We Need to Talk About the Zimmerman Verdict

The Verdict

Not Guilty was the correct verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.  That is my firm belief, based on the definition of the charges and of self-defense under Florida law, on the sum of the evidence and testimony presented in the trial, which I followed closely, and on the prosecution’s utter failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt pretty much anything.

How a reasoning, informed person could see otherwise baffles me.  Yet many of you, my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, have expressed dismay, disbelief, and rage that Zimmerman was exonerated.  I suggest that your belief in Zimmerman’s guilt is founded on false information, ignorance of the law, &/or faulty logic.  I will attempt here to disabuse you of those.

With alarming frequency, people impute malevolent motives to those who disagree with them.  Since my facts and logic are impeccable, people assume, anyone who disagrees must be a vile [___]-ist.  Dividing us into camps of Good vs. Evil is wrong, it is highly corrosive, and it must end now.

I invite and encourage all of you to debate this important topic with me.  Our first impulse may be to sweep it all under rug, but I earnestly believe that unless we discuss it openly and civilly, things will only fester.  We need to talk.  Show me where my knowledge is deficient, expose my logic as fallacious.  I’d never hold it against you to question what’s inside my head.  I will if you question what’s in my heart.


All We Know 

Despite rampant speculation, extrapolation, and conjecture, there’s very little of the events of the evening of February 26, 2012 that we know for certain.  We do know that George Zimmerman (“GZ”), a member of the local neighborhood watch, called 911 about an unknown person he believed to be acting suspiciously.  We know his neighborhood had recently suffered a spate of burglaries and home invasions, something that concerned GZ.  As he exited his car and attempted to locate the person in the heavy downpour that night, GZ stayed on line while awaiting the arrival of the police officer he’d requested. Though not required by law to comply with the advisements of a dispatch operator, GZ did indicate he was following the dispatcher’s suggestion to not actively follow the suspicious person. 

We know that Trayvon Martin (“TM”) was walking through the neighborhood that night, returning from a trip to the store.  His friend testified that while on the phone with her that night, TM mentioned an unknown person checking him out, expressed his concern, and his intent to run home.

Approximately four minutes later, GZ and TM encountered each other. It’s unsure if one or the other intentionally precipitated the contact, or whether it was by chance.  Per GZ’s testimony, TM approached him, then punched him without provocation. A police photo and a doctor’s exam showed that GZ received extensive injuries about the face and head, including a broken nose and gashes on the back of his scalp.  The coroner found no fight injuries on TM except some scrapes on the knuckles, consistent with using his fists.  The single eye-witness described GZ laying on his back, TM straddling GZ and furiously beating him.

In a 911 recording we can hear what witnesses confirmed: someone screaming desperately for help for almost a minute.  When questioned by police, TM’s father and brother were unable to identify the voice.  In court they and TM’s mother testified it was TM.  Numerous people in GZ’s circle testified that the voice was GZ’s.

We know GZ shot TM, killing him with a single bullet.

The entire incident, from GZ calling 911, to TM receiving a gunshot wound to the chest, lasted about seven minutes.

The Law

After questioning GZ, the police found no grounds for arrest.  After reviewing the case, the DA found no reason to convene a grand jury.  Responding to public pressure and meddling by the DoJ, Florida assigned a special prosecutor, who filed a charge of Second Degree Murder against GZ, considered excessive by most legal experts.  Just before the jury was set to deliberate, a lesser charge of Manslaughter was presented for them to consider.

All of us are familiar with the phrase “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”  In a civil case, only a preponderance of evidence is required to reach a judgment.  In a criminal case, guilt must  be proven “beyond, and to the exclusion of, a reasonable doubt.”.   If we stray from these principles, if we no longer recoil at the thought of punishing an innocent person, either out of emotion or the ‘desire to send a message’, we sell our liberty cheap.

Second Degree Murder 

Florida law is explicit in what must be proven for Murder 2:

  • The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).
  • There was an unlawful killing of (victim) by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

A “series of related actions” may constitute an act if “arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.”  An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” only if:

  1. a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
  2. done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
  3. of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

GZ committed no crime that evening.  He was well within his legal rights to walk through his neighborhood.  He had the right to follow an unknown person, and challenge them, if that’s what he did.  GZ was licensed to carry a gun, and was operating it properly.

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that GZ either committed a crime, or was acting in a way no reasonable person would ever act.

GZ’s actions cannot be interpreted as pursuant to any “single design or purpose” other than identifying a stranger.  That GZ had resolved to shoot someone that night is completely unsupported by evidence.  If you haven’t listened to the entire 911 call, do so.

To presume guilt, you must rule out all possible alternative interpretations of GZ actions.

Neither do GZ’s actions, nor his personal character as revealed by witnesses, point to “a depraved mind without regard for human life.”

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that GZ possessed a depraved mind.


The jury was also allowed to consider the lesser charge of Manslaughter:

  • (Defendant) intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of (victim).
  • (Defendant) intentionally procured an act that caused the death of (victim).
  • The death of (victim) was caused by the culpable negligence of (defendant).

Judge Nelson’s instructions to the jury were meticulous in laying out the considerable burden of proof, and deserve quoting in full:

Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence. But culpable negligence is more than a failure to use ordinary care toward others. In order for negligence to be culpable, it must be gross and flagrant. Culpable negligence is a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.

The negligent act or omission must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others. Culpable negligence is consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.

GZ was not obliged to curtail his movements simply because there was a chance the stranger might punch him.  (There is no “eggshell ego” principle).

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that GZ must have known his actions would likely result in a death.

Self Defense

Contrary to popular belief, GZ did not invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.  GZ claimed he was unable to retreat, so his act of self-defense was Justifiable Homicide:

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon the defendant….

To presume guilt, you must prove that, after his nose had been broken and while his head was being slammed against the pavement, GZ’s “fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” was not reasonable.


The Wrong Guy

“Ah, well, technically…” you may mutter, while remaining unhappy with the verdict.  I suspect that’s because ‘you’ve got the wrong guy’, as the line in the old crime dramas used to go.  Two wrong guys, actually.

Within hours of the news breaking, the media and other agitators were spinning a tale about it.  Some crazed, racist vigilante had hunted down a little black boy clutching a bag of candy.  Yet again.  Blacks were outraged; whites both shamed and ashamed.

That tale was false, concocted from bits of biases, stereotypes, resentments, misinformation, and a whole slew of lies.  The very first lie (one still being repeated to this day) was the photo released of the departed, a cherubic thirteen year-old:


‘What kind of sick bastard could gun down a little child like that?’  you must have thought.  I know; I thought it, too.  Only TM wasn’t thirteen.  He was seventeen, athletic, 6’0″, 170 lbs.:


To get a true perspective of the physical bulk of this “boy”, look , if you can, at the crime scene photo.

What you never learned if you only watched  Pravda  MSNBC, what the jury never got to hear, was that TM was serving a 10-day expulsion from school, his third.  That he’d recently been caught with stolen jewelry.  That he’d boasted on twitter about punching a school-bus driver, and how he’d learned to drop someone with a sucker-punch.  That he’d been caught at school carrying marijuana and that the coroner found THC in his system.  That the skittles and fruit-flavored soft drink he was carrying were actually two of the three ingredients (along with codeine cough syrup) for “Lean” or “Purple Drank”, a trendy & intoxicating rapper’s concoction TM used to talk about making.

The first blow to the Zimmerman-as-racist fable came when his photo was released.   The distinctly latino features failed to match their cartoon-image of a racist. The hate-mongers quickly ‘pivoted’, labeling GZ a “white-” or “self-described” hispanic.  In the same way we describe our president as “half-white” or a “self-described black.”  Pravda MSNBC lent a helping hand by editing GZ’s 911 call to make him sound racist.

Then, as more kept coming out that belied the racist slander — GZ has black relatives, mentored a young black teenager, spoke out against police brutality against a black suspect, has several black friends, is a registered Democrat!!! — the smears shifted to framing him as some frustrated, out-of-control “cop wannabe.”  That caricature, too, was resoundingly undermined.  If you haven’t yet listened to the testimony of the many character witnesses who spoke on GZ’s behalf, do so.

All that was despicable, but let’s not lose focus on the crux of the matter. GZ had nothing to prove.  Perhaps you find him creepy, inept, whatever.  Doesn’t matter. You don’t need to like George Zimmerman to conclude his innocence.  You only need a reasonable doubt about his guilt, and there is an ocean of doubt.  Finally, and most importantly:  you, me, all of us — need to adhere to our Law, or we all lose our freedom.


Update 7.23.13:  Some have questioned what caused the Sanford Police to treat the the incident as self-defense.  Here, a photo taken by police of GZ just after he was brought in for questioning:

george-zimmerman closeup

(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh.  All rights reserved.

89 Responses to We Need to Talk About the Zimmerman Verdict

  1. allison says:

    While I agree with you about the verdict in this particular case (that not guilty is probably appropriate, given the circumstances and the way the laws currently stand), I do not understand your apparent decision to view GZ and his decisions/actions in the most charitable manner possible, while taking precisely the opposite view of TM. The words you’ve used here – “slew of lies”, “smear”, “fable”, etc. suggest to me that you’ve chosen sides in precisely the same manner as Al Sharpton and his ilk. And this – “the skittles and fruit-flavored soft drink he was carrying were actually two of the three ingredients (along with codeine cough syrup) for “Lean” or “Purple Drank”, a trendy & intoxicating rapper’s concoction TM used to talk about making” – might as well have been written by Glenn Beck. Good day.

    • Matt says:

      You complain that I portray GZ in the best light possible and TM in the worst — is that not the inverse of what the media did? The difference is, that while I don’t need the one to be an angel and the other a demon to arrive at my conclusion, they did. If, in highlighting the discrepancies of their depictions of these two individuals, I fail to offer well-rounded portrayals, TFB; that wasn’t my purpose.

      Nearly single everything said by the media, politicians, & “community leaders” about GZ, TM and the incident was not true. They knew, or could easily have learned, that they were not true. They also hid many details. I call that lying.

      About mixing up “Lean” — Glenn Beck didn’t say those things, Trayvon Martin did, on Twitter. I’d find it of but minor significance, except that bag of Skittles became an icon for the childlike nature of TM. I doubt it’s even possible for a prog talking head to discuss the case without saying the word “Skittles!!!”

  2. fionnchu says:

    As you note, Matt, the jury was limited as to what they “knew” and sequestered (rare these days); we have millions second-guessing their decision with access to far more information as you provide,. e.g., that news about what ice tea and Skittles help concoct. Seems logical that “reasonable doubt” at least applies to an altercation when TM is straddling GZ and beating him up. Even if TM was purportedly “backing away” at the moment of the firing, anyone in a fight can attest to the likelihood one can back up to prepare a punch.

    I’ve asked people why there is no outrage about the eight-year-old black girl killed along with three others the same night of the verdict in Chicago, or why marches are not made to protest the 93% of black murders at the hands of other blacks, averaging 21 each day.

    Locally, protests have shut down some streets and a freeway. As an Angeleno, I reckon this more than anything else will alienate many, at least those who don’t watch Comedy Central or listen to NPR. This whole rush to protest makes me wonder what’s in it for the one of the newest of job descriptions on air, “race commentators”: as people marry and mate and mingle more and more beyond “race,” I sense a desperation to deny so much of today’s reality. Going back to the “way things were” has more than one dimension, doesn’t it?

    I get a Salon feed in FB and this is brimming with instant bias; as I commented on John Smart’s blog, within minutes of the verdict, the first of many screeds against “white rage” appeared, full of tweets and twits. How the bulk could not have been prepared as obits for celebs are well in advance rouses suspicion. FB memes, pundits, FB, Salon, and the media are angry, stoking more hate. (The 13-year-old photo of TM was used in a new Salon thumbnail.)

    Sean Collins comments in Spiked, a contrarian British publication, about the rush to cast any who backed the verdict as racist, and how “White Hispanic” now dismisses anyone of mixed background, but this racial bias doesn’t apply to, say, our President. Now we have black claims that “white privilege” denies Hispanics their claims to favored status, which may perplex our government’s diligent box-checkers and grant recipients and diversity consultants.

    • Matt says:

      Not iced tea, Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. They even had to get PC about that.

      Their tongues are stilled when the 94% black-on-black murder rate is mentioned. For to speak of race in that context might shatter their elaborate fantasy world. Yet they have no problem spotting the inner racist in anyone who dares call them on their B.S.

      They are madmen; this is madness. I’ve had enough.

  3. JohnSmart says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s clear and on point. I can not fathom how much wrong info is being spread like confetti all over the place. And no one – not even the smart ones – seem a bit bothered by their relentless lies and half truths. This scream of “racism is everywhere, all the time” is a drug. The verdict supplied a needed hit. The trouble with these addicts is that they are dangerous to all of us. Their “crime” is not victimless.
    Meanwhile, of course, scores of black americans have been killed violently in Chicago since the Zimmerman trial began…but those lives don’t merit a mention by these junkies.

  4. piginthecity says:

    Zimmerman was not ‘exonerated’ as you seem to think. What happened was that a jury found that the prosecution’s case failed to meet the standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. It is odd, that while you lament the politicisation of the case you are doing the exact same thing, and demanding that we all accept the narrative of events which is most emotionally satisfying to you. This has brought out the creationist in you, Matt. You can’t just accept that nobody (except for one person who may or may not be an unreliable narrator) really knows what happened. So you construct this narrative to please yourself. You’re demonstrating a significant inability to maintain perspective in thinking that your silly character sketches (caracatures really) of the people involved are to be taken seriously, or if you think that your motivations (precious generalisations about people of different races and/or political opinions) aren’t immediately obvious.

    • Matt says:

      exonerate: v.; to clear, as from a charge; free from blame; exculpate.

      … and the rest of your comment is ad hominem. I asked people to tell me exactly where I was wrong and how; you just said that I was wrong, then offered guesses as to my interior motivates for being wrong.


    • gxm17 says:

      Bullshit. Anyone who actually watched the trial knows that if you take the testimony of the witnesses, the evidence, and the forensics and you layer them one on top of the other, the connecting points align to corroborate GZ’s story.

      We aren’t the ones who fabricated a false narrative that constantly had to be reworked to fit the facts. We aren’t the ones who insisted that GZ used a racial epithet and then decided racial epithets don’t matter when testimony revealed it was actually TM (not GZ) who used them. We aren’t the ones who insisted that forensics would tell us that TM was shot in the back, at a distance, as he tried to flee. We waited for the forensics to tell us what happened and, lo and behold, it corroborates GZ’s story. We aren’t the ones who doctored the NEN call tapes. We aren’t the ones who misrepresented GZ’s ethnicity. We aren’t the ones who converted color photos to black & white so the blood on GZ would not be less apparent. We aren’t the ones who insist that a brutal assault was just a “fight.” We aren’t the ones who claim GZ “deserved” to be assaulted for (the nerve!) getting out of his car.

      I could sit here all night and type up the convoluted leaps the hatemongers have been forced to make in order to maintain a thin grasp on their mythology. (Their grasp on reality appears to be long gone.) I lost count of the twists and turns in the state’s “case” as they tried to adjust and reposition for every damning piece of evidence the trial brought to light.

      What the racemongers fail to realize is that people like me are pissed. And disgusted. We’re angry that we were lied to, and we are disgusted that those who self-righteously bellow about “justice for Trayvon” don’t want anything resembling justice. They want mob rule. They want a witch hunt. They want someone, anyone, to hang because they are, simply, a bunch of bloodthirsty barbarians. They are the very same people who in a past life took a picnic basket to a lynching, or cheered till hoarse as Christians were thrown to the lions. They are sick, sick people and I’ll be damned if I’m going to play along with their delusional charade.

      It’s over. It’s done. Lies lost. Truth won. Deal with it.

    • conner43 says:

      Err..citypig…it’s caricature…aside from that, personal attacks are not exactly a highlight of critical thinking.. Do you have an opinion of the case or just one of Matt ?

      • piginthecity says:

        Well conner, I’m always reluctant to assert that my prejudices should prevail over the considered opinion of a jury who have heard all the evidence, and who know exactly what precise limited question it is they have to rule on. As far as the wider issues raised are concerned, then I think there are conversations to be had and none of them involve pathetic assertions about iced tea being drug paraphanalia or drivel about who weighs how many pounds or what photograph of who appeared in a newspaper

      • piginthecity says:

        My opinion is that I don’t claim to know better than a jury on the limited question they are asked to rule on (whether a particular case has been made beyond reasonable doubt). Also that even the loathsome Zimmerman is entitled to a fair trial whose result in not influenced by my opinion. My opinion is also that for this Matt character to use this event as a platform for his political views, to spin his silly stories about poople involved in the case, and to celebrate the return to the streets of this gunman does no credit whatsoever to either himself or his politics. That’s my opinion.

        • Matt says:

          Describing GZ as “loathsome” is a characterization. If you cannot elaborate on this opinion of yours, explain the basis for it, then you waste our time.

          If my stories are “silly”, then debunk them.

          My politics are liberal with socialist leanings. I’m also a strong advocate for the rule of law. Give us a couple of examples where my politics have clouded my judgement in this matter.

          Visitors here enjoy wide latitude to state their positions and to shred mine. But they must address specific points, provide evidence, and form logical arguments. You’re free to tell me I’m wrong, but you have to tell me why I’m wrong.

          • piginthecity says:

            Okay, Matt, you’ve got me, well done ! I take back the ‘loathsome’. Your boy George isn’t loathsome. He’s pathetic. He’s of low intelligence, never achieved anything in his life and a loser. Even his defence was based on how soft and cowardly he was, according to that MMA witness (for the defence). It may not be George’s fault but he’s been encouraged to go about with a gun to pretend he’s a man. George can’t handle a gun. George can’t handle any situation. George can’t handle himself. George can’t handle anything. It’s a disaster that he’s allowed anywhere near firearms. He’s a danger to himself. He’s a danger to others. He’s especially dangerous to black people. People get hurt. Innocent people. George will probably get hurt one day. He can’t assess threat – he hasn’t got a clue – he can only piss his pants and start shooting the place up.
            Now, here’s where you’re going wrong, Matt, if you can allow a mere ‘visitor’ to point this out. George may have been found to be just the right side of ‘reasonable doubt’ in a murder charge. Maybe that’s the correct call for the jury. There are reasonable arguments on both sides on the specifics. But nobody who has any grasp of reality can do what you’re doing. Celebrating that this idiot is back to wave his gun about. Weaving this nonsense you do about iced tea and pictures in the paper and who weighs how many pounds. Obsessing over trivial details and internet rumours about something a 17 year old may have said. You’re going wrong because you’re missing all that’s important.

          • Elliott says:

            I’m sorry but GZ was encouraged to go around with a gun because people in his neighborhood had pit bulls which they turned loose to terrorize people. The person encouraging the gun carrying was an animal control officer because the cute little doggies were going for old women. I know pit bulls are are darlings but they scare the crap out of people especially when they are snarling and chasing you from your car to your door.

            So now GZ is a sissy man. He is compensating for not being able to fight off pit bulls with his bare hands so he carries a gun. I’m glad you can fight off dogs with the extraordinary awesomeness of your physical presence. I was attacked by a pair of charming boxers in my own lawn. The ambulance got me to the hospital quickly and were very familiar with me because I had had heart surgery three months prior. I now own a shotgun. As for the deceased and his character I suggest you read his text messages. His fathers text name is Fruit. I think people are influenced by their surroundings which includes their parents. Just saying.

        • conner43 says:

          Pig, politics has been at the forefront of this case from the beginning, in fact, politics was the driving force in the decision to prosecute G. Zimmerman..
          I have no idea why u would consider him loathsome, he seems like a bit of a puffball to me. None of us know what we would have done in his shoes and speculation is futile.
          Having been mugged on the subway, back in the day, I am sympathetic to anyone who feels threatened.

  5. conner43 says:

    For those with few other talents, race hustling can pay well, get them noticed, and invited to WH parties.
    The Pres. is buying into the blame game, nothing is his fault, and if you find him less than godly, you are a racist.
    Black culture was once filled with great music, poetry, cuisine, and romance, in spite of, or perhaps because of, so much grief and unfairness. It has degraded into a self inflicted holocaust all across our country.
    How can these hustlers look at the wreckage around them and do nothing but incite more of the same ? Do they enjoy inflicting pain ?

    George Z. was a tool of the treasonous media, fodder for ratings, and perhaps generated a few votes for the vile pols..I hope he sues all of them, and wins. He should be no one’s hero, but nonetheless, he is guilty of no crime under current law.

    • Matt says:

      There’ll always be parasites who’ll milk the woes of others to further their own personal agendas. And whipping the mob into a frenzy is a tried & true tactic to divert attention from tyranny. An acquittal is far more valuable for that purpose than a conviction, and George Zimmerman serves as a decent Emmanuel Goldstein.

  6. gxm17 says:

    Well, since CNN has returned to censoring comments that question their lies, I’ll post here my disappeared reply to Dean Obeidallah’s “racial empathy” slop masquerading as OpEd.

    I don’t think it’s a lack of empathy at all. There is an insurmountable level of dishonesty in the way this national discussion has taken place. The MSM’s false narrative poisoned the Zimmerman case from the start and the fact that some people are still clinging to it is most disheartening. I think a lot of people have withdrawn from the conversation because there is really no meaningful communication that can be salvaged from the willful lies and misinformation that continue to haunt this case.

    It’s frustrating because I’ve been shouting, for years, about the disastrous combination of conceal/carry and the so-called “Stand Your Ground.” It’s a freakin’ train wreck. And it needs to be addressed. Immediately. But the Zimmerman case is the wrong poster child. The Zimmerman case is straight-up self-defense. If you need a poster child, and if that poster child must be black, then use the Jordan Davis murder. There’s a stone cold murder with a drunk shooter firing into a car full of teens because he didn’t like their music. But I’m guessing that was the point; because the racemongers are merely puppets, easily played, and the puppet masters want distraction, not consensus. Consensus isn’t part of their plan. Never was. Never will be.

  7. conner43 says:

    gxm, Speaking of the msm’s false narrative; there is a bigger disaster on the horizon.. They control the information that the public receives, fortunately, a decent portion of the public still has common sense and healthy skepticism. That group of skeptics is finding it increasingly difficult to stand in a place of truth, the numbers of rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at them grows daily.
    History teaches us that power comes from controlling information.

    I listened to Anderson Cooper’s interview with the disguised juror, it was less than sympathetic. In my head, I was screaming at her to shut the hell up and go back to her life.
    You are correct, all the msm wants is to provide distractions from reality, we can’t let them do that. Let them go down with their own leaking ship, good riddance,

  8. SAGuest says:

    You are being charitable to the Prosecution, Matt.

    Completely ignore what Zimmerman said and strip away all the extraneous nonsense and concentrate on the few seconds before the shot – this is what is important. Whether Martin was a saint and Zimmerman Satan himself does not matter. All the blather about before is quite irrelevant as nothing was proved either way.

    These two people encountered each other and one is dead.

    Skittles or racism or people stalking each other or whatever did not kill the young man. A gunshot did.

    The gunshot was fired under the following circumstances:
    1. Somebody shouted for help – loads of independent corroboration;
    2. Martin was seen in a position “over” Zimmerman a few moments before the shot rang out – corroborated by masses of independent forensic evidence.
    3. Martin was making punching motions while he was “over” Zimmerman – That Zimmerman had received a beating is corroborated by a different set of independent forensic evidence.

    That is what we KNOW. The rest is pure speculation.

    In view of what we KNOW, Zimmerman acted in self-defence. We do not even need his story to come to that conclusion. That his story to the police also corroborated the facts and that is a bonus for the defence – not a necessity.

    This is not even an interesting case, legally or forensically. The only aspect that makes it “interesting” is the manufactured race war. If these two people were of the same race (whatever “race” means), this would not have made the newspapers, tragic as it is.

    What worries me is the prosecution’s attempts to bolster a shitty case by flinging more shit at it. They called witnesses who could not shed any light on the case whatsoever and produced emotional nonsense – as a long-time prosecutor, this smacks of “cover-my-arse” to me. The boss instructed them to win the case, so they called every single possible witness and triggered every possible emotion. The boss cannot criticise them.

    That’s politics and illustrates why politics has no place in a criminal justice system. This was a persecution – not a prosecution.

    (This case also illustrates my gripe with the jury system. We simply do not know what the factual findings are and this leads to speculation and flame wars by people who have no idea what the hell they are talking about – not that this is the forum to have the jury-discussion).

    • Matt says:

      Had it not unfolded during obama’s reelection campaign, this case would have barely garnered noticed, and almost certainly never even gone to trial. As you point out so lucidly, the self-defense claim should be a no-brainer. It’s horrendous how many people are insisting that black teenagers, for a host of spurious justifications, get to punch strangers.

      Since GZ had been found guilty then tried in the media, it behooves us to ‘overturn’ it, by refuting one-by-one the lies and distortions. GZ’s defense team realized this as well, which is why in his masterful closing, O’Mara went beyond establishing reasonable doubt to proving “100% innocence.”

      Since the evidence and the law were so decidedly on the side of the defendant, the prosecution had but one play — crank up the innuendo and emotion, and hope they’d gotten lucky in voir dire. But it was despicable, as they were willing to trade 30 years of an innocent man’s life for a rung on their career ladder.

      I’ve often contemplated the pros and cons of juries. Juries are enshrined in the US legal system and our principles of liberty. I look back with great fondness to my one experience as foreman in a civil case. The trouble is, our citizenry grows ever more ignorant, not only of basic legal concepts, but of sound reasoning and logic. We now live in a fact-free society, where whims, emotions, 2-minute news reports and 5-word memes form the basis of our most weighty decisions. This deficiency may soon be acerbated in California, where our legislature is considering a bill to permit non-citizens to serve on juries.

      Train the citizenry to be good jurors, and the jury system becomes a bulwark for protecting our freedom.

      • allison says:

        As for “insisting that black teenagers…get to punch strangers” – what if said black teenager is unarmed and is being followed at night by a stranger with a gun? Is he not entitled to use the weapons at his disposal (his fists) if he feels that his life is imperiled, or does “stand your ground” not apply to black teenagers?

        • Matt says:

          That’s a good question, Allison, and the answer is found in the Florida criminal code, Ch. 776:

          “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” — non-deadly force if “the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force”, or 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.”

          TM had a right to be where he was that night, with no duty to retreat. But TM had not been “attacked” — GZ had used no unlawful force, had committed no forcible felony. Nor would a reasonable person believe that these were imminent. (And clearly, TM did not know GZ was armed.) SYG and self-defense thus do not apply to TM’s action. TM committed an unjustified aggravated assault.

        • SAGuest says:

          This case had nothing to do with “Stand Your Ground,” Allison. TM would have had as much right to stand his ground as anybody else if it were applicable.

          The evidence, however, speaks for itself. This was simple self-defence and there is not one single piece of evidence that indicates that TM was attacked. The evidence points very strongly in the other direction.

          “Stand Your Ground” simply removes the duty to retreat – if retreat is available – in the face of an attack. Nothing more and nothing less. SYG is not a license to kill.

          It is interesting to note that none of the other English Common Law jurisdictions (that I know of) requires retreat in the face of an imminent attack and this is why SYG is not “necessary” in other jurisdictions. The right not to have to retreat is folded into the ordinary requirements for self-defence. I would be interested to hear of a jurisdiction apart from the US where this is not so.

          It is interesting to see people from other jurisdictions criticising it. They do exactly the same, but simply do not have a special name for it.

          Perhaps Matt can point me in the right direction: Why do/did some US jurisdictions require retreat? It certainly is not part of the Common Law.

          • Matt says:

            It seems that SYG laws were introduced (first in FL 2005) to expressly relieve the duty to retreat in common areas. I know that California’s code only requires the need for reasonable fear, which is is automatically presumed if inside your home. No expressed duty to retreat, except when “the assailant or in mutual combat”, in which case you must first attempt to disengage. So SYGs may be redundant, a bit of demagoguery.

          • gxm17 says:

            IANAL, but I’ve read that the “duty to retreat” arises from the idea that requiring retreat saves lives. If someone is not allowed to give chase, or if they have the ability to walk away from a threat, then that should take precedence over responding with deadly force.

            The Zimmerman case is classic self-defense because, as he was straddled and being beaten, he could not retreat.

          • SAGuest says:

            A bit of research always helps. I was right and I was wrong. Old Common Law did have a duty to retreat. Contemporary English Common Law does not.

            The US inherited the old stuff, of course, necessitating legislation to change the situation.

            Puzzle solved. Thanks.

        • gxm17 says:

          Allison, the Tampa Bay Times database on Florida’s so-called “SYG” cases shows one third of the defendants are black. Blacks make up about 17% of Florida’s population, so it appears that they are using SYG or self-defense more than other demographics. There are many cases on the site if you want to delve through them. It’s a rather depressing read though.


  9. Matt says:

    FYI, y’all — the Marissa Alexander case, that proglodytes are touting as a racially-motivated denial of SYG: she shot at her kids, too, and it wasn’t even SYG

    • windy says:

      Oh FFS. From the way that case has been reported, I honestly thought it was some woman trying to scare away an intruder…

  10. SAGuest says:

    I do not know exactly what information the prosecution had, Matt, and I would be careful to say that they had NO prosecutable case. Prosecutors take shitty cases to court all the time and more readily when a life is lost. They would have had no criticism from me if they prosecuted initially. They have no argument from me regarding the decision to prosecute later. The State wins some shitty cases and loses some shitty cases. I have had my full measure of this.

    They do get flak from me regarding the way they went about it. I have difficulty in giving them the benefit of the doubt. Professionals simply do not do this and their conduct was indeed despicable. You are also quite correct in saying that the defence took on the job of proving self-defence beyond any doubt. They should not have had to do this – not in a free society under the rule of law.

    It seemed to me as if the prosecution tried to disguise the lack of quality witnesses with quantity. Then there is the matter of Dr Whatshername – the pathologist – who testified about the injuries to Zimmerman, who flat out lied (and other stuff). Any sensible person knows this, and I am concerned about the disrespect the prosecution exhibited towards the jury by even trying these methods. Why did they treat the jury as if they (the jury) were incapable of simple logic? Why did they treat these people as if they were children to be emotionally manipulated? Does the side that can put up the best sob story win?

    Perhaps you are right. Perhaps the citizenry does “grow(s) ever more ignorant” and perhaps the prosecution counted on a stupid citizenry to be stupid. Surprise, surprise.

    Keep on being a champion for reason and logic and anti-PC BS. This is our duty.

    As I said: The jury system has its advantages and disadvantages like any other system. My main gripe is that the jury is not accountable for the findings of fact that they make as we never know what those findings are. It is easier for me to oppose this new-fangled fact-free “culture” as I write from a different country without juries cluttering up the system. But then we have our own problems with a President that is stacking the Bench with sycophants.

  11. piginthecity says:

    Well, Matt, my earlier post was indeed a failure in terms of it being an attempt to persuade you to add some depth to your perspective or to move you in the direction of objectivity and away from repeating your cosy certitudes. The serious point, though, is this; it can be accepted that the jury were in good faith in coming to the conclusion that the prosecution’s case was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. This can be a highly problematic question especially when the particular offence depends on the defendant’s state of mind at the time, which, of course, can only be inferred indirectly.
    What many of your fellow citizens are telling you, though, is that this case raises serious issues about whether the law in Florida and elsewhere, as it is applied in practice, is getting the balance right between the following classes of people:

    Unarmed members of the public vs. Those choosing to carry lethal weapons;

    People going about their own peaceful business vs Those engaged in a self-appointed policing role despite having no skills or training;

    People who are not expecting a confrontation and are therefore psychologically unprepared vs. Individuals who are geared up for a confrontation and have an emotional stake in a fight breaking out;

    Individuals who are members of a demographic perceived to have a greater stake in upholding property rights vs Individuals perceived as belonging to a demographic which has less respect for law and order;

    Individuals who are the sole survivors of an encounter which was lethal to the other participants vs the interests of the deceased parties.

    A related cause for disquiet is the potential to incentivise a situation where somebody makes sure they are the only witness by killing everyone else, because of the unfortunate fact that the word of a sole survivor in an unclear situation is half way to reasonable doubt in a court of law if everybody else is dead.

    Now some of these are issues where there may be reasonable conversations to be had on both sides, but do you see why, with these serious issues being raised, nobody’s interested in your nonsense about iced tea being some sort of drug ingredient, pathetic hearsay about a conversation someone involved in the case supposedly had, drivel about who weighs how many pounds or what photograph of who was printed in a paper?

    I have to wonder about your motivations for wanting to dismiss serious concerns with such weak sauce. I can only think that either you have your own reasons for wanting to over-identify with certain individuals involved in the Zimmerman case but not others, or that you simply view this as a football match between the ‘SJWs’ and the ‘TrueLiberals’ or some such and you’ve lost sight of the fact that something larger is at stake.

    • Matt says:

      You find it OK for the media & assorted hate-mongers to cherry-pick details to concoct a cock & bull story, but lambaste me for debunking their details, or presenting other details embarrassing to their story.

      What I hear you saying is: you don’t particularly like the laws on the books; think they should be rewritten to give special consideration to the gaggle of new suspect & semi-suspect classes you just invented; weaken the presumption of innocence based on characterizations (there’s that word again!) fashioned outside of court; strike all existing self-defense statutes.

      Worst of all, you seem to be saying that in the interim, the jury should have ignored the law, instead ruling on emotion-ridden conclusions arrived at in haste, based not on courtroom evidence, rather hackneyed stereotypes.

      If that is not what you are saying, then point out exactly on what section(s) of the FL criminal code the jury erred.

    • gxm17 says:

      A related cause for disquiet is the potential to incentivise a situation where somebody makes sure they are the only witness by killing everyone else, because of the unfortunate fact that the word of a sole survivor in an unclear situation is half way to reasonable doubt in a court of law if everybody else is dead.

      I don’t know if you follow a lot of cases, but often times the forensics speak for those who can not speak, and the science wins out.

      In the Zimmerman case, in addition to there being one eye witness to corroborate GZ’s story, the science also backed him up. Martin was shot in the chest from inches away, just as GZ said. The science disproved the false narrative of the hate mongers that Martin was shot in the back while attempting to flee.

      To be frank, I have to wonder about your motivations for wanting to dismiss something as blatantly malignant as the false narrative concocted to incite the racially-charged witch hunt we have seen played out in the Zimmerman case. Yes, it matters what photographs are shown, because the truth matters. Do you really believe that some greater good can be accomplished by promoting lies to provoke hostility and animus? I’m all for changing existing law to make “unarmed” people safer (though I don’t consider a young man pounding a stranger’s head into the sidewalk “unarmed”) but I don’t see that any good can come from turning an innocent man into a sacrificial lamb to satisfy some racial blood thirst.

      The Zimmerman case was always classic self-defense with an eye witness and forensics to back it up. If you really cared about changing the gun laws, then you would be promoting another case célèbre. Sadly, there are plenty to choose from.

    • SAGuest says:

      “State of mind” is almost always inferred, piginthecity. The thief’s state of mind is inferred from the facts: he took the jewellery and ran away down the road. The robber’s state of mind is inferred from the fact that he pressed a knife to the throat of the victim. Is there a different method of determining state of mind but inference?

      Do you want to believe the thief regarding his state of mind? Do you seriously want to believe the thief when he tells you he was running to catch the bus?

      Comedy gold, friend.

      The law should not distinguish between classes of people. One size fits all and that is the way it should be. I am horrified that you even talk about “classes of people.”

  12. conner43 says:

    I blame reality tv for the fact free culture, at the very least, it’s a contributing factor., Such shows have blurred the boundary of reality and entertainment to such an extent that we now have Ms Jeantel teaching us ghetto speak with nary an eyebrow raised. We no longer ‘see’ disease, dirt has been mostly banished, we avert our eyes from the homeless. Reality has been sterilized so that we may remain happy and docile.

  13. Matt says:

    “He’s pathetic. He’s of low intelligence, never achieved anything in his life and a loser. Even his defence was based on how soft and cowardly he was”

    Snap, Skippy! You’ve totally busted me for my wild characterizations.

    “George can’t handle a gun. George can’t handle any situation.”

    Tell that to Trayvon.

    “He’s especially dangerous to black people.”

    Someone should have warned his prom date.

    “Celebrating that this idiot is back to wave his gun about. “

    I expressed relief that the rule of law was upheld in the face of a lynch mob. Not sure where I wrote the celebrating GZ and his gun part….

    “Weaving this nonsense you do about … pictures in the paper and who weighs how many pounds.”

    Using the old photo is a form of a lie. The impression people got, included one eyewitness, was that GZ was much larger than TM. The opposite was true, an highly germane point.

    “Obsessing over trivial details and internet rumours about something a 17 year old may have said.”

    Correcting details the mob declared important. Reporting confirmed statements made by the departed, not rumors.

    Did you even watch the fucking trial?

    • gxm17 says:

      “Did you even watch the fucking trial?”

      Nope. I doubt any of the people screaming for Zimmerman’s head have any idea of the overwhelming evidence that supported his defense. They have their mythology and that’s all that matters to them, that and GZ’s head on a platter.

      • Elliott says:

        The screamers are not a studious or methodical group. Taking snippets of misinformation and acting hysterically is troubling.

        • gxm17 says:

          I’ve been trying to figure out what motivates the screamers and, as none will answer my questions directly, I can only speculate that they are driven by this: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/opinion/the-drone-that-killed-my-grandson.html?_r=0

          Unable to face the evil they have nurtured and installed, and continue to support, they must create a fictional monster and that monster is George Zimmerman. The mythical Zimmerman represents all that is bad in America and as long as they focus their attention and energy on The Zimmerman, they can sleep at night without dreaming of the bodies of teenagers blown to bits in some distant, foreign land.

          Either that or they are just full-on batshit crazy.

        • Matt says:

          I’d hoped for better-reasoned rebuttals, especially from Pig, who followed a link from a skeptics’ site. I appreciate that Alison has addressed specific points.

          I invited many of my FB friends & others to join in; from my site-meter, I see there are a ton of lurkers. Moderation is off. So why so few contra comments?

          Sadly, I must conclude that when in this mindset, normally rational, thinking people simply shut down their higher brain functions, and actively avoid evidence & logic that contradicts their a priori emotional reaction.

  14. conner43 says:

    Bobby Rush commented that maybe GZ ‘broke his own nose’…Comments this idiotic do no favors to the ’cause’.
    It makes my heart literally hurt to see the hate that has apparently been lying dormant in some people..

    I read that Chrissy Matthews apologized for all white people in front of his 4 viewers last night. Somebody please send him some self flaggelation whips.
    The great majority of Americans need not do penance for a sin they did not and would never, commit.
    Nor do they have to ignore the fact that this whole case was a big nothing-burger, so as to appear politically correct, and properly pious.
    Weeks like this past one make the bottom of the rabbit hole look like a safe and sane place.

  15. piginthecity says:

    My contribution here has been confused by the technical glitch where my posts were delayed. I thought they had disappeared and reposted similar thougths, giving the impression of merely repeating myself and not addressing replies.

    I’ll try to draw the threads together and maybe move this forward.

    First the common ground. I think we both agree that it’s not sensible just to declare that “a jury got it wrong” just from the standpoint of a general understanding of the case., Without being there, we haven’t heard all the evidence presented and we all know that the jury are asked to rule on a specific issue of whether a legal standard has been met, not on anything wider.

    Secondly, we’re both somewhat disquieted, or annoyed by what we perceive as people making stuff up about participants in this case to tell a story.

    Now for where we don’t agree. I would contend that it is unarguable that the law, as a whole utterly failed to provide justice in this case. The wording of this “stand your ground” law is of primary concern here, especially as it was drafted, not by a legislature but by ALEC and NRA. But also the police investigation had its failings, such as compromising evidence by failing to arrest the suspect and, for example, carry out a toxicology test.

    The reason we can clearly state the law has failed is because the party who firstly brought a gun into the situation, secondly initiated the confrontation in the first place and thirdly shot and killed the unarmed man, has walked free without having to take any responsibility at all.

    I’m not saying that it necessarily was murder, or that the law should be re-written to include some particular word or phrase, but as it stands now it is certainly not fit for purpose. Or even close.

    The balance of responsibily between a gunman and a citizen is not being properly evaluated by the law. If a citizen does anything, in any way to resist the gunman’s orders he can be shot ‘in self defence’.

    You asked me to state where you were wrong, Matt. And it’s in the omission. It’s rather like the fact that it would be possible to write a lengthy article on the the causes of the American Civil War. The article could be correct in that everything it says is sound according to scolarship – just that it never mentions slavery. It talks about all the other causes correctly, but leaves out the main one.

    This is like your article, Matt. The topics you want to talk about you might be right on, or at least not provably wrong. But you don’t factor in the responsibility of the party who brought the gun, or who calmly and coldly decided to cause a confrontation after sitting in his car and even discuss it with a police officer, or who actually started the confrontation. You omit these to talk about either irrelevant or peripheral stuff, iced tea and the like.

    • Matt says:

      In my book, a jury “ruling on a specific issue of whether a legal standard had been met” is Justice. Our legal system and our statutes have been carefully crafted over centuries to afford equal protection and to judge each person only on germane evidence, not assumptions or prejudices. It displays scientific precision, if you will. Like science, the system only fails when we fail to implement it properly. In this case, it did not fail.

      I’m unsure what “purpose” you have in mind which our laws do not fit.

      SYG is of zero concern. Pretend that SYG had never existed, and this case would have been exactly the same. The potential volatility of SYG + concealed carry may be an interesting question, but a non-sequitur here.

      It’s improper — & inane, frankly — to define “gunmen” and “citizens” as separate legal classes. Create ad hoc laws for that dynamic, and the permutations blossom exponentially. Gun vs. unarmed; baseball bat vs. unarmed; baseball bat vs. knife; small gun vs. big gun; fat man vs. skinny man.

      The conditions for lawful use of force in self-defense are most clearly delineated in statutes not only available online, but where I’ve quoted them above. To claim that “if a citizen does anything, in any way to resist the gunman’s orders he can be shot ‘in self defence’” is fatuous.

      GZ actions during the seven minutes of the event were “factored in” by the police, by the DA, and then by the jury. Your portrayal of GZ “calmly and coldly decid[ing] to cause a confrontation” is not supported by what little evidence is available, rather a product of your imagination, fueled by a selective subset of what you label “peripheral, irrelevant stuff”.

      And that is exactly why we entrust the dispensing of justice to the courts, not the mob.

  16. piginthecity says:

    Matt – The value of due process over rule by the mob is part of the common ground between us. Allow me to reiterate once more that I’m not challenging the jury’s verdict about whether a certain legal standard of proof had not been met on a specific question. A third party reading this would be justified in thinking that you are steering very close to the territory of deliberate obtuseness on this point, unless I have expressed myself badly. This is all the more true as the case we are discussing involves vigilantism in the way that it does.
    It is quite compatible with liberal democracy, and with a support for the rule of law to suggest that a system has failed in a particular instance. This is not to demand mob justice. The reason is that there isn’t one thing called ‘the law’ or ‘the system’ which is a black box, but rather there are several components. One component in this case was a flawed police investigation leading to the resignation of a senior officer. Clearly if a toxicology or medical report had been done on the suspect, and him arrested, then more evidence would have been available to the court. Another strand is the corruption of the law by ALEC and NRA who actually drafted some of the laws in the state of Florida. We can support the law while at the same time being able to recognise imperfections and seek to improve.
    The second point is this ‘stand your ground’ business. Whatever you may say about the jurisprudence after the event, you don’t know enough about what was in the mind of the participants to say that it didn’t have an effect on their behaviour. Zimmerman, with his low IQ could well have perceived that, so long as he doesn’t leave witnesses, then he has licence to claim self-defence. His boast that “punks always get away with it”, and his disregard for the police advice, suggest that he doesn’t have any regard for the rule of law to start with. Also, the civilian in this case, Martin, in his case with more reason, would have thought that to stand his ground against someone following him with hostile intent was the appropriate thing to do. Your track record in this conversation suggests you will cry “speculation !” at this point, but it is not me, but you who are certain of the effect that this law had on this case and your certitude is unjustified. The culture of the “stand your ground” law is that civil interaction has broken down at an early stage, and that therefore the winner of the fight is the justified one. This is corrosive to a civil society.
    Finally please indulge one last point. It’s the baseball bats. If Zimmerman had indeed been armed with a club or a knife and used it to kill a civilian he would certainly have gone to prison. There is no question about this. The law is not entirely ignorant of the consequences of bringing a deadly weapon along to start a fight. Those who are concerned with reducing gun violence simply wish to see people who use guns on their fellow citizens have to face similar consequences for the outcome of their choices.

    • gxm17 says:

      If Zimmerman had indeed been armed with a club or a knife and used it to kill a civilian he would certainly have gone to prison. There is no question about this. The law is not entirely ignorant of the consequences of bringing a deadly weapon along to start a fight.

      This is simply untrue. Here are the links to just a few self-defense/SYG cases involving stabbing that resulting in the defendant going free. I can provide more links to similar cases (in which a gun was not used) if need be.




      The inaccuracy of your blanket statement is indicative of the misinformation that has surrounded this case. I’m pro-gun control but presenting easily refuted arguments based on assumptions hurts our position.

      Pig, in your comments you use British spellings and I’m wondering if perhaps the reason you seem unclear about U.S. laws might be because you aren’t from around these parts.

      • Matt says:

        That’s no excuse. The FL statutes are both quoted here and available online, as are any number of objective analyses thereon. Our South African guest has already noted the many commonalities our legal systems share thanks to the legacy of English Common Law. The disagreement seems to stem from disparate depths of experience with the real world.

        • gxm17 says:

          South Africa, eh? Wonder what Pig thinks about the Oscar Pistorius case, or are American guns the only guns we need to be concerned with? Perhaps killing a woman as she cowers in a bathroom is just the way the world works. Good grief, I don’t understand why these folks are so passionate about American “issues” when they have plenty at home to contend with.

          • SAGuest says:

            I am concerned, gxm17, because we have our own “race baiters” who have vested interests in inflaming already volatile race issues. The local papers, unfortunately, have a very tenuous grasp on the facts and are playing the race card for all its worth.

            Gun control? We have relatively strict gun control and I support that.

            Pistorius? Let’s see what the court says. I do not have all the facts, but, prima facie, it looks as if he is guilty of murder. He will have a very difficult time in court.

    • Matt says:

      1) The police investigation was not flawed. I’m posting the photo police took of GZ to give an idea of how things looked then & there;

      2) The police chief was forced to resign because he refused to charge GZ. It was purely political;

      3) I don’t have a problem with how SYG laws are written, so I don’t give a rat’s ass who was behind them;

      4) Nevertheless, SYG had nothing to do with this case. Your insistence that GZ was influenced by it is an attempt at mind-reading;

      5) On what, exactly, do you base your claim that GZ was of low IQ? Isn’t he supposed to be clever enough to have plotted the whole thing?

      6) Why do you keep referring to TM as “the civilian”? They were both civilians, as neither was in the military;

      7) Let me tell you what’s “corrosive to civil society”: a sub-culture that tells teenagers they need to act like ‘gangstas’ and pick a fight with anyone who they perceive is ‘dissing’ them.

      I don’t know where you come from, Pig, but I live out in the woods. It takes at least 35 minutes for the sheriff to get here, if he’s inclined to hurry. I’ve challenged strangers coming onto my property, and I’ve been challenged as a stranger. We sort it out. I’ve even had a rifle leveled at me when I drove down the wrong gravel road (lots of cooking & growing out here.) One night, a car came down my driveway, then spun a 180 and hauled ass when they realized they were in the wrong place.

      GZ did nothing wrong that night, nothing that I personally would not have done, especially given the crime wave in the neighborhood. TM had a dozen ways to avoid a confrontation; one to get shot. Had I been in that situation when I was 17, I would have either: run to my mama’s; run back to the store; called 911; or told the guy, ‘fuck off, I I’m staying here.’ Trayvon Martin went out of his way to seek his death that night, and his culture trained him to. No rewriting of the laws can alter that.

    • SAGuest says:

      Piginthecity, if I understand you correctly, you are proposing that, in this case, the system failed. I disagree. In my view, the system did exactly what it is supposed to do.

      The exception, again in my view, was the failure to arrest Zimmerman and try him quickly. In my view, and speaking as a seasoned prosecutor, it is better to take these “uncertain” cases to court and get it over and done with. In my view, the police and prosecutors overreached initially and judged a matter which was not their job to judge. Fair enough?

      This “first mistake” having taken place, political pressure lead to the eventual prosecution. Fair enough?

      Now we get to trial. The prosecution’s conduct was absolutely despicable. They did not prosecute, they persecuted. Desperate to get a conviction, they went over the line repeatedly. We can differ on this, as it does not really take our discussion any further.

      Now let’s look at the corroborated evidence. Ignore Zimmerman’s story completely and go where the corroborated evidence takes you. Leave out speculation and character judgments and emotion and look ONLY at the evidence.

      The only reasonable inference from the evidence is that Zimmerman got his head smashed on a hard surface. Zimmerman was “below” Martin while Martin was raining blows on him. Zimmerman was “below” Martin when he fired the shot. That’s all we have. We do not know who the initial aggressor was. When Zimmerman fired the shot, Martin was the aggressor. That is what the corroborated evidence shows. No more, no less.

      By corroborated evidence, I refer to the science. It works, Bitches!

      Please tell me how the system failed in coming to the conclusion that Zimmerman acted in self-defence?

      You can argue that Zimmerman should not have followed Martin and not gotten out of the car etc. etc, but you have absolutely no evidence that, when the shot was fired, Zimmerman was the aggressor. Not a single iota.

      It happens quite often that the initial victim turns into the aggressor but we have no evidence for that, have we?

      Let’s turn to your objection to the SYG laws. I think that the hype around it will, probably, make some idiots very brave and lead to initial victims turning into aggressors (and possibly murderers). This is not the law’s fault. This is the fault of the media gone wild. The media should never be the source of legal information.

      Let’s look at what SYG laws do. They remove the obligation, in the face of (imminent) attack, for the victim to retreat, if retreat is available. Let’s take an example. If I am in my house and robbers burst through my front door, I do not have the obligation to retreat using the back door. I may defend my family and my household.

      This is usually referred to as the “Castle Doctrine.” All it does, is permitting me to defend myself, in my house, against an unlawful attack. It still does not give me permission to turn into an aggressor. If, for example, I shoot the robber in the chest and he falls down, the threat is neutralised. The Castle Doctrine does not allow me to then shoot him in the head. That would be a case where the victim turns aggressor (and murderer) as the head shot is not part of self-defence.

      I hate the use of these cute names as they really send the wrong message, but the Castle Doctrine is simply a subset of ordinary, almost universally accepted, self-defence rules.

      Now let’s take the incident outside. I get threatened by a lowlife in a dark alley.I do not have to run away (retreat), if I can. I may defend myself by kicking him in the goolies or even shooting him. This is what SYG does. It takes away the victim’s “obligation” to be a victim. If I do shoot the robber or if my kick finds its mark, and lay him out, I may NOT then stomp on him or shoot him in the head, lest I become a murderer.

      Again, this is stock standard self-defence as accepted all over the world, and I do not think that you will find this broad outline objectionable. Of course, the facts in every case will be different.

      The US have to import the Castle Doctrine and SYG into the law by way of legislation as the English Common law that was recepted yonks ago, did not include these two aspects. The courts, because of the rules of precedent and stare decisis, did not develop the law adequately. In all the other jurisdictions that I know of, the very narrow rules of the English Common law was widened to incorporate the Castle Doctrine and SYG as part and parcel of the rules of self-defence.

      That there needs to be an unlawful attack or imminent attack before the Castle Doctrine or SYG is available, goes without saying. The Marissa Alexander case that Matt refers to is an excellent example where a person tried to claim SYG where there was no attack at all. When she fired the shot, she was in no danger whatsoever. If there was some sort of attack previously, it had ceased. No attack, no SYG.

      You also refer to “what was in the mind of the participants.” Read the extract of the Criminal Code Matt made available. There must be an unlawful attack first and foremost. Then, the requirement is that the person who claims SYG must hold a REASONABLE belief that force is necessary (and then there are two criteria for lethal and non-lethal force).

      This is also in line with the rest of the world.

      Of course we cannot read the mind of another person. This is the reason why a REASONABLE belief is required. This does not mean that we should believe a person when he states that he held a certain belief. We adjudicate the reasonableness of that purported belief in view of the evidence – the mere say-so of the accused person is not enough as you seem to argue.

      In the Zimmerman case, I think a belief as required by the Code was quite reasonable in view of the evidence we have. After all, we know that his head was bashed against a hard surface. In the context of what we know of the scene, it is trite that his head was bashed against a concrete sidewalk. (Note that I do not even refer to what Zimmerman said.) If he had no injuries at all, the reasonableness of his belief would have been open to question.

      Flip the situation now. What evidence do we have that Martin was attacked? Anything? He may have been watched or stalked or whatever, but was he attacked?

      Do you have any gripes with what I have said regarding the case and the law? If so, please let me know and we can discuss that.

      Then, perhaps, we can look at the other issues your raise. I am trying to clear the discussion table of stuff we agree on.

  17. piginthecity says:

    Hey SAGuest – Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the time and care you’ve taken to respond, and I have carefully read and digested your post.

    In answer to your question, no, I don’t have any gripes. I don’t want to be dismissive, but for me to be drawn into gripes would take me further away from the objectives I had in mind when I entered this conversation.

    I’ve never been interested in out-lawyering anybody, or actually concerned with any of the technical details of this legal case. I haven’t watched any of the videos of ithe trial and haven’t read any of the excerpts from legal documents which Matt has lovingly cut and pasted. I did read your post carefully, though, as it was a reply to me.

    The conversation I have been engaging with is the one about whether in this case, the legal system has delivered justice in the wider sense, not merely with reference to itself or to the wording of laws, but rather with reference to the wider goals of promoting a civil society, and whether the laws have been applied in a way which is true to the original ideas and concepts behind the laws. This conversation is part of the mechanism by which laws are improved in a democracy, it’s not an attempt to do away with the rule of law in favour of mob justice.

    You are familiar with the term ‘legal loophole’ I take it. The existance of the concept of a ‘loophole’ demonstrates that there can be a gap between the original intent of a law and the effect that a law actually has.

    Well, Zimmerman has escaped through a legal loophole. I know this because I’ve lived long enough, and had experience, to know what the concept of self-defence refers to. Ignoring the wording, I understand the idea and the idea of self-defence relates to a situation where there is clearly one party who is in a dangerous situation through no control, and no action of their own. They were going about their business and, because of the actions of someone else, they were put in a dangerous situation to which they had to respond. I know I haven’t explained it very well. I don’t care that I haven’t explained it very well, it’s not my job. But I understand the concept. In the case of Zimmerman, he brought about the situation where he was in a physical struggle with a man, where there was a gun involved, and, as it happened, he decided that to end the other man’s life was the way to go.

    Now, a concept like ‘self-defence’ can’t be described in a document. I know people get paid large sums of money to argue about this wording and that wording, then to argue about how to apply the words to a particular case. It’s the best we can do and sometimes it’s going to fail. In this case it failed badly. For whatever reason the idea of self-defence which is written in to laws to protect the genuinely innocent in situations which are genuinely beyond their control has been perverted so that the man who actually brought the lethal weapon in to the mix as well as to follow the other man who was minding his own business has avoided all consequences for his disastrous choices on that evening.

    And here’s what’s happening – you lawyerly types, Matt and Guest are giving me all the good lawyerly reasons why Zimmerman got through the loophole. If the proper procedure was followed, then that’s justice – that’s all there is to it. But, I’m afraid it’s still a loophole. Self-defence is still self-defence, however the concept can be twisted, black is still not white and up is still not down regardless of how many clever people point to documents that say it is.

    To claim that the party who had the main agency in bringing about a violent confrontation, and supplied the lethal weaponry acted in self-defence is crazy talk. Or do words mean just what lawyers say they do ?

    • Matt says:

      Tl;dr — I don’t need to read the law to know it’s a bad law.


      Sent from my iPhone

    • SAGuest says:

      Hello Piginthecity

      Thanks for your reply. I will try to address your points, as I understand them, as best I can.

      I am also not interested in out-lawyering anybody either. I try to explain, particularly in view of the great negative impact this acquittal has on your society and, to a much lesser extent, mine. I watched the trial to see the dynamics in a courtroom with a jury. Then the other stuff blew up and I need to speak up as I see injustice being done to not only the US legal system itself, but to many people. Ironically enough, the victims of this mess are black people overall.

      I am an African in my bones and blood. I care about “black” people. They are my own. I care enough to speak up if they harm themselves as they are doing here. It’s a little bit like the anti-vaxxer-thing. Good people are harming themselves and their children out of emotion and ignorance. That is the second tragedy in this whole saga.

      I am very, very sorry for the Martin family. If one of my sons were killed, I will probably lose it completely. The Martin family has lost it. This is quite understandable. BUT hyenas are leading them astray and not affording them the opportunity to face facts and get closure (how I hate this word!) based on the facts. The facts are in complete opposition to the fairy tale that they (and you) are being fed.

      I hope you understand what my motivations are.

      If you have not read the documents and watched the trial, you cannot speak about justice in this case or use it as a starting point for a wider conversation because your premises are simply wrong. Catastrophically wrong. There will be blood in the streets because the majority of people did not read and watch and understand. Just like anti-vaxxer ignorance kills children.

      Did the justice system deliver justice with reference to itself and the wording of laws? Yes, it did. The laws are worded very carefully to prevent vigilantism. Read them.

      Did the system promote the ideals of promoting a civil society? Hell, yes! The system delivered on its promise that an innocent person may defend himself against an attack – but you not having read and listened and understood, would not know this.

      Have the laws been applied true to the original ideas and concepts? Look at the history of the laws and understand. Originally, the idea was that killing another person is a “property crime” against the king. Thankfully, this idea has been scuppered and replaced with the idea of protecting individual life and liberty against unlawful attack. Thank Dog that the original ideas have been done away with and that the system delivered in favour of individual life and liberty.

      Legal loophole? Please point out to me where it is. Listen to the tapes and read the documents. Zimmerman did not escape through some legal loophole. The forensics exonerated him. He did not even have to say a single word.

      Ironically, the defence did what they were not required to do and that is prove beyond doubt that Zimmerman acted in self-defence – that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman. Their case proved to be overwhelming. On top of that, their evidence was based on the science and their pathologist testified on science we have known for more than 50 years. Good grief!

      We certainly are not perfect when we investigate cases and, in this case, many things could have been done to improve the quality of the evidence – particularly during the autopsy. But hindsight is 20/20 etc.

      We work with what we have and with what we can trust/ corroborate/verify.

      Conversation is certainly the best part of the mechanism to improve laws in a democracy. That conversation, however, needs to be based on fact and reality – not mob emotion.

      You refer to the “fact” that Zimmerman brought about the situation. You are simply wrong. There is not one shred of evidence for that and I am afraid that you do not understand the concept of self-defence in the slightest.

      You say “I understand the idea and the idea of self-defence relates to a situation where there is clearly one party who is in a dangerous situation through no control, and no action of their own.” Actually no. As I have explained, an innocent party can, and often does, change into an aggressor. If you lay down the aggressor with a judicious kick in the goolies and then kick the holy shit out of him, you are not innocent any longer. You change from an innocent party into a criminal.

      The aim of self-defence is to stop the attack – not to kill or maim the other person. The aim of the laws is to stop the violence as effectively as possible – it is not a license to take revenge on a person who, initially, was the aggressor.

      It seems to me as if you want to make the argument that the person who brought the lethal weapon into the fight should automatically be deemed to be guilty – that is the very antithesis to individual freedoms and the rule of law and yes, conducive to mob justice.

      Please map your argument onto the following facts: An old woman, desperately poor and living alone in a shack wakes up and sees the silhouette of a man in her shack. The only weapon she has is the axe she uses to chop wood. She uses the axe. What now? She brought the lethal weapon to the fight! (Real case, actually.)

      Another scenario: I used to work in a very dangerous place and had to drive two hours on very bad gravel roads to get there. I had a gun. I see something amiss in one of the paddocks and slow down to watch – which is my right. The cattle thieves see me and storm my car with machetes. I shoot. Am I in the wrong simply because I carried a gun?

      You are indeed correct in saying that a concept of self-defence cannot be described in a document. That is exactly why the word “reasonably” appears in the documents. In this case, the arguing and hair splitting about words did not fail. It was a resounding success – look at the facts.

      Sorry, Piginthecity, you make pronouncements without having looked at the facts.

      In this case, the person who had the “main agency” was Martin – not Zimmerman. Marin brought the sucker punch to the party – not Zimmerman.

      Please think your argument through again. It fails as it stands now. Not only on legal grounds, but on simple notions of justice.

    • gxm17 says:

      Pig, self-defense is not a “loophole.” Do you honestly believe that self-defense should be illegal?

      Blaming George Zimmerman for having his head beaten into the sidewalk is as despicable as blaming a rape victim for what they were wearing. The person who had the “main agency” in bringing about the violent confrontation is the person who brought the violence—and the trial evidence, witnesses, and forensics showed that the person who initiated the violence was Martin, not Zimmerman. Facts aren’t “loopholes.” They’re just the facts.

      It appears that you are the one seeking a loophole for some warped sense of mob “justice.” You want Zimmerman to be punished for a crime the facts say he did not commit. But to hell with truth: Burn the witch!

  18. windy says:

    “I understand the idea and the idea of self-defence relates to a situation where there is clearly one party who is in a dangerous situation through no control, and no action of their own.”

    Don’t you think the idea may be interpreted slightly differently in different jurisdictions, or is there only one possible ‘right’ interpretation (yours?)

    And your interpretation has potentially some unpleasant ramifications, for example, is a rape victim not really a victim if they ‘put themselves’ in a situation where they could be raped?

    • Matt says:

      Pig seems to be arguing that possession of a gun creates a special “agency” that demands greater discretion/ limits on otherwise legal activity. No such legal principle exists; as I noted, crafting one that factored all range of weapons & power asymmetries would be impossible.

      Reading between the lines, Pig implies (and many others adamantly insist) that possession of whiteness when interacting with a black demands greater discretion/ limits. That is a very dangerous principle indeed.

      Your hypothetical about rape victims underscores why proximate causation is the legal standard. It also highlights the inanity of flippant calls for the creation of ad hoc, poorly conceived laws just to grind SJ axes.

      • SAGuest says:

        I saw your comment as I was laboriously typing with two fingers the comment I posted below. I also wish to know if the mere possession of a weapon places a higher/different burden on a person.

        No more pepper spray in my handbag because that makes ME the villain and not the would-be rapist?

  19. piginthecity says:

    Thanks for this SAGuest –

    I think you’d have struggled to find two cases which have less in common with the Martin case than the ones you mentioned.

    In the ‘gravel path’ case, if you had stopped your car, deliberately followed the thieves with your gun after being advised by the police not to, then found out that there was only one ‘thief’ and the others had been opitical illusions, then found out that this ‘thief’ didn’t have a machete but was unarmed and only in posession of sweeties and a drink, then found out that this ‘thief’ was actually a law abiding man who wasn’t engaged in any crime at all, then found out that this ‘thief’ had as much right to be in that place as you did, then, after some sort of altercation you shot and killed him with your gun, you would have at least some rough amount of similarity with the Martin case.

    As it actually happened it was the thieves (like Zimmerman) who went armed and prepared for a conflict. It was the thieves (like Zimmerman) who approached you with weapons in a menacing manner, and it was you who, (like Martin) did the best you could to defend yourself in a situation not of your own making with whatever was to hand.

    Your second case was even worse. Somebody breaking in to your house when you’re in bed sleeping is the very acme of a threatening situation not of one’s own making. The woman didn’t bring a weapon anywhere – she was already in a life-and-death situation as even she awoke. She took what was to hand.

    The contrast between the environment in which she grabbed the axe and the one in which Zimmerman made the decision to ignore the police advice and seek a confrontation with Martin when he (Zimmerman) had any number of other choicesavailable could hardly have been more different. The Martin/Zimmerman

    confrontation happened in a public space. Nobody broke in anywhere. Zimmerman didn’t disturb a crime. Except one going on in his own head. He disturbed a law-abiding man going about his own business. One who had every right to be where he was and doing what he was doing.

    Suprised you brought skin colour into this. Can’t see the relevance myself. Unwise it what it gives away. More suprised though that you couldn’t come up with any better examples.

    This is as one sided as a fight between Martin and Zimmerman with no guns involved !

    • SAGuest says:

      I will reply fully as soon as I can Piginthecity.

      Just one quick point: The hypotheticals I give crop up in the real world. In the real world, it is simply not true that there are wholly innocent and wholly guilty people. The grey is bigger than the small pieces of pure black and pure white at either end of the spectrum.

      Any self-defence regime needs to fit all possible scenarios.

    • Matt says:

      For heavens sakes, why didn’t Roy & BDLR call Pig to the stand? The man has the psychic ability to know exactly what happened between TM & GZ, and can perfectly read GZ’s mind!

    • SAGuest says:

      Hi Piginthecity

      As I have said, self-defence laws should map onto literally any case. We write the principles down in laws and then “map” the principles on to the specific facts of the case. That is why I chose hypotheticals that are far away from the case in point to see if we could map the requirements of self-defence onto them. And no, I did not struggle. These are real life examples. The world is weirder than you seem to think.

      Just to boggle your mind with a bit of further reality as it is found in the real world: This morning I read about a man who believed his wife had turned into a snake. He then killed the “snake”. This, and the Pistorius case another contributor mentioned, will fall, not into the self-defence category, but the category of mistake, which has its own rules (neither of them will get away, imo). Mistake is a different defence and refers to instances where the person thinks (or says he/she thought) that there is an attack while, in actual fact, there was none. Without an attack, there can be no self-defence and in these cases we deal with putative self-defence or the defence of mistake. These are “excuses” and not “justifications”. A reasonable discussion can be found at http://www.upo.es/export/portal/com/bin/portal/upo/profesores/fmuncon/profesor/1228240675703_putative_self_defense.pdf I hope the link works, but a search for “putative self-defence” or “defence of mistake” to get an idea of what it is all about.

      Back to self-defence. We have established that the person who happens to have the weapon to hand is not always the villain, depending on the environment/circumstances. Good. But I cannot quite figure out what your position is on the carrying of a weapon. It seems to me as if you are arguing that a person who carries a weapon has different obligations from the person not carrying a weapon. Your clarification on this will be appreciated.

      May a person carrying a weapon investigate something he or she finds suspicious or weird in the same way a person not carrying a weapon may? I think this is perhaps the crux of our difference in opinion.

      I tried to clear the decka as far as race/ethnicity is concerned and to explain why I even bother talking about this. If you find race to be irrelevant to the case, we have something more in common.

      • piginthecity says:

        If you think your Chewbacca defences ‘boggle’ my mind even for a nanosecond then you’re sorely mistaken. Oscar Pistorious turning into a snake indeed ! What tosh !

        I don’t have a ‘position’ on ‘carrying a weapon’ which has eluded everyone else on the planet. Clearly there are some inherent responsibilities which vary on the context. Also, clearly there are asymmetries between and armed and an unarmed person in some situations. It may be up to the law to ensure that, in particular the right to life of the unarmed party isn’t ignored by the armed party and him or her wiped out like vermin. I wonder if anybody can think of any examples where this has happened ?

        And I think you’ve made it very clear why you ‘bother’ !

        • SAGuest says:

          Good grief! Real life a bit gory for you?

          I hope sincerely that you never find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself or your family.

          Keep well, Pig.

          • piginthecity says:

            Thanks for this, SAGuest.

            And may I say that I also sincerely hope that neither you nor any member of your family get killed for having the wrong skin colour by some idiot vigilante.

            Stay Safe !

        • gxm17 says:

          Piginthecity, you don’t seem to like answering direct questions. So I will ask you again:

          Do you think self-defense should be illegal?

          And what’s the deal with Oscar Pistorius and the snake. He shot his girlfriend to death while she cowered in the toilet. What is your position (other than “tosh”) on this case? Do you feel he was justified? Do you feel that such an “accidental shooting” trumps self-defense?

          Simple, direct answers, like “yes” or “no” will suffice. Stop evading the questions. It makes you look disingenuous at best.

        • piginthecity says:

          GSM – I don’t know how you could have got from what i actually said to me thinking that no defence of sefl-defence can be allowed. It’s the opposite. I assumed you weren’t a native English speaker.

          As far as the Pistorius case goes – in the hightly unlikely event that I’m called on to serve in the jury, I’ll listen with great attentiveness to all the evidence, put any prejudices I have or guesswork I may have made aside, and rule objectively on the one thing upon which it is my duty to rule, namely whether or not the prosecution’s case has met the particular legal standard required of it.

          As it is, and I don’t appear to have been selected for the jury, I have to disappoint you and say that I’m not the recipient of any revealed information about what happened, and that any guesses I have about it are no more vaild than, for example, yours.

          As it’s not a case involving the ‘guns in public places’ issue, it’s not related to the one we’re discussing, and I’m not that interested.

          I could make the general point that a case where only one person is left alive is particularly problematic. In a sense they have an advantage over the dead party in that they get to present their case, and (not entirely wrongly) the presumption of innocence and burden of proof acts in their favour. For us humans, it’s actually psychologically easier to believe another person, especially one who was there, than to disbelieve. In cases where there are conflicting witness testimonies, then it’s clear that someone has lied, so the jury can get over this hurdle. In cases where there is only one testimony, then the psychological pressure is to believe it even if it seems implausible in some way.

          Added to this is a further layer of difficulty which is that it all hinges on someone’s state of mind, and how do you judge that ?

          Miscarriages of justice (both ways) do happen. And there are things that can never be known.

          The case of Zimmerman is completely different, though. That was a clear miscarriage of justice (in the wider sense – not with respect to any specific verdict) because any sensible law would have held him responsible for his choices which led to the death of an innocent man. Even if it was only 2 years for Reckless Endagerment. In a functioning civil society Zimmerman would have had serious obligations to make sure his gun wasn’t used against the innocent, and there would have been consequences.

          Back to Pistorius – it seems from the tone of your post that you don’t want him to “get away with it”. Well, I don’t know about that, but one thing that I can promise you is that if he does I won’t be filling up the internet with ignorant blog posts and comments celebrating his return as some sort of hero or victim. Demanding that anyone who shoots their girlfriend shouldn’t even be prosecuted and spreading malicious and prejudiced comments regarding dead victims about how much I know they deserved it, because, after all, the demographic they belong to are “punks”.

          • gxm17 says:

            Well, Pig, you certainly have the ability to use a lot of words to say nothing.

            But I must say that your bizarre I-believe-in-self-defense-except-in-cases-when-only-one-person-has-a-gun* theory is one of the more convoluted excuses I’ve come across. How about a knife? Or a baseball bat? Or just sheer physical strength? Is self-defense only allowable in Pigland when the fight for life is completely “even.” Are you not aware of the fact that nothing in life is “even” or “fair”? And that’s why some people opt to carry a weapon for self-defense in an attempt to better their odds if they are ever attacked.

            (*Except in cases of domestic violence, when some rich athlete shoots his unarmed girlfriend to death by firing multiple times through a locked bathroom door, that’s really of no great concern.)

            I’ve never seen so many yammering, self-righteous, low-information fools as the Zimmerman case has brought out from under the rocks. Pig, Pistorius is South African. He killed his girlfriend in South Africa. Unless you are a South African judge (heaven help SA if you are!), there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll be on the jury because South Africa hasn’t had jury trials since 1969. Google is your friend, Pig. Facts are your friends. Misinformation, posted again and again, just makes your argument look even sillier than it already is.

            And, FTR, the similarity the Pistorius case has with the Zimmerman case is the “stalking” aspect. It appears that the prosecution could claim that OP chased and “hunted” Steenkamp into the bathroom before firing multiple shots through a locked door to kill her. But unlike the Zimmerman case, there will be no evidence that OP suffered a brutal attack. I find your passionate adherence to the false “stalking racist” narrative of the Zimmerman case coupled with your apathy toward the Pistorius case quite telling. You really don’t give a damn about gun violence.

          • piginthecity says:

            Okay, so now we’re agreed that the chances that Oscar Pistorius’ fate depends on anything I may think are even slimmer than I first supposed, can I please be excused having to prejudge the trial ?

            The logic that says that me declining to poke my nose into something that happened half a world away and claiming knowlege that I couldn’t possibly know amounts to ‘apathy’ is at least consistent with the quality of your attempts to comprehend my earlier posts, and to paraphrase them.

            I’m sure you will mangle the heck out of this and return it to me bent out of all recognition but here goes. It would be silly for me to try to be Sherlock Holmes and claim that I know better than the decision of any court of law in any specific case. However, miscarriages of justice do happen for a variety of reasons, and often from an unhappy combination of more than one reason.

            The Zimmerman affair was one such case and there are certainly lessons to be learned, primarily to do with the potential for corruption of laws by well funded interest groups such as ALEC and NRA. As part of a wider conversation among citizens it is valid to point this out, and in particular to oppose people who want to repeat the well-funded lies denigrating a victim who is already dead, spread by people who have a largely economic agenda who has no regard for the impact of their actions, either on individuals or on civil society.

          • Matt says:

            So, you don’t need to read the laws — you just know they must be bad if ALEC & the NRA were involved?

          • gxm17 says:

            Oh good grief, Pig, aren’t you an ocean away, or are you just a fan of Buckley-esque pretentiousness with your British “accent”? There was no miscarriage of justice in the Zimmerman case. The miscarriage of justice was skipping a grand jury (because the prosecution had no evidence against Zimmerman) and going straight to trial. Much like the drone strikes killing innocents abroad, a sadly significant portion of the populace prefers to overlook these injustices. And for what reason, I just don’t understand. I can’t put words in your mouth, Pig, because I can’t begin to understand the bias that bends your reality.

            Tune in next month to the Michael Dunn trial. It is the case that the Trayvon Martin case could never be, as it involves a white man (not a brown man offered up as the white man’s sacrificial lamb) shooting a black teenager (who was *not* beating Dunn’s head into the pavement). I think it will be proved that Mr. Dunn showed malice and ill will and the evidence will support a guilty verdict. I also predict that people like you won’t give a damn.

  20. SAGuest says:


    Thanks for letting me make use of your site. I know this is boring and tedious. Let me know when I am taxing your patience too mush and I will go away.

    • Matt says:

      I find it neither. This is the sort of discussion that needs to be had; these are the points that need be addressed.

    • gxm17 says:

      SAGuest, will you be following the Pistorius case? I’d love to read your commentary once it gets underway.

      • SAGuest says:

        Hi gxm

        The trial will certainly not be televised, but I will follow it in the newspapers (not that newspapers are reliable!) and in my ordinary daily legal feeds. If Matt will allow me to, I will comment, perhaps only in order to explain how trials without juries work and, perhaps, to point out the difference in the defences. The Pistorius case will have some interesting ballistics, but certainly nothing new.

        The defence will almost certainly be some sort of mistake of fact and I expect them to lean heavily on him feeling vulnerable because of his disability, coupled with the fact that home invasions are commonplace and that the local housebreakers and robbers have a penchant for torturing their victims before they make off with the loot. Also, the police, very often, simply do not answer the emergency number and, if they do, reaction times are often measured in hours or even days – not minutes.

        (Yeah, right! Call the police and wait for them to respond? In the interim the lady next door gets raped? FFS! I am horrified that nobody went out to help when they heard screams for help in the Zimmerman case.)

        In these specific circumstances, however, I doubt very much that anything will come of the defence as, imo, and based on only what I have read, Pistorius did not act reasonably and his (purported) belief was not reasonable and his actions were way over the threshold. Yes, we lawyers slice and dice these things into slivers and put them into little boxes, but in the end it always boils down to what was reasonable in the particular circumstances.

        Just for background: We have had some cases where the householder shot an “intruder” only to find out later that it was a member of the household. We have had TONS of cases where robbers were shot and their weapons, ranging from semi-automatic rifles to machetes to knives to garrottes, littered the scene.

        Nice neh?

        • SAGuest says:

          Oh, by the way. I have not lost all my marbles when I speak about snakes and bizarre stuff like that.


          There are quite a few cases in the Law Reports where people killed under the real, but mistaken impression that the victim was a ghost or a goblin. These people are usually not insane. They really, really believe in spirits and demons.

        • Matt says:

          Would you be interested in writing a guest post on that trial?

        • windy says:

          Hi SAguest, I’d be very interested to read your post on the Pistorius case as well. I work in SA, so I’ve heard of the problems with reaching the police, but I assume that someone in Pistorius’ position would rather have relied on private security in an emergency?

          • SAGuest says:

            Good point, Windy.

            I have not followed this in detail, and I do not know where he lived. Your assumption that he would have had access to, and relied on, private security is quite reasonable.

            I read somewhere that there were calls to security, but I cannot recall.

            Let me scratch around a bit and see what I can figure out.

            To bring our non-SA friends broadly into the picture:

            There are more private security guards and emergency response people in SA than policemen.

            More affluent urban people live, most often, in security villages with access control – gate guards etc. Those that live in detached houses outside of security villages, almost invariably have alarm systems and panic buttons linked to private security firms. The private security firms pride themselves on their quick ARMED response.

            The situation in poorer neighbourhoods, townships and outlying villages is completely different. There people rely on the community and the police. Often there is not even a telephone to call the police. Incidences where the community corner (and beat up perceived) miscreants are common.

            Inner cities are nightmares.

            Small towns and farms often have security “groups” – a little like neighbourhood watches, and the neighbours often come to the rescue long before the police arrive.

            The long and the short is that poor people mostly have to look out for themselves. Usually the police will pitch up later.

            Some police stations are really excellent. They are the minority.

            We do not have more crime per capita that many other places. The difference lies in the extraordinary violence that often accompanies the crime.

          • SAGuest says:

            Please see below, Windy.

  21. piginthecity says:

    I’ll have to start a new thread to address GXM because the narrowing of the nested posts is rendering them unreadable.

    In the Dunn case, you’ve got it wrong. The victim was called Malcolm Under and a witness was called Frank Oever. The jury therefore has to decide whether Under was under Oever or was it Oever who was under Dunn ?

    Here’s the thing – I don’t know If Michael Dunn, Malcolm Under or any of these are real guys or if we’ve made them up. I can’t keep track of it. However, I don’t have to concern myself with this because the justice system exists to determine reality from fantasy and, in the event of somebody killing somebody else without justification to lock them up in prison where they belong. When I’m on a jury I act sensibly even if people involved in the case have names I may find amusing.

    Normally the system gets it at least in the ball-park of correct. In the Zimmerman case it’s got it pretty much disastrously wrong through a combination of factors some of which can be addressed over time through normal democratic processes.

    All victims are equally important, of course, and at that level then it’s as important that justice is done to Dunn (not these puns again !) as it is to Zimmerman or Pistorius. Us citizens, though, don’t really need to concern ourselves with cases where the system is broadly working. We can’t be at every trial and verify every aspect of the minutiae. We just get on with our lives with the knowledge that we have a legal systems, in the main, operate in the interests of our society.

    So, no, I’m got going to concern myself with Dunn. I’ve got no reason to. One thing is that I don’t see the relevance of skin colour to any of this, so I don’t have the same motivations of you do to pick cases where white guys/black guys act in ways which I find suit my prejudices, or whatever that’s all about.

    • gxm17 says:

      Now that was funny, Pig. Very well done.

      As I have from the start, I will most certainly be following the upcoming Michael Dunn trial, just as I will be following the upcoming Mona Nelson and Oscar Pistorius trials. Because it’s what I do. No hidden agenda, I just follow cases. And I’m very much looking forward to SAGuest’s commentary in coming month(s).

  22. SAGuest says:


    I had a quick squizz at the Pistorius place. It is in a very upmarket security village with security guards around the clock. Although this does not mean that he could not have had an intruder, the chances are very slim and he would have had opportunity to get help quickly.

    There are allegations that he tried to call security, but nothing can be confirmed.

  23. Emilio de Castro says:

    Excellent article! It was sober analyses like this that finally changed my mind regarding this case and the validity of Zimmerman’s acquittal. On a related note, I love your blog so far. It’s great to encounter others of a socialist bent who haven’t drunk the SJW kool-aid.

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