Thoughts on the George Zimmerman Verdict: You Got a Problem?

A Florida jury found that the homicide of Trayvon Martin homicide was lawful and justifiable – that George Zimmerman had acted in self-defense and that his use of deadly force against Martin was reasonable. 

“Self-defense” is what we lawyers call an “affirmative defense”. Generally, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When the defendant raises self-defense, or some other legal justification for the crime of which he’s accused, the burden of proof shifts to him. That means that George Zimmerman’s defense team had the burden to prove that Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin was legally justified. 

In New York, self-defense is covered in the “Defense of Justification” article in the New York State Penal Law.  

Generally

Unless otherwise limited by the ensuing provisions of this article defining justifiable use of physical force, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when…

2. Such conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue. The necessity and justifiability of such conduct may not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder…

More specifically,

The use of physical force upon another person which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances…

6. A person may, pursuant to the ensuing provisions of this article, use physical force upon another person in self-defense or defense of a third person, or in defense of premises, or in order to prevent larceny of or criminal mischief to property,

Even more to the point,

1. A person may…use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself, herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by such other person, unless:

(a) The latter’s conduct was provoked by the actor with intent to cause physical injury to another person; or

(b) The actor was the initial aggressor; except that in such case the use of physical force is nevertheless justifiable if the actor has withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing the incident by the use or threatened imminent use of unlawful physical force…

…2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:

(a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she knows that with complete personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is under no duty to retreat if he or she is:

(i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or

(ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter’s direction, acting pursuant to section 35.30; or

(b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal sexual act or robbery; or

(c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.

The emphases are mine. New York’s self-defense statute discourages deadly violence. The initial aggressor in a confrontation generally cannot assert the defense, but even in that case, the law gives the aggressor an opportunity to retreat from the encounter, in which case he is justified in defending himself from the original victim’s force. In order to use deadly force, a New Yorker must reasonably believe he is about to be killed and has attempted to, or has no way to, retreat. The only exception to that duty to retreat applies to a person in his own home who didn’t start a confrontation. The duty to retreat exists to avoid unnecessary violence and death

Florida is different. By weakening the duty to retreat, it opens the door to unnecessary, physically avoidable violence.

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

The section referenced above in subsection (2) is Florida’s castle doctrine statute – your home is inviolable and the law presumes that you are in fear of imminent bodily harm if you are home when burglarized. But it goes farther:

(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.

In Florida, there is also statutory language requiring that the person asserting justification wasn’t the initial aggressor.

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

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

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

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

George Zimmerman’s defense team didn’t emphasize the “stand your ground” portion of the statute. It didn’t have to – it’s built in to the overall self-defense statute and the jury was instructed on it. Frankly, the person who was entitled to use that provision was Trayvon Martin himself. The Zimmerman team’s theory of the case was that Martin was the initial aggressor when he turned and confronted Zimmerman. “Stand your ground” is what informed law enforcement’s decision to not bring charges until 6 weeks after the homicide. “Stand your ground” is what was cited for the public presumption that Zimmerman was justified in killing this young black man who was wearing a hoodie, of all things. 

In court, we heard Zimmerman’s side of the story via videotape of him leading investigators around the complex the morning after the homicide. He did not take the stand. The problem here? Every story has two sides, and we only heard one. We’ll never be able to learn Martin’s side of the story. Did he really know the gun was there? Did he really reach for it? Did he really even initiate the confrontation? Did he swing first? Did he threaten Zimmerman’s life? 

Let’s backtrack for a moment and look at a few undisputed facts of the case: Trayvon Martin was legally on the premises of the gated apartment community where George Zimmerman was on “neighborhood watch” patrol. He was minding his own business. He was not committing a crime of any sort. He was unarmed. He was walking from the store to a private residence, where he was going to watch TV. George Zimmerman was cruising the property in his vehicle. The complex had been subject to burglaries, and he wanted to protect his home and others’ homes. Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that he was watching Martin, whom he considered to be a “real suspicious guy”. 

That’s the set-up; what happened next was the heart of the trial just concluded. Zimmerman called the cops. The dispatcher told Zimmerman to stay in his car. Zimmerman didn’t stay in his car, but instead followed Martin. Martin was on the phone with his friend and explained to her that he was being followed by a “creepy ass cracker”. We’re not quite sure what happened next, or what the exact sequence of events was. Could be Trayvon Martin turned to ask Zimmerman if he had a problem.

The case and its result have resulted in a deep split in public opinion – one unsurprisingly following the right/left political cleave. I don’t understand why thinking Zimmerman is innocent is a right-wing thing and thinking the homicide of Martin was unnecessary or not justifiable is a left-wing thing. It oftentimes seems as if Zimmerman supporters consider that Martin got what was coming to him, and there is no sympathy for a kid who was just walking home from the store on a rainy February night. But I think the divergence comes down to this difference in opinion: do you think that the sequence of events was set in motion when Zimmerman exited his car to follow Martin, or when Martin asked Zimmerman what his problem was? Things went downhill from there, and one person ended up dead. 

You can see Zimmerman’s explanation here. “You got a problem?” “No, man.” “Well, you got a problem now!” Zimmerman claims Martin somehow saw his gun, went to reach for it and threatened to kill him.  At this point, Zimmerman grabbed his gun and shot Martin once through the heart. Martin wasn’t around to offer a rebuttal. 

To suggest – as the Florida State Attorney did late Saturday night – that race and profiling wasn’t part of this case is a joke. The entire case was replete with issues of race and profiling. Was it reasonable? Was it reasonable for Zimmerman to see a young black kid in a hoodie walking through his neighborhood and instantly conclude that he was “real suspicious”? Was it reasonable for Martin to remark to his friend that some “creepy ass cracker” was stalking him on his walk home? It was 7pm in February in Florida. There is no presumption in the law that a black youth is deemed “suspicious” for wearing a hooded sweatshirt under those conditions. The temperature was in the low 60s, and it was raining. Indeed, because Martin was minding his own business and not breaking any rule or law, it was also perfectly reasonable for him to be a little creeped out by the guy who was following him first in his vehicle, and now on foot. How would you react if someone was following you – watching your every move while you’re just walking through your neighborhood?

Martin could have run away, but was under no obligation to do so. 

People forget that it wasn’t until March 16th that we heard the 911 call with someone screaming “help!” in the background – screams that ended when the gunshot is heard; could be Zimmerman was out of peril – could be Martin was mortally wounded. Zimmerman’s 9mm handgun was in the small of his back. It wasn’t until March 20th that Florida even bothered to submit the case to a grand jury. The chief of the Sanford Police Department resigned on March 22nd because the case had been investigated from day one under a presumption that it was a justifiable homicide. On March 26th, the police released pictures showing that Zimmerman was bleeding from cuts the night he shot Trayvon Martin. 

It wasn’t until April 11th that Zimmerman was formally charged with 2nd degree murder and taken into custody. It took a full six weeks before Florida even recognized that a crime may have potentially been committed. The state didn’t take the case seriously until the federal government and public opinion forced its hand. 

Zimmerman didn’t take the stand – he didn’t have to. His story was out there on the videotape, and he didn’t have to subject himself to cross-examination about, e.g., why he got out of his car in the first place. If Zimmerman is correct that Martin initiated the confrontation, why didn’t he run away? Well, he didn’t have to. Florida doesn’t think much of avoidance of violence. Zimmerman was brave enough to follow this “real suspicious” teenager, but not to subject himself to cross-examination. 

Because Martin is dead, we don’t know his side of the story and the prosecution evidently did not adequately present an alternative version of events. When Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel testified, she explained that Martin was afraid of Zimmerman. But, you know, as a 19 year-old black girl, she behaved like a 19 year-old black girl. She had avoided being involved in the case and was caught in some inconsistencies. Her speech and mannerisms insulted public opinion, and she was mocked as being fat, sassy, and stupid. 

Zimmerman had a gun, and if you take his own story at face-value, it was when Martin saw the gun that the fistfight escalated to a threat on Zimmerman’s life. No gun, no shooting. Simple, isn’t it? Zimmerman had a conceal carry permit despite a history of violence, including interfering with an arrest and being the subject of a mutual restraining order with his ex-fiancee. Frankly, under normal circumstances, a person with a record of violence and harassment should not be allowed to carry a firearm. 

An armed society is a polite society” goes the Heinlein quote. But in this case, no matter what you think of the fairness of the case against Zimmerman, that isn’t true. 

The law should not reward violence. The law should not excuse aggression. To maintain a civilized society, we ought to reward and excuse the avoidance of violence and aggression. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. He never should have been in a position to confront – or be confronted by – Martin. This is why we have police, and this is why we entrust them with public safety. Zimmerman should have waited for the cops and let them do their jobs. They likely would have questioned him, canvassed the area for Martin, and asked him some questions. Martin would have lived to see his 18th birthday. 

This isn’t just about dumb gun laws or bad justification statutes – it’s about profiling. 

Zimmerman: Hey we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, uh, it’s Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher:  OK, and this guy is he white, black, or hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now, he was just staring.

Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area…

Zimmerman: looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK…

Zimmerman: Now he’s just staring at me.

Dispatcher: OK-you said it’s 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?

Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse…

Dispatcher: That’s the clubhouse, do you know what the-he’s near the clubhouse right now?

Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.

Dispatcher: OK.

Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?

Zimmerman: He’s got button on his shirt, late teens.

Dispatcher: Late teens. Ok.

Zimmerman: Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out, he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is.

Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything, ok?

Zimmerman: (unclear) See if you can get an officer over here.

Dispatcher: Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.

Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. Yep. When you come to the clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the clubhouse.

Dispatcher: So it’s on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?

Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left, uh, you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Shit, he’s running.

Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?

Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.

Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards?

Zimmerman: The back entrance…(expletive)(unclear)

Dispatcher: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman: Ok.

Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?

Zimmerman: George…He ran.

Dispatcher: Alright George what’s your last name? A clicking or knocking sound can be heard here

Zimmerman: Zimmerman

Dispatcher: And George what’s the phone number you’re calling from? Clicking or knocking sound is heard again

Zimmerman: [phone number removed]

Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Alright, where you going to meet with them at?

Zimmerman: Um, if they come in through the, uh, (knocking sound) gate, tell them to go straight past the club house, and uh, (knocking sound) straight past the club house and make a left, and then they go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What address are you parked in front of?

Zimmerman: I don’t know, it’s a cut through so I don’t know the address.

Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?

Zimmerman: Yeah, I…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?

Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s [house number removed], (knocking sound) oh crap I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t know where this kid is.

Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.

Dispatcher: Alright George, I’ll let them know to meet you around there, okay?

Zimmerman: Actually could you have them, could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?

Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that’s no problem.

Zimmerman: Should I give you my number or you got it?

Dispatcher: Yeah I got it [phone number removed]

Zimmerman: Yeah you got it.

Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I’ll let them know to call you when you’re in the area.

Zimmerman: Thanks.

Dispatcher: You’re welcome.

Black kid in a hoodie. Real suspicious. Hand in his waistband. Looking around. Runs when he sees Zimmerman. These assholes always get away.

Trayvon Martin ran away from the man watching him from his truck. The man got out of his truck to follow him. Trayvon ran away

Zimmerman made a snap decision about who Martin was. He had to be up to no good. He looked wrong – black kid with a hoodie. Hand in his waistband, holding onto his iced tea. These assholes always get away. These assholes. Real suspicious. We glorify violence and we excuse people for being afraid and suspicious of black teenagers. “You got a problem?” Martin asked Zimmerman.

Yes. Zimmerman did, in fact, have a problem. More than just one.

By the way, how were the riots? 

19 comments

  • While I worked as a Deputy Sheriff in VA, I had occasion to take care of the inmates in “Kiddie Land”. Ages 14 and up. Juvenile murderers, rapists, drug dealers, even one who was caught making napalm in his basement. At least in the years I worked there, none of them were white. But working in juvenile court I found out color certainly bears no factor in juveniles who commit heinous felonies.
    When looking past, I can’t help but agree with Alan Dershowitz (normally a darling of the left) that the prosecutors of this case should be disbarred. While Alan is correct that defendants must take some of the burden in a self defense case—The prosecutors, working on orders of a hack state attorney who was pressured by Holder and Obama to finally charge someone who hadn’t committed a crime by FL statute….Didn’t prove their burden that a crime under FL law had actually been committed. If the judge (who IMO should be disbarred as well) hadn’t been in the bag, also likely pressured by Holder, summary judgment would have been given at the end of the Prosecution case, as they did not meet the burden of proof of a crime. That’s why the local cops never charged him. There was nothing to charge him on.
    I understand though….for the Liberal worldview to be valid, America has to be a place full of white bigotry, that is so unfair to everyone who isn’t white. Liberals have decided the way to lift up the black folks up is to make them permanent victims, and a permanent underclass.
    In the 60’s white people who had actually perpetrated pre-meditated murder of blacks and other minorities were never charged with murder in state court, as the FBI realized that white juries in the South would never convict. So when they charged them in Federal court with violating civil rights, that was the laws’ first bite at the apple. Zimmerman was charged in state court due to the Moron AG not doing well in American History. Zimmerman has been aquitted, and our system says the law only gets one bite at the apple. Just didn’t work out this time. Perhaps the FL law needs to be looked at. but that’s not a national problem. No outrage over black on black crime, or black on white crime—that’s to be expected.

    • Hank: Maybe, but Stand Your Ground laws are in a bunch of states, not just Florida. Some states’ laws…Texas among them…are even worse than Florida’s, if that’s possible.

    • No outrage over “White Hispanic” footballer Aaron Hernandez gunning down African-American Odin Lloyd, either. And that was pre-meditated.

      It would seem that, for the race hucksters, one “outrage” at a time will suffice. And, minority-on-minority crime is an inconvenient topic.

      • What? Hernandez was acquitted of that crime? Oh wait, the trial hasn’t even fucking happened yet — not to mention your bizarre belief that people can only be taken seriously if their emotional reactions to every single thing are identical. Do you EVER say anything intelligent, as opposed to just trying to muddy waters by dragging in random things that are only kinda-sorta like the thing under discussion?

        Oh, and Hank: Zimmerman was only acquitted of the specific charged brought against him by the state of Florida. He can’t be tried on THOSE specific charges again. This has nothing to do with any OTHER potential charges that might arise from the same incident. Before babbling on and on about the “liberal worldview” or whatever the hell it is you’re babbling about, you might want to learn a bit.

  • Apparently you missed all the interviews with criminal trial lawyers who opined that the State had no case here.
    And with the FBI report which concluded that Zimmerman was not motivated by race.
    But, why let the facts get in the way of a good meme, eh?
    And the riots? Here are a few photos–which I’m sure the Daily Mail just made up.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html

    • John (not McCain)

      I sure do hope your murderer walks free.

    • 1. I have this uncanny ability to reach my own opinion.

      2. Obama’s FBI? Surely you must have meant something else.

      3. Clearly, you didn’t read what I wrote.

      4. Protests =/= riots.

      • Uh-oh–another meme-buster. From the Associated Press:

        “George Zimmerman accused the Sanford police department of corruption more than a year before he shot Trayvon Martin, saying at a public forum the agency covered up the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white officer.

        “I would just like to state that the law is written in black and white,” Zimmerman said during a 90-second statement to city commissioners at a community forum. “It should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those who are in the thin blue line.”

        The forum took place on Jan. 8, 2011, days after a video of the beating went viral on the Internet and then-Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley was forced to retire. Tooley’s department faced criticism for dragging its feet in arresting Justin Collison, the son of a police lieutenant.”

    • Well, I looked at the pictures good ol’ hw linked us to, and I think they give us a pretty good explanation of what happened in Florida: just as a group of black people together in public indicates a “riot” to some jittery people, so a black teenager walking down the street is automatically a menace to society, and therefore shootable.

  • Unfortunately, this case has become a real left/right issue as you said, which makes too many people emotional rather than rational when looking at what happened in this case.

    In my opinion, Zimmerman is an idiot who had racist tendencies and thought he was more important than he was, and he should have stayed in the car when he was told to.
    But, because Florida law is so odd, whether or not Zimmerman was a racist or the face that he was following Trayvon is irrelevant. Basically all that matters is whether who threw the first punch, and if GZ feared for his safety (in Fla law it is not feared for one’s life).
    Because of the way the law works in Florida, and because there was no real way to dispute GZs story about him being attacked by Martin and being hurt, it was impossible to convict on manslaughter (the murder chargs I thought had no shot). Even if one is 80% sure that GZ was the aggressor, that is still reasonable doubt.
    And though it is not happening here, I’d like to remind people not to blame the defense team. Their job is to do everything legal within their power to acquit their client. Nothing more, nothing less. You may disagreed with their tactics, or beleive them to be racist or wrong, but that is their job, and if the George Zimmerman would have had a poor defense team, that would have been bad for everyone.

    Whether or not Zimmerman was a racist and racially profiled and shouldn’t have been doing it and didn’t listen to police, that’s all irrelevant in Florida law
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    • Does it affect anyone’s opinion at all about Zimmerman having racist tendencies to learn of his public criticism in 2011 of police for covering up the beating of a black man?

      Here’s the AP report about that from May 23 which another commenter mentioned.
      http://bigstory.ap.org/content/zimmerman-complained-about-sanford-police-2011

      Zimmerman complained about Sanford police in 2011
      By KYLE HIGHTOWER — May. 23 5:11 PM EDT
      ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman accused the Sanford police department of corruption more than a year before he shot Trayvon Martin, saying at a public forum the agency covered up the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white officer.

      Zimmerman’s public comments could be important because the Martin family and supporters contend the neighborhood watch volunteer singled Martin out because he was black. Zimmerman has a Peruvian mother and a white father. His supporters have said he is not racist.
      The Miami Herald first reported details from the January 2011 community forum Wednesday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the tape from the meeting.

      It’s interesting how little media attention it’s received and how the AP’s headline above accidentally didn’t mention the race of the victim who’s side Zimmerman was publicly arguing in favor of.

      Would anybody suppose that an anti-black racist or someone with that racist tendency would publicly speak out against the white leadership of their local police department regarding what was done to a black beating victim by the white son of a white police lieutenant?

      • I realize this isn’t directed to me, as I haven’t accused Zimmerman of racism – only of tragically counterproductive profiling. However, isn’t an AP report from 2012 the very definition of “media attention”?

        Maybe Zimmerman should have offered Trayvon a ride home, since it was chilly and raining.

        • Correct that it wasn’t directed to you at all, but replied to @kozzzer219’s comment above which opined about racist tendencies.

          What I said about media attention was how little (not none) that report received about Zimmerman speaking out in 2011 against white police leadership covering up a white civilian’s violence against a black victim.

          “Little” relative to the ongoing context of how much of the media coverage has effectively tried to imply that Zimmerman has racist tendencies (including falsified audio by NBC early on) and frequently painted the case in racial terms.

          Still wondering if that type of info about Zimmerman would affect at all the opinions of @kozzzer or anyone else who might have assumed anything about racist tendencies.

          This would’ve been a nice offer –

          Maybe Zimmerman should have offered Trayvon a ride home, since it was chilly and raining.

          – but we’ll never know if there would’ve even been enough time to make that offer before the physical conflict began. And if it’s true what Jeantel told Piers Morgan that she and Travyon were concerned that Zimmerman might be intending to rape Trayvon, maybe a ride offer like that could’ve further escalated that fear.

          There’s many maybes.

  • Michael Raleigh

    Great post on the trial.

  • From a legal perspective, I would guess that anytime you have a confrontation between two people, and one ends up dead, that without witnesses it’s pretty easy to raise reasonable doubt as to what happened, so that, combined with the ‘uniqueness’ of Florida law, you can see how the jury reached this verdict.

    The flip side? I used to be a suspicious black male teenager, even though I was a nerdy City Honors student. I was a suspicious young black man driving thru Cheektowaga, even though I was on my way home from my job at the Galleria Drive Wegmans, which I worked at as I went to UB. I was the suspicious Best Buy shopper, even though I, you know, have a pretty good job and just wanted to buy Madden for my Playstation. It would be one thing if my experiences were unique, but I don’t know a black male that hasn’t had those kinds of experiences.

    I know that some will dismiss those examples as me whining about how unfair life is for black men, white people are racist blah blah blah. That’s ok, because it’s the reaction I would expect, and its easier to dismiss them that way than actually consider their validity. Or would wave them away with a ‘That’s just part of being young’

    Just know that this hit many Black people hard, because in Trayvon Martin they saw a glimpse of themselves, or their sons, or their brothers, or friends, even if it was a tiny one

  • “It wasn’t until March 20th that Florida even bothered to submit the case to a grand jury.” I thought they skipped the Grand Jury, not that it matters. What will be interesting is the August 14th trial of Cordell Jude who shot and killed Daniel Adkins in what he claims was self defense on April 3, 2012. Mr. Jude was not charged until July 14, 2012. I don’t remember the outrage and protests over the delayed arrest for some reason. The cases are are quite similar since both shooters talked to the police on the days the incidents happened and claimed self defense. I somehow suspect that CNN will not be devoting 2 of its channels for full time coverage and Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton won’t be voicing their concerns either. I wonder why? Either way both cases are tragic since they resulted in the deaths of 2 people way before their time. Coverage of this case will only keep the spotlight on the senseless violence in today’s society. So it should receive equal attention. I also wonder if the Department of Justice and the FBI is involved.

  • ALAN A VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING PIECE.HOWEVER YOU ARE WRONG ABOUT THE BURDEN OF PROOF REGARDING JUSTIFICATION IN NEW YORK.THE BURDEN TO DISPROVE THE DEFENSE REMAINS WITH THE PEOPLE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.LOOK AT MODEL JURY CHARGE.

  • RACE AND THE UNSUBSTANTIATED CONCLUSIONS PEOPLE DRAW CONTINUE TO PLAY A PART IN THIS CASE.HOWEVER IN MY OPINION IT NOT ONLY PLAYED INTO THE ACTIONS OF ZIMMERMAN BUT ALSO THOSE OF OTHER PARTIES INVOLVED.PEOPLE DRAW CONCLUSIONS AND TAKE ACTIONS WHICH ARE OFTEN FLAWED.CONSIDER THE DECISIONS MADE BY THE PROSECUTION.ZIMMERMAN DIDNT JUST FALL ON HIS HEAD. A WITNESS SAW ZIMMERMAN ON BOTTOM. PROSECUTION DIDNT BELIEVE THERE OWN CASE. DID YOU SEE WHEN DA WAS ON TOP OF HUMAN DOLL IN FRONT OF JURY? WHY? BECAUSE PROSECUTION KNEW THEY HAD OVERCHARGED AND OVERSTATED CASE.THIS WAS A MANSLAUGHTER AT BEST AND PROSECUTION WAS PLAYING POLITICS TO SOME DEGREE.I DONT AGREE WITH DERSHOWITZ ON SOME THINGS BUT HE HAS A GOOD TAKE ON ACTIONS OF ATTY GENL ANGELA COREY THE MASTERMIND BEHIND PROSECUTION.

  • Even “Alan The Pretender” didn’t fall for the simpleton trap that many morons responding here did in accusing Zimmerman of being a racist, so I will not waste time on that silliness.

    Before we take these important criminal cases seriously in the future, I will raise an issue not discussed enough. Why are jurors allowed on a jury if they do not have a firm grasp on what is meant by beyond a reasonable doubt? I submit that even a substantial number of attorneys in this country do not sufficiently understand this concept, so where does that leave the unwashed masses, the majority of which serve on and decide important criminal cases? Everyone that can tie their shoes understands that preponderance of the evidence means proving your case at a standard of 50.1% or greater. Why then can’t we mathematically quantify beyond a reasonable doubt? I challenge all reading to mathematically explain “beyond a reasonable doubt” and if you cannot, you should not be deciding criminal cases. All attorneys and especially Alan, do chime in?

    Alan you have again earned your nickname, “The Pretender” with your crude remark at the end of your otherwise slightly above mediocre analysis of the trial by asking: “By the way, how were the riots”? From “Alan The Pretender” who feels safe in his 99% lily white Clarence abode. I know, I know, some of your best friends are black, but you do your level best to keep your distance from them. I trust you will be marching in one of your role model’s marches this weekend? Keep in mind the victims of the violence perpetrated by race baiters such as yourself will likely be aging white communist hippies participating in the protests. You know the type. You constantly pander to them. When you next ask the creepy question: (“How were the riots”?), clearly hoping your political enemies are assaulted or killed, keep in mind it will likely be that dying breed that still hope for America’s destruction that are assaulted and not the innocents you hope are attacked while you are “protected” in Clarence.

    Finally, keep in mind there are at least three white liberals who have taken a strong documented stand against black on black crime as best displayed in one of Alan’s favorite US cities – Chicago. However, I can’t name any of them off hand. Alan, can you help me with the names of these three? Please do put this terrible accusation to rest by posting some of your best work, protesting and calling for a discussion on black on black crime? Thank you Alan.

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