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  •  Here's where I'm stuck (3+ / 0-)
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    justiceputnam, rubyr, shanikka

    and this is verbatim from the jury instructions under the section entitled: WHEN THERE ARE LESSER INCLUDED CRIMES OR ATTEMPTS

    Therefore, if you decide that the main accusation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you will next need to decide if George Zimmerman is guilty of any lesser included crime. The lesser crime indicated in the definition of Second Degree Murder is: Manslaughter
    The way I've been interpreting the self defense as you've described it is that it's all or none. The way it seems in the jury instructions seems it's either or.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:05:22 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I agree. When I heard them read this, I didn't (0+ / 0-)

      catch this. Now, I am confused, too. If self defense is not part of manslaughter, there is a GREAT chance he will be convicted of manslaughter. I wish there was a legal person with no dog in the fight to explain this.

      "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

      by rubyr on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 03:44:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It Is (5+ / 0-)

        The affirmative defense of "self-defense" applies to the original crime AND the lesser included offense (meaning a smaller crime that is necessarily committed if you've committed the big one, but for which you are not tried separately). So, if the jury believes that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense, they cannot convict him of either the Murder 2 or Manslaughter count.  Believe me, this is one of those times I wish it was different.

        The only difference between the two charges is that one requires a far lesser quantum of culpable mens rea (state of mind) to support a conviction. Murder 2 in Florida appears to require a depraved mind, ill will, evil intent or malice. The meaning of each of those words are far narrower to us lawyers than they are to normal folks. Manslaughter, in contrast, requires only mens rea findings of either (a) if Voluntary Manslaughter, the intentional committing of an unjustified and inexcusable act; or (b) if Involuntary Manslaughter, the intentional committing of an act with "Culpable Negligence" which in other states is referred to as recklessness or reckless disregard.

        But merely finding the mens rea necessary to support a manslaughter charge (which I think is easily found as it relates to George Zimmerman) doesn't negate a claim of self-defense, which says basically "Yes, I did it but I did it only to save myself." If proven it is an absolute defense to criminal liability of any kind (and usually, civil liability too). The burden of an affirmative defense of this type in any state with sense would rest with George Zimmerman, but alas in Florida it requires the prosecution to essentially disprove it since all he had to do was raise the defense and submit any evidence (however shady) to support it, thus shifting the burden to the state to disprove what he said.  Since of course the only other witness to the entirety of the incident is dead, the defense is extremely powerful in Florida. Once John Good got up and said what he saw (not that I believed him) that was all Zimmerman had to do.

        Yes, I know--depressing.

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