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The Real Scandal Is What’s Potentially Legal

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I have a piece about the Zimmerman acquittal up. I wish people would stop saying that this is about Florida’s “stand your ground” law, not only because it’s not true but it obscures much deeper problems with the intersection between the law and America’s gun culture.

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  • shah8

    Oh my, it wasn’t about slavery!! It was about states rights! And tariffs!

    • commie atheist

      And lack of enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act by federal authorities! Oh, wait…

  • Pat

    I tell my teen-aged boys that this shows that when the police know who committed an act, but choose not to pursue them, that it is really hard to convict them of a crime. What killed this case was having the officers on the scene say that they believed Zimmerman.

    Whether they gave him the benefit of the doubt because he was their buddy who thought their job was totally cool, whether they didn’t want to pursue a criminal complaint against a local judge’s son, whether they didn’t like black teens on their lawns, whether they thought him to be generally truthful, or whether they just didn’t care what happened to Trayvon are all things we can speculate about. Without more evidence, we will not know.

    What could make a change would be to have many black adults apply to jobs in their police department. Call it the Irish solution.

    • Perhaps the officers who supported Zimmerman’s story and helped gloss over his inconsistencies were primarily motivated by self-interest. With this verdict, they diminish the narrative that their prejudices and slipshod work almost allowed a killer to go free. I would be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they were simply trying to tell the truth, had the police testimony not crossed the line into vouching, something that it’s difficult to believe an officer doesn’t know to be improper.

      • PolythenePam

        Oh no you didn’t. Did you just claim that the police care whether they are “vouching” for a defendant? The police chieft investigator claimed he “believed” Zimmerman. If that’s not vouching, I don’t know what is. And let’s contemplate for a minute whether the CPI would’ve “believed” a black defendant’s implausible story (hell, even a plausible story).

        That being said, I think Scott has a solid point here: the reality that carrying a firearm does not impose a higher burden of responsibility and culpability on a person who shoots another in claimed self-defense is very problematic. I am thankful my state’s concealed carry law is extremely tight.

  • wengler

    I think this case is all about privilege. The son of a judge and wannabe cop kills a black teenager and the police hardly even bother to notify the family, let alone conduct an investigation.

    Where this case ultimately broke down is that in the final confrontation there were only two witnesses and one of them is dead. And the black teenager was never going to get the benefit of the doubt of being the victim, because you know…black teenager.

    • Andrew

      Privilege, some of which is institutionalized in the law.

      Scott, it’s great to establish the facts of the acquittal. But it’s hardly the whole story. I think there’s a case be made that far from masking “much deeper problems with the intersection between the law and America’s gun culture,” Stand Your Ground laws exemplify them.

      Whether Zimmerman was acquitted on the merits of Stand Your Ground or self-defense has little to do with the underlying reasons for why he killed Martin or why the investigation was so shoddy.

      • I agree with Andrew on this. I think its actually rather a misdirection to both focus on SYG, and focus *away* from SYG. SYG was at the root of the original decision by the cops not to treat the killing as any kind of crime at all. So it set the scene for the rest of the debacle even though it wasn’t technically part of the trial itself.

        I’d also like to say that the disregard for the right of the victim to retain his own life, to live his own life, is part and parcel of a natural aspect of our justice system: the implicit devaluaing of some lives. If the family ever tries a civil suit we will see this played out through the same process by which insurance companies decide how much to pay out in any wrongful death. How much would your child have been “worth?” What would their “lifetime earnings” have been? The original police attitude towards finding a dead 17 year old was entirely different than it would have been if they had found a dead 60 year old white woman, or a dead white girl child, or a well dressed white older man. In each of those cases a pre-existing cultural narrative would exist which would make Zimmerman’s claim to have any real concern that his victim was a proto criminal or that he had any self defense claim entirely laughable. Thats so obvious that it goes without saying, but it shouldn’t.

        • Andrew

          Coates more fully explains my take.

          In trying to assess the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, two seemingly conflicting truths emerge for me. The first is that based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter. The second is that the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice….That conclusion should not offer you security or comfort. It should not leave you secure in the wisdom of our laws. On the contrary, it should greatly trouble you. But if you are simply focusing on what happened in the court-room, then you have been head-faked by history and bought into a idea of fairness which can not possibly exist…The injustice inherent in the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was not authored by a jury given a weak case. The jury’s performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for the lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class.

          It seems Scott agrees with this. But his focus on the particulars of Zimmerman’s defense is beside the point. His article buried he lede.

          After looking at the law and jury instructions as some other commenters in this thread have, Coates concludes:

          There has been a lot of complaint that “stand your ground” has nothing to do with this case. That contention is contravened by the fact that it is cited in the instructions to the jury….Under Florida law, George Zimmerman had no responsibility to — at any point — retreat….The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest.

  • efgoldman

    The problem is what it always is for progressives, when dealing worth, or just viewing certain parts of the country: Most laws are made at the state level, and enforced at the state or local level. We feel that everyone should get the same fair shot everywhere, but is observably and demonstrably not so.
    I asked below, given the same undisputed facts (Zimmerman was told by the police to stay in his car and not pursue Martin; Zimmerman disobeyed that order; Zimmerman was carrying a firearm; Martin was unarmed; Zimmerman confronted Martin; Zimmerman shot and killed Martin) don’t we think the outcome in another state the investigation and outcome might have been very different?

    • efgoldman

      … when dealing worth,….

      WITH, dammit. When dealing WITH…

    • wengler

      I don’t think there are many people arguing that this case would’ve been different in a different state. Hell, it could’ve been different had there been 12 jurors.

      • wengler

        Wouldn’t have*

        • efgoldman

          IANAL, but don’t most blue states still have something like “duty to retreat” in self-defense law? It was mentioned a couple of threads down that FL eliminated the language.

          • zombie rotten mcdonald

            It’s one of the targets of ALEC-written Concealed Carry and Stand Your Ground laws, and Castle Doctrine; It stands in the way of NRA Wild-West fantasyland, where every encounter results in gunfire.

            If you use risk analysis, in a state with concealed carry AND Stand Your Ground, your best chance of surviving is to assume bad intent and shoot first.

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              Fuck you, Greedo.

              • Greedo is, I assume, your nickname for one of the Koches?

                • Greedo was the guy Han Solo shot in the cantina in the first Star Wars movie.

                  In the remastered version, the scene was changed to show Greedo firing first, and then being shot by Han.

                  Note that this all took place across a table in a bar – meaning that Greedo would need to have been the worst shot in the entire galaxy.

                  This spawned the internet meme of “Han shot first”.

    • Linnaeus

      Zimmerman was told by the police to stay in his car and not pursue Martin; Zimmerman disobeyed that order

      Some of the more frustrating conversations I’ve had in recent days center on this. I’ve been hearing that because the dispatcher didn’t exactly say “don’t follow him”, Zimmerman didn’t actually violate any law enforcement order. Which strikes me as bullshit tortured parsing of the dispatcher’s words.

      • Richard

        The dispatchers words were “you don’t have to follow him”. Not a direct order but certainly the implication is “don’t follow him”. But in any case, it doesn’t appear to be the case, since the prosecution didn’t argue it, that disobeying a dispatchers words is a violation of Florida law

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          I thought the full phrase was “We need you to stay in your vehicle; you don’t have to follow him” which really changes the emphasis of the second part.

          • Richard

            You may be right but even with that, it appears the disobeying a dispatcher directive isn’t against the law

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              Neither, apparently, is killing an unarmed teenager at your own discretion.

              I thought neighborhood Watch dudes WERE supposed to accede to instructions from the police department?

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              I wasn’t saying that was a law he broke; I am saying that he expressly ignored the advice and directives from the professional law enforcement representatives; and why doesn’t that make it perfectly clear that he decided to go hunting?

              He was the First Actor in all of this.

              • Richard

                I fully agree. He set in motion the events that lead to the death if a teenager. But the law doesn’t make being the First Actor criminal. That is just not the legal standard for murder or manslaughter. Never has been

            • Linnaeus

              Granted, I’m not an attorney. Maybe my instincts are all wrong on this.

              It’s just hard for me to understand why Zimmerman’s ignoring the dispatcher’s instruction is meaningless, even if not against the law in a technical sense. If I hear something like that, I take it as an implied instruction and follow it.

              • Richard

                Thats true. its not meaningless. At the very least, it was an implied directive not to do this. And that evidence came in at trial and was heavily relied on by the prosecution to show murder or manslaughter. But given all the evidence that came in, it wasn’t sufficient to convict on these charges

                • timb

                  I think it will add heft to the civil case which will follow. We civil attorneys get to use ol’ preponderance of the evidence

    • Not told to stay in car. This case was massively poorly reported on throughout its existence, but I blame the cops for essentially establishing the inability to convict, and the law for not taking into account Zimmerman’s culpability in instigation of the deadly altercation.

  • Manju

    Wow, I didn’t know that Zimmerman’s attorneys didn’t invoke Stand Your Ground.

    • efgoldman

      Pay attention, please. Its been mentioned in every post since last night.

      • Hogan

        He tends to nod off until someone mentions Robert Byrd.

        • The Dark Avenger

          Or imply that Krugman isn’t in love with exploitive capitalism in Third-World countries.

          • Andrew

            When he can be bothered to stop eating pancakes.

          • Manju

            Warren Terra said “one could make an argument modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor” [than slaveholders were].

            He minimized slavery in order to push his counter-factual opposition to trade…on post mocking ideologues who minimize slavery.

            • The Dark Avenger

              And Warren Terra speaks for, and/or is representative of, all libruls, Manju?

              You’ll get it right in 20 years or so.

              • Manju

                So, your taking issue with the claim that “Warren Terra speaks for, and/or is representative of, all libruls”?

                Take all the issue you want, since I never made such a claim.

                On the bright side, at least you have the decency to distance yourself from Warren’s remarks. I note the progress.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  A librul makes a questionable, or disgusting statement?

                  Please get out the fainting couch for Manju, who never saw it happen until Warren Terra came along.

                • Manju

                  A librul makes a questionable, or disgusting statement?

                  Please get out the fainting couch for Manju, who never saw it happen until Warren Terra came along.

                  So you object to the objection of a disgusting statement.

                  Well, at least you recognize that it is indeed disgusting. You get credit for that.

                • Warren Terra

                  Dark Avenger,
                  No thanks for your rather disappointing decision to believe Manju when he maliciously mischaracterized my comment, let alone my beliefs.

            • Is “minimizing slavery” a real thing? Is the statement even demonstrating that he is “minimizing slavery” rather than using some aspects of slavery as a comparative? Is what Warren Terra said any different from referring to some aspects of modern capitalist labor relations “slavery by another name?” When did “slavery” become an identifiable sacred term, a word that can only be spoken in certain ways and by certain people? I know its pointless to say these things to you but really, your comment reads like that of a crazy person.

              • Manju

                Warren introduced the argument that “modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor!”

                He specifically mentions the wages factory owners pay. This is perverse for several reasons.

                1. As Paul Krugman points out; ““third-world countries aren’t poor because their export workers earn low wages; it’s the other way around.”

                2. Just a couple of days ago, in support of safetly standards, he warned; “It remains true that given their low productivity, countries like Bangladesh can’t be competitive with advanced countries unless they pay their workers much less, and provide much worse working conditions too”.

                3. And the big picture: globallization has clearly helped the worlds poor. Indeed, global income inequality, which consistently rose from approximately 1800 to 1975, has reversed course. it’s now shrinking.

                Warren is comparing the very thing that is liberating the worlds poor…to slavery.

                I’m sure we could find libertarians who compare welfare to slavery. I don’t know about you, but I would object to that form of racism too.

                • zombie rotten mcdonald

                  I think I will let WT summarize his own arguments, thank you.

                  I’m sure we could find libertarians who compare welfare to slavery. I don’t know about you, but I would object to that form of racism too.

                  I don’t doubt you would. Because it’s not racism, at least not by itself.

                • Manju

                  I think I will let WT summarize his own arguments, thank you.

                  In his own words:

                  “The factory owners of Bangladesh don’t need to buy the slaves, still pay them little more than enough for bare sustenance, and feel no longer-term responsibility to them. Much cheaper.

                  Mind you, I’m not endorsing bondage, in any way – but you could make an argument modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor!”

                  http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2013/07/libertarian-civil-war-theories/comment-page-1#comment-592479

              • DrDick

                When did “slavery” become an identifiable sacred term

                When Manju saw the opportunity to discredit a liberal by distorting is words and meaning (as he usually does).

                • Malaclypse

                  Look, you laugh, but do any of us really know Warren Terra’s DW-Nominate score?

                • Well, let’s see: if Warren Terra ever served in student government with someone who went on to win a state election or congressional seat, we can use that link to map the student government ideological space.

                  We would also need voting records of the student government administrations Warren Terra served in, obviously.

                • elm

                  +1 Because that actually is one of Nominates’ methodologies!

            • DrDick

              Actually, while I do not agree with him, he did nothing of the sort, but I would not expect you to understand that (or anything else).

            • Warren Terra

              Good lord. I just discovered a dozen comments about me, and in a thread I never commented in. I can’t remotely figure out why Manju decided to bring me up; I can’t see how I am remotely relevant.

              And that’s even if I’d said anything like what Manju said I did (i.e. anything to minimize or excuse slavery). I note that it took Manju a half-dozen comments before he link my comment he was mischaracterizing, which I reproduce here in its entirety:

              You’ve got it backwards: to own slaves, you’ve got to pay the capital costs of obtaining (or raising) them, and then provide them with bare sustenance as they work. You might even feel obligated to them once they’re no longer able to work. The factory owners of Bangladesh don’t need to buy the slaves, still pay them little more than enough for bare sustenance, and feel no longer-term responsibility to them. Much cheaper.
              Mind you, I’m not endorsing bondage, in any way – but you could make an argument modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor!

              And then there’s my follow-up comment in the subthread, three comments later, when the notion this argument might be used to excuse slavery is invoked:

              Always nice when people make the “I could be a worse and different monster” argument in their own defense.

              So, yeah, needless to say, Manju is traducing me here when he accuses me of defending slavery. Frankly, the little sh!t should feel shame, if he remotely knew how.

              The really funny thing is that Manju commented repeatedly in response to my comment, debating about Paul Krugman – but not calling me an apologist for slavery. That he left for here, at a further remove from my comment, where there was a chance no-one would read the original comments.

              Go die in a fire, Manju.

              • Manju

                I can’t remotely figure out why Manju decided to bring me up; I can’t see how I am remotely relevant.

                On this thread, the Dark Avenger bought up my reference to Krugman’s widely accepted (among economists) views on export workers and their low wages, which contradict yours.

                The really funny thing is that Manju commented repeatedly in response to my comment, debating about Paul Krugman – but not calling me an apologist for slavery. That he left for here, at a further remove from my comment, where there was a chance no-one would read the original comments.

                I kept the convo at the factual level there, but the Dark Avenger hurled moral objections at me. (“People over profits. That must be like Satanism to someone of your political stripe”)

                When DA again bought up my alleged moral failings, ie that I’m upset when people “imply that Krugman isn’t in love with exploitive capitalism in Third-World countries”, I decided to spell out my moral qualms with your argument.

              • Manju

                Manju is traducing me here when he accuses me of defending slavery

                I don’t think your defending slavery. I think your speculation that “modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor” than slaveholders where presupposes that you think slavery is evil.

                But would-be slaves left a place that treated them better than American Slaveholders did. Would-be 3rd-world factory workers are leaving situations that are largely worse.

                As Krugman is trying to teach you, “even what look to us like bad jobs at bad wages are almost always much better than the alternatives“. The same cannot be said about slavery.

                “Third-world countries desperately need their export industries”; Krugman explains. Slaves don’t need slavery.

                Your counter-factual lefty views on trade and globalization resulted in you making a deeply immoral comparison. So, I objected.

                • Warren Terra

                  I repeat myself: you are deliberately and maliciously refusing to honestly read my words. I assert that slavery was evil, was done out of motives of greed, and that it appears sweatshop owners in the third world have found a way to make even more money out of human misery, without needing to directly impose bondage. You repeatedly accuse me of making excuses for slavery – even repeating yourself twice, incoherently, after I object.

                  Go fnck off, Manju. And if any moderator is reading this: what more do you need to ban this little sh!t than his repeated unprovoked and frankly irrelevant and unjustified dishonest personal attacks on me?

                • DrDick

                  Warren Terra-

                  That is what he does to everyone, including the sources he quotes out of context. It is his standard modus operandi. I still strugle to decide whether he is simply a not very bright 14 ye old (the generous construction) or a particularly malicious libertarian moron.

                • Malaclypse

                  If it is any consolation, my mocking of Manju apparently makes me a neo-Confederate. He’s got a bunch of out-of-context quotes bookmarked to prove it.

                • Manju

                  I repeat myself: you are deliberately and maliciously refusing to honestly read my words. I assert that slavery was evil,

                  And I just wrote; ‘I think your speculation that “modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor” than slaveholders where presupposes that you think slavery is evil.’

                  You repeatedly accuse me of making excuses for slavery

                  I objected to your speculation that “modern third-world industries are even more exploitative of their labor” than slaveholders.

                  Your not making excuses for slavery. Your minimizing its evil by comparing it favorably to 3rd world factories. Slavery made life worse for its victims.

                  In contrast, Paul Krugman is trying to teach you that; “While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.”

                  Unlike 3rd world workers and the factories in which they work, slaves did not benefit from slavery. Therefore, to speculate that the former is even more exploitative than the latter, is perverse.

                  repeated unprovoked and frankly irrelevant and unjustified dishonest personal attacks on me?

                  I attacked your racist argument, not you personally.

                • DrDick

                  I attacked your racist argument, not you personally.

                  Given that he made no such argument, this is a malicious and unfounded attack on Warren by a known delusional moron.

                • Manju

                  Given that he made no such argument, this is a malicious and unfounded attack on Warren by a known delusional moron.

                  He’s comparing an institution that as a whole improves the lives of 3rd-world workers with one that clearly destroys…and speculates that the former may even be more exploitative than the latter.

                  Now this premise hinges on understanding the massive consensus underlying international trade, the low-wage factories that service it, and the world’s poor. Even critics of trade, like Alan Blinder, focus on the effect it has on US workers. No one who is serious doubts that the worlds poor are beneficiaries.

                  You do not understand this because you are a delusional ideologue belonging to a ideology so delusional that its taken far less seriously than the libertarians Krugman battles daily.

      • DrDick

        Since when has Manju ever paid attention to anything?

        • timb

          well, he’s wrong about history, economics, politics, and general public decorum, but otherwise he pays attention. He just cannot learn.

  • efgoldman

    Of course, Brother Pierce, in full outrage, captures it better than I ever could. And yes, I understand full well that Charlie’s up to some over-the-top hyperbole here (go read the whole thing), but when better? And who to express it better?

    It was hard at that moment, when the jury gave George Zimmerman back his gun, to remember that this trial wasn’t supposed to happen at all. The Sanford P.D. was ready to hand Zimmerman back his gun with a fast shuffle until people got into the streets and suggested, loudly, that maybe the circumstances required another look. This is something that should be remembered now by all those sharp guys who talk about how the evidence cut both ways, and about how the prosecution overcharged the defendant, and about how well the defense mounted its case. There wasn’t supposed to be a trial at all. In theory, George Zimmerman could have been back, standing his post, watching for assholes and fucking punks, the very next night, according to the original assessment made by local law enforcement. Instead, people who filled George Zimmerman’s fevered definition of assholes and fucking punks roamed free, wearing their hoodies at will. The gated communities of Sanford have had to do without his watchful eye, and his ready aim, for longer than the Sanford police thought was suitable a year ago. I am glad the gated communities managed to survive the siege.

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_End_Of_The_Daily_Trayvon

  • It’s easy to imagine a counterfactual case where a mostly white jury would have been less willing to credit a plausible self-defense claim if it came from an young African American man than a white man

    We don’t need a counter-factual. Marissa Alexander just got 20 years for shooting the ceiling when her abusive husband was violating a restraining order, despite a Stand Your Ground defense.

    • Stand your ground defense was ruled out of order by the judge in that case.

      Stand your ground in common law means ‘Stand your White Ground against minority people who deserve to die.’

      They just shortened it to keep the bill name easy to remember and now every freaking low life bitch, pimp, and drug dealer minority thinks it applies to them.

      If the Republican god of old testament vengeance wanted minorities to have equal rights he would have made them white.

      • Actually I was just as upset about the Marissa Anderson case (and I still am) but while I was reviewing a database of SYG claims I discovered that a close case with a white male defendant who “fired into the ground” to “scare” a white 17 year old was charged by the same SA in exactly the same manner.

        Guilty

        Ronald J. Thompson
        White male
        Age at time: 62
        Weapon: gun

        Defendant photo: Florida Department of Corrections
        Case at a glance
        Case type:
        Domestic dispute
        Location:
        Other Private Property
        Initiator:
        Victim
        Witnesses:
        Yes
        Case year:
        2009
        In-depth case file
        Location details: In a friend’s residence in Keystone Heights, Clay County, on Sept. 19, 2009
        What happened: Thompson, a disabled Army vet, was at a friend’s home when the friend’s 17-year-old grandson demanded entry. Acting at the direction of the boy’s mother, Thompson told the boy he could not enter. Her refusal prompted an angry outburst from the boy. Feeling his friend was threatened, Thompson, a lawful gun owner, fired two warning shots into the ground to scare away the boy and his friends. The presiding judge concluded that neither shot was intended to hit the boy.
        The outcome: Although no one was injured, Thompson was charged with four counts of aggravated battery. He rejected a three-year plea deal, and a jury rejected his “stand your ground” defense and found him guilty. The judge called the 20-year mandatory prison sentence “a crime itself” and refused to impose it. State Attorney Angela Corey appealed, and the appeals court ordered it. He is now serving 20 years.
        Case decision made by: Jury

        Like the Andersson case no one was injured, Angela Corey (same SA as in both the Martin case and the Andersson case) offered a 3 year plea bargain and the case went to the jury and he was found guilty. In this case even though the judge protested he is still serving the 20 years. I was very, very, surprised.

        • A white, disabled Army vet? Wow. That has to be the exception that proves the rule. Or consider it collateral damage.

          I’m imputing that the fact that the shots were warning shots to prevent escalation to a SYG situation rather than a life saving shot directly at the assailant in a clear SYG situation is the difference.

          But in any case, it’s also a travesty of justice for a different reason.

          Thanks for sharing the research

          • Pat

            See, the problem is that he fired warning shots. If he had let the kid in, and then killed him, he would have been a-okay.

            This is the problem.

        • Lyanna

          I’m not. It’s the race of the victim that’s determinative, not the race of the perpetrator. This unfortunate veteran killed a white teenager rather than a black one.

          • Lyanna

            Oops. No. He didn’t kill anyone. Sorry about the misstatement.

            Which makes it even worse, and of course points to the perversity of the law–firing a warning shot is more likely to get you in trouble than killing.

  • Richard

    Good article, Scott. I think I agree with everything in it despite the fact that, as I have said, I would have voted not guilty (because of the evidence presented and the instructions given) if I were on the jury.

    • shah8

      /me does an evil grin…

      O’Rlly?

      Leeeeeet’s just assume that Scott Lemieux has a cute little sister whom he dotes on. She’s married, too! A wonderful and upstanding law partner, respected in the community. They decide to spend some time, a honeymoon, whatever, on Hilton Head. But all was not right in the paradise of waves and sand, Scott’s darling little sister was assaulted and raped in the condo bedroom by the man whom she thought loved and respected her. She leaves and reports the rape to the local police department. Or at least tries do, the policeman at desk duty thinks she’s out to get her husband, and besides he said, it doesn’t look like she was beaten up! Determined, she says she wants to have a rape kit done. “Someone will get to you” the officer said, “where the hotel you’ll be saying at.” That never happens though.

      Scott’s family kicks up a huge fuss in order to get the now ex husband charged with rape. Thing is, in South Carolina hasn’t really caught up with the times, and still has relatively robust marital immunity laws on the books. There are three degrees of rape, one is rape and aggravated assault, only a bit less significant, rape with the threat of aggravated assault, and rape that do not involve either, but does involve unwilling sex. In South Carolina, if a marital rape doesn’t involve aggravated assault or the threat of aggravated assault, then no crime has been committed. So Scott and his family, having publically pressed the issue is watching bumbling South Carolinian prosecutors try to get a conviction against a well funded defendent under a heavy burden. They don’t have to just prove that the ex raped Scott’s sister. They have to prove that Scott’s sister was raped and assaulted. However, that local policeman refused to collect any evidence that might have shown assault–dismissing a bruise as not being bad or did it to herself to help her cause, refusing to get a rape kit done, or if done, refuse to get it tested. So the prosecution really doesn’t have a leg to stand on, I suppose… He said, she said.

      Now, how do you think Scott and his family would feel after the acquittal? Do you think that Scott would make the argument that spousal immunity laws aren’t specifically the problem? Hey, the lawyer for that ex, in a big and public trial, probably won’t utilize spousal immunity overtly, but they certainly can make sure that the prosecution has surmount it practically.

      So spousal immunity might equally be “not present” in the trial. So does that mean that zombie Johnny Cochrane is right when he said that spousal immunity isn’t the issue here, but a mismatch between the current legal structure and the implications of society’s advancement (or recession, whatever)?

      Do you think this bizarro world-Scott would take this lying down, Richard? Or if it were your sister, or mother, or niece? Would you take comfort in telling them that the jury did the right thing?

      • Manny Kant

        That is a very elaborate fantasy.

        • shah8

          Well, not really. It’s fantasical in the sense that I wanted to erase Scott’s ability to be…distant from the implications of what he’s saying.

          But this sort of thing happens to real women pretty often, for the same reason that Stand Your Ground happens to Martin. The legal system stacks the decks against women and minorities (of all types) under color of law and justice.

          • Manny Kant

            You seem to be misreading Scott. He specifically says in the linked article that the problem is systemic. I’m not sure in what way you’re supposed to be disagreeing with him.

            • Richard

              And I’m agreeing with Scott’s criticism of the system. I don’t get the point that Shah8 is making

              • Lee Rudolph

                Shah8 is trying to arouse itself, would be my guess.

              • efgoldman

                I don’t get the point that Shah8 is making

                I think s/he’s riffing on the stupid Presidential debate question that Bernard Shaw asked Mike Dukakis, basically belittling Duke’s moral and philosophical opposition to capital punishment. [paraphrasing] If your wife Kitty was raped and murdered, would you still oppose the death penalty for the perpetrator?
                Duke, of course, answered in the affirmative, forever branding him as week and wussy n the media and certain portions of the electorate.

                • shah8

                  I can’t use a similar law that’s purposely there to help certain people evade the notion that everyone should enjoy equal rights under the law to illustrate what’s wrong with Scott’s take?

              • DrDick

                Neither does Shah8

            • shah8

              Scott basically said that the “systemic” problem is that states have failed to keep up with new social norms revolving around gun culture.

              However, this is not really the case. “Stand Your Ground” laws are relatively new laws, and passed, presumably with the idea that the current realities demand such laws. If anything, the problem is that states *are removing the obligation to defuse the situation* in self-defense context. Where such a self defense doctrine used to be only apply your residence or your car, now it applies everywhere where you are. So from the start, Scott is being transparently mendacious in pretending that the broad self-defense common law rules in all the states would equally acquit Zimmerman (and that the real problem was that Zimmerman had a gun), and I have acted accordingly. It doesn’t change one whit whether Zimmerman got confidence from a gun or from the fact that his buddies are there with him, or even because he was soused.

              The law is transparently there to reduce liability for killings. Nothing Scott sez can actually change that. If you must think that I’m a troll, then I’m a troll. I am, however, right.

              • Richard

                Why don’t you make a persuasive argument rather than claim that Scott is transparently mendacious? I’ve disagreed with Scott many times but the disagreements , although sometimes spirited, have never resorted to name calling and accusations of mendacity. Why don’t you grow up?

                • shah8

                  He is actually being mendacious.

                • Keep in mind, shah’s view of someone “transparently mendacious” goes so far as to see the Oregon Working Families Party as witting stooges for Wall Street.

                • shah8

                  Well, I actually do think that they are witting or unwitting stooges. It wouldn’t have been the first time something nasty got laundered by progressive organizations, or through a large astroturf campaign. If the idea is sufficiently bad along a certain rough axis, there isn’t all that much need to be very sparing with people’s feeling, and compelling need to argue with great force.

                  For an overseas example of a forceful argument, http://www.wumingfoundation.com/english/wumingblog/?p=1950‎

              • Scott Lemieux

                You may wish to read the article before commenting.

                • shah8

                  I read it multiple times, just to be sure of what you were actually saying. Your pattern is to consistently narrow everything to a point. I suppose that’s what a good lawyer does. However, the premise are faulty. I’ve recognized them for being faulty from the start, yesterday, and you have *never* given a good justification for why we should only care about the procedural element specifically about the trial and not the whole of the justice system, or how the law impacts the non-trial elements. More than that, it can be demonstrated some of what you said is materially untrue. Yes, of course, it’s the state’s job to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt, including self defense. It’s always been like that, and it is supposed to be like that. Using the obvious to elide the material differences in a defendent’s responsibility to act with appropriate force in different states isn’t kosher.

                  Given this, why shouldn’t I think you’re being mendacious?

                • ” It’s always been like that, and it is supposed to be like that. ”

                  This is patently false.

                • Hogan

                  More than that, it can be demonstrated some of what you said is materially untrue.

                  Wow. Someone should demonstrate that, then.

                • shah8

                  Hogan, over the course of this affair, he repeatedly said that all states would have treated Zimmerman the same, and that Stand Your Ground does not affect the general application of self-defense concepts in trials. However, you can actually look it up on wiki to see that this is not actually true.

                  Brien Jackson. Self Defense doctrines come from english common law. Perhaps there was a time before, when this was true, but generally, since we’re talking about American law, well yes it’s always been true, for reasons people generally understand.

                • You are just absolutely wrong. English common law (at least at the time of the Revolution) put the burden of proof so a self-defense claim on the defendant, the same as any other affirmative defense. I know this because I lived in Ohio, which is the only state in the country that still retains that doctrine in their law, and it’s one of those “here’s something quirky about our state” things you learn semi-randomly.

                  Anyway, it is true that 49 of 50 states have the same burden of proof Florida does (though that’s really neither here nor there, as the “reasonable” part of “reasonable doubt” is a lot more important than people give it credit for), but suffice it to say, when your MO is to be so vitriolically self-certain, you probably want to at least check Wiki or Google to make sure your bullshit is correct.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Well, that’s embarrassing — you’ve read the article multiple times, and yet are unable to understand even its most straightforward claims. (In particular, you seem to have a problem of confusing “‘stand your ground’ was not why Zimmerman was acquitted” with “stand you ground laws aren’t terrible.”)

                • shah8

                  /me is taken aback!

                  You’d rather make this argument that I was unresponsive to the claim that “SYG wasn’t why Zimmerman was aquitted” You want to ignore my claim that SYG impaired the ability of the State to aquire justice for the victim and his family. And then you want to talk about how SYG is terrible (and how I am so confused between terrible and law impact), while carefully not mentioning why it’s “terrible”. I suppose it’s a “terrible” waste of empty legal formulism in your mind or something.

                  And you spend that much time on me, when SebastianDangerfield more or less nuked your fucking premise? Get thee down there that comment forum and start bailing your stupid ideas.

                • Hogan

                  However, you can actually look it up on wiki to see that this is not actually true.

                  You and I have very different ideas about what “demonstrate” means. And about how many times you should use “actually” in a single sentence.

                • shah8

                  Well, you don’t have to be in accord with me, then Hogan.

                  Why don’t you have this argument with SebastianDangerfield? I’m sure he has more credibility. He also seems to have the law, right there, showing explicitly that what Scott said was untrue. Is that demonstration enough for you, or what? If SebastianDangerfield is wrong, perhaps you can attend to him and show how Scott is right after all! Richard is trying, but not doing so well. He could use the help.

                • SebastianDangerfield

                  I am going to essay what will likely be the thankless task of mediating this dispute — particularly since my factual question about whether SYG was or was not invoked in the case has featured into it.

                  As I see it, Scott’s otherwise good article is marred by two flaws, one is what I believe to be a factual inaccuracy (i.e., that SYG was not invoked by the defense), leading to the mistaken conclusion that Zimmerman’s “Acquittal Isn’t about ‘Stand Your Ground'” and the attendant mistakenly binary conclusion that it’s not SYG that’s the problem, it’s the gun culture as a whole. I think Scott’s half right. It’s the gun culture but it’s also SYG — which is itself part of the gun culture (it promotes deadly vigilantism and is law precisely because the gun culture is so out-of-control that it could be enacted in 2005 without any public outcry). That said, I don’t think there’s any basis for calling Scott or his piece “mendacious” — “transparently” or otherwise.

                  As explained further below, I think Scott mistakenly bought the idea (pushed persistently by the Koch-funded Reason) that the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with the (Koch-sponsored SYG) SYG law. Indeed, Scott cited a Reason “hit and Run” blog post crowing that the NYT had finally “admitted” that SYG was “not invoked” (which, to be true, would have to mean not invoked by anyone) in the Zimmerman case. N.B. I’m not saying that Scott bought into this line because he is pushing the Reason agenda or that this is wrong because it was flogged by Reason. I’m saying it’s wrong because it’s wrong. Reason flogged that wrong information, I think, because its paymasters wanted it flogged. That’s a surmise, but I think it a fair one.

                  As to the facts, it is clear that Florida’s 2005 SYG law was part of the charge to the jury. It’s right there on page 12, chapter and verse out of Section 776.013, added by the 2005 legislation and explicitly stating the SYG/no-duty-to-retreat principle. Whether that SYG instruction was proposed by the defense I don’t know and hoped someone else would. I also don’t know to what extent the defense made arguments specifically predicated on the SYG/no-duty-to-retreat principle. But the SYG-based defense of “Justifiable use of Deadly Force” was clearly part of the case. And parts of the defense case that I do know about based on my limited exposure to the trial were reflected in that instruction (e.g., the parts saying that “you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin” and that if “you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty”).

                  Scott cites in the Prospect piece a different statutory provision — Section 776.041 (not part of the SYG amendments and additions added in 2005), stating that Zimmerman acted in self-defense if he “reasonably believe[d] that he…[wa]s in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he…has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant” — as a basis for the defense. But there are two problems with that. The first is that the self-defense language of that statute was not any part of the jury instructions. I will venture the educated guess here that that omission was deliberate because the defense was concerned that the jury would not buy that Zimmerman had exhausted all reasonable means to avoid the danger. Second, part of the statute not quoted in the Prospect piece is even more problematic for the defense. It provides that self-defense is justified if “[i]n good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.” In any event, none of that was reflected in any part of the charge to the jury. The SYG principle was.

                  Scott’s response to my questioning of the premise that the case did not involve SYG was disappointingly curt and defensive.

                  First, Scott justified the Reason citation because the Reason piece itself cited the NYT. The NYT piece, however, was incorrect — if not at the time written (June 19) then certainly after the judge charged the jury (and probably before — i.e., when proposed instructions were tendered). This justification might wash as a “I relied on what appeared to be sound reporting” mea culpa, but it doesn’t address the fact that the judge instructed the jury on the Section 776.013 SYG principle and not on the 776.041 retreat-if-possible principle. Perhaps the defense could have relied on that statute and still prevailed, perhaps not. But there’s no evidence that the defense did so.

                  Second, Scott opined that the SYG instruction probably did not influence the jury — an implicit “harmless error” justification, except without acknowledging the error. And that opinion is just that, an opinion rather than a fact — one that I think unwarranted. But leaving that aside, the Prospect article did not argue “yeah the jury was instructed on SYG, but I don’t think that instruction influenced the jury”; it argued that “the defendant’s team didn’t even invoke [SYG]; Zimmerman’s defense involved just standard self-defense [as reflected by the Section 776.041 language that was not included in the jury charge].”

                  That factual mistake set up the (in my view, false) binary reflected in the title (“The Zimmerman Acquittal Isn’t about ‘Stand Your Ground'”) and in the body of the piece (e.g., “The problem with the Zimmerman acquittal was not Florida’s ill-conceived ‘stand your ground’ law”). Those stark pronouncements don’t hold up as statements of fact — which they plainly purport to be. Maybe the jury disregarded the SYG instruction, maybe the jury followed it scrupulously. There were no special interrogatories to the jury, so we don’t know what the jury thought of that instruction. And that false binary set up a further false binary, the more general observation that the SYG law is not the issue, the general gun culture is. SYG — hatched in the ALEC incubator* — is very much a product, and producer, of our gun culture.

                  *The entire 2005 Florida legislation is lifted in haec verba from the ALEC model, including the following, which should look very familiar by now:

                  A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

                • shah8

                  Huh, well, I learned something from Brien Taylor. That has to be a first.

                  SebastianDangerfield, you may well hold that Scott was not being mendacious. I do think that I will continue to believe otherwise, particularly in the defense of his thesis in this and earlier threads.

                • shah8

                  Oh god, if I’m going to admit an idiot is right for once, I need to say his name right. You were right, Brien Jackson.

                  Please be right more often.

          • solidcitizen

            “The legal system stacks the deck against and minorities (of all types) under the color of law and justice.”

            No shit, asshole.

            Do you think there’s anyone reading this blog, save trolls, who don’t know this? Do you think your brutal fanasy scenerio involving Scott’s sister is going to make someone realize this? Do you think it makes Scott realize this? I think he’s aware of it. In fact that’s the whole point of this post.

            We get it, you’re against stand your ground laws. We all are. No one is arguing that. People, including Scott, are trying to say that the Florida – and maybe every other state – law is so fucked up that you can stalk and shoot and unarmed black teenager and you don’t even need to claim SYG. Maybe if you stopped imagining people’s sisters being raped, you could focus just a bit more what is actually being said.

            If it were my blog and you wrote this shit about my sister, you’d be banned.

            • efgoldman

              Do you think there’s anyone reading this blog, save trolls, who don’t know this?

              The trolls know it too. For them its a feature, not a bug.

      • This really crosses a line. I’ve been confused by your antipathy the past few posts, but regardless, it’s both not helpful nod hugely repugnant to work up such an elaborate fantasy…and esp to chortle over it.

        • shah8

          You know what my problem is? It is just not elaborate enough. The issue I described is absurdly common, without the extra barriers enacted by retrograde states like South Carolina.

          What obligation do I have to you, or anyone else, to be especially polite? Moreover, just how many analogies to what happen in the whole of Trayvon Martin can I draw up, that wouldn’t be profoundly disturbing? My enemy is the retreat towards the bloodless minutiae in order to pretend that the law couldn’t be structurally violent.

          • I rather suspect that your problem is being upset. It’s an upsetting case.

            As to your obligations, obviously how you regulate the form and content of your comments is completely up to you. I don’t believe I’ve said or implied otherwise. My observation is that this comment is unhelpful and repugnant and crosses a line (for me, the line is between heated discussion and something rather creepy and gross). The analogy alone arguably pushes it over the line, but the chortling makes it undeniable.

            Is there some obligation I have toward you not to find your comments repugnant or if I do not to comment on them?

            • shah8

              Of course not, I wished it so that what I said would be upsetting. Because it IS upsetting, and people *should* be upset about it. That they have excellent reasons to be upset, and those reasons are accurately pinned on a law that is intended to be structurally violent, no less than the ultrasound rape laws.

              • But your comment isn’t upsetting because it points out a repugnant law, it’s upsetting because you cackle and rub your hands in glee at the beginning and weave a violent fantasy about Scott’s (perhaps only hypothetical…I hope) relatives.

                I object to such behavior. I also think it’s counterproductive. It certainly is with me.

                Of course, I didn’t find your other comments very convincing (i.e., that Scott’s somehow…well…something). I think agree with what I do discern about your general point, but then I think Scott would do.

                • shah8

                  Ah, I must be moooooossst delicate in proffering such a horrific proposition. I don’t think I need you to be convinced. If you don’t believe me, just read downthread and believe SebastianDangerfield. Scott still isn’t responsive to that thorough deep-sixing of Scott’s notion SYG had no impact in the trail, where he oh, so delicately, keeps his focus on.

                • Your ongoing responses certainly casts doubt that you were merely upset and lashing out. This just seems like viciousness (plus incoherence).

                  Why you think this is winning behavior eludes me.

                  (BTW, I don’t think the fantasy is acceptable, but the gloating certainly makes it undeniably repugnant and non-argumentative. I’m not sure why you enjoy such things, but it’s not really of a piece with being genuinely outraged by the Martin case or Scott’s response to it.

                • shah8

                  It’s interesting how there is such an emphasis on “lashing out”. Like all those people who thought there would be riots.

                  I don’t particularly care whether if you get that I’m winning or not. The fact is, Scott pretty much indeed has lost. Well, he was always going to have lost–he was basically about as wrong as you could get.

                  At the end of the day, the concept of self-defense was organized in an organic fashion through trial and practice, and the norms are indeed good enough. They do fail, such as when a homeowner shoots someone drunk at the wrong door, and that is part of what’s wrong with the gun culture that Scott castigates. However, he should not ever have been minimizing the specific, structural violence that Stand Your Ground entails, or the sheer nonsensicalness of the law, nor ignore that race was an absent participant in its construction. No lawmaker ever really thought this new law would be available to anyone but white males in practice. No more than people carving out rape exceptions for husbands would think women would enjoy the same benefits. Uh oh, gay marriage…

                  At the end of the day, I don’t think Scott can actually salvage his premise, which would seem to require that the original conception of castle doctrine was commonly used to go out and murder someone. Such things do involve giving people a chance of knowingly doing something wrong, like invading a house or trying to car-jack someone.

                • It’s interesting how there is such an emphasis on “lashing out”. Like all those people who thought there would be riots.

                  You think that my pointing out that you are actually engaged in vicious behavior and offering the (charitable) explanation that you are lashing out is similar to people speculating about riots which didn’t happen? Ok! I’ll fall back on the you’re a fairly despicable person thesis.

                  As for the rest, it’s pretty incoherent plus not recognizably tied to anything Scott has put forth.

    • L.M.

      I agree with you. I suspect a lot of public defenders do, too. And that’s not because we’re blind to the extent of racism in the criminal justice system, or we think this verdict would have come out the same way if Zimmerman and Martin had switched roles, or whatever.

      This verdict is consistent with a jury that gave George Zimmerman the benefit of a genuine reasonable doubt standard. I wish other juries would give other defendants (defendants who don’t look like George Zimmerman, and who lack George Zimmerman’s economic and social resources) the benefit of that same standard. But the fact that other juries don’t take reasonable doubt seriously doesn’t mean that this jury was wrong to take reasonable doubt seriously here.

  • Todd

    It’s almost like the NRA is successfully pressing a legislative agenda that produces greater sales of guns and ammo, while at the same time ensures less legal culpability for gun/ammo manufactures and users, which leads to greater sales, which leads to….

    • efgoldman

      Naaah…..
      Money over people? Never happen.
      ::retch::

  • Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill.

    I think that’s not only a feature, that’s the whole point of these laws.

    White people should be able to execute people they feel ‘threatened by.’ I can’t see any other point in passing these laws.

    All these white Republican lawmakers did not pass these laws to allow non-white people to arm themselves to protect themselves from white vigilantes – believe it. As many people have pointed out, the fastest way to get these laws repealed is for minorities to start using the open carry laws as justification to walk around obviously armed.

    • I’ll go further – Zimmerman is the EXACT prototype situation of what white Republican lawmakers have in mind as they craft self-defense and gun ownership laws.

      1. White people should be allowed to arm themselves, to the teeth if necessary.
      – and they should be able to do this at gun shows without any inconvenient background checks
      2. White people should be allowed to confront people who are different, fit racist profiling, don’t look like they belong, etc.
      3. If the people who are different, fit the racist profile, don’t look like they belong provide any uppity push back, try to assert rights they mistakenly assume they have, etc. then the armed white people have the right to make sure they are ‘educated’ about their misplaced faith in those mistaken views on their rights.
      4. If those different people fitting racist profiles get agitated to the point that white people feel they no longer have control of the situation (no respect for white authoritah) then taking remedial action by discharging firearms is fully justified.

      That’s the culture these people are trying to enforce by passing these collection of laws.

      • efgoldman

        Yup.

      • Sharon

        Spot on.

      • demz taters

        There’s only one point to open carry, and that’s to intimidate.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        the klan without the white robes

        • You absolutely see this when its open carry day at, say, the Texas Legislature. I gave up taking my children to political protests some years ago, at the height of the pro-invasion/anti war demonstrations. I just didn’t feel comfortable risking them. Now they are older and I would never encourage them to go anywhere near the kind of protests that I, as a child of the sixties, was taken to. There are just too many gun nuts out there.

          • ..lthe right of the people peaceably to assemble to serve as shooting-gallery ducks shall not be infringed

          • zombie rotten mcdonald

            I recall many years ago before concealed carry and the rest of the gun-nut laws) , my wife and I having a beer at one of our usual watering holes, when a dude at the other end of the bar pulled out a gun and laid it on the bar. The bartender prevailed on him to put it away, but I suggested we drink up and get the hell out. Booze and guns, what could go wrong?

            That seems so quaint these days.

            • IIRC, in Arizona and Tennessee it’s perfectly fine to take your gun into a bar.

              When you have to check up on who your cheating whore ex-wife or ex-girlfriend is having promiscuous sex with instead of you and they are on a date in an area/circumstances not covered by the restraining order, taking your gun can protect you from having your ego assaulted by your ex laughing at your tiny dick. And if the new boyfriend accidentally gets shot while you are protecting yourself from your ex’s assault on your ego, well, he should have known better than to hang out in bars with cheating whores who hide behind technicalities like restraining orders that prevent you from having a frank discussion on why she should just admit her failings and get back together with you.

              • zombie rotten mcdonald

                clap….clap….clap….

              • MIke D.

                Strong. An 8.5, maybe a 9.

          • Josh G.

            Which, for the gun nuts, is precisely the point. The presence of firearms at political rallies is a threat which is impossible to ignore. Carrying a gun openly is an inherently intimidating act. These people know full well what they’re doing. They’re sending a message: “if you do anything we don’t like, we will shoot you.”

    • I’m honestly a bit surprised that no wingnut legislatures have yet attempted to push a bill legalizing any crime committed with a gun. The gun is good, et cetera…

  • SebastianDangerfield

    I have trouble reconciling the the categorical statement that Zimmerman did not invoke “stand your ground” with the jury instruction quoted below (from here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/153354467/George-Zimmerman-Trial-Final-Jury-Instructions). Admittedly, I did not follow the trial closely, but at the end of the day, the charge directed that jury consider ” justifiable use of deadly force” in terms that expressly invoked the “stand your ground” principle. Such an instruction can hardly be thought to have sprung forth fully armed from the judge’s head, and I likewise can’t imagine that the defense did not included a proposed charge along these lines.

    JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE

    An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the crime of Second Degree Murder, and the lesser included offense of Manslaughter, if the death of Trayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.

    “Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

    A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

    If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

    If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.

    It seems to me that this instruction could have been critical to the deliberations, particularly since this is the instruction that makes clear that the prosecution had the burden to show that Zimmerman did *not* act in self defense, which was certainly a key part of the defense closing. And it can’t be said — even on the little I know of the themes the defense deployed at trial — that the defense in no way related to this instruction (for instance, the “relative physical abilities” of the two was definitely a key theme.

    So I ask in all sincerity if there is a basis — beyond a Reason article — to say that “stand your ground” was not invoked when the jury was instructed on the defense and key features of the defense presentation related to that instruction?

    • Richard

      The stand your ground law says that you have no duty to retreat even if you DON’T have a reasonable feared of great bodily injury. The instruction here premises your duty to stand in having that fear. This says you don’t have to run if you have a reasonable fear of great bodily injury but can instead use deadly force to defend yourself in that event. This is the codified Florida self defense instruction, not an instruction based on the stand your ground statute. And it was actually offered by the prosecution, I believe, not the defense

      • Anonymous

        The instruction here premises your duty to stand in having that fear.

        Do you mean your right to stand?

        • Richard

          Yes. That is what I meant

      • SebastianDangerfield

        Wait, what? The instruction that specifically states the circumstances under which Zimmerman could “stand his ground” rather than retreat is not part of the “stand your ground” law but was “codified self defense” instruction predating the 2005 “stand your ground” law? No.

        The key paragraph from the instruction is this (emphasis mine):

        If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

        This instruction comes, chapter and verse, out of section three of Florida St. § 776.013, the entirety of which section which was added in 2005 by Fl. Legis. 2005-27. That legislation also created another new section establishing immunity for one acting under these circumstances. That legislation is, in short, what is known as Florida’s “stand your ground” law. (The hint comes in the use of the phrase “stand his or her ground.”) Here’s the text of the provision on which that part of the jury instruction was obviously based:

        A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

        This was in no way the law in Florida — or the “codified instruction” (whatever that may be — before the “stand your ground” law was enacted in 2005. Here’s the preamble to the legislation:

        An act relating to the protection of persons and property; creating s. 776.013, F.S.; authorizing a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances; creating a presumption that a person acts with the intent to use force or violence under specified circumstances; providing definitions; amending ss. 776.012 and 776.031, F.S.; providing that a person is justified in using deadly force under certain circumstances; declaring that a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be and the force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony; creating s. 776.032, F.S.; providing immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action for using deadly force; defining the term “criminal prosecution”; authorizing a law enforcement agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibiting the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines that there is probable cause that the force the person used was unlawful; providing for the award of attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and other expenses to a defendant in a civil suit who was immune from prosecution under this section; providing an effective date.

        • Richard

          Your reading the history wrong. The 2005 Stand your ground statute says that if you protect your property or your residence, you automatically have a reasonable fear for your safety and can shoot an intruder. That rule was NOT invoked in this case. Instead what we have is regular old self defense where there has to be a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury.

          What I mean by codified jury instructions is that every state has an approved list of jury instructions ( either created by the State Supreme Court or a committee created by that court or the state bar association). They are the fall back instruction given in most every case where the evidence warrants it being given ( modified to give the names of the parties as applicable). Although they are guidelines and a judge may modify them, that is rarely done. The instruction given here was the approved self defense jury instruction modified only to insert Zimmerman’s name. As far as I can tell, it was the same jury instruction in place before the stand your ground statute was passed in 2005 . It required then and requires now a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. A jury instruction under the stand your ground statute would have said that a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury is presumed from the attempt to stand your ground. But don’t believe me. Instead read every single legal commentary on this issue in the case and the comments of defense counsel where they explicitly stated in open court on the record that they would not be relying on the stand your ground statute

          • SebastianDangerfield

            You are being selective in your personal definition of what the 2005 stand your ground law is. As detailed above and below, the 2005 legislation contained a bunch of provisions, including the one quoted above, which, again, explicitly refers to “stand[ing] his or her ground” in any place where the stander has a right to be. That statute also modified the “castle” doctrine to create the presumption you referred to. Obviously, that was not part of the case because, duh, the altercation and shooting occurred on the street. To try to wish away the other part of the statute referring to “stand[ing] his or her ground” — the one that is relevant to the case and that is reflected in the jury instruction — on the notion that that isn’t the *real* “stand your ground” law is ridiculous. Both provisions are part of the 2005 “stand your ground” law and both enact, for the first time, a no-retreat doctrine.

            PS: What you are struggling to get at with your odd “codified jury instruction” phrase is the idea of standard or model jury instruction. It’s not “codified” in any meaningful legal sense. And in any event, the instruction relating to “stand[ing] one’s ground” in any place one has a right to be was not promulgated, codified, or otherwise issued until the 2005 “stand your ground” law was enacted. Jury instructions follow statutory and decisional law, not the other way around.

            • Richard

              In some states, the standard jury instructions are explicitly authorized by statute (dont know if that is the case in Florida or not). I’m very aware that jury instructions follow statutory and decisional law (Ive been on committees that have revised jury instructions). Those state jury instructions are very different than Model Jury Instructions drafted, for example, by the ABA. The jury instruction given in the Zimmerman case was the standard jury instruction for self-defense approved for all criminal cases in the state of Florida.

              The “Stand your ground” statutes which people have been talking about (and justifiably complaining about) is the one that says you can use lethal force to defend your property or home without a showing of reasonable fear of serious bodily harm. That was the statute originally tossed around in this case, nothing else. It was never invoked here. Instead the showing required WAS the “reasonable fear of serious bodily injury”. This wasn’t a stand your ground case.

              • SebastianDangerfield

                The “Stand your ground” statutes which people have been talking about (and justifiably complaining about) is the one that says you can use lethal force to defend your property or home without a showing of reasonable fear of serious bodily harm. That was the statute originally tossed around in this case, nothing else. It was never invoked here. Instead the showing required WAS the “reasonable fear of serious bodily injury”. This wasn’t a stand your ground case.

                First you asserted that the jury instruction I quoted — which is drawn out of 2005 legislation’s provision relating to the use of deadly force in places other than one’s home or property — was in existence before the enactment of the 2005 statute on which it was based. Then you said that that part of the 2005 statute is not the “stand your ground” law, using your own secret and idiosyncratic definition, and ignoring the “stand his or her ground” and “no duty to retreat language” that is present in both provisions. Each of which of which is part of the same section of the code added by the 2005 legislation. You also stated that I got the legislative history wrong. Those statements are, as documented above, demonstrably inaccurate. Now you’ve shifted to saying that you were referring to SYG laws that were “tossed around” by unspecified people at some unspecified time — all in response to a question concerning the actual “stand your ground” jury instruction read to the actual jury in the actual Zimmerman case. The persistence of these obtuse statements in the face of contrary evidence — and the shifting nature of the justifications — lead me to begin to conclude that you might just be full of shit.

                • SebastianDangerfield

                  Also, too, this (from Richard above):

                  This [the instruction I quoted] is the codified Florida self defense instruction, not an instruction based on the stand your ground statute. And it [i.e., the insturction] was actually offered by the prosecution, I believe, not the defense.

                  Cannot be squared with this (from Richard below):

                  I didn’t say that stand your ground was invoked by the prosecutor ….

          • shah8

            Oh, my, some links would be nice.

            • shah8

              directed to richard, that is, all the legal experts that wouldn’t use SYG, and all…

            • SebastianDangerfield

              Unfortunately, the legislative history — on which Richard inaccurately opines — is not available on the Florida Legislature’s website. That’s why I’ve quoted ad nauseum from the enactment, retrieved from a subscription database. Here’s the whole thing. New matter is bold. Amendments to the pre-existing statute on self defense are shown in bold and strikethrough, with plain text indicating the original language that has survived.

              Chapter 2005–27
              SELF DEFENSE—DEADLY FORCE

              An act relating to the protection of persons and property; creating s. 776.013, F.S.; authorizing a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances; creating a presumption that a person acts with the intent to use force or violence under specified circumstances; providing definitions; amending ss. 776.012 and 776.031, F.S.; providing that a person is justified in using deadly force under certain circumstances; declaring that a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be and the force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony; creating s. 776.032, F.S.; providing immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action for using deadly force; defining the term “criminal prosecution”; authorizing a law enforcement agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibiting the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines that there is probable cause that the force the person used was unlawful; providing for the award of attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and other expenses to a defendant in a civil suit who was immune from prosecution under this section; providing an effective date.

              WHEREAS, the Legislature finds that it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others, and

              WHEREAS, the castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a person’s home is his or her castle, and

              WHEREAS, Section 8 of Article I of the State Constitution guarantees the right of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves, and

              WHEREAS, the persons residing in or visiting this state have a right to expect to remain unmolested within their homes or vehicles, and

              WHEREAS, no person or victim of crime should be required to surrender his or her personal safety to a criminal, nor should a person or victim be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack, NOW, THEREFORE,

              Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

              Section 1. Section 776.013, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

              776.013. Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm

              (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
              (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
              (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
              (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
              (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
              (b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
              (c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
              (d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
              (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
              (4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
              (5) As used in this section, the term:
              (a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
              (b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
              (c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

              Section 2. Section 776.012, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

              776.012. Use of force in defense of person

              A person is justified in using the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a the person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat only if:
              (a) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or.
              (b) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

              Section 3. Section 776.031, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

              776.031. Use of force in defense of others

              A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the such other’s trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

              Section 4. Section 776.032, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

              776.032. Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force

              (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

              (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

              (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

              Section 5. This act shall take effect October 1, 2005.

    • Scott Lemieux

      1)The Reason piece links to the NYT, which as far as I can tell is consistent with every other specific news account. And if you had a counter-example, I assume you’d cite it. So I obviously stand by my claim that the stand your ground argument wasn’t invoked by the defense.

      2)I also see no reason to believe that it materially affected the jury deliberations. He already had a viable defense that was much more consistent with his story, which is presumably why his lawyers invoked pre-existing self-defense law rather than SYG.

      • SebastianDangerfield

        The NYT article states: “That law [the ‘stand your ground’ law] has not been invoked in this case ….” As of the tender of proposed jury instructions, that’s wrong even on Richard’s theory that the prosecution is the party that tendered the “Justifiable Use of Deadly Force” — i.e., “stand your ground” — instruction.

        But that’s as may be. To your second point, the defense did not invoke “pre-existing self-defense law” — i.e., self-defense law as it existed prior to SYG for the simple reason that SYG revamped every bit of Florida’s self-defense law. Here’s the “pre-existing self-defense law” to whichh I *think* you’re referring, showing in strikethrough and bold the changes made by SYG:

        A person is justified in using the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a the person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat only if:
        (a) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
        (b) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

        The “circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013” is a reference to a brand-new section of the code, added by SYG in 2005, along with the amendments documented above. That new section, in its entirety, follows and — as I’ve endeavored to explain above — provided the basis for the jury instruction that I quoted.

        (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
        (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
        (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
        (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
        (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
        (b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
        (c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
        (d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
        (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
        (4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
        (5) As used in this section, the term:
        (a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
        (b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
        (c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

        In sum, SYG was “invoked” in the case. Whether it was “invoked” by the defense or (bizarrely, if true) by the prosecutor (as Richard speculates) I don’t know, as I have not seen the proposed instructions. In any event, there is no sense in which it can accurately be said that Zimmerman based his defense on pre-SYG self-dense law, as such pre-SYG-self-defense law no longer exists.

        • shah8

          slow…clap…

        • Richard

          I didn’t say that stand your ground was invoked by the prosecutor, only that the only mention of the stand your ground statute was by the prosecution to impeach Zimmerman. Read my comment above why I think you are confusing the stand your ground statute, with its assumption of the state of mind necessary to use deadly force, with the use of the words “stand your ground” in the jury instruction in this case which still required evidence of a reasonable fear of serious bodily harm

      • Sebastian Dangerfield

        Since you aren’t moved by primary source materials — i.e., the actual charge to the jury (which, as you should know, is the one and only time that the judge explains the law to be applied by the jury), perhaps third-party validation will help.

        Media figures are falsely claiming that Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law played no role in the trial of George Zimmermanforthe killing of Trayvon Martin.

        …. In fact, Florida’s self-defense laws set the framework by which Zimmerman was tried, setting the standard by which the jury would have to determine if Martin’s death resulted from the justifiable use of force. Indeed, the jury instructions in the case specifically mention that “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground” and use deadly force.

        From the instructions

        “In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

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

        Former State Sen. Dan Gelber, who was a leading opponent of Stand Your Ground’s enactment, noted on his blog that those instructions differed widely from the instruction that would have been read to a jury before that law took effect. At that time, jury instructions would have stated:

        “The defendant cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force.

        The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force.”

        I suspect that it won’t help, because you really weren’t looking for third-party reports that undercut your point, you were just trying to prop up a collapsing factual case without admitting that you blew the facts. Your asking me to provide citations to media reports that undercut your point was nothing more than a distraction from the fact that you got it wrong, which you did precisely because you were relying on third-party reports. But whatevs, Media Matters has also noticed the false meme that you helped spread.

    • The problem that I see is that the Prosecution failed to charge Zimmerman with “being in a place he had no right to be: i.e. stalking Martin.” If Zimmerman is represented as a white guy with an unlimited right to be where he was, attacked by Martin, the acquittal follows inevitably.

      • Richard

        The problem is that there is no Florida stalking statute which makes it illegal to follow someone for a few minutes. The defense was able to argue, with no objection from the prosecution because no objection was available, that following someone is legal. The states that have stalking statutes make criminal extended tracking and surveillance which were simply not present here. What Zimmerman did may have met the colloquial sense of stalking but not the legal one in the states that have stalking statutes.

        • Interesting and sad. Because, as others have said, there was literally no way for Martin to be safe–if he turned and ran Zimmerman would have/could have shot him and later said “why was he running if he wasn’t guilty of something?” If he “stood his ground” as we know, he got shot for having the temerity to defend himself against an armed attacker.

          • Richard

            Not quite. If Martin had turned and ran, Zimmerman would not have been able to shoot him. A civilian cant shoot even a fleeing felon, much less a fleeing skittles eater. Once he stood his ground and the confrontation escalated, then self defense comes into it if one person, even the initial aggressor, can claim a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury

            • shah8

              Martin was already trying get away from Zimmerman. Whereever Martin stopped, Zimmerman would have escalated to a fight then, unless that was *inside* his house. Would you trust Zimmerman to not think that Martin was breaking into his own house?

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              when you say “can’t” here you mean legally.

              Quite clearly, Zimmermann could have shot if Martin ran away. Nothing would have stopped him, and now Martin had admitted guilt by running.

              • Richard

                Yes, by cant I mean legally. He could have shot him but he would have had no defense to a charge of murder in that case (even if Martin had admitted guilt by running). A civilian is not entitled to shoot a fleeing felon, much less a fleeing misdemeanant or a fleeing innocent teenager.

                • zombie rotten mcdonald

                  I really don’t think GZ (the Child Killer) was thinking about the legal ramifications as he was going about murdering an innocent person.

                  He got lucky that the legal team was able to twist what he did so he slipped between the planks of the law. A slight variation, or a better prosecutor, and that wouldn’t be so.

                  You know, and I say this with all due respect, there are times and discussions that don’t revolve around legal wrangling.

                • You are very much more optimistic than I am that Zimmerman would have been charged, even for shooting Martin in the back. He wasn’t charged in the first place. The very notion that Zimmerman wouldn’t have had some explanation/defense, up to and including “the gun went off but I don’t know why” is absurd.

  • Zimmer Style

    The problem for the race-baiters and scandal-pimps is that they are ignoring the fact that Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman and beating him when he was shot. That’s what the evidence shows.

    The entirety of the case prior to the point where Martin threw a punch is immaterial. You do not have the right to physically attack someone because they’re walking in a place where they have a right to be as they live there, even if you’re being “followed.”

    You do not have the right to respond to someone asking you a question by decking them.

    Martin decided to double back and physically assault Zimmerman.

    The evidence showed that Martin deliberately mounted Zimmerman, cutting off his ability to escape; and that Martin continued beating Zimmy.

    Physical evidence showed lacerations on Martin’s knuckles consistent with the repeated striking of Zimmerman with his fists. And there was no lacerations on Zimmerman’s hands, so Zimmerman didn’t strike Martin with any actual amount of force.

    When you mount someone in a fight who’s fallen and continue beating him, then you have crossed the line between a fight and an act of aggression that leaves the person you have mounted believing you intend to kill them. That’s the standard for the use of deadly force in self-defense.

    Trayvon Martin is dead by his own hand. Had he walked back into the apartment after he was “disrespected” by the “creepy-ass cracker” (as Dee-Dee testified), he’d be alive.
    Had he assaulted Zimmerman by punching him, knocking Zimmerman to the ground and then walked off, then he would still be alive.

    It was Martin’s decision to mount a fallen man who he just sucker-punched and who was physically inferior in ability to him, then continue pounding on him, demonstrating through his actions that he intended to do great bodily harm or kill, that led to his death.

    • efgoldman

      Racist asshole.
      If Zimmerman had stayed in the fucking car, as the police told him to do, or if he was packing a billy club instead of a firearm, or if he hadn’t appointed himself arbiter of who was and wasn’t allowed to walk to the store in his neighborhood, then none of hits would have happened, either.
      With or without a criminal conviction, all the blame rests with Zimmerman.

      • Anonymous

        With or without a criminal conviction, all the blame rests with Zimmerman.

        The jury (those that actually hear the case and saw the evidence) disagree with you. The investigators disagree. Pretty much anyone who knows anything about the evidence disagree with you.

        The only ones that agree with you are the race-baiters that try to make this about ol’ whitey killin’ ol’ darkie and gettin’ away with it.

        And the icing on the cake it Zimmerman ain’t white! Take a look at him. Ain’t nothin’ about him that’s white.

        heh

        It doesn’t get much better than this!

      • Richard

        I agree. Let me disassociate myself from anything said by Zimmerman Style and look above for my comment why the instruction given was not a stand your ground instruction

      • Stanton

        Racist asshole.

        I read that comment over and over and your claim it was racist just makes you look biased and stupid.

        He stated the facts as he saw them.

        I believe you’re the racist, here.

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          I hope you’re being sarcastic. Or else, as is so often necessary, you need to do a little research into what the word ‘racist’ means.

          He stated the facts as he, A BIG FUCKING RACIST, saw them.

          I think that works much better.

          • Stanton

            Apparently, ‘racist’ is anyone who disagrees with you.

            A card worth playing when you can’t argue the facts.

            Bravo !

            • “Apparently, ‘racist’ is anyone who disagrees with you. ”

              Well that certainly would explain why you went and threw it around nonsensically, I suppose.

            • efgoldman

              Winnyzimmy is a well-known, racist, woman-hating, generally hateful troll on this blog, for a long time. I did not call him that in isolation.
              Have some goddamned idea what you’re talking about.

    • wengler

      So deft of Zimmerman to then reach for his concealed firearm as he was getting his ass kicked, load a bullet in the chamber, disengage the safety and shoot the teenager beating him to a bloody pulp.

      Or did he do all of that before he even confronted Trayvon? A wannabe cop pointing a gun at a teenager hoodie giving the kid a choice of fighting him or getting shot in the back.

      • Edmund

        This is laughable and shows how much one can run their mouth about things they know nothing about.

        Kel-Tec 9mm. Single action/Double action.

        Carries with one in the chamber. First pull is a “hard pull” so there is no need for a safety.

        Just start pulling the trigger when you need it. Nothing more necessary.

        • wengler

          Then I take it all back. Zimmerman clearly chose the firearm that was right for him. It’s a pity he didn’t accidentally shoot himself.

          • Edmund

            You seem to show, with every post, how little you know about firearms and the proper use of them.

            You should quit while you’re behind.

            • Malaclypse

              What was proper use about killing an unarmed kid?

              • Nathan Bedford Forrest

                That’s an dark, bestial, shadowy kid armed with a sidewalk — killing that kid that is clearly exactly the right use of a sidearm that you brought with you as you were stalking that dark bestial shadowy kid.

                Edmund is COMPLETELY in the right here, and everyone should take heed of his detail-niggling about the kinds of handguns and their feature sets. Because that’s what shows him to be the REAL patriot.

                • And gets him hard to boot!

                • zombie rotten mcdonald

                  well, as hard as he gets.

              • Edmund

                What was proper use about killing an unarmed kid?

                Ask the Jury. They saw the evidence and considered the law.
                Ask the investigators that looked into this event.

                They believed it was proper to protect yourself from having your had beaten into the concrete repeatedly (go figure).

                Your opinion on Mr. Zimmerman’s innocence or guilt, at this point is moot.

                Your racism is not helpful.

                • zombie rotten mcdonald

                  “Apparently, ‘racist’ is anyone who disagrees with you.

                  A card worth playing when you can’t argue the facts.

                  Bravo !”

                  Lifted from one of your fellow-travelers up top.

                • Malaclypse

                  I asked a simple question. Do kids often end up dead when you properly use firearms? Are you that incompetent?

            • wengler

              Yes, I know nothing about firearms. Only self-appointed defenders of the Second Amendment that hump their arsenals on a daily basis are allowed to comment at all about them.

              Why don’t you go to youtube and pull up a clip where some reporter calls a semi-automatic a machine gun and LOL all over it?

              • zombie rotten mcdonald

                It’s one of the Tried and True sidetracking methods of gun-nut trolls.

      • Richard

        Several persons saw the two fighting on the ground and no one saw a pulled weapon. From all the evidence offered, its clear that Zimmerman pulled the gun while they were grappling and fired at very close range. He didn’t need to load a bullet or disengage the safety. He went looking for Martin with a gun which you could just shoot and kill

    • Walt

      Trayvon Martin was defending himself against a maniac who was following him around with a gun. But apparently self-defense is not an action available to black teenagers.

      • efgoldman

        But apparently self-defense is not an action available to black teenagers.

        Especially in hoodies. And carrying candy.

      • “But apparently self-defense is not an action available to black teenagers.”

        This, of course, being the hole in the Zimmerman defenders argument they can’t really work around. Not that they care to bother, of course.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          they don’t want black teenagers to be able to defend themselves because that might fuck up their little power trip

    • Malaclypse

      It was Martin’s decision to mount a fallen man

      Subtext never far from text, is it, Dagney?

    • Pat

      And from here on out, I wish to append the title, “The Child Killer,” after the name Zimmerman.

      Zimmerman The Child Killer.

      Always.

      • Joey Maloney

        Can we make it a cognomen instead? Robert “The Child Killer” Zimmerman has a better ring to it IMO.

  • El Tiburon

    Was it not the “Stand Your Ground” Law that allowed Zimmerman to not be arrested and go home? Imagine Zimmerman being arrested immediately and not having time to formulate a defense.

    Would it have turned out differently? Perhaps. But to say this case is not about SYG is silly.

    • Richard

      I don’t think that’s the case. Stand your ground may be the reason he was not immediately arrested but all the statements he made, including right after the incident, made the same general claim of self defense. The fact that he made many more statements before he was arrested probably hurt him more than helped him. If he had been immediately arrested after his first statement, defense counsel would have told him to shut up. I’m not trying to justify what he did in following Martin but the general claim that he shot him only after he was attacked by Martin and while on the ground with Martin on top was part of all his statements

      The fact is that stand your ground was never a part of the defense of Zimmerman. It was self defense. The only mention of stand your ground at trial was that he denied to the cops that he knew what stand your ground was and the prosecution called his ex crim justice prof to show that this statement was untrue

      • liberal

        Yes, but it might have contributed to the crap job the cops did investigating.

        • Richard

          I guess that’s theoretically possible but I haven’t seen evidence that they did a crap job of investigating. All the eyewitnesses were interviewed. The forensic people did a competent job with Martin and Zimmerman and with the scene of the crime ( although not perfect). There were no photos or video available. I may have missed something but can you tell me what they could have done in the way of investigation that they didn’t do?

  • a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)

    Hell, I’ve given up trying to explain that SYG wasn’t used here, it was straight self defense to people. I get accused of being pedantic and lawyer-y. So i just let them misstate it.

  • liberal

    From your Prospect article:

    Under Florida law, the fact that Zimmerman initiated the conflict with Martin did not foreclose a self-defense claim if Zimmeran “reasonably believe[d] that he…[wa]s in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he…has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant.”

    Either your interpretation is fucked up, or the law is fucked up. In no just order can someone initiate a confrontation and then use deadly force when deadly force was not shown.

    What I’m curious about is your apparent claim that the laws have always been like this, and the really new ingredient is the prevalence of people carrying handguns. I agree the latter’s almost certainly increased, but I find it difficult to believe that for decades now one could start a confrontation, execute someone with a gun, and then claim self-defense. Well, yeah, I can believe it if the victim is black, sadly, but as a general principle of law?

    • Richard

      I practiced criminal law many years ago and went to law school in the seventies. That was the law of self defense then and now. It’s a shifting paradigm. Let’s take a case where you initiate a confrontation by calling someone a coward and spitting in his face. He then takes a knife out and holds it to your neck threatening to kill you. You are then entitled to shoot him even if you started the confrontation. The facts in the Zimmerman case are not so stark but the same principal applies. The confronted can become the victim who has the right to use lethal force. That principal has been used in dozens and dozens of reported cases, white on white, black on black, whatever

      • liberal

        But Martin never showed deadly force.

        • It was deadly to Zimmerman’s ego.

          What was he supposed to do (if he was even the one on the bottom)? Take his beating like a man? Or use a gun to make up for his mental cowardice and his physical shortcomings?

          As a moral issue, there’s no doubt what happened here.

          Dan White should be Zimmerman’s role model from this point.

          • zombie rotten mcdonald

            Also what I said below. But you said it better and more succinctly.

            Dammit.

            I have been accused of being wordy before…

          • Anonymous

            “Moral” is the key word here. I agree as a matter of morals that Zimmerman is a monster deserving of shunning. Richard is arguing the law, which is another thing entirely.

            • Pat

              Zimmerman The Child Killer.

        • Richard

          But as I keep saying, deadly force didn’t need to be shown. Only that Zimmerman had a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. That’s what the self defense instruction says. I think the evidence showed this or at least that the prosecution didn’t disprove this

          As I’ve said, I’m a trial lawyer and watched most of this case. I thought at the conclusion of the trial that acquittal was pretty much a certainty given the evidence and the instructions

          • liberal

            That’s laughable. There was no evidence ever presented that Martin showed deadly force. How can the state argue that something wasn’t in Zimmerman’s head?

            Either you’re completely wrong, or the law is a farce.

  • zombie rotten mcdonald

    so you’re arguing that Martin had the right to use deadly hand-to-hand force to stop Zimmerman’s attack? After all, he couldn’t disengage, as he would have been perfectly accurate in assuming that would do nothing but earn him a bullet in the back.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald

      oops, that was in response to a comment up in the middle. But since others have made the same point, I will go back to quietly playing in the corner.

  • wengler

    Something that strikes me is if this is the right verdict, then how many people are in Florida prisons right now that ought to be free?

  • Anonymous

    In no just order can someone initiate a confrontation and then use deadly force when deadly force was not shown.

    I think the argument is that the state did not show beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not have reasonable fear of imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he was justified in resorting to deadly force, given the amount of force that the jury felt Martin was using.

    • Anonymous

      That was in reply to Liberal at 4:14 pm

    • liberal

      Doesn’t answer my question. The fact is that Martin did not show deadly force, regardless of Zimmerman’s claims.

      Deadly force would be something like a gun, or a shod foot being used to kick someone in the head. Or a large rock used to smash someone in the head.

      My point is that, under the logic presented, anytime anyone gets in a fistfight, if they pull a gun and shoot first, they have a defense. Scott seemed to imply that that’s been the case for a long time; and that the only really new twist is the prevalence of the carrying of handguns. I find that hard to believe, though not to the point where I would say it’s obviously false.

      Perhaps it’s a matter that Zimmerman claimed he couldn’t get away. But the commenter above says that’s not in the jury instructions. And it doesn’t make sense. If I were in a fight and was on top of my opponent, and then the positions were reversed, the case at hand would seem to imply I could shoot my opponent, even though I had a chance to escape earlier.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        Perhaps it’s a matter that Zimmerman claimed he couldn’t get away.

        And this is complete bullshit. I work with martial artists and in a self-defense class; one of the things we do is show women how to free themselves when someone is on top of them; both from front and back and even when the assailant is larger and stronger. I will tell you that the techniques are easy and effective.

        GZ was bigger than Martin. There’s no way, no position that Martin could have used that GZ could not have gotten out of (unless Martin was much more educated in judo or specific stress holds).

        Martin was outweighted by Zimmermann. Zimmermann accosted him, and when his ass started getting kicked (but as pointed out, not by lethal-level actions) he panicked and rather than retreating, shot.

        What a hero. What a Man.

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          First sentence is a quote. Dammit.

      • Richard

        Zimmerman didn’t have to show that Martin was using deadly force against him, only that he was in fear of great bodily harm. He was able to show a bloody and punched nose and at least two wounds to the back of his head which seem to have been caused by his head hitting the concrete which he said was done by Martin. Dr De Meo testified that there were six separate lacerations or bruises on Zimmerman’s head or face that seemed to have been caused by the altercation with Martin. This created, in my mind and the mind of the jury, that the prosecution had failed to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn’t have a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury

        As far as the law of self defense giving even an initial aggressor an ability to use deadly force if the tables turn, that is what I was taught in law school thirty seven years ago and was clearly the law when I was practicing criminal defense in my first four years out of law school. Nothing new about that

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          only that he was in fear of great bodily harm

          ..because he was a jerk who initiated a fight, and that he though his gun made him a bigger man than he was and that turned out not to be true.

          I guess I am not surprised that he felt The Fear. He had been proven that being a big, dumb, jerk with a gun didn’t magically make him a match for a young skinny kid.

          Except that he had a gun. Which, as we all know, is Automatic American Win.

          • Anonymous

            You’re right as a matter of morals; Richard is arguing that the state couldn’t get the jury to agree with its legal case.

            • Richard

              Thank you for getting my point. I think Zimmerman’s conduct in following after an innocent teenager while carrying a loaded weapon is morally reprehensible but it wasn’t illegal and the state didn’t prove its case

              • zombie rotten mcdonald

                Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I’m venting here, and as IANAL, just kind of riffing on your comments to express my loathing for George Zimmermann.

                One would LIKE to think that law is a reflection of our morals, but even the undead are aware that is far from the case.

              • liberal

                No, you’re claiming that the state didn’t prove its case.

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              A moral zombie. Amusing concept.

          • If someone was winning a fight and succeeded in banging my head against a concrete surface, then I would find it reasonable to believe I was in danger of great bodily harm (eg a concussion, does that count)? Now, me, personally, I would probably roll up into a ball. And I wouldn’t have a gun.

            Of course, even if it was (and not just that there was a reasonable doubt that it was not) self defence, it still seems a clear case of wrongful death.

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              I think one of the trolls up top is arguing that it was justifiable homicide because GZ picked the appropriate weapon.

            • liberal

              What evidence was there that his head was being banged against concrete?

              • His statement to the police and the injuries to the back of his head, as I understand it.

                However my point was more narrow: IF that’s the circumstance, I think it’s reasonable to fear severe bodily injury.

        • shah8

          There’s a bullet hole in Trayvonn Martin’s heart, though.

        • As far as the law of self defense giving even an initial aggressor an ability to use deadly force if the tables turn, that is what I was taught in law school thirty seven years ago and was clearly the law when I was practicing criminal defense in my first four years out of law school. Nothing new about that

          But, silly formalism aside here, it would seem that the initial level of provocation is fairly relevant here. I would assume that, even in Florida, someone who fires a gun at someone, misses, and takes return fire can’t claim self-defense when their second shot hits the mark.

          Maybe in Oklahoma…

          • Richard

            The initial level of provocation is relevant but not dispositive. Your example is correct but that is not what happened here

            • Which just makes it a matter of degree, and leaves the matter one of whether or not you think “stalking someone with a gun on a dark and rainy night after the cops told you not to” is provocation enough to forfeit a claim to self-defense.

              I think it’s safe to say that decent people are going to come down on the side of “yes” on that question.

              • Er…

                Look, AFAICT, Zimmerman is 100% guilty of the wrongful death of Martin. But I don’t think that following someone for a few minutes, even if rather creepily, is enough to preclude self-defence if a fight starts up, even as a result of the following.

                If I insult you and you attack me, it seems like I can defend myself. If I throw a punch and you pull a knife, again, I can defend myself. (At least, this is how I’m interpreting Richard’s comment.) And it makes sense, my throwing a punch shouldn’t entitle you to stab me.

                Imagine the version of the scenario wherein Zimmerman isn’t following Martin, but Marting thinks he is and reacts in the same way.

                (I think if Zimmerman directly initiated the fight itself, then the case would be different, though I’m not 100% clear on this from Richard’s comments.)

                Just to be clear: If all Zimmerman did was follow Martin for a few minutes and did not utter any threats, then I think he did not forfeit his self defence rights. If Martin initiated the physical part of the encounter, then, afaict, he would have to reasonably believe that Zimmerman’s attack was imminent…which seems quite reasonable from what I know of the circumstances.

                • I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume there’s some sort of excluded middle here, as it seems highly unlikely (well, to the non-racists anyway) that Martin just randomly turned and started beating the shit out of someone who was following him.

                • Sure.

                  But, again, I think it would be possibly reasonable for Martin to attack Zimmerman even in the case where Zimmerman was demonstrably not actually following Martin.

                  Indeed, if you think that Zimmerman was being creepy and vaguely threatening, it makes it more plausible that Martin would have attempted to pre-empt an attack. But that just means that Martin, had he killed Zimmerman, would have had a self-defence claim. It’s possible, afaict, that both parties could be defending themselves (under the law).

                  If Martin thought he was preempting an attack, then Zimmerman bears quite a lot of responsibility for Martin’s death (i.e., almost certainly it was a wrongful death). If Martin was pissed off by Zimmerman and attacked him for being an asshole, then the wrongful death case gets weaker.

                  (Just going by random bits I’ve read.)

                • Richard

                  (I think if Zimmerman directly initiated the fight itself, then the case would be different, though I’m not 100% clear on this from Richard’s comments.)

                  Not necessarily. Lets say I get into a verbal altercation with you and then throw a punch. You pull a knife on me and threaten to kill me. I then pull my gun and shoot you. I probably get off based on self defense if what I say is believed. What I was taught and what I learned in the years I practiced criminal defense law is that there is a shifting scenario in these types of cases and that the aggressor can become the victim and then have the right of self defense. You have to use a proportionate response to any threat but once there is a reasonable threat of serious bodily harm, most states allow you to use lethal force.

                  In this case, however, there was no evidence that Zimmerman initiated the physical part of the encounter (although that is certainly a possibility) and there was no evidence of wounds on Martin’s face that could have been caused by Zimmerman striking him. If there had been cuts and wounds on Martin’s face, we might have seen a very different result since, at the very least, that fact would have severely undermined Zimmerman’s testimony.

                • Not necessarily. Lets say I get into a verbal altercation with you and then throw a punch. You pull a knife on me and threaten to kill me. I then pull my gun and shoot you. I probably get off based on self defense if what I say is believed. What I was taught and what I learned in the years I practiced criminal defense law is that there is a shifting scenario in these types of cases and that the aggressor can become the victim and then have the right of self defense. You have to use a proportionate response to any threat but once there is a reasonable threat of serious bodily harm, most states allow you to use lethal force.

                  Sure, I get that. But in the Zimmerman case, I would think that if he initiated the fight after following Martin around then that might speak to his intent? But maybe that doesn’t matter?

                  If I know someone’s a hothead, or being threatened, and I deliberately put them in a situation where they think their life is threatened and so respond with deadly force so that I might use deadly force, surely that’s problematic?

              • Richard

                But the law doesn’t say that any initial aggression (except possibly using deadly force) forfeits a later right to self defense. Should it. Maybe. But thats another discussion.

                • I don’t know why we’re supposed to be so fixated on all this goofy lawyerese, when so far as I can tell nothing in it really contradicts the argument that Zimmerman should have been convicted on the merits.

                • ?? If there’s a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was reasonably afraid of great bodily harm, then it’s a defence against the murder and manslaughter charges. Isn’t the “goofy lawyerese” part of the merits?

                • Well, that’s the thing: I don’t see any reasonable doubt.

                • Well, as to which part?

                  If someone is banging one’s head on concrete, then it seems reasonable to be afraid of great bodily harm. And it seems that the etiology of the situation doesn’t matter (at least, with the parameters described).

                  So, do you think there’s no reasonable doubt that the physical situation was as Zimmerman described? That seems to be the only point the self defence case breaks down.

                • I realize you’re arguing from a legal standpoint – but if I’d shot somebody every time in my life I took a punch the streets would be littered with corpses.

                • Hi Major Kong,

                  I don’t think the self-defence line that Richard has articulated would permit this.

                  So, suppose someone punches you and then stops. If you shoot them, I don’t think you’d have an easy time showing self defence.

                  Similarly, you engage in a fight where you and your opponent are throwing punches and both are standing up. It’s hard to see that if you are still throwing punches that you are in (reasonable) fear of great bodily harm.

                  I think the core troubling thing about SYG laws is that they seem to allow escalation (or are perceived to so allow) in a much broader range of cases, which is quite dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    The fact is that Martin did not show deadly force, regardless of Zimmerman’s claims.

    That’s not the way the jury saw it. Is that because of racial prejudice? Perhaps. But they found that there was enough force from Martin such that the state couldn’t prove Zimmerman wasn’t in reasonable fear of death / grave harm and that his use of deadly force was his only way out.

    • Anonymous

      Dammit. That is also in reply to Liberal, just above.

    • liberal

      I don’t care what the jury thought. The fact is that Martin did not show deadly force. Full stop.

      • Richard

        As I state above, a showing of deadly force by Martin was not required. Only a showing of threat of serious bodily harm

        • liberal

          Yeah, and Martin didn’t show that either.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t care what the jury thought.

    I don’t know what to say to this.

    • Anonymous

      In other words, the killing is a moral horror, but the case — and the distinction of serious harm vs death — is a legal matter.

    • liberal

      Yawn. The point is that Martin never presented lethal force against Zimmerman, regardless of what the jury thought.

      • liberal

        …and, nor is there any evidence that he presented any threat of grievous harm.

        • Anonymous

          …and, nor is there any evidence that he presented any threat of grievous harm.

          Of course there was such evidence — in the eyes of the jury. Look, you’re confusing two things here. One is what you would have thought had you have been on the jury and the other is what the jury found. You can say the jury got it wrong; what you can’t say is that there was no evidence shown to the jury. As a matter of historical fact, the jury found that Zimmerman’s injuries were evidence that he had reasonable fear of serious harm (or if want to be technical about it, they found that the state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not have a reasonable fear).

        • I think the injuries to the back of his head are evidence that Zimmerman could have been in a situation where he reasonably feared serious bodily harm. You might find that insufficient evidence to support a reasonable doubt, but that’s rather different than there being no evidence at all. This was my point above. If someone has me pinned and bangs my head against concrete, that seems sufficient to reasonably cause me to fear serious bodily harm. That it was reasonable for Martin to have attacked Zimmerman or even that Zimmerman attacked Martin is, afaict, irrelevant for this defence.

  • Winchester Zimmy Style

    ” If Martin had turned and ran, Zimmerman would not have been able to shoot him.”

    If Martin had turned and ran, Zimmerman would not have shot him. He wouldn’t had to. He killed Martin because Martin could have beat him to death or with extreme injuries.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      You don’t know that Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot at Martin if he ran away. You weren’t there. Martin didn’t know that either, and he was there.

      If you think that you *know*, that if you *had* been in Martin’s place, that you could have run away without physical consequence you’re really rather a fool.

      Personally, I think that if you *had* been in Martin’s place, you’d have done much as he did – and all your chortling about what a good deed Zimmerman did is quite pathetic.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        The worst of it is, the guy with the gun, if he was being honest, probably couldn’t tell you what he would have done if Martin ran away. It’s very possible he could have fired what he thought to be a warning shot and put one right in the back of Martin’s head.

        The thing that angers me is that people like you think there’s some sort of great victory here. It’s just a big screwed up mess.

    • I strongly suspect that Zimmerman couldn’t wait to shoot Martin. He probably wanted it so bad he could taste it.

  • jim s

    Zimmerman’s life was never in danger. In fact, I suspect Martin just saw it as an everyday fight, and after a little ‘playground punishment’ actually let Zimmerman get off the ground, whereby he then reached for his gun and killed him.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald

      I find that more believable than the guys who say if Martin had run, GZ wouldn’t have shot.

    • Richard

      Thats a possibility but there was no evidence of that to present to the jury.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        Agreed, but I wasn’t talking about in court.

    • The forensic evidence around the gunshot wound doesn’t really support that, afaict.

  • …and I’m sure Richard’s just thrilled that a slimy moral degenerate like you is on his side.

    • Richard

      Unfortunately, the position I have taken – that Zimmerman is not guilty because of the evidence and the instructions in this case – is joined by many racists, reactionaries, etc. – the Hannitys of this world. I dont consider them my allies even though they have agree with my somewhat limited point

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        well, there’s a damn big difference between you saying the case as presented wasn’t enough to remove reasonable doubt and those other guys saying the verdict justified the shooting in the first place

        • Richard

          Thanks. Thats the distinction Ive been trying to make. Nothing justified this shooting. And with that, I’ve said enough on this topic for this day.

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