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View Diary: Yet Another Ruling against Trayvon -- Audio Experts excluded from Trial (155 comments)

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  •  Because the standard for criminal convictions... (6+ / 0-)

    ...isn't just "a likely basis"—it's "beyond a reasonable doubt."

    I fully believe that George Zimmerman should be convicted of murder for his shooting of Trayvon Martin, but I also fully believe that he deserves a fair trial and that he does not deserve to be convicted of murder unless it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he murdered Trayvon Martin.

    Zimmerman has the right to a fair trial and the right to the presumption of innocence, just as we all do if we are charged with a crime.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:24:32 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  ??? (0+ / 0-)

      That Zimmerman killed Martin is not at issue. A homicide by gunshot was in fact committed, and Zimmerman admitted all along he was the one who did it.

      Guilt or innocence in this situation isn't an issue apart from the specific charge (which the jury will decide). Zimmerman, who was armed, is guilty of killing Martin, who was unarmed. He will be as guilty of that for the rest of his life as he was the moment he pulled the trigger. This trial is about Zimmerman's excuse for killing Martin. How can someone be innocent - or guilty - of an excuse?

      •  Sigh. Not correct. (7+ / 0-)

        Self-defense is not an excuse.  It is the law.  In every state in this country, a person is entitled to use deadly force if that person is in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.  That's not an excuse.  It's legal justification for an action in every state in this country.  

        The caveat is that, if person is engaged in unlawful activity, and that unlawful activity is what caused the action that put that person in fear of death or great bodily harm, then that person is not authorized to use deadly force in self-defense.

        In this case, two central questions will be (1) whether Zimmerman was in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm from Martin at the moment when Zimmerman shot Martin.   If the answer is no, game over for Zimmerman. (2) If the answer is yes, whether something Zimmerman did something unlawful (like physically attack Martin) to prompt Martin's response that put Zimmerman in fear of death or great bodily harm.  

        Actually, that's phrased a bit wrong, because the prosecution has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the answer to question (1) is no; and/or the answer to question (2) is yes.  If the prosecution does not meet the burden of proving that beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must return a verdict of "not guilty."  

        •  I would say that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dream weaver

          stalking someone, with a gun, is an unlawful activity.

          Carrying Skittles and Iced Tea, is not.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 12:41:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This was not illegal stalking. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian, Pi Li, VClib

            See this comment, where I quoted the law and cases interpreting the law.  

            To summarize that comment, to be stalking under the law, you have to show repeated events.  You maliciously follow, you stop following (like you leave the area or start doing something completely different and unrelated), time passes where you are not following or attempting to following, there's another incident where you maliciously follow, you stop, you start again . . . "Stalking" laws take an action that is perfectly legal (but perhaps not "good") -- following someone, calling them, even saying nasty things to them -- and says that, if there are numerous separate and distinct instances of doing something otherwise legal , the repeated nature of those instances of conduct that would be legal if you did it once, along with malicious intent behind the repetition, is what is being criminalized.  For example, there's nothing illegal about walking past a person's house when they are leaving to go to work and saying really nasty things to that person.  (It's not a good thing, but it's not illegal.)  But if you do that every day for a week, that repetition is what may convert a bad, but otherwise legal act into stalking under the law.

            As far as the law is concerned, this was one instance of one person following and watching another person in a public area.  Regardless of what either person was thinking, regardless of whether that was a stupid thing for Zimmerman to do,  there's nothing illegal about following someone and watching them in a public area.  And I strongly suspect that the jury will be told exactly that when they are instructed on the law.  

            Now, if Zimmerman physically attacked Martin punched him, swung at him, etc. -- or if Zimmerman pointed a gun at Martin, THAT would be illegal conduct.  

            •  I believe Zimmerman (0+ / 0-)

              had a long history of calling in young black males to law enforcement.

              The pattern is there ... it's stalking.

              I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
              but I fear we will remain Democrats.

              Who is twigg?

              by twigg on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:33:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No. He has to have repeatedly followed Martin (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pi Li, VClib, Dr Swig Mcjigger

                for it to be stalking.  You can't "stalk" you follow different people at different times.  It has to be repeated action directed at the same person.  

                Think of it this way.  If a guy repeatedly and maliciously follows his ex-girlfriend, that's stalking.  If he's just angry at women, and repeatedly follows different women between the ages of 20 and 30, that's not stalking.  It may be bad behavior, but it's not stalking under the law.  

                •  I know how to think of it (0+ / 0-)

                  and I think my example is valid.

                  It may not have been tested yet, but it's a decent case to answer.

                  I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                  but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                  Who is twigg?

                  by twigg on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 02:25:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It goes to "intent" (0+ / 0-)

                    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                    Who is twigg?

                    by twigg on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 02:26:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  You are just wrong. You don't have to take my (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pi Li, VClib

                    word or it.  Think of it this way.  If Zimmerman was in the commission of felony stalking, then the prosecution could have charged him with first degree murder -- murder in the commission of a felony is first degree murder.  They did not.  They charged him with second degree murder - -which means they are NOT claiming he was committing a felony by following Martin.

                    Here's more proof.  While you will hear the prosecution say "profile" "wannabe  cop" and other things the Court approved, I'll bet you WON'T hear the prosecution say "stalking," because legally, he wasn't stalking.  If they say he was "stalking" -- acting illegally-- that would likely be a mistrial, because they essentially would be alleging he committed a criminal act that he has never been charged with committing.  

                    And "goes to "intent" only matters if your ACTIONS are illegal.  In my example about the man following different women, his "intent" is completely irrelevant, because his ACTIONS are not illegal.  If I'm walking behind you on a public street, watching you -- an action that is completely legal -- it does not matter what my intent is.  Period.  End of story. It does not matter if I hate you and wish you were dead.  As long as ALL I am doing is walking behind you, watching you, or even saying something to you, the fact that I hate you and wish you were dead doesn't matter.  

                    "Intent" matters in Z's shooting of Martin, clearly.  But it has nothing to do with the question of whether Z acted completely legally by following and watching Martin.  It may have been a stupid thing to do, but legally, it was NOT stalking.  

                  •  twigg - not under Florida law (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    coffeetalk, Pi Li, andalusi

                    Z did nothing illegal up to the point the two of them confront one another. What happened at that point is what the trial is all about.

                    The prosecution isn't going to make a stalking claim because under Florida law an event that takes ten minutes from the 911 call to the tragic end in no way fits the Florida stalking statute. The prosecution won't embarrass itself by making such a frivolous claim. The judge would smack them down and embarrass the prosecution in front of the jury.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:44:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Could a lawyer argue the contrary? (0+ / 0-)

              For example, by claiming that breaking a pursuit into two parts makes it a repeated pursuit?

              Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

              by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:18:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No. (I am a lawyer, by the way.) (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pi Li, VClib

                In that comment I linked to, a Florida Court, interpreting the Florida statute, discussed what "repeatedly" under the statute meant.  It concluded that a case where person 1 harassed person 2 at a kiosk in a mall, then person 1 left the area, 15 minutes passed where he was gone from the area, then he came back and did it again, then left the area, then an hour passed where he was gone from the area, then he came back and did it again, could be stalking.  The Court said that "repeatedly" meant what you normally think for it to mean-- different events, separated by the passage of time.  The fact that harasser left the area, time passed, and then he came back and did it again, he left the area, time passed again, and he came back again is what made it "repeatedly."

                In addition, this is a criminal statute.  You can't play those kinds of semantic games with criminal statutes.  Criminal statutes have to be strictly construed -- they have to be crystal clear, so that you know BEFORE you commit the act what is criminal and what is not.  

          •  It was not stalking according to Florida law. (0+ / 0-)
        •  Self defense under SYG (0+ / 0-)

          is a defense in this case, something it is the job of the defense - i.e., NOT the prosecution - to present and try to prove. The prosecution maintains that Zimmerman killed an unarmed teenager with his gun in a neighborhood alley because he had delusions of piggy grandeur and profiled the teenager from a distance as 'suspicious' and having criminal intent. Not just in his own mind, these are things he told the dispatcher. Before the dispatcher told him to break off the pursuit. The state presents its case based on its conclusion that the evidence shows this was an unjustified killing - murder-2.

          Against that case the defense will argue that Georgie boy was terrified of the Skittles-wielding teenager and suffered genuine fear for his very life from the ebil Skittles-rays and tea-bullets. So there was no malice or bad intent, Martin was deadly dangerous with his Skittles and tea-bullets and even a fist to the nose of the guy with the gun. And that means killing him was justified.

          Zimmerman's lawyer(s) waived a formal SYG hearing. If the evidence were sufficient, he would not be facing a jury at this time or ever. Instead, they chose to try it on the murder trial jury as mitigating circumstance for the killing, hoping they'll have better luck. It's a longshot, I think. He'd have been better off claiming the gun went off by accident as they struggled. Too late for that now...

          •  Not correct under Florida law. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Neuroptimalian, Dogs are fuzzy, VClib

            As long as a defendant raises a prima facie case of self-defense then the burden shifts to the prosecution to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.  

            So, here's what the jury will be instructed:

            If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the  question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty.
            That clearly means the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense rests with the prosecution.  Basically, if there's enough for the judge to give the jury instruction on self-defense and what it is and what it is not, the jury will also be told that the burden is on the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was not self-defense.  
      •  There's a lot to unpack there. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coffeetalk
        That Zimmerman killed Martin is not at issue. A homicide by gunshot was in fact committed, and Zimmerman admitted all along he was the one who did it.
        You're right that it is indisputable that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin—but the legal characterization of that shooting as a "homicide" is precisely what is at issue here.

        If a reasonable person in Zimmerman's situation would believe that his or her life was at risk, then this was not a homicide but a case of self-defense.

        Now, I believe that Zimmerman's killing of Martin was in fact a homicide, and I am hopeful that the prosecution will succeed in convincing the jury of that beyond a reasonable doubt.

        But you quite simply can't jump immediately from the established fact that Zimmerman shot Martin, to saying that it is a similarly established fact that Zimmerman's shooting of Martin was a homicide. It's not at all established; that's why we have trials.

        He will be as guilty of that for the rest of his life as he was the moment he pulled the trigger. This trial is about Zimmerman's excuse for killing Martin. How can someone be innocent - or guilty - of an excuse?
        Because the "excuse" here—the context of the situation beyond the already-established fact that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin—is what determines whether this was a homicide, the unlawful killing of another person, or a case of self-defense. Simply assuming that because it's established that Zimmerman shot Martin, it's automatically a homicide and any attempts by Zimmerman to defend himself are nothing more than an "excuse," suggests a complete and inappropriate rush to judgment.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:01:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You've lost the meaning of words. (0+ / 0-)

          Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. Period. Full stop.

          The reasons and excuses for one person killing another person cannot ever in a bazillion years make the dead un-dead or negate the fact of the killing or magically render the kill-shot undone for the human who delivered it.

          That isn't a difficult concept, James. "Self-defense" may keep you out of prison because a jury believe that excuse, but it doesn't undo the deed.

          •  No, self defense means your actions were lawful. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep, VClib

            That's the concept you don't understand.  "Self-defense" is not an excuse.  It means that the person who acted in self-defense acted legally, and the OTHER PERSON, who may be dead, is the one who acted illegally.  

            If Stranger comes up to me and points a gun at me and says "I'm going to shoot you," and I shoot him first and he dies, I acted in self-defense.  That means I acted legally, and HE acted illegally.  That's not "an excuse."  

        •  Of course it's a homicide. (0+ / 0-)

          Whether it's a murder and not a justifiable homicide is the question in front of the legal system.

          Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

          by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:22:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Joieau - James used the term murder (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pi Li

        and you used the term killed. They aren't the same under the law. Z is presumed innocent of murder even though no one is disputing that he killed Trayvon.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:39:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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