Skip to main content

View Diary: What If Trayvon Martin “Stood His Ground”, or How Dueling Bacame Legal in FL (166 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  You don't understand the law. (6+ / 0-)

    Your fear has to be reasonable.  Somebody walking behind you does not create a fear of death or serious injury.

    Using your logic, if Trayvon had a gun he could have simply turned around and shot Zimmerman.

    •  See my comment above. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell

      Also, using my logic Martin would surely have been justified under the law to pull his own gun and shoot Zimmerman after Zimmerman pulled his gun.

      Remember, Martin was just walking home.  Zimmerman was the one who stalked, approached, assaulted (not battered) and then pulled a gun on Martin.  Until Martin responded by beating on Zimmerman he had done nothing wrong, and even then it could be explained by fearing for his safety if not his life.

      •  and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sukeyna, wishingwell
        Until Martin responded by beating on Zimmerman he had done nothing wrong
        even then he did nothing wrong.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:09:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whether Martin did something legally wrong (5+ / 0-)

          in beating on Zimmerman depends on what Zimmerman did before that.  See my other comments.  If all Zimmerman did was walk behind Martin and follow him, and say "what are you doing here, then yes Martin did do something legally wrong by hitting Zimmerman.  If Zimmerman verbally threatened Martin, or took a swing at him, or pointed his gun at him, then you are correct, Martin did not do anything wrong by responding to that kind of thing by hitting Zimmerman (if that's what happened).

          •  I think we need to remember ... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sukeyna, wishingwell, deePA, FloridaSNMOM

            that he didn't just walk behind him.  First he trailed him in a car, then he parked the car, then he got out of the car and trailed Martin and only then did he ask what Martin was doing there.

            The stalking is threatening in nature, and Martin was definitely scared as he called his girlfriend to say there was a threat going on.  

            This is not passing a guy in the street in your neighborhood and saying, "What are you doing here?"  It was a calculated effort to track, stalk and intimidate -- and it worked.

            •  It is not stalking under Florida law. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              johnny wurster
              •  True Bailey but even some things that are lawful (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM, a2nite

                can certainly be perceived as threatening. I do not think it is against my state's law for a man to follow me down a dark alley. As he may heading my way too. But that does not mean I have been scared shitless when I was a young woman doing this a couple of times.  

                Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:47:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  It is NOT legally considered stalking. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kickemout, VClib
              The stalking is threatening in nature, and Martin was definitely scared as he called his girlfriend to say there was a threat going on.  
              Here's Florida's stalking law.  Misdemeanor requires the following to be done maliciously AND repeatedly.  I've gone through this before in numerous comments.  The Florida courts have made clear that "repeatedly" means separate events, separated by the passage of time where you are NOT attempting to follow someone.  If Zimmerman followed the same person  on three or four different nights, that would be misdemeanor stalking.  You will notice that the prosecution NEVER uses the word "stalking," because legally it is not.  They asked the judge for permission to use the word "profile," but they did not even ask to use the word "stalking" because legally, the stalking law does not apply to Zimmerman's conduct.  If they said Zimmerman was "stalking" Martin, that could result in a mistrial, as it would be essentially accusing him of a separate crime that he is not charged with.

              And the standard is not whether Martin was in fear.  The standard is whether there is a reasonable fear that Zimmerman was about to use unlawful force.  The use of the word "reasonable" in the law makes clear that it's an objective standard -- you have to be able to point to something that would demonstrate that he's about to use unlawful force.  

              Martin may well have felt scared.  But that is NOT legal justification for hitting Zimmerman.  The self-defense statutes, which apply to Martin's actions as well as Zimmerman's, require a REASONABLE belief that Zimmerman was about to use unlawful FORCE.  That requires that you can point to something and say, "He took a swing at me."  Or "he pointed a gun at me."  

              No matter how "scared" Martin was, walking behind someone, watching them, and coming up to them saying "what are you doing here" is not objectively an indication that the person is about to use force.  There would have to be some words, or some gestures, to demonstrate that he's about to use force.  

              I'm a woman.  If a really, really creepy looking man is following me down a street at night, and comes up to me and says, "what are you doing here" I might be VERY scared.  But that is not justification, for example, for my kicking him in the groin.  If that's what he did, and that's what I did, I would be charged with battery.   On that kind of behavior, my options are call 911, leave the area, go into a public store,  or -- if I am really scared -- to scream and run away.  I am not allowed to do something physically against him because he scares me, IF he has not made a move of physical violence against me. I'd have to have something more that made me reasonably believe he was about to use physical force against me.  

              •  It is possible Trayvon started to walk or run (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM

                away from Z and Z told him to stop , to detain him till the cops got there, and Z tackled him to keep him from getting away. I can see that happening if he was an overly zealous neighborhood watch cop wannabe. He did want to be a cop and he was in college training for some law enforcement career. Listen to his 911 call, he clearly was angry so many got away ...who he thought were suspicious as he apparently called the police over a hundred times in a year. And probably when the cops got there, whomever he was reporting was gone.

                I thought there may be a chance, from the moment i Heard this story, notice I say a chance....that Z was determined Martin would not escape or run away or hide out till the cops got there and Z tried to detain him.

                Well if a guy is following me and asking me  to stop or firing questions at me and then tries to chase me down. hell I would be scared too. As remember Trayvon did not live around there and he had no idea probably about previous home robberies and so on.

                Poor Trayvon had no idea why this guy was following him and why and why Z was so intent in his pursuit.

                Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:52:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's always possible. Unfortunately, the (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib, nextstep, brooklyn137

                  prosecution cannot suggest what is possible.  The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.  Musing about what's possible, and coming up with a lot of different answers, is exactly what the prosecution cannot have the jury do if they want a conviction.  

                  •  Oh I agree, I just feel sad because this case is (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    worldlotus

                    so tragic, it could have been prevented, and I grieve for the Martin family . It is so very very sad that this young teen was killed...so incredibly tragic.

                    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                    by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 03:15:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  My sister is visiting and she is even sadder, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    worldlotus

                    cannot watch much of this without becoming sad. As Trayvon could have been one of her teen students as she is a high school teacher and athletic director in a high school with a diverse student population. She said it could have been one of her kids and she becomes very very sad.

                    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                    by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 03:18:19 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Regardless of the verdict, (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Pi Li, SoCalSal, brooklyn137

                      it is a huge tragedy.  Regardless of who did what on that night, a family has lost their son.  And that's always a tragedy for the family.    

                      In some ways, the legal system is unfeeling when it comes to the families of victims, because when it comes to the criminal justice system, the focus is all upon the defendant and making sure the defendant's rights are protected as he or she faces trial.  Victims' rights groups have complained about that years, and have gotten some laws passed that give rights to victims -- some laws make prosecutors consult victims or their families before they agree to a plea bargain of a lesser offense.  

                      •  Indeed (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        coffeetalk, SoCalSal, andalusi

                        And it's important to remember, a victim rights, and that of his/her family, in the courtroom, are a function of statute, as you said. The rights of the accused are constitutional, and there's a world of difference.

                        We see phrases like "Justice for Trayvon" quite a bit, but that's not really the purpose of our criminal courts. If anything, it's "Justice for Zimmerman", and its his rights the court is concerned with at the moment.  And I get that it all seems very unfair, until you're the one who gets caught up in our criminal justice system.

                        There's a lot of talk about how by somehow analysing this case on its merits, some of the lawyers here somehow have no feeling, or compassion for Martin and his family, when nothing could be further from the truth. I just don't see the value in yet another voice talking about how outraged they are.

                        I read once about an oath that prosecutors in the Jag corps use to take quite some time ago that I always liked, something along the lines of "I will represent the
                        Government of the United States without passion or prejudice." I always liked that, and never had much use for the "crusading" prosecutor image. Prosecutors are not supposed to get emotional and vindictive about the people they are prosecuting.  They do of course, and God help you if a vindictive prosecutor, especially a Federal one, gets you in their crosshairs.  But to me, too much passion in a prosecutor is a dangerous thing, especially when people's civil liberties are concerned.

                        Black Holes Suck.

                        by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 04:24:47 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  What if the creepy man following you said (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM

                "Give me all your money."
                Is that considered physical violence?
                 

                I am not allowed to do something physically against him because he scares me, IF he has not made a move of physical violence against me.
                Would it be assault if you maced the creepy guy?
                •  I think that would be sufficient to (0+ / 0-)

                  mace the creepy guy, depending on the context.  If there were any accompanying gestures, like grabbing my purse or me, or  even blocking my way as I walk down the street, I think you've got an argument for a reasonable belief that he's threatening the use of unlawful force to take my money.   he doesn't have to SAY "or I will hit you."  The threat does not have to be stated overtly.  But there must be words and/or gestures that a reasonable person would construe as a threat to use force.  

                  Now, if the creepy guy said, in a begging kind of voice rather than a threatening voice, "give me all your money?" with no accompanying physical gesture and no tone of threat (i.e., where a reasonable person would see him as a panhandler), no, that would not be sufficient to mace the creepy guy.   A reasonable person would not view that as a threat to use force.

                  •  While I understand the context used here & the (0+ / 0-)

                    many other legal explanations as to what constitutes "threat" or "stalking" or "creepy ass human" etal, I want to know how this pertains to children.

                    As a parent, I taught my children to be on the safe side-different things at different developmental stages of their lives..  

                    As a parent, I did not consider my teens to be adults or to have the maturity or judgement/critical thinking or executive planning skills of an adult.

                    Today, in hindsight, when they were the age Trayvon Martin was when he died-just turned 17(?)-they would agree with my assessment of them then.

                    Call it emotion or fear if you must or merely protection of species, but I would imagine & hope that most parents do teach their children to beware of those unknown beings who "follow" them, watch them from a vehicle & to use every means possible to get away from anyone who is a stranger or makes them feel unsafe.

                    Sadly, no parent can protect or warn of every danger as is evidenced by multiple abductions, rapes, molestations, murders, frightened people reacting to perception, etc.  

                    The true legalities that have been outlined concerning what is & what is not self defense or stalking or reasonable fear, etc, frankly scares the shite out of me as a parent, a grandparent & citizen.

                    Parents try so very hard to keep their children safe.

                    So aside from everything else about this case that has riveted so many, there is this current as well that tugs a parents heart or bewilders or confuses or outrages or terrifies.   It is only human.  

                    Just as it is only human, as a parent, for some to see this tragedy through the eyes of both the parents of Trayvon Martin & Mr. Zimmerman.
                     

          •  It is very possible, Trayvon started to run and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM

            tried to get away from Z and not answer his questions and Z tackled him and thus a fight broke out and Trayvon of course would fight back as would anyone. That is also very possible in addition to other scenarios talked about here.

            Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

            by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:46:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Zimmerman would never admit he started the (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, sukeyna, a2nite

              physical fight. The premise his lawyer has always basically used is that he was correct in pulling over Martin,literally, because he looked like a hood to Zimmerman. As far as I know, it is not save for things like this to dress the way other teenagers of your group do, even if that is not Z's group.  This situation is a wonderful reason for anyone to avoid going to Florida, because there's no way to have basic security on the streets there with this law in force. I surely would not.

      •  Again, (see my comment below) the law matters. (6+ / 0-)

        Let me break down your comment.

        Remember, Martin was just walking home.  Zimmerman was the one who stalked, approached, assaulted (not battered) and then pulled a gun on Martin.  Until Martin responded by beating on Zimmerman he had done nothing wrong, and even then it could be explained by fearing for his safety if not his life.
        1.  "Stalked" -- although you may think of following as "stalking" in the colloquial sense, what Zimmerman did was NOT stalking in the legal sense, since the law requires "repeated" following.  You will notice that the prosecution NEVER uses the word stalking, because it is not stalking under the law.

        2.  "approached" -- nothing illegal about that.  Nothing about that which would justify a physical response by Martin.

        3.  "assualted"  -- again, the law matters.  Assault requires more than coming up to someone that you have been following.   It requires

        an  intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent
        If the prosecution has evidence that Zimmerman said something like "I am going to hit you" or raised his arm to swing at Martin, or pointed his gun at Martin, that would be an assault.   Following someone, walking up to them and saying "what are you doing here, is not an unlawful threat to do violence.

        It is very true that, until Martin started beating on Zimmerman (if that's what happened) Martin had done nothing wrong.  But to show that, until Martin started beating on Zimmerman, Zimmerman had done something wrong, you would have to have evidence that Zimmerman did more than walk behind Martin in a public place watching him, and walk up to him and say 'what are you doing here?"  That may have been a stupid thing to do, but it was not "wrong" in the sense of contrary to law.  

        •  what a ridiculous "analysis." Zimmerman gave (5+ / 0-)

          Martin the creeps, and that's why he ran from him.  Zimmerman again appeared behind him after Martin tried to lose him--which indeed constitutes stalking.  How was Martin supposed to make some cold analysis that nothing Zimmerman was doing was "strictly illegal"?  You going to make a such a cool analysis of the situation the next time someone is following you in the dark?

          People who take all the emotion out of this kind of encounter are just playing the devil's advocate and nothing more.

          If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

          by livjack on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:42:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's ridiculous, I agree (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, worldlotus

            Unfortunately, it's a correct interpretation of the law in Florida. Until this case came to trial, I had no idea it was this bad. I thought stand your ground was nutty, but that doesn't even figure into Zimmerman's defense.

          •  She is making a legal statement because she has (11+ / 0-)

            the expertise to do so.  You are assuming it is her personal core belief but it is only her analysis as an attorney.

              Her personal views may or may not be different than the way the evidence has to be viewed from a legal standpoint  under the law in Florida.

            Multiple people are taking offense at attorneys and others with law degrees, like myself, who are trying to explain how the law will be used and/or applied in this case...as if we have a personal vested interest in seeing one side win or lose.  It is objective in nature, even if it is not what you want to hear or not the way you think the law(s) should be.

              Some of us might also agree that the law(s) are not good ones or should be changed and some of us might think the law is fine as it is. Regardless, no matter how you feel about it emotionally or morally or in any other way...this is the way it is legally in Florida.

        •  Stalking (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sukeyna, UbuRoi, Dopetron

          Since people here are writing DailyKos comments and not filing legal briefs it's fair for them to use "stalking" in the non-technical sense.

          In the non-technical sense, "stalking" is what a hunter does to a deer.

          Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

          by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:54:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well done (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coffeetalk, VClib, andalusi
          1.  "Stalked" -- although you may think of following as "stalking" in the colloquial sense, what Zimmerman did was NOT stalking in the legal sense, since the law requires "repeated" following.  You will notice that the prosecution NEVER uses the word stalking, because it is not stalking under the law.
          2.  "approached" -- nothing illegal about that.  Nothing about that which would justify a physical response by Martin.

          3.  "assualted"  -- again, the law matters.  Assault requires more than coming up to someone that you have been following.   It requires

          This was a thing of beauty.

          Black Holes Suck.

          by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:52:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have a question for you coffee, but if you do (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DefendOurConstitution

          not wish to answer this, I understand and I apologize if this is too personal. I do not want to ask something that is none of my business. But I am curious as you do participate heavily in all Zimmmerman Martin diaries.

          1. Do you live in Florida ?

          2. Are you an attorney or paralegal ?

          3. You often cite Florida law is why I ask.

          But again, I sincerely apologize if these questions are top personal. But you often debate the points , especially from the defense point of view, I thought perhaps you were from Florida or you were an attorney or legal scholar , etc???

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:55:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Dumb me, ignore my other comment to you as (0+ / 0-)

          I should have checked your profile , you state you are a lawyer in Louisiana.  

          You do know Florida law well , that is why I just assumed you were a Florida lawyer and thus your intense interest in the case.
          Do you have similar laws in your state?  As you seem very familiar with self defense cases?

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 03:12:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's the basis of my interest. (5+ / 0-)

            I really believe that our legal system, while CLEARLY not perfect, is one of the best that a country has devised.  And part of that is the clear protections given to people accused of a crime under the law.  

            In this case, many many people want Zimmerman to be found guilty.  I completely understand that.  That's why I don't generally respond to people who express that desire.  I understand the anger.  I understand that people want to believe that they KNOW what happened here.

            Where I do step in is when I see people talking about legal things, using legal terms, discussing what the trial is about, discussing the testimony at trial.  I do step in to make sure people understand the standards that are controlling at that trial.  I am doing that because I know that, regardless of the verdict, there will be people who are unhappy with the outcome.  If it's an acquittal, many people here will be unhappy, but I also know people who will be equally unhappy if he is found guilty.

            Any time there's a high-profile trial, people who are unhappy with the verdict criticize it intensely.  And I have no problem with that.  I just feel compelled to make sure that there criticism is going to be  based in reality -- i.e., that their criticism is within the framework of the law that is in operation here.  I don't think people should be using legal falsehoods as the basis of their expectations of what is going to happen at trial, or as their basis for criticism of the verdict, if it does not go the way they like.  

            The more people begin with the actual legal framework in operation here, the more the discussion, and criticism if warranted, can be legitimate and rational.  I do not think irrational, and legally invalid, criticism of our judicial system does anything for the legitimacy of our legal system.  

        •  Zimmerman reached for a phone in his shirt (0+ / 0-)

          that wasn't there. This is part of his testimony to the police. Why would he do that? Maybe so that Martin would get a glimpse of his gun and thus submit faster? Maybe to make himself look macho to the kid? Where was he carrying his gun, in the front or the back, or the side? Did he say? Wouldn't this make this more of a threat to Martin?

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 06:01:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Where do you get that GZ assaulted? (0+ / 0-)

        Assault requires physical contact.  Where is the evidence that GZ initiated physical contact?  I haven't seen it.  It may have happened but there is no evidence that it did.

    •  "Reasonable Fear" (0+ / 0-)

      Isn't that one reason this law is so stupid? Reasonable fear is subjective, based on your life experience, what you've been taught, state of mind, the situation. I don't think it's unreasonable for a young black kid being followed by some strange white guy to be in fear for his life. From what the young woman said on the stand, I think he was afraid. GZ was doing more than walking behind him; he was obviously following him. We only have GZ's word for it that TM attacked him first, but I think TM would have been justified if he did. I think it would have been a "reasonable" act. It seems like under this law, you can initiate a confrontation, kill the other person and then claim you were standing your ground.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site