On Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground [Updated]

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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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  1. Avatar David Ryan
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    says:

    Southampton Hospital is about 30 miles from where we live and my wife and I waited a little longer than we should have to get on the road when she was in labor with our second child. By Bridgehampton (3AM) I started slow rolling red lights and figured if we got lit up I’d simply continue on to the hospital at the legal speed and hope the officer would figure it out. Emily was born within 5 minutes of my wife entering the hospital.

    Whenever I read about a black man getting into trouble for simply going about his business I recall that night.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    says:

    NOTE: Zimmerman did not raise SYG as a defense. He argued straight up self-defense.

    The police used SYG at one point as a political defense for why they did not go after Zimmerman right away. They were wrong about the law & what it permitted them to do (& understanding the laws they are sworn to uphold is something the police get wrong with disturbing regularity), but that is how SYG got into the public consciousness. Zimmerman was pinned under Martin, he had no ability to retreat (& getting his bell rung against the concrete a few times – a fact that so many people seem to dismiss as trivial – would have made retreat difficult).

    As for race, I’m feeling like a lot of this is very much manufactured concern, people looking for some deeper truth, or some greater evidence of… something. How about it’s a tragic crap sandwich all around, Martin is dead, Zimmerman is a pariah who has to hide.

    If the shooting hadn’t occurred, Martin would still be in a whole world of trouble – at best he committed felony assault, which for a 17 year old is still prison time. At worst he may have been facing manslaughter charges himself (depending on how many times he smashed Zimmerman’s’ head into the pavement before the adrenaline wore down & he had control back). And all of this would have been a blip on the media radar – another young black man going to prison for violence, how sad, what’s Honey Boo Boo doing today?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Couldn’t Martin have claimed self-defense in the very same manner that Zimmerman did? He felt scared for his life as a larger, older, armed man followed him on a dark and rainy night?Report

      • Avatar Griff in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Sure, but let’s get real — if no one had died that night, which one of them do you think would have gotten arrested and wound up in jail?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Griff
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          says:

          That is one of the things that bothered me the most. I get that given the way the laws are written and the evidence (or lackthereof) available to the prosecution that finding Zimmerman guilty was going to be difficult. But the contortions that various groups and people went through in order to find justification for Zimmerman not being arrested and charged immediately were troubling. Given what we see so often from police and prosecutors, especially when dealing with people of color and people of lesser means, and it was odd that it took so much work to get Zimmerman in front of a jury.

          If the police come upon a dead kid lying on the ground, shot, and the man who shot him standing nearby, an arrest should be forthcoming. Self defense claims ought to be made at trial, not in the back of a squad car.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            In most places, a claim of self-defense will give the police pause unless they have a strong reason to suspect otherwise. It’s then up to the DA to file charges or seek an indictment from a grand jury.

            An arrest is a not a simple formality, it’s a pretty involved & traumatic process. It is not something a person who has just successfully fought for their life should have to go through just because.Report

            • Avatar Will in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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              says:

              If you take someone’s life–even in a scenario where it will turn out to have been justified–the process of going through a detention and arrest is not the worst thing that happened to you that night.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Will
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                says:

                You’ve been arrested & locked up while awaiting arraignment & bail? This is something you have experience with? You think it’s no big deal?

                Modern arrest isn’t Mayberry.Report

          • Avatar Herb1949 in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            So ruining a person’s life by arresting and trying them, when it is obvious that it was self defense, is your idea of a GOOD way to run the legal system?

            Being arrested and tried for a crime, they didn’t commit, will bankrupt the vast majority of people. Just as it has done Zimmerman.

            The evidence, that the police had from the very start, all points to zimmerman being attacked, in fear for his life, and he protected himself.

            If not for the nonsense from the media, and people like you, he would never have been arrested, or tried, and he would not be bankrupt and hiding because of all the death threats.

            That is what the self defense and stand your ground laws are there for. They are meant to protect an innocent victim from being victimized again by the legal system.Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to Herb1949
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              says:

              You’ve got to be kidding or trolling.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Herb1949
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              says:

              The fact that it was self-defense was not obvious.

              It’s got a strong enough case for it that the prosecution couldn’t demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that it was *NOT* self-defense… but it became self-defense very late in the altercation, long after the altercation might have been avoided.

              It is good that this case went to trial.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Griff
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          says:

          That’s the whole point, Griff. If Trayvon had succeeded in defending himself against Zimmerman, the Stand You Ground law would have amounted to a rat’s fart in a hurricane. The only question would be (a) death, (b) life in prison or (c) take a plea bargain for 20 years.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        …Maybe? The thing is, Zimmerman did not (as far as we know) attack Martin or do anything illegal. There’s no duty to retreat if you’re attacked, but as far as I can tell there is one if you merely feel threatened. If Martin had been unable to retreat, then maybe he could have made the case for reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger, but my (admittedly incomplete) understanding is that the timeline of events was such that it would have been hard to claim inability to retreat.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          That’s interesting, because I can probably make an argument that the definitions contained therein of “threat” and “fear” are based on a certain context.

          In certain neighborhoods, a slowly driving car indicate someone is lost or looking for an address; it isn’t often considered a threat to life.
          In other neighborhoods, a slowly driving car indicates someone looking for someone, usually to do harm to them; it is often consider a threat to life.

          Which of those neighborhoods do the people who make laws tend to hail from?Report

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          As far as we know? Of course it’s “as far as we know” – the only person that could rebut Zimmerman’s telling of the initial contact is long since dead and Zimmerman had no other reason to tell any other story if his primary interest was avoiding jail time, something we can safely assume.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Sam
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            says:

            Do you feel better now?

            Kazzy’s question, as I understood it, was whether Martin could have argued self-defense based solely on the fact that Zimmerman had been following him. It goes without saying that he would have had a legitimate claim of self-defense if Zimmerman had attacked him.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Not precisely for that, as I read the jury instructions, the cause of the altercation was not material… but yes, you could certainly envision a parallel story in which Martin is on trial saying “I was attempting to restrain this larger, older man who was following me when he reached for his gun… whereupon I feared for my life, grabbed a rock close at hand and struck him in the head.” Theorecticaly should return the same verdict [bracketing race]… That’s one of TNC’s points – in self-defense the living have the edge.

        Among the many things that make this case ugly is that usually there’s a clear sense of who is defending what, your home, your car, your family… that this happened on neutral ground absent witnesses confounds the issue. I’m not sure that changing self-defense laws will account for the complexities of self-defense. Seems rather that neighborhood watch/vigilante/untrained policing laws might target the root of this particular case. Something along the lines of a policy/best practice for what one can do as an untrained policing agent might have provided the necessary information to show that Zimmerman violated the regulations of what a citizen watch can do… leading to – at a minimum – a case for negligence or gross negligence.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        A) He had no idea Zimmerman was armed.

        B) He’s a 17 year old athlete being followed by an overweight 30 year old. Sure the truck is faster, but it’s confined to the road. Martin could have easily escaped Zimmerman, and since Zimmerman had not (to my knowledge) directly threatened Martin, Martin had no cause for his own SYG. It’s not illegal to be creepy & stupid (although a case could be made for stupid).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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          says:

          So who determines when a fear is “legitimate”?Report

          • Avatar dand in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            It’s the “reasonable person” standard and the fear must be imminent believing that a person whose following you might try to do something doesn’t fit the definition of imminent.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dand
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              says:

              But I’d argue that our definition of “reasonable” is culturally dependent.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                A person following me is creepy, it’s worth calling the police. If they start running toward me, or they have a weapon in their hand while following me, then the dynamic changes & one could argue a reasonable fear. Even if the person was not following you, but rather the guy ahead of you.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                And that is something I still do not get. If Martin was worried about Zimmerman, why did he not call the police?

                I can speculate the reasons, but still…Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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                says:

                Because a lot of young black kids don’t trust the police to be on their side?Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                True, and indicative of a larger problem (public distrust of the police/justice system).Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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                says:

                I suspect because everything happened relatively quickly. As a woman, I would be much more likely to call 911 and yet if I’m actually being followed right now, in real time, I’d probably be more concerned to decide how much danger I was in and if driving the guy away would work. Then I’d call 911 from home and report the vicinity he was in.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to DRS
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                says:

                He had enough time to lose his pursuer, then circle around and surprise him. He had time to dial 911.Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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                says:

                then circle around and surprise him.

                Do we know that? Or did Zimmerman refind him as he was circling around trying to avoid the guy who was following him?Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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                says:

                From what I read, GZ lost sight of Martin (that is what he told the dispatcher) & was returning to his truck, when TM surprised him.

                Most of this is, of course, from GZs own testimony, but that is all we have. Still, it doesn’t take long to dial 911. On cell phones it’s a single button you don’t even need to unlock your phone to use.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                If it’s being reasonable suspicious sure, but in order to claim self defense being suspicious is not enough there need to be danger that if you don’t act you will immediately be harmed basically there needs to be either a use of force or a threat of force.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dand
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                says:

                But to some people, a car slowly driving by is seconds away from opening fire. What do we say to those people? Ignore your reality?Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Yes. You have to be able to articulate the danger. Or should the poor folks lost a bad neighborhood, trying to find their way out get shot because maybe they were getting ready to do a drive by?Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            “Fear” alone is not the legal standard, it is a reasonable, articulatable fear of severe injury or death.

            If fear alone was all it took, we would have a lot more shooting deaths.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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          says:

          A) He had no idea Zimmerman was armed.

          What’s the evidence for this?Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew
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            says:

            I’m pretty sure if he knew that the “Creepy ass cracker” who was following him was armed, he probably would have mentioned it to the girl he was talking to at the time. From the accounts I read, the only time he would have been close enough to GZ to know GZ had a gun (as in, able to see the holster, or the print of it under clothes – a real trick in the dark), was right before he confronted him.

            And if the unarmed TM knowingly confronted an armed man in the dark, he is a much bigger fool than GZ ever was.Report

            • 1) Even if he knew, he might or might not have mentioned it (meaning, he didn’t, but he needn’t have). It’s not evidence that he didn’t know Zimmerman was armed (much less that he had no ideas about that) that he didn’t mention it. A lot was going on for him in those moments.

              2) Saying that you read something that made you think it was a certain way is not the same as offering evidence that it was that way.

              3) It’s irrelevant to what I asked, whether Trayvon was foolish to have (maybe) attacked Zimmerman, whether or not Z was armed. But since you made that assertion, no it’s not foolish if you think you might get shot by an armed man to get closer and try to disarm him or neutralize him as a threat to yourself. It may have been unwise all things considered. But you have to make quick decisions in a situation like that. George Zimmerman obviously already thought he was suspicious; would it have been crazy for Martin to fear being shot in the back had he run when he saw that Z was armed?

              It’s just irrelevant to anything whether it was somewhat less wise to fight rather than run once Martin saw that Zimmerman was armed. He wasn’t fully trained in self-defense strategies. So what? At that point you’re in danger and you have to make decisions. What does it matter whether the decision he made was foolish?

              I do suspect it is salient to you, as I suspect that much of the point of your gun advocacy is to advance the doctrine that those who don’t arm themselves and don’t submit to those who do are foolish (and perhaps therefore deserve what comes to them).Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                …Pardon me, I misread. He wasn’t just foolish to (maybe) attack an armed man in the dark. He was apparently foolish to even confront him.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                Right, a teenager is not going to mention to his friend that the guy following him has a gun? Seriously?

                TM had no idea what was going on in GZs head. Everyone needs to stop assuming that TM had any clue what GZ thought. Prior to the confrontation, they hadn’t been close enough (in the dark) for any meaningful communication.

                It is illegal to open carry in FL, it is illegal to flash your holster or brandish a firearm. No one presented any evidence that GZ did anything illegal. Stupid, yes – illegal, no. Not even the police or the DA put forth the theory that TM knew, or could have known GZ was armed, so why are so many here pushing that idea as a possible explanation for why TM initiated violence. How about he was a 17 year old kid who was a bit creeped out/spooked, & that led to some very normal teenage anger, which coupled with more testosterone than sense (a common combination in young men) led to a bad decision.

                Occams Razor.

                Now if you have evidence that TM had any possible knowledge that GZ was armed, feel free to present it, otherwise, you are wildly speculating in an effort to absolve Martin of being equally stupid in this incident.Report

              • It’s reasonable to expect that he would, but not nearly so unthinkable that he wouldn’t that it actually constitutes evidence that he didn’t know. It’s just far too plausible that he would either mention it it or not to be evidence one way or the other.

                Yes, I’m speculating about what might have happened had Trayvon seen at some point that he was armed. But then, clearly at some point he became aware of that. It’s just unknown when that was. I’m speculating, but that’s all the evidence allows us to do on this point. You, on the other han,d asserted flat out that he didn’t know. First of all, he did know at some point. Your point seems to be that it wasn’t until some time after the fight started. That’s speculation as well – an idea you are pushing. We don’t know when he knew.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                I’m speculating based on the evidence we have – which says he knew about the gun when he heard the bang.Report

              • For a person ripping others to shreds for speculation, your “seculation” quoted above sounds an awful lot like confident assertion to me.

                And again, what evidence is it that you’re speculating upon?

                Not mentioning it is not evidence that he didn’t know or knew.

                Deciding that his best chance to survive was to attack is not evidence that he didn’t know or knew.

                Not evidence that “says” he didn’t know. It’s consistent with him not knowing. It’s consistent with him knowing.

                This is clearly an important peg in your constructed version of the events, but it’s not established in any way, nor does evidence “say” he knew about the gun when he heard the bang. It would change a lot about how you prefer to understand the events of the night if he knew earlier, so you’re just denying that he did. But we don’t know.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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          When was the last time you heard of a black male teenager running from an unknown occupied vehicle where it turned out well for the teenager? Given what Mr. Zimmerman has said about the “resmeblence” of Mr. Martin to youths who were accused of breaking into home in the neighborhood, my read of the available information is that if Mr. Martin had run, he’d still be dead – since in Mr. Zimmerman’s mind that would likely have made Mr. Martin even more suspicious. And remember, Mr. Zimmerman exited his vehicle to confront Mr. martin AGAINST the instructions of police, whom he had called and who were enroute to the scene.Report

          • Avatar dand in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            . And remember, Mr. Zimmerman exited his vehicle to confront Mr. martin AGAINST the instructions of police,

            that’s not true for two reasons:

            1) the dispatcher didn’t say “don’t do that” he said “we don’t need you to do that”
            2) Zimmerman was already out of the carReport

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to dand
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              says:

              If a cop tells me “we don’t need you to do that, I’m not ego maniacal enough to go do it anyway. And whether he was in or out of the car is actually a disputed fact.

              But that’s not my point, and you know it. My point was that a man appointed himself judge of anothers intent, and ignored lawful instructions from law enforcement because he believed he knew better then others what the intent of the person he was “confronting” was. He then acted on his judgement instead of waiting for police to arrive and ascertain what was really going on. that sort of thing happens to young black males all the time, and had Mr. Martin decided to flee, he would most certainly have been chased and possible gunned down by Mr. Zimmerman. so the “need” fro Mr. Martin to try and fell – noble advice though it is – is deeply flawed, since Mr. Martin appears to have been headed toward a confrontation with Mr. Zimmerman regardless of his behavior.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                If a cop tells me “we don’t need you to do that, I’m not ego maniacal enough to go do it anyway.

                Irrelevant you made a false statement. and 911 dispatchers aren’t cops.

                And whether he was in or out of the car is actually a disputed fact.

                The prosecution stipulated that he was out of the car and on the recording of his 911 he can be heard getting out of his car before being told that he didn’t need to follow Martin.

                But that’s not my point, and you know it.

                If your misstatements of fact aren’t relevant to your point then why did you make them.

                My point was that a man appointed himself judge of anothers intent, and ignored lawful instructions from law enforcement

                1) it wasn’t an instruction it was a suggestion
                2) there is no evidence that he ignored it

                he believed he knew better then others what the intent of the person he was “confronting” was.

                there’s no evidence that he confronted MartinReport

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to dand
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                says:

                You’re even more of a literalist then I am – which I never thought possible.

                First, in many jurisdictions – particularly small ones, 911 dispatchers are often cops – and even if not, legally they speak with the weight of the police force when they are on the phone. So a dispatchers telling someone not to do something is legally supposed to be the same things a a cop telling them not to do something.
                Second, telling someone – even me – “we don’t need you to do that” is not a suggestion in any version of the English language I am familiar with.
                Third., I put the word Confrontation in quotes because what happened after Mr. Zimmerman hung up on police and they arrived to find Mr. martin dead is, inspite of witness testimony, still in dispute. I was referring to the whole episode as a “confrontation” in that Mr. Zimmerman after making his initial call and giving the police Mr. martin’s description and where abouts escalated the situation by continuing to follow Mr. martin, and then leaving his vehicle against the request of police.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Second, telling someone – even me – “we don’t need you to do that” is not a suggestion in any version of the English language I am familiar with.

                when i as an adult visit my parents and start doing the dishes they’ll say “you don’t need to do that”, it has very different meaning than when they said “don’t do that” to me growing up.

                I was referring to the whole episode as a “confrontation” in that Mr. Zimmerman after making his initial call and giving the police Mr. martin’s description and where abouts escalated the situation by continuing to follow Mr. martin, and then leaving his vehicle against the request of police.

                there’s no evidence that Zimmerman followed martin after the police told him he didn’t need to.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Zimmerman did not call 911. The neighbors called 911. Zimmerman called a non-emergency dispatcher. Sean Noffke is a civilian and testified at the trial that they do not order or instruct the public in these circumstances. Zimmerman was already out of his truck walking around the complex when Sean Noffke offered that ‘we don’t need you to do that’. In any case, the point was moot. Trayvon Martin was nowhere to be seen from the time he ran away to the end of the call.

                Over the course of the two minutes which transpired after the call concluded, Zimmerman would have had time to walk about half-way down the block and back, either on ‘Retreat View Circle’, ‘Twin Trees Lane’, or along the alleyway between the two. It is a reasonable inference that the fight began near the point where the alleyway sidewalk meets a perpendicular sidewalk connecting the two streets, as that is where Zimmerman’s keys were found. He returned to that point or never left that point. His parked truck would have been about 30 yards away.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                No one finds it odd that the NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH guy didn’t seem to know jack shit about the NEIGHBORHOOD he was WATCHing?Report

              • Avatar Freeman in reply to Art Deco
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                Yeah, Kazzy. I find it weird. That one’s been bugging me. Dude patrols so much he’s notorious with the dispatchers and he has to get out of his truck to see where he is. Having a hard time buying that.

                And then there’s Zimmerman’s claim that Martin snuck up on him against the testimony of the girlfriend Martin was on the phone with that they exchanged words. The defense pretty much destroyed the girlfriend’s credibility so that one’s more of a toss-up. (I’ll bet someone at NSA has access to that conversation).Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Zimmerman was pinned under Martin, he had no ability to retreat (& getting his bell rung against the concrete a few times – a fact that so many people seem to dismiss as trivial – would have made retreat difficult).

      Facts in dispute, not merely “dismiss[ed] as trivial.” At the very least, the medical experts in the trial contradicted your “getting his bell rung against the concrete” part. The “pinned” part seems unlikely as well, though who was on top of whom at the time of the fatal shot remains in dispute, and we will likely never know the truth.Report

      • Avatar Comrade Dread in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Which has always bothered me about people automatically believing Zimmerman’s tale. There were no witnesses beyond the two parties involved. And thanks to Zimmerman, we’ll never hear Martin’s side of the story.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to Comrade Dread
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          Moreover, Zimmerman has a vested interest in presenting what happened in a light most favorable to himself so as to avoid serious jail time.Report

        • Avatar LauraNo in reply to Comrade Dread
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          says:

          And it’s not like Zimmerman was not caught in a some self-serving lies and offering many versions of one aspect of his story or another. It is almost like he realized this version wasn’t good enough, lemme try another, until he finally settled on a version his attorneys liked.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to LauraNo
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            Zimmerman definitely showed himself to be untrustworthy, at least in this case. What’s more, the physical evidence clearly contradicted some aspects of his story. It seems to me that the only two parts of his story that still remain in contention are who was screaming and who was on top, and we will never know the truth about either of those.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Chris
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        Pretty sure there was no dispute that Zimmerman had wounds on the back of his head consistent with a beating, and the bullet path was up into Martin.

        From that Conservative rag, NBCReport

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      The jury instructions disagree with that statement, “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/153354467/George-Zimmerman-Trial-Final-Jury-InstructionsReport

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Zimmerman is a pariah who has to hide

      And has nothing to look forward to in life besides his Regnery Press best-seller and his career as a Fox News analyst and gun rights advocate.Report

      • Avatar LauraNo in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        Maybe some moneybags will relocate him to a sunny location from which he can make appearances on FOX.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        No, Zimmerman won’t go that route. He’s too wishy-washy to be a real heroic type. He got punked by a teen-ager, lied to his lawyers and the judge about bail, is just too flabby and unattractive to be seen on television screens regularly. You need a lot more in the personality department to go that career route. No, he’ll disappear and pop up in some where-are-they-now? article in 10 years or so.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      Martin had very right to be where he was. He was not a trespasser.

      It is my belief that he was stalked because he was black and that is still sadly threatening to a lot of people in this country.

      That is all I have to say on this.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Agreed, Martin should not be dead, because Zimmerman should not have been following him.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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          says:

          I am not 100% sure about this, MRS. I have also followed a suspicious person while calling the police.

          Short version:

          Nighttime, I see a man who is on my property and appears to be attempting to enter a locked gate to my side yard. I confront him, he mumbles that he thought it was his friend’s house. (It is entirely possible this is true; or he might have been a wino looking for a dark corner in which to pee/sleep; or a junkie looking for a place to shoot up; or a burglar/rapist casing the joint. Who knows?)

          He leaves my property, and I watch him go a few houses down the street and enter another side-yard. I grab my phone and call the cops, walking down the sidewalk to the property I saw him enter; while I am on the sidewalk on the phone, he comes out of the dark side-yard and pushes past me, telling me he’s gonna fish me up, and leaves the street entirely.

          I do not follow further, and he is never caught AFAIK.

          Let’s say instead of pushing past me, he’d swung at me and an altercation ensued in which I knocked him down, and he hit his head on the concrete sidewalk and died (or maybe he was on top of me, and I grabbed a loose piece of concrete and swung at him and killed him).

          Is it the consensus that I would have been clearly at fault?Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Let me clarify my account – when I say “appears to be attempting to enter a locked gate to my side yard.”, I could not clearly see what he was doing, it was dark. IOW, this was my best guess at the time, and I believed this guess to have been vindicated when I saw him enter the side-yard of another house.

            However, to be clear about the initial confrontation, he was on my property, next to a locked side gate. That is all I can say with certainty.Report

          • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Glyph, I’d like to address your first sentence, “I am not 100% sure about this, MRS. I have also followed a suspicious person while calling the police.”

            It’s perhaps unwise but not necessarily wrong to keep tabs on someone doing something suspicious in one’s neighbourhood, but to apply that to the case in hand, we would would have assume the Martin was doing something suspicious. If we’re to jump to that assumption (and I’m not saying you are), then we’re kind of getting into “walking while black” sort of territory, which just means we’ve circled back to Elias’s conclusion that ugly racism is at the heart of this case.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod
              Ignored
              says:

              The problem with that Jonathan, is that it fails to take into account the fact that “suspicious” is by necessity a highly-subjective term.

              In my case, the man’s excuse was at least nominally-plausible. People showing up at the wrong house address, esp. if drunk/high (or they are cops on a drug bust), is a time-honored tradition.

              Zimmermann was familiar with the neighborhood, in which there had been recent break-ins. He saw a figure on foot in the dark & rain (perhaps unusual in FL – an entire state in which, like LA, nobody walks, esp. in inclement weather; or perhaps it was at least unusual in that neighborhood) in an area which, to him, appeared not-readily explicable (that is, “suspicious”).

              Suspicion is by definition in the eye of the beholder and factors in their own experience and familiarity with the local surroundings.

              I am unaware of any evidence presented that Zimmerman’s suspicions were, on their face, clearly *un*reasonable, given what he knew at the time. That those suspicions led to tragedy is unfortunate, but I can’t clearly say that he was wrong be suspicious in the first place.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Jonathan McLeod
              Ignored
              says:

              It’s possible that Zimmerman based his suspicions on nothing but race, it’s also possible that Martin being new to the neighborhood did something that while legal was nonetheless highly unusual in that particular location; for example it could be that residents always walked on the paths and never on the roads.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                base on all the media accounts, he was walking in the rain after a rash of burglaries allegedly committed by young black men. So if you are looking fro young black men to do something that is “suspicious” then you key on “young black men” first regardless of where they are walking.

                And from what I understand Mr. Martin was walking on the sidewalk.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                “…for example it could be that residents always walked on the paths and never on the roads.”

                Christ, what people will dream up to justify a killing.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Let me clarify, he should not have been following him as doggedly as he was.

            Granted, It’s a fuzzy line between keeping an eye on a suspicious character, and going to far.

            I’m not sure I would not have done something differently in my neighborhood.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        It is my belief that he was stalked because he was black and that is still sadly threatening to a lot of people in this country.

        he wasn’t stalked according to the laws of Florida or just about any other state.Report

        • Avatar DRS in reply to dand
          Ignored
          says:

          Okay everyone: dand has a real problem with people using the word “stalking” in anything but the strictly legal sense so let’s indulge him and use the phrase “doggedly following” instead. It doesn’t detract from the points people are making but it might make dand feel better.Report

          • Avatar dand in reply to DRS
            Ignored
            says:

            this is a legal case what the laws say matter, if Zimmerman was in fact stalking Martin his self defense claim would have been much more difficult.Report

          • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to DRS
            Ignored
            says:

            ” dand has a real problem with people using the word “stalking” in anything but the strictly legal sense”

            It’s sort of like the way you’d have a real problem with people using the words “violent wanna-be thug” to describe Trayvon Martin.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      “The police used SYG at one point as a political defense for why they did not go after Zimmerman right away. ”

      From what I heard, the Sanford PD didn’t bother to break a sweat identifying the dead guy; they didn’t figure out what was going on until after his father came, 48 hours later (note – Trayvon had a cell phone, with recently-made calls).

      Perhaps that was SYG, as well.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Barry
        Ignored
        says:

        The cell phone was password protected.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Barry
        Ignored
        says:

        From what I heard, the Sanford PD didn’t bother to break a sweat identifying the dead guy; they didn’t figure out what was going on until after his father came, 48 hours later (note – Trayvon had a cell phone, with recently-made calls).

        Courtesy Cable News Network:

        February 27, 2012 – Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, files a missing persons report. Officers with the Sanford Police Department visit Tracy Martin. He is able to identify Trayvon Martin’s body using a photo.

        That would be the next day, < 24 hours later.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Self-Defense laws are a state by state issue. Unsurprisingly, Eastern and older states have much stricter self-defense laws than Southern, Western, and newer states. Though I don’t have a comprehensive study.

    In New York there is an “absolute duty to retreat” before anyone can evoke self-defense if I am remembering correctly from my bar studying. I don’t remember the specifics of California’s self-defense law but I do remember it is much more of a liberal standard.Report

  4. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    FWIW my facebook page was more filled with TNC, Andrew Cohen, and the essay from the New Yorker. This is the first time reading the Nation piece.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m mostly thinking that the laws that will be passed in response to this will end up harming minorities far more than helping anybody achieve anything resembling justice.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      will end up harming minorities far more than helping anybody achieve anything resembling justice.

      Which is to say, laws will be passed.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      “I’m mostly thinking that the laws that will be passed in response to this will end up harming minorities far more than helping anybody achieve anything resembling justice.”

      Like what?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Barry
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, like laws that will help prosecutors throw extra charges at defendants, like laws that will limit the defenses that defendants will be able to mount for themselves, laws that will change what “reasonable doubt” means with regards to murder cases…

        Just off the top of my head.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I mentioned elsewhere that my single experience being jury-empaneled on a self-defense case, was one thing that made me believe it highly likely Zimmermann would be acquitted.

          The trial I sat on, also resulted in the acquittal of the defendant.

          In that trial, I am sure some of the jury were worried that the shooter *might* be “getting away with it” – there were conflicting narratives and witness’ testimonies regarding who started/escalated the fight, and even what the fight was about. But in the end, the shooter’s claim of self-defense under the relevant law was not sufficiently discredited by the state.

          The case I sat on was similar in certain respects to the Martin case, and different in others.

          For one thing, the shooting victim lived (so the charge was attempted murder); for another, both shooter and victim were black.

          Did current self-defense law “work” the way it was supposed to in that case, allowing an individual reasonable latitude to protect his own life in the moment, and placing the burden on the state to prove otherwise? I’d personally say it probably did. And before we go changing the laws, we would want to consider these cases too.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            I think a lot of the outrage on the liberal/left side is how Stand Your Ground/Self-Defense seems to be a one way street.

            One of the prosecutor’s in the Zimmerman case successfully argued that Stand Your Ground did not apply in a previous case. The only issue is that in this case, the shoots were “warning shots” and no one was hurt. The defendant was a black woman (and a mom) trying to get a known abuser (her husband or ex-husband) to back off. And what happened, she got 20 years.

            There were a lot of stories like this during 2012 when the press was able to show that Stand Your Ground was not evenly applied and black defendants often had a hard time evoking the defense. Except when it seemed to be between gang members and drug dealers.

            This strikes a lot of people as being off. Very off. Maybe the sample size is wrong and maybe my general suspicion of the South is too strong but this seems to be saying to me that something is fishy in Florida.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to NewDealer
              Ignored
              says:

              One of the prosecutor’s in the Zimmerman case successfully argued that Stand Your Ground did not apply in a previous case. The only issue is that in this case, the shoots were “warning shots” and no one was hurt. The defendant was a black woman (and a mom) trying to get a known abuser (her husband or ex-husband) to back off. And what happened, she got 20 years.

              I read about that case, in that case the women left the house, went to her car, got her gun, reentered the house then started firing. That is not permitted under stand your ground. The length of time she was sentenced to was much too long but to argue a self defense claim there is nonsense.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to NewDealer
              Ignored
              says:

              As a general rule of thumb, “something is fishy in Florida” is not an entirely-unreasonable heuristic.

              But this particular case has nothing to do with SYG anymore, so my preference would be to debate SYG in cases in which it does apply.

              And like I said, the defendant in the self-defense case I sat on was black, and was able to successfully utilize old-fashioned self-defense to procure his acquittal.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
              Ignored
              says:

              There were a lot of stories like this during 2012 when the press was able to show that Stand Your Ground was not evenly applied and black defendants often had a hard time evoking the defense. Except when it seemed to be between gang members and drug dealers.

              I have no idea how to deal with prosecutorial discretion. Maybe have prosecutors subject to regular recall elections.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                My ideal would to make prosecutors not be elected officials. I think having prosecutors be elected makes it much more likely for them to try for a high-conviction right. The election of judges and District Attorneys distorts the legal system in my mind.

                The counter-argument is that allowing for the election of DAs and prosecutorial discretion allows local polities to have their preferences. For example, it is impossible to get elected to DA in San Francisco or Manhattan without promising never to use the death penalty. And the DAs in both areas hold to that promise as far as I can tell.

                Perhaps the DA should be a civil servant appointed by a bi-partisan committee? Or by some kind of civil service test?Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
              Ignored
              says:

              I’ve heard some really bad shit come out of Florida.
              Stuff like a man shooting his neighbor (who had come up to
              his house to complain about foul, racist language), and not getting arrested.

              I’d be less troubled if I wasn’t hearing this from a lawyer.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Would it be okay if you said which state you were in at the time? Is that too much info?Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              If that’s to me, I’d rather not in public, for privacy’s sake. But my understanding of the relevant self-defense laws is that they were extremely similar to Florida’s.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                Fair enough.

                I, personally, am a fan of self-defense laws. My problem with the SYG laws as they exist in Florida is that they prevent trials in the first place.

                Now, I suppose I can understand including such a clause when it comes to Castle laws, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for public (neutral) territory.

                The problem with this case was not that Zimmerman wasn’t found guilty. It’s that it required marches for the trial to be held at all.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “The problem with this case was not that Zimmerman wasn’t found guilty. It’s that it required marches for the trial to be held at all.”

                Yeah, IIRC that was essentially Mike’s point from the beginning as well. And that is totally a fair point.

                I am also a fan of self-defense laws – and though the defendant in my case might have “gotten away with it” (after all, it really wasn’t totally clear that he hadn’t started the whole mess – and the prosecution’s attempt to use the fact that he had been going around the party yelling “I’m The Biggest Boss Of Them All!” – which the defense pointed out is a Rick Ross lyric, and was therefore the sort of thing a person at a party MIGHT yell – was pretty golden), that’s the price we pay as a society for allowing individuals some latitude in self-defense.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                “and the prosecution’s attempt” should read “though the prosecution’s attempt”Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      So what are changes that you would make that would potentially reverse this kind of situation while not hurting minorities.

      Note I do not consider inertia or not to do anything to be change. Maybe you are right but I don’t think the current situation helps much either. I agree with commentators who say this will embolden the Zimmermans of the world.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Changes? What is my goal? To make it so that it’s harder for defendants to make affirmative defenses before juries?

        I’m one of those who thinks that the state saying “you can’t argue that!” to a defendant is a violation of “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.

        It seems to me that the balance is between “do we want to make it so that fewer people are convicted, meaning that fewer innocent people get caught by the teeth of justice or do we want to make it so that more people are convicted, meaning that more guilty people go to jail, even if it means that (surely only a few!) innocent people are caught in the same net.”

        Looking at Zimmerman, I absolutely understand the whole “Surely he’s guilty of *SOMETHING*” attitude… but if we adopt that attitude across the board? (And I’m very skeptical of our ability to correctly pick and choose the circumstances under which we adopt a particular attitude… we either need to adopt it across the board or not adopt it at all.)Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Isn’t the easy option here to change the standard of proof for affirmative defenses? If, in future cases like this one, the state only needs to disprove the defense’s self-defense theory by a preponderance of the evidence, then we’ve still allowed the defendant to make that defense, but we haven’t erected an impenetrable barrier to the prosecution.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
            Ignored
            says:

            The case I’m thinking of is a case from California where a guy who was licensed by the state of California to grow pot was arrested by the Feds and, in the trial, he was not allowed to mention that he was licensed by the state of California to grow pot.

            Now, of course, that is nowhere *NEAR* a murder trial but that’s one of those things that had the juries giving interviews after the trial where they were generally outraged and said “WE WEREN’T TOLD THAT!”

            Which do we want to do? Let more guilty people go free and have fewer innocents caught up in the net? Put more guilty people away and if innocent people are caught up then that’s the price we have to pay?Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              If it’s the case I’m thinking of, he didn’t grow the pot himself. He was the city bureaucrat in charge of all the legal pot-growers, which let the prosecution say that the pot grown “under his control” had a street value of a gajillion dollars. It made him sound like the Scarface of the pot industry.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Don Zeko
            Ignored
            says:

            The state should always have the greater burden of proof.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve been pointing out pretty much since the story first broke that Stand Your Ground wasn’t relevant to Zimmerman’s defense. I’m not claiming any sort of special insight or legal expertise here—it was just really, really obvious. That people are still talking about SYG in relation to this case illustrates just how awful our media and punditry are.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      One of the things this case is done is shown how quickly people will form opinions about something while knowing jack shit about that thing. I’ve seen it from both people who think justice was done and people who think that Zimmerman got away with murder.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      One of the things this case is done is shown how quickly people will form opinions about something while knowing jack shit about that thing. I’ve seen it from both people who think justice was done and people who think that Zimmerman got away with murder.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Indeed, as David Friedman pointed out we still have no idea who started the physical altercation. Given that it’s really difficult to make moral judgments about what happened in this case. Given the evidence I think the not guilty verdict is correct, but more because of reasonable doubt than anything else.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dand
          Ignored
          says:

          Reasonable doubt is reversed, tho, in Florida self-defense law. The state has to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s claims are false. That’s pert-near impossible, it seems to me. One of the issues I have with the way the law appears to read is that merely claiming a psychological state of fearing for you life or bodily harm imposes a burden on the state, one which it may be impossible to meet in any event. How is the state supposed to show that a person didn’t legitimately fear for his life or safety?Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      IIRC, it was used by the PD to excuse the fact that they seemed uninterested in doing anything.Report

  7. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    This is one of those times when people in other countries look at America and think: “Well, they look human, I grant you, but any minute now they’re going to pull off their rubber masks and reveal themselves to be aliens from another planet.”

    I don’t know how anyone missed the defense team’s announcement months ago that they were not going to use the SYG defense. It got a wide coverage and a fair amount of comment re the pros and cons of the decision. I saw it and I was not following the event on a day-by-day basis.

    To a Canadian like me, this is the main take-away: in the state of Florida, which has a large population of non-residents at any given moment because of the strong tourism industry, you can be in danger of getting shot simply for walking down the street because some random stranger thinks you’re looking suspicious. I really don’t see how that is acceptable in a civilized society.

    I would also note that despite the frantic right-wing insistence that riots would result – none have. So maybe black people aren’t exactly animals, eh, Rush?

    Seriously – America, you’ve got a big problem here when a portion of your population feels that they are in danger of being prey because of someone else’s delusions. Are you happy about this?Report

    • Avatar DRS in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      There is a strong case to be made for an edit key.

      Could someone please end the italics after the word “planet”, please? Thanks in advance.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      One of my favorite Tweets from the night of the verdict was, “The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans.”Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      you can be in danger of getting shot simply for walking down the street because some random stranger thinks you’re looking suspicious.

      If that’s want you want to believe, you’re free to do so, but that’s simply not a reasonable conclusion to draw from this story. If Zimmerman had simply shot Martin for “looking suspicious,” and the prosecution had been able to establish that, he almost certainly would have been convicted of murder. His defense hinged on the claim that Martin attacked him. You don’t have to believe it, but the jury did, and that’s why he was acquitted. Not because it’s legal to shoot someone for looking suspicious.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        but the jury did

        More precisely: but the jury did not disbelieve it beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s all that’s required for a not guilty verdict.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        Florida law does allow for the use of self defense by the aggressor, given that all the jury needed to believe was that Zimmerman was in fear at the time of the shooting, given that both an eye witness and forensic evidence seems to indicate (although it’s far from conclusive) that Martin was on top of Zimmerman at the time of the shooting it’s possible they felt Zimmerman started the fight but still had a legitimate self defense claim.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to dand
          Ignored
          says:

          This to me is a problem. I have no problem with reasonable self-defense laws but allowing the initial aggressor to use it automatically is a problem.

          IIRC from NY, the aggressor has to retreat and give up first before being allowed to use self-defense. There needs to be a clear change in positions between being the initial aggressor and non-aggressor.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to dand
          Ignored
          says:

          IIRC from Bar Review, NY requires the initial aggressor to make it absolutely clear that they gave up and were trying to end the altercation.

          Of course this does not help when there are no witnessesReport

    • Avatar dand in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      in the state of Florida, which has a large population of non-residents at any given moment because of the strong tourism industry, you can be in danger of getting shot simply for walking down the street because some random stranger thinks you’re looking suspicious.

      That’s not what the law says, in order to be self defense there needs to be an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, merely thinking someone looks suspicious is not enough.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      The violence has already started:


      Lester Chambers, a seventy-three year-old musician known for his work as a member of The Chambers Brothers, was assaulted on stage at a blues festival last night after he dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin.

      Chambers’ son, Dylan, posted the following on Facebook last night: “Lester was just assaulted on stage at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival by a crazed woman after dad dedicated People Get Ready to Trayvon Martin. He is on the way to the hospital now.”
      Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      Co-sign.

      *Canuck fistbump* (It’s like a U.S. fistbump, but we’re wearing hockey gloves.)Report

  8. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    The Stand Your Ground law did actually come up in the trial, and is in a way relevant. Zimmerman knew about the law, though he lied and said he didn’t (he’d learned about it in college courses he’d taken, as the instructor of that course testified), and I have little doubt that knowing that he had some legal protection made him much more comfortable taking a loaded gun into a confrontation with a stranger on that evening, knowing that he was prepared to use it.Report

  9. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    The whole fracas-du-jour surrounding the Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin case is beneath contempt. I wish we’d just leave the topic alone here at League, but here we are, like so many haruspices, with our dirty little fingers in the bleeding guts of this dying creature, opining upon what we Know Naught Of.

    This nation does not trust our system of justice to render justice. A jury was empanelled, set to the task of sorting out the facts of this case and they rendered a verdict. Trying this case again in the Kangaroo Court of Public Opinion is a particularly disgusting instance of Double Jeopardy.

    Thornton Wilder: “If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.” .

    Two men tangle on a Florida street, the one an officious little busybody, the other a suspended high school student. Two thoroughly dislikeable men are transmogrified, the one elevated to Gun Totin’ Racist Monster, the other becomes a Martyr. The reality of these two men’s lives is lost in their transformation into Symbols.

    We might have hoped a jury would have been sufficient audience for the sorting-out of the facts. Such hope denied, let others brandish these Symbolic Representations of two real men and one terrible incident about, gibbering and frothing and ranting. I will not. I am disgusted beyond words by everyone whose dirty little fingers simply must go digging about in Trayvon Martin’s guts.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
      Ignored
      says:

      “…the other becomes a Martyr…”

      Part of becoming a martyr is, well, you know… dying. I’m sure Martin would have much desired to avoid becoming a martyr if it would have meant not, you know, dying.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        To make a Martyr, you have to dig him out of his grave, open his coffin and lash his corpse to a big old cross so you can parade him down Main Street. Merely dying is grossly insufficient to make a Martyr.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          Last I checked, Martin was still very much in the ground.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            Heh. You’re joking, of course. I should add in passing, a Cause is the essential embalming fluid for a Martyr. Without a Cause, the Martyr won’t last very long.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              Those are photographs. That is different than his corpse.

              Martin didn’t ask to become a martyr or a cause and I’m sure very much would have preferred to have never been put in the position to become either.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Far be it from me to explain Metaphor to anyone around here. I swear, around here it’s like being nibbled to death by a goat. Trayvon Martin has become a Martyr, whether or not he asked for that status. His elevation to Martyr status serves the ends of the Cross Bearers. Again, that’s a Metaphor. But Trayvon Martin has become a Metaphor himself — a metaphor in service to the Cause.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Not all martyrs seek/ask for the distinction. But, of course, they are dead, they don’t have a say in it.

                I’m sure Jesus would have much preferred to have avoided that distinction as well.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
                Ignored
                says:

                As with Egyptian mummification, there’s a great deal of ritual which goes into the Making of Martyrs. Lots of mumbo-jumbo, paid mourners, and always the magic spells to guide the dead through their perilous journey to the Afterlife.

                The Egyptians did have the good sense to include many obstacles to the Happy Afterlife, including the weighing of the soul against the Feather of Truth. Such is not the case for every Martyr. The Martyr, like some adolescent love fantasy, embodies all the virtues and none of the vices of the prospective candidate for martyrdom. Often, there’s often no truth at all, just some horrible circumstances.

                I will stick with the justice rendered in courts: the Afterlife is its own problem. The Court of Public Opinion makes Martyrs aplenty for anyone (indeed everyone!) is a judge. All rise!Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
      Ignored
      says:

      Two thoroughly dislikeable men are transmogrified

      Blaise has spent a lot of time with both Martin and Zimmerman, so he knows just how dislikeable they are as people.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Naturally, you have enough experience to tell us they are likeable men. I’ll work with what little evidence is at hand.

        I have no reason to like either of these men. I am not kindly disposed to suspended high school students. Zimmerman, to my way of looking at things, is an odious little gun-totin’ turd, an officious busybody, a Metaphor in service to the cause of numerous other similarly-disposed Gun Totin’ Turds in favour of Stand Your Ground laws.

        Perhaps you can give me a good reason to like either of these men. I’m sure, from your vast trove of experience, you can come up with some scrap of redeeming evidence for my benefit. Until then, I will remain of the same opinion. And I won’t hold my breath while you scurry about and find some, Chris.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          Naturally, you have enough experience to tell us they are likeable men.

          Feel free to try replying to me again when you grasp the point.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            May I therefore presume you have no evidence to support anyone’s likeability in this sordid little episode? When it comes to Ignoring Points, may I reiterate my own point: trying this case in the Court of Public Opinion is a contemptible form of Double Jeopardy. A jury trial acquitted Zimmerman and neither of us were on it. We are working with Martyrs and Metaphors.

            For you to jump on your hind legs and observe I know how dislikeable they are on the basis of personal experience with these men is just more of the aforementioned Goat Nibbling. I have no reason to respect either man and enough working evidence from the facts to find them both contemptible. To make Martyrs and Metaphors of either or both of them is to Miss the Point. Granted, it’s only my point and you clearly don’t respect it, but really, why should I respect your point, either. Respect is earned.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              I made no claims about the likeability of anyone involved. Again, you haven’t grasped the point.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                This is true. Your point was just some asinine snark about how my opinions were based on personal experience with both men. When you have a point to make, Chris, one which doesn’t veer off into intemperate idiocy and personal attacks, I’ll answer it.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise, I’ll I’m saying is that you have no idea whether they were likeable people, because you don’t know them. And in response to your replies, I’ve simply pointed that you have failed to realize that this was what I was saying, as evidenced by your demanding that I show you evidence of their likeability. I haven’t made any personal attacks whatsoever.

                I wonder, if I made claims about your likeability, would you think that I, as someone who has interacted with you for years on this site, have sufficient knowledge to judge your likeability? Or would you suggest that I don’t know you well enough to make such a judgment. My suspicion is that it would be the latter. And I contend that I have a great deal more experience and knowledge of you than you have of either Martin or Zimmerman.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                I would only repeat myself in observing neither man is likeable, based on the facts we know to be true at this point. At any rate, I do not like like either man and you have not furnished any good reason why I should. Spare me any further squirming.

                As for likeability, don’t make me laugh. I’m not here to be liked. I’m kinda past all that, Chris. I’m a grown man, I’m not looking over my shoulder at everyone else, wringing my hands over what others think of me. You should evolve the same strategy and mindset, for it would keep you from saying some of the things you do. For I have watched you, too. Truth is, a man can’t be too careful in the enemies he makes. Your lack of affection and respect are hardly keeping me up of nights. Grow up.

                Well, Judge Kazzy’s court is now in session. We should all wait in abeyance, waiting for him to assemble his papers. Lo, I see the court clerk approaching the bench! Surely some revelation is at hand.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Aaaand we’re done.

                I do find it interesting that someone who always complains about people making things personal always makes things personal.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s right. We’re done. I don’t know Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman. Perversely, you seem to believe I do know these people. Stick your big head up again and say such a thing and you’ll only present me with a fine target, again. Sure wouldn’t be the first time.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Like talking to a brick wall…

                I made this point, that you don’t know either of them at all, and therefore have no business determining their likeability, because as I said upthread somewhere, this case has presented us with multiple examples of people forming an opinion about Martin, about Zimmerman, and about the case itself, with no relevant knowledge. That you’ve chosen to demonstrate this phenomenon repeatedly in this little subthread only serves to reiterate that point.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Are you now attempting to say I should like Trayvon Martin, truant, thrice-suspended student? I will not like him on that basis. Or should I like George Zimmerman, a man who assaulted a police officer, a man whose girlfriend filed a restraining order against him, an officious jackass taking law enforcement into his own hands? I will not like him either.

                My opinions are my own. They were formed on the basis of what is known to be true. Beyond that, I contend:

                Two thoroughly dislikeable men are transmogrified, the one elevated to Gun Totin’ Racist Monster, the other becomes a Martyr. The reality of these two men’s lives is lost in their transformation into Symbols.

                Are you denying these facts entirely? Is this your case, Chris? The reality of both men’s lives was thoroughly disagreeable, unless you’re now willing to say the allegations I’ve enumerated were chalk on the Positive Side.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              What point are we missing?

              More importantly, who are you to declare what the real point is?Report

            • Avatar Michelle in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              A Florida jury acquitted alleged child-killer Casey Anthony as well, despite outrage in the Court of Public Opinion. Outrage continued for two or three weeks, then the Media and the Court of Opinion moved on to the next scandal and Casey Anthony sank into oblivion.

              There is no double jeopardy here, even in the metaphorical sense. Zimmerman has his freedom and, in a month or two, will be all but forgotten.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michelle
                Ignored
                says:

                He could theoretically face federal civil rights charges and not have double jeopardy under the Dual Sovreignity doctrine but Obama’s statement makes me think that this will probably not happen. Or at least Obama does not want the specter of a federal trial to happen.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s still plenty of outrage out there on the Casey Anthony front and no shortage of Goat Nibblers to forage a few leaves off that tree.

                Nowadays, we have three sorts of justice: the criminal trial, the civil trial and the Media Circus. Circus in the old sense of the word, where gladiators would get out there and recreate famous battles. “News” at 11.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I haven’t seen Nancy Grace get up on her high horse since sometime after the trial ended. While I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are still upset about the verdict, so what? I think O.J. got away with murder, but it doesn’t change the result of the trial.

                Yes, there will be the ritual chest-beating on all sides that always happens after these kinds of trials. Yes, our 24-7-365 infotainment culture exacerbates the situation. But, well before the dawn of our media age, there were “trials of the century” that attracted undue press attention and were duly tried in the Court of Public Opinion. It’s nothing new.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michelle
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                says:

                If I ever see Nancy Grace again, it will be too soon. I see her face on the toob, I change the channel. My hatred for all this Ritual Chest-Beating and pontificating is visceral. It’s true, this sort of thing has been going on for a long time but it’s only getting worse and I’m growing ever more disgusted with it.

                In the military, we used to call all such nonsense Barracks Lawyering. A bunch of goddamn know-it-alls, riding their little pygmy ponies into Dodge, whoopin’ and hollerin’ and shooting off their pop guns.

                Firesign Theater: The click of an electric typewriter switch is heard as a man by the name of, uh, Clem boards a bus full of clueless clowns going to The Future Fair (“A fair for all and no fair to anybody!”) While the fair is a smooth-running machine spouting revisionist historical/political dogma and doing its best to maintain order on the fairgrounds, nothing is what it seems – and Clem has a hidden agenda. Or is it all just an eerily prescient dream?Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Chris
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        says:

        My husband’s response to the verdict was much the same as Blaise’s minus the overwrought poetics. Essentially, both Zimmerman and Martin were unsavory characters and the whole fiasco was a tragic accident. I bit my tongue to keep from pointing out that his own son was an unbearable douchebag at 17, who at 18 managed to get himself kicked out of the dorms before the end of his first semester of college for a variety of repeat offenses (it’s much easier to get suspended from public school than it is to get kicked out of a dorm). Plenty of 17-year old boys are insufferable dickheads; that’s why they’re often described as assoholescents. Most grow out of it.

        Of course, it’s not likely that my stepson, at 17 or 18, would have been profiled by some cop wannabe with a gun were my stepson walking home in the rain in his hoodie and baggy nylon gym shorts. Such is the nature of white privilege.

        Given the nature of Florida law, it’s not at all surprising the prosecution wasn’t able to prove requisite intent for second degree murder, or disprove Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. But it’s no mystery why Martin has become something of a martyr. If he hadn’t been walking while black at the wrong time, he’d still be here.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Michelle
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          says:

          “Of course, it’s not likely that my stepson, at 17 or 18, would have been profiled by some cop wannabe with a gun were my stepson walking home in the rain in his hoodie and baggy nylon gym shorts. Such is the nature of white privilege.”

          … only because your son doesn’t go to black neighborhoods…Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      Actually Blaise,

      . . . the reality of these two mens lives in NOT Lost in all this. Your officious, gun toting turd of a busy body did what MANY people – including some here – do every day. He looked at a young black man (whom he knew less about then you do), decided the young black man couldn’t possibly belong to his “tribe” (or whatever you want to call the group that Mr. Zimmerman claims for himself and no doubt believed he was protecting that day), followed the young black man for some length of time, saw him do nothing other then talk on his phone in the rain, call the cops, and then take the law into his own hands when the cops didn’t get there soon enough for his liking. The end result is that your thrice suspend black man is dead – which is a very common occurrence for young black men in America these days.

      Yes a jury has acquitted Mr. Zimmerman – which is a blatant case of prosecutorial misconduct if ever there was one – but that does not excuse us as citizens, or League members, or League fans from the duty to draw lessons from the event, and seek to make changes – whether in our own behavior or our laws – that prevent the event from occurring in the future. We can’t learn those lessons if we don’t discuss what happened.

      Unless you think gun toting officious busy-body turds should be allowed to indiscriminately kill young black men. in that case, you’re right – there’s nothing to see here.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        You are preaching to the choir, Philip. I do not know why Zimmerman decided he would take on the duties of a sworn officer of the law, as he’d done before. Neither do you and Zimmerman didn’t take the stand, so nobody does, really. This I do know: Zimmerman did exactly what he was told not to do.

        Are you an attorney? Can you speak to this blatant prosecutorial misconduct?

        It may well be that many young black men are murdered for the reasons you describe. I don’t pretend to have any insight into why each one dies, though Chris seems to think I do in this case. Is this your argument as well? I’ve said young black men end up in prison far out of proportion to their numbers but then, the correlation between poverty and incarceration is very good for both black and white: rich people can afford better lawyers than the poor, who end up stuck with public defenders. It just happens that lots more black people are poor than white people. I am not a lawyer but I do build rules systems. I can extrapolate that much from what I see in terms of incarceration statistics. It seems reasonable to infer the same is true for being the alleged victims of crime as well as alleged perpetrators. If there’s any misconduct going on in the justice system, it’s this: money will get you a better attorney.

        But I don’t see how this has any relevance to the point I’m making. Trayvon Martin has become a Martyr and Zimmerman a Metaphor. A host of stupid persons are projecting America’s continuing problems of Racism upon them both: Trayvon the Victim and Zimmerman the Perpetrator. It is all a crock of shit, this Making of Martyrs and Metaphors. This transmogrification removes what little humanity was left in them, saints and sinners alike. That much is indisputable. Trayvon Martin is no representative of anything. He was an individual and I have decided I don’t think he makes a particularly good martyr.

        On 22 Dec, 2011, 15 year old Carl Lee Martin was killed by a .40 calibre round accidentally fired by Demontray Lovett, 18, both of St. Petersburg Florida. Both were riding around inside a stolen van. Do you care to infer anything about how young black men are killed from this incident, any more than the Martin / Zimmerman incident? Any generalisations you’d care to make on this subject? I don’t generalise from specific incidents. It’s a systemic error in my line of work, which is rule set building. If there are any lesson to be learnt from this incident, it’s this: the plural of anecdote is not data.Report

  10. Avatar Glyph
    Ignored
    says:

    Elias – nice thoughtful piece, thanks.

    In that vein I also really appreciated Obama’s words in the wake of the verdict; his appeals to cool-headedness and sober reflection, and an acknowledgement that the trial’s verdict should “settle” this specific incident – if we remain ultimately dissatisfied with the outcome, that now becomes separate from questions of whether or not Zimmermann “murdered” (in the legal sense of the term, and as best as we are able to tell) Martin under *current* law.

    IMO, from the beginning this case has brought out the emotional worst on all sides of the debate, even in people who are otherwise level-headed. It is entirely possible to construct a plausible narrative of that night’s events that requires casting neither Zimmermann as racist stalking vigilante, nor Martin as wannabe gangster thug; but rather as a pair of men (or a man, and an almost-man) who had an escalating and unfortunately ultimately-lethal series of misunderstandings of each other’s motives and capabilities on a dark rainy night.

    This series of misunderstandings could have occurred with *any* racial combination of players.

    This would have been a messy case to parse even without fanning the racial flames, which predictably generated more heat than light. Like perhaps one or both of the players that sparked this whole debate, we lost our heads when we most needed to keep them cool.

    It’s likely that had either Zimmermann or Martin done just one single small thing differently that night, Martin would be alive today. As much as that may be dissatisfying to us – more than dissatisfying, tragic – there is not always an unambiguous, easily-identifiable villain in every single horrible event that happens.

    Our understandable need to be able to clearly and correctly fix blame 100% of the time doesn’t always serve us in reality – which is why our “innocent-until” legal system is designed the way it is.

    A courtroom of course is only a simulacrum of reality: a sort of laboratory in which the players cooperatively attempt to mentally re-create an event; attempting to control for all confounding variables via rules of evidence, and credit (or discredit) of witness testimony; and a sort of peer reviewing in the form of a jury, so as to try to come up with the most likely explanation of that event beyond a reasonable doubt.

    But at best, it’s still only an imperfect model or simulation.

    Having been empaneled on a self-defense trial in the past, it seemed highly likely to me from almost the beginning that unless damning evidence (witnesses, or physical/forensic) contradicting Zimmermann’s account of events was produced, he’d probably walk. The judgement of those who initially declined to bring charges (because they felt the available evidence unlikely to result in a successful prosecution), appear to have been vindicated by the resulting inability to bring a successful prosecution.

    I have utmost respect for those who (like Mike) argued from the beginning that their main concern was “an unarmed kid got shot to death: there needs to be a proper, thorough investigation and legal process, so that all available evidence and facts can be evaluated by a jury, and not bypass that process entirely due to SYG laws”.

    I thought then, and think now, that this is an entirely reasonable view.

    That process ultimately happened, and none of us jabbering away on the internet were one of the jurors in that courtroom who saw all the available evidence and witnesses, and accordingly voted their conscience and best understanding of that night’s events and the pertinent law (the open question of the wisdom of SYG laws became largely separate, once Zimmermann was charged and chose to pursue a standard, old-fashioned FL self-defense claim).

    I think Zimmermann and Martin fundamentally misunderstood each other that night, each thinking the other was something he wasn’t, and it led to tragedy.

    As best we can, let’s not continue to misunderstand them, or each other.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    A genuine question for gun rights advocates:

    Would you consider Zimmerman’s use of his gun that night responsible? Given what we do know about that night… not just the shooting but all the facts that came out about his carrying and handling of the weapon… would you call him a “responsible gun owner”?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Let’s rephrase that. Would you trust a jury to consider Zimmerman’s use of his gun that night responsible?Report

    • Avatar dand in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Given the facts that are in dispute I don’t think I can say, Zimmerman was foolish to get out of his car*, but I don’t think that makes him irresponsible. If Zimmerman’s story is completely accurate (and have very strong doubts that it is) then his actions very largely responsible. If his story isn’t accurate IE: he attempted to restrain Martin or pointed his gun at him and told him not to move (both strong possibilities) then his conduct was grossly irresponsible and illegal

      *contrary to the popular narrative he did not get out of his car against the suggestion of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman was already out of his car at the time of the suggestion and he claims that he was headed back to his car when the altercation started. There is reason to doubt the second part but the first is beyond dispute.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dand
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        says:

        Suppose a better way of phrasing would be to ask given what we DO know (and conceding there is a lot that we don’t know definitively), including that Zimmerman had a round chambered, etc…. where does he fall on the spectrum from “Responsible gun owner who should be trusted with a weapon to use in defense of himself and others” and “Irresponsible gun owner who should have his right to own guns legally restricted.”Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Based sole on facts that are not in dispute there’s no evidence that Zimmerman put anyone other than himself in danger so I’d say he was responsible. I want to emphasize that I have significant doubts that he is being completely truthful.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
          Ignored
          says:

          My turn:

          Having a round chambered is not irresponsible IF the gun is in a holster that adequately covers the trigger. Semi-Automatics require two hands to work the slide & chamber a round, and since you may not be able to bring both hands together to work the slide, it is prudent to keep a round chambered. Consider that revolvers always have a round chambered unless you fail to fully load the gun. Police almost always carry with a round chambered.

          Otherwise dand is correct, as long as the gun stayed holstered until Zimmerman was under attack, from a gun safety perspective, he was fine.

          His decision to be a wanna-be cop, on the other hand…Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
            Ignored
            says:

            Thank you, MRS. As I said, my question was genuine: as someone who does not own or handle guns but generally believes in gun rights for responsible users, I wasn’t sure how typical GZ’s behavior vis a vis the gun itself was.

            Similar appreciation to Marchmaine below.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      As a gun owner, the head-scratcher for me is: Why exactly am I grabbing my firearm right here right now. Following a lone “suspicious” person in my own suburban neighborhood just doesn’t rise to that bar.

      Your secondary questions about rounds chambered and presumably how he was carrying his loaded firearm are openly discussed among conceal/carry folks, with what seems to be a majority favoring having the gun hot (I don’t have conceal carry, and when I have my firearms on me on my property they are unloaded until I need them – usually for hunting or processing or varmint work). So, therefore, yes, he was responsible. And, this might displease you, a potential use-case in the justification of why you carry hot.

      Unless, you go back to point #1 which seems to me the fateful decision… why go about your own neighborhood armed – you are in a controlled environment that you know well, with access to police and no need to put yourself in harms-way. So then, no, but that reasoning he was not responsible.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        Eh, I know people who carry as a matter of habit. They don’t want trouble, they don’t expect it, but they carry because they can & it’s a good idea to be in the habit.

        If he’d been an off-duty or retired cop, no one would ask why he was carrying.

        Why he was carrying matters less to me. If he’d had a knife (something I carry everyday, as a matter of course) & had gutted Martin instead of shooting him, the end result would probably still be the same.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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          says:

          “responsible” when discussing gun ownership doesn’t just extend to how you carry (i.e. holster type, hot or cold round, etc). Responsible, particularly in a confrontation, rests on what did you do before you brought your weapon out and pulled the trigger. No less the the U.S. Concealed Carry Association teaches its members that pulling your weapon should be the last resort after a series of deescalation steps. Nothing in the media account of that day, or presented in Mr. Zimmerman’s trial demonstrate that he tried to deescalate anything.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Hard to deescalate when you just got your nose busted & your head is getting bashed into the concrete. Yes, you should try to defuse a tense situation, but sometimes it gets away from you, or escalates faster than you can react (even police, who are supposed to have special training in this, fail to do it).Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      No. Next question.Report

  12. Avatar James B Franks
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    says:

    I’m sorry Zimmerman, the one with a weapon, stalked Martin first in a vehicle and then on foot; against the express recommendation of 911. I really don’t care exactly what happened once Zimmerman cornered Martin. Zimmerman initiated the whole mess, he is responsible for it’s outcome.Report

    • Avatar dand in reply to James B Franks
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      says:

      Zimmerman didn’t stalk Martin, stalking is clearly defined in Florida law and Zimmerman’s actions don’t meet the definition. There’s also no evidence that Zimmerman ignored the 911 operators suggestion although there’s no evidence that he didn’t other than his word.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to dand
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        says:

        The first suggestion not to follow him came while Zimmerman was in the truck. The “we don’t need you to do that.” In the tape, you can distinctly hear him getting out of the truck after the dispatcher says that. He even indicates to the dispatcher that he’s leaving the truck.

        What’s more, it seems reasonable to say that I guy who follows someone first in a vehicle, then on foot, is stalking that person, even if it doesn’t meet the legal definition of “stalking” that might accrue penalties.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
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          says:

          The “we don’t need you to do that.” In the tape, you can distinctly hear him getting out of the truck after the dispatcher says that. He even indicates to the dispatcher that he’s leaving the truck.

          that’s just not true and the state didn’t argue that at trail.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/us/zimmerman-to-be-charged-in-trayvon-martin-shooting.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          The dispatcher asked if Mr. Zimmerman was following him. “Yeah,” Mr. Zimmerman said.

          “O.K.., we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher said. Mr. Zimmerman said: “O.K.”

          http://www.talkleft.com/story/2013/6/21/15215/8596/crimenews/Zimmerman-Judge-No-Mention-of-Racial-Profiling

          The state agreed that GZ was already out of the car when the police call taker asked if he was following the suspicious person and said “We don’t need you to do that.” So there will be no reference to Zimmerman getting out of the car in disregard of what the call taker said.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          The “we don’t need you to do that.” In the tape, you can distinctly hear him getting out of the truck after the dispatcher says that. He even indicates to the dispatcher that he’s leaving the truck.

          that’s just not true and the state didn’t argue that at trail.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/us/zimmerman-to-be-charged-in-trayvon-martin-shooting.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          The dispatcher asked if Mr. Zimmerman was following him. “Yeah,” Mr. Zimmerman said.

          “O.K.., we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher said. Mr. Zimmerman said: “O.K.”

          http://www.talkleft.com/story/2013/6/21/15215/8596/crimenews/Zimmerman-Judge-No-Mention-of-Racial-Profiling

          The state agreed that GZ was already out of the car when the police call taker asked if he was following the suspicious person and said “We don’t need you to do that.” So there will be no reference to Zimmerman getting out of the car in disregard of what the call taker said.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          breaking this up into two posts so it doesn’t get stuck in moderation

          The “we don’t need you to do that.” In the tape, you can distinctly hear him getting out of the truck after the dispatcher says that. He even indicates to the dispatcher that he’s leaving the truck.

          that’s just not true and the state didn’t argue that at trail.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/us/zimmerman-to-be-charged-in-trayvon-martin-shooting.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          The dispatcher asked if Mr. Zimmerman was following him. “Yeah,” Mr. Zimmerman said.

          “O.K.., we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher said. Mr. Zimmerman said: “O.K.” Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          second link

          http://www.talkleft.com/story/2013/6/21/15215/8596/crimenews/Zimmerman-Judge-No-Mention-of-Racial-Profiling

          The state agreed that GZ was already out of the car when the police call taker asked if he was following the suspicious person and said “We don’t need you to do that.” So there will be no reference to Zimmerman getting out of the car in disregard of what the call taker said.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to dand
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            says:

            Ah, you are right. I relistened to the tape. He tells Zimmerman not to follow him right after he gets out of the truck, which Zimmerman does when Martin starts to run away from him. This does not make Zimmerman look better.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
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              says:

              Zimmerman had already been following Martin before he was told that he didn’t need follow him, Zimmerman claims he stopped following him at that point and there’s no evidence otherwise although it’s not unreasonable to doubt his claims.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to dand
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                says:

                Well, except that he ended up somewhere other than where he told the dispatcher he was when he got off the phone.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                he could have been walking back to his car.

                http://www.talkleft.com/story/2012/5/27/44552/1872/crimenews/George-Zimmerman-The-Most-Likely-Scenario

                GZ did not have TM in sight when the dispatcher told him they didn’t need him to follow TM. He responded OK. He didn’t follow him after that. He didn’t know where Trayvon was. He continued walking towards the front of the Retreat View Circle, where the first house is 2861, home to W-13 and W-12. He then turned around to walk back to his car. He just passed the T and the pet waste can when Travyon came up on his left. After a few brief vocal exchanges, which even according to Dee Dee were initiated by Trayvon, GZ got punched and fell down. This may have been at the T or in the grass right off the T, in the backyard of W-11 and W-20. After getting his nose broken is most likely when the sounds turned into cries and wails for help — by George Zimmerman.
                George Zimmerman was walking back to his truck along this path, right about the T, when Trayvon popped out from somewhere and asked why he was following him. Within a minute, the encounter turned physical. The first sounds heard were scuffles and “arghs.” Not screams or cries for help. GZ was then on the ground with a broken nose. They were off the T, on the grass at the top of the path between the shared backyards. They continued grappling as they moved down the path to the back of John’s house, where they rolled onto the concrete, and GZ started crying out for help even louder, since now it was not just his nose, but the back of his head getting smacked. Trayvon was still on top of him.
                Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                He had only been out of the car for a minute or so when he got off the phone. He must have been taking his sweet ass time walking back to the car.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                since he ran after Martin until being told not to and was walking back it’s not unreasonable to think that it would take longer and the fight started with a minute or two of when he got off the phone.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                He was running? Is there evidence of that? He had only been out of the car for a couple seconds when told not to follow him (he certainly wasn’t breathing heavy like someone running or who had just run, either). So, he either continued to follow him after being told not to or he ran at near the speed of sound without breaking a sweat or getting the least bit out of breath (and he was clearly not in great shape, a fact his defense used to their advantage in the trial).Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                he claimed he was running and there’s no evidence otherwise. there is an additional possibility that he stopped following Matin but didn’t return to his car.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Again, the dispatcher told him not to follow with in seconds, as in under 10 seconds, of him getting out of the car (the dispatcher clearly heard him exiting the car, as the sounds of the exit are very distinct). If he was running after Martin far enough to take minutes to walk back, then he must have followed him after the dispatcher told him not to. Zimmerman’s version contradicts the facts and basic logic.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                he could have been walking back very slowly, like i said there is no evidence to he keep following martin after being told he did need to (not as you falsely claim told not to)Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Chris,

                Why are you wasting your breath? Dand has constructed an emotionally satisfactory narrative, and for him/her that’s that.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Why are you wasting your breath? Dand has constructed an emotionally satisfactory narrative, and for him/her that’s that.

                I’ve said throughout the thread that we don’t know what happened, I’ve never claimed Chris’s story is false just that there’s no evidence to support it. Read my all my posts I’ve objected to people from both side inventing facts that weren’t true. Use Ctrl+F to verify this.Report

              • Avatar trumwill mobile in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Dand has been forthrightly agnostic on what has happened. He hasn’t decided on a narrative and has said he has doubts About GZ’s story.Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                The “he could have walked very slowly back to the car” bit is a rather ridiculous story line.

                He certainly appears to be reaching to construct something.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Having done some headbutting with dand here and elsewhere, I will say that Will’s assessment is accurate here. I think sometimes his delivery of the message can be off putting but he has indeed been agnostic here.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                The “he could have walked very slowly back to the car” bit is a rather ridiculous story line.

                He certainly appears to be reaching to construct something.

                I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario but it’s not out of the realm of possibility and I’m objecting to people that conjecture (such as the notion the Zimmerman followed martin after being told not to) as fact. If it had been stated as speculation I wouldn’t have objected.Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                I apologize, dand.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks James, the reason I’ve been pushing back so hard is that I lot of people (not so much here but elsewhere places) believe that this was racially based jury nullification of a homicide. If people were more aware of how little evidence there is in this case I think there’d be a lot less outrage directed at the jury (I don’t care about outrage directed a Zimmerman).Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                dand,

                I’m in agreement. But everyone (well, not everyone, just too damned many) seems to just be falling back on their autowritten morality stories, whichever side they’re coming from. And so I interpreted you as doing that, too. I’m not trying excuse myself, though.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James B Franks
      Ignored
      says:

      No evidence Martin was cornered, either.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        As someone who has been followed before, I don’t think that really matters. At some point, you have a choice: you can continue on and risk finding yourself in an isolated area with your follower, or you can stop and confront them in a place where there are likely to be witnesses, and therefore the person is less likely to do anything too rash. I’m not sure that this is precisely what happened, as Zimmerman’s own version of the events leading up to the confrontation makes little sense, but if it did happen, it would be understandable.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    What little of the trial I watched had me pretty much guessing that the Prosecution was either inept or deliberately trying to throw the trial.Report

  14. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    I think Scott Lemiuex is right. More focus should be paid on the sometimes ludicriously lenient standards for self-defense in many jurisdictions. We shouldn’t get away with the right to self-defense in its entirety but they need to updated because in most parts of the country, professsional law enforcement is readily available. Even in rural areas. People should only be allowed to kill in self-defense in very limited circumstances. I’m fond of New York’s absolute duty to retreat standard personally.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Wrong

      LEO are available, but the time required to put them on scene could be minutes to hours. Not all SD cases give the person time to call, much less retreat to safety to wait.

      Also, the state should never have a lower burden of proof. As I said before, the whole point is a defendant must be PROVEN guilty.Report

      • Also, the state should never have a lower burden of proof. As I said before, the whole point is a defendant must be PROVEN guilty.

        On the issue of self-defense, I can’t agree with this, and historically it was the case that the burden of proving self-defense was actually borne by the defendant. I think the historic rule on this point is correct. In effect, one who asserts self-defense is acknowledging guilt to the underlying crime, but then is asserting that they were privileged in some way that effectively permitted them to step into the shoes of the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

        At least conceptually, it’s an excuse for committing a crime, not a defense that no crime was committed in the first place. If you’re going to insist that you were privileged in this manner, then I don’t think it’s wrong to require that you bear the burden of establishing the existence of that privilege.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mark Thompson
          Ignored
          says:

          Mark, my understanding from this Volokh post is that 49 of 50 states do it the “new” way:

          http://www.volokh.com/2013/07/14/burden-and-quantum-of-proof-on-self-defense/

          He also notes that this doesn’t dispose of how it “ought” to be; but that this is the way it *is*, everywhere but OH.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            There’s some dispute over those calculations from what I’ve seen (IIRC, it depends on how heavy the burden is), but it’s accurate enough for our purposes. My point is just that I nonetheless think the historical rule is superior on this front.

            There’s something particularly appalling that it’s easier to obtain a complete legal excuse for killing another human being than it is to obtain even a partial legal excuse for possessing a few grams of pot.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            Interesting about OH. I guess that’s why the National Guard couldn’t claim self-defense at Kent State.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Glyph
            Ignored
            says:

            I think Volokh is wrong here especially in states that make it very hard to present a self-defense argument. As we have discussed above, not all self-defense laws are lenient. New York and other North East states have stringent self-defense laws. Florida’s is quite loose.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to NewDealer
              Ignored
              says:

              Volokh’s point isn’t about the circumstances in which self-defense may be asserterd, but rather about the burden of proof borne at trial once self-defense has been asserted. That stastistic is consistent with other sources I’ve seen, though it only discusses which side bears the burden, rather than the extent of that burden.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mark Thompson
          Ignored
          says:

          Yes, self-defense was always a rebuttal to charges rather than something that the prosecutor had to disprove. It was the defendant’s burden to show that he or she acted in self-defense and since self-defense is basically the defendant arguing for his own version of the events than it should be the burden of the defendant to prove it.Report

          • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LeeEsq
            Ignored
            says:

            So self-defense is or is not an affirmative defense?

            Still, given the vast resources of the state, especially in this day & age, I think it is prudent to force the state to a greater burden of proof.Report

            • MRS – what are your thoughts about my point that by admitting to the willful killing of another human, the defendant is effectively claiming that he possessed the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force? In other words, the defendant’s defense is that he effectively was the state.

              Let me put it this way: I have a strong suspicion that the change in the burden of proof was in part initiated by police officers.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Ooooh, you crafty devil, pushing THAT button!

                My concern stems from the fact that the burden of proof is on the state that a wrong was committed. The fact that the defendant is admitting to the act, but claiming privilege should not make the DAs job easier, nor should it necessarily make it harder. True instances of lethal self-defense are chaotic, terrifying events where the total extent of the facts may never be known, even by the defendant. I don’t want people going to prison just because the DA, with the vast resources of the state, was able to muddy the self defense waters just enough.

                The whole point is that only the defense gets to muddy the waters just enough. Even if it means some murders walk.

                As for police officers, I’m less concerned with their potential influence in this trend than the fact that LEOs rarely ever worry over an indictment, much less stand trial for such uses of force.

                I do agree, we shouldn’t even need a legal defense for owning pot. I chaff at the idea of victimless crimes, where only the delicate sensibilities of the state are harmed, rather than an actual victim.Report

              • I guess the point is that the burden of proof that the wrong was committed would still very much be on the state – it would still need to prove that the defendant committed the homicide with the requisite intention to kill or harm another human being.

                My point about LEO likely having a major influence on the trend was to point out that they are the chief beneficiaries – it makes all homicide by a police officer impossible to prosecute. In other words, shifting the burden in this way ensures that all use of force is presumed justifiable as long as the user of that force claims to possess the legitimacy of the state, a presumption which must be disproven beyond a reasonable doubt.

                Trying to persuade someone of a negative is hard enough; trying to prove that negative beyond a reasonable doubt is often damn near impossible.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mark Thompson
                Ignored
                says:

                Seems to me immunity & institutional back scratching (DAs declining to prosecute, police agencies covering for each other, etc.) is what makes prosecuting police so difficult.

                My worry is that mens rea is becoming such a passe concept in our legal system that without strong self-defense protections, the act will be all the matters.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
                Ignored
                says:

                Re: Institutional back scratching – toss the media in there as well, since they more often than not take the word of the government at face value, rarely digging in for greater truth.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
            Ignored
            says:

            Assuming that Volokh post is correct, is there any idea from the lawyer types when/why this common law precedent was changed in 98% of the nation’s states?

            FWIW, the defense in my case did show evidence that the defendant acted in self-defense (defendant claimed he was returning fire, even though no weapon was found on the shooting victim – but the EMT’s who came to the shooting victim’s aid testified that when they picked the victim up off the concrete, there were spent shells underneath him; the implication, to me, was that it was clearly at least possible he or someone in his near vicinity had been firing at the defendant, prior to his getting shot and falling to the ground).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        This is the same LEO that you were wondering why Martin didn’t call to protect him from the creepy guy in the truck?Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          Just because the cops may be a while doesn’t mean you don’t call them if you have time. I am assuming TM had the time. Maybe I assume too much, but he sure was chatty with his friend for something like 20 minutes. I think he had time.Report

  15. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    I think another issue is that the law and society has a hard time deciding what is an appropriate response when some is being harassed and the harasser won’t back away.

    There was a story about this in NY over the weekend. A black couple was eating at a Burrito joint in the Village. A white guy came over and was very drunk. He began hurling racial insults and saying that (insert word I won’t type) cost him his job and is wife. He was an ex-Goldman Sachs employee. I don’t know why the guy lost his job or not but he seemed to blame black people. The staff of the restaurant tried to haul the white Goldman guy away but were unsuccessful.

    Eventually the boyfriend in the couple punched Goldman-dude across the face and he stumbled. Goldman dude’s head hit the sidewalk and he is now in critical condition. The puncher was booked on assault charges IIRC.

    Should the puncher be charged? What is the proper response when you are enjoying a meal and getting accosted by a drunk and the drunk does not seem to go away. I am not sure punching the drunk is a good idea (even if he is being an unbearable and racist asshole) but the couple was enjoying the meal at the restaurant and had a right not to be chewed out by a racist drunk ex-Goldman douchebag.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      ND,

      As I mention above, our sense of “appropriate” is highly contextual. It is easy for white lawmakers to trot out, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”-type logic when they don’t have to face words with the history of indignity like “Nigger”.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Its really hard, maybe even impossible, for the law to take all contexts into consideration though. Thats why the law has to often ignore some really significant past evils like the treatment of African-Americans past, present, and future or the subjecation of women throughout history in order to be theoretically equitable. The law can’t say in X situation Class Y is allowed to do Action Z but in all situations Class B can never do Action Z. Thats even worse than some or many prosecutions that seem egregious. Trying to put morality or historical contexts into the law is not going to work.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
          Ignored
          says:

          Sure, but as I say above, in some communities a slow moving car is someone lost, looking for an address. In others, it is someone looking to kill someone. And if the lawmakers all hail from the former type of community, than we’re going to say people who are afraid of slow moving cars are unreasonable and not entitled to a self-defense claim.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            And George Zimmerman’s problem was that he thought he lived in the latter when he lived in the former or at least African-American men only walk around slowly to because of the latter. Sometimes presuming the worst causes more trouble than presuming the best.

            Honestly, the prosecutors should have tried Zimmerman for mansalughter rather than murder. That would have resulted in a conviction probably.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
              Ignored
              says:

              Wasn’t manslaughter among the lesser included charges?

              My point is that our laws tend to reflect a certain cultural context which is not shared by all. And many people don’t even realize that because they don’t even acknowledge that they are the products of and perpetuators of a particular culture.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq
              Ignored
              says:

              My understanding that manslaughter was also charged, and acquitted.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, but that was tacked on at the end of the trial. So the whole trial was arguing for/against 2nd Degree. It’s possible (though given how things went, I’d say unlikely) that had they started with Manslaughter, they might have gotten a different result. (And, of course, if they had, and gotten the same result, I might be here saying “If they’d gone to trial on the basis of 2nd Degree and then added manslaughter at the last minue they might have gotten a different result because they might have viewed manslaughter as a compromise.”Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman
                Ignored
                says:

                How does that work, by the way? How can charges get tacked on after the trial is started? Shouldn’t charges be fixed at the start of the trial?

                Going with my “trial as simulation or lab experiment” metaphor elsewhere, this seems like an excellent way to muddy the experiment’s results.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Glyph
                Ignored
                says:

                I can’t give a detailed explanation – my knowledge of criminal procedure is limited to what I learn from research for blog posts and vague recollections of several criminal law classes I took a decade ago – but it generally has to do with when something is considered a “lesser included offense,” which means that all of the elements that the prosecution must prove are also elements of a more serious offense.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Its right for the man to be charged for assault. Your right, he adn his girlfriend had the right to eat without being ranted at by a drunk but the proper legal response was not violence. It was for the staff of the Burrito restaurant to eject the drunk or to call the people; not to punch the drunk guy. The couple might have been uncomfortable but they weren’t under any physical threat. The drunk was just ranting and cursing at them. Its annoying but it doesn’t rise to the level of justifying an act of violence.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Okay, but let’s play devil’s advocate: how was the couple supposed to know that the drunk wasn’t about to pull a gun out or get violent in some way? It would not be an irrational assumption that the ranting was leading up to it.

        And the restaurant owner is entirely to blame for not calling police or otherwise getting the drunk out of there.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DRS
          Ignored
          says:

          From earlier in the thread: IIRC from NY, the aggressor has to retreat and give up first before being allowed to use self-defense. There needs to be a clear change in positions between being the initial aggressor and non-aggressor.

          According to this law, if the couple in the restaurant could have gotten up and left, they had a responsibility to get up and leave.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            But surely you can agree that if that meant abandoning their delicious burrito, that is too tall a burden to put on anyone.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
              Ignored
              says:

              I am a big supporter of the Castle Doctrine. Pretty much absolutely.

              When it comes to The Burrito Doctrine, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be something similar to SYG.

              “My wife and I were sitting, minding our own business, when this guy comes over and starts berating us using fighting words. He’s belligerent and drunk. He finally says something completely unforgivable and I punch him in the face, like he wanted me to do. He stumbles back, cracks his head on the curb, and now he’s in a coma.”

              Assuming all that is corroborated by pretty much every single witness there:

              Should the prosecutor call for a trial? What if the guy actually dies?

              If there’s a trial and the guy is found guilty, how many years should he spend in prison? 10? 20? The six months, suspended that a justified assault charge in response to fighting words would get?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Honestly? I don’t know.

                Personally, I’ve long struggled with the fact that our laws recognize and respect the harm that physical violence can cause and generally reject or ignore the harm that verbal or emotional violence can cause. I don’t know how to craft appropriate laws, but a case can be made that being berated with racist language is as harmful as a punch in the face.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Who gets to determine what racist language justifies physical violence? Do certain groups, like African-Americans, get more of a right to react violently than other groups, say Asian-Americans, because overall the racism against African-Americans wrecks more havoc on them than anti-Asian racism wrecks on Asian-Americans?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
                Ignored
                says:

                Among the many reasons I don’t know how to actually craft laws that acknowledge the reality of verbal, mental, and emotional violence.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer in reply to DRS
          Ignored
          says:

          From what I read the staff tried but failed:

          http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/07/drunk-racist-former-goldman-sachs-employee-got-knocked-out/67149/

          Really determined drunks are really determined drunks and they are often hard to control or get to go away. This is not excusing the restaurant. Just an observation.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to NewDealer
            Ignored
            says:

            You know, I saw an incident like this years ago in downtown Toronto. Black couple eating in Italian restaurant. My friend and I a couple of tables over. Black guy is being a bit loud and making girlfriend giggle uncontrollably (you could tell that she’s the kind of woman who, once she gets started giggling can’t stop and giggles harder because she feels self-conscious about it).

            Jerk comes over (from where, I don’t know; suddenly he was just there). Starts giving black guy grief about not knowing how to behave in a nice restaurant, shouldn’t go places if he doesn’t know how to act. Owners wife comes up, tells guy to leave customers alone. Jerk responds in a jerkish manner. OW disappears into kitchen.

            Owner comes out. 300 pounds of Sicilian attitude. Carrying a large broom. Owner swings broom round in a wide circle, scattering waiters everywhere, and it collides with the Jerk with a satisfying thud. Jerk protests but is swept down the aisle and out to the front door. Jerk leaves, jerkish to the end.

            Owner goes back to kitchen. Owners wife returns to hostess stand. Waiter brings new bread and free wine to the black couple’s table. They’ve been sitting in shock throughout the entire event. My friend and I left before them, but I would be very surprised if they didn’t get a substantial discount on the meal.

            And I have seen drunks act up in other places – some quite violently, including a bar-stool-throwing fight over (seriously) a vacuum cleaner – and the owners without exception got them wrapped up and out the door without using brooms. Drunks are part and parcel of the food and beverage industry. I accept that waitstaff can’t deal with them but there’s always a designated troubleshooter on the premises.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
            Ignored
            says:

            Than you either call the police or physically escort the drunk out like bouncers do in clubs.Report

          • Avatar Patrick in reply to NewDealer
            Ignored
            says:

            For the record, I regard vocally abusive very drunk people to be much more likely to be potentially violent than just about anybody.

            This is why you take judo instead of boxing. You stand up, you announce to everybody in the restaurant that you think this person is about to assault you and you fear for your safety, and if they continue to get in your face you put them in an arm bar.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DRS
          Ignored
          says:

          New York law states that people have a duty to retreat before they can act in self-defense. This becomes an absolute duty to retreat when death is involved, which pretty much means you have to be in your dwelling or cornered. In New York, the law is if you have a choice between acting in self-defense or running like a scared kid who pissed in his or her pants than you run like the scarred kid who just wetted themselves. I support this. The law should presume that violence is never an acceptable solution to most problems.Report

        • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to DRS
          Ignored
          says:

          You wait until violence starts.

          We have enough trouble with police killing unarmed/innocent people because they thought violence was about to start, instead of waiting for it to actually begin.

          Most random violence rarely goes from 0 to kill in a second (note that a targeted killing, or a person out to kill random people, is not random violence – it may seem random to us, but the perpetrator has already set his mind on killing, it isn’t random to him/her).

          LeeEsq is right here, the police should have been called.

          Hell, if this had been on an airplane, the guy would have been tackled by half the men in the place & hogtied until the police arrived.Report

  16. Avatar Art Deco
    Ignored
    says:

    Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal has not a thing to do with ‘the logic of white supremacy’ and nothing this woman says is ‘powerful stuff’ to anyone with normal sensibilities.

    George Zimmerman called the non-emergency police dispatcher to report an individual who was behaving peculiarly in a neighborhood which had had a rash of burglaries. He got out of his vehicle to attempt to keep this person in view when said person ran out of view and two check street addresses to arrange for a meeting with a local police patrol. During his conversation with the police dispatcher, he never had Trayvon Martin in eyeshot after Martin ran out of sight. No evidence has emerged that would demonstrate that, in the two minutes between when he concluded his call with the police dispatcher and when Trayvon Martin broke his nose, George Zimmerman was doing anything more menacing than loitering about on a community walkway waiting for the patrolman on duty to call back.

    There is no dispute that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had a broken nose, lacerations to the back of the head, &c. as documented in medical reports and photographs taken at the scene. Trayvon Martin, as documented in his autopsy had an abrasion on one knuckle and a gunshot wound. From the testimony of the medical examiner and a forensic expert, we know he received that wound while leaning over Zimmerman. From the testimony of an eyewitness standing right there, we know Zimmerman was being battered by Martin.

    Calling the cops to look in on someone and attempting (unsuccessfully) to keep them in view is not a provocation as a matter of law. Neither is it “initiating the conflict”. The local police knew that, the local prosecutor knew that, and there is little doubt that Angela Corey and her minions knew that. It really cannot be considered a provocation according to any serious principle of human conduct. The lot of you need to step back and ask why it is you are implicitly arguing that local thugs get one free beatdown before anyone can properly take counter-measures.

    And you all need to ask yourselves why, given that the information necessary to conclude that the killing of Trayvon Martin was a justifiable homicide has been available for 13 months, you continue to refuse to inspect it, to repeat debunked internet memes, and otherwise demonstrate unseemly hostility to a very ordinary man caught in an unusual situation.

    As has been noted, enhancements to self-defense as a legal justification incorporated into the term “stand your ground” did not have to be invoked in this case because the defendant was on his back being beaten at the time he shot Martin and had no option to retreat, much less a duty to retreat. If your ignorance of the gross details of the case is so thorough, you should just not post on the subject.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Art Deco
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      says:

      Gun rights advocates (which may not include AD), need to decide whether they view Zimmerman and his actions, that night particularly and generally respecting his proclivity to go out on private neighborhood watch with a loaded firearm, as “very ordinary” in the world they want to see. Whether that’s the very ordinary reality, with this very ordinary man keeping very ordinary watch over us with a very ordinary weapon, you are proposing to the rest of us.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        1. By his account, he bought the gun, which, if I understand aficionados of this sort of thing correctly, is a bottom-of-the-line low-firepower item, for self-defense against a peculiarly vicious dog in his neighborhood. Florida issues concealed-carry permits freely and has for decades, so there was nothing legally irregular with carrying a gun in that neighborhood and it likely is not all that uncommon in central Florida.

        2. He actually spotted Martin while heading out to do an errand. The neighborhood watch had been formed only in August 2011 and Zimmerman and one other man were the only participants at that point. I am not sure they had yet erected any sort of regular patrols or had standard issue vests. They had, however, gone through the paces with the local police department in getting their watch set up; the co-ordinator of watch programs for the Sanford Police testified at the trial and spoke well of Zimmerman.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          Right: so, 1) keeping ordinary private watch in the sense of just a guy going out on routine business but also highly attuned to “unusual activity” in the neighborhood 2) while armed with the right to conceal that fact at night 3) with an inclination to chase after suspicious figures with said gun … all as both legally regular, and also regular simply as a common feature of American life. That’s what I’m asking after – whether we should be aware that this is the basic mode of living gun rights activists tend to envision as the one they want to bring into being in the United States.

          Florida may have issued concealed carry permits regularly and without a showing of special need for decades, but Florida isn’t the United States. It’s a fairly widespread policy now, but only recently in many places; the policies remain highly controversial in many of those places, and they were enacted pursuant to a concerted national advocacy campaign by gun rights advocates who I believe are pursuing a vision of national (not just Florida) life much like the one I am describing. But that’s just an impression of gun rights activists’ interests that I have formed – I’m not sure it’s accurate. So that’s why I’m asking about it.

          Are the longstanding features of Florida law that helped precipitated these events, particularly concealed (or just public) carry licenses given more or less with no questions asked short of simply confirming a degree of theretofore responsible gun ownership, with the vision of a way of life it implies (general suspicion, and with the best and only advisable route to personal security being to arm oneself and carry publicly because one never knows when some other suspicious and armed person may cross your path and decide you have heightened his suspicions past some threshold), something that we should think of as a positive national vision for gun rights advocates?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      “There is no dispute that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman.”

      Um, yes there is. There is no dispute that an altercation took place. There remains dispute as to how it was initiated. The court of law did not settle that.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Kazzy, there is no dispute. The autopsy report had an inventory of Trayvon Martin’s injuries and the medical reports and crime scene photographs provide an inventory of George Zimmerman’s. The only injury Trayvon Martin had other than a gunshot wound was an abrasion to his knuckle of a sort you might get from punching someone. There is simply no evidence George Zimmerman ever laid a glove on Martin. The last time we discussed it, you thought it a productive exercise to speculate that Zimmerman received his injuries from falling off a wall (forwards and backwards); someone more inventive has offered he ran into a tree while chasing Martin; perhaps he bounced off the tree and hit the back of his head on the ground, like in a Looney Tunes cartoon.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          If Zimmerman had pointed his gun at Martin and Martin had responded by pushing Zimmerman to the ground and trying to get the gun from him Martin wouldn’t have had any injuries.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
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            says:

            There is no evidence that this is what happened and the scenario does not make much sense. See below.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              There is no evidence that this is what happened

              there is also no evidence that it didn’t happen. that’s my point, we have no idea what happened as such the verdict is correct but people should also refrain from defaming Martin as he is dead and can’t defend himself.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
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                says:

                No, we have an idea of what happened. There is a distinction between making an inference from actual evidence and just spinning scenarios. The call to the dispatcher, the testimony of John Good and others, the autopsy report, and the medical reports and crime scene photographs all suggest a sequence of events. They do not determine a sequence of events. This mess about Zimmerman pulling a gun on Martin and then Martin defending himself is pure conjecture (and implausible conjecture). It is a waste of time and pixels. No public authority (including the jury) could properly make decisions on the basis of implausible conjectures and neither should you.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                This mess about Zimmerman pulling a gun on Martin and then Martin defending himself is pure conjecture

                so is the idea the Martin started the mess by assaulting Zimmerman.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                No it is not pure conjecture. The pattern of injuries suggest this is precisely what happened. There is no alternative scenario with evidentiary support.Report

          • Avatar dand in reply to dand
            Ignored
            says:

            There is no evidence that this is what happened

            there is also no evidence that it didn’t happen.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          AD,

          There is dispute. That is why there was a trial.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            It was a political show trial. Read the blawgers on this subject, especially Jeralyn Merritt, on the deficit of legal professionalism on the part of the prosecution. Read Alan Dershowitz on the affidavit Angela Corey filed to commence this prosecution. There was a reason the police chief in Sanford was disinclined to arrest Zimmerman and a reason the local state’s attorney was disinclined to seek an indictment. The matter was taken out of their hands because they refused to be a party to this pricy and malicious pantomime.Report

          • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Kazzy
            Ignored
            says:

            Kazzy,

            Don’t bother. AD, like dand further up the page, has constructed a story that is emotionally compelling and fits the world as he wants it to be. No such thing as facts can ever be allowed to penetrate that comfortable narrative, because the whole point is to avoid ever having to even consider questioning one’s own constructed view of the world.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to j@m3z Aitch.
              Ignored
              says:

              The world as I want it to be does not include public prosecutors driving private citizens into insolvency to defend themselves against bogus criminal charges. There is nothing ‘comfortable’ about any of this at any level.

              Part of my task here, Aitch, has been to attempt to return the discussion to its essential elements. In so doing, you ask three questions: given the circumstances he was in, could George Zimmerman have a valid claim of self-defense?; did George Zimmerman do anything antecedent to that to vitiate (even to the point of destruction) that claim?; which party to the case has the burden of demonstration? The other part of my task has been to remind people that there was an autopsy report, an eyewitness standing there with a clear view and an internally consistent story, photographs taken at the scene, a recording of George Zimmerman’s talk with the police dispatcher, and maps of the complex available. These have been elaborated upon consistently by trial testimony.

              But hey, let’s get to the meaty stuff. How about BlaiseP’s assessments of George Zimmerman’s self-concept, or Kazzy’s insistence that we entertain cartoon scenarios of how George Zimmerman acquired a broken nose, or Cletus giving everyone grief for ignoring evidence he never adduces, or Tod Kelly’s bright shiny object about how the real killers are Florida legislators who made an amendment to the dispensation for self-defense (an amendment that does not apply in this case).

              Academe is going down hill.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Yurp… it is everyone else that is wrong. AD was there, man! Well, not there. But he’s reviewed the evidence! No, not the same evidence the rest of us looked at and drew different conclusions from. OTHER evidence. REAL evidence. He knows the REAL story.

                I’m kind of surprised the defense didn’t call him as a witness.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                One thing you were all adverse to doing is sorting it according to priority and putting it out on the table. Sorry, your deficiency, not mine, and certainly not everyone else’s.Report

              • Avatar RTod in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                “Tod Kelly’s bright shiny object about how the real killers are Florida legislators who made an amendment to the dispensation for self-defense (an amendment that does not apply in this case)”

                If it did not apply in this case, why were jurors given written instructions by the court to take it into consideration when deliberating?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                Self-defense applied. Enhancements to self-defense incorporated into the term “stand your ground” did not apply.Report

              • Avatar RTod in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                From the instructions:

                “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and HAD THE RIGHT TO STAND HIS GROUND and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

                Capitalization mine, obviously.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                I believe that those are part of the standard self-defense jury instructions given out without regards to stand your ground being an issue in the case. I could be wrong about this and I don’t claim it with any degree of confidence.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                Jury instructions are standardized.

                The facts of the case were such that an option to retreat did not exist. Conventional principles of self-defense sufficed.

                Tod Kelly seems to think that it applies through some hocus pocus of social psychology, which is humbug.Report

              • Avatar RTod in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                “I believe that those are part of the standard self-defense jury instructions given out ”

                Well, no shit. And that means that they “don’t apply to this case” how, exactly?Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                It doesn’t definitively prove that stand your ground wasn’t an issue, but the presence of the language in the instructions is not evidence that stand your ground was an issue either.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                So it’s your believe that FLorida courts stick in things that specifically do not apply to a case, and instruct jurors to consider them?

                I think you are conflating “an issue that is by no means the most important” with “does not apply.” Those are actually two different things.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                the instructions also include this:

                The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the attempted killing.

                since the incident did not happen in a dwelling house this not related to the case yet it’s in the jury instructions anyway. so yes they do “stick in things that specifically do not apply to a case, and instruct jurors to consider them?”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                Given that part of Zimmerman’s defense was that he thought Martin was a burglar, it isn’t as irrelevant as it might seem at first glance.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                How would the suspension of burglary make it relevant? As I read it the only way those instructions would be relevant is if the shooting took place in Zimmerman home.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to RTod
                Ignored
                says:

                I misread that. It does appear irrelevant.Report

              • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Art,

                Your whole case is based on “Martin had no injuries so Zimmerman couldn’t have started the fight.”

                That you can’t see how that is speculative is to your own discredit.

                I don’t know what happened. And that’s the key point: Nobody knows what happened. Nobody except Zimmerman (but we have no particular reason to believe his story, both because he has been inconsistent and because he has an incentive to claim Martin started the altercation even if that isn’t what happened). I suspect the jury verdict was exactly the right one just for that reason, that nobody knows what happened when those two came face to face.

                That “nobody” includes you. And your criticism of other people for speculating isn’t successfully preventing anyone here from seeing that you’re speculating, too. Only you can’t see that.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to j@m3z Aitch.
                Ignored
                says:

                No, Mr. Professor, my point is that the pattern of injuries provides evidence for only one scenario.

                The response of the others is to use their imagination. One has Zimmerman threatening Martin with a pistol, another had (in a previous discussion) Zimmerman falling off a wall, still others have the overweight Mr. Zimmerman chasing Martin down, &c. Blah, blah. These are creative. There is nothing of what we know that is even indicative of these scenarios.

                Certainty is not possible. However, some inferences are more reasonable than others and more warranted than others.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No, Mr. Professor, my point is that the pattern of injuries provides evidence for only one scenario.

                Certainty is not possible. However, some inferences are more reasonable than others and more warranted than others.

                These statements contradict each other.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                my point is that the pattern of injuries provides evidence for only one scenario.

                That’s simply not true. The pattern of injuries provide actual evidence for zero scenarios of how the fight began, but is consistent with more than one such scenario.

                Your insistence that Zimmerman’s injuries are evidence for who started the fight is poppycock. It is a true fact that someone. can start fight a and come out the loser without having inflicted any damage on the other party. For your claim that Zimmerman’s injuries are evidence of Martin starting the fight, that true fact would have to be false.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                It is completely beyond the realm of possibility that Zimmerman attempted to strike Martin but missed, or grabbed him by the shirt, or came upon him from behind and rapped him in the back of the head, etc. etc.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                I know enough about the law and software to know when I’m being bullshitted on either one. See, when I talk to real lawyers, I know a good one because he can explain things clearly to me, the non-lawyer. A bullshitter can’t. In software, where I’m the authority, I know how to explain things to my clients.

                Antecedent. Vitiate. Dude, I’m the resident bloviator and user-of-arcane-words, the alpha bullshitter around here. And I’m calling you on it, you two bit barracks lawyer. My assessment of Zimmerman’s self-concept is my own. It is shaped by my crude but effective strategy of looking for proof: George Zimmerman has some serious problems with authority. He wouldn’t do what the 911 dispatcher told him to do, to leave the matter to law enforcement. Any man who strikes women is contemptible and Zimmerman’s girlfriend had an order of protection out against him.

                Most of the folks around here are not academics, though some are and most are worth reading. They’re not stupid, whatever else is wrong with them. Your task, your new assignment, is to keep a civil tongue in your empty head. Hanley has you pretty well summed up, the whole point is to avoid ever having to even consider questioning one’s own constructed view of the world..Report

    • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      There is no dispute that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had a broken nose, lacerations to the back of the head, &c. as documented in medical reports and photographs taken at the scene.

      There’s no evidence (other than Zimmerman word and he has a strong incentive to lie) to back that claim up; it’s possible the Zimmerman initiated the physical confrontation (or pointed the gun at Martin making any actions by Martin legally acceptable).Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
        Ignored
        says:

        What, ‘no evidence’? The crime scene photographs and the autopsy report and the disparity of injuries between the two provide adequate evidence. If you mean there is no security camera footage of the fight, no there is not. If you mean that the eyewitnesses saw only fragments of the fight, that is true. But that is to say that the evidence is incomplete not nonexistent.

        And again, you all seem to have a chronic problem of confusing the fruit of your own imaginations with argument derived from evidence. Even so, it is a bit rich to posit that Martin charged Zimmerman consequent to Zimmerman pointing a gun at him, that Zimmerman took a ground-and-pound for 40 seconds or 70 seconds without firing, and that Martin somehow managed to subdue Zimmerman and subdue him for a period long enough for John Good to converse with Zimmerman but never gets the gun away from Zimmerman. You’re rather transparent with this, ‘dand’.Report

        • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          Read my posts in this thread I have no strong opinions on what happened because there is very little evidence. There a number a ways that Zimmerman could have started the fight that are possible with the evidence that does exist.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
            Ignored
            says:

            No, there is considerable evidence. It just does not cover every minute and every square foot of ground.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              really show it to me. why didn’t the defense use this evidence at trial?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                The defense offered ample forensic evidence and co-opted the state witnesses as well. If you were not paying attention, too bad. Look at the autopsy report, listen to the call to the police dispatcher, look at the crime scene photos, and pay particular attention to the testimony of John Good. The expert testimony of Vincent diMaio for the defense is also instructive. This is not that difficult.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                there was evidence that martin had Zimmerman pinned when the shooting happened, there was no evidence as to who started the fight.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                One of them had a broken nose, the other did not. By the way, Zimmerman’s own account is evidence, just not evidence I have referenced or to which you care to pay any attention. The local police tried to head-fake Zimmerman by telling him that they had security camera footage of the encounter. Zimmerman’s reaction (“good”) was one element in persuading the local cops that he was on the level.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                One of them had a broken nose, the other did not. By the way

                that’s evidence that Martin was winning the fight nor evidence that he started it.

                Zimmerman’s own account is evidence

                That’s technically true but he has a very strong incentive to lie.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No, it is evidence that Martin started the fight. He had not a bruise on him.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No, it is evidence that Martin started the fight. He had not a bruise on him.

                that prove he started the fight.Report

    • Avatar DRS in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      It most certainly was not a justifiable homicide and no one claiming to be a civilized person would say so.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to DRS
        Ignored
        says:

        Justifiable homicide is a legal term.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justifiable_homicideReport

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DRS
        Ignored
        says:

        There is distinction in the terms of art used in certain jurisdictions between (for example) ‘justifiable’ homicides and ‘excusable’ homicides. If I understand correctly (I may not), the latter would be salient in Florida in this case. In New York, the list of dispensations includes such thing as ‘infancy’ and ‘insanity’ but also ‘justification’, and no distinction between ‘justification’ as a defense and any conceivably proximate concept. I think the newspaper generic favored in New York is ‘non-justiciable homicide’. Would you feel better with that term?Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      The lot of you need to step back and ask why it is you are implicitly arguing that local thugs get one free beatdown before anyone can properly take counter-measures.

      Again, there’s nothing but Zimmerman’s word to prove that Martin initiated the conflict. That you’d characterize Martin as a thug says more about your biases than anything else. Zimmerman was acquitted because the prosecutors couldn’t prove the requisite intent for second-degree murder, nor disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. We’ll never know what really happened and who started what because Zimmerman pulled the trigger. Perhaps if he hadn’t been carrying a loaded gun, he would have let the police handle things.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michelle
        Ignored
        says:

        Michelle, the disparity of injuries between the two parties strongly suggest that one of them was the aggressor, and that one was Trayvon Martin. No, it does not thoroughly prove that Martin initiated the altercation. The thing is, in constructing a scenario which has Zimmerman initiating the conflict, one has to resort to conjecture, because there is no objective or disinterested testimony that would support that scenario.Report

        • Avatar DRS in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          No, it says that TM got the better end of the fight. It says nothing about who started the fight.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DRS
            Ignored
            says:

            Again, Martin had no injuries, and, again, supposing that Zimmerman started the altercation requires conjecture. There is simply no evidence he did.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              supposing that Zimmerman started the altercation requires conjecture. There is simply no evidence he did.

              and there’s no evidence that Martin started it either.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              You are familiar with the saying that a dead body doesn’t bruise, yes?Report

            • Avatar Patrick in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              In the absence of eyewitness testimony (which is notoriously unreliable, in any event) or a video record, you fall back on the physical evidence.

              In this case, A.D. is correct. The physical evidence is consistent with Martin initiating the actual violence. Zimmerman could have been calling him all sorts of things or telling him to do all sorts of things and that doesn’t excuse Martin taking the first swing.

              I also find it wildly improbable that anybody is going to charge a dude with a gun. I’ve had a firearm pointed at me by accident before and your first gut impulse is to move away. Not impossible. Wildly improbable. Certainly well outside of the reasonable doubt measure.

              Now, to be clear, I think that getting out of your car and following someone who you have no actual reason to think “looks suspicious” as he’s walking in public, not carrying anything that resembles stolen goods or tools that would enable you to break into a property… that’s rank stupidity. Doing it while you’re carrying a gun is even worse. Doing it when you *think the guy is actually suspicious* is even dumber, because then you have an unknown quantity in regard to that person’s capacity for violence.

              There are a number of critical choices involved here that lead to the outcome. They were all bad. Almost all of those critical choices were Zimmerman’s, and they all set the stage for the likely last two decisions: Martin’s likely initiation of physical confrontation, and Zimmerman’s decision when it was evident that we was going to lose the fight to escalate to the gun.

              The proper way to avoid this shit is to halt the decision chain *way* back at the beginning.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Patrick
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                says:

                I also find it wildly improbable that anybody is going to charge a dude with a gun. I’ve had a firearm pointed at me by accident before and your first gut impulse is to move away. Not impossible. Wildly improbable. Certainly well outside of the reasonable doubt measure.

                I’d never turn my back on someone who pointed a gun at me; I’d do everything in m power to get the gun out of their hands.

                If Zimmerman grabbed Martin’s arm to prevent him from getting away would there be any physical evidence of this?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                If Zimmerman grabbed Martin’s arm to prevent him from getting away would there be any physical evidence of this?

                Bruising on the arm, perhaps.

                By the way, there is no evidence that this happened.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                By the way, there is no evidence that this happened.

                i’m not claiming it happened i’m simply saying evidence doesn’t rule it out. and as such your claims that Martin was the one who started the fight are not proven.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                ‘dand’, your point is trivial. The thesis that Martin started the fight is the only thesis that has any evidentiary support at all. Assembling some sort of plausible hypothetical that Zimmerman did this would be a challenge for anyone who knows how the world works. You cannot expect an ordinary person to adopt a position of total agnosticism given both the evidence and general familiarity with urban living in this country. That would just be contrived.

                Memo to “Michelle”, what ‘dand’ is doing actually is a posture.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                The thesis that Martin started the fight is the only thesis that has any evidentiary support at all.

                There’s no evidence either way as to who started the fight; there is evidence that suggests that at the time shots were fired Martin had the upper hand, but the later does not prove the former.Report

              • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem, dand, is that with the incomplete facts, there are all sorts of possible scenarios, both for & against the defense, that are plausible to varying degrees.

                The fact that the prosecution could not construct a plausible story that the defense wasn’t able to put holes in is why they lost.

                This is the way it is supposed to happen.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to dand
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                says:

                The problem, dand, is that with the incomplete facts, there are all sorts of possible scenarios, both for & against the defense, that are plausible to varying degrees.

                The fact that the prosecution could not construct a plausible story that the defense wasn’t able to put holes in is why they lost.

                This is the way it is supposed to happen.

                I agree with the verdict, read my posts throughout this thread. What I object to is people claiming that Martin is defiantly guilty of something without evidence, he dead and can’t defend himself.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Patrick
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                says:

                Just to point out, the neighborhood had had a mess of burglaries, including the home of one Frank Taafe. Trayvon Martin was standing on the lawn of Frank Taafe when Zimmerman first caught sight of him. The co-ordinator of neighborhood watch programs for the Sanford Police testified at the trial and said that Zimmerman’s call was according to protocol and the sort of call they expect to get. Martin’s behavior during the course of the whole thing was anything but unremarkable. (Making a particular point of looking around Zimmerman’s truck, running away a propos of nothing in particular, and not returning home when he was less than two minutes from home at an ordinary pace and less than 20 seconds at a run). It later emerged that Martin took it real slow walking back to the complex from the convenience store, taking about twice the normal walking time.Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              AD, I accept that this is speculation but it would be best if you admit that you are speculating too. You don’t know if Zimmerman took a swing and missed, or told TM that he had a gun, or otherwise gave TM the impression that he was in danger. None of those things would leave a mark on anyone.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to DRS
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure.

                But we’re not actually discussing what happened. We’re discussing the burden of proof, and the reasonable doubt standard.

                It’s reasonable to doubt, based upon the physical evidence, that Zimmerman was the one who took the actual confrontation to a physical altercation. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t. It just means that the weight of evidence suggests that Martin was the one that threw the first punch (also, that Martin was winning quite handily).Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Patrick
                Ignored
                says:

                Given the degree to which the law has come under criticism in this case, even as we acknowledge that the law as it is now requires a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, considering other standards of evidence has some value, no?

                Given the complaint that Florida law makes it easier to claim self-defense than, for example, the historical common law self-defense doctrine, it’s worth considering what we know at the preponderance of the evidence level that would have been demanded at common law, too.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to Fnord
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                says:

                I don’t think the entire set of actions undertaken by Mr. Zimmerman are in any way prudent or reasonable. I think they were, taken together, extremely foolish and rash. I would argue that the entire set represents an irresponsible pattern of behavior. However, any one of the individual decisions, taken outside of the pattern, is itself not unreasonable. Following somebody isn’t entirely unreasonable. Carrying a gun isn’t entirely unreasonable. Paying more attention to your direct circumstances than what’s going on in your earpiece isn’t even necessarily unreasonable. It’s only the assembly of them all together that makes (me, anyway) say: dude was over his head, and you have no business being over your head when you’re carrying a pistola and you’re in circumstances pretty much entirely of your own freakin’ creation.

                Where, exactly, one ought to draw the line legally is a topic I’m completely willing to discuss, sure. You may come down on the “hey, if somebody comes up to you and calls you racial slurs and threatens you, you’re justified in throwing the first punch”, or whatever.

                But, I reiterate, in this particular section of the subthread Art’s stance about the physical evidence is entirely reasonable. It is much, much more likely that Martin instigated physical contact than Zimmerman. George didn’t even have bruised knuckles. Martin didn’t have broken skin on his face, or bruises, or anything else to indicate that Zimmerman even laid a glove on him, let alone punched first.

                Hell, even if there *was* more conflicting evidence, and Zimmerman did have bruised knuckles, and Martin had a contusion or two, that wouldn’t say anything declarative about who started the fight.

                The fact that the circumstances were a result of a laundry list of bad decisions on his part is a separate question.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick
                Ignored
                says:

                My two cents: I think there’s lots of stuff going on in these threads, some of it running at cross-purposes, some of it begging certain questions against interlocutors. For example, it seems to me one of these three themes can be found in all the various comments:

                1. The correctness/incorrectness of the final ruling given a plausible reconstruction of events.
                2. The correctness/incorrectness of the final ruling given existing law (irrespective of a definitive reconstruction of events).
                3. The correctness/incorrectness of the existing laws given that outcomes like this follow from them.

                And so on, I suppose, there are probably others.

                My complaint is that Florida self-defense law seems inconsistent with normal morality: it boggles my mind that a kid can wind up dead under the circumstances we all agree to and the person who pulled the trigger is found not guilty. Not even reckless endangerment.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Patrick
                Ignored
                says:

                So NOW we are discussing what actually happened, as best we can tell.

                George didn’t even have bruised knuckles.

                Of course, Martin didn’t have bruised knuckles either. Here’s what the defense expert says about finger injuries:

                Q: Is [Martin’s abrasion injury] consistent with coming into contact with a hard surface, or impacting some other surface?
                A: It’s consistent with impacting a hard surface.
                Q: Would concrete qualify?
                A: Concrete could qualify, yes.
                Q: In your training and experience, under circumstances like this, would you expect to see bruising on the knuckles if there had been punching going on.
                A: You can see bruising, you can not see bruising. You just; it depends on what part of the body you punch: the softer the body portion, you may not see it…you can punch someone and not get bruises, and punch someone and get bruises. It’s just too variable.

                Martin didn’t have broken skin on his face, or bruises, or anything else to indicate that Zimmerman even laid a glove on him,

                And, to continue to what the defense expert said about bruising in general:

                Q: Does it take blood pressure, in order to get bruising?
                A: Yes. Once your blood pressure goes, uh, then you don’t get bruising. That’s why they say ‘you can’t bruise a dead body’: no blood pressure. It’s, the bruising occurs when the blood pressure forces the blood out of the torn blood vessels into the soft tissue.
                Q: In this instance, Mr. Martin lost blood pressure very quickly.
                A: Yes, sir.
                Q: So had Dr. Bao been looking for bruising, especially in the areas of the knuckles, the better course or the better practice would have been to take a look internally?
                A: Right, to cut, to cut. The funeral director [unintelligible] any problem.
                Q: As far as you know, that was not done in this case.
                A: That’s correct, sir.

                So you CAN bruise a dead body, if the body died without a loss of blood pressure (drowning, for example). But death is due to a rapid drop in blood pressure, as in this case, you don’t get bruising, at least not bruising visible from a surface examination. That’s the testimony of the defense expert, Zimmerman’s expert.

                The testimony in question starts at about the 36 minute mark of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4oAyfCDtiI&list=PLfKXCWQ8yAwzWH8Xyq4UTGYNbbD9cPz8hReport

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DRS
                Ignored
                says:

                We are not discussing burden of proof. There are discrete acts for which there is evidence. Then there are the fruits of the imagination. All of this discussion is people building scenarios in which Zimmerman might have done something to vitiate his self-defense claims. The problem is that evidence that Martin assaulted Zimmerman is ample and evidence of the converse non-existent. Whatever burdens are redistributed when you have an affirmative defense, they do not include a burden for the defense to disprove the prosecution’s speculations.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          Suggest, perhaps. But it doesn’t prove anything. You don’t know what actually went down, anymore than the rest of us. But go ahead and posture all you want.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michelle
            Ignored
            says:

            1. Michelle, this discussion began with Elias Isquith commending an article with the title “White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman”. Nothing of the sort happened and no headline cutter with an ounce of intellectual or moral seriousness would have penned that line and no editor or author with proper qualities would have been anything but disgusted at reading it in their publication.

            2. The author of this post is manifestly unfamiliar with even crude details of this case.

            3. A mess of people have been piling witless speculation on witless speculation and trading in long-debunked memes in an effort to transfer culpability in this matter to George Zimmerman without any warrant whatsoever (not to mention justify gratuitous animosity toward him).

            But your irritated that I’m the one posturing.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              AD,

              Do you understand what “white supremacy” means?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes. What of it?

                1. White supremacy does not ‘do’ a damn thing. It is a description of a set of social relations (and a tendentious if not altogether false one).

                2. Zimmerman was acquitted by a panel of anonymous jurors in Seminole County, Fla. These six women are not ‘white supremacy’. It is not surprising he was acquitted. The evidence demanded it. There is nothing about the statutory dispensation for self-defense that is systemically unfair to one or another communal group.

                3. This case turned on the granular details of an altercation between two men. It had little to do with race relations in this country. The aftermath – which is to say the triad between professional race hustlers, shyster prosecutors, and the media – says a great deal about race relations at a particular level of interaction. None of that has anything to do with the private citizen in Florida named George Zimmerman; it has a certain amount to do with lefty-tool journalists of the sort who find a nest at The Nation.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                If I understand you correctly, you are saying that white supremacy does not exist?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I am not talking about ‘white supremacy’ except to say that it is a descriptive term, not a being with agency. Quite apart from that, ‘White supremacy’, acting through the jury, does not explain why George Zimmerman was acquitted. It is foolish to say it does (but doubtless an unshakable sociological postulate to some).Report

            • Avatar Michelle in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              Yes, AD, you’re posturing. Because you’re making witless speculations as well but cloaking them in the posture of knowing better than the rest of us what happened that night. You don’t.

              All anybody can say for sure is that the prosecutors didn’t meet their burden of proof and so Zimmerman was acquitted. As he should have been. Too bad we don’t know what Martin, who, in your infinite wisdom, you’ve already prejudged as being a thug, had to say in the matter, but Zimmerman shot him dead.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michelle
                Ignored
                says:

                I am not witlessly speculating. There is only one scenario that has evidentiary support. You would hold such a conclusion more qualifiedly and tentatively than you would if there were security camera footage, but so what? I am not trafficking in fraudulent agnosticism and I am not spinning scenarios that are completely unsupported. I leave that sort of asininity to others.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michelle
                Ignored
                says:

                I have not prejudged Martin. He had a history of bad behavior and the data dump from his cellular telephone was concealed from the defense and deemed prejudicial by Judge Nelson for a reason.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                What about Zimmerman’s checkered past?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                He got in a fight with his fiancee in 2005 the consequence was a mutual set of restraining orders. He shoved an undercover cop in a bar around that time; he did not know the man was a cop and his action was (as I recall) in defense of another bar patron. That charge was the source of the photos you see in prison orange.

                I recall a multipart exchange years ago with a man who works in banking compliance in Manhattan where he professed to be just disgusted that one Colin Finnerty was sipping beer 16 months ‘ere the State of North Carolina said it was permissible for him to do so and how could I make excuses for that. Slap the punk with a Newsweek cover and $600,000 in legal bills.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                He got in a fight with his fiancee in 2005 the consequence was a mutual set of restraining orders. He shoved an undercover cop in a bar around that time; he did not know the man was a cop and his action was (as I recall) in defense of another bar patron. That charge was the source of the photos you see in prison orange.

                Either incident in isolation doesn’t mean much but the two of them together show that he is either unlucky or has anger management issues.

                However I don’t think either they are Martin’s issues at school have much relevance to the case.Report

            • Avatar Michelle in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              BTW, AD, Elias describes the piece he quotes as polemic, one which set off his sense that the issue was not as clear cut as it seems. A polemic is by its nature an aggressive, one-sided argument. I don’t see from anything in Elias’s essay that he endorses the author’s conclusions.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Art Deco
      Ignored
      says:

      AD, elsewhere I commended your calm and civil argumentation. I would ask that you please refrain from characterizing impugning Martin’s character as a “thug” when there is no evidence that he was such a thing; but perhaps might have been simply a scared young man, pumped full of adrenaline and fear from being, to his mind, inexplicably followed, which is a very different thing (and which does not need to be taken as exculpatory for any and all actions that he subsequently took; but if everyone who got involved in a fight because they were scared or angry was therefore a “thug”, then almost every seventeen-year-old boy was a thug at some point in their life).Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Glyph
        Ignored
        says:

        If you prefer.

        Not ‘no evidence’. The evidence has not been properly collated and the wheat from the chaff separated. The data dump from his cellular telephone (which the prosecution attempted to hide from the defense) was not introduced into evidence because its contents were deemed prejudicial. There was quite a bit of discussion of fighting on it and some of buying guns. Martin had been suspended from school 3x during the 2011-12 year and by some accounts had had 53 days of absence. There has been disputed reports that he assaulted a city bus driver in Miami and been found with stolen property in his possession. We know he studied mixed martial arts and practiced it. Please recall that his friend Rachel Jeantel found it perfectly unremarkable that he might be involved in ‘just a fight’, so was not concerned when the phone went dead while she was speaking to him.

        And we know he assaulted the neighborhood watch captain.

        When the school records (which might have a paper trail of diversion programs), the data dumps, and what not, are on the table, you may wish to revisit your admonition. For now, we leave it aside.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          For now, we leave it aside.

          Thanks. This case is heated enough without speculating about various items that were not admitted into evidence at the trial.Report

        • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Art Deco
          Ignored
          says:

          And we know he assaulted the neighborhood watch captain.

          Once again, we do not know that. It is speculative.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to j@m3z Aitch.
            Ignored
            says:

            Oh nos! Not the neighbourhood watch captain! What is society coming to? Anything but that.

            Of course, he was a pretty lousy NWC. Were there any other members of this neighbourhood watch in the community? Because the whole point of these things is that there are many people watching out, not just a schlub with a gun who let himself get assaulted by a sidewalk.

            Which brings me back to the question on Tod’s thread that you very much did not answer, Art Deco. Let me just repeat it here for our audience at home:

            “If Zimmerman was on his back being beaten, how did he manage to get the gun out, let alone aim it and fire? Since you seem to know everything about the case, please explain. Please try to do it without referencing Zimmerman’s ridiculous claim that Martin threatened to kill him with it.”

            Your non-response did not address the issue of the gun. Please do better this time.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DRS
              Ignored
              says:

              The answer to your question hardly needs an answer, but you get one:

              His arms and hands were not completely immobilized.

              Again, from my previous answer: eyewitness testimony, the autopsy report, and the forensic testimony of Vincent diMaio make it clear a) that Zimmerman was on his back and b) Martin was leaning over Zimmerman at the time he was shot.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s your answer? Well, duh. But how did his un-immobilized hand get his gun out of his pocket or holster, get it pointed in the right direction and shoot? Serious, AD, you are not covering yourself with glory today.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to DRS
              Ignored
              says:

              It’s possible that Martin backed off and Zimmerman then reached for his gun and shot Martin.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to j@m3z Aitch.
            Ignored
            says:

            Zimmerman had a broken nose. It is not speculative.Report

            • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              that doesn’t mean he didn’t start the fight, it’s possible that he pointed the gun at Martin and martin felt that he’d be killed unless he got the gun from Zimmerman. since, you can’t prove that this didn’t happen you can’t prove Martin’s action weren’t justified.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                Why not take up writing true crime novels. It is a much better use of your time than spewing this crap into this discussion.Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not the one making claims without evidence…Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to dand
                Ignored
                says:

                But I am adducing evidence. It is just that I am drawing some (qualified) conclusions from that evidence and you are contrivedly refusing to (while injecting a mess of nonsense into the discussion).Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                No you’re claiming your conclusions are the only ones possible given the facts when that is not the case. You are excluding possibilities that cannot be excluded based on the facts.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Or, to put it less politely than dand, you’re blowing smoke out your ass. The evidence is ambiguous, which is why there was plenty of room for reasonable doubt. You have no idea what actually happened; you can only guess. And take Zimmerman’s story as the gospel truth.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                You can take it as a certainty that Zimmerman did not have his gun out before the fight started, because a lethal weapon completely changes the dynamics of a fight. If the gun was out then Martin would have seen the gun and yet somehow ignored the gun because he kept punching Zimmerman in the face, MMA style. Meanwhile Zimmerman would’ve been trying to cover up his face with a gun in his hand, etc, and Martin obviously didn’t grab Zimmerman’s gun or his gun hand, or he wouldn’t have been raining blows down from left and right. A fight director couldn’t even script that. You might as well add half a dozen Peruvian ninjas that nobody saw.

                One of the problems with the prosecution was that as their case entirely fell apart, from Jeantel onwards, they started created a stream of silly alternate reality scenarios in a desperate attempt to fling random ideas at a wall in hopes that one of them would stick long enough to sway some jurors. The Salem witch trials did a better job of sticking to facts, logic, and evidence – instead of emoting streams of random accusations and unsupportable narratives.

                Now that the verdict is in, their star witness was on Piers Morgan confirming that Trayvon was a bold street fighter and that slamming someone to the ground and pounding them would be normal for him – I think. It’s kind of hard to make her out: “When somebody bash somebody like blood people, trust me, the era I live, that’s not bashin’, that’s just called ‘whoop a*****. You just go you a** whooped. That’s what it is.” It was difficult to follow her, and I gave up at “He gave a fat, cause Trayvon have an androy.” Given the whole performance, no wonder she was dubbed a “ghetopotamus.”Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                he kept punching Zimmerman in the face, MMA style.

                Heh, talk about speculating.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s from eye-witness testimony, corroborated by forensics, which even included the term “ground and pound.” Only on Mythbusters can you say “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” Yet that is what the prosecution kept trying to pull.Report

            • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
              Ignored
              says:

              Having broken nose is only solid evidence that the other guy got in a good punch. It is not solid evidence of who started the fight.

              I remember a fight I was in during Junior High. The other guy pushed me, multiple times, without provocation. So I punched him and blacked his eye. End of fight. I had no wounds; he had a black eye. Under your claim, it’s not speculative to claim I started the fight, but would be speculative to claim he started the fight.

              This is how I know your pretense of not being speculative is false–because I know of at least one real world case where it would lead you to exactly the wrong conclusion.

              So, no, you do not know who started the fight. None of us do.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Aitch, there are warranted inferences, and there are unwarranted inferences. There are degrees of certainty to the conclusions you draw. That Martin assaulted Zimmerman is a warranted inference, subject to a number of qualifications and hedges. That Zimmerman assaulted Martin is not a warranted inference. It might conceivably be true, but it is a guess or a work of imagination. Now, it is interesting why people are so dedicated to this scenario spinning, but that is another question entirely.

                It is rather much to expect an impartial jury to conclude that Zimmerman attacked Martin when Martin does not have any bruises and the on site witnesses saw and heard nothing that would indicate that this happened. Even Selene Bahadoor’s dubious testimony dovetails with a thesis that Martin chased down Zimmerman (although it does not dovetail with Zimmerman’s own testimony).

                Quite apart from what the law requires, all of this loud agnosticism rings hollow from the lot of you. Not wishing to hold person x responsible for something uttered by person y, quite a mass of people seen to fancy they are remarkably insightful about the character and self-concept of a quite ordinary man in central Florida that they would not have known from a cord of wood on 25 February 2012. They are quite opinionated about matters, but get quite coarse details wrong time and again. All manner of false or strange statements go down like honey flavored tea but you are all gagging on someone’s suggestion that the pattern of injuries supports one thesis but not another. Oh well….Report

              • Avatar dand in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                If you had just claimed that the jury way correct to acquit Zimmerman you would have been on much firmer ground, it’s possible to agree with the verdict while also believing that there is no evidence that Martin initiated the physical confrontation.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Deco,

                It’s not a warranted conclusion. It’s storytelling.

                But even I conceded, for the sake of argument, that it is a warraanted conclusion, that doesn’t change the fact that to get there you are required to speculate about the sequence of events.

                Anyway, I’ll let you go on writing your emotionally comforting story without further objections.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                No, it is a warranted conclusion. It is just not a conclusion one can state with certainty.

                And I am not speculating globally, just interstitially. Again, and I emphasize, nothing supports an alternate sequence of events.

                I do not need emotional comfort from this story. And you must be one lousy professor.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                And you must be one lousy professor.

                I am. Some random guy on the internet with an axe to grind said so, so it must be true.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j@m3z Aitch.
            Ignored
            says:

            We do know that, for all the right he has to the title “neighborhood watch captain”, you might as well say “He assaulted the rightful King of France.”Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Glyph
        Ignored
        says:

        By the way, I see no indication he was ‘scared’ as opposed to ‘anxious’. I think had he been ‘scared’ by Zimmerman, he’d have walked by that truck, pretended not to notice the truck or driver, proceeded where the street lighting was best, done nothing conspicuous, and gone home. At least, that is how I dealt with these matters in the years I lived in crime-prone neighborhoods. You will notice Martin did not one of these things.Report

  17. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is a really good article on how tough mandatory sentencing laws and Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law interact to create a high-gamble atmosphere where defendants either walk or get sentenced to very long prison terms:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/07/zimmerman_acquittal_blame_florida_for_trayvon_martin_s_death.htmlReport

  18. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t know if this has been posted above and its not directly related to Z but its data that is compelling and should be responded to. From Sully:, see the chart on percentage likelihood of a killing is found to be justified. Sort of makes you go hmmmmmmm, race might be a wee bit of issue.

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/07/15/the-tragedy-of-trayvon-reax/Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Holy crap, if that is even close to accurate that is seriously disturbing. It also means that my one anecdotal account (black on black, acquitted as self-defense) was a real outlier.
      Do you know, is that chart national or for FL? I couldn’t tell.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      1. There is no source note on that chart.

      2. Its descriptive statistics. That would be interesting, but for something of this nature, you would really need to investigate case histories to draw conclusions.

      3. Homicides across the color bar are not very common and justifiable homicides are not very common either. (Figures I have seen suggest the former average somewhere around 600 per annum in this country and the latter about 260 per annum). See these events are outliers, I would be cautious about asserting causality.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        AD, this is an aside, but I know that you have been taking a position which is somewhat unpopular with many people on this topic for a while. Without necessarily agreeing with every single thing you have said, I have noted that you have generally appeared to stay calm and civil even when emotions were running high and you were carrying on multiple debates, and I know that this can be difficult to do.

        I just wanted to commend you on mostly keeping a cool and even tone, and encourage everyone to do the same on this topic.Report

      • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        Its descriptive statistics. That would be interesting, but for something of this nature, you would really need to investigate case histories to draw conclusions.

        Eh, not really. Descriptive statistics, you know, describe things. You’re just trying to whitewash the data because it doesn’t fit your ideological narrative.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Art Deco
        Ignored
        says:

        When you look at statistics like that, you also have to look at the statistics on general perpetrators and victims. Blacks, especially in the inner cities, are vastly more likely to be committing a criminal act (according to the FBI and every other source), and while committing a criminal act when victim is of a different race, often the victim is a store clerk. The frequency of those encounters will create a very large statistical disparity, because in almost all cases, if the store clerk win the lethal confrontation it is ruled justifiable homicide, but if the robber wins the confrontation it is ruled murder.

        These are completely different types of cases than for drunks killing each other, gang members killing each other, domestic disputes that end with a death, and other types of encounters. What’s overlaying the racial statistics in large part has nothing to do with race, it’s the results of lots of people playing clerks and robbers. Even among whites who are committing robbery (the total number is roughly equal to black robbers), they don’t often go into the projects to hold up a store, so those tend to be white on white crimes.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Wow. Yikes. Thanks for sharing.Report

  19. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    Looks like SYG’s relationship with the case might be more complicated than Lemieux believes.

    Yes & no. Again, physical evidence suggests Martin had Zimmerman on the ground. A duty to retreat implies an ability to do so. I’m not sure when GZ was supposed to have retreated (assuming he had a duty to do so), so I don’t know why the judge included those instructions.Report

    • Avatar Caleb in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      Jury instructions (particularly in criminal cases) are increasingly becoming standardized. Judges are remiss to alter them substantially, as it heightens the risk of a successful appeal. (Sometimes, local court rules mandate the use of standardized instructions, unless good cause is shown otherwise.) My guess is that this particular instruction is standard for all self-defense cases, whether or not the defendant claimed SYG.

      Additionally, focusing on the jury instruction is a red herring. Read the jury instructions in any given case: many if not most probably aren’t relevant to jury deliberations. Judges have a “kitchen sink” mentality when it comes to jury instructions. They want to include anything that could potentially be relevant in the most unlikely and unusual direction that the jury’s deliberations may take.

      People who are focusing on the jury instruction are either working from a position of ignorance, are grasping for any detail to drive their narrative, or both.Report

  20. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    This is excellent:

    Third, the more I observe American culture, the less enthused I am at the notion that a jury’s verdict in a criminal case is wrong if it doesn’t reflect the collective beliefs of our society. Too often the collective belief of society is that people accused of something probably did it. Too often the collective belief of society is that a properly functioning justice system is one that produces a conviction. Too often the collective belief of our society is that the state, and law enforcement, are entitled to trust — not trust but verify, but uncritical trust, at least when the government actors wear a badge and carry a gun. Too often the collective belief of our society is that how we feel about a thing is entitled to legal force, even in the face of specific rights and privileges of another citizen.

    Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t think Ken at Popehat does himself any favors in his attempt to speak for the rights of the accused by (entirely voluntarily) pointing to two high-profile murder acquittals, one of a black man where the victim was white and one of a non-black and upper-middle or upper-class Latino man where the victim was black, and saying this about the acquittal of the black man:

      The federal courthouse is across the street from the Criminal Courts Building, and thunderous cheers from camp O.J. interrupted our orientation session. It did not seem to bode well for a career as a prosecutor. I remember thinking that the not guilty verdict was bullshit. I felt free, at that point, to regard not guilty verdicts as racially motivated bullshit based on what I had heard about cases from TV.

      …and this about the acquittal of the man who killed a black teenager:

      I — like many lawyers who actually practice criminal law — have not concluded that the acquittal of George Zimmerman represents, in and of itself, race-based injustice.

      Both of these are reasonable positions on their own. But they don’t reflect well on each other. If your approach for dealing with racial injustice in criminal prosecution, justice, and sentencing is to be in favor of making it harder (or not easier) to convict people of crimes, it’s probably best to understand that that will come with costs in the form of guilty people sometimes not being convicted. It doesn’t do you any favors to highlight a time when that cost came to bear that happened to save a (highly privileged, or in any case affluent and famous) black man from conviction and you weren’t particularly interested in taking the bitter side of that pill, going so far as to even let it color your opinion of acquittals generally. It makes taking that position on acquittals at just the moment when a person who indisputably shot and killed a young black man was acquitted seem probably more cheaply come by than it was. I mean, did he not think in 1995 that the criminal justice system was stacked against black defendants?

      It seems like an unforced error on Ken’s part. It’s not really relevant, though since he mentions it, it makes my opinion of him fall slightly. For my part, I wrote a dumb little thing for my high-school newspaper saying, you know, the justice system is supposed to be tilted in favor of defendants (which is a joke, but it’s supposed to be), and we should want it to be, and occasionally there are going to be costs of that where people sometimes get off. Besides which, the glove didn’t fit. It was dumb (meaning, I’m sure it was poorly written, not that I don’t stand by the view), but if I was able to formulate it in high school, why couldn’t Ken at Popehat do it while sitting in his *federal* prosecutors’ (tough gig to get!) orientation?

      Is it just a function that every law grad who goes into prosecution perhaps thinks that acquittals shouldn’t happen, certainly not in a case as obvious as the Simpson case, but that Ken has progressed since? That’s what I should think, given that that’s what he’s trying to communicate. But it’s hard not to notice that in proximity to what I would say are the two signal criminal trials of the last forty years involving (alleged) killings of or by black men – by or of people of other races – in terms of their significance for examining race issues in the criminal justice sphere, Ken at Popehat, now arguing a conceptual point that generally making things worse for defendants will harm black people more than not doing so or doing the reverse, managed to actually form and articulate that position only in proximity to the trial in which a privileged non-black was acquitted of killing a black teenager, but not in proximity to a trial in which a (privileged) black man was acquitted of killing a white woman. Which is not to say that he only developed that view in response to the Zimmerman verdict by any stretch – I absolutely believe it developed throughout the course of his career in criminal justice. It still, though, indicates a trajectory that I think underlays a lot of the reaction to this verdict that presents it as a racial slap in the face to black families who would like to think that the criminal justice system is a place they can go to seek justice when wrongly harmed, and not just an institution that they have reason basically only to fear and avoid.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        managed to actually form and articulate that position only in proximity to the trial in which a privileged non-black was acquitted of killing a black teenager,

        He is an insurance underwriter (hounded out of his job) married to a beautician and living in a suburbanish townhose development. His father was a career soldier, always in the enlisted ranks; his mother was an athletic coach. That is your idea of privileged???Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Art Deco
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          says:

          Fair enough. The dead kid is still black.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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            says:

            …And actually, Trayvon might well have been roughly as privileged as George Zimmerman, given that he did in a social sense belong in that community as i understand it. He just didn’t in a racial sense. So I concede your point that the level of privilege is beside the point I am making. The point is that I can’t help but notice that in the two examples Ken chooses to give, when the dead person is black and the person who killed him gets off, we need to remember that the system is supposed to be careful not to convict people when there isn’t evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. When the black person is in the defendant’s box though, in the examples he chose to give, his immediate reaction on acquittal was to not just regard it as bullshit, but to view the whole idea of acquittals as bullshit. Even accounting for the whole point of the post, which is his evolution on the point during his career, it’s still striking how that works.Report

        • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Art Deco
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          says:

          You don’t know what privilege means, Art. I was a bike messenger in San Francisco, walking home to my apartment one night with a guy who had a nice office job. I had forgotten my keys, so I asked him to boost me up to my roommate’s window so I could get in. Instinctively he jumped away from me, and said, “that may be ok for you, but I don’t dare do anything like that.”

          That’s when I realized how privilege I was, despite growing up not very well off in a flyspeck farmtown and having a job where everyone thought I was the scum of the earth.

          I’ve had friends who have been stopped while driving home, for no other reason than the cops asking them what they were doing in that neighborhood. Never happened to me.

          You’re entirely oblivious to the privilege you and I have just because we’re white. And god knows it’s awfully comfortable that way, and it’s a lot easier to tell ourselves the stories that preserve our blissful ignorance than to work up the balls to seriously challenge ourselves to look at the world more carefully through someone else’s eyes.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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            says:

            having a job where everyone thought I was the scum of the earth.

            That’s not true. We thought you were a suicidal lunatic, though.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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            says:

            That’s when I realized how privilege I was, despite growing up not very well off in a flyspeck farmtown and having a job where everyone thought I was the scum of the earth..

            Because you have a lower anxiety level about giving someone a boost to a second story window. Got it.Report

      • Avatar Just Me in reply to Just Me
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        says:

        Seems to have gone to the wrong indent here. Anyhoos, the this is stating total agreement with the line from MRS’s quoted paragraph: “Too often the collective belief of our society is that how we feel about a thing is entitled to legal force, even in the face of specific rights and privileges of another citizen.Report