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It’s Too Early To Talk About Dropping The Charges Against George Zimmerman

In the days that have passed since some of the evidence in the case against George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, including evidence of injuries to Martin’s hands and the fact that Zimmerman had a broken nose and lacerations the day after the incident, was made public, leading to  a call from some corners for the charges against Zimmerman to be dropped because this newly public evidence supposedly supports Zimmerman’s self-defense claim:

Two prominent U.S. lawyers are among the skeptics questioning whether evidence in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin supports the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman, given the confessed shooter’s apparent injuries and freshly released eyewitness accounts.

“There is no second-degree murder evidence in this case,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said. “It’s a very close case.”

Details released in the past week add to the picture of what might have transpired on that rainy Feb. 26 before Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in the Sanford, Fla., community where Martin, 17, was staying with his father’s fiancée, shot the teen dead.

Previously unknown particulars, including the scrape on Martin’s knuckle and photos of Zimmerman’s battered and swollen face — which were taken moments after he shot and killed Martin in what he says was self defense — coupled with eyewitness accounts that back up Zimmerman’s story, suggest for some that the prosecutor overreached.

“I’d rather play the defense than the prosecutor, because there’s no way you get a murder-two conviction,” journalist-attorney Geraldo Rivera said on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” last week.

To get one point out of the way, I have no idea what ABC News reporter Matt Gutman chose to refer to Geraldo Rivera as a “prominent lawyer.” Yes, he has a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School but, at least according to his Wikipedia bio, he’s never actually worked as an attorney. He’s been a life-long journalist, starting out at ABC’s flagship station in New York City before I was even in grade school. Moreover, in all his time on the air, I cannot ever recall him being identified as a “legal analyst” by any of his employers. So, let’s just leave Geraldo off to the side as just another talking head, albeit one who happens to have a J.D.

Alan Dershowitz, of course, is a different matter. He’s been a prominent commentator on civil liberties for years, a Professor at Harvard Law School, and lead or co-counsel in a number of high profile criminal cases, not the least of them being the O.J. Simpson case, where he served mostly as an adviser on appellate and Constitutional issues. So, his opinion is worthy of due consideration.

In the Zimmerman case, Dershowitz has been a critic of the prosecution from the beginning. When Zimmerman was first indicted for Second Degree Murder, he called the State’s Attorney’s supporting affidavit “irresponsible and unethical,” an opinion that only he seemed to hold. Indeed, Zimmerman’s own attorney, who has been practicing criminal defense in Florida for two decades, and is certified as a specialist in the field by the Florida Bar, has so far at least declined to challenge the legal sufficiency of the affidavit. (Of course, this could be a tactical decision on his part since it does tend to lock the police witnesses in regarding the testimony they can give at trial).  It shouldn’t be too surprising, then that Dershowitz is now arguing that the prosecution has the obligation to drop the charges against Zimmerman in light of the evidence now made public: 

Now there is much more extensive medical evidence that would tend to support Zimmerman’s version of events. This version, if true, would establish self-defense even if Zimmerman had improperly followed, harassed and provoked Martin.

A defendant, under Florida law, loses his “stand your ground” defense if he provoked the encounter — but he retains traditional self-defense if he reasonably believed his life was in danger and his only recourse was to employ deadly force.

Thus, if Zimmerman verbally provoked Martin, but Martin then got on top of Zimmerman and banged his head into the ground, broke his nose, bloodied his eyes and persisted in attacking Zimmerman — and if Zimmerman couldn’t protect himself from further attack except by shooting Martin — he would have the right to do that. (The prosecution has already admitted that it has no evidence that Zimmerman started the actual fight.)

This is a fact-specific case, in which much turns on what the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt. It must resolve all such doubts in favor of the defendant, because our system of justice insists that it is better for 10 guilty defendants to go free than for even one innocent to be wrongfully convicted.

You wouldn’t know that from listening to Corey, who announced that her jobs was “to do justice for Trayvon Martin” — not for George Zimmerman.

Dershowitz goes on to note that prosecutors are under a different ethical duty than defense attorneys or attorneys in a civil case:

Listen to the way a famous British barrister put it in 1820:

“An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes his client, knows, in the discharge of that office, but one person in the world, that client and none other . . . Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them, if need be, to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences, if his fate it should unhappily be, to involve his country in confusion for his client’s protection.”

The prosecutor’s job is far broader: to do justice to the defendant as well as the alleged victim. As the Supreme Court has said: “The government wins . . . when justice is done.”

Zimmerman’s lawyer is doing his job. It’s about time for the prosecutor to start doing hers.

Dershowitz is absolutely correct that Prosecutors have a ethical duties that are quite different from those of other attorneys. In addition to being required to zealously represent the state in court, they also have an obligation to do justice, to not bring charges cannot be supported by probable cause, and to not proceed with cases where they do not have a reasonable belief that they could prove the Defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office found itself obligated to drop the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn last year. Thanks to a series of revelations after DSK was charged, it became fairly apparent that the accusing witness in that case had told several untruths, both in relation to the case and in relation to other matters. Since Kahn was being charged with rape and the chief fact in doubt was going to be whether the encounter between Kahn and his accuser was consensual, this meant that it would turn into a classic “she said, he said” case. Thanks to the accuser’s numerous falsehoods, it was apparent that Kahn’s attorney would be able to create enough doubt about her credibility that Kahn himself might not even have had to testify had they gone to trial, and the jury would have been hard-pressed to convict him of rape given that his accuser might not be believable. For an example of what happens to a prosecutor who ignores these kind of problems with their case, one need look no further than the Duke Lacrosse Case and the eventual disbarment of Durham County, N.C. District Attorney Michael Nifong.

While I am not going to claim that I have more knowledge or experience in legal matters than Dershowitz, who has been practicing law at the highest levels since before I was born, I think he gets it wrong when he reads the evidence that was released last week as mandating that the prosecutor drop the charges against Zimmerman at this time.

First of all, it’s worth noting that some of the evidence that was made public last week will most likely never see the inside of a courtroom. For example, one of the facts that many of Zimmerman’s defenders across the blogosphere, as well as Rush Limbaugh, jumped on immediately was the fact that Martin’s autopsy apparently revealed the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his system. The report about THC is so vague that it’s difficult to tell if the THC that was registered was in the active or inactive forms, which matters since the substance can remain in someone’s body for weeks. More importantly, though, there’s absolutely no scientific evidence that THC makes a person violent, which means that it’s quite likely that this portion of the autopsy report will never be admitted into evidence because it is irrelevant and would potentially be prejudicial to the prosecution.

Second, it’s worth noting that what has been made public so far isn’t all the evidence in the case, just what has been disclosed to date as required by Florida’s reciprocal discovery rules. This is something that both the prosecutor and Zimmerman’s attorney last week acknowledged last week:

“What the general public has to remember and the media has to remember is that there is a lot we cannot release by law,” Corey said.

Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara apparently agrees with Corey.

“[It is] way too early to tell,” he said. “That’s me not only commenting on evidence, but the weight of all the evidence. And I don’t even have all the evidence.”

For that reason alone, it would strike me that it’s far too early to make pronouncements like Dershowitz makes in his Op-Ed, especially when he is basing his evaluation of the evidence based entirely on what has been reported in the media.

The third thing worth noting is that this case is not going to be decided based solely on documentary evidence like medical reports. Witnesses will have to testify, including the residents who called 911 on the night of the incident and who, in some cases, saw with their own eyes at least part of the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin. Since he is raising a claim of self-defense, it seems inevitable that Zimmerman himself will also have to take the stand. The Fifth Amendment says that he doesn’t have to, and I’m sure that he and his attorney have had, and will have, many long conversations on the pros and cons of taking the stand, however it strikes me that it would be next to impossible for his attorney to meet the burden the defense has to meet to establish self-defense without Zimmerman getting on the stand and telling his version of what happened that fateful night. When he testifies, and when he is cross-examined, his credibility will be judged by the trier of fact and may will end up being the deciding factor in the case. Since it’s really impossible to say that the defense has established a viable self-defense claim until this happens, suggesting that the charges should be dropped now is, at best, premature.

Much of this goes back to the argument I made when Zimmerman was indicted, where I criticized the tendency of people on both sides of the case to rush to judgment based on media reports and sensationalism. There may come a time when Angela Corey will indeed have an ethical obligation to drop these charges rather than going to trial, all though I tend to doubt it given the nature of the case, but we are far from that point right now and it’s somewhat irresponsible to suggest that she is acting unethically when all she’s really doing is her job.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    This is also good to go to court because there should be a full investigation of exactly how far the quid-pro-quo goes in self-defense under Florida’s law.

    After all, Treyvon (if he had survived) could have said that he was simply defending himself to the amount necessary, given that Zimmerman had a gun with the possibility of attacking him with lethal force.

    Florida has a bad, bad law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  2. @grumpy realist:

    As Dershowitz notes in his Op-Ed, and as Zimmerman’s own attorney has said, this is not a Stand Your Ground case. This is a traditional self-defense case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. legion says:

    There is one important subject I have not yet seen teased out of the post-mortem analyses: powder burns. If Zimmerman fired his weapon in the midst of an attack, when a self-defense plea might be justifiable, there would absolutely be evidence of powder burns on Martin’s face and clothing. If there are no burns, then Zimmerman’s shot had to have been fired from a good 10-15 feet away at least, and that puts the whole trial on a different footing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    @legion: Actually the autopsy report did conclude that the gun was fired from 1 to 18 inches based on powder residue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. anjin-san says:

    Florida has a bad, bad law.

    I think this is at the core of the issue. We are never going to know what happened, Martin is dead, and cannot speak for himself. How did the confrontation come to pass? Again, we will never know. Zimmermann’s story about being sucker punched while attempting to leave the scene does not, for me, pass the smell test. But it does play into the right wing meme about the violent tendencies of blacks, and it has legs.

    How did matters escalate? To my mind, it is more credible that Martin, who was simply going about his lawful business, was confronted by Zimmermann, saw the gun, and fought for his life. One thing we do know. Guns are inherently dangerous. In the unsteady hands of people who are not properly trained, tragedy can strike very quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  6. Drew says:

    “It’s Too Early To Talk About Dropping The Charges Against George Zimmerman”

    This, of course, is absolutely true. However, it is also true that it is not too early for various essayists and commenters on blogsites, the media coverage and their obviously sick narrative, and of course the filthy political opportunists, to hang their heads in shame at the disgusting way this has been handled. In fact, President Obama is being shown to be a trigger happy indescretionist as well.

    This case has a ways to go. But all those who simply salivated at the political potential of a white on black narrative on the backs of a tragedy – and you know who you are – need to look in the mirror and ask yourselves who you really are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

  7. legion says:

    @Ron Beasley: Ah – thanks. I hadn’t seen that bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. anjin-san says:

    Of course Drew. People who are angry that a kid who was walking home from buying some candy was shot dead by a stalker, against whom there may well be no legal remedy, should hang their heads in shame.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  9. legion says:

    @anjin-san:

    Florida has a bad, bad law.

    I think this is at the core of the issue.

    True, but it’s not the whole problem. That city also had some bad cops, who didn’t secure the scene of a possible homicide, thereby compromising valuable evidence and witness testimony. There’s also the matter of a bad local DA who chose not to follow up on the lead cop’s recommendation to pursue a case. This whole situation is so f*cked up and broken, it’s very probable neither truth nor justice will ever be achieved.

    This is why it’s important for people to pay attention to the system, and not just the one or two people they encounter each day from the system. Too many bad systems are kept in place & operating by just a handful of decent folks going above beyond the call when they should be supported by decent procedures & processes in the first place…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  10. anjin-san says:

    That city also had some bad cops

    My experience with small town cops is that when you get beyond traffic stops, DUI & DAD arrests, and hassling kids and marginal adults, they don’t, in general, have impressive skills. A case like this what probably simply more than they could handle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. jd says:

    First there’s a public outcry to prosecute.
    Next there’ll be a public outcry to drop the charges.
    This is almost as useful as the majority voting on the rights of minorities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: somehow I don’t think that a “traditional” self-defense means you can pick a fight with someone to the point that he takes a few swings at you, then shoot him dead. Or scare someone to the point that he feels he has to defend himself from you, then shoot him dead.

    And I ask, if Zimmerman was waving a gun at Treyvon, why wouldn’t Treyvon’s right to self-defense mean Treyvon could do whatever he felt reasonable to defend himself?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  13. When Zimmerman was first indicted for Second Degree Murder, he called the State’s Attorney’s supporting affidavit “irresponsible and unethical,” an opinion that only he seemed to hold.

    Going back to the previous two posts on whether we’re a police state and the thousands of wrongly convicted people, this here is sort of the problem. The State Attorney’s supporting affidavit was irresponsible and unethical. However, I’d be willing to bet that it was also typical.

    That is, Zimmerman is not being singled out for unusually bad treatment; he’s getting the bad treatment every suspect gets. We just don’t normally notice because the affidavits supporting indictments rarely get scrutiny in the national press.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. PD Shaw says:

    @Doug, I don’t necessarily disagree with the rest of your comments about THC, but I think the reason the defense may seek to get that evidence admitted is because THC can make one paranoid or act in unconventional ways.

    The state’s case appears to be that by “profiling” (watching, following) Zimmerman provoked Martin to attack him — Zimmerman’s behavior was intended, and could reasonably be expected, to provoke a violent confrontation. If Martin was under the influence, he may have been acting strangely, drawing Zimmerman’s attention to Martin; that would undercut the argument that Zimmerman was acting merely with ill will towards Martin. If Martin was under the influence, Martin’s response may have been influenced by paranoia, and could not have been a reasonable expectation of a response to “profiling.”

    If the State weren’t arguing second degree murder, maybe none of this would be relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  15. anjin-san says:

    because THC can make one paranoid or act in unconventional ways.

    The paranoia one gets from pot is of the “run home, lock the door, & draw the shades” variety, not the dangerous kind one gets from meth. Bringing THC into the discussion does nothing that imply that Martin was a “druggie” that somehow is at fault and deserved what he got.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  16. PD Shaw says:

    @grumpy realist: The notion that Zimmerman acted in self defense in killing Martin does not exclude the possibility that had Martin grabbed the gun and killed Zimmerman that he might have been acting in self defense as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. @PD Shaw:

    If that’s the case, something needs to be adjusted in the law. There should not be situations where both parties are free to claim self-defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Drew says:

    @anjin-san:

    What a foolish response

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  19. G.A. says:

    Of course Drew. People who are angry that a kid who was walking home from buying some candy was shot dead by a stalker, against whom there may well be no legal remedy, should hang their heads in shame.

    COME ON!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  20. G.A. says:
  21. rodney dill says:

    @grumpy realist:

    somehow I don’t think that a “traditional” self-defense means you can pick a fight with someone to the point that he takes a few swings at you, then shoot him dead. Or scare someone to the point that he feels he has to defend himself from you, then shoot him dead.

    If your view is that there is only one side to this case, that being the prosecutiion, you would come to that conclusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. @anjin-san:

    Guns are inherently dangerous. In the unsteady hands of people who are not properly trained, tragedy can strike very quickly.

    And this is why no meaningful reform will happen. Because people like you just want to use it as an excuse to ban gun possession.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. anjin-san says:

    Because people like you just want to use it as an excuse to ban gun possession.

    Ah, that explains why I own guns and my fondness for shooting them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    There should not be situations where both parties are free to claim self-defense.

    Why not? I can conceive of situations where both side may actually feel they are in a self-defensive mode.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. anjin-san says:

    @ Drew

    You have put a lot of effort in on OTB telling us what an impressive guy you are. The problem is, that you never actually say anything that is impressive. You come off as perhaps a notch or two above being an outright crank, and whine about right wing victimhood when your statements get ripped.

    News flash bud, you get no respect because you have earned none. Now why don’t you get back to the important business of telling us about how Romney is a god and we are all worms?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  26. Jenos Idanian says:

    Dershowitz here isn’t looking at the case from a left/right model; he’s looking at it as a defense attorney. And in his eyes, the state’s case is incredibly weak.

    I happen to agree with him. But I don’t want the case dismissed. Not yet.

    So far, pretty much each and every new development has worked to show Zimmerman was NOT the racist, gun-happy, homicidal maniac he was portrayed from the outset. And I want more and more revelations to come out so I can shove it down the throats of the “Hang the white Hispanic guy” crowd.

    Plus, I’d like enough details to come out that there will be almost no doubt that the right decision was made.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  27. @rodney dill:

    If Martin was validly defending himself, then he was engaged in a legal act. If Zimmerman was also validly defending himself, then you’re saying he had a legal right to shoot someone else for engaging in an entirely legal act.

    If you can be summarily executed for a legal act, then the word “legal” is essentially meaningless and we’re basically back to a Hobbesian war of all against all, where they only different between legal and illegal is who has the will and capability to impose themselves on other through violence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    Wanted to follow up on your “excuse to ban gun possession” statement.

    I own a Browning Buckmark target pistol & a Baretta 92FS. I’ve been shooting for 45 years – I am a very good shot with the Buckmark and reasonably good with the Baretta. I can imagine a number of situations where I would not hesitate to use a gun, though I dearly hope none ever arises. I was taught never to point a gun at someone unless I was planning to shoot them, and to shoot to kill if I felt I had no choice but to shoot.

    You are a pretty thoughtful guy, I know you can do better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. @anjin-san:

    The “Guns are inherently dangerous. In the unsteady hands of people who are not properly trained, tragedy can strike very quickly” is a pretty standard anti-gun argument for why only the police should have access to guns, so it sounded like a dog-whistle to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. PD Shaw says:

    @anjin-san: Z. told the dispatcher “there’s a real suspicious guy . . .. This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.”

    The state appears to be arguing that Z was lying; Martin was not acting suspiciously and he was being wrongly and with ill will being identified as a criminal. That’s how the state gets to a second degree murder charge, by making claims about Z’s motives that go far beyond being stupid or reckless. If there is sufficient toxicology results to rebut the state’s claims, the results might be relevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    Guns are inherently dangerous. In the unsteady hands of people who are not properly trained, tragedy can strike very quickly

    If you can disprove this statement, I am all ears.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. superdestroyer says:

    @legion:

    I remember when all of the progressives were claiming during the OJ trial that police incompetence and stupidity were reasons to acquit. Now that the media thought that it had hooked a great white defendant, police incompetence is being used as a reason for a guilty verdict.

    why the change except for the change in races?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    But combine the THC with the lighter in the pocket, the school discipline problems, the three suspensions, the racist and sexist trail on the internet, and the fight club videos; and the pictures of Martin as an innocent little kid falls apart.

    How about the 7-11 video that shows Martin towering over the store employee?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ PD Shaw

    Given the number of 911 calls Zimmermann had made over time, I think there is some question about his mental state.

    Even if we stipulate that Martin was stoned – so what? The guy who lives across the street from me drinks too much. He sometimes staggers around in his yard, and he is loud and sometimes incoherent. I suspect he drives when he has been drinking. Do I have any standing to take ANY action beyond calling the police and not engaging him, even if I suspect that he has crossed a line?

    I keep coming back to the fact that Zimmermann appears to be a marginal character who armed himself and created a volatile, dangerous situation for no good reason that I can see. He simply appeared to be living out a cop fantasy. The end result was Martin’s death. Were his actions criminal? We will find out soon enough. At best he is an idiot who caused the death of kid who was not bothering anyone.

    Ask yourself, would you want Zimmermann driving around your neighborhood with a gun, scoping your your kids?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  35. @anjin-san:

    If you can disprove this statement, I am all ears.

    That’s what makes it a dog whistle. Much like, for example, racists make a habit of emphasizing Obama’s middle name, it’s a textually true statement that has developed a particular subtext.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  36. Steve Verdon says:

    …Prosecutors have a ethical duties that are quite different from those of other attorneys. In addition to being required to zealously represent the state in court, they also have an obligation to do justice,…

    At this point I threw up.

    You really believe this drekh Doug? What country do you live in, because it sure isn’t the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  37. @anjin-san:

    Even if we stipulate that Martin was stoned

    Martin was not stoned. He had trace levels of THC that suggest he used it several days prior. THC does not have an effect for days after your use it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Super

    the racist and sexist trail on the internet

    I think you are talking about yourself.

    I never said he was “an innocent little kid”. OTOH, when I was his age, I smoked pot like a chimney, did lots of other drugs, was a discipline problem, got suspended, and enjoyed watching boxing.

    Now I spend time at exclusive clubs in SF, in suites at ATT Park & at political fundraisers at the homes of members of congress. I was able to grow out the stupidity of my younger years and become a responsible and respectable adult because no one shot me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  39. anjin-san says:

    Martin was not stoned

    I was speaking for the sake of argument. As a former pot head I am pretty familiar with the half life of THC in the human body.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy Dragon

    it’s a textually true statement that has developed a particular subtext.

    I’m not responsible for what other people say. You know that I am not “anti-gun”, and I am entitled to my opinion. If you can show that is is unreasonable or not grounded in fact, have at it.

    I like guns, but it is a fact that when they are in the hands of fools and children, tragedy generally follows. HTF did someone like Zimmermann get a carry permit? I can think of few circumstances that justify an average citizen carrying a loaded gun, and a million ways it can go south when one is packing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Given the number of 911 calls Zimmermann had made over time, I think there is some question about his mental state.

    The number by itself is meaningless. The vast majority of those calls could have been legitimate. Zimmerman, by his role (self-appointed or not) as “neighborhood watch,” is expected to go looking for suspicious things and notifying the police. If he had a record as a nuisance, then I’m entirely comfortable in saying it would have come out by now.

    I keep coming back to the fact that Zimmermann appears to be a marginal character who armed himself and created a volatile, dangerous situation for no good reason that I can see. He simply appeared to be living out a cop fantasy.

    Like Richard Jewell?

    Zimmerman had a decent career as an insurance adjuster, married, and was almost done with his Associate’s in Criminal Justice. And yes, he wanted to be a cop. But he didn’t own a gun until he was advised by Animal Control that he should get one.

    So, why is Zimmerman being called a “marginal character” of questionable “mental state” who was “living out a cop fantasy?” Because that fits the narrative so many have invested so deeply into, and can’t bring themselves to walk back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  42. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: HTF did someone like Zimmermann get a carry permit? I can think of few circumstances that justify an average citizen carrying a loaded gun, and a million ways it can go south when one is packing.

    Yeah, how DARE an American citizen — a minority, no less! — with no criminal record (arrests, yes; convictions, no) advised by officials that he ought to get a gun (to protect his family from a neighbor’s dog, but also for general protection) think that he has some kind of Constitutional right to keep and bear arms?

    I understand why you need to cast Zimmerman as some dangerous crazy. It’s pretty much the last gasp of your initial narrative on the shooting.

    But there’s nothing in the record to back it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  43. PD Shaw says:

    @superdestroyer: I don’t think whether or not Martin has behaved or misbehaved in the past is relevant. The THC in the blood at the scene is potential evidence of what happened that night.

    @anjin-san: I don’t think wheter or not Zimmerman has behaved or misbehaved in the past is relevant.

    @Stormy Dragon: I’ve read some back and forth about what can be made of the THC levels recovered from the heart, which is different than the customary knoweldge about ordinary blood or urinte tests. I have no idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    Yeah, how DARE an American citizen — a minority, no less! — with no criminal record (arrests, yes; convictions, no) advised by officials that he ought to get a gun (to protect his family from a neighbor’s dog, but also for general protection) think that he has some kind of Constitutional right to keep and bear arms?

    You seem determined to misrepresent my remarks. As far as bringing “minority” into this discussion, kindly kiss my ass. Or show where something I said would lead a reasonable person to conclude I am a bigot. Zimmermann certainly had a right to own a gun, I never said, or implied otherwise. What I did say is that his carrying a loaded weapon was a bad idea. The dead body of Treyvon Martin tends to support that statement.

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  45. @anjin-san:

    I can think of few circumstances that justify an average citizen carrying a loaded gun, and a million ways it can go south when one is packing.

    Ah, so I did hear the dog whistle correctly. You do think only police should be allowed to have firearms.

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  46. @anjin-san:

    You seem determined to misrepresent my remarks.

    You mean like holding me responsible for something posted by Jenos?

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  47. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    I understand why you need to cast Zimmerman as some dangerous crazy.

    Really? Why don’t you show where I did that? What I did say is that his prior actions do raise some questions about his mental state.

    But there’s nothing in the record to back it up

    You mean aside from obsessive 911 calls and conducting armed patrols of his neighborhood? The anger management classes he was ordered to take? The restraining order his former fiance had against him? That nothing?

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  48. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    You mean like holding me responsible for something posted by Jenos?

    My apoligies – trying to do two things at once. I should have realized that did not sound like your work. My experience is that Jenos is simply not worth wasting time on and I do no equate your remarks, which tend to be worth reading, with his.

    You do think only police should be allowed to have firearms.

    Where did I say that? I am not a cop, and I do own guns – it is obvious that is not what I think

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  49. @anjin-san:

    Well I’m pretty confused then, because I don’t see how you can on one hand say you don’t think there’s justification for an average citizen to have a firearm and then on the other say you support people having firearms.

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  50. Racehorse says:

    @Stormy Dragon: A while back, I saw this sticker on a truck:”When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” )or something close to that). I thought that was a very smart assessment. Criminals who kill, rob, and pillage are certainly not going to follow some sort of laws and procedures about obtaining guns: they will always go around the law for obvious reasons. Only law abiding citizens will do will follow the law, and they aren’t the ones breaking the laws running around hurting innocent people.

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  51. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    you don’t think there’s justification for an average citizen to have a firearm

    I don’t think there a a lot of justifications for an average citizen to carry a loaded weapon. I think it creates more danger than it negates.

    That’s not always the case, as I know from personal experience. My father was a fairly prominent attorney in SF. At one point back in the 80s, a dangerous psychopath was released from prison, and some time later, he threatened my dad’s life. For the next five years, pop was never out of reach of a gun. Eventually said psychopath was run out of the state by law enforcement, and the guns went back in the gun safe.

    Certainly that was a case where a citizen had the right and the need to carry a loaded weapon. If there is a reason Zimmermann needed a loaded gun in his truck, I have not yet heard it.

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  52. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    @anjin-san: I keep coming back to the fact that Zimmermann appears to be a marginal character who armed himself and created a volatile, dangerous situation for no good reason that I can see. He simply appeared to be living out a cop fantasy.

    @Jenos: Like Richard Jewell?

    That’s a BS move Jenos.
    Yes, Jewell was the victim of judgement by media. But there are two huge differences between Jewell and Zimmerman: training and the fact that one was actually doing the job he had been hired to do.

    Jewell was a trained police officer who was also working at the time as an actual security guard. It seems pretty clear that Zimmerman had little to no training, beyond the basic firearms course he took to get the permit. And that’s problematic.

    And, I have seen a lot of gun blogs echo the same thing. Ditto private conversations with Police and gun defense people.

    The entire thing about Zimmerman was that he self appointed himself as a Neighborhood Watch person. And then he failed to follow typical watch procedures (including the fact that Neighborhood Watch people are told not to carry weapons).

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  53. al-Ameda says:

    Just how stupid is the Florida law?

    He (Zimmerman) created the situation by harassing a person (Martin) who was lawfully walking through the townhouse complex. He created and instigated the situation whereby Martin decided to defend himself from a person that was stalking him, and he is shot and killed for it.

    Now Zimmerman will probably be defended successfully on a self-defense basis, when he created the circumstances that led Martin to attack a person that was stalking him.

    Florida should outsource its legislative functions to Cuba.

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  54. G.A. says:

    So far, pretty much each and every new development has worked to show Zimmerman was NOT the racist, gun-happy, homicidal maniac he was portrayed from the outset.

    lol he ain’t TEA PARTY nor hypnotized by Sara Palin either…

    He created and instigated the situation whereby Martin decided to defend himself from a person that was stalking him, and he is shot and killed for it.

    What situation? he got sucker punched and then got the crap pounded out of him mercilessly.Then in all probability was almost killed with his own gun?

    Dude so when I walk down your street and you approach me or look at me funny or ask me what I am doing there I get to smack the taste out of your mouth?Then put you on the ground and go ape****?

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  55. G.A. says:

    Florida should outsource its legislative functions to Cuba.

    We tried that in WI don’t work…lol, don’t work for the USA either….

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  56. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You said

    There should not be situations where both parties are free to claim self-defense.

    You said there should be no such situations, not just for the Martin/Zimmerman case. I said I could conceive of situations where both sides could freely claim they thought they were defending themselves. (Could possibly start something like ‘Two vigilantes walk into a bar…’) The law may or may not decide otherwise, but that would be both defenses/claims.

    Maybe we should just have a law against lying in court…. oh, wait a minute, we already have that.

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  57. al-Ameda says:

    @G.A.:

    What situation? he got sucker punched and then got the crap pounded out of him mercilessly.Then in all probability was almost killed with his own gun?

    You’re kidding, right?
    Zimmerman was stalking Martin for no good reason and Martin didn’t like it.
    Don’t worry, even though Zimmerman instigated the fatality he will, in all likelihood, skate on this.

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  58. rodney dill says:

    Well G.A. and al-Ameda pretty much sum up the full spectrum.

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  59. @rodney dill:

    Let me be clear exactly what I’m saying: there may be situations where, due to a lack of information, we cannot tell which of two parties had the right to be defending themselves. But there should not be situations which, once fully understood, allow both to legitmately make such a claim.

    If the law creates situations of the latter case, then the law is flawed, because it should not be legal to kill someone for behaving in a justified manner.

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  60. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Hypothetically, If person ‘A’ shoots at you. You return fire, and your bullet whizzes past my ear (a third party). I think I’m under attack from you, and shoot you, I may possibly, legally (due to self-defense) injure or kill you, while you were acting within the law as well.

    …and yes, the law is flawed, get over it.

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  61. Graham says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Well I’m pretty confused then, because I don’t see how you can on one hand say you don’t think there’s justification for an average citizen to have a firearm and then on the other say you support people having firearms.

    I’m not attempting to speak for anjin-san, but from my POV, there’s a difference between respecting someone’s right to own and carry a firearm and endorsing any particular person doing so.

    I am a gun owner, and I respect the rights of each human to defend themselves and to own weapons for that purpose. I support concealed carry, I think everyone should have that option available to them if they feel they need it. I do not, however, think that every person should be carrying a gun, and there are many people who I would advise not to if they were to ask my opinion.

    Zimmerman strikes me as someone that I would advise not to.

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  62. mattb says:

    @Graham:

    Zimmerman strikes me as someone that I would advise not to.

    Exactly.

    Your entire comment pretty much sums up my view (though admittedly I’m not an owner, but I spend a lot of time with people who own and train with guns).

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  63. G.A. says:

    Well G.A. and alAmeda pretty much sum up the full spectrum.

    I have not made a judgment, and was almost on the other side of the narrative in the beginning.Then some real facts came out, and so I am using my imagination and experience to fill in the blanks.

    As I had done with the fake facts that came out.Did I know they was fake facts? No, I stupidly trusted the media again.

    Zimmerman was stalking Martin for no good reason and Martin didn’t like it.

    Stalking? I don’t think the use of this word helps at all. And I am sure that robberies in your neighborhood is not a good reason
    to become at all concerned about hooded figure casing houses?

    And I don’t like a lot of things but I am not going to thrash you for them.

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  64. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: I’ll consider “kindly kiss your ass” when you explain what you meant by “HTF did someone like Zimmermann get a carry permit?”

    In other words, kindly explain just what about Zimmerman’s background you think should have disqualified him from exercising his Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Remember, background — no hindsight allowed. This ain’t “Minority Report” territory.

    I’m not saying he didn’t exercise bad judgment. I’m saying that I haven’t seen anything in his background that made his bad judgment inevitable.

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  65. rodney dill says:

    @G.A.: It’s good to see that you’re open minded, but your statement along with al-Meda’s on their own still pretty much sum up the breadth of the spectrum of beliefs on this case.

    Rather than just try to justify and defend a tight narrative (which in the blog world is just fine to do, if still a waste of time ), I chose to look at the case with what the outcome should be with the worst possible scenario for Zimmerman and the best possible scenario for Zimmerman.

    If the court decides that al-Ameda’s scenario is closer to the truth, and/or Zimmerman was the agressor, then he deserves a 2nd degree murder charge.

    In the scenario you covered above, (whether you’re open to other views or not). If Zimmerman was sucker punched as he was returning to his vehicle, then either standard self-defense or stand your ground may come into play. The only difference for me is that Zimmerman was acting as an armed vigilante/neighborhood watchman, and that may bring manslaughter back into play.

    The jury will have to decide in the end, but I personally would favor something along the manslaughter charges, but more evidence will likely come out.

    To be fair, if Zimmerman had been in that neighborhood for practically any other reason, and had been attacked I’d favor exoneration due to self defense or stand-your-ground.

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  66. grumpy realist says:

    What no one wants to admit is that in spite of those who loudly proclaim the 2nd Amendment means no restrictions at all, our society would really be much safer if we insisted that people who owned guns were people without anger management issues, trained, responsible, and did not use their owning of a gun as an excuse to play wanna-be cop.

    I used to live in Upstate New York. Which means hunters. Which means having to deal with Johnny Bwana types driving up from NYC, staggering around drunk, and shooting at anything that moves, often well within the limits near a dwelling. See something rustling in the bushes==shoot. Oh, I shot your cat/dog/cow? Gee, so sorry, here’s some money to make it better. Gee, I shot your kid? Oops, I didn’t mean it, you’ll have to forgive me because I didn’t mean it and SECOND AMENDMENT.

    The fact that you have an Amendment behind you is no reason to be irresponsible. And Zimmerman running around with a gun was irresponsible.

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