single solitary word of his fantastic story, which I do not.
posted by winna at 2:57 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a little surprised Zimmerman is only 28. From the ass kicking he was apparently getting from this kid I expected him to be in his 50s or something.

I got ten years on Zimmerman and I am pretty confident I could fight one guy and get away without having to shoot him. Then again. I don't have special training or whatever gun toting law fetishists go though.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:59 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't have special training or whatever gun toting law fetishists go though.

They play Call of Duty a lot and watch MMA fights on the couch. It's totally special training unavailable to civilians.
posted by winna at 3:00 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe to get a CCL, people should have to learn how defend themselves without shooting someone.

BTW, I'm saying the whole scenario that a 17 tear old randomly jumped a 28 year old guy, who was a law enforcement groupie yet apparently had no idea how to fight anyone off or apply any non-lethal force whatsoever, and pounded his head into the ground for a minute, yet the guy could still pull a gun and shoot Trayvon is not very believable to me.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


George Zimmerman’s crude Myspace page from 2005
“I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book,” the 2005 Myspace page said. “Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

Another line suggested his friends went to jail and did not rat him out. “They do a year and dont ever open thier [sic] mouth to get my ass pinched.”

The pictures posted on the page including several with an ethnically diverse group of friends. The blog section boasts about having two felonies knocked down to misdemeanors and describes a court battle with an ex-girlfriend. Zimmerman faced two felonies in 2005 for obstructing justice and battery on a law enforcement officer, but the cases were reduced to misdemeanor simple battery, and he was left with no criminal conviction on his record.
Latino Racism = US Racism + Latin American Racism
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


To be honest, I am glad that there haven't been more violent protests than some spray paint and broken windows. The protests locally have been heartfelt vigils with prayers and candles and, as noted above, thankfully no arrests of the protestors themselves.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:08 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're not getting it, Justinian. Some of us are not playing teams but are genuinely horrified by this outcome as parents and human beings (and as people who got targeted for this kind of harrassment as teenagers ourselves and realize now how easy it is to end up dead and written off as scum by the public and the courts).
posted by saulgoodman at 3:11 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


The "‘Kill pigs’ riot erupts" link is to a site that looks like Free Republic with a thin veneer of "Biz News".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Can you truly say you can imagine what it would like to be Trayvon Martin - a teenager, walking home, confronted by an armed stranger at night, possibly fighting back - and say his killing was just?"

I can imagine that Trayvon Martin stayed in the area instead of running home or running far away for some reason other than to attack George Zimmerman. I can imagine that when the two saw each other again, George Zimmerman tried to restrain Trayvon Martin either physically or at gun point. I can imagine that Trayvon Martin became aware that Zimmerman was armed, and that this would justify beating someone who was screaming for help for almost if not more than a minute (I suppose one might believe it was Trayvon Martin who was screaming on that 911 call, in which case the whole narrative changes, but based on the trial I just don't believe this). I can imagine that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were wrestling for the gun while George Zimmerman was also screaming for help. But, based on what I've seen of the trial, to me the most plausible version is that a kid who enjoyed street fighting decided to teach some creepy racist a lesson, but the creepy racist happened to have a gun and after getting handily beaten for a while used it. In the end, regardless of which version one might believe, based on the law as it exists this particular trial was a farce and acquittal the only proper verdict in this particular case. I would note that I'm reasonably certain that the principles and burdens of self-defense that were at issue in this case are the same in all states except one. As for the rest, anyone is free to use this case as springboard for whatever they see fit.
posted by cheburashka at 3:13 PM on July 14, 2013


I can imagine that Trayvon Martin stayed in the area instead of running home or running far away for some reason other than to attack George Zimmerman because that's what black kids do.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've obviously never been pursued by someone for harrassment because they didn't like how you looked as a teenager. A grown man should have known better. Zimmerman's recklessly negligent actions directly led to a young man's death when it would otherwise not have happened at all. That's why this is a miscarriage of justice, whether the legal points were all plausibly observed or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:18 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Both sides got to prepare and present their case fairly. The jury listened to the evidence and were unanimous in finding Zimmerman innocent. Have some respect for the citizens who gave up their time to sit on the jury and make a hard decision based on the evidence presented.
posted by w0mbat at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Have some respect for the citizens who gave up their time to sit on the jury and make a hard decision based on the evidence presented.

Nobody said they don't have respect for the jurors. Whether or not they did a good job is a completely different story.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:21 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're not getting it, Justinian. Some of us are not playing teams but are genuinely horrified by this outcome as parents and human beings

Did you miss the part where I specifically said this was primarily an issue on the pro-Zimmerman side? Or what?
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on July 14, 2013


Nobody said they don't have respect for the jurors.

Sure they did, but I don't think anyone should hold you accountable for the entire thread.
posted by phaedon at 3:24 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man... Thats the lamest riot on recod. A little flag burning and some angry grafitti? Why are't the cops in there with the assult rifles yet?
posted by edgeways at 3:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, apparently federal prosecutors are looking into trying him yet again. Maybe someone can explain how it's not double jeopardy?
posted by corb at 3:32 PM on July 14, 2013


corb, I'm sure they'll be trying him on Civil Rights violation charges.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:34 PM on July 14, 2013


Yeah, you can be tried in a civil court after a criminal for the same incident.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:35 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, I'm not asking to be snarky - I really do not understand how that would be legal. What kind of civil rights violations would not be substantially similar to the murder or manslaughter charges?
posted by corb at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2013


no arrests.

No actual riots, one suspcts.
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


What kind of civil rights violations would not be substantially similar to the murder or manslaughter charges?

Depriving him of his life or liberty because of the color of his skin.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Perhaps under the "separate sovereigns" doctrine.
posted by rustcellar at 3:38 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


cheburashka I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute while that person was screaming for help.

I think the difference between us is that I don't think the "best available evidence" indicates anything of the sort. That's George Zimmerman's story, and that you choose to take it at face value and believe it uncritically, despite the undisputed facts surrounding the event says a lot about you.

Here are the undisputed facts:

1) George Zimmerman chose to arm himself and cruise around in an SUV pretending he was a cop and looking for "suspicious people", by which he pretty much meant "black people".

2) Finding Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman followed him in his SUV while calling 911 and using aggressive language to describe Martin as a criminal, "fucking punk". there's also the racist aspect of "they always get away with it", where "they" pretty much has to mean black people.

3) After following Martin for several minutes in his SUV, Zimmerman chose to leave his vehicle.

That does not point to a peaceful man who was thoughtful and non-violent.

After that we enter the realm of the disputed, and there you have chosen to empathize with Zimmerman, the man who instigated the whole event, and take his version of events as the truth.

I empathize more with Martin. He's 17, he's been subject to racist BS his whole life (my six year old has already been called "a fucking nigger" by one of his friends, yes really). He's committed no crime and has simply walked out to buy some snacks and is on his way home, proceeding as the police would say about his lawful occasions.

Out of nowhere a creepy older guy starts following him, he's scared. We have here only his word, but when he called his friend he said he was nervous, frightened, and worried, I think that seems entirely reasonable given the circumstances and see no reason to doubt that.

You wish to then imagine that Zimmerman, peaceful and non-violent, left his car for no reason but to look at a street sign and out of nowhere and completely unprovoked Martin attacked him and fearing for his life Zimmerman, regretfully, shot him.

This seems a completely unbelievable sequence of events to me. It doesn't mesh with the undisputed facts, which clearly establish Zimmerman as the aggressor and instigator of the events.

So I empathize with Martin. He looks like my kid, and I know the shit my kid has gone through already. I see no reason at all to believe that Martin randomly jumped Zimmerman and started assaulting him.

I don't empathize with a person who was "beating and smashing a person's head into the concrete while that person was screaming for help". I empathize with a scared kid who was stalked and likely attacked by a guy acting out a Rambo fantasy.
posted by sotonohito at 3:38 PM on July 14, 2013 [79 favorites]


Both sides got to prepare and present their case fairly. The jury listened to the evidence and were unanimous in finding Zimmerman innocent. Have some respect for the citizens who gave up their time to sit on the jury and make a hard decision based on the evidence presented.

This is like saying you should never disagree with the President, because you should have respect for elections.
posted by spaltavian at 3:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Thanks rustcellar, but again - doesn't federal jurisdiction trump state jurisdiction? Thus, if there were a federal case, wouldn't it have gone first, rather than second?

Here are the undisputed facts

I think if there's one thing that is clear about this case, it's that there are no undisputed facts.
posted by corb at 3:40 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Double jeopardy also does not apply if the later charge is civil rather than criminal in nature, which involves a different legal standard (crimes must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil wrongs need only be proven by preponderance of evidence or in some matters, clear and convincing evidence). Acquittal in a criminal case does not prevent the defendant from being the defendant in a civil suit relating to the same incident (though res judicata operates within the civil court system). For example, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of a double homicide in a California criminal prosecution, but lost a civil wrongful death claim brought over the same victims." from your best friend, Wikipedia.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


And, ultimately, I empathize with the party who didn't start a potentially violent situation. If Zimmerman had chosen to stay home that evening, rather than pretending he was Rambo, nothing would have happened. Martin would have bought some candy and gone home, everything would be fine.

Zimmerman started the whole even, therefore he is 100% responsible for all that followed.
posted by sotonohito at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


I must admit, it is surprising to me how many people seem to see themselves or their loved ones in the shoes of someone who, by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete for almost a minute while that person was screaming for help.

If you have to resort to the basest, most awful stereotypes of black men to get your point across, something really fucked up is going on.

I can imagine that Trayvon Martin stayed in the area instead of running home or running far away for some reason other than to attack George Zimmerman. I can imagine that when the two saw each other again, George Zimmerman tried to restrain Trayvon Martin either physically or at gun point. I can imagine that Trayvon Martin became aware that Zimmerman was armed, and that this would justify beating someone who was screaming for help for almost if not more than a minute (I suppose one might believe it was Trayvon Martin who was screaming on that 911 call, in which case the whole narrative changes, but based on the trial I just don't believe this). I can imagine that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were wrestling for the gun while George Zimmerman was also screaming for help.

You can imagine quite a lot, apparently based on bunch of ignorance and straight-up racist privilege bullshit.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:46 PM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think if there's one thing that is clear about this case, it's that there are no undisputed facts.

How about the fact that a kid is dead and some other dude was the one who shot him to death?
posted by lampshade at 3:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [28 favorites]


Maybe someone can explain how it's not double jeopardy? I really do not understand how that would be legal.

In the case of federal charges, the use of federal civil rights laws has been used as a backstop to prosecute suspects in states that refused to charge or convict white murderers of blacks, particularly with respect to lynchings.

As a general matter in the USA, certain crimes have multi-jurisdictional implications. If you are acquitted of fraud in one state as part of a crime you committed over multiple states, then other states can prosecute you. The federal government may want a bite at you as well.
posted by deanc at 3:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


From Legal Dictionary, an explication of double jeopardy and the dual sovereignty doctrine:

The dual-sovereignty doctrine received national attention during the early 1990s, when two Los Angeles police officers were convicted in federal court for violating the Civil Rights of Rodney King during a brutal, videotaped beating, even though they previously had been acquitted in state court for excessive use of force (United States v. Koon, 833 F. Supp. 769 (C.D. Cal. 1993), aff'd, 34 F.3d 1416 (9th Cir. 1994), rehearing denied 45 F.3d 1303). Although many observers believed that the officers had been tried twice for the same offense, the convictions were upheld on appeal over double jeopardy objections. Under the dual-sovereignty doctrine, the appellate court ruled, a defendant who violates the laws of two sovereigns, even if by a single act, has committed two distinct offenses, punishable by both authorities.

The dual-sovereignty doctrine is designed to vindicate the interest that each sovereign claims in promoting peace and dignity within its forum, and permits state and federal governments to prosecute someone for the same behavior after either has already done so. A defendant also may be prosecuted successively by two states for the same act or omission. In Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82, 106 S. Ct. 433, 88 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1985), the U.S. Supreme Court held that successive prosecutions by the states of Georgia and Alabama based upon the same offense did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. In Heath, the defendant had committed murder in the state of Alabama but had taken the body to Georgia, where Georgia officials eventually found it. Both states prosecuted Heath and convicted him of murder for the same action, and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the convictions to stand.

Some limitations apply to the dual-sovereignty doctrine. Successive prosecutions by a state and one of its political subdivisions (such as a county, city, or village) are not permitted, because these entities are deemed to be one sovereign. Moreover, federal and state authorities may not achieve a second prosecution by manipulating the criminal justice system, sometimes called a "sham prosecution." Although this exception to the dual sovereignty doctrine has been cited in several cases, it is seldom invoked.

The U.S. Department of Justice has developed an internal restriction on pursuing a prosecution after state prosecution has failed. Federal prosecutors under this restriction may only pursue a second prosecution for compelling reasons, and the prosecutor must obtain prior approval from the assistant attorney general prior to bringing the prosecution. This restriction is called the "Petite policy," named after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Petite v. United States, 361 U.S. 529, 80 S. Ct. 45, 4 L. Ed. 2d 490 (1960), which involved the prosecution of an individual in two federal district courts for what amounted to the same offense. Although the Petite policy appears in the Department of Justice's manual, criminal defendants may not rely upon this restriction if a federal prosecutor fails to adhere to the department's guidelines.

posted by bakerina at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, all I keep coming back to is that if it is legal to stalk and kill a 17-year-old boy, then the law is wrong and must change. I hope there are civil rights charges brought, and I hope there are civil suits brought, and I hope the law gets changed before another family loses their son.
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2013 [28 favorites]


I would be surprised if the feds get involved with this case. A civil suit on the other hand is completely assured. Not that they'd ever be able to collect anything.
posted by Justinian at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2013


Well there are a handfull of undisputed facts: Zimmerman followed Martin, both in a vehicle and on foot. Zimmerman had a gun that was used to kill Martin, Zimmerman ignored police instruction to not get out of his vehicle and follow on foot. Zimmerman also made a 911 call that was pretty charged.


Then there is background and a bunch of conflicting evidence/testimony.
I will say, removing these events and just looking at personal history Martin seems like a much more together person who had a hell of a lot of potential. Zimmerman, well not so much.

But American justice is not really about finding the truth at all costs, it's about wrangling fine points to win, or to beat the system.
posted by edgeways at 3:50 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks rustcellar, but again - doesn't federal jurisdiction trump state jurisdiction? Thus, if there were a federal case, wouldn't it have gone first, rather than second?

I'm not aware of any, and I can't think of any reason why that would be true. The whole idea of the separate sovereigns doctrine, as I understand it, is that the state(s) and the federal government can decide independently how to prosecute a crime that falls within their respective jurisdictions. I would be very surprised if a state could preclude federal prosecution by getting out in front of the DOJ.
posted by rustcellar at 3:51 PM on July 14, 2013


Zimmerman ignored police instruction to not get out of his vehicle and follow on foot

FWIW there was no police instruction not to get out of his vehicle. 911 dispatchers are not cops.
posted by Justinian at 3:51 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


by the best available evidence, was beating and smashing a person's head into concrete

The best available evidence being the word of the guy who lived. Zimmerman didn't even have a concussion.

I see myself in Martin's shoes because I am often walking by myself, on my way to or from running an errand. Just today, I walked a round trip of eight blocks to get some coffee and donuts.

I have never armed myself and deliberately followed a "suspicious" person.

One time, someone was kicking in an upper floor window from the fire escape in the building next door. I called 911 and then stayed inside my damn house until I saw the squad cars.
posted by rtha at 3:53 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


All right then
posted by edgeways at 3:54 PM on July 14, 2013


I don't know the facts, so I'll substitute what I assume must have happened based on my view of the world, and I don't know the law, so I'll substitute what I assume would be good laws. I'm outraged by this verdict.
posted by planet at 3:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


"FWIW there was no police instruction not to get out of his vehicle. 911 dispatchers are not cops."

Yes, but it does speak to Zimmerman's awareness of the wisdom of his actions and his intentions.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nobody said they don't have respect for the jurors. Whether or not they did a good job is a completely different story.

For example, one commenter in this thread remarked:

Only took 6 non-black jurors to imagine themselves scared just absolutely to death by a scrawny black teenager with a bag of skittles. Funny that.

This is about as uncivil an armchair remark as one can possibly make. I'm not even going to directly involve myself with the level of stupidity it takes to make this kind of comment, so let's just refer to it as the "Zimmerman treatment" - one look at a person's skin color and you know what they're up to. I hope this doesn't pass for critical thinking in this day and age.

I feel that the unfortunate inception of the events that led up to Trayvon's death - verdict aside - really invites this type of hateful thinking on both sides of the racial divide. Because I don't think even I, as a dutiful contrarian, would argue that at its core, this whole thing started out as a white/Hispanic person assessing a black person as a threat based on a quick look, an assumption and fear and hate. And somebody brought a gun to the table. And for that alone, there should be repentance. And our legal system does not provide for that.

I am a big believer in institutional racism - the idea that no one agent in the system has to do anything racist, meanwhile the overall outcome is in fact inherently racist. What happened to Trayvon Martin is a culmination of social and legislative trends and psychological, interpersonal patterns that have been brewing in this country well before he was born. I just don't know what good it does to attack each other in this country anymore. This very question, ideally, should've been asked before Zimmerman was armed and sent out on patrol.

Can we stop hating each other long enough to mourn together, I wish some public figure would ask. I feel that people have begun to lose interest in the healing, that the situation is just too hopeless.
posted by phaedon at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fine, let's just take a trick from the press and call the 911 operators "authorities." Either way, he was advised by a representative of the state to knock it off but ignored it. That's evidence right there he was not exercising reasonable restraint when he went after Martin.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, sure, it's just important to get the facts correct.
posted by Justinian at 3:59 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hard to see how DOJ successfully prosecutes a civil rights case given this FBI report from July.

George Zimmerman a 'busybody' but not racist, FBI report concludes
posted by BobbyVan at 4:02 PM on July 14, 2013


I think if there's one thing that is clear about this case, it's that there are no undisputed facts.

Actually, I think an undisputed fact is that Zimmerman shot Trayvon and killed him.
posted by billiebee at 4:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]



Note to self : commit crimes in Florida, where the prosecutors could fail to convict a ham sandwich for being delicious.

I didn't pay much attention to the trial while it was going on, but the more I read about it, the more I can't help but think they threw it on purpose. It's nearly as Keystone Kops as the OJ trial.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:08 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well there are a handfull of undisputed facts: Zimmerman followed Martin, both in a vehicle and on foot. Zimmerman had a gun that was used to kill Martin, Zimmerman ignored police instruction to not get out of his vehicle and follow on foot. Zimmerman also made a 911 call that was pretty charged.
I also believe that it's an undisputed fact that Zimmerman believed that Martin was a fucking punk who was going to get away with it.

Whatever "it" is.
posted by Flunkie at 4:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]



"FWIW there was no police instruction not to get out of his vehicle. 911 dispatchers are not cops."

Yes, but it does speak to Zimmerman's awareness of the wisdom of his actions and his intentions.


Yeah, that is an absurd nitpick.
posted by sweetkid at 4:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's pretty clear they didn't throw the case on purpose. They did the best they could without a lot of physical evidence or witnesses, Pogo. Unfortunately the majority of their closing argument was not good which probably hurt them considerably. But it was not good because the prosecutor was letting his emotion show through too much (constantly yelling, etc) not because he didn't care.
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on July 14, 2013


George Zimmerman a 'busybody' but not racist, FBI report concludes

They interviewed his "friends, colleagues and family members", though. It doesn't really seem like a group of people who, when faced with an FBI investigation into the nature of someone they care about, would make wholly unbiased statements. Furthermore, I think it is often reasonable to assume that in general many of one's friends and family (although perhaps not colleagues) might share the same social viewpoints on what is and is not considered racist.
posted by elizardbits at 4:11 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


BobbyVan, that link is broken.

In terms of the advice from the dispatcher - I'm not sure it was clear that that /was/ an instruction from the authorities.

In many ways, I'd consider myself about as weirdly authority-obeying as any person who thinks the state is a bad idea can be. Military experience. If I hear an order from a person in a position of authority, I tend to follow it. Call it a moral failing, if you will.

But if I heard a 911 dispatcher say "You don't need to do that" in such a situation, I would personally interpret it as the 911 dispatcher being concerned for my safety, not anything else, and certainly not that authorities would prefer I did not do it. I would have interpreted it as a warning meant for people who weren't willing to accept personal risk in defending the neighborhood, and probably continued on my merry way.

But that willingness to accept personal risk does not nor should it extend to a willingness not to fight back if attacked.
posted by corb at 4:12 PM on July 14, 2013


I am a big believer in institutional racism - the idea that no one agent in the system has to do anything racist, meanwhile the overall outcome is in fact inherently racist. What happened to Trayvon Martin is a culmination of social and legislative trends and psychological, interpersonal patterns that have been brewing in this country well before he was born. I just don't know what good it does to attack each other in this country anymore. This very question, ideally, should've been asked before Zimmerman was armed and sent out on patrol.

But Zimmerman was not armed and sent on patrol. He armed himself and went out on "patrol". He was not representing any institution, except arguably Neighborhood Watch, who do not arm their representatives.

Institutional racism is absolutely a thing - qv the initial decision to release Zimmerman without charge. But individual racism is also a thing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


George Zimmerman a 'busybody' but not racist, FBI report concludes

Not guilty of a crime, and thus practically an American hero! Like these guys who are also not-guilty of anything. Supposedly.
posted by deanc at 4:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried to avoid the actual trial stuff as much as possible so can't say much about the prosecutors' throwing this or not but Angela Corey's behavior in this clip is horrifying to me. I can't see how that could be acceptable to anyone, regardless of how you feel about the outcome. It is so inappropriate I can't even.
posted by sweetkid at 4:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Angela Corey cares about one thing, sweetkid: Angela Corey.
posted by Justinian at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


But individual racism is also a thing.

Right. I'm aware Zimmerman wasn't a member of the police force, and just so you know I didn't bring up the idea of "institutional" racism to give him a pass or anything. Point taken.
posted by phaedon at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2013


I feel that the unfortunate inception of the events that led up to Trayvon's death - verdict aside - really invites this type of hateful thinking on both sides of the racial divide. Because I don't think even I, as a dutiful contrarian, would argue that at its core, this whole thing started out as a white/Hispanic person assessing a black person as a threat based on a quick look, an assumption and fear and hate. And somebody brought a gun to the table. And for that alone, there should be repentance. And our legal system does not provide for that.

I don't really buy the "hateful thinking on both sides of the racial divide" line. Because it ignores who gets shot, who goes to jail, who gets to rent the apartment, and so on. I mean, yeah, there is hateful thinking on both sides. But the power is all on one side. And that's what people are mad about, dutiful contrarian.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


I would have interpreted it as a warning meant for people who weren't willing to accept personal risk in defending the neighborhood, and probably continued on my merry way.

defending the neighborhood

From a kid carrying a bag of Skittles.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


"Note to self : commit crimes in Florida, where the prosecutors could fail to convict a ham sandwich for being delicious."

That right there is a fine turn of an already-pithy phrase. Bravo!

"A prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich." — Judge Solomon Wachtler
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would have interpreted it as a warning meant for people who weren't willing to accept personal risk in defending the neighborhood

Except it seems the only person who bore personal risk because of Zimmerman "defending his neighbourhood" was a teenager, on his merry way home, who is now dead.
posted by billiebee at 4:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


But if I heard a 911 dispatcher say "You don't need to do that" in such a situation, I would personally interpret it as the 911 dispatcher being concerned for my safety, not anything else, and certainly not that authorities would prefer I did not do it. I would have interpreted it as a warning meant for people who weren't willing to accept personal risk in defending the neighborhood, and probably continued on my merry way.

FYI, the actual line was "OK, we don't need you to do that." It was said after he got out of the car to initiate pursuit, or in other words to take offensive action, not defensive.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:21 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


From a kid carrying a bag of Skittles.

Well people have been trying to insinuate the skittles are part of a dastardly drug concoction. Possession of skittles is proof positive you are up to no good.

I'm not even kidding.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


And, as pointed out above, as admitted to by all parties including Zimmerman, there was no offensive action on Martin's part.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:22 PM on July 14, 2013




"If I saw a guy -- of any race -- following me in his car I'd be suspicious. If he stopped and got out to follow me on foot, I'd be down right terrified. If he got closer and closer, you can bet my fight or flight response would kick in."

I've been chased by a strange man before. He was following me in his car. When I cut through a yard to get away from him he got out and chased me. When he caught up, I took my backpack off and swung it at him, hitting him in the face. I pushed, kicked and hit him with my fists. When he backed off I ran again. He never swung at me, I hit him first.

Knowing that this guy could have shot me and got away with it makes me feel unsafe to leave the house. I realize it's unlikely that someone would get away with shooting me because I don't look "suspicious," I'm white and female, but it's still frightening.

I'm not going to agree that I should let strange men who are chasing me catch up so they can abduct, attack, or murder me just so they have a chance to explain why they are chasing me.

That teenager behaved exactly like he could be expected to behave in that situation. What are we suppose to tell black kids? Let creepy strangers attack you first then shoot them dead?
posted by feelingcold at 4:24 PM on July 14, 2013 [66 favorites]


‘Kill pigs’ riot erupts in Oakland in response to Zimmerman verdict; no arrests.

just to reiterate: the linked material is poisonous crap.
posted by angrycat at 4:26 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


defending the neighborhood

from what, tooth decay?
posted by NoraReed at 4:26 PM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


I mean, yeah, there is hateful thinking on both sides. But the power is all on one side. And that's what people are mad about, dutiful contrarian.

I totally understand your objection. That when I say "let's stop the hateful thinking" and "focus on the healing," I'm essentially quelling the angry mob and asking that we preserve the status quo. Point again taken.

Having said that, I'm not sure a guilty verdict would have fundamentally changed anything about the status quo either. Does the character of the country revolve around isolated incidents? I don't know, maybe it does.
posted by phaedon at 4:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have interpreted it as a warning meant for people who weren't willing to accept personal risk in defending the neighborhood, and probably continued on my merry way.

Oh my god this is the great divide. This explains the whole disagreement!

There are those who think that carrying a gun while cruising your little gated suburban neighborhood looking for 'suspicious characters' is 'accepting personal risk in defending the neighborhood' and those who think that it makes you one of the biggest losers in the history of the free world.
posted by winna at 4:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [58 favorites]


I feel that the unfortunate inception of the events that led up to Trayvon's death - verdict aside - really invites this type of hateful thinking on both sides of the racial divide.

Unless you have a moral belief against hatred in general, I'm pretty sure that it is acceptable to hate the person who stalked an unarmed teenager visiting his family and then went on to kill him. Zimmerman and his supporters sound like they feel the guy deserves a medal for "defending his neighborhood" and that anyone who would take issue with this is somehow "contributing to the problems on both sides" or something.

Normally, the people supporting Zimmerman can get away with praising a person who cleverly manipulates the law to his advantage to get himself rich or lord his dominance and power to abuse others in some way because we all like rich, dominant people, even if they're horrible human beings, because not-criminal == good ("he didn't break any laws!" is the excuse used for them). But this time the not-criminal guy has actually killed someone, and yet we're still hearing about how his technical lack of guilt in the eyes of the law somehow still makes him an admirable citizen worth admiring for his charm and pluck, like the CEO who manages to negotiate a huge compensation package while his employees get laid off. So I think a kind of moral rubicon has been crossed by the Zimmerman-defending faction, here, which has exposed a lot of ugliness on their part, where they can't take a moral stand or make a moral judgment where the actor involved has actually killed someone.
posted by deanc at 4:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]




I'm essentially quelling the angry mob

dang I am not seeing the angry mob it must be out there battling the people accepting personal risk in defending the neighborhood.
posted by winna at 4:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


The problem is that this wasn't an isolated incident. It has happened many many times:

Here we go again: the Trayvon Martin verdict, and the white supremacist Groundhog Day that is American history
[W]hat I’m left with is a sense of impotent fury about the way our country perpetuates the seemingly endless cycle of officially sanctioned executions of people of color. In writing this, I’ve cast my mind back, and I remembered many names:

Willie Turks, 1948-1982.

Michael Stewart, 1958-1983.

Eleanor Bumpurs, 1918-1984.

Michael Griffith, 1963-1986.

Yusuf Hawkins, 1973-1989.

James Byrd, Jr., 1949-1998.

Amadou Diallo, 1975-1999.

Patrick Dorismond, 1974-2000.

Ken Tillery, 1958-2002.

Sean Bell, 1983-2006.

Flint Farmer, 1981(?)-2011.

I could go on, and on, and on. But I will stop here.

I hardly need to point out that these killings did not take place in the deep, dark recesses of our pre-civil rights past. They all occurred within living memory, in the decades following the civil rights movement.

In the majority of the above cases, the people with blood on their hands never saw the inside of a prison cell. In some cases they never even stood trial.

When will it end? You tell me.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [35 favorites]


defending the neighborhood

Corb, you live in New York right? I really hope you don't have this attitude about the neighborhood you live in now.

This is how we get stuff like stop and frisk.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:34 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more this fact blows my mind: there are people in this thread and all over this country who are utterly convinced that people who look like me -- and like my son will look in a little over a decade -- are capable of beating them to death with our bare hands at the slightest provocation.

Just let that sink in for a second.

How am I supposed to feel like this is a country where I can feel empowered to thrive when there is a non-trivial number of people who are so certain I am a critical threat to their property and safety that they must use weapons on me when I am completely unarmed?

I'll admit it, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a superhero. I wanted to be the super badass who could take on a squad of armed men with nothing more than my snappy banter and elite hand-to-hand skills and defeat them all. But I grew up on Silver Age comics, so my fantasies didn't include killing them, just leaving them neatly tied up with a note to the police from your friendly neighborhood lord_wolf.

I know that reality seldom lines up with the fantasies we have as children, but, Christ, I never would have dreamed that there would be this large a delta between those youthful imaginings and the way I am perceived by a frightening number of my fellow Americans.

I've said it before in threads that deal with race and social justice, and I'll say it again: Dr. King was right, this country is sick.
posted by lord_wolf at 4:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [64 favorites]


Steel Pulse: "Put Your Hoodies On [4 Trayvon]"

And of course "No Justice, No Peace". (Lyricswow video, can't find the original track on YouTube)
posted by spitbull at 4:37 PM on July 14, 2013


George Zimmerman was not in any sense whatsoever providing any kind of "defense" for the neighborhood. Don't be ridiculous.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on July 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


Corb, you live in New York right? I really hope you don't have this attitude about the neighborhood you live in now.

Why, because the police do such a good job of protecting neighborhoods full of people that look like me?

I don't go around armed, because, well, you can't in New York City - like many majority-minority cities, they have intensely strict gun control. (#protip: that wasn't aimed at white people) But you had better believe I keep an eye out in my neighborhood. Because the police won't.
posted by corb at 4:42 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


corb, you are only correct if you are posting from NYC circa 1970-80s. I am not sure what is powering your version of law enforcement there.
posted by angrycat at 4:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


like many majority-minority cities, they have intensely strict gun control. (#protip: that wasn't aimed at white people)

Enough with this "gun control is for the real racists" crap you keep on slinging around. It's as timely and accurate as telling us that Republicans are the real civil rights heroes because Strom Thurmond and Friends were Democrats before the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were passed.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Does the character of the country revolve around isolated incidents?

The story of race in America revolves around a whole horrible chain of incidents locked together one by one with no sign of it stopping. It's not so much this one case, I think, awful as it is, but the the sorry spectacle of yet another horrible miscarriage of justice. Because there are way too many people who have seen this happen to them and theirs over and over again. It's not the one incident, it's the weight of that fucking awful chain. And, yeah, one good verdict wouldn't have fixed the situation, but it would have cut back on that weight a little and given people time to breathe.

And here's the deal. Zimmerman looks like a guy who's also been screwed by different parts of the apparatus of the Patriarchy. And this is the great scheme -- we spend all our time looking at sad little losers who kill kids for no fucking reason, and we don't wee the guys behind the curtain who really benefit from this. And I don't mean there is some cackling conspiracy; it's a system that is well engineered to keep poor people hating on poor people and the less poor hating on the poor, so on up the chain.

And that "letting go of hate" is a problem, because it has to start on the side with some power, and they are not going to stop the hating because they are so scared of losing what little they have, especially now with the economy in the toilet and the guys who put it there counting their winnings and going unpunished in another example of injustice. And so, instead of class solidarity, we get racial divide. Oh, and dead kids. Yay, us.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:50 PM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Nobody said they don't have respect for the jurors. Whether or not they did a good job is a completely different story.

For example, one commenter in this thread remarked:

Only took 6 non-black jurors to imagine themselves scared just absolutely to death by a scrawny black teenager with a bag of skittles. Funny that.

This is about as uncivil an armchair remark as one can possibly make. I'm not even going to directly involve myself with the level of stupidity it takes to make this kind of comment, so let's just refer to it as the "Zimmerman treatment" - one look at a person's skin color and you know what they're up to. I hope this doesn't pass for critical thinking in this day and age.



I'm that stupid person, phaedron. But hey, ad hominem will get you noticed around here.

And I stand by my stupid remark absolutely, and wager my "critical thinking" faculties against yours all day long.

I was specifically responding, sarcastically, to a prior comment that excused the jury a bit for identifying more with Zimmerman's "fear" of black men than Trayvon's fear of armed non-black men. It's only stupid if you don't understand a finer point than you are granting me, which is how absurd the "poor jurors are to be excused somewhat or finding it credible that Immerman was scared of a kid with skittles who just happened to be a different color from anyone on the jury" excuse is.
posted by spitbull at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Corb, I daresay there is not a single soul in this thread who has not heard your opinions about guns, your neighborhood, and self-policing before. Knock it off or it will be knocked for you. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:52 PM on July 14, 2013 [33 favorites]


Why, because the police do such a good job of protecting neighborhoods full of people that look like me?

I dunno. I don't want to make this about corb but the "defending my neghborhood" is a dangerous concept all around. From people calling the cops when they see a Puerto Rican to Joey Fama style racist pseudo-vigilantism to straight up gang fights in the park like I used to see as a kid.

I really don't want this to be about corb, because god knows corb isn't the only one that thinks this, but the attitude that Zimmerman is a hero holding the line against the creeping evil of black kids with skittles really disturbs me.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't go around armed, because, well, you can't in New York City - like many majority-minority cities, they have intensely strict gun control. (#protip: that wasn't aimed at white people) But you had better believe I keep an eye out in my neighborhood. Because the police won't.

...I look like you, and my neighborhood looks like yours, and the police protect my neighborhood just fine.

....Have you considered that maybe it isn't the police or your neighborhood?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


well, corb, at first you tell us that "it is a reassurance that maybe I won't go to jail for life if I fight back" - now you tell us that you live in a city where you're not allowed to have a gun, anyway

you're just living a vicarious fantasy through george zimmerman's actions

that's pretty sick
posted by pyramid termite at 5:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Why, because the police do such a good job of protecting neighborhoods full of people that look like me?

People who look like what? I'm so confused.
posted by sweetkid at 5:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am, for absolutely no reason other than my own personal amusement, picturing Nosferatu with a FN FAL.
posted by elizardbits at 5:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]




Really, NYPD doesn't need more George Zimmermans. They have enough on the force as it is.

Statistically, I'm fairly sure NYC is safer than anyplace in Florida that isn't a gated island.
posted by spitbull at 5:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there any chance that we could please, maybe not make this thread about corb?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like lord_wolf, it is a bizarre feeling watching people swear that you, as a black male, are a walking weapon. I have had it all happen - white women who ran off the elevator when I got on. Store employees who tense up and follow at advantageous angles. Sadly, you get used to it after a while. Heck, I've adapted. It was broad daylight and I saw this dude coming around the corner with his dog in the gated community I lived in. I shuffled my feet to alert him, but still scared him. I would have used "startled", but the look on his face was like I was seven foot tall carrying a battle axe. There are lots of reasons why these things happen, and it's definitely more complex than my little stories, but I'll tell you, it's weird. Even after you've adapted.
posted by cashman at 5:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [35 favorites]


I live right by the projects full of black men who don't have a lot of money and wear urban gear and whatnot and I feel safer around them and any NYPD than any George Zimmermans.
posted by sweetkid at 5:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


The temptation to perform vigilante acts under the guise of protecting one's community is a good part of why police officers have rules and regulations about the use of force. It seems to me like a good response to this deplorable incident would be to put some structure around neighborhood watches such that it's clear what the responsibilities and duties are when a watchperson is confronted with a potentially life or death situation. It seems pretty clear to me that these responsibilities and duties should be different from those of a normal citizen, one who didn't voluntarily sign up for a dangerous activity.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, god, now zimmerman says he wants to be a lawyer to "help other people like me"

"Zimmerman, an insurance investigator, attended community college and was a credit shy of an associate's degree in criminal justice but was kicked out of school because he posed a danger to the campus, according to family sources."

That would be rejected as implausible in a screenplay.
posted by jaduncan at 5:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


If anyone wants to to take a break and listen to some compelling (and timely) interviews from Almost 50 years ago, here's Audio recordings of 1964 interviews with Civil Rights activists posted by Kattullus about a week and a half ago. On the other hand, it's also a sad record of the effort it took to get us this far (although, to be fair, there are forces pushing back the other direction, too).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:16 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, Hispanic is a designation based upon people who speak Spanish.

My point still stands.

Language is generally confined to arbitrary geography or country borders. I'm thinking your statement more supports than discredits mine.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:17 PM on July 14, 2013


Right, but my poorly-articulated point was that it has nothing to do with skin color.
posted by elizardbits at 5:18 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems to me like a good response to this deplorable incident would be to put some structure around neighborhood watches

Zimmerman was not a member of any neighborhood watch, he was basically just a wandering troublemaker.
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I live right by the projects full of black men who don't have a lot of money and wear urban gear and whatnot and I feel safer around them and any NYPD than any George Zimmermans.

Yeah really, do people have any say in who is "volunteering" to "watch" their neighborhood. At least the police are truly a public service that in someway answer to their constituents. I think Zimmerman is a prime example that there are people who would volunteer to arm themselves and "watch" my neighborhood who are the last people on the planet I would want to have do that.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think if there's one thing that is clear about this case, it's that there are no undisputed facts.
posted by corb at 5:40 PM on July 14 [+] [!]
I can't tell if you're being hyperbolic or actually believe that, either way you're being deliberately obtuse.

Of course there are undisputed facts in this case. The ones I listed were agreed on by both Zimmerman's team and the prosecution, they are undisputed. The other undisputed fact is that Zimmerman shot Martin and Martin died from that gunshot wound. Again, both Zimmerman's defense team and the prosecution are in full agreement about that, therefore those facts are undisputed.

Zimmerman never denied that he shot Martin. Zimmerman never denied that he followed Martin. Zimmerman never denied that on the night in question he armed himself and went "patroling" in a neighborhood looking for "suspects". Therefore those facts are, by definition, undisputed.

In fact the only dispute centers entirely around what happened after Zimmerman left his vehicle. Zimmerman claims he left to peaceably look at a street sign and that Martin lunged out of nowhere to attack him. The prosecution contend that Zimmerman left his vehicle to pursue Martin on foot (as the 911 transcript would seem to indicate) and from there attacked Martin. That is pretty much the only important factual dispute.
posted by sotonohito at 5:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


A different way of putting my sarcastic point, to clarify for phaedon's benefit and perhaps to provide some guidance on reading for context, which really can greatly enhance one's "critical thinking" skills, is that giving the jury the benefit of the doubt for giving Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt for fearing Trayvon Martin enough to drop him with a fucking 9 is exactly the same as giving corb's analogy to her fear of nyc the benefit of the doubt cuz hey, everybody agrees black guys are scary, right? It's only natural!

That's the fundamental point. The whole structure if the discussion s racist. That's what's wrong here. Trayvon was convicted of murdering himself, poor Zimmerman had to suffer the fear and trauma of killing him, that hero!

The jury played their part in a racist show. You can call it law, but you can't call it justice.

Bruce Springsteen: "American Skin."
posted by spitbull at 5:24 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Artw, my understanding is that the police were aware of what he was doing in terms of playing watchman. Maybe I'm wrong on that. In any case, I think making what should have happened in these circumstances explicit is important in general but particularly as a response to the legitimate concern that this verdict provides cover for people to shoot first and claim neighborhood watch later.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:28 PM on July 14, 2013


if I heard a 911 dispatcher say "You don't need to do that" in such a situation, I would personally interpret it as the 911 dispatcher being concerned for my safety, not anything else, and certainly not that authorities would prefer I did not do it.

Really? That's funny. I would interpret that statement as something a little closer to, "Hey, you don't need to do that, because you're not a cop and you don't have the right to be chasing people down and attacking them, and you getting involved will make everything messier for the actual cops when they're trying to do their job."

But then, I'm not a paranoid vigilante.
posted by palomar at 5:31 PM on July 14, 2013 [34 favorites]


That would be rejected as implausible in a screenplay

I think we have the basis to (what's the word they are using nowadays... Retread, rework, er.... rejump...?) REBOOT! the Police Academy series!


He was an outcast real estate investagator with big dreams, kicked out of school for being a lone gun....

OK, OK sorry, perhaps a bit too soon, but the absurdity struck me.
posted by edgeways at 5:32 PM on July 14, 2013


"Zimmerman, an insurance investigator, attended community college and was a credit shy of an associate's degree in criminal justice but was kicked out of school because he posed a danger to the campus, according to family sources."

That would be rejected as implausible in a screenplay.


He was expelled in March 2012 because the shooting became national news.
posted by riruro at 5:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


The jury were not stupid. What they were was authoritarian. They were given very specific instructions, which they obediently followed. A week before closing people who knew the law, including some more sympathetic to TM than GZ, were warning us that the prosecution was doing a crap job according to the letter of the law. Basically their big strategy was a huge hail mary hoping for an emotion-driven jury nullification of what the law very plainly told them to do. And they didn't go for it.

The big problem here is the law which reverses the burden of proof in a situation where someone has admitted to murder but goes "OH NOES I WAS SOOOOO SCARED." The prosecution shouldn't have the burden of proving GZ wasn't scared, which it did, and that's a very hard standard to meet. GZ should have had the burden of proving that he offed a person for a damn good reason. But GZ didn't have to prove he committed murder for a good reason. He only had to raise a reasonable doubt that there WASN'T a good reason. Which the defense did adequately.

You really don't want to set a precedent for juries ignoring the law, as that leads to things like KKK ringleaders getting acquitted. What you want is laws that aren't asinine.

The law in Florida is asinine. I blame ALEC.
posted by localroger at 5:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yes generally when you cal 911 they tell you exactly what to do for the benefit of everyone's safety, including the police/fire/emts they are sending should they send those.
posted by sweetkid at 5:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh, god, now zimmerman says he wants to be a lawyer to "help other people like me"

he is just pink clouding - the I Cant-Believe-I-Freaking-Got-Away-With-It edition.

Give it a week and he will be all about monetizing his plight as the Misunderstood, Yet Well Meaning Societal Avenger to the highest bidder.

In other news, a kid who shouldn't be dead is still dead.
posted by lampshade at 5:34 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Trayvon, the Ordinary…
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:38 PM on July 14, 2013


The law in Florida is asinine. Self-defense is the same in all states except Ohio.

Despite what you think of this case, I can't imagine why anyone would want to give that right up.
posted by snaparapans at 5:42 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


let me just make sure I understand what has happened because it doesn't make sense. which i'm guessing is the problem.

the jury had to believe that Zimmerman felt he was in actual danger in order to find him not guilty.

were they allowed to take into account that he pursued Martin for no rational reason and put himself in "danger"?

I keep reading the jury instructions and I just cannot see how they felt Zimmerman was not doing something "unlawful". isn't following someone the way he was Martin considering stalking or something?

I don't see anything in the jury instructions about Zimmerman's actions that led to the situation and that confuses me. I really don't understand why the entire context of the situation is left out of the jury instructions and it just focuses on whether or not he felt threatened, but not that if you take one step back, he was the one doing the threatening.

is this normal is jury instructions, to have them to not look at the whole picture like this?
posted by sio42 at 5:43 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


fwiw, y'all, corb is latina, and I'm pretty sure that her point about "keeping an eye out in her neighborhood" is because the cops routinely avoid protecting residents of majority-minority neighborhoods, NOT because she feels she needs protecting from the other residents.
posted by KathrynT at 5:43 PM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


snaparapens, in most states self defense is an affirmative defense where, even if you do not have the burden of proof, you at least have to show a preponderance of evidence that you really had cause to kill your attacker. Florida (and recently, thanks to god help us a constitutional amendment, Louisiana) put the burden of proof on the prosecution to show that your self-defense claim isn't bullshit. That is not 49 states.
posted by localroger at 5:47 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to add to the context for some, let me tell you about why the events in this case hit home for a lot of us.

As black teens growing up, many of us did this as a ritual. We got up from what we were doing and went to the neighborhood store and bought ridiculously sugary drinks, candy bars, "penny candy" like Now & Laters and other little hard candies that were in jars.

My thing was Tahitian Treat and those orange Hostess cupcakes in the plastic container. I would play a game or two of Dig-Dug or watch someone else. They only had one arcade game machine in the store, which was about the size of a couple of closets. Later when I was Trayvon's age, I'd get those little milk-sized cartons of "fruit juice" and a Twix on my way to and from playing street football.

This is what we did as black teens. Routinely. Like every day. Go to the store to buy a sugary drink, and candy. Sugary drink, candy. You can see it in movies like "Friday". It probably happened in Fat Albert episodes. That is what many black boys and girls did as kids. It was a complete ritual. Play Spades, play football, ride bikes, go to "the store".

So when you see something like this not only do you identify with the idea of going to a store for a drink and some candy, but imagining you could wind up shot dead in the chest after that is an especially horrifying recontextualization of what is a cherished and shared childhood memory for many.

And then to imagine that nothing would happen to the person who killed you is like reaching into your past and replacing your fond memories with nightmares. That is the most idyllic time many of us can remember, full of sunny days and fun times with friends you haven't seen since you were an innocent kid. So that sense of deep hurt and bewilderment that you see? This is part of it. It hits many of us at our core. It crushes us in the present and the past.
posted by cashman at 5:49 PM on July 14, 2013 [119 favorites]


the jury had to believe that Zimmerman felt he was in actual danger in order to find him not guilty.

In order to convict, the jury had to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not feel he was in danger. This is not the standard for self defense in most states, and it's an extremely difficult hurdle for a prosecution to overcome. The prosecution was clearly hoping that the jurors' common sense would prevail, but instead the authoritarian ritual of the trial itself prevailed and the law was applied as written.
posted by localroger at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's reasonable to have a different set of self-defense rights and responsibilities if you volunteer as a neighborhood watchman, to go literally seeking out trouble, than you do as a normal person out and about on an evening stroll.

One of the many things that makes this case difficult to discuss is that it mixes the issue of whether it's okay for a person to put themselves in the situation Zimmerman put himself in in the first place with the issue of the outcome of that situation, the death of Trayvon Martin. Personally, I don't want amateur cops out there trying to make citizen's arrests. I think their duty should be to get somewhere safe and wait for the professionals to arrive. I think Zimmerman volunteered to step out of that car and should've been held to a higher standard of behavior and judgment as a consequence of that volunteerism, as laudable as it may be in the abstract.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


localroger, self-defense is an affirmative defense in all states, but the bar is very low, once that bar is met by the defendant, the burden shifts to the state. This is true in all states except Ohio where the burden of proof remains with the defendant.
posted by snaparapans at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Volunteering to watch his neighborhood, just like the Crips, the Mafia, and the KKK.

What made it Zimmerman's neighborhood more than Trayvon's? Black people aren't supposed to be visible there after dark is what.
posted by spitbull at 5:58 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


snaparapens I have been told by a Louisiana attorney that while it is called an "affirmative defense" in all states that the height of that bar varies greatly, and that it is particularly low in states like Florida and now Louisiana due to laws designed to grease the rails for gun ownership. He was quite insistent that the outcome would have been different in most states. But then, IWNTL and maybe I was misinformed. But I think this would end up being a national wake-up call if what you say is true.

Yes, I do think there should be a right to self defense. But I think you should have to make a damn good case for yourself if you are holding the gun and there's a cooling body and there's nobody to tell the tale but you.
posted by localroger at 6:00 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


P.S. This guy was one of the ones who lamented that the prosecution was doing a crap job, etc. and that GZ was going to get off despite all the obvious reasons he shouldn't, a week before closing arguments.
posted by localroger at 6:03 PM on July 14, 2013


One of the many things that makes this case difficult to discuss is that it mixes the issue of whether it's okay for a person to put themselves in the situation Zimmerman put himself in in the first place with the issue of the outcome of that situation.

I am pretty sure the huge issue here is that the ALEC-backed Stand Your Ground and similar self defense laws they've back are are designed specifically to make this okay.

This has been covered for a while. Said outcome is a feature, not a bug.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


localroger, IANAL either, but I did some research, and yes Florida's SYG is only in a few states, but NY for instance has the similar language as Fl when it comes to self-defense as justifiable homicide.
posted by snaparapans at 6:06 PM on July 14, 2013


The story of race in America revolves around a whole horrible chain of incidents locked together one by one with no sign of it stopping. It's not so much this one case, I think, awful as it is, but the the sorry spectacle of yet another horrible miscarriage of justice. Because there are way too many people who have seen this happen to them and theirs over and over again. It's not the one incident, it's the weight of that fucking awful chain.

I think that's what so interesting about this story, basically, what it exposes. I mean, another story of race in America (and this is referred to in the Moyers piece I linked to earlier) is that we had a civil rights movement that was successful, African-Americans attending the best universities and going on to become lawyers and CEO's of large corporations, a multitude of tales of individual African-Americans success, even a black president. We can marvel at the progress.

I defer to the jury only in the sense that I willingly believe that they took more time out of their lives to focus exclusively on the details surrounding the case, without prejudice. Do I think the jury was biased? Not really. Could I be proven wrong? Fine, but make a good case for it, don't offend my willingness to get the bottom of this by casting aspersions.

But at the end of the day, Zimmerman's actual guilt in the eyes of God is secondary to the underlying message that this case gives credence to. That in our society, the life of a black man is not worth as much as the next man's. That even under the equal eyes of the law, involving people with the best possible intentions, men of color will weather a particular form of brutality on the streets, and in the courtroom, their assailants will walk free.

This is what I think people either connect with or are trying to hide under the rug. A chain of events that seems to have been triggered, rather uncontroversially, by an African-American teenager walking down the street.

And this does in fact bring us back to some of the problems we faced in 1967-68 when Martin Luther King gave his "Two Americas" speech and was assassinated shortly thereafter. The spectacle distracts us from the fact that, even though we can't be sure what happened that night, we do continue to systematically lock poor people of color into an inferior second-class status for life. Mass imprisonment, mass incarceration, mass underemployment.

So let me provide you a better quote from the Moyers interview I linked to earlier:

"MICHELLE ALEXANDER: McClesky versus Kemp has immunized the criminal justice system from judicial scrutiny for racial bias. It has made it virtually impossible to challenge any aspect, criminal justice process, for racial bias in the absence of proof of intentional discrimination, conscious, deliberate bias. Now, that's the very type of evidence that is nearly impossible to come by today.

When people know not to say, "The reason I stopped him was because he was black. The reason I sought the death penalty was because he was black." People know better than to say that the reason they are, you know, recommending higher sentences or harsher punishment for someone was because of their race.

So, evidence of conscious intentional bias is almost impossible to come by in the absence of some kind of admission. But the U.S. Supreme Court has said that the courthouse doors are closed to claims of racial bias in the absence of that kind of evidence, which has really immunized the entire criminal justice system from judicial and to a large extent public scrutiny of the severe racial disparities and forms of racial discrimination that go on every day unchecked by our courts and our legal process. "
posted by phaedon at 6:08 PM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


And, I believe that concealed weapons are allowed in most if not all states..
posted by snaparapans at 6:09 PM on July 14, 2013


snaparapens we in Louisiana were told after it was too late that obscure things like "which standard is applied" are extremely important and often don't show up in the overt language of what a law is making illegal. Louisiana's recent constitutional amendment didn't overtly create a SYG law, but it did reverse the burden of proof in a Floridian way in self-defense situations, creating what numerous onlookers called a "wild west" situation. (Mississippi has recently followed suit but with a state law.) These shadow attacks shifting the burden of proof are I have been told more dangerous than overt changes to the letter of the law because most people don't realize how important they are.
posted by localroger at 6:12 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what I think people either connect with or are trying to hide under the rug. A chain of events that seems to have been triggered, rather uncontroversially, by an African-American teenager walking down the street.

I would suggest it was triggered by a man who was hoped up on racial paranoia deciding to "patrol his neighborhood." That, and his ability to arm himself, was the catalyst, not Martin's trip to the store, which, you know, one should expect to be able to do.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Amazing.
posted by sweetkid at 6:18 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


localroger, from Volokh
Who should bear the burden of proving or disproving self-defense in criminal cases, and by what quantum (preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt), is an interesting question. But on this point, Florida law is precisely the same as in nearly all other states: In 49 of the 50 states, once the defense introducing any evidence of possible self-defense, the prosecution must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

This wasn’t always the rule. The English common law rule at the time of the Framing was that the defense must prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, and Ohio still follows that rule; the Supreme Court has held (Martin v. Ohio (1987)) that placing this burden on the accused is constitutional. But to my knowledge, only Ohio still takes the view — all the other states do not.
posted by snaparapans at 6:19 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


""Zimmerman, an insurance investigator, attended community college and was a credit shy of an associate's degree in criminal justice but was kicked out of school because he posed a danger to the campus, according to family sources."

That would be rejected as implausible in a screenplay.
"

Fight Club 2
posted by klangklangston at 6:20 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK snaparapans I will have to buttonhole my lawyer friend with this and see what he says. Meanwhile, if that's the case, it is fucked up and I wonder how much it would cost to move to Ohio.
posted by localroger at 6:21 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


localroger, this case did not use SYG, just standard self-defense:

Your friend may be referring to SYG laws recently enacted. These states have SYG:

Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas. Utah
posted by snaparapans at 6:25 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


snap, I understand GZ didn't use SYG. I was told that self defense is applied differently in most states. Like I said, not being a lawyer I'll have to ask the lawyer about it next time I see him. Unfortunately, that will probably be next month.
posted by localroger at 6:28 PM on July 14, 2013


[Deleted Park Slope derail. Come on, guys. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 6:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sotonohito: you must have seen a different trial than I or apparently the jurors then. Your description appears to contain less falsehoods than many others here, which I guess is something. You claim that it's undisputed that George Zimmerman was out looking for suspicious people, whereas several witnesses testified that he went to the store every Sunday night and that's what he was doing at the time. As for the rest, George Zimmerman's accounts are indeed the only eyewitness testimony regarding how the actual physical confrontation began. However, his multiple accounts were all sufficiently consistent with each other and with all the evidence that was ultimately uncovered, to which he had no access at the time of at least his initial statements. The prosecution offered nothing to contest that George Zimmerman was the one with all the physical injuries (apart from the gun shot wound and abrasions on Trayvon Martin's knuckles), and that the clothing showed traces of George Zimmerman being on his back on the ground but Trayvon Martin's being on his knees. Rachel Jeantel testified that she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin at the time he again came into contact with George Zimmerman, and even if you believe everything she said she mentioned nothing to suggest that George Zimmerman initiated an attack either physically or with his gun.


"You can imagine quite a lot, apparently based on bunch of ignorance and straight-up racist privilege bullshit."

I was putting forth an account most consistent with George Zimmerman's guilt that was still plausible based on the evidence at trial. Your repeated falsehoods here I think say everything anyone needs to know about you. I'm so sorry that you did not get the hanging that you so desperately wanted, but I guess the jury decided the case for what it was and not based on your generalized notions of justice, which you cheapen with every lie you utter.
posted by cheburashka at 6:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, if that's the case, it is fucked up and I wonder how much it would cost to move to Ohio.

I don't know localroger, Ohio, sounds like the last place you would want to be in a situation where you had to defend yourself and something bad happened (death). I think that the burden of proof for self-defense is best for the state to deal with, they are well funded and quite powerful, compared to most or all defendants.
posted by snaparapans at 6:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry that you did not get the hanging that you so desperately wanted

Do you not know the charged history of "hanging" in racial terms or
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on July 14, 2013 [29 favorites]


Ohio, sounds like the last place you would want to be in a situation where you had to defend yourself and something bad happened (death)

This is not a situation likely to apply to me as I don't carry a gun and have generally relied on other strategies to stay safe, including the years I lived in a really, really crappy suburban neighborhood where the previous tenant in the house I was renting had been a crack dealer. I can say from experience that even being the funky white couple in the bad mostly black neighborhood doesn't protect you from the negative attention of the police. You may not be what you eat, but you sure as hell are where you live.

But in that neighborhood I felt perfectly safe walking to the convenience store at 2 AM, once we were known as the funky white couple who belonged there.

Horrible as they usually are, the police at least have rules they're supposed to follow and consequences which occasionally fall when they screw up. I am much more bothered by the spectacle of an asshat like Zimmerman walking than I am by the possibility that I might be Zimmerman one day, because I will never be Zimmerman, because I am not enough of a self-important asshole to murder a kid because he's kicking my shit in a fight I picked.
posted by localroger at 6:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


localroger, cleveland and new orleans are amongst the 10 most deadliest cities. I do not see the sense in moving to Ohio, at least for the reasons you give.
posted by snaparapans at 6:55 PM on July 14, 2013


Considering that I already live in New Orleans, how would moving to Ohio be a step down?
posted by localroger at 7:00 PM on July 14, 2013


Considering that I already live in New Orleans

For some reason I had a strong impression you lived in London. I have no idea why.
posted by jaduncan at 7:01 PM on July 14, 2013


I had a strong impression you lived in London

Wow, on the internet no one knows you're whatever. London? I wonder myself where that came from.
posted by localroger at 7:04 PM on July 14, 2013


jollyroger? pip pip cheerio? (I have an uncle who says that for real)
posted by sweetkid at 7:06 PM on July 14, 2013


Just don't look "Roger" up in a meaning-of-names book. Hint: Unlike most names, which have male and female versions, there is no female version of "Roger."
posted by localroger at 7:07 PM on July 14, 2013


Just don't look "Roger" up in a meaning-of-names book.

just did that obvi
posted by sweetkid at 7:10 PM on July 14, 2013


"famous with the spear."?
posted by edgeways at 7:11 PM on July 14, 2013


Roger, Roger.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2013


famous with the spear.

I spent a decade wondering why Dad's Webster's Collegiate Dictionary said "skilled with the spear" until finally I saw the movie White Mischief.

Key line: "He rogered her right there on the football field."
posted by localroger at 7:15 PM on July 14, 2013


And I have apparently rogered this thread with a roger-sized derail.
posted by localroger at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Roger.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:19 PM on July 14, 2013


I guess it's good to have a little levity in a thread devoted to something tragic and awful. Maybe even a large, throbbing, erect levity.
posted by localroger at 7:24 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Perhaps it's a useful way for the media to distract readers from the less-reported fact that none [one the jury] were African-American (while still suggesting legitimacy of the outcome).

I don't think I've seen anyone make the connection between the push to disenfranchise brown and black voters and the direct impact that will have on all potential future jury pools. You're going to see a lot more all-white juries if only white people can vote (or register to vote.)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:26 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Roger.

Over.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:27 PM on July 14, 2013


Room 641-B - I don't think there's a correlation between being a registered voter and being called for jury duty.

Unless that varies from state to state.
posted by sio42 at 7:31 PM on July 14, 2013


There is in NY.
posted by elizardbits at 7:33 PM on July 14, 2013


Room 641-B - I don't think there's a correlation between being a registered voter and being called for jury duty.


Maybe, but I've never heard of a place where the jury pool didn't come from the voter rolls.
posted by spaltavian at 7:34 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


sio42 in many, if not most states jurors are called from the voter rolls. If you don't vote there is no chance you will be called as a juror.

This has been recognized as a problem and in some jurisdictions it's different now but I think most places it's still the standard way of doing things.
posted by localroger at 7:35 PM on July 14, 2013


I am more and more convinced that it takes an incredible amount of strength to grow to adulthood in the US for a black child.

For a short while, in the early seventies, I thought that the race problems were being solved. My hope was renewed in 2008, but I'm giving up now. Not in my lifetime.
posted by francesca too at 7:35 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whether Zimmerman followed Martin because he was black is irrelevant. If Martin sucker punched Zimmerman, that's the point of aggression for me, and evidence seems sufficient that he was pretty much kicking the crap out of Zimmerman and banging his head into the sidewalk, it's not unreasonable to think that Zimmerman used the gun in fear for his life.

Look, when you get into a fight as an adult, that's serious because you don't if the guy pouncing on you has any boundaries, will eventually stop, or just won't stop until he puts you in a coma. All you know is that the other guy wants to cause physical damage.

This case is just fraught with too many unknowns. Opinions are extremely divisive because there's a disconnect in what people see as the point of aggression. Is it the point where Zimmerman gets out of his car and follows Martin, or is it the point where Martin initiates the physical assault? I think it's the latter. And the defendant should ALWAYS get the benefit of reasonable doubt.
posted by savvysearch at 7:36 PM on July 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


evidence seems sufficient that he was pretty much kicking the crap out of Zimmerman and banging his head into the sidewalk

Can you indicate which evidence you are referring to?
posted by palomar at 7:38 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Savvysearch: And the defendant should ALWAYS get the benefit of reasonable doubt.

Yeah, except the part where the other guy is dead. How does he get the benefit of reasonable doubt?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/04/23/good-question-how-do-you-get-picked-for-jury-duty/


And some other quick googling says it's a combined list of taxpayers, driver's license records, people who've received unemployment, as well as voter lists. So it's not only registered voters.

Not trying to derail, just wanted to make sure we had the right info about it.
posted by sio42 at 7:40 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, to be more specific I said NY does it that way because the last time I had jury duty I asked how they found my new address so fast, since I hadn't updated my driver's license info, and the guy I was talking to said it was from my updated voter registration.
posted by elizardbits at 7:41 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


sio: definitely depends on the state, though. Many do use only voter rolls, AFAIK.
posted by thegears at 7:41 PM on July 14, 2013


" the point of aggression. Is it the point where Zimmerman gets out of his car and follows Martin, or is it the point where Martin initiates the physical assault?"

How do we know Martin initiated it? And if he did, why was he an agressor rather than standing his ground because he was afraid for his life because a strange man with a gun was following him and then confronted him?
posted by sio42 at 7:43 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


cleveland and new orleans are amongst the 10 most deadliest cities.

Well, according to this article from Business Insider, (info sourced from the FBI's unverified 2012 crime report), Cleveland had 21 murders per 100,000, while New Orleans had 53 per 100,000.

So theoretically localroger could reduce his chance of being murdered by more than half if he came up here to the Mistake On The Lake.

Of course, in the real world, I'm, like, 110% certain localroger isn't a black man under 30, so his chance of being murdered no matter where he lives is pretty damn slim.

Also I wish people would shut up about Ohio being the only place without a Dirty-Harry-fantasy-based approach to claims of self-defense - because the more you mention it, the more likely it is that someone from our batshit-insane group of right-wing nutjobs in the State House will notice and decide that's the next thing they've gotta "fix."
posted by soundguy99 at 7:44 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


evidence seems sufficient that he was pretty much kicking the crap out of Zimmerman and banging his head into the sidewalk

Can you indicate which evidence you are referring to?

The pictures of profuse bleeding from the back of his head. Police account of blood from his nose and lips.
posted by savvysearch at 7:49 PM on July 14, 2013


The more I'm looking at what happened in the courtroom vs. other sources of information, the clearer it is the Prosecutor was NOT playing to win. They pretty much conceded Zimmerman's description of events despite a LOT of contradictory evidence. (How the hell does a guy pull a gun tucked in the back of his pants when he's on his back getting beat up?)

And don't forget how Martin's body was found by police on his back several feet from the sidewalk. If he was over Zimmerman facing downward, that gun must have the kick of a cannon...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


savvysearch; first of all, none of that indicates Martin started the fight. How can you possibly argue that's proof Martin initiated the fight? Seriously, answer that question.

Secondly, we can see the pictures too, and calling it "profuse" bleeding is a lie. It's a couple scrapes with dried blood. The Medical Examiner said the injuries were "insignificant".

Let me repeat that: The medical examiner said they were insignificant, and could have been caused by one hit. Look at the pictures; it looks like his head was scrapped against pavement hard. They were not caused by severe blows.

Finally, Martin wasn't arrested that day, so we really don't know those "injuries" are from any fight.

Please try to approach this honestly.
posted by spaltavian at 7:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


And how does this mean that Trayvon Martin was NOT defending himself against a strange man with a gun who was following him and confronting him?
posted by sio42 at 7:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry that was to savvysearch.
posted by sio42 at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2013


How do we know Martin initiated it? And if he did, why was he an aggressor rather than standing his ground because he was afraid for his life because a strange man with a gun was following him and then confronted him?

This. I've been pointing this out since I first heard about the case, and I can't believe how people are overlooking such an obvious hypocrisy. If a large, angry man is stalking you with a gun, and you punch them in self-defense, isn't that standing your ground? Of course if the large man shoots you after you punch him, that's also self-defense... which is why this kind of stand-your-ground law is so absurd.
posted by Green Winnebago at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]



Savvysearch: And the defendant should ALWAYS get the benefit of reasonable doubt.

Yeah, except the part where the other guy is dead. How does he get the benefit of reasonable doubt?


No. I stand by what I said. Even if the other guy is dead, the person on trial should always get the benefit of reasonable doubt. Someone potentially getting off for a crime he committed is much less morally severe than sending a potentially innocent person to jail. In this case, there's too many unknown, too much reliance on whether or not you believe Zimmerman is telling the truth, but not much evidence to contest or support it.
posted by savvysearch at 7:55 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And don't forget how Martin's body was found by police on his back several feet from the sidewalk

Because this isn't true. Come on guys, if you're going to criticize what happened at least get the facts correct.
posted by Justinian at 7:56 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And yet, none of Zimmerman's DNA was found on Trayvon Martin's hands or under his nails. If Martin grabbed Zimmerman's head and bashed it into the sidewalk, and punched Zimmerman in the face hard enough to draw blood, some of Zimmerman's DNA should have been present on Martin's hands. It wasn't.

And were those pictures of Zimmerman taken immediately after the shooting? Or was it several hours later, after he'd been allowed to go home and then return to the police station to give a statement?
posted by palomar at 7:56 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


too much reliance on whether or not you believe Zimmerman is telling the truth,

A lot of trials hinge on this, actually, and plenty of people go to jail because the defense's entire story isn't credible. I have no problem believing the prosecution's conception of events, even if I'm willing to accept that the peculiarities of Florida law allow Zimmerman to walk and judging Zimmerman based on that.
posted by deanc at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2013


savysearch, you actually said those so-called injuries were evidence of Martin starting the fight. Again, I ask you, how is that so?
posted by spaltavian at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2013


Come on guys, if you're going to criticize what happened at least get the facts correct

Oh, yeah, here he is on the sidewalk... (trigger warning: dead)

I said I was not limiting myself to what the Prosecution put into testimony, because they weren't really trying to get a conviction.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:05 PM on July 14, 2013


Because this isn't true.

In light of the above photo, what is your assertion based on?
posted by spaltavian at 8:07 PM on July 14, 2013


The idea that this is the extent of what happens when your head is bashed into concrete for a minute seems... implausible.
posted by Flunkie at 8:07 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, exactly. I've had more serious injuries requiring more medical attention from falling out of bed due to a Meniere's attack.
posted by elizardbits at 8:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fact that Martin was found face down and turned over when Sgt. Raimondo attempted to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation, spaltavian?
posted by Justinian at 8:09 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That pic of GZ's head injuries looks like he got in a fight with some brambles or a really mad cat.

I watch UFC. When those get wailed on while down on their backs, they look like they got wailed on.
posted by sio42 at 8:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This. I've been pointing this out since I first heard about the case, and I can't believe how people are overlooking such an obvious hypocrisy. If a large, angry man is stalking you with a gun, and you punch them in self-defense, isn't that standing your ground? Of course if the large man shoots you after you punch him, that's also self-defense... which is why this kind of stand-your-ground law is so absurd.

No one is overlooking it. It's just irrelevant to the case because it's not about whether Martin had a defense or reason to punch him. That's an entirely different issue. Had Martin put Zimmerman in a coma out of fear for his safety, I'd consider that would probably be defendable as well. But it's Zimmerman who is on trial, and it's reasonable to believe that he felt his life was in jeopardy during that fight, whether real or perceived.
posted by savvysearch at 8:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


On Trayvon Martin and Fear. "..the mother of a 17-year old black boy worried that the solution was teaching our sons “how to behave like the slavery/Jim Crow eras. Stop when stalked. Cooperate, don’t talk back, keep eyes downcast, keep hands visible, apologize, carry ID, never ever state your right to do what you had the right to do.” I categorically reject that we have to teach our sons to act like slaves to keep them safe.

Apparently protestors on the 10 are being shot at with rubber bullets by LAPD according to numerous Twitter accounts.

About a dozen arrested in NYC march.

Seattle march getting underway.

Other Twitter stuff:

@jordanbks all these folks who don't see race... They'd see my black ass strolling through their very nice neighborhood every time

@NFLGoodwitch When a racist tells u to go back to Africa, I wonder if they have a particular country in mind.

@ZulaQi Black people don't look for racism. We are minding our own business trying to live and your racism finds us. We'd love some breathing time.

posted by emjaybee at 8:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Giving him mouth to mouth required moving him several feet? I genuinely don't understand. Someone said he was a few feet from the sidewalk; was the only part you objected to was the "on his back" part?
posted by spaltavian at 8:16 PM on July 14, 2013


Er, it seems like if your comment is "on his back a few feet from the sidewalk" then "on his back" is half the statement? But okay, sure, that was the only part that was incorrect so far as I am aware.
posted by Justinian at 8:17 PM on July 14, 2013




But... there are seven...

must have caught one of the alternates.
posted by Justinian at 8:22 PM on July 14, 2013


Zimmerman, because I am not enough of a self-important asshole to murder a kid because he's kicking my shit in a fight I picked.

Yeah, I'll say right here that if I was a CCW I'd just be incredibly cautious about getting in situations with a potential for violence.

I used to be a soldier, and wouldn't have pursued specific people around Northern Ireland - as much as it would have been my legal right to do so and occasionally even a sanctioned action - and thought that if the teenage kids I was threw a petrol bomb at me for it and I shot them that I would have done anything but created a situation where I was pretty much culpable for the deaths of those kids. The duty of the administration of force is to do everything possible to avoid the need to use that force against people, even if the alternative is moderately serious injury.

Being an armed authority figure comes with a lot of responsibility, and a lot of that is avoiding situations but noting faces for future reference. I can't quite fathom wanting the power without a well-defined social role; it just means that any confrontation is unpredictable for all parties because of the lack of shared understanding and should be avoided at all cost because of the risk of serious injury or death for everyone involved.
posted by jaduncan at 8:23 PM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I stand corrected about the "on his back", but the scenario of what happened AFTER the shot was fired still strains my suspension of disbelief. If Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman when shot, did he get up and do a full death scene or did Zimmerman push him off then roll him over a couple times so he couldn't see his dead stare?
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:24 PM on July 14, 2013


Regardless of how anyone feels about the trial verdict, I really, really hope no one goes after these women.
posted by corb at 8:25 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: The defense's scenario is that Martin fell forward after Zimmerman shot him and Zimmerman checked his hands for weapons, then got up and moved away, and then Martin pulled his arms inward. The prosecution doesn't have a clear scenario beyond "nuh-uh" which was part of the problem with getting any kind of verdict.
posted by Justinian at 8:28 PM on July 14, 2013


corb: "Regardless of how anyone feels about the trial verdict, I really, really hope no one goes after these women."

But what if it's just a group of concerned, responsible gun owners who just follow them around to make sure they're not up to no good? Would that be okay?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [39 favorites]


did anyone go after the Casey Anthony Jurors?
posted by sweetkid at 8:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has there ever been a case of anyone going after jurors post-verdict in any kind of high profile case? I can't think of a single one. Seems like a weird thing to worry about.
posted by Justinian at 8:29 PM on July 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Can we ignore the continuous fearmongering? It's pretty tasteless.
posted by palomar at 8:30 PM on July 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


The prosecution doesn't have a clear scenario beyond "nuh-uh" which was part of the problem with getting any kind of verdict.

...which is just more evidence that the Prosecution wasn't even trying...

I was on a jury in a murder trial once. The Prosecution should ALWAYS spell out its version of events. (Of course, in my case, it was a crappy version... but they got a hung jury and a conviction the second try... it was a white guy who got shot, of course)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:32 PM on July 14, 2013


Seems like a weird thing to worry about.

Not if you wanted to divert attention by creating innocent victims and whip up paranoia about racial violence-- the same sort of paranoia that drove Zimmerman to stalk and kill.
posted by deanc at 8:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Whether Zimmerman followed Martin because he was black is irrelevant.

I guess there are two issues. Are the existing self defense laws in Florida just and sane? And was Zimmerman guilty based on Florida law as is?

IMO, if someone is going to carry a gun and use it to kill someone, then he should show there was a need to use it before he can be declared not guilty of manslaughter. That hasn't happened in this case. We really don't know what happened, but it seems clear that Zimmerman had a dangerous, criminal personality. It should not be legal for someone with Zimmerman's criminal history to be carrying a concealed handgun to begin with. And it should not be legal for adult males to follow around teenage boys simply *because they are black*.

As regards Florida law as it is written, it seems to me Zimmerman could have been convicted of manslaughter, or if not that should have been convicted of a lesser offense but IANAL.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:34 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


there's an about 17-year-old black kid on my block who waves when he's with his friends and I always wave back a bit shyly - I just don't really know what to say, I'm like twice his age, I don't know if he thinks I'm snobby because I live in a nicer building and not in the projects or whatever, or that I'm shy, but he's not threatening at all, it's just tiring to go through the gauntlet of "this guy's ok" " that guy's aggressive" etc etc.

Once I was walking home late at night and one guy started giving me all this hassle - "hey beautiful, where you goin beautiful etc" and the kid was outside and was like, "hey, leave her alone she's my friend! I know she never talks and she's pretty but let her do what she's doing and chill, ok?"

Sweet 17 year old black kid in a hoodie, hanging out outside the deli because where else is there to go., Spoke up for me when a lot of people wouldn't.
posted by sweetkid at 8:35 PM on July 14, 2013 [84 favorites]


Has there ever been a case of anyone going after jurors post-verdict in any kind of high profile case? I can't think of a single one. Seems like a weird thing to worry about.

Violence-wise, I can't think so. But in terms of harassment, I think people have. Personally, I found the faked photos of the jurors tasteless, and I just hope this doesn't herald the dawning of new mockery/harassment targets. I hope these women can go back to their lives peacefully, without people giving them grief over their verdict. (Which honestly, no one knows anything about. It could have been one woman who held out for acquittal for al anyone knows)
posted by corb at 8:37 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


ugh, horrifying. I can't believe this verdict, though I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. This whole process has been a referendum on whether or not people of color are allowed to exist freely in public space, and the answer apparently is no.
posted by threeants at 8:38 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll reserve my post-trial fallout concerns for the very real pain Martin's family is going through; not some imagined hypothetical about jury harassment.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:42 PM on July 14, 2013 [31 favorites]


Amazing that everyone proclaimed that the system was working when the charges were filed and when the jury was listening to the trial...but after the jury heard the evidence and made a decision now the system is broken and it's not justice...just damn ironic, it seems.
posted by OhSusannah at 8:52 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't been following this trial, but from what I understand there was no evidence that Zimmerman was a racist, or that his crime was racially motivated. Therefore to my mind he cannot be convicted of a hate crime. For me, the case then becomes about whether his action was legal and justifiable. Assuming the jury wasn't racist, I assume this is what they ruled according to Florida law.

Is Florida's law f-ed up? I think so. Did Zimmerman use too much force to "defend" himself? Yup for me on that one too.

So in the end it doesn't matter what color the kid was to me -- Zimmerman still should've been convicted of some kind of manslaughter.
posted by nowhere man at 8:52 PM on July 14, 2013


"Yeah, I'll say right here that if I was a CCW I'd just be incredibly cautious about getting in situations with a potential for violence. ..."
posted by jaduncan at 11:23 PM on July 14

You raise a couple of good points, jaduncan, and I think the attitude you describe here is the most common one among CCW permittees that I know. But the difference between soldiers and CCW permittees that is most important is the uniform that symbolizes the political authorization to carry weapons, and use force in the service of political ends. Everything you do in uniform, as a soldier, necessarily envelopes political motives, else you wouldn't be on duty, where you come in conflict with others. But a CCW permittee is required to keep his weapons hidden, because he has no uniform, and no real political authorization for the use of force, beyond preservation of his own hide, or perhaps, at a stretch, the immediate preservation of those in direct danger about him.

Hence, every military maintains extensive means, even up to the level of national diplomacy, of handling the political fallout of use of force, whereas no private CCW permittee should ever be put in the position of having to do that. What makes the Zimmerman case so interesting to many is precisely that Zimmerman and his attorneys have tried to deflect the political ire of millions, with only a bit of state level protection from the court, for many months, as the legally more immediate questions of culpability have been decided in an orderly manner.

And now, even acquitted, Zimmerman, it seems, is going to have to shoulder the burden of societal ill will nearly alone. To the extent he is expected to do that indefinitely, the worth of acquittal by our justice system, if not our justice system itself, is greatly devalued. As citizens, we agree to accept the verdict of juries as final, because if we don't, there is no point to juries, or jurisprudence.

I hope this nation lets Zimmerman be whatever he will be by his own design, in the future, so that it may be whatever it will best be.
posted by paulsc at 8:53 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only similarly polarized case I can really think of is the OJ Simpson case, which certainly involved juror harassment afterwards.
Crawford got racially motivated hate mail from people "hoping that I died" and phone calls in the middle of the night. Even after moving three times since the trial, she still gets letters questioning her decision.
posted by corb at 8:54 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I found the faked photos of the jurors tasteless, and I just hope this doesn't herald the dawning of new mockery/harassment targets. I hope these women can go back to their lives peacefully, without people giving them grief over their verdict.

For fuck's sake; yes, how will these women sleep at night knowing someone photoshoped Paula Deen into a courtroom?

Your concern isn't sincere, just stop.
posted by spaltavian at 8:59 PM on July 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


The only similarly polarized case I can really think of is the OJ Simpson case, which certainly involved juror harassment afterwards.

I guess in the balance of things, while jury harassment apparently is a thing that happens, it doesn't exactly register high on my list of concerns when compared to what Martin's family must be feeling right now, and "but oh I hope the jury is OK!" strikes me as a strangely obscure place to lay your sympathies. But I suppose we all have different priorities.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:00 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


And now, even acquitted, Zimmerman, it seems, is going to have to shoulder the burden of societal ill will nearly alone. To the extent he is expected to do that indefinitely, the worth of acquittal by our justice system, if not our justice system itself, is greatly devalued.

The bedrock principle of our legal system is that the state may not take away "life, liberty, and property" without due process, not that the public is obligated to like or respect you if you are acquitted. He's the same scumbag acquitted as he would have been convicted, and just the same as before he was charged, when there wasn't even going to be a trial.

But once again, after a generation of praising and supporting immoral behavior that was protected by the law, we have a clear failure to discern the difference between what is legal and what is good. It's just that it's escalated from mistreating employees in the workplace to killing teenagers.
posted by deanc at 9:01 PM on July 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Bedrock principle of our legal system is that the state may not take away "life, liberty, and property" without due process, not that the public is obligated to like or respect you if you are acquitted. ..."
posted by deanc at 12:01 AM on July 15

I'll argue that any "liking" IS necessarily individual and optional, but that the presumption of basic respect to the acquitted is an essential component of liberty, if liberty has any real meaning, and society is to remain civil.
posted by paulsc at 9:05 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now, even acquitted, Zimmerman, it seems, is going to have to shoulder the burden of societal ill will nearly alone.

I'm sure Zimmerman will have plenty of support. How much were people willing to donate to his cause over the internet?

I hope this nation lets Zimmerman be whatever he will be by his own design, in the future, so that it may be whatever it will best be.

I assume you felt the same thing about OJ Simpson? and feel our nation is not as good as it would have been had OJ been invited back into the broadcast booth immediately after his acquittal?
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:06 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems like a weird thing to worry about.

How can you pick just one!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:10 PM on July 14, 2013


And now, even acquitted, Zimmerman, it seems, is going to have to shoulder the burden of societal ill will nearly alone. To the extent he is expected to do that indefinitely, the worth of acquittal by our justice system, if not our justice system itself, is greatly devalued. As citizens, we agree to accept the verdict of juries as final

What is this bullshit? Anyone can feel any way they like about whoever, juries or no. I'm quite sure poor little Zimmerman will have no shortage of people telling him he did the right thing, so no need to handwring about "societal ill will".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:13 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Zimmerman is a dangerous moral deviant who, by dint of a peculiarity of Florida law, is not guilty of a crime. That does not mean he is entitled to our respect or attention, or anything other than the peaceful enjoyment of the public resources that he is entitled to by dint of being a (technically) law-abiding taxpaying citizen.

Just because you haven't been convicted of a crime (you're not supposed to be convicted of a crime, you low-expectation-having motherf'er!) doesn't mean people want you anywhere near their children or to be in any way associated with you. That would be true even if this case had never been brought to trial, as originally intended.

We can't say that the government "shouldn't legislate morality" and then go on to say, "well, he hasn't been convicted of a crime, so he's a good person we should respect." The law is completely agnostic as to whether someone rises to a moral level to which he can expect "basic respect" or societal goodwill.
posted by deanc at 9:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


"... I assume you felt the same thing about OJ Simpson? and feel our nation is not as good as it would have been had OJ been invited back into the broadcast booth immediately after his acquittal?"
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:06 AM on July 15

I did, and do, feel the same about OJ's murder acquittal. But I never liked him as a broadcaster. If enough others had, after his acquittal, I would have respected his right to employment as such, and his listeners rights to enjoy his broadcasts, using the public airwaves. That he was never accorded such a public position again, is probably less a failure of the society we live in, than of his own issues, including the civil lawsuits that he faced. But I did find that those who were still arguing his prosecution's case, 2 and 3 years later, weren't doing much for either justice, or society at large.

And I do think that a civil society, with the power to jeopardize and imprison, must finally release its claims on persons, after acquittal or completion of sentence. We no longer brand the flesh for life, as we did in more primitive times, and the end of that practice should not have been merely symbolic.
posted by paulsc at 9:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I do think that a civil society, with the power to jeopardize and imprison, must finally release its claims on persons, after acquittal or completion of sentence. We no longer brand the flesh for life, as we did in more primitive times, and the end of that practice should not have been merely symbolic.

Well, the great thing about living in a free and democratic society is people are going to come up with their own thoughts and feelings on a particular person, and neither you nor I nor anyone else can do anything to stop it.

I always get a little weirded out by talk of what "society" is supposed to be doing. Society is all of us. What you seem to mean is "the state" (since you talk about "the power to jeopardize and imprison") which, while a segment of society, is not all it entails.

As has been pointed out, Zimmerman's acquittal was not based on him being this totally innocent person who committed no violence against Martin. The facts of the case have been very public for a long time. I think people are entitled to draw their own conclusions about the guy, based on these facts, and what a single-digit selection of people have to say about a very narrow definition of his actions should not really hold sway over our own agency to think for ourselves.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I do think that a civil society, with the power to jeopardize and imprison, must finally release its claims on persons, after acquittal or completion of sentence. We no longer brand the flesh for life, as we did in more primitive times, and the end of that practice should not have been merely symbolic.

The state does (or should) but people will still remain free to choose to forgive or not forgive the actions they perceive as wrong based on their own moral precepts.
posted by jaduncan at 9:28 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can get you a good deal on an Aaron Hernandez jersey if you want.

People treat some sports figures like role models and heroes, they don't want to cheer for murderers or hear them in the booth. Even a dog killer was a tough sell. In general I believe absolutely that we need to give people accused and convicted of crimes second chances, but if you are trying to work in a field where popularity and likeability are important killing people isn't going to be an asset.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:32 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only similarly polarized case I can really think of is the OJ Simpson case, which certainly involved juror harassment afterwards.

But they were black though.

I too thought of the OJ Simpson jury. But juries are usually sacrosanct and while there have been many high profile trials with controversial verdicts, the jury members are rarely targeted. That particular jury received hate for years. I've always seen that as motivated by racism.

I don't know why anyone is worried for the jury or George Zimmerman. People gave him hundreds of thousands of dollars when all they knew was he killed a black kid and was going on trial for it. He's already made the rounds and asking for apologies from Black America.
posted by Danila at 9:35 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


NYTimes reporting Federal Hate Crime Inquiry to Reopen!
posted by mistersquid at 9:39 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


corb: "that I had a "duty to retreat" even from someone who was stronger, or faster, than me, or maybe two of them, no matter what was happening. "

The duty to retreat is not a duty to retreat to your death. It is a duty to retreat, if retreat is reasonably possible. If multiple attackers are chasing you and you find that they are faster than you, so you turn and shoot them, you have clearly satisfied the duty to retreat and are justified in using deadly force in any state in the union. (assuming you were in reasonable fear for your life) Now, whether it is legal for you to possess the tools of self defense in that scenario is another question entirely. A significant portion of the population in the US can't. Disproportionately minority, of course.

I see this canard a lot, but I'm not quite sure where it comes from. In most, if not all, states, you have the castle doctrine to protect you if you have to kill someone in your home. It's a bit bizarre to me that people think that the same standard should apply out on the street, where you are much more likely to have avenues of retreat and/or resolution that don't involve killing someone. You might first, for example, yell for help, and only when that proves futile proceed in ending the life of another human being.

Without a duty to retreat, it's even more trivial for an attacker to create a situation where only they can win. They just have to make sure you're the aggressor when the story gets told later.

As far as the verdict goes, given the case presented by the prosecution, I can't say that it was completely unreasonable. That said, I was not on the jury and I can thus consider more evidence than they did. I am by no means required to believe George wasn't actually guilty of manslaughter, and on balance, I think he is, but that's me.
posted by wierdo at 9:49 PM on July 14, 2013 [18 favorites]




David Weigel: The Night Without a Riot
Depending on how you get your news, this might have come as a surprise. "The public mind has been so poisoned," wrote Pat Buchanan last year, "that an acquittal of George Zimmerman could ignite a reaction similar to that, 20 years ago, when the Simi Valley jury acquitted the LAPD cops in the Rodney King beating case." In fringe media, like the Alex Jones network of sites, it was taken for granted that a Zimmerman acquittal would inspire a race war. The only dispute was about the scale. Certainly, nobody was saying "this could lead to one night of smashing things in Oakland."

"With today’s social media I fully expect organized race rioting to begin in every major city to dwarf the Rodney King and the Martin Luther King riots of past decades," wrote retired cop/pundit Paul Huebl after the Rachel Jeantel testimony sparked a wave of distressed tweets from black users. "If you live in a large city be prepared to evacuate or put up a fight to win. You will need firearms, fire suppression equipment along with lots of food and water. Police resources will be slow and outgunned everywhere. America is about to see some combat related population control like we’ve not seen since the Civil War. Martial Law can’t be far behind complete with major efforts at gun grabbing."

That analysis was shared on Jones's Prison Planet, and it really did represent the far edge of "here comes the riot" punditry. Far more typical was the take Rush Limbaugh offered to his listeners on open line Friday. "I don't want any riots, don't misunderstand," said Limbaugh. "From the media perspective, we haven't had a good riot in this country in I don't know how long. A riot is an opportunity for the media to show how unjust and unfair, basically how sucky the country is, and there hasn't been that chance." Limbaugh walked through a couple of scenarios, including one in which "nobody cares" about the verdict and no riots broke out, but was confident that he would not be blamed for riots if they did break out. "I'll be the last guy, because that would be to credit me, because people are gonna want them. You think I'm gonna get the credit? Sharpton's gonna get that credit, or the Reverend Jackson."

Well, there weren't any riots, so nobody gets the credit. Riot-panic was rooted in a misreading of observable black opinion of the trial, in reports from Sanford and in trawls through social media. I was in Sanford last year, before Zimmerman was charged, and got to see how close the historically segregated black part of town was from downtown. More than one person there fretted about riots if Zimmerman wasn't put on trial. Once he was put on trial, the tenor of the outrage changed for good. Sanford itself was peaceful last night.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:15 PM on July 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


[Comment deleted. If you're aware that your rage is getting in the way of a more constructive response, maybe take a breath or two, and try again without calling people assholes, etc. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 10:48 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


What surprises me, reading about this case on my usual internet channels, is how people who are usually very suspicious of so much completely believe everything Zimmerman has said about what happened. Because I don't, I think it's extremely likely that he didn't just innocently ask Martin what he was doing, but instead grabbed him or put his hands on him in another way and Martin responded with his fists. I think that's very likely and even probable.

It's also sad to me that people seem to let their distrust of cops justify armed vigilante "justice."
posted by girlmightlive at 10:52 PM on July 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Comment 1: And I do think that a civil society, with the power to jeopardize and imprison, must finally release its claims on persons, after acquittal or completion of sentence. We no longer brand the flesh for life, as we did in more primitive times, and the end of that practice should not have been merely symbolic.

Comment 2: Well, the great thing about living in a free and democratic society is people are going to come up with their own thoughts and feelings on a particular person, and neither you nor I nor anyone else can do anything to stop it. I always get a little weirded out by talk of what "society" is supposed to be doing.

And it's a good question. The maybe not so great thing about our free and democratic society is that our legal system focuses almost exclusively on blaming and punishing the guilty as a way of resolving conflict.

We are such fans of conflict, that even when this guy is exonerated in the eyes of the law, people earnestly make the case that he should still be blamed and punished and shunned by regular people. That this is totally normal and is one of the luxuries of living in a "free and democratic" society. Which is true. But the point might be, not that anyone should dictate how private individuals choose to treat Zimmerman in the future, but rather why do we even consider violent and ostracizing behavior as a form or resolution or "justice."

Anyway, Laura Nader (Ralph's sister) was talking about this in the early 1980's and she did a far better job than I possibly could. "Little Injustices," a must-watch documentary. The abstract reads:
"How does justice really work in the United States? Who has knowledge of the law, access to the legal system, and the will and power to use it? Anthropologist Laura Nader's first field trip to a Zapotec Indian village in Oaxaca, Mexico, in the late 1950s, led her to study problem-solving in the local courts [...]

"In this small-scale Mexican society, where most interactions were face-to-face, and anger and conflicts needed constantly to be resolved, Nader found that emphasis was on balanced solutions rather than on blaming a guilty party. We see, for instance, a courtroom scene in which the judge orders a truck driver, accused of running over a basket of chilies, to weigh the damaged chilies and reimburse the owner, while the merchant is warned to be more careful not to place his baskets in the road. Villagers, found Nader, consistently had knowledge of and access to the law, and often brought their problems to this court.

"In the 1960s, Nader returned to teach at Berkeley. In a decade of sit-ins, riots, helicopter gassings, and arrests, Nader asked why conflicts in our own society, in contrast to the Zapotec village, tend to escalate toward violence."
Ok, a basket of chilies isn't going to bring Trayvon back, then again neither is making Zimmerman's life a living hell. Which makes you wonder, on what grounds do some people feel so good talking about doing the latter.
posted by phaedon at 11:10 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your concern isn't sincere, just stop.

Agreed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 PM on July 14, 2013


We are such fans of conflict, that even when this guy is exonerated in the eyes of the law, people earnestly make the case that he should still be blamed and punished and shunned by regular people.

Not to point too fine a point on this, but he wasn't exonerated of everything that happened that night; he was found not guilty of a very narrow set of actions under a narrow charge levied against him.

Adding to this, the great thing about the law is that, unless you're some kind of super Lawful Neutral type like John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski, we can - and I think should - develop our own ideas about how the law is written and interpreted. It's what keeps democracy healthy and flourishing. So yes, he was acquitted of this charge, based on the jury's interpretation of said law. Is the jury less fallible than the rest of us? I don't think so. So why can't we disagree with the verdict, based on our interpretation of the law and the events that transpired?

And I'm not seeing anyone (here anyway) calling for setting up a tent camp in front of Zimmerman's home, so I think the gentle scolding of people angry at Zimmerman is a bit misguided.

This case, and Zimmerman's acquittal, has deeply hurt a lot of people, and telling them "your rage won't bring Martin back" is redundant.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:22 PM on July 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


I guess in the balance of things, while jury harassment apparently is a thing that happens, it doesn't exactly register high on my list of concerns when compared to what Martin's family must be feeling right now, and "but oh I hope the jury is OK!" strikes me as a strangely obscure place to lay your sympathies.

I can do both things; feel for the family AND hope the jury is okay. Nothing is served by harassing the jury and, honestly, the idea that one ranks higher than the other - particularly when you don't have a personal relationship with one or the other - is pretty callous.
posted by crossoverman at 11:26 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nothing is served by harassing the jury and, honestly, the idea that one ranks higher than the other - particularly when you don't have a personal relationship with one or the other - is pretty callous.

I think you must have misunderstood me. You'll notice I'm talking about likelihoods. Is it likely the jury is going to get harassed and besieged with death threats? Maybe, but it's a lot less likely than Martin's family being in a state of great pain right now. So that's where my concerns lay.

But regardless, prioritizing sympathies is pretty damn far from "callous".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:33 PM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dear George Zimmerman, For the rest of your life you are now going to feel what its like to be a black man in America.…—Alex Fraser, 14 July 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 11:46 PM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Is the jury less fallible than the rest of us? I don't think so. So why can't we disagree with the verdict, based on our interpretation of the law and the events that transpired?

I think this question could be responded to literally. Did you sequester yourself, sit in the courtroom and watch all the testimony? Were you charged by a higher authority to discuss your findings with other members of the community and form a consensus? Were you there the night Trayvon got murdered?

Assuming the answer to these questions is no, then invoking human fallibility works both ways.

You should at least grant that six randomly selected people being given an opportunity to review all the arguments and testimony from both sides in an open forum with strict rules of evidence will come up with a better decision than you. And if you were at the scene of the crime, even better. If you don't believe that to be the case at least prima facie, then why bother calling witnesses? Why bother with due process?

So going back to the question of your thoughts and feelings. Are your thoughts and feelings on this case more accurate and actionable than the verdict the jury reached? Sure, it's totally possible, but I would suggest that you are the one that bears the burden of ponying up an explanation of how that came to be.

In the meantime, of course you are entitled to your opinion. I don't think that even needs to discussed.
posted by phaedon at 11:50 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


You should at least grant that six randomly selected people being given an opportunity to review all the arguments and testimony from both sides in an open forum with strict rules of evidence will come up with a better decision than you.

Fully aware of how the jury works, you're still overlooking the fact that Zimmerman was not cleared of everything that went down that night - he had a narrow charge against him, and the jury sought to determine whether his actions fit the narrow definition of having committed this crime. That's what the jury was there to decide. The general public, having been able to observe evidence and hear testimony, can come up with its own thoughts on how Zimmerman behaved that night, outside the scope of the charge against him and how it is defined.

So yes, I do think it's well within the rights of the general public to be able to say "He might not have technically been guilty of this charge, based on the definition of said charge by law, but how he acted was pretty fucked up."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:58 PM on July 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


six randomly selected people

There was nothing random about the selection of the jurors. Zimmerman should have received a trial by a jury of his peers. Where his crimes took place, 29% of the population was African-American. In a mathematically random or "blind" selection of jurors, there should have been at least one, if not two African-Americans on that panel.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 AM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


There was nothing random about the selection of the jurors. Zimmerman should have received a trial by a jury of his peers. Where his crimes took place, 29% of the population was African-American. In a mathematically random or "blind" selection of jurors, there should have been at least one, if not two African-Americans on that panel.

First, there may have been at least one - there's that juror that no one knows the actual ethnicity of, I've seen her described as "black or hispanic".

But secondly, Voir Dire means that juries are never a jury of your peers. It's a jury that the prosecution and defense both tried to stack. The amount of challenges they get "just because" is honestly shameful. But that's a bigger problem than the Martin/Zimmerman case.
posted by corb at 12:13 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also have to say I do find the concerns about jury harassment and making Zimmerman's life a living hell - two things we have absolutely no indications of happening - to be truly strange. A young boy's family just watched his killer walk away from justice. The pre-emptive scolding not to get too angry about this now, be civil, behave, you won't bring Martin back with your anger you know ... ugh. I just find it so patronizing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:16 AM on July 15, 2013 [33 favorites]




There was nothing random about the selection of the jurors. Zimmerman should have received a trial by a jury of his peers. Where his crimes took place, 29% of the population was African-American. In a mathematically random or "blind" selection of jurors, there should have been at least one, if not two African-Americans on that panel.

No, because jurors are selected by county. Seminole county is about 80-85% white so you'd expected 5 out of 6 jurors to be white. Which is exactly what happened. 5 white and 1 non-white juror.
posted by Justinian at 12:32 AM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is wrong with Florida juries?

I see what the article is getting at, but I don't think the problem is with the juries so much as with the biased and manipulative legal system of the state that so often allows the juries to be pre-set on a course that only allows a minimal set of choices in outcomes. Couple that with what appears to be a fairly consistent ineptitude in prosecution (at least in terms of gauging the likelihood of a guilty verdict) and you get verdicts that, logically, you would expect to go one way but end up at the other end of spectrum.

The Florida prosecutorial efforts seem to be constantly putting the cart before the horse (is that the right phrase to use?) when choosing a course of action in courtroom efforts. They go for the big score convictions on the high profile cases when it is often clear they should have lessened their expectations and instead, settled on what they could prove as opposed to what they would like to have proven.

On a related note and in this latest trial, I have to wonder what exactly was the mindset of the state's attorney's office. They seemed awful happy that they lost the case.
posted by lampshade at 12:43 AM on July 15, 2013


"Jury of peers" means other citizens- regular people who live in the same general community. Peers means people whose jobs don't depend on putting people in jail.

No. I stand by what I said. Even if the other guy is dead, the person on trial should always get the benefit of reasonable doubt. Someone potentially getting off for a crime he committed is much less morally severe than sending a potentially innocent person to jail. In this case, there's too many unknown, too much reliance on whether or not you believe Zimmerman is telling the truth, but not much evidence to contest or support it.

While I agree with this completely, it does get confusing with an affirmative defense. Nobody has to prove that Zimmerman shot the guy- it's obvious and he admitted to it. With an affirmative defense, the defendant says "yeah, I did the thing but here is why I am not criminally liable for it." He still gets the benefit of reasonable doubt in the elements of the crime which are in dispute.

Basically, it sounds kind of like the flowchart for the path to conviction is a little messed up in Florida law. There were three elements: is someone dead, is the defendant the one who did it, and did he act in a way that showed an indifference to human life. But if someone claims self-defense, it almost seems like it adds another element to the crime that the prosecution needs to prove. That a claim of self defense short circuits whether the jury can even consider the third element, when the claim of self defense should be part of their consideration of the third element.

Because something can technically be self defense, but also meet the criteria for the third element beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury does not appear to have the option to say "yeah, we believe he thought he was defending himself, but he also acted in a manner indifferent to human life, etc."

It's almost logically like a deathbed conversion. Say the magic words and all your previous actions don't count.

The jury was right; the law is what is wrong. Zimmerman shouldn't get less reasonable doubt because he invokes an affirmative defense, but he shouldn't get more either.

If I were the prosecution, I'd appeal the ruling based on the jury instructions. The way they are written does not seem in keeping with the law.
posted by gjc at 4:11 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ta-Nehisi Coates: Trayvon Martin And The Irony Of American Justice
I have seen nothing within the actual case presented by the prosecution that would allow for a stable and unvacillating belief that George Zimmerman was guilty.

That conclusion should not offer you security or comfort. It should not leave you secure in the wisdom of our laws. On the contrary, it should greatly trouble you. But if you are simply focusing on what happened in the court-room, then you have been head-faked by history and bought into a idea of fairness which can not possibly exist.

The injustice inherent in the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was not authored by jury given a weak case. The jury's performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest.
[...]
You should not be troubled that George Zimmerman "got away" with the killing of Trayvon Martin, you should be troubled that you live in a country that ensures that Trayvon Martin will happen. Trayvon Martin is happening again in Florida. Right now:
In November, black youth Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old Jacksonville resident, was the only person murdered after Michael Dunn, 46, allegedly shot into the SUV Davis was inside several times after an argument about the volume of music playing.

According to Dunn's girlfriend, Rhonda Rouer, Dunn had three rum and cokes at a wedding reception. She felt secure enough for him to drive and thought that he was a good mood. On the drive back to the hotel they were residing at, they made a pit stop at the convenience store where the murder occurred. At the Gate Station, Rouer said Dunn told her that he hated "thug music." Rouer then went inside the store to make purchases and heard several gunshots while she was still within the building.

Upon returning and seeing Dunn put his gun back into the glove compartment, Rouer asked why he had shot at the car playing music and Dunn claimed that he feared for his life and that "they threatened to kill me." The couple drove back to their hotel, and claim they did not realize anyone had died until the story appeared on the news the next day.

After killing Jordan Davis, Michael Dunn ordered a pizza.
When you have society which takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging.

It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:23 AM on July 15, 2013 [48 favorites]



Maybe, but I've never heard of a place where the jury pool didn't come from the voter rolls.
posted by spaltavian


And of course, what ELSE is Florida recently and historically famous for? That's right, purging minorities from voter rolls, African Americans in particular (since in Florida, some "Hispanics," namely the rich descendants of privileged Cuban immigrants, are likely to vote with white supremacists anyway).

No one cares about the individual jurors, FFS. They've played their part in the racist spectacle, as always expected. They aren't going to be targets of anything but collective scorn and disdain.

Pilate polled the crowd too.
posted by spitbull at 4:26 AM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or what TNC said.
posted by spitbull at 4:27 AM on July 15, 2013


If I were the prosecution, I'd appeal the ruling

Aside from the general rarity of the prosecution appealing an acquittal (and I'm unsure what constitutional bars may exist in Florida), watching the video of a satisfied Corey should cure you of all those expectations. I'm not exactly saying that they threw the match, but I did get the sense -- and she almost openly averred as such -- that they felt their job was to show up and try a shit case (as they saw it) for the political honor of Florida. They didn't really feel that Trayvon was murdered, even negligently, and they didn't, by extension, feel they needed to convict here. For goodness' sake, she basically said that the trial, in which Zimmerman was adjudged not guilty, "uncovered the truth".
posted by dhartung at 4:57 AM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


corb: "that I had a "duty to retreat" even from someone who was stronger, or faster, than me, or maybe two of them, no matter what was happening. "

Would most 17 year olds know the intricacies of the self-defense laws? Would they know that even if they felt threatened and afraid of an older man who had been following them, that they must wait until they are physically attacked before they can begin to defend themselves? (and there is still no proof at all that he didn't wait until this had happened, even if he did punch Zimmerman.) I know you're talking a lot about how you would feel in Zimmerman's position, or even Trayvon's as the person being followed. I'm wondering more about how you'd feel if it was your child in Trayvon's position. Maybe you've already schooled your kids in the finer print. Do most parents?
posted by billiebee at 5:10 AM on July 15, 2013


I found the faked photos of the jurors tasteless, and I just hope this doesn't herald the dawning of new mockery/harassment targets.

I am, honestly, wondering why you have a problem with this or would condemn it. Like killing Trayvon Martin, photoshopping pictures of Paula Deen into a jury box is perfectly legal. If we're not supposed to condemn George Zimmerman or those who would imitate him, why are you suddenly driven to indignation over those who would mock the jury? What makes Trayvon Martin an acceptable target for death but not George Zimmerman an acceptable target for social condemnation? On the flip-side, why do you think it is not ok to sympathize with Trayvon Martin and his family but do think it is ok to openly sympathize with Zimmerman and the jury?

You can't have it both ways-- you can't demand a legal system that is mostly hands-off, on the premise that "you can't legislate morality" and then turn around and claim that people shouldn't make moral judgments about otherwise-legal behavior. If you insist, despite the evidence, that everyone who acts legally is moral and should not be questioned, then you shouldn't get upset and indignant when people either act legally in ways that you find unacceptable or when people insist on changing the law to conform with their morality, not yours.

TNC is the astute observer here-- the death of Trayvon Martin isn't due to a loophole in the law that allows unfair tragedies to happen but leaves the state sadly unable to intervene because of its limited power. The law is designed specifically to nurture and encourage encounters that will allow George Zimmermans to walk free after killing someone and on some level to make heroes out of them. It's hard for me not to see this whole defense of Zimmerman as simply part of a decades-old pattern of eroding the rights of law-abiding citizens where the targets have no legal redress, where this additional step is the point to which it has escalated to the level of deadly violence.
posted by deanc at 5:16 AM on July 15, 2013 [32 favorites]


Seems Arizona has a stand your ground law as well.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:55 AM on July 15, 2013


On the flip-side, why do you think it is not ok to sympathize with Trayvon Martin and his family but do think it is ok to openly sympathize with Zimmerman and the jury?

I don't think it's not okay to sympathize with anyone that you or anyone else chooses - but what I do think is that, much like with the Manning case, as a sitting president - or governor, or other authority figure - you should refuse to comment on situations that are ongoing and have not yet gone through the system. I think as president or other authority figure, you have too much influence on the disposition of cases to be able to fairly do so.
posted by corb at 5:56 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


So that leaves me a bit speechless.

For all the reasons cited above about the history of race in this country, our first black president was wrong to say that if he had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin?

Even if the president wasn't black, he shouldn't offer sympathy to the family of a teenager who was shot, regardless of circumstances?
posted by sio42 at 6:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


For all the reasons cited above about the history of race in this country, our first black president was wrong to say that if he had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin?

Yeah, the only milder response was for the President to pretend it hadn't happened, and how could he do that? Given the responses of various African-American posters in this thread, I would be shocked if any African-American people who heard of the shooting didn't have at least a flash of "this could have been me/my son/my brother." Just based on that, Obama's comments are practically chilly rather than a horrible misapplication of Executive Power.

For a thread full of weirdly-directed sympathy, the lack of sympathy is amazing. Well, OK, not amazing, because I have read history and been awake for most of the past 40 years, so my amazement is a bit strained. Let's say "horrifyingly characteristic,"
shall we?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


as a sitting president - or governor, or other authority figure - you should refuse to comment on situations that are ongoing and have not yet gone through the system

Apart from the fact that that's not the question that was being asked of you--they were talking about the population as a whole, not the President--you haven't complained nearly as much (by which I mean, at all) about Gov. Rick Scott saying that '[his] heart [went] out" to the Martin family, and that he called for a fair trial, which is not functionally different from what the President said.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:15 AM on July 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


That picture of Rick Scott... what the hell image were they trying to convey?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:23 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


as a sitting president - or governor, or other authority figure - you should refuse to comment on situations that are ongoing and have not yet gone through the system

Did you (re)read his statement linked above? He called for an investigation, which there was not going to be one of until there was a public uproar. Should a sitting official never call for an investigation of something?
posted by rtha at 6:36 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think as president or other authority figure, you have too much influence on the disposition of cases to be able to fairly do so.

Oh absolutely, which is why Zimmerman was found guilty after ten minutes of deliberation and promptly taken out back and shot like a rabid dog. When polled, the jury members unanimously said, "Obama told me to find him guilty."

Puh-lease.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:42 AM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Per the Times, Giants’ Cruz, Falcons’ White apologize for offensive reactions to Zimmerman’s acquittal

and in other reactions: Dershowitz to Newsmax: 'Prosecutorial Tyrant' Violated Zimmerman's Rights
Dershowitz is calling for a civil-rights probe as well. But he contends the person whose rights were violated was Zimmerman.

“I think there were violations of civil rights and civil liberties — by the prosecutor,” said the criminal-law expert. “The prosecutor sent this case to a judge, and willfully, deliberately, and in my view criminally withheld exculpatory evidence.”
posted by corb at 6:48 AM on July 15, 2013


Should a sitting official never call for an investigation of something?

Not if they are African-American and they call for investigation of a racially-motivated crime. That's practically Race War!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:50 AM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


What is horribly sad is the dead kid.
What is horribly sad is his family.
What is horribly sad is how this reenforces the message of the lack of value of the lives of black people

What is incredibly pathetic is these sad souls who believe that they are so at risk is that what is need is a gun in their hands and license to kill to put things right. Who believe they need to whip up fear in order to keep afloat their version of reality.

I spent some time in a nursing home recovering from a bone infection. I saw people divorced from reality, terrified, no escape from their own brains until death.

I suppose it is not as scary (comparing to those suffering from dementia here) to believe one needs a gun in one's hand when there is a whole structure that validates that insanity. George Zimmerman will be buoyed by it for a while, I guess. But ultimately, like all things that don't match reality, it can't be sustained, and Zimmerman and those who support him will wake up to find that they are shaking, befouled, and in a prison of their own making.
posted by angrycat at 6:51 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Can we not have these continued links to racist/homophobic winger sites and/or "Here's some more evidence that Negroes have uncontrollable anger!" triumphalism please?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:51 AM on July 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


zombieflanders: "Can we not have these continued links to racist/homophobic winger sites and/or "Here's some more evidence that Negroes have uncontrollable anger!" triumphalism please?"

Team Zimmerman was so geeked up for the riots that never happened that they're desperately trying to find new angles. Now if anyone ever looks cross at Zimmerman, or if the members of the jury are ever harassed, it's evidence that the real victim here is the guy who killed an unarmed teenager.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:54 AM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I reserve the right to despise people who do things I find despicable, regardless of the legality of their actions. That doesn't mean I'm going to send them hate mail, or pelt their house with tomatoes, or stalk them or threaten them with violence...because that would make me despicable, also.

That doesn't change my deep-seated conviction that Zimmerman is a despicable man who stalked and murdered an unarmed teenager. His pitiful trumped-up justifications for getting out of his car, his smug attitude, his lack of remorse, all point to a man of profoundly stunted conscience and dangerously violent attitudes. And due to many reasons (none of which I blame the jury for) he's still a free man, and to other stunted and hate-filled people, even a hero.

Perhaps he will reform himself someday, and apologize to the Martin family and seek to prevent future similar tragedies. That would be a time to consider revising my opinion of him.

But until then, no.
posted by emjaybee at 6:58 AM on July 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


phaedon: "Ok, a basket of chilies isn't going to bring Trayvon back, then again neither is making Zimmerman's life a living hell. Which makes you wonder, on what grounds do some people feel so good talking about doing the latter."

Tell ya what. In 5-15 years, assuming I even remember who this joke of a person is then, I'll consider his debt to society paid and will say it is time to let bygones be bygones.
posted by wierdo at 6:58 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




A fairly cynical part of me is willing to bet that many of the people and pundits crying about Obama's comments on the case were singin' a different tune back when GWB was sticking his oar into the Terri Schiavo case.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


[Folks, metacommentary goes in metatalk.]
posted by cortex at 7:32 AM on July 15, 2013


The point I think needs to be made is that we are being called upon to ignore the suffering of the Martin family and have sympathy for the shooting victim because people are worried that such acknowledgment of his humanity and victimhood somehow violates the spirit of the law and casts doubt upon it. Similarly, it was considered verboten to recognize the humanity of slaves because it case doubt on the social hierarchy and legal system that created slavery. Today we see angry indignation about journalism that criticizes working conditions in American workplaces because this somehow delegitimizes the "rightful" place of business owners to decide how to treat their employees.

Zimmerman didn't go around patrolling his neighborhood with a gun because he was "defending the neighborhood." He did so because for him, this was the path to being seen as a paragon of masculinity on top of the social hierarchy. The offense taken by expressions of sympathy for Martin bubbled up because it reversed the entire intended effect of Zimmerman's actions: instead of being considered a hero whose actions were protected by a legally enshrined doctrine, he is viewed as a violent lunatic who got off on a technicality. But that wasn't the point of the law! Than ran counter to what ALEC was trying to do-- which was to put the armed vigilantes back on top of the social hiearchy, not to have them regarded as street thugs and common criminals!

The idea is that, if you care about freedom, you should be willing both to sacrifice the life of Trayvon Martin AND to sacrifice your empathy for him and his family, because such expressions of human decency endanger the rights and freedoms of those the law was intended to protect.
posted by deanc at 7:33 AM on July 15, 2013 [45 favorites]


Fucking punks. These assholes; they always get away.
posted by TedW at 7:56 AM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Zimmerman didn't go around patrolling his neighborhood with a gun because he was "defending the neighborhood." He did so because for him, this was the path to being seen as a paragon of masculinity on top of the social hierarchy.

Yeah, this needs to be stressed. Because Zimmerman, for all his unappealing qualities, seems to be a guy who has not much benefited from the system. So all this acting out with guns and "patrolling" and stuff is a way to get the status (or the illusion of status) that he can't get through the channels normally available to him. So it's a double win for the system -- one disposable male does the Patriarchy's work of killing another disposable male. There is plausible deniability, and, if Zimmerman (or a copycat) does it again, "well, who could have seen that coming? It's a freak occurrence." A freak occurrence that happens a lot. And, in the meantime, the status quo is preserved for the next go 'round, and we all get admonished for being "uncivil" as our civilization erodes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


let's have some major civil disobedience tho. i know it will get put in scare quotes and called riots, but that's nothing new, is it.
posted by angrycat at 8:06 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There were at least a dozen peaceful protests around the country yesterday, and the local paper chooses to run this photo of a trash can fire in Oakland and an article about how poor Zimmerman's life is ruined. Abominable.
posted by desjardins at 8:18 AM on July 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Weigel again on the lack of riots: Who's Disappointed About the Lack of Mass Zimmerman Verdict Riots?
An act of civil disobedience that blocks traffic -- on a Sunday, not even rush hour! -- isn't an act of fury that tears a country apart. Honestly, don't the panic-mongers remember what it felt like when peaceful Tea Partiers were accused of incipient anti-government violence?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:27 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Unbelievable.
posted by odinsdream at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2013


And now the National Sheriff's Association - which is the umbrella organization for the Neighborhood Watch Program (you know, the thing that Zimmerman actually wasn't affiliated with or trained by) - is weighing in on things:
“The Neighborhood Watch Program fosters collaboration and cooperation with the community and local law enforcement by encouraging citizens to be aware of what is going on in their communities and contact law enforcement if they suspect something – NOT take the law in their own hands,” continued Executive Director Kennard. “The alleged participant ignored everything the Neighborhood Watch Program stands for and it resulted in a young man losing his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Trayvon Martin during this terrible time.”
Those horrible sheriffs who don't know anything about law enforcement or carrying a gun safely or anything like that, expressing sympathy for Martin's family!
posted by rtha at 8:51 AM on July 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


desjardins, that front page is awful, but I was made hopeful by the Newseum's top ten page, which shows a "verdict" of people taking to the streets and being outraged... The Daily News & Boston Herald are pretty forthright. It's something anyway.
posted by mdn at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2013


So as a result of all of this can anyone say they feel safer now?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


the stories of the parents who are calling into WNYC with the tales of how their children were like at the verdict news ?? WTF papa are heartbreaking
posted by angrycat at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2013


I believe there's an ongoing case of a B&E criminal claiming SYG having shot the irate homeowner. Under the law, he should walk. Which goes to show what an ill-conceived law it is, and how little thought its authors gave it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2013


five fresh fish: "I believe there's an ongoing case of a B&E criminal claiming SYG having shot the irate homeowner. Under the law, he should walk. Which goes to show what an ill-conceived law it is, and how little thought its authors gave it."

Does anybody have any information on this?
posted by boo_radley at 8:56 AM on July 15, 2013


I swear every time I think the right-wing media and right-wingers in general can't get worse, they do.

The Weigel link, and Drudge's reaction to the lack of riots is sickening.

People sympathizing with Zimmerman is sickening.

Legal issues aside, this was such a clear-cut case of who was right and who was wrong, that there was no ambiguity for me to remind myself that my political opponents just may see things differently, and are still human beings with more or less the same morals, just different interpretations on how to achieve them.

Not now. The right-wing in America has lionized someone who murdered an innocent kid. And they do this because the kid was black.

To quote Michael Gira, "You fucking people make me sick."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:02 AM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


George Zimmerman’s relevant past
Meanwhile, over the course of eight years, Zimmerman made at least 46 calls to the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department reporting suspicious activity involving black males.

We also know that Witness No. 9 accused Zimmerman of molesting her when they were children. The relative’s revelation is appalling but irrelevant. What most folks don’t know is that Witness No. 9 made an explosive allegation against her cousin. “I know George. And I know that he does not like black people,” she told a Sanford police officer during a telephone call in which she pleaded for anonymity. “He would start something. He’s a very confrontational person. It’s in his blood. Let’s just say that. I don’t want this poor kid and his family to just be overlooked.” At the end of the call, Witness No. 9 urged the officer to “get character reports from other people and see if he’s ever said anything about black people, about being racist or anything like that because I guarantee you there’s somebody out there who will say it.”
George Zimmerman Molestation Accusations Are Relevant
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:03 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, so now can Zimmerman be tried for the molestation charges?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


George Zimmerman Molestation Accusations Are Relevant

Geeze, just when I think I have reached the bottom of my dislike for Zimmerman and the depths of this whole nasty story, the world proves that there is more mud at the bottom. Yay!

Ugh. I wish I hadn't eaten lunch.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


There was nothing random about the selection of the jurors. Zimmerman should have received a trial by a jury of his peers. Where his crimes took place, 29% of the population was African-American. In a mathematically random or "blind" selection of jurors, there should have been at least one, if not two African-Americans on that panel.

Well, technically, this jury selection alone doesn't prove that - i.e., it doesn't look like this deviation from the overall proportion is statistically significant (chisq, back of the envelope). But I think you're probably not wrong either - I'd be willing to bet that if you were able to look at jury selection in this area over a large number of cases (esp. serious felonies), you would be able to show a bias against black jurors.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:24 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh, someone with a clear inferiority complex and obvious power fantasies may have acted on these feelings before. BIZARRE.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2013


"Zimmerman's attorneys have signaled that they intend to try to discredit the witness, which most likely means running the standard issue rape defense strategy of putting the victim on trial to convince the jury she was asking for it."

Good thing they just got some practice in.
posted by billiebee at 9:29 AM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


More from Charlie Pierce: Our Vigilante Nation
Besides race, which it was not about because nothing is ever about race, the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was not about guns, either. Specifically, it was not about the propaganda of the gun culture by which we are all one small step away from being devoured as a society by criminal (coughblackcough) hordes and the only thing standing between society and the abyss is an armed citizenry. Specifically, it was not about the propaganda of the gun culture that sends a George Zimmerman, a pathetic, trigger-happy wannabe cop, out there in public, free to choose to make sidewalk judgments about who belongs where and why, and to back those judgments up with lethal force if it turns out he made a mistake. Specifically, it is not about the propaganda of the gun culture that trafficks in fear and that presents as its only solution deadly weaponry. No, of course, it was not about that, either.

We live now in a vigilante culture. Our police forces are militarized and increasingly prone to rogue operations in which innocent people get killed. (Radley Balko has written an extremely important book about this phenomenon, which shows no signs of slowing down. Why in hell does the Fargo P.D. need a fking tank, anyway? Are the moose getting bigger these days?) They are being encouraged to employ what can only be called vigilante tactics under the color of official authority. You want to push the definition of the word, and there's a helluva lot to our foreign policy that edges on vigilantism, too. The national legislature has broken down utterly because of the polite vigilantism of a political minority in the Senate -- The debt ceiling was "a hostage worth taking," said Mitch McConnell, and meant it -- and because of the legislative vigilantism of an obdurate House Of Representatives.

On the streets, we are being trained paradoxically to both submit to the authority of the police, and to take the law into our own hands, if necessary, because the police cannot possibly protect us from every danger. Stand Your Ground, though it played no role in the Zimmerman trial per se, is vigilantism hallowed by legislation. That's all it is. This does nothing but produce a national schizophrenia about crime and fear and weaponry that we inevitably act out. If there really were a national background check for mental stability before you could buy a gun, I'm not sure American Society could pass one.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:32 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]




Boo: South Carolina, perp named Gregg Isaac.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 AM on July 15, 2013




Wow, so now can Zimmerman be tried for the molestation charges?

Actually, I wonder why the prosecutor didn't go with them initially upon discovering them. One possibility though is that possibly Witness #9 did not want charges pressed - a trial on sexual assault or molestation charges can be harder on the victim than the assaulter sometimes.
posted by corb at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




STAND YOUR GROUND INCREASES RACIAL BIAS IN “JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE” TRIALS

I would be shocked if SYG laws had any causal effect. It seems much more likely that states that are particularly infested with white racists would both (a) be more likely to conclude that any given murder of a black person was justifiable, and (b) have this sort of cowboy-horseshit law.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


a trial on sexual assault or molestation charges can be harder on the victim than the assaulter sometimes.

As we can see in this case, so can a trial on murder charges.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would be shocked if SYG laws had any causal effect.

They don't, at least as of now. There isn't really any research proving that SYG or Castle Doctrine laws have done anything significant to either reduce crime or contribute to already-existent drops in crime. Quite the opposite, in fact: they've been shown to cause an increase in murder and non-negligent manslaughter.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


...and indeed more racist states (using the google measure on how often people there look for things like "nigger"), more racist states are more likely to have SYG laws
. logit syg googleracism

Iteration 0:   log likelihood =   -34.0146  
Iteration 1:   log likelihood = -29.079285  
Iteration 2:   log likelihood = -29.034942  
Iteration 3:   log likelihood = -29.034861  
Iteration 4:   log likelihood = -29.034861  

Logistic regression                               Number of obs   =         50
                                                  LR chi2(1)      =       9.96
                                                  Prob > chi2     =     0.0016
Log likelihood = -29.034861                       Pseudo R2       =     0.1464

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         syg |      Coef.   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|     [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
googleracism |   7.321684   2.671183     2.74   0.006     2.086262    12.55711
       _cons |  -4.925551   1.729696    -2.85   0.004    -8.315692   -1.535409
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But this mostly goes away when you control for the south (using the Census south minus DE and MD, or the Confederate states + OK/KY/WV):
. logit syg south googleracism

Iteration 0:   log likelihood =   -34.0146  
Iteration 1:   log likelihood = -25.235645  
Iteration 2:   log likelihood = -25.178221  
Iteration 3:   log likelihood = -25.178059  
Iteration 4:   log likelihood = -25.178059  

Logistic regression                               Number of obs   =         50
                                                  LR chi2(2)      =      17.67
                                                  Prob > chi2     =     0.0001
Log likelihood = -25.178059                       Pseudo R2       =     0.2598

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         syg |      Coef.   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|     [95% Conf. Interval]
-------------+----------------------------------------------------------------
       south |   2.351855   .9353115     2.51   0.012     .5186779    4.185032
googleracism |   3.693225   2.995435     1.23   0.218    -2.177719    9.564169
       _cons |  -3.257053   1.833913    -1.78   0.076    -6.851457    .3373506
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:59 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


One possibility though is that possibly Witness #9 did not want charges pressed

Isn't the victim declining to press charges a TV fantasy? Do prosecutors normally take the victim's wishes into account when deciding what charges to bring?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:59 AM on July 15, 2013


Isn't the victim declining to press charges a TV fantasy? Do prosecutors normally take the victim's wishes into account when deciding what charges to bring?

Well, yeah. If the only witness to an event for which there is probably no physical evidence refuses to testify, there isn't much of a case.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, it looks like everyone who hoped no one would profit off this may be disappointed...

Zimmerman Trial Juror To Write Book (per Salon)
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2013


Witness #9's wishes probably don't enter into it. The statute of limitation is probably long past since the alleged events happened when they were kids, didn't it?
posted by Justinian at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Justinian,

"In regards to child molestation specifically, there have recently been many changes to the statute of limitations nationwide. Indeed, eleven states have completely removed the limitations for child-sex crimes in the past 10 years. But after the Supreme court ruled that retroactively changing the statute of limitations (in order to prosecute crimes from long ago) was unconstitutional, many states were forced to scrap plans to do just that (Florida was one such state). The current law only allows four years from the date of the incident, but the law is likely to change soon, as there are many bills on the floor (as of 2006) to extend it to 10 years. "
four years! what a fucking disgrace
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


BTW, Future Media Personality Juror B37 is the one that claimed (among other weirdness) multiple times that she "knew there was rioting" in Sanford after the killing, despite no such thing happening. I have to imagine she characterizes the nationwide protesting as an apocalyptic racial uprising.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:14 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, there's maybe another reason Sanford residents are concerned about rioting...and it also brings questions back to what the hell is up with that police department.
While the trial was still going on, Sanford police took a pre-emptive approach as they went door-to-door in the area warning residents about possible riots or uprisings should the former neighborhood watch member be acquitted in the murder trial.
posted by corb at 12:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


ROU_X, nice - but how confounded are "south" and "googleracism"? If they overlap a lot it's not much of a "control", right?
posted by en forme de poire at 12:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


(It seems like the only way you could really tease apart the effects of "background" racism and SYG is if there were states that had high googleracism and wanted SYG but didn't get it. That seems impossible at first blush, but I guess it could happen if there were states that had popular support for SYG, but where SYG laws ended up being vetoed by the governor or not making it through the legislative branch or something.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb: "Well, there's maybe another reason Sanford residents are concerned about rioting"

Your defense of someone who fabricated claims of riots before the verdict is to link to a fucking Daily Mail piece talking about riots that didn't happen after the verdict?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I still find it pretty weird that almost everyone refers to the victim as "Trayvon," rather than by his last name as is far, far more common (and indeed, I see no one referring to Zimmerman as "George"). I am aware of the racial implications. Regardless of whether it is motivated by race or age, it's quite patronizing.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:26 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find myself calling him by his first name cause he was a child and I don't usually call kids by their last name.
posted by agregoli at 12:28 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


People refer to the unique part of the name. "Martin" and "George" are too non-descript to be useful referents.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


ROU_X, nice - but how confounded are "south" and "googleracism"? If they overlap a lot it's not much of a "control", right?

Some. I threw away the dataset when I was done so I can't run the correlation but I'd be surprised if it's over 0.5; there are a lot of racist nonsouth states, and some southern states were surprisingly low. Glancing at it, it didn't look problematically collinear.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Admittedly, I've made a point of referring to Zimmerman as 'George,' because I can't think of him as anything but as a clueless kid.

Trayvon is just too cool a name to not use it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:31 PM on July 15, 2013


Your response to someone who fabricated claims of riots before the verdict is to link to a fucking Daily Mail piece talking about riots that didn't happen after the verdict?

Apologies if my sarcasm didn't come across clearly. What I was trying to suggest is that police going door to door to every door in Sanford (presumably including this woman's family and friends) while the trial was ongoing to warn about riots if there was an acquittal was not only an incredibly unethical thing to do, but it may have had a subconscious influencing affect on people's beliefs.

It seems overall that the only riots which took place happened in Oakland, though - there was another (violent) one last night. But that is likely due more to existing tensions in Oakland than to anything specific about the trial itself.
posted by corb at 12:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


why the fuck are we talking about riots
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still find it pretty weird that almost everyone refers to the victim as "Trayvon," rather than by his last name as is far, far more common (and indeed, I see no one referring to Zimmerman as "George"). I am aware of the racial implications. Regardless of whether it is motivated by race or age, it's quite patronizing.

"Martin" appears on this page 339 times. "Trayvon" only 183.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2013


because corb's other talking points have been shut down
posted by angrycat at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Gotta fill the 24 hour news cycle with something.

There's been a lot of discussion about federal charges on the news (and here) but I don't see how that could work. It would be a lot harder to prove a hate crimes charge than a manslaughter charge and prosecutors failed even at that. Sure maybe you get better prosecutors next time but proving a hate crime is a really high bar.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that the federal civil rights charges are a long shot, and they feed into the states' rights mentality of the assholes who are celebrating Zimmerman's acquittal. Better to devote resources to fighting the terrible self-defense laws at the state level for the next time this happens, and let the DOJ focus on other real threats to civil rights, like the whack-a-mole game of preserving voting rights in the wake of the Shelby County decision.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:41 PM on July 15, 2013


"Martin" and "George" are too non-descript to be useful referents.

That's ridiculous. Plenty of people have nondescript names, but the media/world at large use them anyway.

"Martin" appears on this page 339 times. "Trayvon" only 183.

Sorry, I should have been clear that I wasn't singling out MetaFilter here. I mean everywhere, it seems like his first name is at least as common if not more so than his last. Yes he was a kid, but not, like, a toddler. Just seems unusual.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:41 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't followed this story outside of the NYT article I read today on the verdict, and a lot of this thread. It seems weird how much attention is on race, when race seems like such an irrelevant issue to GZ's guilt or innocence.

The jury decision seems completely justified given the evidence presented. There is indeed a reasonable doubt to self-defense given the evidence presented. See this New York Times summary of the key disputes in the trial.

Regardless of whether TM was racially profiled, or even if GZ started the fight by randomly sucker-punching TM (a claim which no one made):

- there were grass stains on TM's knees and on GZ's back.

- there were injuries to GZ's face and head and no injuries on TM except the gunshot wound and knuckle abrasions.

- a witness to the fight, John Good, describes a man fitting TM's appearance straddling a man fitting GZs appearance.

- a neighbor's 911 call features a panicked man screaming for help in the background for something like a minute before the gunshot, which given the above evidence, suggests that man was GZ.

So regardless if GZ started the fight (unknown), and regardless if GZ was armed, and regardless if GZ was over-estimating the damage he was taking, this suggests there was continued violence against him long after he was clearly trying to bow out of the fight. He wasn't fighting back, he was saying "stop" and the violence wasn't stopping.

Can we say this is what happened for sure? Nope. Can we say this leaves easy room for reasonable doubt? Yes.

Unless of course, the NYT piece is leaving out crucial pieces of evidence (possible), but in 900 comments here I've seen very little evidence discussed. Just lots and lots and lots of emotional talk about race, a vaguely broken criminal justice system, and GZ's obvious guilt.
posted by dgaicun at 12:48 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Martin" appears on this page 339 times. "Trayvon" only 183.

No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It seems weird how much attention is on race,

Hi. Welcome to the United States of America. You must be new here.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Anyone interested in statistics of SYG in Fl, Tampa Bay Times has a database, and even though in mixed race SYG cases more whites were granted immunity than blacks, Tampa Bay Times found no racial bias in the cases.

Race plays complex role in Florida's 'stand your ground' law
posted by snaparapans at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2013


dgaicun: "I haven't followed this story outside of the NYT article I read today on the verdict, and a lot of this thread. It seems weird how much attention is on race, when race seems like such an irrelevant issue to GZ's guilt or innocence."

One does not need to believe the jury arrived at the wrong verdict based on the letter of the law and the instructions they were given to think that the race of the victim was a major factor, and that justice was not served. Some people (I count myself among them) think the self-defense law itself is an unjust law, and that, even if it were applied in a racially-equitable manner (which it is not) it's an abomination that essentially allows someone to start a fight and then shoot and kill someone if they're losing, provided there are no witnesses.

The statistics (cited above) are clear on the fact that self-defense claims are more successful if the victim is black than if the victim is white. That in and of itself is enough to make a discussion of race in the wake of this verdict relevant.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Or, to be more succinct about it -- it's not that these jurors were biased in acquitting someone who shot an unarmed black man, it's that, statistically, they would be unlikely to do the same if the victim were white. Ergo, race is relevant.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems weird how much attention is on race, when race seems like such an irrelevant issue to GZ's guilt or innocence.

Are you not from the US?

a vaguely broken criminal justice system

Vaguely?

and GZ's obvious guilt.

[citation needed]
posted by zombieflanders at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2013


dgaicun,

I can only conclude that when someone comes into here and distorts facts and avers things that are not true, in the direction of making Zimmerman look like a poor innocent individual after he intentionally shot and killed a minor, that they have some sort of axe to grind.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2013


there were injuries to GZ's face and head and no injuries on TM except the gunshot wound and knuckle abrasions.

Other than that, Ms. Lincoln, how was the play?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:59 PM on July 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


It seems weird how much attention is on race, when race seems like such an irrelevant issue to GZ's guilt or innocence.

Because it race played a part in Trayvon Martin's death. It's terrible that George is on trial, but he could have avoided that by staying in the goddamn car and not playing cowboy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


lots and lots and lots of emotional talk about race

There's been substantive discussion of the role racism plays in US criminal justice in general and this case in particular.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember, folks, the real problem in America is not laws applied in a racially-biased manner, it's the pain and suffering caused by people who talk about the fact that laws are applied in a racially-biased manner.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Anyone interested in statistics of SYG in Fl, Tampa Bay Times has a database, and even though in mixed race SYG cases more whites were granted immunity than blacks, Tampa Bay Times found no racial bias in the cases.

We went over this in one of the other threads about this case, but that's not entirely accurate. The Times actually pointed out that their data doesn't disprove bias, either:
The analysis, however, is supported by numerous studies showing disparities in the way whites and blacks are treated by the criminal justice system. Studies have found that all-white juries are more likely to convict black defendants. Someone who murders a white person is more likely to get the death penalty than someone who kills a black person.

Adora Obi Nweze, state president of the NAACP, said she was not surprised that people claiming "stand your ground'' escaped penalty more often when the victim was black. But she sharply questioned whether "stand your ground'' really helps black defendants.

"It's very difficult to isolate the data on one law,'' she said, "when we have so many laws where blacks are disproportionately not released, not given the kind of equity you want in justice."
In addition, there was this Urban Institute study concerning the rulings on "stand your ground" cases that supported the idea of increased racial disparities due to SYG laws.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:05 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Clearly trying to bow out" of a confrontation he instigated by DRIVING BEHIND A TEENAGER HE DID NOT KNOW, GETTING OUT OF HIS CAR TO FOLLOW THE TEENAGER, CONFRONTING THE TEENAGER who was scared out of his mind that a stranger had been following him and was now coming after him.

What on earth are people not fucking getting about this?????
posted by sio42 at 1:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


sio42,

Some people desperately want to believe that George Zimmerman is an innocent man who justifiably shot and killed a thug that attacked him and threatened his life.

I do not know what their motivations are for believing this, but my suspicions and guesses are not charitable.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Snaparapans: Tampa Bay Times found no racial bias in the cases.

'A Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 cases — the first to examine the role of race in "stand your ground" — found that people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time.

"I don't think judges or prosecutors or whoever works in the field of criminal justice is consciously saying black life is worth less than that of other ethnicities,'' said Kareem Jordan, a criminologist at the University of Central Florida. "But at the end of the day, it could be something that's subconscious going on if you look at how the media depicts black life.'''


I guess we read that differently.
posted by billiebee at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people desperately want to believe that George Zimmerman is an innocent man who justifiably shot and killed a thug that attacked him and threatened his life.

Through this thread (and the previous ones), it's become clear to me that the people who identify more with Zimmerman do so at least in part because the story, as they see it, starts with Martin allegedly leaping out and attacking Zimmerman.

It doesn't start when Zimmerman follows him from his car; it doesn't start when Zimmerman gets out of his car. But that's where it begins for me, and that's why I can't help but see myself in Martin's shoes.
posted by rtha at 1:15 PM on July 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


Yes rtha - exactly. That what is boggles my mind - people forget all what led up to this. And the jury instructions don't even mention anything except the moment where GZ supposedly feared for his life, nothing at all about how he could have been perceived as the threatening due to the previous 10 minutes. It's like 1984 and they're just rewriting history or just removing huge inconvenient chunks.
posted by sio42 at 1:18 PM on July 15, 2013


Yes zombieflanders, nothing conclusive, but the Tampa Bay Study is a great resource to look at SYG laws, imo. Those laws are quite poplular across the boards.

The Times analysis found no obvious bias in how black defendants have been treated:

In fact the quote of Adoda Obi Nweze may have been in response this:
"Let's be clear,'' said Alfreda Coward, a black Fort Lauderdale lawyer whose clients are mostly black men. "This law was not designed for the protection of young black males, but it's benefiting them in certain cases.''
And do not get me wrong here, there is unquestionably racial bias in the US justice system, plenty of it to provoke outrage on a daily basis. Just not so clear a pattern in FL SYG tampa bay study.
posted by snaparapans at 1:20 PM on July 15, 2013


billiebee: I guess you stopped reading after that statistic. The title of the article gives you a hint as to the findings...
posted by snaparapans at 1:22 PM on July 15, 2013


In the end, the true problem with SYG laws is that, repeated protestations to the contrary or their perceived popularity, they do not actually do what they were enacted to do (reduce violent crime), nor do they actually confer protection to the populace as a whole. If anything, they have been proven to increase crime and take away the protection of wide swaths of people. Any racial disparities that exist (and that is arguable either way according to the Times study) would be a rotten cherry on the shit sundae that is SYG.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:23 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the jury instructions don't even mention anything except the moment where GZ supposedly feared for his life, nothing at all about how he could have been perceived as the threatening due to the previous 10 minutes.

See previous thread if you're interested in that. Arguing over how "provocation" would be applied in this case formed a big chunk of the latter part of the thread. That and the yelling.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on July 15, 2013


I can only conclude that when someone comes into here and distorts facts and avers things that are not true, in the direction of making Zimmerman look like a poor innocent individual after he intentionally shot and killed a minor, that they have some sort of axe to grind.

Oh FFS. Do you really have THAT poor an understanding of the most basic principle of the US justice system? George Zimmerman does not need to prove his innocence. The state has to prove his guilt. There is not and never has been (as was obvious from the very start, when the original DA made what has proven to be a very sound decision not to prosecute an unprovable case) sufficient evidence to prove his guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Dgaicun wasn't "making Zimmerman look like a poor innocent individual" s/he was pointing out that the evidence of his guilt is simply insufficient to make a convincing case in a court of law. That fact has been self evident to anyone who is willing to actually examine the evidence and the law from the time the story first broke into the newspapers. And all of this is utterly independent of whether George Zimmerman is a racist asshole or a sweetnatured angel and whether Trayvon Martin was a wannabe gangster or the saintliest being who ever walked the earth.

Under Florida law, George Zimmerman had a right to use lethal force to defend his life. Under Florida law, the prosecution has to prove either that he would not have had a reasonable fear for his life at the time he discharged his weapon, OR that he had done something which would have invalidated his right to self defense at that time (i.e., that he was in the midst of committing a felony). There is no evidence, at all, that he was in the midst of committing a felony at the time that he discharged the weapon (which is why we have all this absurd nonsense about him "disobeying" the "orders" of the 911 dispatcher--as if anyone on Metafilter would normally argue for a second that 911 dispatchers have legal authority over us!). It is perfectly legal to think that passersby on the street might be up to no good and it is perfectly legal to think so for stupid, offensive and wholly inadequate reasons and it is perfectly legal to go up to them in a public place and ask them what their business is. No one would argue for a second that George Zimmerman had voided his right to self defense were ALL the other facts in this case identical, but there was, say, video footage showing him approaching Martin, speaking to Martin, and Martin pulling a gun on him. So, clearly, nothing that preceded the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin had invalidated Zimmerman's right, under Florida law, to use lethal force to defend himself if he felt to be in fear for his life.

So ALL the blah blah blah about what preceded the actual physical altercation between Martin and Zimmerman is, in fact, irrelevant to the question of Zimmerman's criminal guilt (it may well become relevant in a civil suit, but that's another matter). George Zimmerman can be as much or as little of the eeeeevil racist monster most of you want to believe him to be (short of actually forming a predetermined plan to go out and shoot the first black guy he saw--something that the state did not try to prove, that does not fit the available facts and for which there is not the slightest shred of evidence) without that having anything to do with what the jury was actually trying to determine. The only issue actually before the jury was whether the state could prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that at the time George Zimmerman fired his gun he was not, in fact, defending himself against what he took to be a credible threat. Once you have zero evidence as to the question of who initiated the physical altercation between the two and also have eyewitness testimony to the effect that Martin was sitting on top of Zimmerman pummeling him, and zero physical evidence that contradicts Zimmerman's account the state's case simply collapses. NOT because we automatically have to believe that eyewitness or Zimmerman's story, but because we have precisely zero countervailing evidence. We cannot say that there is not a reasonable doubt as to whether Zimmerman's version may not be true.
posted by yoink at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've repeated mentioned that George should have stayed in the car and that his unwillingness to do so puts the responsibility on him for Trayvon's death.

This view comes from volunteer training in disaster preparedness where it was hammered into us that we are not professionals, we're there to assist professional on the scene or until they arrive. We are not give any sort of professional help, because we haven't bee probably trained. For instance, we're not supposed to move someone unless the situation is life threatening. We're not supposed to give an injured person anything except water, unless it's life threatening.

And we're volunteers without guns. So when I hear that a volunteer with a gun willfully ignores professional advice (the dispatcher advising him to stay in the car), there's no question in my mind who's at fault when someone winds up dead.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:26 PM on July 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


It doesn't start when Zimmerman follows him from his car; it doesn't start when Zimmerman gets out of his car. But that's where it begins for me, and that's why I can't help but see myself in Martin's shoes.

Yeah, I think it feels so unnatural to me to identify with Zimmerman because I've often left my apartment to walk to the store and get a snack; I can't for the life of me remember the last time I drove around with a firearm, looking for humans who I deem worthy of being shot.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [50 favorites]


I personally don't care a whole hell of a lot if it was the law's fault or the prosecution's fault or the judge's fault or the jury's fault. What you got is a dead kid for no good reason, a country where race always matters, and a clearly stupid, dangerous man being worshipped as an avatar of self-reliance. Okay, I have an ax to grind about all that shit, I guess.
posted by angrycat at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The issue of the burden of proof in this case something that isn't really being argued anymore, yoink. The problematic part of dgaicun's comment (apart from threadshitting for that reason) was that they went on to (a) make racism in the law and justice systems out to be not a big deal that people were overreacting to, and (b) lie about the frequency of people claiming Zimmerman's "obvious guilt."
posted by zombieflanders at 1:31 PM on July 15, 2013




yes, zombieflanders it is clear that SYG laws appear to correlate with more deaths, including deaths caused by police.
posted by snaparapans at 1:32 PM on July 15, 2013


Oh FFS. Do you really have THAT poor an understanding of the most basic principle of the US justice system?

Do you always misapply and misread what other people say?

George Zimmerman does not need to prove his innocence. The state has to prove his guilt.

No shit. I'm talking not about the court case that has been settled, but what is going on in this thread. Many people have come in here and made up bullshit, saying things that are patently untrue, or distortions of what actually happened. Things like, Martin was bashing Zimmerman's head on the ground, or that Zimmerman continually tried to get away but that Martin kept attacking him.

There is actually zero evidence for such a conclusion so I wonder why the fuck people come to it, unless they want to believe that Zimmerman is good and Martin is bad.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


People who are supporting GZ keep referring to "pummeling".

A few months ago, a friend of mine was mugged. He got beat up pretty badly. Black eye, split lip, lacerations on his face. He had bruising and scabs for several WEEKS.

When I see pictures of GZ's injuries... This is why I have such a hard time understanding what has happened. Is that supposed to be a picture of a man who was in fear of his life? He looks better than my friend who was beaten up did even two weeks later. Maybe the jurors had never seen what injuries from an assault look like in real life.

That must be it. That has to be it. It's almost 5. I need a beer.
posted by sio42 at 1:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


It doesn't start when Zimmerman follows him from his car; it doesn't start when Zimmerman gets out of his car.

I would go back farther, to 2009 when George Zimmerman had with problems with Big Boi, the pit bull. Apparently, it was that incident that prompted him to buy a gun at the end of that year. From that point, a long chain of events lead up to the incident with Trayvon Martin.

No, there is no super-duper direct link between what happened with the two incidents other than the gun purchase. However, and only symbolically, when I examine how I feel about a particular tragic outcome, seeing some sort of through line helps me understand. Of course, that through line is meaningless in the larger picture, but it always gives me pause to think how a simple incident that causes a person to do a particular thing, ends up in a horrible situation such as what happened on February 26, 2012.

In the end, a young man who did not deserve to be dead is exactly that. All the fancy timelines with their detailed descriptions does not take away the simple fact that had George Zimmerman walked the other way or even maybe had Trayvon Marting chatted with the store clerk for another 5 minutes, Trayvon might still be alive and this thread-zilla would not exist.

It's weird, I know.....but I always think about this stuff.

rip Trayvon Martin
posted by lampshade at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


At a certain point, obsessively reading the news and opinions about this horrible case begins to make everything seem like it's being written by Onion staffers. For the record, the following are authentic Onion stories and are intended as satire.

Zimmerman Found Not Guilty, Technically, But C’mon

Defense: ‘George Zimmerman Is, You Know, He’s A Decent Enough Guy’

"I Think People Could Have Been A Little More Sympathetic About My Broken Nose" By George Zimmerman

Nation Throws Hands Up, Tells Black Teenagers To Do Their Best Out There

George Zimmerman Not Going To Let One Bad Experience Deter Him From Neighborhood Watch Responsibilities

And now back to the actual words of reporters, pundits, lawyers, the defendant, and his supporters. (God help us alll.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


When I see pictures of GZ's injuries... This is why I have such a hard time understanding what has happened. Is that supposed to be a picture of a man who was in fear of his life? He looks better than my friend who was beaten up did even two weeks later. Maybe the jurors had never seen what injuries from an assault look like in real life.

To me it looked like every teenager fight I ever saw. Punch, brief wrestle, to the ground, more ineffective swings. They presented it like it was lawless combat to the death in the Octogon. It looked more like teenagers at the bus stop to me.

The whole MMA framing drove me crazy, including the testimony rating Zimmerman's fighting skills. Oh, he's a .5? What's 10? Brock Lesnar? Yes, Zimmerman is a .5 compared to Brock Lesnar but he wasn't fighting Brock Lesnar, he was an adult former bouncer with a year of training in a fistfight with a skinny teenager that wasn't even trained up to be a .5.

He thought he was being murdered by a dangerous criminal, and I don't believe that was a reasonable belief.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


David Simon's thoughts:


Trayvon
13 Jul

You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.

In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible. I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country. Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.

posted by longdaysjourney at 2:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


Reading over the timeline on Wikipedia, one things stands out:

After Trayvon was shot, neither George Zimmerman or the first officer on the scene attempt CPR. That's just crazy.

GZ went through the legalities of getting a gun and a permit for it. I wonder if he bothered to learn CPR or first aid.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Drinky Die: " He thought he was being murdered by a dangerous criminal, and I don't believe that was a reasonable belief."

Well, the precise problem with the Florida self-defense law is that the "reasonable doubt" comes into play when assessing whether he could have thought he was being murdered, not whether the thought that he could be murdered was reasonable or unreasonable. Orwell warned us about thoughtcrime, but what we have here is kind of a "thought get-out-of-jail-free card", which I would argue is just as dangerous, because as long as you can plausibly convince people you're a paranoid freak, you can pretty much just walk around murdering people.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:12 PM on July 15, 2013


thank you, longdaysjourney, for posting that, and thanks to David Simon for another piece of superlative writing
posted by angrycat at 2:18 PM on July 15, 2013


tonycpsu: Self-defense law is the same through out the US, save for Ohio. Florida is not unique.
posted by snaparapans at 2:19 PM on July 15, 2013


Just look at how polite these armed fellows are to each other...
That's when Adamany began emptying the magazine of his gun, shooting out the window with his left hand while driving and using the phone with his right hand, he told police.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2013


[A couple comments removed. This has been a long thread already on the tail of several previous, also long, threads; please approach it with a little more caution to address specific things being talked about currently or citing clearly specific earlier comments if they need talking about instead of jumping in with broadly dismissive comments about what you think People are saying.]
posted by cortex at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


snaparapans: "tonycpsu: Self-defense law is the same through out the US, save for Ohio. Florida is not unique."

Actually, it is unique.
Florida has a number of specific statutes relevant to self defense (not all states do, relying instead on case law), the most central of which for this trial will be: 776.013. Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

Also, FL 782.02. Justifiable use of deadly force

It seems likely that given the facts of the case the prosecution will also try to apply Florida’s aggressor statute: 776.041. Use of force by aggressor.

Finally, I expect we’ll also see the defense raise Florida’s immunity statute at trial: 776.032. Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2013


Can we say this is what happened for sure? Nope. Can we say this leaves easy room for reasonable doubt? Yes.

There is no reasonable doubt that the authorities instructed Zimmerman not to follow Martin, and that Zimmerman disobeyed those clear and straightforward instructions, after which followed Martin's subsequent killing in a direct causal fashion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on July 15, 2013


[I know it's a big thread and reloading it may be a pain, but maybe make sure you're not continuing to reply to comments that were already deleted, or carrying on a derail that's already been cut off at the head.]
posted by cortex at 2:27 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: The specific laws of FL are also specific in other states. I think the the author meant the specific law that would be pertinent to this case. Florida’s aggressor statute: 776.041. was not included in the jury instructions, and SYG immunity was also not raised. The thought crime you refer to is standard self-defense language. IANAL..

From your link:
The principle of Reasonableness is really an umbrella principle that applies to each of the previous four. The issue here is whether your perceptions and conduct in self-defense were those of a reasonable and prudent person under the same or similar circumstances.
In NY:
he may use deadly physical force for such purpose when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to:(a) Defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force
posted by snaparapans at 2:34 PM on July 15, 2013


No, the self-defense law is not the same in all 49 non-Ohio states.

The states differ on how self-defense applies in different places, usually allowing greater latitude at home for example. They differ on whether there is a duty to attempt retreat depending both on where you are and whether the force you use is lethal. Even before SYG Florida was out there permitting non-retreat self defense claims against murder anywhere you have a legal right to be. And lookee here...
Some states also consider instances where the person claiming self-defense provoked the attack as imperfect self-defense. For example, if a person creates a conflict that becomes violent then unintentionally kills the other party while defending himself, a claim of self-defense might reduce the charges or punishment, but would not excuse the killing entirely.
I guess we don't have to waste a lot of energy looking for that clause in Florida's statutes now, do we?
posted by localroger at 2:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and this would be a pretty short book if the states were all that similar to one another.
posted by localroger at 2:39 PM on July 15, 2013




OK localroger, we disagree and IANAL, my understanding is that the self-defense law that was used in this case is much the same as any state. Florida has SYG and possibly some unique things that other states have but not relevant to this case, imo.

Reasonable fear of death, and unable to flee were the two causes for justifiable homicide. Whatever you think about the case these two reasons are pretty standard in self-defense law.
posted by snaparapans at 2:44 PM on July 15, 2013


When I see pictures of GZ's injuries

You guys should let the courts know about your available expertise.
posted by rr at 2:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




When I see pictures of GZ's injuries
You guys should let the courts know about your available expertise.
I have to admit that it's not really clear to me why no one outside of the courtroom is allowed to have an opinion, but in any case:

The court heard the testimony of a medical examiner who said that Zimmerman's injuries were very insignificant. Not just insignificant; very insignificant.
posted by Flunkie at 3:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


Whatever you think about the case these two reasons are pretty standard in self-defense law.

Except for the part where some states consider it "imperfect" if you provoked the attack, which is where most people think this thing went off the rails because that wasn't considered.
posted by localroger at 3:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Florida also has an aggressor statute. But provoking in the eyes of the law is threatening to cause bodily harm. or physically attacking.

There was no evidence presented by the state that showed Zimmerman provoked Martin in this way.
posted by snaparapans at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except for the part where some states consider it "imperfect" if you provoked the attack, which is where most people think this thing went off the rails because that wasn't considered.

As established in the other thread, because there were no witnesses to the beginning of the altercation the state had no way to prove Zimmerman provoked the physical encounter.
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, because one of them is dead - yeah.
posted by edgeways at 3:16 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




Well, because one of them is dead - yeah.

Unfortunately yes. That doesn't make it untrue, though.
posted by Justinian at 3:28 PM on July 15, 2013


Just very, very convenient. Which is the point here about the problem with self-defense justifications, whether SYG or just the regular kind.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK localroger, SYG is in the jury instructions, but I do not see how the SYG applied to this case. Can you explain? My take is that if someone winds up believing that they are in mortal danger and cannot flee, they would be able to use justifiable force including homicide in any state.
posted by snaparapans at 3:32 PM on July 15, 2013


How is it "standing your ground" when you chase someone down? And you're the one who pulls a weapon?
posted by grubi at 3:42 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It isn't. They defended this case as a traditional self-defense case, not a stand your ground case.

I'm conflicted about the lawsuit against NBC. On the one hand, NBC's edit was bullshit and they need to learn to stop doing crap like that. On the other hand, Zimmerman is a mall ninja tool and I hate to see him get any money. Maybe the winnings would go to pay his attorneys since they obviously did a lot of the case for little or no pay. Relative to their typical hourly costs I mean.
posted by Justinian at 3:51 PM on July 15, 2013


Okay, then how is it self-defense if you chase someone down and you're the one who pulls the weapon?
posted by grubi at 3:59 PM on July 15, 2013


Okay, then how is it self-defense if you chase someone down and you're the one who pulls the weapon?

There are literally 2000 comments of the past several threads discussing this specific issue.
posted by jessamyn at 4:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Exactly, I've tried to point to the other thread where delmoi and I went at that point OVER AND OVER AND OVER. I don't want to do it again.
posted by Justinian at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are literally 2000 comments of the past several threads discussing this specific issue.

That's why I'm confused. I haven't seen anything that makes sense.I have read all of these, and I keep asking "But how? How is defined as that?" I'm not asking out of laziness. I'm asking because nobody has definitively shown how this qualifies.
posted by grubi at 4:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's the point and why so many people are upset by the verdict, myself included.

It does NOT make sense. You can look at my posting history if you like.
posted by sio42 at 4:08 PM on July 15, 2013


I haven't seen anything that makes sense.

Right, it doesn't make sense.
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I miss delmoi.
posted by homunculus at 4:11 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I miss delmoi.

Well, wtf.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:20 PM on July 15, 2013


OK localroger, SYG is in the jury instructions, but I do not see how the SYG applied to this case. Can you explain?

Observe, from the pre-SYG instructions:
The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force.
He instigated the situation and was confronted with a justifiably angry person ready to confront him for his asshattery. His many opportunities to not engage might have been admissible if this was the jury instruction. Instead, it was all focused on the moment of ultimate confrontation, as if that occurred in some kind of space-time vacuum where there it just happened at random without a chain of causality.
posted by localroger at 4:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"... I'm asking because nobody has definitively shown how this qualifies."
posted by grubi at 7:07 PM on July 15

Let me try to help you. There is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman, to use your words, "chase(d) someone down." None. Zip, zero, de nada.

There is an approximately 4 minute gap between the end of the last phone call Trayvon Martin was on, talking to the girl in Miami, and the start of the 911 call from a neighbor who heard the fracas, and called the cops. Plenty of time for Trayvon to physically get home, and lock the door. Or, plenty of time for Trayvon to circle back to the sidewalk T-intersection where Zimmerman says Martin first physically accosted him, and close to where Trayvon Martin's keys, cell phone, and body were eventually found.

We may never know, for sure, every detail of the altercation.

But, since none of the physical evidence contravenes Zimmerman's account of the matter significantly, that, plus Zimmerman's injury evidence, apparently created, for the jury, reasonable doubt (siding with Zimmerman by legal instruction to do so from the court) as to Zimmerman's need to use deadly, but justifiable, force. But I urge you to wade through O'Mara's closing argument, as he reviewed every witness in the case, and discussed reasonable doubt, to the jury. It's textbook, and it does, I believe, make common sense.
posted by paulsc at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me try to help you. There is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman, to use your words, "chase(d) someone down." None. Zip, zero, de nada.

Then why would the police ask him to stop following someone he supposedly wasn't following?
posted by grubi at 4:37 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah usually when i swear about fucking punks always getting away and disobey 9-1-1 dispatcher instructions it's to offer somebody a cookie
posted by angrycat at 4:40 PM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that's just it. Somehow he's not chasing someone down he's been told to stop following? Someone he describes as "getting away"? The fuck?
posted by grubi at 4:43 PM on July 15, 2013


I miss delmoi.

Makes one of us.
posted by Mapes at 4:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Then why would the police ask him to stop following someone he supposedly wasn't following?"
posted by grubi at 7:37 PM on July 15

According the prosecution's own witness, the police never, to use your words "ask(ed) him to stop following someone," because it is against their policy to command or instruct 911 callers to do, or not to do anything. They said they didn't need Zimmerman to "do that." And as it's pretty clear from your comment timestamps that you can't be bothered to read links that explain trial evidence and arguments, I'm done trying to help you.
posted by paulsc at 4:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


According the prosecution's own witness, the police never, to use your words "ask(ed) him to stop following someone," because it is against their policy to command or instruct 911 callers to do, or not to do anything. They said they didn't need Zimmerman to "do that."

And the fact that he got out of his car and described Martin as "getting away"? How is that not following him?

I'm done trying to help you.

You're not trying to help anyone. You seem to have a specific agenda to defend the point of view that Zimmerman was right. I've asked people to explain to me how in the world a man can rightfully claim self-defense when he specifically sought out another human being and then was the only one of the two to pull a weapon. You've not explained that.
posted by grubi at 4:50 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


There is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman, to use your words, "chase(d) someone down."

From the transcript:
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that.
Zimmerman: Ok
Then why would the police ask him to stop following someone he supposedly wasn't following?

The police weren't speaking to Zimmerman, it was a police dispatcher who was advising him not follow Trayvon.

There is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman, to use your words, "chase(d) someone down."

George was in his SUV when placing this call. Yet Trayvon was killed on a lawn, outside and away from GZ's car. I'm not sure how Zimmerman got out of the car unless he followed Martin.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


maybe he threw skittles at the SUV, thus putting zimmerman in mortal danger
posted by pyramid termite at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Grubi - please take a look at my history from posting today. Click on my user name and you can see what I've posted. I have asked the same questions you have and people have answered my questions.

It's hard to wrap one's head around this, I agree.
posted by sio42 at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2013


Thank you, Brandon Blatcher. That helps back up what I was saying.

paulsc: There is NO EVIDENCE that Zimmerman, to use your words, "chase(d) someone down." None. Zip, zero, de nada.

So he told the dispatcher he was following Martin. And he was in his own automobile when he said this. And he got out of the automobile at some point -- and ended up near Martin.

How precisely was he not following Trayvon Martin?
posted by grubi at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


sio42, I did look at your posting history from today. I still can't find one thing that someone asserted about Zimmerman not following Martin that holds up.
posted by grubi at 4:55 PM on July 15, 2013


grubi, there's gonna be folks who are gonna claim that there is sense to this thing, that there is some kind of fairness. they are not quite moored in reality. there are no good answers
posted by angrycat at 4:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how Zimmerman got out of the car unless he followed Martin.

Magic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not on Zimmerman's side here, but it's pretty easy to construct, in a vacuum, a scenario in which one person follows another person, is violently attacked by them and shoots them in order to stop the assault. Following is not chasing someone down.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


And you won't, grubi. Accept it, instead of trying to battle it. There is no justice to be had in this case, only the strict interpretation of bad law.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a pictorial layout of the neighborhood, with indications on were events occurred.

The blue square is Zimmerman's truck. The red square is where the shooting happened. He followed Martin. If you want to argue semantics of followed vs chased, that's fine, but's clear that Zimmerman injected himself into a potentially dangerous situation, rather than staying in his truck.

George Zimmerman is a poster child of why some people shouldn't have guns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


The police weren't speaking to Zimmerman, it was a police dispatcher who was advising him not follow Trayvon.

Ohhh, so it wasn't one member of the police department, it was another member of the police department? Well that makes it completely different then!
posted by winna at 5:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a difference between following someone and "chasing him down". (edit: Bookhouse beat me to it).

It's not fair, it doesn't make sense, I wanted (and still want) Zimmerman held responsible for Martin's death. But seeing the prosecution's evidence, seeing the defense, reading the link paulsc provided, and knowing the judge's instructions on the specific charges - if I was on that jury I would not be able to convict, in good conscience.
posted by Roommate at 5:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The court heard the testimony of a medical examiner who said that Zimmerman's injuries were very insignificant. Not just insignificant; very insignificant.

That's one of the things that makes me so sad about this. For a "reasonable" person to conclude that Zimmerman genuinely thought his life was in danger with that level of injury, he (the reasonable person) would need to believe that Zimmerman has a serious disconnect with the world as it is.

Because this whole thing has me in a very dark mood indeed, I now have this longing to make a video called "Bumblin' George" and upload it to YouTube. It would show:

- Bumbling George shaving in the morning before going to work. He gives himself a small nick, sees it in the mirror and screams, "I sliced my jugular! I'm going to bleed out!" He then picks up a gun lying nearby and fires several shots into his razor.

- Bumbling George walking through his house at night. Stubs his toe on the couch. Exclaims, "Ah, my toe! They're going to have to amputate my leg!" He then picks up a gun lying nearby and fires several shots into the couch.

- Bumbling George is parking his car at the mall. As he exits, his door swings out and hits the (empty) car next to him. George exclaims, "You crashed into my car! It's going to explode!" and then picks up a gun nearby and fires several shots at the offending car.

- Video ends with a group of people wearing NRA and StormFront paraphernalia walking up to Bumbling George and laughing with him at his antics. One of them gently chucks him on the chin and says, "Oh, George!" George exclaims, "You almost decapitated me!" Picks up a gun lying nearby and...fade to black over circus music.

I know such a video wouldn't help matters one little bit, but fantasizing about it just now brought me some small measure of relief.
posted by lord_wolf at 5:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


it doesn't make sense, I wanted (and still want) Zimmerman held responsible for Martin's death. But seeing the prosecution's evidence, seeing the defense, reading the link paulsc provided, and knowing the judge's instructions on the specific charges - if I was on that jury I would not be able to convict, in good conscience.

So that just means the laws in Florida are broken right? But I would think there still must have been a lesser charge he could have been convicted on that could at least prevent him from carrying a firearm. If I were living in Sanford I would be a lot more scared by the fact that guys like Zimmerman are carrying around 9mm's with hair-triggers and no safety than the possibility that some people may protest for peace and justice.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ohhh, so it wasn't one member of the police department, it was another member of the police department? Well that makes it completely different then!

It's my understanding that it does from a legal standpoint and that fact that Zimmerman was not explicitly told to not follow Martin, merely advised. A dispatcher had very different responsibilities than a gun, taster and handcuff toting officer in the field.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:07 PM on July 15, 2013


If I were living in Sanford I would be a lot more scared by the fact that guys like Zimmerman are carrying around 9mm's with hair-triggers and no safety than the possibility that some people may protest for peace and justice.

This is the part that kills me. Had Trayvon gotten away or merely been questioned by police, then what would have happened 2 or 3 years from now?

Martin might have too many cavities. Zimmerman might have killed someone else due to his cowboy antics.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:09 PM on July 15, 2013


There is an approximately 4 minute gap between the end of the last phone call Trayvon Martin was on, talking to the girl in Miami, and the start of the 911 call from a neighbor who heard the fracas, and called the cops. Plenty of time for Trayvon to physically get home, and lock the door. Or, plenty of time for Trayvon to circle back to the sidewalk T-intersection where Zimmerman says Martin first physically accosted him, and close to where Trayvon Martin's keys, cell phone, and body were eventually found.

Actually, there was not a 4-minute gap between the last phone call between Martin and Jenteal and the fight. In fact, she testified that she was on the phone with Martin when he was accosted by Zimmerman, which in turn doesn't give Martin any time to get back home and lock the door, and puts Zimmerman as the initial aggressor.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:10 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


he was accosted by Zimmerman, which in turn doesn't give Martin any time to get back home and lock the door, and puts him as the initial aggressor.

Please elaborate.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:14 PM on July 15, 2013


Nope, still not seeing how following a guy, especially as far as he did, will not negate the claim it was self-defense. Instead there are people trying claim he didn't follow the guy when he clearly did.
posted by grubi at 5:20 PM on July 15, 2013


We know he followed Martin (the asshole/fucking punk that always gets away) who was running away from him worried about a creepy person. We have some period of time where we aren't absolutely certain what happened after that, and some people find it reasonable that possibly the teenager running scared decided to turn around and beat the creepy person following him to death and then announced his attention to murder the person and then proceeded to try and steal a gun.

It kind of feels to me like someone chasing another party into a house with a knife shouting complaints about the person getting away, and then we don't know what happened but the person who was chased has been stabbed to death. Really, we know what happened.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:22 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Please elaborate.

According to Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin at the time, Zimmerman confronted Martin.

This varies wildly from the story Zimmerman told police, who questioned him for five hours, then released him because there was no evidence to that conflicted with his version of events. Funny what happens when someone bothers to check the last call the killed person made and question them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"... In fact, she testified that she was on the phone with Martin when he was accosted by Zimmerman, which in turn doesn't give Martin any time to get back home and lock the door, and puts him as the initial aggressor."
posted by zombieflanders at 8:10 PM on July 15

There are, at least. to consider, the call log timestamps supplied by disinterested phone companies (for Martin's and Zimmerman's phones) and separately (possibly from a different but probably network corrected clock) for 911 dispatch, there are the recorded voice logs from the 911 calls, there is testimony from eyewitnesses to part of the struggle, there are the videotaped statements by Zimmerman, there is the testimony of Jenteal, and there is the jury instruction from the court that tells the jury they are free to weight the testimony of any witness, or any piece of evidence as they find most believable, and then there is O'Mara's final argument and timeline, and the prosecution's rebuttal. The standard for decision for acquittal was "reasonable doubt."
posted by paulsc at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2013


Yes, the call logs for her phone do not show a four minute gap. Seconds, if anything. Zimmerman is the one who hung up earlier. The potential doubt about Trayvon's location from her call is that he says he is by his dad's house during the call.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin at the time, Zimmerman confronted Martin.

That link also points out she lied about her age, and lied under oath about her whereabouts during Martin's funeral. This could certainly raise "reasonable doubt" about her statements about her conversation with Martin, and whether they should be used to convict a man.
posted by Roommate at 5:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anderson Cooper just broadcast part of an interview he did with one of the jurors. It made me facepalm. Even if one thinks they probably reached the "correct" verdict according to a crappy law that lends itself to these situations it's kind of apparent it was by accident and not through some sort of nuanced consideration of all the aspects of the case.

My conviction that I never want my fate to be determined by the "reasoned deliberations" of a jury of random strangers has gotten even stronger and I didn't think that was possible.
posted by Justinian at 5:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


FWIW the initial straw poll the jurors took before they started deliberations was 3 not guilty, 2 manslaughter, and 1 2nd degree murder. That means that fully half the jury switched their opinions from a conviction to not guilty. That surprises me.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2013


That link also points out she lied about her age, and lied under oath about her whereabouts during Martin's funeral. This could certainly raise "reasonable doubt" about her statements about her conversation with Martin, and whether they should be used to convict a man.

Very true, she did lie about those things. Mind you, none of that says her testimony of the events was a lie. It also doesn't excuse the Sanford police for letting Zimmerman go because they couldn't find any evidence that contradicted his version of events.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Yes, the call logs for her phone do not show a four minute gap."
posted by Drinky Die at 8:31 PM on July 15

Her phone? To what? The beginning of the 911 Lauer call, that independently reported the struggle (and contained the screams and gunshot sound evidence)? Because, as far as I remember, O'Mara relied on network timestamps for Martin's phone, a matter of record. But I would be surprised if "her" phone logs, vs. Martin's, varied by more than a few seconds, referenced to the 911 clock. Not 4 minutes.

But it doesn't matter what I, or you, believe. It only matters what the jury came to believe.
posted by paulsc at 5:41 PM on July 15, 2013


Yes, instead we should believe the guy who lied to the police about "just getting an address"
posted by kagredon at 5:42 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]




On the other hand my opinion on what was going to decide the case which I expressed in the other thread feels kind of vindicated. The juror says that they felt the law required them to consider almost exclusively the moments leading up to the gunshot and that all the stuff leading up to it (Zimmerman following Martin, etc) did not constitute provocation under the law.

She didn't phrase it that way, of course, being unable to string together coherent thoughts and sentences. I hope that's just nerves from being interviewed by Anderson Cooper. But that's what it comes down to; what the jurors felt the law required was determining if Zimmerman felt in fear of grave bodily injury in the moments before he fired and whether or not he directly instigated the physical altercation.
posted by Justinian at 5:47 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, this juror is a chiropractor. I see the problem. (/hamburger).
posted by Justinian at 5:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what you are really getting at paulsc. What the logs show is the Martin call disconnected some time in the 7:16 minute. The first 911 call about a fight was 11 seconds into that minute. There is no four minute gap of any kind.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:50 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


That link also points out she lied about her age, and lied under oath about her whereabouts during Martin's funeral. This could certainly raise "reasonable doubt" about her statements about her conversation with Martin, and whether they should be used to convict a man.

Look, we can go back and forth on the trustworthiness of the various people, and who the burden of proof is on for reasonable doubt, but as Justinian and jessamyn stated, this is well-hashed ground already. Furthermore, it smacks of a need to continue to put Martin on trial instead Zimmerman. What people are concerned about now is less how the jury came to accept self-defense, and more how this particular application of self-defense law is problematic.

Her phone? To what? The beginning of the 911 Lauer call, that independently reported the struggle (and contained the screams and gunshot sound evidence)? Because, as far as I remember, O'Mara relied on network timestamps for Martin's phone, a matter of record. But I would be surprised if "her" phone logs, vs. Martin's, varied by more than a few seconds, referenced to the 911 clock. Not 4 minutes.

According to T-Mobile (carrier for both Jenteal and Martin), the timestamp of the end of the last call was between 7:15 and 7:16, and the 911 call from Lauer began at 7:16:11.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:50 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And again, the reason to have potential doubt about what Martin was doing from that call is that he says he is by his father's house, which can be interpreted as he turned around from there to go back and confront Zimmerman. If he did this or not, he was still on the phone for it.)
posted by Drinky Die at 5:53 PM on July 15, 2013


Furthermore, it smacks of a need to continue to put Martin on trial instead Zimmerman.

I really wish we could get some big blinky red text at the stop of the page saying STOP DOING THIS.

Because yea, that's really all i can see when i read comments like that. And there sure are a whole lot of 'em in here.

This isn't metacommentary about "how mefi handles this subject" or something either. It's just fucking depressing. Every single place i look i see it. It isn't just limited to reddit or a few right wing assholes on the internet this time, it's a significant percentage of the discourse anywhere you go.

I'm also struggling to see the point of the discussion thread of "what if he turned around or something?" since i'm still failing to see a situation in which that makes it logical for zimmerman to pull out his gun unless martin was also armed. Which he wasn't.

I'd be willing to buy that he turned around and said "hey, quit fuckin following me man" or something which then started the conflict. Judging from what we know, this is just as likely as any of the other constructed narratives.

And yet i'm not seeing a whole lot in here that are charitable to martin. Which kinda says a lot, in and of itself. In any number of other circumstances i'd think "Eh, people are just doing that thing they do where they try and imagine a situation is less awful than it seems so that it's less upsetting", but the undertones of this situation make it seem a hell of a lot more gross than that.
posted by emptythought at 5:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


What people are concerned about now is less how the jury came to accept self-defense

I missed part of the interview since I didn't even know there was an interview but it sounded to me like this juror indicated they believed it was Zimmerman yelling on the 911 tape and that nobody could prove one way or another who threw the first punch which created reasonable doubt enough for an acquittal.

The interview is really fascinating if only because it shows exactly how much or how little juries behave like you expect them to behave. And because it answers some of the questions people have raised over the last few weeks.
posted by Justinian at 5:59 PM on July 15, 2013


Look, we can go back and forth on the trustworthiness of the various people, and who the burden of proof is on for reasonable doubt, but as Justinian and jessamyn stated, this is well-hashed ground already. Furthermore, it smacks of a need to continue to put Martin on trial instead Zimmerman. What people are concerned about now is less how the jury came to accept self-defense, and more how this particular application of self-defense law is problematic.

I agree that the trustworthiness of various people is debatable. Who the burden of proof is on for reasonable doubt is not - it is explicitly on the prosecution to prove their case "beyond a reasonable doubt". The jury didn't have to "accept self-defense". They just had to accept the possibility of self defense. Or believe that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self defense. I think Zimmerman is scum, I think this whole thing has been a travesty. I wish the prosecution had presented a better case, or sought a lesser charge. But they didn't, and I would have a hard time condemning him based on the facts presented, and can sympathize with the jury not being able to do so.

The whole thing sucks and I feel kind of dirty for feeling like I'm defending Zimmerman here... I'm really not. And I sure as shit am not putting Martin on trial. But I do understand the jury's decision.
posted by Roommate at 6:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I 100% agree that "this particular application of self-defense law is problematic." It really is. I don't know how to make it better though, because there are certainly cases where self defense is justified. And I tend to fall in the camp that I'd rather err on the side of a criminal possibly going free than an innocent person going to prison for life.
posted by Roommate at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2013


And yet i'm not seeing a whole lot in here that are charitable to martin. Which kinda says a lot, in and of itself.

I don't think it says as much as you might think, though. Even though I was pretty skeptical they would get a conviction here (along with pretty much the vast majority of actual lawyers following the case that I could see), you'd have to be blind to see the amount of sketchiness from many corners of the 'pro-Zimmerman' camp on the web. I get that. I think the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt he's a jerk. I think following someone in public while armed should be illegal even though it doesn't appear to be. Certainly I don't think Martin deserved to die, and I don't think anyone here on any side does.

All that said, this is a thread about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in a murder trial. Because the prosecution bears the burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, people thinking about how the state failed to do so are necessarily going to have to think of scenarios that are 'reasonable' based on the evidence where Zimmerman did not commit a crime, and by the nature of the fact that this is a confrontation arising from two people, those will often be less charitable to Martin. By all means talk about all the larger issues from the case, but if you don't want to hear scenarios at least reasonably possible based on the evidence that aren't charitable to the victim, to put it bluntly, you're not really interested in talking about a criminal trial.
posted by dsfan at 6:08 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I 100% agree that "this particular application of self-defense law is problematic." It really is. I don't know how to make it better though, because there are certainly cases where self defense is justified.

As far as I can tell, a big problem with the law here is that self defense is a defense for everything. Murder, manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, the civil suit....

Should a theoretical person who has to kill someone in valid defense but only because of their own negligence be on death row or a life sentence? I don't think so. Should they be in jail for some period of time or pay civil damages? I think this case is a clear example that in some cases they should even if you disagree with murder or manslaughter 2.

(also, ban handguns nationally)
posted by Drinky Die at 6:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know how to make it better though, because there are certainly cases where self defense is justified.

But this wasn't self defense. I mean, instead of saying "Hey man, you look lost - can I help you?" He said, "Fucking punks always get away." He mistakenly brought the fight to himself.

He was wrong, and somebody died. If I made an honest, reasonable mistake with my car and killed someone, I would go to jail. He made an (arguably) honest, reasonable mistake with his gun.

And he's not. That seems... incorrect.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:12 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I agree that the trustworthiness of various people is debatable. Who the burden of proof is on for reasonable doubt is not - it is explicitly on the prosecution to prove their case "beyond a reasonable doubt". The jury didn't have to "accept self-defense". They just had to accept the possibility of self defense. Or believe that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self defense. I think Zimmerman is scum, I think this whole thing has been a travesty. I wish the prosecution had presented a better case, or sought a lesser charge. But they didn't, and I would have a hard time condemning him based on the facts presented, and can sympathize with the jury not being able to do so.

Yes, sorry for not expanding on the concept of reasonable doubt that's being bandied about. I'm in agreement with you, Justinian, et al on that count.

Also, I 100% agree that "this particular application of self-defense law is problematic." It really is. I don't know how to make it better though, because there are certainly cases where self defense is justified. And I tend to fall in the camp that I'd rather err on the side of a criminal possibly going free than an innocent person going to prison for life.

There's a good argument to be made about a higher burden of proof in the case of people who armed, especially when the victim is not. Of course, SYG laws are in many ways meant to do just the opposite, but the numbers don't lie when the show that SYG isn't helping to reduce violent crime and/or makes the problem worse.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think it might be useful to require a higher burden of proof for the defense when they instigate the encounter, as in this case. If that was required, instead of the final direct physical altercation that the jury was required to hold to, this would likely have gone the other way, at least on the manslaughter charge. And don't even get me started on how badly the prosecution was here. The defense didn't even have to be good (and in some cases they weren't), they just had to not fuck up what was handed to them.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This need some people have to continue to argue that Zimmerman deserves the benefit of the doubt, I just....I mean fuck, he got the biggest, bestest goddamn benefit of the doubt in the world: a not guilty verdict. He's gonna have to deal with some social approbation. Tough shit. I bet Trayvon would love to be alive enough for people to think he's an asshole.
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on July 15, 2013 [22 favorites]


But this wasn't self defense. I mean, instead of saying "Hey man, you look lost - can I help you?" He said, "Fucking punks always get away." He mistakenly brought the fight to himself.

I wonder what he would have said/thought if it were a white kid with a hoodie and a bag of skittles. I really think it would have been a lot more like the former.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure if this has been posted, but Part 1 of Anderson Cooper's interview with juror B37, Part 2. I can't even.
posted by eunoia at 6:50 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


But this wasn't self defense. I mean, instead of saying "Hey man, you look lost - can I help you?" He said, "Fucking punks always get away." He mistakenly brought the fight to himself.
I wonder what he would have said/thought if it were a white kid with a hoodie and a bag of skittles. I really think it would have been a lot more like the former.
This is entirely supposition, of course, but my gut feeling is that that's unlikely. I think it's more likely that a kid he didn't perceive as a punk wouldn't have even pinged his radar.

He wasn't looking to help anybody. He was looking to prove he was a real man. "Lost kid" would've been forgotten in a moment, as he continued his hunt for a punk.
posted by Flunkie at 6:59 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I still can't get over is how the cops fucking released the guy at first. At that point it was totally clear you could actually no-shit, fucking shoot someone and just walk away in Florida.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I made an honest, reasonable mistake with my car and killed someone, I would go to jail. He made an (arguably) honest, reasonable mistake with his gun.

And he's not. That seems... incorrect.

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt


I couldn't agree more. This is why it's startling to me that he wasn't convicted of manslaughter. I'm actually still feeling shock over this verdict.
posted by agregoli at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


All that said, this is a thread about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in a murder trial. Because the prosecution bears the burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, people thinking about how the state failed to do so are necessarily going to have to think of scenarios that are 'reasonable' based on the evidence where Zimmerman did not commit a crime, and by the nature of the fact that this is a confrontation arising from two people, those will often be less charitable to Martin. By all means talk about all the larger issues from the case, but if you don't want to hear scenarios at least reasonably possible based on the evidence that aren't charitable to the victim, to put it bluntly, you're not really interested in talking about a criminal trial.

I think this is a really uncharitable reading of my post, and shoots right by and over the top of my point.

I have no issue with hearing what-ifs, or failures to explore possible angles from the prosection(of which there are many, they seriously fudged this one up.) there's a plethora of great posts in this thread exploring that.

What bugs me are the posts that basically play right in to the "scary black kid" stereotype shit. The kind of stuff where the narrative only makes sense if you buy in the, as was said above, crazy negro went crazy kind of narrative where it's just something like "not that surprising or implausible" that things happened the way zimmerman is saying they did.

There's just a lot of posts in here like that, which start off on the premise of something like "lets say martin jumped him to kick his ass for following him and then..."

There's a difference between "What narratives and angles could the prosecution have explored this from?" and "Lets write up white supremacist fantasies that make zimmermans actions seem more reasonable and logical".

Both of those things are going on here, and a lot of people are trying to pretend the second type of post is the first type. By saying that i'm attacking the first type by calling out the second type... you're basically giving legitimacy to their puppet show claims to such.

I have no idea what your intentions were, but i'm really hoping you can see the difference here.

Because as i said, there's a difference between "uncharitable to the victim" and "fantasy land". It may be in the eye of the beholder, but i'll vehemently claim it exists right up until i fall on my sword here.
posted by emptythought at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I still can't get over is how the cops fucking released the guy at first.

This to me is where the greatest injustice occurs. They didn't just release him, they released him without gathering basically ANY evidence. So then, they try him, and he's found not guilty, because there wasn't sufficient evidence contradicting his story -- because the police didn't fucking gather any!!!
posted by KathrynT at 7:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [28 favorites]


I... I think the juror couldn't even keep witnesses straight. She just confused Zimmerman's friend who was a medic in Vietnam with the medical expert who testified to forensics. I think?
posted by Justinian at 7:03 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Him being released in the context of the entire situation really felt like some 1950s KKK dudes walking on lynchings because no one will arrest much less charge or convict shit. The whole situation has played out like something from one of the first VHS tapes from eyes on the prize i watched when i was like 12, honestly.

Normally i'd feel like that was hyperbolic or inflammatory, which it may be a little bit, but it just felt like such a good ol boys slap on the back and clink the beer glasses together "we got your back bro" kinda fucked up thing.
posted by emptythought at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


...this is a thread about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in a murder trial.... By all means talk about all the larger issues from the case, but if you don't want to hear scenarios at least reasonably possible based on the evidence that aren't charitable to the victim, to put it bluntly, you're not really interested in talking about a criminal trial.

This is also a thread about racism in America. In this thread and in the wider public discussion, people who hold Zimmerman in the wrong legally and/or ethically have been more willing to engage legal arguments than those who find some merit in Zimmerman's actions legally and/or ethically have be willing to engage arguments about racism. Indeed, many of the arguments focused on the letter of the law don't even acknowledge the racist critique that calls into question the extent to which our laws are just.

Personally, I'm not interested in talking about a criminal trial that if that discussion ignores racist cultural and institutional contexts. Or, as Attorney General Holder said:
Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally-charged issues that this case has raised. We must not – as we have too often in the past – let this opportunity pass.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:14 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure if this has been posted, but Part 1 of Anderson Cooper's interview with juror B37, Part 2. I can't even.

Folks, don't watch part 2 if you want to keep your sanity.
posted by phaedon at 7:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I... I think the juror couldn't even keep witnesses straight. She just confused Zimmerman's friend who was a medic in Vietnam with the medical expert who testified to forensics. I think?

Yeah, I got that impression as well. It doesn't help that she's terribly inarticulate (and I feel like I'm being generous in saying that). And seconding the recommendation to not watch part 2, unless you're a big Zimmerman supporter and you want to hear someone else cheerleading for him.
posted by palomar at 7:21 PM on July 15, 2013


What bugs me are the posts that basically play right in to the "scary black kid" stereotype shit. The kind of stuff where the narrative only makes sense if you buy in the, as was said above, crazy negro went crazy kind of narrative where it's just something like "not that surprising or implausible" that things happened the way zimmerman is saying they did.

You don't have to believe Martin was a 'crazy negro' (speaking of uncharitable) to believe he initiated the physical confrontation--for crying out loud, there are posts in this thread that have argued that he was right to do so that are indisputably on the anti-Zimmerman side. Do you think this argument, posted above, is the argument of a 'white supremacist'?:
"Think about it: We're told over and over that if Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, according to Florida law, he had the right to put a bullet in the chamber of his concealed handgun, get out of his car after being told not to by the 911 dispatcher and follow and confront Martin and shoot him to death.

At the same time, we are told that Martin, who had far greater reason to fear Zimmerman, practically and for reasons of American history, did not have the right to confront his stalker, stand his ground and defend himself, including by using his fists. We are told that this was entirely unjustified and by doing so, Martin justified his own execution."
posted by dsfan at 7:21 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


At the risk of a derail:

In 2010, the University of Florida SWAT team shot a disabled graduate student from Ghana in the head with a semi-automatic assault rifle. [More: 1, 2, 3.]

If this is how the police at Florida's most enlightened institution behave, it seems almost extravagant to expect its legislature or juries to show greater prudence.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Notes from the Anderson Cooper interview with a juror:

She felt sorry for Rachel Jeantel , because of her poor communication skills and lack of education, did not find her credible and at times could barely understand her. Also, her version of events didn't match up with George Zimmerman's 911 call, even though she admits George's call ended two minutes before Rachel's.

The juror actually says Rachel was speaking in a way the juror had never heard before, which compounded the juror not being able to understand her testimony. Unbelievable how the juror doesn't view that as an issue.

Also feels that Zimmerman's heart was in the right place, but things went terribly wrong and if he's guilty of anything, it's that he's guilty of not using good judgement and should not have gotten out of the car. But the 911 operator kind of egged him on by asking if he could see where Martin went. Feels the operator should have said "stay in your car."

Thinks Trayvon threw the first punch and that George had a right to protect himself at that point. Believes it was George screaming for help on the recordings and that race played no part in the situation. Race was never discussed among the jurors.

Thinks George Z was just frustrated and would be ok with him as part of neighborhood watch where she lived, because he's learned his lesson about going to far. He would be more responsible that anyone on this planet right now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


"In this thread and in the wider public discussion, people who hold Zimmerman in the wrong legally and/or ethically have been more willing to engage legal arguments than those who find some merit in Zimmerman's actions legally and/or ethically have be willing to engage arguments about racism."

Maybe the people here who find some merit in Zimmerman's actions legally and/or ethically, or at least the verdict at any rate, don't disagree with the arguments raised about racism and therefore there isn't much to argue about?
posted by cheburashka at 7:25 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The juror refers to Trayvon Martin and Rachel Jeantel as "these people" and "their way of life", which... wtf.
posted by palomar at 7:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


She felt sorry for Rachel Jeantel , because of her poor communication skills

IRONY
posted by Justinian at 7:40 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




Apparently juror B27 is writing a book.
posted by immlass at 7:44 PM on July 15, 2013


I'm starting to feel like there should be a law preventing jurors from profiting from the cases they serve on.
posted by palomar at 7:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Race was never discussed among the jurors.
posted by shothotbot at 7:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


You don't have to believe Martin was a 'crazy negro' (speaking of uncharitable) to believe he initiated the physical confrontation--for crying out loud, there are posts in this thread that have argued that he was right to do so that are indisputably on the anti-Zimmerman side. Do you think this argument, posted above, is the argument of a 'white supremacist'?:

No, but you're once again lumping two distinct but similar-at-a-glance things together here.(i'd also like to note before i continue that i was referencing this comment from above with my "crazy" line that you referenced as also uncharitable).

There's a big, wide swath of ground between the people saying he was justified if/when/chooseyourownadventure he attacked or defended himself and the people saying that he initiated the conflict or attacked out of nowhere. These are blatantly separate groups if you pay attention to their narratives and how they're presenting their points.

So no, i don't think that post is white supremacist at all. But it's also note remotely what i was talking about and almost seems like a choice pull-quote to ty and minimize the issue i'm discussing, and kind some dirt over the line between the two distinct groups of arguments i outlined both here and in my previous post.
posted by emptythought at 7:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ohhh, so it wasn't one member of the police department, it was another member of the police department? Well that makes it completely different then!

Dispatchers are not police officers. They're civilians.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 2010, the University of Florida SWAT team shot a disabled graduate student from Ghana in the head with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Is it weird that my very first thought, right out the gate was "And why the fuck does a university police department have a swat team?"
posted by emptythought at 7:48 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it weird that my very first thought, right out the gate was "And why the fuck does a university police department have a swat team?"

There have been mass shootings in schools and universities in the US, which mandates having professionally armed people on campuses.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on July 15, 2013


There are campus police, and in the US when you have police you have SWAT.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:57 PM on July 15, 2013


Thinks George Z was just frustrated and would be ok with him as part of neighborhood watch where she lived, because he's learned his lesson about going to far. He would be more responsible that anyone on this planet right now.

Yes, skating prison time for shooting an unarmed kid. That'll teach him!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was stupid enough to engage in a Facebook conversation about this case. Within three comments, the phrase "thug life" was used in reference to Martin as part of the commenter's justification for why it was okay to kill him.

Metafilter, we don't always agree, but I am so so so glad you're here and that you aren't Facebook.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [23 favorites]


I got "bad egg".
posted by Drinky Die at 8:03 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I thought conservatives were against killing eggs.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:04 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe the people here who find some merit in Zimmerman's actions legally and/or ethically, or at least the verdict at any rate, don't disagree with the arguments raised about racism and therefore there isn't much to argue about?

Maybe they believe racism doesn't play a role in criminal justice. Maybe they believe racism doesn't exist or exists only within personal attitudes and not wider social and institutional instantiations. If they don't speak up, we can't tell their position one way or another.

Given the history of racism in America, which is one in which racism is studiously denied and ignored by those who benefit from it, I'm inclined to read more disagreement than agreement when it comes to a discussion of the Zimmerman case that confines itself to legal questions while not mentioning, let along engaging with, agree or disagree, the viewpoint that our laws and their execution are fraught with the defects of racism.

By all means, if you agree with the systemic racism critique, please speak up, because such voices are needed if we are to counter racism. Given racism's continued pervasive though at times pernicious effects, and the reluctance with which government representatives address racism (note how Attorney General Holder tiptoes around term with the word "issues"), nevermind officials who ignore it or condone it, I think there is much to "argue" about, even if such argument is simply dragging racism out into the light when so many Americans pretend it doesn't exist or have the privilege of actually being ignorant of the full extent of racism's operation in our society.

By the way, if someone finds merit in the verdict that is what I meant by finding merit in Zimmerman's actions from a legal perspective.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was stupid enough to engage in a Facebook conversation about this case.

A family member posted a lovely article about how black racism killed Trayvon, written by a black conservative. You can search for the article and torture yourself if you like, I'm not linking to that crap.

But words were had with the relative, oh yes. It's amazing how differently people view this case.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was stupid enough to engage in a Facebook conversation about this case.

My father-in-law literally said "Actually, middle-aged caucasian males are the most discriminated-against people now."
posted by odinsdream at 8:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's amazing how differently people view this case.

Many of the commenters I've seen around basically seem desperate to believe that they live in a just world, where terrible things only happen to bad people for good resins.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:34 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sigh, I just got into one where an acquaintance (whom I'd previously thought was a pretty reasonable guy) tried to argue that Trayvon Martin "wasn't a cute little kid" and "could conceivably pose a physical threat" based on this picture. I probably should've not led off my reply with "What the actual fuck?" but, uh, I did.
posted by kagredon at 8:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also that picture has made me sad about this all over again, I'm going to go watch a movie and maybe play some video games. Something without guns, in both cases.
posted by kagredon at 8:41 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


A family member posted a lovely article about how black racism killed Trayvon, written by a black conservative. You can search for the article and torture yourself if you like, I'm not linking to that crap.

Yep. this has been popping up too suddenly.
posted by emptythought at 8:45 PM on July 15, 2013


Whoever warned not to watch that juror interview, I should have listened to you. I can't believe this person was a juror. I mean I can, but it's like knowing Trayvon is gone vs looking at that picture of that poor boy laying deceased in the grass.

Lord have mercy. How on earth did this person get to be a juror. If you've read down this far you've probably listened to the interview already, but if you haven't, wait a couple of days or make sure you're not holding any spillable drinks or breakables.

It's all I can do to just take a deep breath right now.
posted by cashman at 8:46 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Trayvon Martin "wasn't a cute little kid" and "could conceivably pose a physical threat" based on this picture.

That's almost a simple personality test, that picture.

I see a young person who is making a Serious Face at the camera, an I Am Grownup Now, Yes? face. The sort young people make in the mirror because they are trying to figure out how to be adult. In that photo I see the young men that are my neighbors, and my coworkers, people I know and of whom I'm fond.

And then I think about the fact that Trayvon Martin will never make that slightly pensive face again. He'll never be able to look back at that picture in fifteen years and chuckle. I don't understand people who can look at that picture and not see how heartbreakingly young he was. It breaks my heart, anyway.
posted by winna at 8:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


Yea everyone looks kinda serious in selfies. He looks like he's taking a serious selfie and its indeed cute.
posted by sweetkid at 9:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seems like SpaceGhostPurrp knew Martin and says he wasn't bad. Purrp is kinda erratic himself, but to me that means the kid wasn't the sort to attack people.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:01 PM on July 15, 2013


I was stupid enough to engage in a Facebook conversation about this case.

After two comments, I found myself looking in the mirror and asking myself why I am trying to carry a rational discussion with people who are okay with stalking and murdering a kid. I quickly deleted my two comments and will not look back. A few bad actors on Metafilter might strive to act on the depraved depth of a Facebook poster but they will rarely come close.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:19 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]




>>> In 2010, the University of Florida SWAT team shot a disabled graduate student from Ghana in the head with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

>> Is it weird that my very first thought, right out the gate was "And why the fuck does a university police department have a swat team?"

> There are campus police, and in the US when you have police you have SWAT.

And once you have a SWAT team, you are more likely to use it.

(& FWIW: right there with you on "why the fuck.")
posted by Westringia F. at 9:32 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


(playing a witness 911 call and questioning at the same time)
Serino: You’re that voice in the background?
Zimmerman: No, sir.
Serino: That’s you. Are you hearing yourself?
Zimmerman: Um, it doesn’t sound like me.
Serino: It’s you.


It's very frustrating that believing it was him was part of what got him off. I can see being unclear, but this was not a part of the case the jury should have relied on. Martin's dad said it wasn't Martin at one point. Zimmerman said it wasn't himself at one point. Everybody from each family said it was their family/friend in court. No way you can rely on that either way.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:39 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]






I am not a target of racism by this society, so no matter how angry I can get about it, I can't imagine that I feel the trauma viscerally in the same way. For anyone who is feeling it viscerally right now, I don't know if this will help, but... when I get extremely demoralized and enraged and terrified about sexism, feeling like there is just an endless flood of powerful people who would like to see me hurt or dead, it can help to feel the support of men who really get it. So if it would be the slightest bit of balm for anyone, I just want to point out modernnomad's link from earlier in the thread: http://wearenottrayvonmartin.tumblr.com/ A large proportion of it is white people and other races and nationalities forthrightly admitting the racism of this country and the ways they have unjustly benefitted from it. It is a way of trying to say "we do care about this and you" and send love. If anyone is feeling battered by the world, it might help a bit.
posted by cairdeas at 3:56 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can someone link me to where the juror says "these people" and "their way of life"? Because holy shit, I can't even....
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:53 AM on July 16, 2013


There's a difference between following and chasing someone down.

He got out of the car with his gun, to follow Trayvon. He obviously understood there was potentially a chance for a violent encounter.

Without any evidence other than his "feeling", he got out of his car with his gun, while reporting Trayvon to the police and updating them with his location.

Sounds like chasing someone down to me.
posted by koakuma at 4:56 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what you are really getting at paulsc. What the logs show is the Martin call disconnected some time in the 7:16 minute. The first 911 call about a fight was 11 seconds into that minute. There is no four minute gap of any kind.

paulsc mis-stated the nature of the four-minute gap, but there is a four-minute gap that is suggestive. Zimmerman's car door can be heard slamming between 7:11 and 7:12 on his 911 call, around the point that he tells the dispatcher that Martin started running. At 7:13 he mentions he doesn't know where Martin is. He still hasn't seen Martin 30 sec later when he gets off the phone with the dispatcher.

The thing is that roughly from the place Martin started running, it's a short two-minute walk to his dad's place (like a few hundred feet). Yet there's a four-minute gap between when Zimmerman lost sight of him and 7:15/16ish, when Martin's girlfriend heard the scuffle and then her call dropped.

So whatever Martin did, he didn't walk or run straight home. Not that he was any obligation to do so, but this is just to put to rest the idea that, as a scared kid, the only possible thing he would have done would have been to go straight home.

Also, the place where the physical fight took place was around the area where Zimmerman got off the phone with the dispatcher, not close to Martin's dad's home, which suggests that Martin did double back (which he had time to do, and which is supported by the comment to his girlfriend that he was by his father's house at one point).

I think a person with no racist assumptions about black kids being violent thugs can look at this evidence and see that it fits with this part of Zimmerman's story. It seems clear that Martin did return to confront him after Zimmerman lost track of him (which Z did while still on the 911 call). I don't see any other logical accounting for the timing and the place where they met.

So it doesn't seem like either one of them was super SCARED of the other at this point. They were evidently each looking to find the other. How the physical fight started, we definitely don't know. And from my perspective, not sure it matters; they perhaps both had reason to feel threatened, Martin because this creepy-ass guy had been tracking him, and Zimmerman because in his mind, Martin may have just (inadvertently) confirmed his initial unjust assumptions, by approaching for a confrontation.

I find it hard to believe that either one of them, once the fight started, was literally incapable of rolling away and running like hell. My speculation is that it was Zimmerman yelling "help" (not "stop" btw as was said upthread), but that his main thing at that point might not have even been fear for his life, but determination to hang onto this "thug" until the cops got there, so he was yelling for neighbors to come and help him. Because by this point he really did have reason to believe (in his own mind) Martin was up to no good. And his injuries do seem to have been exaggerated.

Still, the fight when on for 40 seconds or so, and then the gun was there, and because it's part of Zimmerman's mentality, he pulls it out and shoots. [Sidenote: Reading that story TNC quoted makes me just about despair. I can't imagine that guy will get off on self-defense. But that doesn't change the fact that another kid is dead. And if there hadn't been a gun in that glove compartment, the dude would have just hit the gas pedal if he was scared, not fucking fired bullets in the kids' car. Absolutely terrifying.]

That part of it is actually the thing that is the most stomach-churningly awful, panic-inducing, mind-boggling, to me. Again, if there had been no gun, there would have just been a fist fight. And I wouldn't blame Trayvon Martin even if he did throw the first punch; I wouldn't blame my own 17yo son if he did the same after being trailed by a creep. A tragedy, of course, if it happened that way, is that by doing that Martin may have again confirmed to Zimmerman that he was a dangerous criminal, thus escalating the conflict in Zimmerman's head to one worthy of lethal force. (And also explaining why Zimmerman continued calling Martin "the suspect" in that offensive way while telling his story to police.)

I don't know, I think I typed this all out to show how I think reasonable people (i.e. the jury, and maybe other people in this thread like justinian and maybe yoink, who argued forever in the very first Trayvon Martin thread that things might be more complex than they originally appeared)--anyway, how I think that reasonable, non-racially-motivated people could arrive at the conclusion that Zimmerman's story was plausible in broad strokes, if exaggerated in part.

It's beyond doubt that Zimmerman started the whole thing and is morally culpable for the outcome. But people start tragic chains of events in motion all the time through stupidity or misplaced fear or negligence that don't rise to the level of criminality, even when the final outcome seems self-evidently criminal.

BTW I didn't get any of my analysis from any scary right-wing sites, but just by looking at timestamps and a map of the neighborhood. I also don't know if any of that timing stuff played into what the jury was told, as I didn't watch it.
posted by torticat at 5:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can someone link me to where the juror says "these people" and "their way of life"? Because holy shit, I can't even....

It's here.

Cooper asked the juror specifically about Jeantel’s “creepy-ass cracker” statement that drew wide attention during the trial. She said she thought it was “probably the truth” and that “Trayvon probably said that” but said she didn’t “think it’s really racial. I think it’s just every day life. The type of life that they live, and how they’re living, in the environment that they’re living in.” It's here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 AM on July 16, 2013


Agent drops Zimmerman juror from book deal 'after careful consideration'*

*Careful consideration meaning, several thousand angry Tweets and emails
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [