The Zimmerman Trial

 Crime, Featured, Legislature, Media, Politics, Society  Comments Off on The Zimmerman Trial
Jul 152013
 

I couldn’t let the George Zimmerman case go by without commenting. I think the main issues in the case are being overrun by our desire to make the main issue one of race. The case certainly has two points of race running through it, but the primary issues here are Florida’s draconian self-defense laws, and our concealed-carry law.

Let’s get the racial issues out-of-the-way first. I certainly believe race played a role in this case. Zimmerman clearly, based on the 911 call, profiled Trayvon Martin because he was a young black man. Now there certainly had been some crimes in his neighborhood involving young black men, but you go profiling, this is what happens. Despite Zimmerman’s impression, Martin “belonged” in the neighborhood. It was his neighborhood, and he was merely walking through. Would Zimmerman have called in a report of white teenager walking through the neighborhood? I don’t know, but suspect it would be unlikely.

The other racial undertone has to do with the actions of the response of the Sanford police officers. They were going to accept, unchallenged, Zimmerman’s invoking of Florida’s stand your ground law (more on that in a minute). I have to wonder if the tables had been turned. George Zimmerman had pursued and confronted this young man who was doing nothing wrong or illegal. He was carrying a gun. I would consider him a threat in that situation, and under Florida’s stand your ground law, I would have a right to use deadly force, as did Trayvon Martin. Let’s say that Martin had managed to wrestle Zimmerman’s gun away from him, and had, fearing for his life (he would have had a gun drawn on him after all), shot George Zimmerman? It’s only speculation, but I suspect the Sanford police would have used a higher standard for a stand your ground defense if proffered by Martin. I suspect he would have arrested and charged on the spot.

Did Zimmerman set out to find a black person to shoot that day? I seriously doubt it. Did he take the opportunity to shoot a black person when he came across one? I doubt that too. For that reason I’m hard pressed to consider this a crime of bias, but, as I said, there are certainly racial overtones to this situation.

I think they are overshadowed by a number of other issues which point directly to the absolutely insane Republicans running state government here in Florida. Let’s look at those issues in more detail.

First is the concept of “concealed carry.” If the idea of being able to carry one’s gun is for protection, then the concept of concealed carry is silly on its face, and in the case, deadly. What do I mean by this. My preference would be to avoid being involved in a crime at all. So if I carried a gun, it would be for the purpose of convincing you that I’m not your best choice as a potential target for a mugging. That means I need you to see my gun. I don’t want it concealed…I’d want to carry it loud proud. It is again speculation, but if Martin had seen a gun on Zimmerman as he approached, he might have turned tail and ran. I’d like to think Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot a fleeing person in the back. I believe concealed carry contributed to this situation.

Then we come to silly statutes in Florida that allow one to defend themselves. People who legitimately find themselves in life threatening situations have an absolute right to defend themselves. However, these are the kinds of situation that will happen in states with such broad self-defense and stand your ground laws. First, there was nearly never any accountability whatsoever because of stand your ground. While the outcome of the trial was not what many people believe served justice, at least there was a trial. Had it not been for the public pressure, Zimmerman’s invoking of stand your ground would have eliminated even a reasoned examination of the facts of the case, and the law in deliberately crafted to subvert such an airing of facts.

The self-defense law is so broad here in Florida that I would walk up to someone on the street, punch them in the face, and once they start kicking the shit out of me, I could pull out my concealed weapon to shoot and kill the person I originally attacked. Silly you’d think, but not so with our illustrious Florida Republicans, and this case is the result. I think that once you either instigate or pursue, you forfeit any claim to self-defense. At that point, you’re no longer defending yourself, you just got yourself into a fight.

The jury is getting a lot of flack, but I think it is undeserved. The jury is required to be finders of fact, and appliers of the law, and in this case, as unfortunate as it is, they did just that. There is really no significant forensic evidence, no complete and significant eyewitness testimony…there seems to only be a case of “he said / he said.” The only problem, there’s only one of the he’s available. I do not want juries to try to make law, or find violations of law where there is none. That’s not for juries to do. I want us to preserve the presumption of innocence, and I want the prosecution to have a very high bar to prove their case. In this situation, they were unable to hurdle the bar, but that’s largely because the Florida Legislature stacked the supports unreasonably high.

I think the jury decided the case before them rightly based on the law and the evidence. Now, does that bring any justice for Trayvon Martin and his family. No it certainly does not. The largest part of the blame is on George Zimmerman. This is a situation of his creation, and I hope the Martin sues his pants off, and I hope they win. They deserve nothing less. However, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and THE main reason justice could not be found in a criminal courtroom is because the Florida legislature has essentially legalized vigilantism. Direct your complaints and protests towards the Capital Building in Tallahassee.

As I said, I hope the Martin family brings a civil suit. There is no doubt about the basic facts of the case. George Zimmerman created a hostile situation in which Trayvon Martin exercised his right to stand his ground. Unfortunately, he lost because he brought only a pack of skittles to an unplanned gun fight.

As for a federal prosecution under civil rights laws, I’m not much of a fan. Those have their place, but again, I think that must be a high bar. Do I think Zimmerman committed a hate crime? I really don’t. I think he committed a crime of stupidity. The best place for the rest of this case is a civil courtroom. Let Trayvon and his family now have their day in court.That will be best found there. For the rest of us, we need to demand sanity from our legislators.

Daily Ramblings – July 1, 2009

 Crime, General, Places, Society, Tampa, Weather  Comments Off on Daily Ramblings – July 1, 2009
Jul 012009
 

From yesterday, we’ve got a “pig” traffic tie up out in Pasco County, and today we’ve got rain, rain, and more rain, and do you know what one calls 1,000 lawyers on the bottom of the ocean?

That’s right, yesterday morning during rush hour there was a big traffic backup at a big intersection over in Pasco County. Apparently there was a dead pig in the middle of the intersection blocking things up. I have been unable to get any more information about this one.

Yesterday and today we’ve had a ton of rain, and while it’s quiet now, the radar seems to show that we are going to get more. I’ve had to pump water out of the pool a couple times. We’ve needed some rain, but be careful what you wish for. We really got it, and it has come in downpours when it rains. I had to drive up to the north side of town to run some errands, and that meant making my way through several areas where the streets get very flooded.

In Tarpon Springs a police officer has resigned amid allegations that he slashed the tires on a homeless person’s bicycles. Apparently he was mad because the homeless addressed several times with racial epithets (reportedly the “n” word) over and over after he arrested the homeless person on a trespassing charge.

Tampa Tribune File Photo

Tampa Tribune File Photo

So, the answer to the lawyer question above (What does one call 1,000 lawyers on the bottom of the ocean?) is “a good start.” A couple of months ago a thug named Richard McTear was arrested for allegedly throwing his teenage girlfriend’s baby on the concrete floor in her apartment, the tossing the baby from a car window out on the interstate. The baby died. Bedwell, the baby’s mother, is herself receiving services from DCF. She had problems with McTear, and had the Sheriff’s Department close a case against him, and DCF lower their concern level after she promised to seek a court order to keep McTear away. She didn’t, so now she is, big surprise, suing everyone in sight, including DCF and Sheriff’s Office.

But her money-grubbing attorney’s are also suing…wait for it…the apartment managers where she lived, because they supposedly didn’t provide enough security to keep this from happening.

Alito Faces Questions from the Senate

 Corruption, Politics, The Courts  Comments Off on Alito Faces Questions from the Senate
Nov 102005
 

This guy fits right in with the current crop of Republicans. During his 1990 nomination as an appeals court judge, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito promised to recuse himself, to avoid potential conflicts of interest, in cases "involving Vanguard, in which he owned mutual fund shares; Smith Barney, his brokerage firm; First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, N.Y., which held his home mortgage; and his sister’s law firm." But in cases involving three of the four companies, senators on the Judiciary Committee question whether Alito has truly attempted to avoid ethical conflicts. In a 2002 case, Alito ruled in Vanguard’s favor, even though the judge owned between $390,000 and $975,000 in mutual fund shares from Vanguard. He later withdrew from further involvement in the case only after the protests of the other party. Alito also ruled in a 1996 case involving Smith Barney and in 1995, Alito failed to recuse himself from a case involving his sister’s law firm.