Saturday, July 13, 2013

Guest Post by Free0352

On the George Zimmerman trial.

You never know what a jury is going to do. I sat through nearly a hundred jury trials when I was a court bailiff. Most lawyers never sit through that many trials. And I got a better seat in the trial than the lawyers because I was the bailiff. I got to hear what the jury said during deliberations. The lawyers don’t get to hear that through the door like I did. Heck, even the judge doesn’t get to hear that. And speaking of judges, I got to hear what they thought too. Most judges talk to the bailiff, we're their right hand men after all. The lawyers and the jury would kill to hear that, but they can’t. Only the bailiff hears it all. Because of that, short of hiring a jury consultant I’d say court bailiffs are your best experts on juries and judges there are. So let me tell you the one thing I learned about juries in the three years I sat outside listening to them.

You can’t predict what the hell they are going to do.

Juries are made up of people. And people are random, arbitrary and often dumb.

When you hear the screwed up stuff juries decide cases on, you often start to question the jury system. After you see a guy convicted because the jury wanted out of deliberations to go watch the playoffs or a person acquitted because they didn’t like the victim’s wife, you get a little concerned for the criminal justice system. And yes, I saw both those jury findings happen in my time.

But try as I might, I can’t think of a better system and nobody else can either. 12 - or in the case of Florida’s non-capital cases 6 - random people selected out of a pool by the attorneys that represent the parties to the case are the best anybody can come up with. I’ve seen what a system where judges decide guilt looks like. Japan has a 99.8% conviction rate. No thanks to that system. So what’s left if not professional judges? 12 (or 6) random citizens is who. And I’ve yet to find a way to ever predict what those 12 random people are going to do.

I’ve also learned something else. It is not a court of justice it is a court of laws. Let’s say that together.

It’s not a court of justice it’s a court of laws.

Justice is something that occasionally happens in a court. If you’re looking for justice in court, keep looking. You won’t find it. It is not about the way you think it should be. It’s not about being fair, it’s not about making people happy. It’s about the law. It’s a system by lawyers, for lawyers. The only decision makers in the process who aren't lawyers are the jurors, and that is precisely why they are there.

So this post is about the Trevon Martin, George Zimmerman case better known as The People of Florida vs. George Zimmerman. I wrote a while back that I wanted to see a trial before I made up my mind either way. And now I’ve seen the trial. I’ve seen the evidence the jury saw. As usual I have no idea what those 6 women are going to do. But I do figure that since I said I’d say what I thought when the time came, I’d better go ahead and share my conclusions for what they are worth. You might agree, you might not. That’s fine either way. Law isn’t a popularity contest, and I’m telling you the truth about law. Contrary to popular belief, the truth doesn’t always set you free; sometimes it just hurts.

So we’ll look at what we’ve seen or at least what I saw. What I saw, is that both the Defendant (Zimmerman) and the Victim (Martin) used deadly force in this incident. Deadly force defined by law is “That force which to a reasonable person would be enough force to cause death or great bodily harm.” That is a cut and dried legal definition and both victim and defendant met it. Zimmerman is an obvious case. Shooting someone is always considered deadly force. It’s a little more complicated on Martin’s part. But he did meet it. We have eye witness testimony that Martin was on top of Zimmerman, and we have the pictures to prove Zimmerman got his ass kicked. Now you might say –especially my Army and Marine Corps buddies– that simply having a person down on the ground whooping their ass isn’t tantamount to shooting them. You could say that, and under the law you would be wrong. Your personal opinion of this is of total irrelevance. It isn’t a court of justice, it’s a court of law remember?

Case law specifically states that if an assailant has a person in a helpless position that prevents the victim from escaping - such as performing a ground-and-pound on them – then that is deadly force and that deadly force in turn is legally acceptable. The definition is worded so that the attacker doesn’t have to kill the victim or even injure them. There must only be THE POTENTIAL of killing or seriously harming. If you’ve ever kicked someone while they were down, or held someone pinned and then hit them, under the law that is tantamount to shooting them. That's aggravated assault and battery at minimum, and at most attempted murder. Courts have even ruled that a person restrained by the seat belt in their car is by definition held in a helpless position just as if they were tied to the seat with a rope. Bear that in mind the next time you punch somebody repeatedly who is buckled up because at that point they can legally shoot you dead.

So – like it or not – both the defendant and the victim used deadly force. So now... as far as law is concerned, it goes back to little kid rules. We have to ask who started it just like your second grade teacher used to. Just with a lot more at stake. Deadly force is sometimes authorized by law. Sometimes that is cut and dried. Like when a 300 pound axe murder is kicking down a 120 pound woman’s door and she puts both barrels of the shot gun into him. And sometimes it’s not so cut and dried as in the Zimmerman case. If Zimmerman didn’t have a scratch on him, this would be open and shut murder or at least manslaughter. But at some point before Martin’s death Zimmerman got struck over and over by Martin while he was down on the ground. We have eye witness testimony to that fact and the wound forensics on Zimmerman to back that narrative up. That is both eye witness and physical evidence. So the crux of this thing becomes; Who initiated force? That is the guilty party and determines Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence.

Some have said that Zimmerman carrying a gun equates to motive. Sorry it just doesn’t. Concealed carry is legal in Florida with a permit and Zimmerman had one. Following someone too - even against the advice of 911 dispatchers - is not a criminal act. For deadly force to be ruled self defense it has to be shown that the attacker was an eminent threat to the defender’s life. Unlike shooting someone or pounding their head on the side walk, following someone never killed them. Someone following you may indeed by creepy; it isn’t tantamount to pulling a gun out and pointing it at you which indeed would be grounds.

So we are left with the question, who initiated deadly force? Martin or Zimmerman? Here’s the deal. After all the testimony and evidence… We. Don’t. Know.

There are no witnesses or evidence as to who threw the first punch so to speak. The evidence hasn't shown us if Zimmerman drew down on Martin and Martin was reasonably defending himself. It hasn't shown us if Martin saw Zimmerman get out of his truck to look around and confronted him physically for following him. In short, nobody knows for sure who started it except George Zimmerman, and he didn’t testify one way or another.

And that my friends, is the definition of reasonable doubt.

Like it or not, we have a presumption of innocence in our criminal justice system. When in doubt, a jury is instructed to side with innocence because we PRESUME the Defendant is innocent unless it’s beyond a reasonable doubt he is guilty.

Now if I were talking to George Zimmerman, I’d slap his silly ass and call him the moron he is. He got himself into a lot of trouble, somebody died that didn’t need to, and he didn’t do concealed carry advocates like myself any favors. I think the man was an overzealous prick. But if I were on his jury, that reasonable doubt would be staring me in the face. And it’s not a court of justice guys it’s a court of laws. So I would vote to acquit with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Will this jury of 6 random women vote the law or not? Part of the answer to that is another reason we have a jury system. The jurors can totally discard the law if they feel it is too unjust. There are no grounds for appeal because the jury didn’t go your way on the law. Will this jury of 6 random women do that? I have no idea. I’m not the bailiff listening outside the door on this one. But if it were me - all I can say is I believe in reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence. So I couldn’t vote any other way, no matter how I feel about George Zimmerman. And before you complain too loudly about it, remember that same presumption of innocence and standard or reasonable doubt in criminal trials protects YOU just like its protecting George Zimmerman. Before you suggest we throw it away, remember you might need it some day.


Haverwilde said...

Well, Free, I might dispute minor points, I am as human as you; but you did a fine analysis. Good Job. I hope the jury follows your logic.
My gut is telling me, they will come back with a female (sorry ladies) compromise and find him guilty of manslaughter. Illogical perhaps, but after this wait, I doubt they will come back with an 'innocent' decision. Of course there is always the hopelessly hung jury, in which case we will find out in a couple of days.

CrabbyOldMan said...


Anonymous said...

Good Post...after being picked for a jury twice one for a criminal trial I now believe there is no justice only the guy was guilty as shit but we could not convict by the law! Turns out he was already in jail didn't find that out until we gave the NOT GUILTY verdict...I don't see what being a woman has anything to do with it...if you listen to the judge & the law and comprehend will do what you need to do...male or female. Although...OJ was found innocent...people are stupid in each of the sexes... -AB

Haverwilde said...

Well ladies, my apologies.
I was dead wrong!
The six women did well. I should have had more faith in the fairer sex.

free0352 said...

Well, I was right.

Again. As always. ;)

Foxy Wizard said...


Foxy Wizard said...

The truth is without this jury, he would have been convicted long ago. the judge certainly did everything she could to aid the prosecution.

free0352 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
free0352 said...

I'm loving the lefty websites demanding a civil trial, too stupid to realize that in Florida in self defense cases if the homicide was ruled justifiable then a civil tort will not survive summery disposition and the plaintiff has to pay all the costs for both them, the court and Zimmerman's defense. One or two of those will shut that down.

Holder might try some civil rights nonsense if he hasn't learned by this his power is not absolute. It won't survive grand jury either. Zimmerman is free and there is NOTHING the left can do about it.

They'll attack self defense laws now, but that will go nowhere in a hurry. This is a 100% win for gun rights and George Zimmerman.

The concept of self defense is alive and well in Florida and the rest of the country what with Illionis' new opening to CPL. The criminals days of having the advantage are over. Go out, get a pistol, get trained.

Anonymous said...

AB <------wants training :)

Radical Redneck said...

Want a snapshot on how the moonbat left responds to this prevention of a horrible travesty (re: Zimmerman)? I can't possibly mock any more or better than the self-mockery here. Downright surreal.

Zelda said...

I have hated this case from beginning to end. I hate the disgusting, race absurd media coverage, I hate George Zimmerman, and I hate that that kid is dead. The evidence was not there to convict George Zimmerman, but that did not mean that Trayvon Martin committed a crime. And if Trayvon had killed Zimmerman, he would have had to be acquitted too, especially because Zimmerman was carrying. Turn the situation around on people and you discover whether they are fair minded or racists.

Bram said...

I half followed the case. Everything I heard about the Prosecution's case sounded like reasonable doubt to me. All the Defense had to do was not prove the case.

free0352 said...

"Search your heart..."

Right then you knew they had nothing.

Anonymous said...

Trevon was the master of his own fate. He could of walked away. Instead we was pissed that a 'cracker' was following him on private property. He initiated a confrontation. He lost.

Nimbus said...

As someone who currently trains in martial arts, I technically agree with your assessment of lethal force if the person was indeed trapped in a ground and pound situation. I know in my state, the letter of the law for self defense is foggy at best and really equates "reasonable force required" to escape a bad situation. Deadly force for me is allowed the moment someone pulls a weapon, grabs me by the throat or if I am confronted by multiple attackers. However, if I walk into a bar, shoot my mouth off, or show any combative tendency prior to an encounter, my ass is grass in the eyes of the law; even if deadly force was eventually justified. In the eyes of the law in my state, I have a duty to walk away from a bad situation if I can do so.

Now, I didn't watch the trial because I basically avoid the media and the way they exploit this shit for their own gain... so there may be a few things I missed. Given what I have heard as reliable, I will comment only on that.

Like you, I also agree that only 2 people on the planet knew what really happened... and neither of them are talking. That being said, I have no opinion on the validity of the self defense claim as I was not there.

What bothers me is the 911 call. My dojo is made up of about 35% active duty law enforcement and the one thing they always caution about is people with no real training stepping into situations that they are ill-prepared to deal with. The 911 dispatcher made it very clear that Zimmerman did not need to follow Martin. Zimmerman ignored that directive. In doing so, he willingly escalated the situation; and instead of letting the police do their job, he placed himself in a vulnerable situation by attempting to do their job for for them. He was overzealous and exercised extremely poor judgment on multiple levels. In short, the only thing he did right was initially call 911. From that point forward, regardless of what ensued, he did everything that law enforcement tells you not to do.

The state should have charged him with involuntary manslaughter. That is reasonable and correct given the circumstances.

free0352 said...

Zimmerman ignored that directive

Zimmerman is claiming he didn't follow. His story is that he ended his following immediately after he said 'okay' to the 9-11 dispatcher.

But even if he did, the law doesn't say you can beat a man to death for following you. It does say when man tries to beat you to death, you may fight back with deadly force. Your interpretation of the law and the case are both incorrect. Where Martin got himself killed and where the law lost sympathy is when he assumed the ground and pound. It wasn't Zimmerman's clear over zealousness that got Martin killed, it was Martin assuming the ground and pound and then breaking Zimmerman's nose and busting up the back of his head. Zimmerman crossed "the stupid" line, Martin crossed the "felony" line.

Involuntary manslaughter is... for accidents. Involuntary manslaughter is for things like negligence or negligence. George Zimmerman didn't kill Martin on accident or without intent, he intended to use deadly force. The question was; was that justified? Constructive manslaughter is also referred to as ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter. It is based on the doctrine of constructive malice, whereby the malicious intent inherent in the commission of a crime is considered to apply to the consequences of that crime. It occurs when someone kills, without intent, in the course of committing an unlawful act - and there is the key. Zimmerman's actions were not unlawful. Even IF he was following Martin. Being the neighborhood jerk is not grounds for deadly force. A good example of involuntary manslaughter is when a driver runs a red light and causes and accident that results in death. The illegal act of running the red light make the defendant criminally liable. What was Zimmerman's criminal act? Right - there wasn't one.

Fearthuinn min an Saille said...

Agreed. I paid very little attention to the trial (thank every god on this earth for lack of cable), outside trial transcripts that I read (not the media circus). I honestly could not find anything in the prosecution that couldn't be turned on its head.

It's the one thing that is driving me nuts about my lefty friends - reasonable doubt = not guilty. The prosecution didn't fulfill their burden to prove guilt, by default, it means not guilty.

Really, not that difficult.

And all of it could have been avoided with a "Dude, WTF you followin' me?"