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I am unsurprised

I expected this result: George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin.

This is America. He was in a state that allowed a vigilante to carry a gun, and to use it if he felt the least bit threatened. The victim was a black man in a hoodie. I would have been floored if they’d convicted him.

How about if people work to put laws in place that make it illegal to hunt black men?

Comments

  1. ChasCPeterson says

    Not guilty of 2nd-degree murder and not guilty of manslaughter.
    I’m not surprised either. The prosecution’s case was weak and circumstantial, there was conflicting testimony, and the jury was bound by the letter of state law.

  2. peptron says

    There is quite a double standard going on. They said that Trayvon reacted negatively to being stalked and pursued. Which means that it is then ok to shoot to kill.
    Well, I know that “I” would react negatively to being stalked and pursued. Also, I cannot help but read it as “If you want to kill someone, just go and spook them. If they don’t react nice, you’ve got yourself a licence to kill”.

  3. says

    How about if people work to put laws in place that make it illegal to hunt black men?

    Because freedom, that’s why.

    I feeling so fucking cynical right now. I’m not at all surprised by this result, but there’s no way that the white population* is going to let go of their guns or their right to shoot people.

    *Who are the majority of gun owners, natch.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m not surprised either. The prosecution’s case was weak and circumstantial, there was conflicting testimony, and the jury was bound by the letter of state law.

    Add in a healthy dose of unexamined bigotry, and a slam-dunk for acquittal. I think the prosecutor knew that, but the politics required them to prosecute the case. A friend of mine served on a jury in a similar case. The prosecution of the case was so bad, almost on purpose, acquittal was foregone conclusion. Another case, albeit closer to the true intent, of self-defense.

  5. nightshadequeen says

    So….does anyone else want to join me in getting the fuck out of the United States?

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Another case, albeit closer to the true intent, of self-defense.

    The woman was holding the shotgun to scare off her ex-abusive husband. The shotgun went off after he pulled on it to remove it from her hands, much to the surprise of the abuser….

  7. windnpine says

    Apparently Florida law gives its citizens great latitude to pick a fight with a person and then shoot once they start to lose.

  8. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Apparently Florida law gives its citizens great latitude to pick a fight with a person and then shoot once they start to lose.

    That’s what “stand your ground” means. I like where they must retreat until their home is violated, as occurs in the civilized world.

  9. markr1957 says

    So, if I understand this correctly, a white person in Florida can stalk and assault persons of color with impunity, because if the colored victim dares to defend hirself the white attacker can legally kill the person they attacked? W. T. F?

  10. oddie says

    Trayvon Martin was not a “black man”, he was a seventeen year old boy, less than three weeks out from his birthday.

  11. raven says

    I followed this case but not too closely. I do have to sleep at night.

    AFAICT,

    1. Zimmerman was the aggressor and picked a fight with a black teenager who was minding his own business.

    2. Which he ended up losing.

    3. Then he shot and killed him.

    I’d call this murder myself. But no, I’m not surprised he got acquited. It’s Florida, after all.

  12. Who Knows? says

    I’m not surprised either. Personally I think the prosecution intentionally screwed up but then I long lost confidence in the justice system.

  13. raven says

    Seems to me if anyone had a right of self defense, it would have been Trayvon Martin.

    He’s walking home from a store carrying a bag of Skittles and drinking ice tea.

    Some crazed Cuban guy comes out of nowhere and starts physically assaulting him for no visible reason.

    In my jurisdiction, Martin shooting Zimmerman would have been considered self defense. There might be a police inquiry but most likely, the kid wouldn’t even be charged. The police tell me it is bad form to shoot someone in the back though, makes it harder to claim self defense.

  14. says

    From the NAACP:

    Attorney General Eric Holder,

    The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.

    The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.

    Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.

    Thank you.

    http://www.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition?source=GZnotguiltyshareFB&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=GZnotguiltyshareFB&utm_content=share

  15. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    So, if I understand this correctly, a white person in Florida can stalk and assault persons of color with impunity, because if the colored victim dares to defend hirself the white attacker can legally kill the person they attacked?

    On Reddit right now, practically all the commenters are saying that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman and that Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot him.

    Fuck everything.

  16. raven says

    On Reddit right now, practically all the commenters are saying that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman and that Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot him.

    Is there any proof that this is true?

    Like I said, I kept one eye on this case but didn’t pay that much attention.

    Probably for the best, right now I’m getting more appalled and angry by the second.

  17. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    Fuck this ship of morons

  18. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Raven,

    There is some physical evidence that Zimmerman was injured–scratches and stuff. This evidence supports the prosecution’s side of the case more than the defense, as the defense argued that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and pounding his head into the concrete. There was also an eye-witness but he could not conclusively say who he saw, or if he was anyone hit anyone.

    But hey, big black scary teen, right? /s

  19. raven says

    And oh just in case anyone doesn’t know.

    According to a Supreme court case in the last few weeks, we in the USA are a post racial society.

    Black people don’t need any special protections of their citizen’s rights provided under the US constitution.

  20. A. Noyd says

    So fucking angry right now. And all the white people wrongly terrified of retribution are setting up for Abuse of Stand Your Ground, Part 2.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    markr1957 (#13)

    a white person in Florida can stalk and assault persons of color with impunity, because if the colored victim…

    Word to the wise: “person(s) of color” is fine to use, but don’t use “colored” to refer to people unless you’re quoting someone or it’s part of an official name (like the NAACP). Slight difference in terms of words, but it’s one that tends to matter a lot.

  21. raven says

    There is some physical evidence that Zimmerman was injured–scratches and stuff. This evidence supports the prosecution’s side of the case more than the defense, as the defense argued that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and pounding his head into the concrete.

    Well sure. OK.

    But who started the fight. IIRC, Zimmerman called the police to report some kid walking down the sidewalk, the police told him to leave him alone, and then he went and was the aggressor.

    If he lost the fight after that, that is his problem.

    At the least Zimmerman should be charged with 1st degree assault.

  22. mikeyb says

    Now we know what’s next- Zimmerman can now write his persecuted white guy bestseller right wing book and become a new contributor to Faux news.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m not surprised. This shithole country was founded and built by bigots with guns. Why should we be shocked when the system they create for themselves lets them off for murder?

  24. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    These subhuman pieces of dog shit are uneducable and irredeemable. Why the hell did we lie to ourselves about that until they were swimming in guns?

  25. says

    Of course he was found innocent. The expert evidence of voice analysis that the screams on the 911tape were Trayvon Martin’s was not allowed to be presented. This meant that Trayvon’s only chance of defending himself against the allegations of the defense was denied. In turn Zimmerman’s defense team was allowed to use a work of fiction in the form of a computerized re-enactment to put the blame on Trayvon. Shows how much of an ass the law truly is when a cartoon can trump real evidence.

  26. nightshadequeen says

    Robert Zimmerman Jr., Zimmerman’s brother, spoke to CNN after the verdict and expressed concern for his brother’s safety.

    “He will be looking around his shoulder the rest of his life,” he said.

    Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said that people who think Zimmerman killed Trayvon for racial reasons could react violently.

    [http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/13/george-zimmerman-free-man/2515075/]

    Oh the irony

  27. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara said that people who think Zimmerman killed Trayvon for racial reasons could react violently.

    Are they suggesting he killed him for sexual gratification instead? Because those are literally the only possible reasons for what he did.

  28. omnicrom says

    I still remember that after admitting to shooting an unarmed teenager Zimmerman was never held in police custody until after extreme pressure from the rest of the country. They obviously started as they meant to go on. I had some tiny sliver of hope that they would at least charge Zimmerman for manslaughter after they let the jury choose that option, but I guess even that was silly of me.

    I heard someone say that they would find Zimmerman guilty, as after all the women of the jury had over a dozen children between them. The idea was that they could relate Trayvon to one of their own children. How silly, Trayvon was black and they were all white. That couldn’t be their child, it looked nothing like them! As usual the message is clear: If you are a black person you may be killed more or less indiscriminately. You are less than a person. The law is not there for you and will not support you. You are guilty and it will take absolutely gobsmacking circumstances to be found innocent. You can and will be punished for the crime of being black. America is a land of inequality, and you are a black person and therefore even more unequal.

  29. Sven says

    I’m glad there was a trial, at least. The white-supremacist crowd was horrified by the idea of the facts being examined in a court of law, rather than the court of popular opinion.

  30. chrisdevries says

    Ah, fuck everything. This is what happens when dumbshit legislators are elected to public office. Idiotic laws are drafted, proposed and passed which give bigots an excuse to shoot first and ask questions later. I’m not surprised that he got off, not because of racism, but because what he did was legal. Now I’m not saying that if Zimmerman stalked a “suspicious-looking” black guy who felt threatened by this behavior and shot the stalker with a registered firearm, the black guy would have been treated the same as Zimmerman was. But according to the letter of the law, this action would also have been totally legal.

    Zimmerman may be a petty, dishonest, bigoted chicken-little, but I’d put the majority of the blame for Martin’s death on the good state legislators who, in an effort to please the loud but extremely small minority of guns rights activists, made some forms of what would have been called voluntary manslaughter (at least) totally legal. Keep burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, wingnuts! The sooner Florida is underwater, the better. And sane Floridians – move.

  31. says

    The white-supremacist crowd was horrified by the idea of the facts being examined in a court of law

    And lucky for them, they weren’t.

  32. ravenred says

    I’m wondering how many black people will be arrested for stalking white men “Hey, I thought he looked like George Zimmerman. I have a responsibility to protect my community.”

  33. Akira MacKenzie says

    Right Wing Dad just found out about the Zimmerman verdict. In the first five minutes of hearing the verdict I’ve heard him say the following (The italicized portions were given in my father’s approximation of an African-American accent):

    “The Third World (i.e. African-American neighborhoods) is gonst ta rise up ta avenge The Trayvon.”

    “Zimmerman better get out of the country before they get him, cause their is gonst ta be a wildin’.

    “The Al Sharpton is gonst ta declare a race war.”

    “What’s are you going to do now, Barrack?”

    And

    “Maybe their is justice in America.”

    Would it be wrong for me to wish my father die painfully in a pool of his own bloody diarrhea?

  34. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Would it be wrong for me to wish my father die painfully in a pool of his own bloody diarrhea?

    OF COURSE it would be. Because ethics exist to give people who don’t have any a club with which to beat those who do first, and create a stable, functional society a distant second.

    *spits*

  35. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Are they suggesting he killed him for sexual gratification instead? Because those are literally the only possible reasons for what he did.

    Really? The ONLY reasons?

  36. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I guess there’s robbery, too, but there’s no evidence he took anything from the corpse.

    So that leaves Lust Murder or racism.

  37. says

    @A. Noyd, #28:

    Word to the wise: “person(s) of color” is fine to use, but don’t use “colored” to refer to people unless you’re quoting someone or it’s part of an official name (like the NAACP). Slight difference in terms of words, but it’s one that tends to matter a lot.

    I would not have known. I try to take note when well-intentioned people try to stop me making an ass of myself. Thank you.

  38. Loqi says

    @mikeyb #30
    That’s what I’m thinking. The next logical step is that Zimmerman lives large off the right wing money train rolling his way. He killed a black kid. He’s their fucking hero.

  39. Akira MacKenzie says

    So….does anyone else want to join me in getting the fuck out of the United States?

    Love to, but thanks to the American capitalist system, I’m not even going to have enough money for gas to get to my shitty $11/hr job until Thursday.* The only ones who can afford to permanently leave our cut-throat nation are the ones who have benefited the most from the slaughter.

    *Why do you think I live with my whack-job father?

  40. PatrickG says

    Question: I don’t understand the NAACP petition to the DoJ. Can someone explain to me how exactly this would work?

    Haven’t discussed this with lawyer partner just yet. We’re both sort of in a “don’t escalate blood pressure” mode right now.

    We’re both mad (and unsurprised), but .. just not seeing how this possibly happens. A case against the State of Florida, perhaps. But a civil rights violation case against an individual who has been acquitted? How is this going to work, exactly?

  41. captainoblivious says

    Seriously? Thug wannabe gansta beating up neighborhood watch guy gets popped. And the jury rightfully acquits based on SELF DEFENSE. And you all piss and moan about it.

    Bless your hearts, you’re all good atheists, but dang you can be thick sometimes. It’s a good thing you don’t run things.

    [Bye. And fuck you. --pzm]

  42. nightshadequeen says

    Well, captainoblivious chose a descriptive moniker for themself.

    ….Bleh.

  43. nerok says

    @12 Nerd

    That’s what “stand your ground” means. I like where they must retreat until their home is violated, as occurs in the civilized world.

    SYG was not argued in this case. This was a case entirely about “traditional” self-defense. I wish people would get this right, it’s one of the most misunderstood and yet basic things about the case.

  44. PatrickG says

    You said it, nightshadequeen. Can’t do much with those who choose to be oblivious

    Fortunately, I don’t think he runs things either, despite his officer status.

  45. Ben P says

    Question: I don’t understand the NAACP petition to the DoJ. Can someone explain to me how exactly this would work?

    Haven’t discussed this with lawyer partner just yet. We’re both sort of in a “don’t escalate blood pressure” mode right now.

    We’re both mad (and unsurprised), but .. just not seeing how this possibly happens. A case against the State of Florida, perhaps. But a civil rights violation case against an individual who has been acquitted? How is this going to work, exactly?

    The petition is silly, but does not necessarily call for anything unlawful. Jeopardy would attach to any future criminal prosecutions unless those prosecutions require additional elements of fact not part of proof in this trial. While not a certainty, there’s an argument that certain federal charges wouldn’t fall under the double jeopardy doctrine.

    Double jeopardy does also not apply to civil cases, and the burden of proof is lower in civil cases, preponderance of the evidence vs beyond a reasonable doubt. The family could file a wrongful death claim, but ZImmerman isn’t OJ, because OJ has money. Unless Zimmerman goes and signs a book deal, there’s little to be gained by suing him.

    That said…

    If you’re really suprised by this, you were engaging in a hell of a lot of wishful thinking and/or weren’t watching the trial. IMO it all comes down to the burden of proof.

    In most states Self Defense is an affirmative defense. That is, the prosecutor need only prove that the defendant killed someone. Then the defendant must prove (usually by a preponderance) that the killing was in self defense.

    In Florida, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was not self defense. All the defendant has to do is create “reasonable doubt” that it might have been self defense.

    If you watched the trial with any sort of critical eye, you just can’t come to another conclusion. The proof isn’t there. The defense’s theory is that after being confronted, Martin attacked Zimermann and Zimmerman acted in self defense. He had physical wounds sufficient to support this theory.

    What’s the state’s evidence that it wasn’t? A witness who can’t really say what he saw, and a girlfriend who admitted on the stand that she’d made false statements?

    And aside from some rhetoric in closing, the prosecutor wisely stayed away from any argument that Martin was a “boy” because that would have opened the door to a lot of evidence the judge had excluded from the defense, stuff like, oh, Martin’s record of getting in fights, his criminal record, and text messages he’d sent.

    The result was utterly unsprising.

  46. DrVanNostrand says

    @56
    Exactly! How dare those people soil our neighborhoods by walking through them with skittles and tea! The obvious solution is to stalk and harass them, then shoot them if they offer resistance. I’m in agreement with you, it’s a good thing the “right” kind of people are in charge.

    Nothing racist about that. I didn’t even bring up race at all!

  47. Ben P says

    SYG was not argued in this case. This was a case entirely about “traditional” self-defense. I wish people would get this right, it’s one of the most misunderstood and yet basic things about the case.

    True, but the SYG law was the same law that changed the standard for self defense in Florida to the one I described above. (Prosecution must prove it wasn’t self defense beyond a reasonable doubt).

  48. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    captanoblivious,

    Fuck you, you racist piece of preening shit. Why don’t you just climb up on the murdered kid’s grave and crow about this disgusting injustice?

  49. nerok says

    @60 Ben P

    I too watched almost the entire trial on live feeds and the prosecution had an astoundingly weak case. Their witnesses fell apart on the stand or even helped bolster Zimmerman’s defense. The judge ruled for the most part to the prosecution’s favor, so that helped some. But frankly there was never enough evidence to get past reasonable doubt. The prosecution relied to a great degree on emotions, talking about how Trayvon was unarmed and coming back to the Skittles again and again. They could not explain Zimmerman’s injuries. I think De La Rionda was on about the possibility Zimmerman could have hit his head on trees in the area at one point. And that sums it up for the prosecution – without evidence, their main argument was “things could have happened another way”.

    That’s just not enough. Facts over feelings.

  50. says

    Fox News’ Todd Starnes has been tweeting racist insults over this trial, talks about Tawana Brawley, how there’s going to be a race ware because black people can’t control themselves, praying for peace, etc.

    I call him on it and he finally replies to me:

    “@JafafaHots What am I supposed to be? Sad? I am a Christian, sir.”

    Yeah. You sure are.

  51. says

    Whoops. look like I’m wrong.
    Todd Starnes DID tweet the obnoxious things, but the reply to me seems to be from a starnes parody troll (same images, etc.)

  52. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Can all the “Oh well, you see the prosecution is at fault..blah, blah…That’s just the way the law works…..” stuff just stop?

    An innocent kid the age of one of my kids was racially profiled by a vigilante with a gun and stalked while walking home from the store with candy. That stalker murdered him and got away with it. The murdered boy was put on trial for his family to see, as was his girlfriend. Don’t pretend like this is anything other than a horrible miscarriage of justice and if this effects you so little that you think it appropriate to come in here tonight with “Well, I could have told you this would happen, yadda, yadda..” you need to stop. It’s cruel. It’s also wrong to pretend like this would have happened the same way if Trayvon had been white.

  53. PatrickG says

    @ BenP: You’ll note that I said we were UNsurprised. Please don’t accuse me of being surprised, thanks. You even quoted me, so I’ll just assume you read too quickly. No, we weren’t surprised. Upset with the burden of proof as applied in situations like this (i.e. states like Florida), yes. Surprised, no.

    Did I mention my partner is a lawyer? :P

    @ nerok: Um.

    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

    That’s from the bloody jury instructions issued by the judge, under the section “Justifiable Use of Deadly Force”. Page 12, for your reference.

    You might think the SYG laws were irrelevant, but I can guarantee you the jury didn’t.

  54. PatrickG says

    @ Ben P: Meant to add this to my earlier comment.

    While not a certainty, there’s an argument that certain federal charges wouldn’t fall under the double jeopardy doctrine.

    That’s more or less what I was asking. What kind of charges could be brought? The NAACP petition is vague on this point. Sincere request for information, I’m really unclear on this.

    Also, lawyer partner has gone to bed, and obviously I suffer from the flaw of impatience. ;)

  55. nerok says

    @62 Ben P
    @69 PatrickG

    You are correct. I should have been more precise. There was an opportunity to argue SYG initially, which is how that law is commonly used, but the defense thought they stood a better chance waiving it. The bulk of the criticism on how SYG is used do not apply to this case.

  56. nerok says

    @68 Jackie

    You don’t know what happened. The justice system is flawed. Racism exists. It is possible Zimmerman acted in self-defence. It is also possible it went down like you say.

    I don’t see how it is cruel to comment on how the trial was handled, as that is the only thing we had an opportunity to see and judge for ourselves.

  57. PatrickG says

    @ nerok, #71:

    Thanks for acknowledging and clarifying. Your point about the broader application of SYG laws is taken.

  58. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I second what Jackie said in #68.

    I am surprised, but then again I’m not USian and I haven’t followed the trial.

  59. says

    @60-

    If you watched the trial with any sort of critical eye, you just can’t come to another conclusion. The proof isn’t there. The defense’s theory is that after being confronted, Martin attacked Zimermann and Zimmerman acted in self defense. He had physical wounds sufficient to support this theory.

    I would think the 911 tapes should be sufficient to disprove self defense, since he admitted to the 911 operator that he was following Martin. Even under “stand your ground,” I would hope that actively pursuing someone precludes a claim of self defense.

  60. says

    Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck FUCK!

    Fucking FLORIDA!

    Fucking letting this racist asshole murderer off!

    Guess it doesn’t matter when it’s just another dead black boy, he must have done something to provoke the Upstanding White Citizen…. *spits*

  61. says

    I have routinely received far worse damage in the course of fixing my bike, let alone some of the recreational activities I have engaged in. That hardly constitutes a serious threat.

  62. Pen says

    Personally, I think this would be a good time for everyone to become a bit politically colourblind and boycott Florida as a place where visitors apparently aren’t safe. How do you think Disney would like that?

    Seriously, I have very mixed feelings about this decision. That ‘stand your ground’ law on Florida’s books should not be there, especially given that a fair proportion of Americans find at least some of the others threatening just for existing. If Zimmerman had been found guilty, people might think that common sense prevails after all, and the law can be tolerated. As it is, it may just spark a campaign to repeal the law.

    I hope everyone protests with every means at their disposal, not just the decision but the law itself. I wouldn’t ignore the commercial lever I was suggesting as well as any political and legal ones. I’ll certainly support any campaign I can from a non-US position and encourage Americans I know to do the same.

    PS: Another place to try being colourblind is when it comes to protesting. I hope white Americans won’t let their black compatriots fight this one alone. It’s not a good time to be coy when the law of the land basically lets people go around shooting other people on a whim. ‘Tous dans la rue!’* as they say in France.

    * Trans: ‘Get everyone out on the street’

  63. says

    I think there ought to be a rotating pool of people who take shifts following George Zimmerman everywhere he goes, all wearing hoodies.

    What? Clearly that’s not aggressive behavior at all, based on the results of this trial!

  64. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I think there ought to be a rotating pool of people who take shifts following George Zimmerman everywhere he goes, all wearing hoodies.

    I’m not sure how safe they would be from Zimmerman “defending” himself again.

  65. randay says

    Another scenario. Trayvon sees he is being followed by a menacing-looking looking white guy. Only this time he also has a gun. So he “stands his ground”, turns, and shoots Zimmerman dead. A gun is found on Zimmerman. It would appear that Trayvon was within his rights to defend himself from an armed man. Do you think for a moment that Trayvon would have been found not guilty? I don’t.

    As to Zimmerman’s “injuries”, from pictures I have seen, he is a lot bigger and stronger looking than 17 year old Trayvon. How could Trayvon get the better of Zimmerman and why would he even think of starting a fight with him? Is Zimmerman such a wimp that he can be pummeled by a youngster? Even if Trayvon ran, I suspect that Zimmerman would have shot him the back and still gotten off. I hope that Zimmerman feels he has to look over his shoulder every time he steps out the door.

  66. Ben P says

    I would think the 911 tapes should be sufficient to disprove self defense, since he admitted to the 911 operator that he was following Martin. Even under “stand your ground,” I would hope that actively pursuing someone precludes a claim of self defense.

    Why would it?

    Common law self defense says that “the aggressor” cannot claim self defense, but the exception is that the “Aggressor” may claim self defense if he retreated from the fight and was pursued.

    I’m not saying this is what happened, nor is the evidence even this close to cut and dried, but consider this as a hypothetical.

    Zimmerman sees Martin and chooses to follow him. He catches up to martin confronts him and tells him the police have been called. He does not reveal that he’s carrying a weapon.Martin becomes angry and attacks Zimmerman using his hands. Zimmerman, feeling that he is in danger for his life, pulls the firearm and shoots martin.

    In this hypothetical set of facts Zimmerman didn’t initiate a violent confrontation. Why wouldn’t he be able to claim self defense? Is merely following someone sufficient to count as being the “aggressor” such that no matter what happens after that, it’s all your fault?

    Now here’s where the SYG law comes in. The exception that an aggressor cannot claim self defense unless he has attempted to retreat and is pursued goes hand in hand with the common law duty to retreat. Under common law and in the majority of states, the law is that if you can retreat from a fight, you are legally obligated to do so, before you are legally permitted to use lethal force in self defense.

    In one of those states, the jury would have had a 2nd or 3rd issue to decide, In order to find proper self defense, the Defendant must prove that (a) he feared for his life or great bodily harm, and (b) he was not reasonably able to retreat from the situation.

    Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, there is no duty to retreat. The SYG law was not precisely at issue here, but it’s in the background because it changed the law to be such that the issue didn’t come up.

  67. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Randay @ 82

    Do you think for a moment that Trayvon would have been found not guilty? I don’t.

    Yep. Lest we forget:

    Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.

    (emphasis mine)

    Source

  68. borax says

    This is why I’m scared of people who carry guns. If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun he would have kept his ass in his car and Martin would be alive.

  69. says

    I see Zimmerman’s book is being published by Tate, a sleazy Christian vanity press. If it’s a bestseller it’ll be the first in Tate’s history.

  70. logicalcat says

    @84

    The 911 operator told him not to follow the boy and yet he did anyways. That’s vigilantism already, and vigilantism is already being the aggressor, and to Trayvon’s eyes, Zimmerman was stalking him. At least this is the way I see it.

    On another note, I live in Florida and this is fucked up on so many levels. Even though I’m not black (I look a lot like Zimmerman actually), it still kinda makes me scared to go home at night after work. Someone can just pop me off and get away with it easy. My friends and coworkers are black and it would be horrible if one of them got shot because they “looked” threatening. Sorry but even if Trayvon was walking down the street in a gangsta swagger, with grills and face tattoos while smoking a fat blunt does not entitle someone to stalk and kill him especially when the 911 operator told him not to pursue.

  71. says

    Also:

    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

    That is basically schoolyard bullying poured into law with added guns.
    Consatntly toe the line and when the victim does so much as yell, you’re the real victim here.

  72. aluchko says

    I suspect that Zimmerman wasn’t completely complacent in having it escalate from following to a fight. I also doubt Zimmerman’s life was in remote peril, but if he was on the sidewalk getting punched in the head I can see a lot of people panicking and shooting.

    But that’s just speculation.

    Given the evidence they had I can’t see how the jury could come to any other conclusion. The phone call doesn’t tell us who started the fight, witnesses don’t come into play until Martin is on top punching Zimmerman. Even with race, a white teenager at night acting slightly shifty being confronted by a black neighborhood watch volunteer, I could honestly see the same result.

    You want to get mad at something get mad at gun laws. This whole case is about a fight that started for stupid reasons, it never should have had any consequences worse than a broken nose, a minor concussion, and some community service. Guns have a habit of turning minor skirmishes into bodies.

  73. randay says

    If Zimmerman was getting punched, and by someone well below his weight category, he knew that the boy did not have a gun or he would have already shot him. So he knew he could just shoot him. I suspect that Zimmerman was out to kill a black person that night or some other night. I still hope that Zimmerman spends every minute of his life in fear of going out of his door. Let’s call it unofficial house arrest.

  74. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    In news about Zimmerman’s plans on continuing to volunteer for neighborhood watch? Since he was found not guilty, I presume he’ll be able to prance around with weapons again.

  75. chrisdevries says

    @84

    But from Martin’s perspective, he was being stalked by a random adult. If someone started following me around at night, a) I’d view that person as behaving “aggressively” towards me, and b) I’d be afraid. While we have no way of knowing how stalking turned into the alleged scuffle, it is pretty clear that Zimmerman’s behavior (ignoring the 911 operator’s instructions and following Martin) started the chain of events that led to Martin’s death. Also, by the very law that allowed Zimmerman to shoot to kill, Martin can be equally vindicated for starting a violent altercation (if that was the case). He felt threatened by Zimmerman so he used force to defend himself. That goes double if Zimmerman decided to pull out his weapon and confront Martin, to try and make him stop walking and wait for the police to search him; if I was in Martin’s shoes, I might misinterpret Zimmerman’s intentions and not wait for him to explain before trying to remove the gun from his possession. Stand-your-ground allows any individual who feels like hir life is in danger to use even deadly force to defend hirself.

    That is why this law is idiotic – fear is a subjective emotion. Martin could totally have been afraid for his life when he noticed Zimmerman following him for no apparent reason. Zimmerman could have been afraid for his life when Martin allegedly started the violent phase of their engagement (which Martin was justified in doing under SYG). But I think we can all agree that Zimmerman, who was armed with a concealed weapon, was NOT afraid for his life when he made the choice to follow Martin. So he should have at least gotten involuntary manslaughter.

  76. aluchko says

    @randay

    If Zimmerman was getting punched, and by someone well below his weight category, he knew that the boy did not have a gun or he would have already shot him.

    Weight helps, but particularly when you’re comparing an athlete to a non-athlete weight is far from the only factor determining who will win a fight. I don’t find the idea that athletic 160 lb 17 year old could beat up a 180 lb 27 year old to be at all surprising.

    As for Zimmerman’s stated reason for shooting Martin, he said that Martin saw Zimmerman’s holstered gun and was going to grab it to shoot Zimmerman. Even if Martin didn’t see the gun if Zimmerman was panicking (as evidenced by the calls for help) going for his gun could have been a natural reaction.

    I suspect that Zimmerman was out to kill a black person that night or some other night. I still hope that Zimmerman spends every minute of his life in fear of going out of his door. Let’s call it unofficial house arrest.

    Your suspicion is completely unfounded, the worst narrative you could draw from the evidence is that Zimmerman racial profiled, tried to play cop and apprehend Martin, then shot him when the lost the fight and panicked.

    And I hope I don’t have to point out the hypocrisy of you advocating extra-judicial punishment for Zimmerman.

  77. carlie says

    You want to get mad at something get mad at gun laws.

    Get mad at the people who enact and support and lobby for gun laws. I’ve seen people all over the place saying “oh well, the jury’s hands were tied because of the laws in Florida, it’s not any person’s fault, it’s just the laws,” as if the law is some uncontrollable force of nature. It’s people who create those laws. Keep the focus on the people.

  78. carlie says

    the worst narrative you could draw from the evidence is that Zimmerman racial profiled, tried to play cop and apprehend Martin, then shot him when the lost the fight and panicked.

    Really.
    What do you call him calling himself part of a “neighborhood watch” that isn’t playing cop?
    What do you call him refusing to obey the 911 dispatch and stand down?
    What do you call him continuing to follow Martin after being told the police would handle it?
    What do you call him physically accosting Martin, after having been told not to?

  79. says

    Is there any conviction the prosecution could have sought that stood a chance in court?

    I ask because they were seeking second degree murder or manslaughter, which are very specifically defined:

    Manslaughter-
    In Florida…

    darwin™ 60 months ago

    …”the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification…,is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree.” This is the definition currently used in Florida based on a decision of the Florida Supreme Court.

    Second degree murder:
    The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life ….

    The prosecution needed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that either of these were met. The jurors had to look at all the evidence and testimony and decide “were the conditions of either manslaughter or second degree murder met?”
    In the end, no.
    Taking away the emotional appeals, what did the prosecution have? I do not fault the jury for reaching this specific conclusion.

    When I heard the verdict, I was irate. I detest the Stand Your Ground law, and I think it is Zimmerman’s fault completely that Trayvon is dead. Zimmerman should be heading to prison. However, for whatever reason (IANAL), manslaughter and second degree murder were the convictions sought.

    I made the mistake of thinking, all this time, that Zimmerman stalking and profiling Trayvon would help convict him. I felt ( and still do) that Zimmerman had no justification for continuing to follow Trayvon. We have no reason to believe he is any judge of what ‘suspicious’ looks like. I feel he racially profiled Trayvon. I believe if he had backed down when told to do so, Trayvon would still be alive. It feels schoolyard to say it, but…Zimmerman started it.

    All that said, how do you go from racial profiling and/or stalking to the condictions for manslaughter and/or second degree murder have been met?

    I made the mistake of not being clear what conviction was being sought, nor what it would take to attain a conviction. I suspect many people have done the same thing. There are the people who ‘just know’ Zimmermans aggression, racial prejudice (at the very least), profiling, and vigitantism created the spark that ignited in Trayvon’s death.

    But that spark was not on trial here.

    So I return to my opening question: what other conviction could have been reasonably sought?
    In addition IS there any other?

    Did the prosecution opt to go with 2nd Degree Murder and Manslaughter for some reason? If a civil case can be made, would the actions Zimmerman took be relevant? He cannot be tried for either conviction again, but with the other possibi

  80. says

    aluchko:
    As I mentioned earlier, my first reaction was outrage. How could this happen??!
    Then I thought…wait a second.
    How DID this happen?
    How did the jury reach this decision?

    I had to clear up several gaps in knowledge before I realized not guilty for either Second Degree Murder or Manslaughter was highly likely.

    As much as I think Zimmerman was 100% in the wrong and deserves lots of jailtime, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the conditions for manslaughter and Second degree murder not met.

    At this point, I hope there is a strong civil case that can punish him.

  81. Stacy says

    What do you call him refusing to obey the 911 dispatch and stand down?
    What do you call him continuing to follow Martin after being told the police would handle it?

    According to the transcript of the 911 call, when told “we don’t need you to do that,” Zimmerman replied, “OK.”

    I don’t think we can determine for sure what happened after that. IIRC Zimmerman claimed he was returning to his car when Martin confronted him.

    Zimmerman should never have gotten out of his car to follow Martin. That unarmed teenager should not have died. But I don’t think we know for a fact that he continued to follow Martin after he was instructed not to.

    Some of the early reports were misleading (one made it sound as if Zimmerman volunteered the information that Martin was black–in fact, he didn’t mention race until he was asked by the dispatcher; another early report claimed Zimmerman used the word “coon”–that’s been debunked.)

    In a country deformed by racial hatred, in which young black men are treated as expendable, it’s very difficult not to assume this tragedy was racially motivated. But the more I read about it, the more I think it is possible that it was a tragic clusterfuck in which race, for once, may have truly been tangential.

    Zimmerman is still morally responsible for behaving recklessly and stupidly. And I have no sympathy for those who think Zimmerman was right to fear for his life but Martin’s fear–he was the one being followed!–somehow doesn’t excuse his (possibly) reacting defensively or even aggressively.

    (One person I tussled with on Facebook offered the fact that Trayvon didn’t call 911 as evidence that he wasn’t afraid for his life. Like the first thing any scared young black man in the American South is going to think of doing when he’s threatened is appeal to the police for protection.)

  82. says

    To establish involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with “culpable negligence.” Florida statutes define culpable negligence as a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior. The state may be able to prove involuntary manslaughter by showing the defendant’s recklessness or lack of care when handling a dangerous instrument or weapon, or while engaging in a range of other activities that could lead to death if performed recklessly.

    Example: If the defendant handles a loaded gun without any knowledge of whether the gun is loaded, and he later discharges the gun into a group of people, the defendant’s actions likely meet the recklessness requirement for a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

    Florida state laws also establish involuntary manslaughter if the prosecutor shows that the defendant used excessive force during self-defense or the defense of another person. The prosecution and defense can look at the facts and circumstances of the killing to determine whether the defendant reasonably believed that self-defense was necessary; if not necessary, the state might proceed with an involuntary manslaughter charge.

    http://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-involuntary-manslaughter-laws.html

    Could Zimmerman be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a civil case?

  83. carlie says

    Tony – I understand what you’re saying, but I’m really frustrated with arguments, no matter what the trial, that the jury “had no choice” but to render a particular verdict given the evidence. If that’s the case, then what exactly is the point of having a jury at all? If there is a law, and the facts all fall within the law as written, and the jury has no jurisdiction to interpret it differently, then there is no role for a jury to play. The whole reason there is a jury system is that even when the situation is clear and indisputable, there are external factors that can influence the reasons the situation happened as it did, and our legal system is supposed to use the jury to take those external factors into account, thereby seeing the case through the eyes of the people in the situation (hence a jury of one’s peers, who are most likely to be able to see it through their eyes) and using that knowledge in rendering a verdict.

    If there is ever a case where the jury has no choice, then the system of having a jury is an illegitimate farce.

  84. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    carlie,
    I am already half-convinced that having a jury is a farce. A judge at least knows how to interpret the law better, and really, I doubt that in a lot of cases a whole bunch of people would reach an any more fair decision than one person would. :/

  85. Ben P says

    he whole reason there is a jury system is that even when the situation is clear and indisputable, there are external factors that can influence the reasons the situation happened as it did, and our legal system is supposed to use the jury to take those external factors into account, thereby seeing the case through the eyes of the people in the situation (hence a jury of one’s peers, who are most likely to be able to see it through their eyes) and using that knowledge in rendering a verdict.

    No offense, but this is the scariest argument I’ve seen yet.

    A common refrain in criminal appeals is that judges are “Not to substitute their own decision for the jury’s.” However, doctrine exists that if a defendant is convicted when the conviction is “contrary to the great weight of the evidence,” that conviction can be overturned.

    However, for very good reason, there is no converse. There is no constitutional way for the state to say “we think the jury got it wrong, judge, we want you to convict the bastard.”

    Why is your argument scary? Just flip the races around. Or hell, just look at every southern jury for a century that convicted and sentenced black defendants to death on nothing more than a white woman’s testimony that “a black man had attacked her.”

    Jury nullification is an attractive concept when you think about an overburdensome state, but you don’t want a system where juries feel free to ignore the law and convict defendants anyway based on what they feel is just or unjust.

  86. carlie says

    Jury nullification is an attractive concept when you think about an overburdensome state, but you don’t want a system where juries feel free to ignore the law and convict defendants anyway based on what they feel is just or unjust.

    Oh, I have plenty of issues with the jury system the way it is practiced. I’m just saying that if you claim that the jury doesn’t have any jurisdiction at all, you can’t also say that the system is working as intended. If there is no leeway for a jury in a case, then it shouldn’t be a jury trial. There are lots of things that are illegal but aren’t decided by a jury.

  87. davidjanes says

    The whole reason there is a jury system is that even when the situation is clear and indisputable, there are external factors that can influence the reasons the situation happened as it did, and our legal system is supposed to use the jury to take those external factors into account, thereby seeing the case through the eyes of the people in the situation (hence a jury of one’s peers, who are most likely to be able to see it through their eyes) and using that knowledge in rendering a verdict.

    I have served on a criminal jury a couple of times, and the one thing the judge makes clear from the beginning in her instructions is that the jury is not there to interpret law. The role of the jury is to determine facts and how those facts lead inevitably to conclusions in the law. It is also important to note that the jury’s decision is not really appealable – it is not the role of the appellate court to reinterpret facts, but to correct errors in law or procedure allowed by the trial judge, including said judge giving incorrect instructions on what the law said certain facts would lead to to the jury.

  88. randay says

    #98 Aluchko, I am amazed at the number of racists that are crawling out of the woodwork on this subject. Martin was minding his own business and bothering no one. A racist killer Zimmerman decides to harrass him and kill him.If Martin had a gun and took it out immediately and shot his stalker, do you think that a Florida lynch court would have found him not guilty? The extra-judicial punishment is Zimmerman’s. I am not advocating anyone take action against the scumbag, but I hope he fears every minute that someone will.

    I still firmly think that Zimmerman is a determined murderer and that if he didn’t find a black man to kill that night, he would have found another one another night. I won’t be surprised if he kills again.

  89. gshelley says

    I would think the 911 tapes should be sufficient to disprove self defense, since he admitted to the 911 operator that he was following Martin. Even under “stand your ground,” I would hope that actively pursuing someone precludes a claim of self defense.

    Why? If Martin had not been killed, this might have given him a self defence option if he had been charged charged with assault, but that is really just speculation. If the prosecution had been able to show that Zimmerman had been the aggressor, that might have also have taken away the self defence argument, but they couldn’t do that.

  90. carlie says

    The role of the jury is to determine facts and how those facts lead inevitably to conclusions in the law.

    That really scares me, then – how is a jury of average citizens supposed to have the expertise to determine facts and how those facts lead to conclusions in the law?

  91. carlie says

    And if there is a determination of fact, what constitutes a fact, if not also the interpretation thereof?

    “He was scared because the other man appeared to be threatening”

    It’s jury interpretation whether the guy was justified in interpreting the appearance as “threatening”, right? Isn’t that determination of fact by means of interpretation ?

  92. says

    “Taking away the emotional appeals, what did the prosecution have?”

    What they had was absolutely no intention of prosecuting the case in the first place.
    Zimmerman was let off scott-free by the police and wasn’t even arrest for WEEKS until public pressure forced the prosecution to put on a show trial.

    People are saying the prosecution was weak or incompetent.
    Actually Zimmerman was prosecuted just as competently as was intended. The case was only as strong as was intended.

  93. davidjanes says

    @112

    The prosecution and defense present conflicting factual cases, and the judge in her jury instructions will define what the law is and what certain conclusions by the jury should lead to. At any time during deliberations, the jury can ask the judge to clarify those instructions.

    Most convictions come down to the credibility of the cases presented in the courtroom, and most of the time the defense has it a lot easier. They only need to make sure that there is a reasonable doubt that what happens fits the law’s definition of the crime as defined, whereas the prosecution has to prove beyond such doubts that a.) a crime occurred and b.) the defendant committed it. It is far from a perfect system, but I am not certain there is a better one. Certainly in countries that allow the prosecution to appeal acquittals or where a panel of judges acts as the determiner of facts we see far more prosecutions used as political tools to suppress dissent.

  94. rogerfirth says

    Jafafa Hots:

    Fox News’ Todd Starnes has been tweeting racist insults over this trial, talks about Tawana Brawley, how there’s going to be a race ware because black people can’t control themselves, praying for peace, etc.

    I call him on it and he finally replies to me:

    “@JafafaHots What am I supposed to be? Sad? I am a Christian, sir.”

    Yeah. You sure are.

    Are you fucking kidding me??? That tweet needs to make it to the national news, properly attributed.

  95. ChasCPeterson says

    I’m going to stay away from this one except to commend the rational commentary of BenP.

  96. says

    In a country deformed by racial hatred, in which young black men are treated as expendable, it’s very difficult not to assume this tragedy was racially motivated. But the more I read about it, the more I think it is possible that it was a tragic clusterfuck in which race, for once, may have truly been tangential.

    >White man released without being questioned after a black kid is murdered
    >But race is tangential.

    No.

    In this hypothetical set of facts Zimmerman didn’t initiate a violent confrontation. Why wouldn’t he be able to claim self defense? Is merely following someone sufficient to count as being the “aggressor” such that no matter what happens after that, it’s all your fault?

    Because self defense doesn’t help you if you provoke the fight. Such as by calling a lawful resident a criminal for no damn reason and informing them that you’ve called the police to take them away. It’s an in-built exception to the argument of self defense to prevent the obvious abuse of simply goading someone into punching you so you can stab them. Jackass.

  97. davidjanes says

    Could Zimmerman be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a civil case?

    Not as I understand it. Civil trials cannot convict people of criminal offenses. He could be found liable in a wrongful death suit and assessed damages, however. That could make sure that he never profits from this and is what the families of the victims ultimately did to OJ.

  98. Stacy says

    White man released without being questioned after a black kid is murdered

    He was detained and questioned for approximately 5 hours.

  99. says

    He was detained and questioned for approximately 5 hours.

    I’ve spent longer in custody for considerably less as a brown woman. You are offensively ignorant if you think a black man would walk away after 5 hours if this were reversed. And you are doubly so if you think race is tangential to a case where a white man is acquitted for murder after the prosecution sandbags the case. Especially given the massive amounts of jackassery and the clear lack of desire to prosecute AT ALL prior to the national news media looking at the case.

  100. sundiver says

    Shit, some of the cheeseturds at work are happy with this verdict. Why is it that Wisconsinites are so eager to act like ignorant racist assholes? The dipshits are doing their damnedest to turn a once progressive state into a sub-arctic Alabama.

  101. Stacy says

    Rutee, Riiight. You got a basic fact wrong, and instead of admitting it, you go on the offensive. First you make this inane statement:

    You are offensively ignorant if you think a black man would walk away after 5 hours if this were reversed.

    Of course I never said any such thing.

    As for the rest–yeah, as I said, I think it is possible. Likely? I don’t know. I’m trying to be fair, because I know early reports wrongly painted Zimmerman (who is of mixed race) as an overt racist, and those reports were wrong.

    Now go strawman somebody else; I ain’t playing this game with you. I’m heartsick enough as it is.

  102. says

    Of course I never said any such thing.

    But the more I read about it, the more I think it is possible that it was a tragic clusterfuck in which race, for once, may have truly been tangential.

    Really.

    I’m trying to be fair, because I know early reports wrongly painted Zimmerman (who is of mixed race) as an overt racist, and those reports were wrong.

    Being non-white means you aren’t overtly racist? News to me. I’ve been apalled over racist (Against black people) shit my (dark-skinned Puerto Rican) father said. I’ve been appalled by black men insisting that I was not a legal citizen (Born in ohio, family’s from US Territory) or that we’re stealing jobs. Zimmermann called the cops because a black person (and therefore, a criminal) was walking at night.

    Now go strawman somebody else; I ain’t playing this game with you. I’m heartsick enough as it is.

    The internet needs to collectively learn what both strawman and ad hominem mean. Today is no exception.

  103. David Marjanović says

    These subhuman pieces of dog shit are uneducable

    You’ve hardly even tried. The US school system is a subhuman piece of dog shit!

    I am surprised, but then again I’m not USian and I haven’t followed the trial.

    All seconded.

    I’m not saying this is what happened, nor is the evidence even this close to cut and dried, but consider this as a hypothetical.

    Zimmerman sees Martin and chooses to follow him. He catches up to martin confronts him and tells him the police have been called. He does not reveal that he’s carrying a weapon.Martin becomes angry and attacks Zimmerman using his hands. Zimmerman, feeling that he is in danger for his life, pulls the firearm and shoots martin.

    In this hypothetical set of facts Zimmerman didn’t initiate a violent confrontation. Why wouldn’t he be able to claim self defense?

    Because it’s ridiculous to be afraid for one’s life when being attacked with the bare hands of someone half one’s own size in linear dimensions.

    And that’s before we get to comments 90, 91, 97, and 100.

    I ask because they were seeking second degree murder or manslaughter, which are very specifically defined:

    Manslaughter-
    In Florida…

    darwin™ 60 months ago

    …”the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification…,is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree.” This is the definition currently used in Florida based on a decision of the Florida Supreme Court.

    What do “act” and “procurement” mean here?

    (One person I tussled with on Facebook offered the fact that Trayvon didn’t call 911 as evidence that he wasn’t afraid for his life. Like the first thing any scared young black man in the American South is going to think of doing when he’s threatened is appeal to the police for protection.)

    Failed state – the same reason why neighborhood watches exist at all. But I digress.

    To establish involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with “culpable negligence.” Florida statutes define culpable negligence as a disregard for human life

    carrying a loaded gun, let alone using it

    while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior.

    following a putative criminal after being told by the police not to

    That ought to do it. Yes, I am angry.

    Florida state laws also establish involuntary manslaughter if the prosecutor shows that the defendant used excessive force during self-defense or the defense of another person. The prosecution and defense can look at the facts and circumstances of the killing to determine whether the defendant reasonably believed that self-defense was necessary; if not necessary, the state might proceed with an involuntary manslaughter charge.

    Oh, wonderful. That should do it.

    If that’s the case, then what exactly is the point of having a jury at all?

    Tradition.

    The Magna Fucking Carta, which established that English noblemen must not be tried by an appointee of the king, but by a jury of their peers. An enormous victory of aristocracy over monarchy; so enormous that the pope was summarily ignored when he flat-out forbade the king to obey it or the nobles to insist on it.

    Somehow, this got carried over into democracy, where judges are not appointed by a king with pretensions to absolutism.

    Sure, sure: Austria has juries (in more limited circumstances than the US) so that, as the constitution says, the people can participate in decisions about verdicts and sentences. I guess the fear behind this is that the judges, who are appointed, might otherwise become a self-perpetuating caste that might hide unfair or “cruel and unusual” decisions behind arcane jurisprudence and impenetrable jargon without accountability from laypeople. But in at least some places in the US, judges are elected. You the People of the United States have even less of a reason for juries than the rest of us.

    Now you’ve reached the point that people are excluded from juries because they’re likely to understand the facts of the case.

    Unexamined tradition.

    The whole reason there is a jury system is that even when the situation is clear and indisputable, there are external factors that can influence the reasons the situation happened as it did, and our legal system is supposed to use the jury to take those external factors into account, thereby seeing the case through the eyes of the people in the situation (hence a jury of one’s peers, who are most likely to be able to see it through their eyes) and using that knowledge in rendering a verdict.

    Note how this post-hoc rationalization assumes that judges are far removed from “the people in the situation” and cannot be “one’s peers”.

  104. says

    Are you fucking kidding me??? That tweet needs to make it to the national news, properly attributed.

    No, it turns out that after I tweeted the real guy, a copycat troll saw that and tweeted that back to me. Same photos, twitter layout, but one of those things where they make an rn with an m, etc.

    Anyway, the real guy said plenty of offensive things, which is why I was tweeting him in the first place… so looking at his tweets gives plenty of horrible things to quote. But the thing is, he’s from Fox, and that scores him points, doesn’t get him criticized.

    Look at Ann Coulters tweets tonight also. Do you think she’ll be disinvited from going on Fox?

  105. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I can only begin to imagine how Trayvon Martin’s family feel about this miscarriage of justice even if it is technically correct in law.

    To say this verdict is ethically wrong and cruelly unjust is an understatement.

    Trayvon Martin’s family, friends and the US of A deserved so much better.

  106. David Marjanović says

    Oh, I didn’t even think of the argument in comment 107. …I should have refreshed before posting – I hadn’t seen anything beyond 105 yet.

    That really scares me, then – how is a jury of average citizens supposed to have the expertise to determine facts and how those facts lead to conclusions in the law?

    Exactly! *mad cackling and bouncing*

    They’re not supposed to do any such thing! They’re supposed to defend their fellow holders of a hereditary peerage against the thirteenth-century king. That’s all.

    Certainly in countries that allow the prosecution to appeal acquittals or where a panel of judges acts as the determiner of facts we see far more prosecutions used as political tools to suppress dissent.

    …Details, please. And what does the ability to appeal acquittals have to do with juries?

  107. randay says

    In France, a democratic country, the prosecution does have the right to appeal a jury decision that it judges too lenient. As can the defendant if he and his lawyers find it too severe. Sometimes that leads to surprises because the decision on the appeal by the defendant can and has been more severe than the original judgement.

  108. futurechemist says

    The vast majority of us weren’t at the trial. We didn’t see what evidence was presented or what evidence was excluded by the judge. We didn’t see the credibility of the witnesses and experts. And we didn’t hear the jury’s deliberations. So it’s hard to know exactly why they made their decision.

    Not guilty could mean they thought George Zimmerman was legitimately defending himself from Trayvon Martin, possibly for racist reasons.

    Not guilty could mean they thought Zimmerman was probably the aggressor, but that the prosecution did a shoddy job or there was enough ambiguity in the evidence to be reasonable doubt.

    Not guilty could mean that the evidence like the 911 calls was so ambiguous they genuinely had no idea if Zimmerman was the aggressor or defender. Both mothers claimed the voice screaming was their son.

    From my vantage point 1000 miles away, it certainly seemed to me that Zimmerman was guilty of at least manslaughter. But since I wasn’t at the trial, I’ll yield to the jury.

  109. Ben P says

    Oh, I have plenty of issues with the jury system the way it is practiced. I’m just saying that if you claim that the jury doesn’t have any jurisdiction at all, you can’t also say that the system is working as intended. If there is no leeway for a jury in a case, then it shouldn’t be a jury trial. There are lots of things that are illegal but aren’t decided by a jury.

    You’re mistaking what I’m saying.

    Jury trials scare the shit out of me every time I’ve tried one because there is simply not telling what a jury is going to do.

    The province of a jury is to decide disputed facts, in a jury system (and not all cases have juries) a judge can only decide the law and apply the law to facts that are undisputed.

    Here, many facts were disputed. The prosecution had one theory of the case, and Zimmerman had an entirely different theory. However, the prosecution had the burden of proving that case “beyond a reasonable doubt” and the defense only had to create “reasonable doubt.”

    The fact that the prosecution’s evidence is weak, extremely circumstantial and their witnesses crumbled on the stand, doesn’t mean the jury didn’t have anything to decide, because facts were undisputed. What I’m saying is that looking at the proof and the law, I don’t see that a reasonable juror would found it wasn’t self defense “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is, you can think it probably wasn’t self defense, but as long as it “could be” that’s supposed to be an acquittal, and that’s ultimately what happened.

  110. davidjanes says

    @128 – Russia uses the state’s power to appeal acquittals as a hammer. So does China, for that matter. We have even seen it recently in Italy, in the Knox case. There are two essential problems: the larger one is the state using the courts to endlessly harass opponents, but the other (and closer to the case in the Knox case from what I have read) is prosecutorial ego not accepting that their case was overturned by the highest review authority and therefore wanting do overs until they win.

    As for what this has to do with juries? I was contrasting our flawed system with the flaws in others and offering my opinion that the finality of acquittal offered in our system is much superior to the non-finality of acquittal in those countries. I believe that in the end, erring on the side of the defendant against the state does more good than harm in the long run, even if in this case that did not happen.

    Let me emphasize this last point: I do believe justice miscarried in this case. I just do not see a systemic fix with side effects worse than this. It isn’t the system so much as it is the nature of the law in Florida, as others have pointed out. What we need are saner laws and to grow up a bit in terms of our national fetish with deadly force. A technocratic judiciary that has the power of investigation, prosecution, and sentencing is just too easy to corrupt and abuse. I think that Robespierre and the Comité de salut public might stand as an example of that.

  111. carlie says

    The vast majority of us weren’t at the trial.

    The entirety of it was televised.

  112. Ben P says

    Because self defense doesn’t help you if you provoke the fight. Such as by calling a lawful resident a criminal for no damn reason and informing them that you’ve called the police to take them away. It’s an in-built exception to the argument of self defense to prevent the obvious abuse of simply goading someone into punching you so you can stab them. Jackass.

    You have every right to believe that this is true in a moral sense, but it is NOT the law.

    If I walk up to you on the street and call you a criminal, and you punch me in the face, the police come and I tell them what happened, you will be charged with assault/battery.

    If I walk up to you on the street and call you the most vile thing you can possibly imagine, and you punch me in the face, you can still be charged with assault.

    On the other hand,

    If I’m doing nothing more than following you down the street and you subjectively fear that I’m about to attack you, this might be a sufficient basis to claim self defense if you’re the one being charged. See e.g. Bernie Goetz shooting 4 people on the subway because they looked at him funny and he thought they were about to rob him.

    So completely change up the hypothetical. Zimmerman follows Martin, Martin Attacks Zimmerman, but the shooting never happens, or Martin is just lightly wounded. The police come. Martin claims that it’s night and this crazy guy was following him on the street, and he was afraid so he attacked the guy. Martin, if he were charged, would have a reasonable self defense claim.

    But turning it around again, the same argument applies to Zimmerman. “goading” someone into attacking you, but not actually assaulting them in any way doesn’t mean that you initiated a violent confrontation.

  113. Anri says

    From my vantage point 1000 miles away, it certainly seemed to me that Zimmerman was guilty of at least manslaughter. But since I wasn’t at the trial, I’ll yield to the jury.

    The problem with this verdict isn’t that it wasn’t in accordance with the law.

    The problem with this verdict is that it probably was.

  114. Al Dente says

    davidjanes @133

    I was contrasting our flawed system with the flaws in others and offering my opinion that the finality of acquittal offered in our system is much superior to the non-finality of acquittal in those countries. I believe that in the end, erring on the side of the defendant against the state does more good than harm in the long run

    “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” -William Blackstone

  115. says

    aluchko

    Weight helps, but particularly when you’re comparing an athlete to a non-athlete weight is far from the only factor determining who will win a fight.

    You’re right. Training is also a significant factor. Training in MMA (which Zimmerman had) tends to trump training in football (which appears to be the closest thing Martin ever did to a marital art)
    tony

    The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life,

    This bit here sure sounds like it encapsulates the situation. Zimmerman was at a minimum acting in a depraved manner without regard for human life, or else he was deliberately out to shoot a black person that night, which means that either way it counts.
    Al Dente
    You know, people always trot that bullshit out whenever things like this happen, but somehow never quote it when Texas executes an innocent person, or when someone like Marissa Alexander is locked up for decades. There’s a whole lot of unjustified assumptions contained in that quotation,

  116. davidjanes says

    but somehow never quote it when Texas executes an innocent person

    I’d be careful about throwing out words like “never.” That argument is actually central to a lot of arguments against the death penalty, particularly when you are trying to convince someone who rejects the postulate that state sponsored killing is categorically wrong.

  117. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    “goading” someone into attacking you, but not actually assaulting them in any way doesn’t mean that you initiated a violent confrontation.

    But now you’re the one who is misrepresenting the law – and since you know it, one has to wonder if it’s intentional.

    First, since this statement doesn’t represent an actual legal test, let’s analyze the statement as plain English. Here, you’re lying your ass off: That is exactly what “goading someone into attacking you” means. In fact, if you assaulted them, it wouldn’t be goading as understood in English would it?

    Goading a violent confrontation into being means initiating a violent confrontation. Plain English.

    Now let’s analyze it in terms of law: In terms of law the question is whether the person throwing the punch reasonably feared “unlawful force”. Since goad isn’t a legal term (at least not in the Canadian Criminal Code), we have only two options.

    First, we can import its common meaning – removing the blame from the punching party and placing it on the party goading – into legal terms. Here this would mean the first party the reasonable fear of unlawful force, and again you’re as wrong as wrong can be.

    Second, we can decline to give it any legal relevance, but then it has no legal relevance and what you’re saying is absolutely useless.

    Please. If you mean to actually critique people for using non-legal terms in legal contexts, have the decency to then not engage in the duplicitous use of non-legal terms in legal contexts.

    Further, unlawful as used in the CCC and in Oregon – though I admit I don’t know about FL state law – means tortious as well as criminal. Zimmerman used intimidation to restrict the movement of Martin. He was armed and ordered him to halt. He had engaged in behavior that a reasonable person would interpret as scary and his own statements made clear he wanted certain groups of people in his town – including young, black men – to be scared of him and people he considered to be people like him. The prima facie case for False Imprisonment is, if not made out since we don’t have the full test as refined in Florida, right there for easy inference. Rutee is describing illegal behavior. Rutee is describing behavior that would bring on a reasonable fear of the use of unlawful force (fearing such force would be used if one resisted the false imprisonment).

    Rutee actually is closer to a useful legal truth than you are with your “goading is not initiation” claim, while having the added benefit of actually using the crucial English terms correctly.

  118. moarscienceplz says

    #137 Al Dente:“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” -William Blackstone”

    True, but if 90% of the guilty that get off are white, and 90% of the innocent that suffer are non-white, what’s kind of justice do we have?

  119. logicalcat says

    [blockquote]I’m trying to be fair, because I know early reports wrongly painted Zimmerman (who is of mixed race) as an overt racist, and those reports were wrong.[/blockquote]

    Ohh I am just sick and tired of this shit. As if hispanics cannot be as racist as other white people (especially hispanics with white skin). I guess someone forgot to tell my father that he is not suppose to be racist since he is hispanic.

  120. says

    Randay @110:
    Zimmermans profiling of Trayvon is definitely prejudicial.

    Leaping from that to ‘he was looking for a black man to kill’ requires more proof, which you have not supplied. Loathe though I am to find any defense for him, but Zimmerman could have shot Trayvon before he did if he had intended to commit murder.

  121. says

    Futurechemist:
    Given the evidence, how do Zimmermans actions fit Floridas definition of manslaughter?

    ****
    As an aside, I wonder why states get to have their own definitions of terms like ‘manslaughter’ or ‘second degree murder’.

  122. jefrir says

    If I’m doing nothing more than following you down the street and you subjectively fear that I’m about to attack you, this might be a sufficient basis to claim self defense if you’re the one being charged. See e.g. Bernie Goetz shooting 4 people on the subway because they looked at him funny and he thought they were about to rob him.

    Oh, so there’s precedence for racist court decisions in such cases. Well, that makes it all okay then.

  123. vaiyt says

    “He will be looking around his shoulder the rest of his life,”

    One can only hope.

  124. vaiyt says

    I’m trying to be fair, because I know early reports wrongly painted Zimmerman (who is of mixed race) as an overt racist, and those reports were wrong.

    How much more racist can you get? You follow an innocent black boy around FOR NO FUCKING REASON, blabbering about how “they” “always get away”, and then get into a fight with the guy and kill him with a gun. If killing someone that’s no threat to you for NO FUCKING REASON is not overtly racist enough, WHAT IS?

  125. vaiyt says

    So completely change up the hypothetical. Zimmerman follows Martin, Martin Attacks Zimmerman, but the shooting never happens, or Martin is just lightly wounded. The police come. Martin claims that it’s night and this crazy guy was following him on the street, and he was afraid so he attacked the guy. Martin, if he were charged, would have a reasonable self defense claim.

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha oh wow

    How’s things there on Bizarro Florida?

  126. aluchko says

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I’ve never seen anything about Zimmerman having MMA training, but it’s kind of a moot point. We have a very good idea who would win a fight because we know Martin was winning the fight. There are multiple witnesses who place Martin on top throwing punches, and Zimmerman on the bottom calling for help. And Zimmerman was the only one with injuries consistent with being punched.

    What does it matter if Zimmerman should have been able to win if we know he was losing?

  127. aluchko says

    @Ben P

    I agree with your interpretation on assault.

    I think it’s the right decision that Zimmerman gets out of this without a murder conviction.

    And if went the other way and Martin got the gun and shot Zimmerman I think he also should have got out without a murder conviction.

    The moment you added the gun both parties suddenly had a very valid reason to fear for their lives, and a very strong motivation to be the first one to shoot.

  128. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” -William Blackstone

    Yes, “better.” Except for the victim(s) and the ten families of the victim(s). Or society at large. Possibly even the ten themselves were correctional facilities effective in their namesake.

  129. vaiyt says

    I think it’s the right decision that Zimmerman gets out of this without a murder conviction.

    For the sake of all that’s still sacred in the world – Zimmerman STALKED A GUY WHO WAS MINDING HIS OWN BUSINESS AND WAVED A GUN AT HIM. Martin had MORE of a justification to stand HIS ground than the opposite!

  130. kayden says

    Thanks for this post, PZ. I’m also not surprised at all with the verdict. Expected it given how Zimmerman almost never got arrested and charged in the first place. Seems like Trayvon was a dead man walking as soon as Zimmerman spotted him that fateful night. And also seems as if Trayvon has been demonized from day one. I just hope his parents/family find some peace despite the unjust verdict.

    Hate to say it, but until the laws are changed in Florida, Black males should arm themselves so that it’s a fair fight next time around.

  131. theignored says

    Well, as soon as I heard about this, I went to a certain forum to see what their reactions would be. They have many threads up dealing with this topic and you can bloody well guess what their views are.

    I won’t mention the name of this forum, but I will say that it’s one that is very interested in race issues. That should be all the hint one needs.

    And holy shit, it’s grim over there. Let’s just say that they didn’t care for the shot kid at all.

    Thread topics:
    Zimmerman Not Off the Hook Just Yet…

    VERDICT REACHED! NOT GUILTY!
    Celebratory thread with some really chilling ugly remarks in it.

    Ex)

    Si se puede!

    Although George Zimmerman is as “White” as Barack Obama, he prevented future Trayvon robbery, rape and murder victims and he should be applauded for his actions to defend himself and his community.

    Let the rioting and looting commence.

    Ok. Can someone explain that guy’s mindset to me? “Future Trayvon robbery, rape and murder”? Huh?

    Is there any evidence that he did anything in the first fucking place?

    I am so glad now that I never bothered to get a passport…I do not want to go to the United States, even to visit. No offense to you guys, but….

  132. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Alchuko won’t get it. From the moment Zimmerman was told by the police to break off contact, and he didn’t, he was an aggressor. Anything happening beyond that point is due to his aggression. He had no need to stand any ground, it wasn’t his to stand on. If his aggression makes him get punched out, his problem, and nobody elses. He would just have stopped at any time and avoided contact. He made a series of bad decisions, each one escalating the event. In this case, the law, like Zimmerman, was an ass.
    The root cause of the killing was Zimmerman’s aggression.

  133. aluchko says

    @vaiyt

    The gun never came out until the end.

    @theignored

    There’s some horrible people supporting Zimmerman but that doesn’t mean Zimmerman is horrible.

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Zimmerman wasn’t told by the police to break off contact, he was told by the dispatcher. And the actual exchange was

    Dispatcher: Are you following him?
    Zimmerman: Yeah
    Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that.
    Zimmerman: Ok

    It wasn’t an instruction from the police, it was a passively phrased request from the dispatcher. When Zimmerman later tells the dispatcher that Martin ran she doesn’t repeat the instruction which implies it wasn’t a strong demand.

    He had no need to stand any ground, it wasn’t his to stand on.

    He was initially released due to stand your ground laws, but in the actual trial the claim was straight up self defense.

    If his aggression makes him get punched out, his problem, and nobody elses. He would just have stopped at any time and avoided contact.

    So if I’m following you you’re allowed to attack me?

    What would you do if you saw a teenager of any race walking around your neighbourhood (that had suffered a bunch of burglaries) looking really suspicious? It’s not a race thing, I’ve seen suspicious looking white teenagers and they may not have been doing anything wrong either. Teenagers do dumb things, sometimes this includes acting really suspicious when they’ve done nothing wrong (because they’re awkward and don’t know how to act), and sometimes they overreact and start a fight.

    I don’t argue that Zimmerman could have handled the situation a lot better, and maybe he’d be less bold and better at avoiding a fight if he wasn’t armed, but that doesn’t make him a murderer.

  134. says

    I think Nerd has it exactly right. Zimmerman was clearly the aggressor here.
    ****
    Vaiyt @150:
    In that scenario, Martin would be able to reasonably invoke self defense. That does not mean that he would said claim was found acceptable, just that there is sufficient reason to invoke it.

    @154:
    What murder charges do YOU feel should have been filed against Zimmerman and why?

    782.04 Murder.—(1)(a) The unlawful killing of a human being: 1. When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being; 2. When committed by a person engaged in the perpetrationof, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
    a. Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
    b. Arson,
    c. Sexual battery,
    d. Robbery,
    e. Burglary,
    f. Kidnapping,
    g. Escape,
    h. Aggravated child abuse,
    i. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
    j. Aircraft piracy,
    k. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
    l. Carjacking,
    Om. Home-invasion robbery,
    n. Aggravated stalking,
    o. Murder of another human being,
    p. Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person,
    q. Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism; or 3. Which resulted from the unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a)4., opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or methadone by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,

    is murder in the first degree and constitutes a capital felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082. (b) In all cases under this section, the procedure setforthins. 921.141 shall be followed in order to determine sentence of death or life imprisonment.

    (2) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree,punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    (3) When a person is killed in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any: (a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1), (b) Arson, (c) Sexual battery, (d) Robbery, (e) Burglary, (f) Kidnapping, (g) Escape, (h) Aggravated child abuse, (i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, (j) Aircraft piracy, (k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, (l) Carjacking, (m) Home-invasion robbery, (n) Aggravated stalking, (o) Murder of another human being, (p) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or (q) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

    by a person other than the person engaged in the perpetration of or in the attempt to perpetrate such felony, the person perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate such felony is guilty of murder in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree,punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    (4) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated without any design to effect death, by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any felony other than any:
    (a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),
    (b) Arson,
    (c) Sexual battery,
    (d) Robbery,
    (e) Burglary,
    (f) Kidnapping,
    (g) Escape,
    (h) Aggravated child abuse,
    (i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,
    (j) Aircraft piracy,
    (k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,
    (l) Unlawful distribution of any substance controlled under s. 893.03(1), cocaine as described in s. 893.03(2)(a)4., or opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium by a person 18 years of age or older, when such drug is proven to be the proximate cause of the death of the user,
    (m) Carjacking,
    (n) Home-invasion robbery,
    (o) Aggravated stalking,
    (p) Murder of another human being,
    (q) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or
    (r) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,

    is murder in the third degree and constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/782.04

    The first and third are out.
    Prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman evinced a depraved mind. So I wonder if a stronger team could have gotten a conviction or if better evidence would havd swayed the jury.

  135. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What exactly does a “suspicious teenager” look like?

    Not of the same complexion as their “community” in the minds of the bigots.

  136. says

    davidjanes
    I was perhaps unclear in my phrasing; the point I was aiming at is akin to that made by moarscienceplz @#141: To wit, that people are prone to excusing blatant miscarriages of justice that put someone who is blatantly guilty back on the streets by quoting Blackstone, but not to thinking about the degree to which the innocent are punished by the American justice system. The people who quote Blackstone in this manner almost invariably do so as an argument against reforming the justice system, and when the quotation is used in such a context, it is generally with the implication that the current justice system is if not ideal, at least the best possible one, which is simply untrue.
    Aluchko
    Speaking as someone who is a good 3′ and 20 lbs smaller than Trayvon Martin, I can say that I have absolute confidence in my personal ability to walk away from a fistfight with a person of that size and build. I cannot, therefore, construe it as reasonable than a healthy man twice my size should consider such an event to be a meaningful threat to his life.

    Tony

    Prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman evinced a depraved mind.

    This appears to be because the white jury did not consider stalking a black teen with a gun to be a depraved act, which is to say that they share the depraved mindset which Zimmerman was displaying. This kind of thing is, in fact, one of the major problems with jury trials.

  137. Anri says

    What would you do if you saw a teenager of any race walking around your neighbourhood (that had suffered a bunch of burglaries) looking really suspicious? It’s not a race thing, I’ve seen suspicious looking white teenagers and they may not have been doing anything wrong either. Teenagers do dumb things, sometimes this includes acting really suspicious when they’ve done nothing wrong (because they’re awkward and don’t know how to act), and sometimes they overreact and start a fight.

    Oh, well, follow them… I mean “him”, not “them”, of course – if I were to refer to a single black kid as “them”, it might make me sound like a racist, which I totally totally totally am absotivleyposiloutley NOT – silly ol’ me… with a loaded gun.

    And by that, I mean I wouldn’t.

    Let me see if I can put it another way: what would you have to be wearing or carrying to feel it is appropriate to have an armed man following you around?
    What would you have to be doing to be such a threat to public peace that the neighborhood watch dude not only called the cops on you, but felt he couldn’t wait until they arrived and had to follow you around with a gun? What behavior on your part would make that a reasonable response?

  138. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In my neighborhood, the local teens sometimes gather under the street light at the intersection out front until their bed time in the summer. Complexions and accents all over the place. They talk, laugh, and joke with each other. Refreshing. And I never have to tell them to get off my lawn, since they are never on it.

    These are the same teens out offering to shovel sidewalks and the like during the winter. They may think I may have blew them off until the two-stage snowthrow comes out, then they know better.

  139. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    What exactly does a “suspicious teenager” look like?

    Whatever is convenient. Reasonable doubt obviously only applies to one side, much as the self-defense claim only applies to the victor and not the victim.

    I think it went down as follows: Zimmerman brandishing a weapon, creeping slowly, staring down a young black kid, who hides in bushes supposedly, to get away from the ‘creepy-ass-cracka’, being startled by someone not only pursuing but doubling back to his hiding spot. Trayvon died as a young man fearing for his life. I hope Zimmerman lives his that way.

  140. theignored says

    aluchko at #159

    It wasn’t an instruction from the police, it was a passively phrased request from the dispatcher. When Zimmerman later tells the dispatcher that Martin ran she doesn’t repeat the instruction which implies it wasn’t a strong demand.

    So what if it wasn’t a “strong demand”? Are you stunned? Is the dispatcher who works for the police, from a police station somehow not count?

    Is such a person for some reason ignorant of the laws that the police deal with?

    There’s some horrible people supporting Zimmerman but that doesn’t mean Zimmerman is horrible.

    He went after an unarmed kid for no fucking reason, started a fight and killed him. Sounds pretty horrible to me.

  141. stevem says

    {I am so disgusted by this verdict, my reply will be clouded by emotion more than clarified by reason, but here goes:}
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    re et al:

    “Stand Your Ground” was Zimmerman’s defense. He could use it as a defense because he called the police and told them, “That guy over there, looks very suspicious”. Thus, he can claim he feared for his life and was justified to use “deadly force”. Even though the ‘dispatcher’ told him to “not follow”, the *law* says he doesn’t have to retreat. So, therefore, he couldn’t be ‘the aggressor’ since he was “standing his ground”.(according to SYG)
    I object to the concept of that law and his use of it as a defense. But, not being a lawyer, the weakness, I see, is that “Stand Your Ground” is just the common name for the law. It doesn’t say it only applies if you only ‘stand’ there, it says ‘if you fear for your life, you don’t have to retreat, you can use any force to eliminate that fearsome person’. My ‘blindspot’ was concentrating on the ‘stand’ word in the ‘name’ of that law. I’d argue, “How can he be ‘standing his ground’ when he actively pursued Martin?” I was not seeing the “fear” in Zimmerman as his motivation to pursue. Me bad. (I won’t get started on how wrong Zimmerman was to ‘fear’ Martin.)

    re “double jeopardy”:

    double jeopardy means one cannot be tried a second time for the same crime if found ‘not guilty’ the first time. BUT “violating civil rights” is a different crime than “murder”(any classification thereof).
    {caveat emptor IANAL}

    Having two crimes, in the lawbooks, with only slightly different definitions, so if one doesn’t convict you can try the other one seems modus operandi for BIGgovernment tyranny. {nevermind that it could be useful as a “backup plan” for cases like this}

    re “assault and battery”:

    As I understand it (IANAL), “assault” does not involve physical violence, just inducing fear in the victim of assault. “Battery” is the physical aspect. So if you meet me on the street and SAY you would break my arm some other time, and I punch you in the nose, and the police arrest us. YOU would be charged with ‘assault’, and I would be charged with ‘battery’.
    ————————————————————————————–
    {I could go on-and-on, I am so disgusted by this verdict, I must stop now}

  142. aluchko says

    ‘Acting suspicious’ is a combination of subtle behaviour and body language clues that stand out, I’m sorry if I can’t give a precise definition but I’m sure you have the ability to notice someone who stands out regardless of race.

    @Anri

    Or “them” referred to the thieves who were robbing the neighbourhood and of which Zimmerman assume Martin might be one.

    And it’s possible I could set off someone’s radar walking around a neighbourhood, it would probably piss me off. And if I was black is would probably happen a lot and I’d be more annoyed. That still doesn’t mean I should start a fight.

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls #166

    Good to hear. You apparently didn’t live in Zimmerman’s neighbourhood which had burglaries so had some just cause to be suspicious of teenagers wandering around.

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    We don’t know exactly how the fight started, maybe it was a mild escalation, maybe Zimmerman was doing all he could to avoid a fight while keeping a bead on Martin and Martin did freak out and attack him. You can’t avoid a fight against someone who attacks you with almost no provocation.

    @theignored #168

    It wasn’t a police order, it was a request. He probably thought he would be careful, take care of himself, and if he didn’t follow the potential burglar would walk away and never be found. Honestly if I was following someone I thought to be a criminal, and the 911 operator told me “we don’t need you to follow”, my thought would be “yes, but if I don’t follow the police will almost certainly never find him, so I’ll follow at a distance so he doesn’t get away”.

    He went after an unarmed kid for no fucking reason, started a fight and killed him. Sounds pretty horrible to me.

    He followed the kid because he thought he was a criminal, the 911 call is pretty strong evidence of that. And you have no evidence he started the fight.

    You can’t just ignore the inconvenient facts and build your own narrative.

  143. says

    Dalillama:
    Excellent point about the stalking. It is indicative of that horrible mindset. I wonder if not seeing that is on the jury or if the prosecution was ignorant and failed to substantially make the point.
    ****
    aluchko:
    That”definition” of suspicious activity is too vague for a court of law. It is also too open to wildly varying interpretations (and biases) to be effective for the public

  144. theignored says

    aluchko at #170

    It wasn’t a police order, it was a request.

    So what?? He was still told not to do it. He still went against the “advice” of a law-enforcement official. And if you would do the same thing even after being told not to by people whose bloody job it is to deal with criminals, then you are as stupid as Zimmerman is.

    He followed the kid because he thought he was a criminal, the 911 call is pretty strong evidence of that. And you have no evidence he started the fight.

    You can’t just ignore the inconvenient facts and build your own narrative.

    What in hell made him think that the kid was a criminal?

    That is not made up. The kid was unarmed. That is not made up. There was never any evidence that the kid was a criminal.

    He followed the kid because he thought he was a criminal, the 911 call is pretty strong evidence of that. And you have no evidence he started the fight.

    He was stalking someone against the “advice” of a police dispatcher. He was following someone for no reason other than he looked suspicious. Listen to what the guy was saying to the dispatch:

    “Fucking punks,” “These assholes. They always get away.”

    Oh yeah…sounds like a person who has no intention of starting any fight. uh huh Again…what evidence did the guy have that the kid had done anything?

    Zimmerman was the one who was ignoring facts and making up his own narrative.

    He was the aggressor in every step of the way. If he had listened to the dispatcher, the kid would still be alive.

    He said that it was “god’s plan” for him to kill him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eD83PmBeaW4

    He followed someone who he believed that god had planned for him to kill.
    That sounds like evidence to me.

  145. aluchko says

    @theignored,

    What in hell made him think that the kid was a criminal?

    That is not made up. The kid was unarmed. That is not made up. There was never any evidence that the kid was a criminal.

    He expressed poor judgement, we don’t know how poor since we don’t know precisely what kind of body language or other suspicious signs Martin showed or didn’t show that evening.

    We do know that Martin had some minor disciplinary problems so it’s possible he was legitimately giving off ‘bad vibes’.

    He was stalking someone against the “advice” of a police dispatcher. He was following someone for no reason other than he looked suspicious. Listen to what the guy was saying to the dispatch:

    “Fucking punks,” “These assholes. They always get away.”

    Oh yeah…sounds like a person who has no intention of starting any fight. uh huh Again…what evidence did the guy have that the kid had done anything?

    It sounds like someone who has no intention of letting them get away. In a neighbourhood that has had a lot of burglaries following a suspicious looking character is something I’d expect a neighbourhood watch volunteer to do.

    Frankly if Zimmerman initiated the fight, or was involved in a heated verbal confrontation that escalated into Martin into attacking him, I’d support murder or at least manslaughter. And I suspect that Zimmerman probably did more to escalate than we know, but all that is is a suspicion, we can’t convict Zimmerman based on that.

  146. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    In reference to your comment here, detailing the FL statute, and my post here, responding to your question about which might have been the best charge to bring,

    782.04 (4) – the third degree murder noted here is the statutory embodiment of the Felony Murder Rule I discuss in my comment. I’m not sure why you say that third degree is “out” in your comment. While I don’t know the FL code well enough to know what predicate felony Zimmerman might have provably committed, he may very well have committed one in, say, menacing with a firearm. Actions would be menacing with a firearm under most menacing statutes whether the gun was in hand or holster. so long as the defendant took actions he knew or should have known would cause fear and that he knew or should have known ran the risk of being undertaken while Martin was aware of the firearm. In some jurisdictions it might be enough to show that he knew or should have known that his actions *might* cause fear. However this change might be a lesser offense of menacing and not rise to the level of a felony. It’s also possible that under FL law no version of menacing constitutes a felony.

    But, finally, it’s important to note that “attempts” can be felonies. He certainly attempted to engage in unlawful imprisonment. What version of UI or kidnapping is the highest offense easily provable by the prosecution? If a felony above the lowest degree, then the attempt – usually prosecuted as a felony one level lower – would still be a felony.

    So, yeah, 782.04 (4) is a reasonable charge to go after. I don’t know if it would be the best charge to go after, but it’s certainly a reasonable one.

  147. Anri says

    aluchko:

    I know you read my post, as you quoted part of it.
    A little part of it, at the beginning, anyway.

    I also asked:

    Let me see if I can put it another way: what would you have to be wearing or carrying to feel it is appropriate to have an armed man following you around?

    What would you have to be doing to be such a threat to public peace that the neighborhood watch dude not only called the cops on you, but felt he couldn’t wait until they arrived and had to follow you around with a gun? What behavior on your part would make that a reasonable response?

    …was that too hard a question for you? I can’t help but notice you didn’t even try to answer it.
    If you don’t want to answer it, let me know and I’ll drop it.

  148. theignored says

    It sounds like someone who has no intention of letting them get away. In a neighbourhood that has had a lot of burglaries following a suspicious looking character is something I’d expect a neighbourhood watch volunteer to do.

    Again: What evidence did he have that Martin actually did anything? Remember what the guy said to the dispatcher. Those are not the words of someone who’s merely suspicious. He’s convinced that Martin was up to no good.

    Also, remember what Tony said:

    That”definition” of suspicious activity is too vague for a court of law. It is also too open to wildly varying interpretations (and biases) to be effective for the public

    If we can’t convict Zimmerman based on a suspicion, then how in hell did he get acquited when that’s all that he had?

  149. theignored says

    I’d also like to remind aluchko that Zimmerman thought that it was gods will that this happen. A point he ignored.

  150. says

    You have every right to believe that this is true in a moral sense, but it is NOT the law.

    \…Uh, no. No, it is hte law. AFAICR it’s been that way since the god damn Star Court. If you provoke a fight, you can not claim Self Defense as your justification for your actions in punching someone back. This isn’t about my wishes, that’s how it works. That said,k a jury of white people is never going to consider it provocation is different from “I am just singing a fairy song”.

    If I walk up to you on the street and call you a criminal, and you punch me in the face, the police come and I tell them what happened, you will be charged with assault/battery.

    If I walk up to you on the street and call you the most vile thing you can possibly imagine, and you punch me in the face, you can still be charged with assault.

    Uh, yeah. Id idn’t say your provocation excused my actions. I said your provocations nullifies your right to self defense. If Ted call Sam’s mother a whore, and Sam punches Ted, Sam is going to be charged with battery. If Ted stabs Sam ‘in self defense’, so will Ted. Like I said, this is a fucking in-built exception to Self Defense law to prevent the obvious abuses that can (and do) follow. It’s not going to make the violent aggresor’s actions legal, but it will make *your* actions illegal.

  151. aluchko says

    @theignored #176

    If we can’t convict Zimmerman based on a suspicion, then how in hell did he get acquited when that’s all that he had?

    Legally you’re probably allowed to follow someone for no reason at all, suspicion isn’t a pre-requisite for Zimmerman to follow Martin, it’s only relevant if his suspicion is evidence he did then something more that sparked the fight.

    A cop doesn’t even need suspicion to follow you or question you on the street. But he needs probable cause to search you, and to actually convict you of a crime he needs to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    #177

    I’d also like to remind aluchko that Zimmerman thought that it was gods will that this happen. A point he ignored.

    Sorry, someone made a very similar point in another thread that I already replied to so I assume you were just repeating yourself.

    Religious people say it was god’s plan all the time after something bad happens, ‘oh I can’t question it’s was all god’s plan’ or ‘the lord works in mysterious ways’. It’s just a stupid religious thing to explain why something bad happened, he doesn’t mean he wanted it to happen or it was something he thought was divinely ordained. The most you can draw from it is he’s avoiding admitting any specific wrongdoing.

  152. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Rutee.

    While you’re right on the principles of self-defense, you appear to be wrong on some particulars. Sam is likely to be charged with assault (criminal law doesn’t make the same distinction tort law does between battery and assault…at least in the US, Canada, NZ & Australia. Not sure if the UK is still making the distinction in criminal law or not) for punching Ted after Ted calls his mother a whore. Ted will likely also be charged for any assault on Sam.

    The law of self defense should make little difference here: self-defense is a legal defense and applies only after the prima facie case is made out. If you’re sure that a person has committed conduct that constitutes a crime, you have more than probable cause to believe the person has committed the crime. You should be arrested and, unless an actual prosecuting lawyer intervenes and is quite clear that your defense to the charge is too likely to succeed to proceed to trial, you should also be charged. If there are no differing accounts and you meet the requirements for self-defense, the charges will likely be dropped after the filing of an indictment (US) or information (Commonwealth countries) but before an actual trial when there is the opportunity for lawyers to look in detail at the applicable law. Otherwise you still go to trial.

    What you’re trying to get at is whom the court will convict – not charge.

    Here there’s another problem. Self-defense is always defense against *unlawful* force. Otherwise, you could legally respond to a police officer’s forcible arrest with force of your own. While this protects officers doing their duties, it also protects anybody. Take surgeons. You might reasonably fear that a surgery will end in your grandmother’s death, but that doesn’t mean that if the surgeon is operating legally (e.g. with legally effective consent) that you can shoot the surgeon.

    In your example, calling Sam’s mother a whore doesn’t create reasonable fear of unlawful force. When Sam punches Ted, self defense is not available to Sam to deflect criminal liability. When Ted responds with force, he reasonably fears unlawful force – he was just punched unlawfully! – so self-defense will absolutely be available to him, and will even get him off so long as his force is neither too disproportionate nor too delayed.

    “Provocation” can reduce damages in tort or (in some jurisdictions) negate a tort, but the law on provocation is not the law on self-defense.

    Again, you’re right that if someone is exercising the right of self-defense, the actions taken in legal self-defense are unlikely to be available as a justification for the defensive actions of the person initiating reasonable fear in the defender. But even this isn’t certain. If miscommunication happens such that it was reasonable to believe that Ted was threatening Sam and Sam threw a punch, but Ted was not threatening Sam and now reasonably believes that Sam’s lawful self-defense is unlawful, then Ted can successfully use self-defense. Sam’s actions may have **been** legal, but it was reasonable to believe that they were illegal.

    I hope that helps.

    Of course, none of this means that it was reasonable for Zimmerman to believe Martin’s actions weren’t self-defense. It just means that it is possible for both parties in some other, hypothetical conflict to each believe the other’s force is unlawful, and thus for each to successfully employ self-defense.

  153. jefrir says

    aluchko, look at the difference in the requirements you put on the behaviour of Martin and Zimmerman.
    Martin, a scared teenager, must act perfectly. He must not in any way threaten or attack the creepy dude following him for no apparent reason. The penalty for (possibly) not meeting that requirement is to be shot and killed.
    Zimmerman, on the other hand, seems not to be required to exercise any judgment. Based merely on a fear of burglary, with which he has no real reason to connect Martin, he can follow a kid and later shoot him with no consequences at all – and you are apparently okay with that.
    And yeah, he was scared and suspicious – because he’s a fucking racist.

  154. PatrickG says

    Crip Dyke, just a quick shoutout for your efforts at our CLE*. I’ve learned a great deal from your posts.

    *Continuing Legal Education, for those who don’t have lawyers in-house. :)

  155. vaiyt says

    Shouldn’t Martin be more justified in standing his ground, since he could reasonably fear that Zimmerman was going to assault him?

  156. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @PatrickG:

    you’re welcome. I’ve always been a big fan of knowing one’s constitution. It has a huge range of effects on daily life. But there’s also such a great list of other things that really do matter if you want to be an informed citizen. The criminal v. unlawful thing that came up with Tony, for instance. I actually tend to forget how obvious that stuff *isn’t* – and that’s horrible since I’m someone who is overtly opposed to the law wrapping itself in jargon. I’ve made a point of saying that it’s immoral to write the law in such a way that the people who are subject to the law’s effects are less likely to understand. Then I forget to clarify terms. It drives me batty that I do this stuff myself, so I’m more than happy to take whatever time I have available to be super clear.

    Writing for an international forum is a bit hard, though!

    The felony vs. misdemeanor thing, though is uniquely US (there the misdemeanor is a crime whose legally possible penalties include imprisonment, but never for more than 1 year…while felonies are crimes whose legally possible penalties include imprisonment for a period of at least a year and a day (though in practice I think all felonies have a potential period of 2 years).

    Also, the criminal vs. unlawful thing is truly corrupted in Canada b/c of the way the constitution is written up here. It can’t (by definition) be a criminal law if it is passed by a province. But provincial law can provide for penalties including the possibility of incarceration – but only if it is for no more than 2 years. So non-criminal breaches of law in Canada might be felonies in the US. Oy.

  157. says

    I don’t know how many of you have ever carried a weapon at all, let alone for self-defense. I was in the Marines from 1994-1998, and I’ve carried a knife, since then and a handgun between September 20011-December 2012.

    The time I carried a gun was the single worst time of my life. Ever.

    I felt constantly afraid, which I’d guess Zimmerman felt too. The difference is that I also felt constantly responsible for de-escalating every situation. When I had I gun on my hip, I felt like I carried the entire burden for whatever happened. I would have been willing to shoot people if required, but I also felt responsible for avoiding those sorts of situations whenever possible. My mindset was always “I can probably win any confrontation, therefore it is my responsibility to avoid confrontation. I’m safer that the other person, until they force my hand, so I’m cool to walk away.”

    I’ve been a Marine, and a bouncer, and I’ve been forced to fight. None of it is fun. And when I look at a guy like Zimmerman, who is officially a nothing? He looks to me like a coward who was desperate to feel like a real man for once in his life. Not because I’m some super Rambo-badass guy, but because I’m a regular guy who has been in real situations… and unless I saw someone in real and immediate danger, I was always willing to turn things over to the cops.

    That’s not what Zimmerman did. He was in a situation that could and should have been turned over to the police, and he decided to push it because he had a gun, and then he murdered a teenager for no good reason.

  158. neuralobserver says

    How about if people work to put laws in place that make it illegal to hunt black men?

    Really Myers…’to hunt black men.’?
    Do you really think he was out to ‘hunt’ black men (silly question, I know), particularly this young thug/bully who so many portray as almost an innocent bystander?
    An irresponsible statement on your part, but to be expected.

  159. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    young thug/bully

    Walking during the night while black makes him a thug and a bully?

  160. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Walking during the night while black makes him a thug and a bully?

    Yep, if you are a paranoid about young blacks and have ideas that when said aloud sound like racist stereotyping.

  161. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’ll concede that Myers’ use of hunted was chosen for rhetorical effect. He could have said,

    How about if people work to put laws in place that make it illegal to follow black children, while armed and in an SUV, to assume that a black child is a thug and a bully for being out at 7:30 pm, to pursue that child while the child is fleeing your mounted pursuit, to ignore the advice of police dispatchers and common sense in order to have the opportunity to start a confrontation with a black child, to illegally order the restraint of the black child’s movement and, when the child did not meekly comply, approach that child to the point of contact, following which behavior either the cornered child initiates a physical confrontation in order to escape your illegal attempts at confinement or you initiate physical violence to enforce your attempts at confinement, and, when your attempts at caging the black child in fear fail, shoot that child to death?

    Please note that your assertion that Trayvon Martin was a thug and a bully is utter bullshit, unless you define “thug” as “a person having more melanin per square centimeter than Halle Berry” and “bully” as “a teenager who has smoked pot at least once in the last 30 days, as only 21.4% did in 2010″.

    Note further that these definitions are highly contested.

  162. Rey Fox says

    particularly this young thug/bully who so many portray as almost an innocent bystander?

    Please state precisely what you believe he was guilty of. For bonus points, explain why he deserved death.

  163. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Rey Fox

    One of the things that really gets me is that the actions that Zimmerman’s apologists most like to use to justify killing a Black child are actions of Martin’s that are undertaken as if a Black kid has something to fear from a light skinned man.

    How *dare* Martin act as if it’s reasonable of Blacks to fear whites. Why, that would only be true if white folk actually had a documented history of committing violence against Black folk. The nerve!

  164. Rey Fox says

    Indeed. The next question that comes to mind is what he could have possibly done to shed the “suspicious” label. I’m guessing…nothing.

  165. says

    ‘Acting suspicious’ is a combination of subtle behaviour and body language clues that stand out, I’m sorry if I can’t give a precise definition but I’m sure you have the ability to notice someone who stands out regardless of race.

    *cough*

    In other words, “suspicious” is just a bigoted word for “different”.

    And fuck everyone trying to bullshit about how this outcome was inevitable because of the way the law is. Two people have already linked to the case that shows pretty clearly that this isn’t the case, and that had the situation been reversed and a black man shot a white man, there would have been a conviction. It was only “inevitable” in the sense that self defense laws in the U.S. are written to protect white men with guns; when someone else tries to use them, they get convicted regardless of how flimsy the prosecution’s argument is. The inevitability was because of race, not because of law.

  166. David Marjanović says

    @128 – Russia uses the state’s power to appeal acquittals as a hammer. So does China, for that matter. We have even seen it recently in Italy, in the Knox case. There are two essential problems: the larger one is the state using the courts to endlessly harass opponents, but the other (and closer to the case in the Knox case from what I have read) is prosecutorial ego not accepting that their case was overturned by the highest review authority and therefore wanting do overs until they win.

    OK, what about France? How many other countries are there where acquittals can be appealed?

    As for what this has to do with juries? I was contrasting our flawed system with the flaws in others and offering my opinion that the finality of acquittal offered in our system is much superior to the non-finality of acquittal in those countries. I believe that in the end, erring on the side of the defendant against the state does more good than harm in the long run, even if in this case that did not happen.

    I still don’t understand what in dubio pro reo* has to do with juries.

    * And I have no idea why anyone would quote some Blackstone dude for something that’s Older Than Feudalism.

    ‘Acting suspicious’ is a combination of subtle behaviour and body language clues that stand out, I’m sorry if I can’t give a precise definition but I’m sure you have the ability to notice someone who stands out

    Seriously, are you kidding?

    You apparently didn’t live in Zimmerman’s neighbourhood which had burglaries so had some just cause to be suspicious of teenagers wandering around.

    Do teenagers commit that many burglaries in the USA? I’d be much more afraid of people Zimmerman’s age in that respect!

    He expressed poor judgement, we don’t know how poor since we don’t know precisely what kind of body language or other suspicious signs Martin showed or didn’t show that evening.

    We do know that Martin had some minor disciplinary problems so it’s possible he was legitimately giving off ‘bad vibes’.

    …So, showing fear is suspicious to you?

    Is that what you’re trying to say?

    Legally you’re probably allowed to follow someone for no reason at all

    Stalking is a crime, though.

    Over here, we even imported the English word stalking just so we could outlaw the action!

  167. says

    Ijoe

    He was in a situation that could and should have been turned over to the police,

    I think that that’s even an exaggeration; nothing had occurred that night which would warrant police investigation until Zimmerman decided to start a fight. He was in a situation that could and should have been ignored as part of day to day life (Seeing a teenager walking down the street), but decided that he wanted to enact a Rambo fantasy instead.

  168. says

    Do teenagers commit that many burglaries in the USA?

    no. Teenagers are just another group of people that the White Middle Class is afraid of. And if they’re teenagers that look in any way “different”… well.
    and aluchko is right that the difference doesn’t have to be race. You can murder teen punks and get away with it too, sometimes.

  169. says

    neuralobserver:

    Do you really think he was out to ‘hunt’ black men (silly question, I know), particularly this young thug/bully who so many portray as almost an innocent bystander?

    What would the definition of “innocent bystander” be?

    Mine is, “someone minding their own business, not committing any crimes, and not stalking other people.”

    What’s interesting is this: Zimmerman followed a kid he thought looked “suspicious.” Maybe all hopped up on goofballs. Definitely a fucking punk. An asshole. Maybe even a thug, though perhaps only a scalawag. In any case, Zimmerman thinks he’s tailing a potential criminal. He gets out of his car with his gun, and follows the kid.

    Here’s the important question:

    If Zimmerman thought he were trailing a criminal, what was it he expected to happen that he needed a gun?

  170. Anri says

    One last shot for aluchko:

    We do know that Martin had some minor disciplinary problems so it’s possible he was legitimately giving off ‘bad vibes’.

    …and Zimmerman was apparently emitting bullets.
    I’ll take the vibes, myself.

  171. RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital says

    We do know that Martin had some minor disciplinary problems so it’s possible he was legitimately giving off ‘bad vibes’.

    Do fucks like you, aluchko, even realize what the fuck you’re saying? You’re saying that a person’s background, even if it’s “minor disciplinary problems”, somehow justify being MURDERED. That “bad vibes”, which is a totally subjective thing totally separate from the fact that these “bad vibes” were felt by a DOCUMENTED RACIST about a BLACK PERSON, also justify being MURDERED.

    You’re a goddamn monster.

  172. David Marjanović says

    Teenagers are just another group of people that the White Middle Class is afraid of. And if they’re teenagers that look in any way “different”… well.

    Thought so!

    and aluchko is right that the difference doesn’t have to be race. You can murder teen punks and get away with it too, sometimes.

    Not surprising either.

    If Zimmerman thought he were trailing a criminal, what was it he expected to happen that he needed a gun?

    Actually, I think it’s possible he didn’t even think that far – and just took the gun with him because it’s the phylactery for his courage.

    …which is exactly why I’m for very strict restrictions on carrying guns in public.

    We do know that Martin had some minor disciplinary problems so it’s possible he was legitimately giving off ‘bad vibes’.

    Check out comment 310 in the next thread!

    …and Zimmerman was apparently emitting bullets.

    So full of win.

  173. says

    Aluchko:
    Have you yet explained what “bad vibes” means? Or “suspicious activity”?
    Without a specific definition those phrases are too open to personal interpretation and bias. Gien Zimmermans dislike of black people, there is bias against them and it is easy to see how he imterpreted “walking from the convenience store” as suspicious activity. He was already primed to think that way. However, he was irrational and reckless and a great many people would disagree with his assessment of Martin.
    So he made an irrational judgement call and then engaged in reckless behavior which endangered and ended Martin’s life.
    Until you can give a definition for either phrase, perhaps you should stop using them.

  174. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Tony,

    Apparently, pretending to be a badass on facebook makes one an actual thug and makes one emit these bad vibes. Or maybe Bad Vibes. Very sciency.

  175. says

    @204:
    This is not “librage” (what an inane term. Looking it up, I thought I might be exposed to some cool new word…nuh uh). No library here. Yeah there is anger at Zimmerman getting off when his reckless actions directly resulted in Martins death. Yeath, there are cries for social change too. The latter puts a lie to the ‘hopelessness’ part of “librage”. If people thought it truly was hopeless to advocate for social change, far fewer would make the attempt.
    Oh and was “Poz” Myers a typo?