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What if things had gone just a little different in Sanford Florida 17 months ago, and we all read a tragic story of a Neighborhood Watch guard killed when he improperly threatened a local teenager?

Tragic Death a Test Case for “Stand Your Ground” Laws
February 13, 2012

Sanford, FL – Trayvon Martin, a young black man coming home from the corner store, knew he was in trouble last night.  Just walking home from the corner store he noticed a car slowly following him and got worried he was in danger.  He called his girlfriend and told her he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker” and didn’t know what to do.

When the driver, a local community watch member named George Zimmerman, got out of his car and began following Martin things escalated.  Zimmerman accosted Martin, and Martin -- fearing for his life -- fought back.  Unfortunately for the unarmed Martin, Zimmerman had a gun and pulled it.  Martin grabbed at the gun in terror after being followed in a car, then accosted on the street then seeing a weapon pointed right at his heart.

They wrestled for control, twisting and turning the firearm like in a Carl Hiassen caper movie, and a shot rang out.  One shot, one bullet wound, one man dying on the sidewalk.

George Zimmerman died later that night while being worked on by EMTs.

Trayvon Martin is now being held under suspicion of manslaughter, and his attorneys and supporters say he simply followed Florida law and stood his ground when justifiably fearing for his life.

This is just as likely an outcome, as possible as George Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin by standing his ground due to fearing for his life.  

The difference is Trayvon Martin did nothing but wear a hoodie and go to the corner store.  He did not follow anyone, accost anyone, or make any sort of contact … until he was in fear for his life. He really had no idea what was happening, was not in control of the situation, had no means besides his body and a paper drink cup to defend himself from a stalker.

George Zimmerman, on the other hand, created the situation.  He saw a black teenager in a hoodie walking at night and decided that in and of itself was suspicious (perhaps riffing off Michael Bloomberg).  He then followed in a car and, seeing no other suspicious behavior beyond a young man scared of being followed by a stranger, got out of the car and followed on foot.  Then Zimmerman, with a holstered gun, accosted this teen without cause.  At any time Zimmerman could have backed off, stayed in his car, called the police, walked on the other side of the street -- but he chose the actions that led to the fight.

Who had more right to be scared?  The guy with a car and a gun?  Or the kid with a hoodie and a soft drink?  Who created the situation?  

I know these questions have been asked before, but they led me to a thought earlier this week I hadn’t seen anywhere before:

If Zimmerman gets away with the killing of Martin through Stand Your Ground laws, goes free simply because he feared for his life, then dueling is legal in Florida.

Essentially the jury would be saying, “Sure, you created the situation, caused another person to fear for their life and stand their ground legally under our laws, but then you feared for your life so standing your ground was legal!”

Two people, both fearing for their lives, both allowed to kill the other by Standing Their Ground.

It’s like and Old West movie.  “You lilly-libbered coward! You meet me at hiiiiiigggghhhh noon in the center of town or I’ll track you down myself!”  They stand facing each other, fingers waggling over their holsters, flick off the straps holding in the gun butts while staring each other steelily in the eyes.  Neither flinch, but both are terrified that a bullet could end their time here on Earth. Sweat beads on their foreheads, nerves jangle, two men standing their ground, both ready to defend themselves against a threat to their lives, both scared out of their skulls.

Neither one liable for the resulting death of the other in a court of law. Because it would no longer matter if it was your fault your life was in danger -- you can use deadly force if it is.

How stupid is that?

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a license to kill especially if you're white (13+ / 0-)

    & your Vic isn't .

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:18:34 AM PDT

  •  What if they both had guns? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dopper0189, huntsu

    Better analogy for your argument and to defeat the policy of stand your ground.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:22:26 AM PDT

  •  And if you come in contact with enough RkBAers (9+ / 0-)

    you will realize they are in fear for their life 24/7.

    They, however, are not responsible for their guns 24/7 and have accidents and lose/forget them all the time. But that's OK because they fear for their life.

  •  Here's what you're missing (13+ / 0-)
    Essentially the jury would be saying, “Sure, you created the situation, caused another person to fear for their life and stand their ground legally under our laws, but then you feared for your life so standing your ground was legal!”
    The "fear for your life" has to be reasonable.

    That makes all the difference. All of these comments about how if Zimmerman is acquitted it will be open season for people to kill anyone they want and then just say they feared for their life to get off are just slightly overstated.

    And by slightly I mean completely, and by overstated I mean whacked.

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:28:41 AM PDT

    •  Asterisk for Race and Economic Class * (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, wishingwell, a2nite

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:50:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What makes no sense to me about this, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, libnewsie, worldlotus

        one of several items is how it is that a Neighborhood Watchperson who has been one for some time, is unable to recognize the residents of his community, and their most probable visitors, the people who have the right to be there absolutely and supposedly for whose benefit he is watching. That little townlet is simply not that big.  To hear Z, he is not protecting the whole neighborhood against outsiders but 'his people' against 'those people,' some of whom, according to the trial witness list, are plainly residents of the very community for which he is supposedly 'watching'.

    •  I'm not saying it'll be open season ... (12+ / 0-)

      What I'm saying is that Zimmerman created this situation.  It's all on him, no one else.  He decided a person legally walking the street in legal clothes was a threat to the community.  He decided to follow the person in his car, then to get out of the car and approach that person with a gun on his hip.  

      When Martin, who may not have reasonably feared for his life but certainly reasonably feared for his safety, responded with less than lethal force Zimmerman pulled his gun.

      At that point Martin surely had a reasonable fear for his life.  Someone stalked him, approached him, assaulted (not battery) him, then responded in a fight by pulling a gun.

      So if Martin had his own gun and shot Zimmerman Martin would have been completely in the right under Stand Your Ground to take the gun and shoot Zimmerman.

      Zimmerman took a situation that had absolutely no chance of violence -- a man peaceably walking home from the store in his own neighborhood -- and turned it into a situation where he feared for his life.

      That's the problem I have.  He created the situation, and while the duel concept is certainly hyperbole it is the extreme example off the same thing -- creating the situation where your life is at risk and then justifying killing because your life was at risk.

      •  Well (6+ / 0-)

        Zimmerman set the chain of events in motion, but that doesn't mean he's legally responsible for the killing. And if he is legally responsible (and he may be) it won't be because he ignored the 911 operator, or got out of his car, or followed Martin, or asked him what he was doing there.

        But Zimmerman would have had to do something more than merely follow Martin and ask him what he was doing there for Martin to reasonably fear for his safety to the point he was justified in "throwing the first punch" (if he did). At least in the eyes of the law.

        On the other hand, had Zimmerman pulled his gun, or grabbed Martin, or took a swing at him, or done some other overt act, other than merely following and asking him a question, then Martin would be justified in using appropriate force to repel Zimmerman.

        The problem of course, is in the facts. We don't know what happened in those crucial seconds, we can only guess. What we do know is what the law says with regard to a given set of facts.

        Make no mistake, I agree that had Zimmerman not followed and confronted Martin, the teen would probably be alive today.  But that alone doesn't mean he's legally responsible for his death. Tort concepts of causation don't necessarily apply in criminal law.

        Black Holes Suck.

        by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:02:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Recommended and questioned (4+ / 0-)

          Is an AA youth in Florida in reasonable fear of a white man following him and barking questions? Can he legally use non-lethal force to discontinue the threat? I don't know what FL criminal precedent says on the subject, but historically TM would be justified in fearing for his safety.

          Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

          by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:50:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hispanic, not white. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            andalusi
          •  Probably not (7+ / 0-)
            Is an AA youth in Florida in reasonable fear of a white man following him and barking questions?
            There's no law against what Zimmerman did...i.e. following Martin and asking him questions. That's not against the law. Certainly, Martin may have felt threatened by it, but under the law, absent some additional actions by Zimmerman, that fear wasn't reasonable. Again, under the law.

            Let me turn it around for you. Suppose a white woman is walking down the street and there's a black man following her. Maybe he asks what she's doing there, or for a date, or directions to the post office, whatever. She says she feels threatened and maces him.

            Would you say her actions were legally justified? Would you say she was acting in self defence? Would you say her fear of this black man, who do did nothing other than what I described, was reasonable?

            I'm not sure that the precedent for someone of a different race merely following you gives you the right to attack them is one that a lot of people around here would want to support if they thought it through.

            Black Holes Suck.

            by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:07:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've maced a white man (I'm white too) (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              worldlotus

              Who followed me when I was on the way to work. I crossed the street twice, so did he to be on the same side, I went through a neighborhood instead of on the main street trying to get away from me, so did he. When he caught up to me he tried to grab my arm and made a crude comment. I maced him. It wouldn't have taken the crude comment by that point for me to mace him. I had no bars on my cell phone or I would have been on the phone with the police.

              If it were my daughter or my son in that situation, I would expect them to defend themselves as well. I would hope ANY kid would defend themselves with a strange man following them persistently (it's not like he was just walking on the sidewalk behind him, he was definitely following/chasing) in that manner. I would not want them to just stand submissively to answer questions at that point, too great a chance of getting pulled into bushes, or into an ally, or drug into a car never to be seen again.

              So yes, I would say that reaction is reasonable for anyone. Race really doesn't come into it.

              "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 05:53:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  He either tried to or did grab you. (0+ / 0-)

                That is the difference.  He did some act that put you in reasonable fear.  That act is necessary to make the fear reasonable.  And you knew that.  You didn't mace him when he crossed the street, or followed you into the neighborhood, or even made the crude remark.  You did when he grabbed you or attempted to.  

                •  We don't know if Zimmerman (0+ / 0-)

                  tried to grab Trayvon. If Trayvon tried to run when Zimmerman confronted him, I would wager it was likely that he did.

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

                  by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:16:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Replied to you in "probably not" below (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            Black Holes Suck.

            by Pi Li on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:08:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It's open season if (5+ / 0-)

          the defendant is willing to lie and there are no witnesses.

          Florida's laws regarding the affirmative defense of self-defense favor the defendant so thoroughly that he doesn't even have to testify as to his state of mind. Cripes, Zimmerman didn't even need to use the stand your ground doctrine.

          He just has to be sure nobody saw him do it.

          It's a really crappy law, a combination of NRA lobbying, a huge population of frightened senior citizens (sometimes justifiably, mostly not), and the South's particular flavor of racism and love of guns. (Not bashing the South here - we have our own in the North, but Florida's law would get pushback here).

          •  actually, its the majority state rule. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, VClib, brooklyn137

            its also the federal rule.  so it may be bad policy, but its not some isolated, weird rule.

            •  I know that, but (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indianobserver, wishingwell

              beyond reasonable doubt? How many states that put the burden on the prosecution use this standard?

              In one sense I can see that BRD should cut both ways - whether it's murder or self-defense, prison time is the outcome.

              On the other hand, if you felt entitled to defend yourself, you ought to hop up on the stand and explain your state of mind and undergo cross-examination.

              Put another way: the prosecution can obtain a criminal conviction for murder based on circumstantial evidence in the absence of eyewitnesses if the evidence is good enough. But defeating a self-defense claim with only circumstantial evidence would be virtually impossible, because circumstantial evidence is never sufficient to show the defendant's state of mind. Only eyewitnesses or the defendant's own testimony can show the jury who was the aggressor beyond reasonable doubt - unless the prosecution in the Martin case has some awesome DNA evidence they're sitting on.

              I know we're talking about what the law is here, not what it should be. But it still fucks with me.

              Of course, in my eight years of practice, I have seen many things that fuck with me.

        •  Zimmerman, admitted chasing after TM. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite

          Being chased is a threat. TM had every right to defend himself from a threat.

          Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

          by FrankRose on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:07:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  if martin was the first to make physical contact (0+ / 0-)

        then its on him.

    •  It's reasonable in diarist's scenario (4+ / 0-)

      By the time two people are on the ground wrestling each other for a gun, they both have a reasonable fear for their lives.

      Just thinking of it like a computer programmer would, the only sane way to draft a SYG law is to impose a duty of retreat on the person who starts a confrontation or resumes it after it's over. Otherwise you get situations of two people shooting each other legally.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:45:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and that's exactly what people should (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        focus on in the wake of zimmermans acquittal.  should the law be changed so that either (a) the person claiming self-defense bears the burden of proof, or (b) a person that provokes a fight can't justifiably use force (deadly or otherwise) to defend herself.

        so far, discussion of the case has been long on frothing emotion but distinctly short of public policy analysis.

    •  speaking of whacked, have you read (0+ / 0-)

      this on stand your ground in florida.  

      http://www.tampabay.com/...

      they are killing anyone they want and getting away with it:

      During an argument at a 2009 party in Fort Myers, Omar Bonilla fired his gun into the ground and beat Demarro Battle, then went inside and gave the gun to a friend. If Battle feared for his life, he had time to flee. Instead, he got a gun from his car and returned to shoot Bonilla three times, including once in the back. Battle was not charged in the slaying.

      In Winter Springs, Owen Eugene Whitlock came home on Christmas Eve 2009 to find his daughter's boyfriend, Jose Ramirez, angrily stalking up his driveway, flexing his muscles and swinging his fists. Whitlock stood his ground and fired a fatal shot. He was not charged.

      • In West Palm Beach, Christopher Cote started pounding on the door of neighbor Jose Tapanes at 4 a.m. after an argument over Cote's dog. Tapanes stepped outside and fired his shotgun twice, killing Cote. A jury acquitted him, but prosecutors and a judge had discounted Tapanes' self-defense claim, saying if he was truly afraid for his life, he should not have stepped outside.

      Rhonda Eubanks was not arrested or charged when she opened her front door one evening in 2006 and fatally shot a man who had been causing a ruckus in her Escambia County neighborhood. He had tried to get into her house, then left and tried to take her neighbors' cars. When he returned, Eubanks stood near her doorway and fired as he approached.

      • An 18-year-old felon, convicted of cocaine and weapons charges, shot and wounded a neighbor in the stomach, then fled the scene and was involved in another nonfatal shootout two days later, according to police. He was granted immunity in the first shooting.

      • Two men fell into the water while fighting on a dock. When one started climbing out of the water, the other shot him in the back of the head, killing him. He was acquitted after arguing "stand your ground."

      • A Seventh-day Adventist was acting erratically, doing cartwheels through an apartment complex parking lot, pounding on cars and apartment windows and setting off alarms. A tenant who felt threatened by the man's behavior shot and killed him. He was not charged

      Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with a-holes - William Gibson. (-9.75 / -9.05)

      by doesnotworkorplaywellwithothers on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:53:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  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.

  •  But that's not the law. Let's get specific. (7+ / 0-)

    Florida law makes clear when you can use self-defense:  

    776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony;
    Let me give you some examples.  

    Joe is walking three blocks down a public sidewalk to his house.  He sees Bob walking behind him and watching him.  Both have a complete legal right to be there; neither recognizes the other from the neighborhood.

    Scenario 1:  Joe stops in front of his house, turns around, and says "why are you following me?" Bob responds, "what are you doing here?"  Joe hits Bob.  In that scenario, Joe acted unlawfully, and cannot claim self defense.  

    Scenario 2:   Joe stops in front of his house, turns around, and says "why are you following me?" Bob responds, "what are you doing here?"  Bob hits Joe.  Bob acted unlawfully, and cannot claim self defense.

    Scenario 3:   Joe stops in front of his house, turns around, and says "why are you following me?" Bob responds, "what are you doing here?"  Joe hits Bob once, not harming him, and stops. Bob shoots Joe.  Bob is guilty of murder, and cannot use self -defense.  That is  because one hit is not enough to justify a belief that Bob was in danger of suffering death or great bodily harm.  In legal terms, one hit by Joe may have justified the use of force by Bob, but did not justify the use of deadly force by Bob.

    Scenario 4:   Joe stops in front of his house, turns around, and says "why are you following me?" Bob responds, "what are you doing here?"  Joe hits Bob, then gets on top of him hitting him in the head repeatedly for 30 - 40 seconds, with no sign of stopping.  Bob pulls out a gun and shoots Joe.  Bob may be justified in shooting Joe in the doctrine of self-defense, if repeated hitting in the head puts the person in reasonable fear that they may be about to suffer great bodily harm.  

    It depends on which kind of scenario the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.   The prosecution's theory of the case, as laid out in opening, is basically scenario 2 (according to Ms. Jeantel's testimony) except that after Bob hit Joe, Bob then shot Joe.  Remember, the prosecution told the jury in the opening statement that they would prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman followed Martin and then shot Martin "for no other reason than he wanted to."  

    The defense's theory of the case, as outlined in opening,  is Scenario 4.  The advantage any defense has, however, is that they simply have to convince the jury that scenario 4 is possible. They do not have to convince the jury that scenario 4 happened, or even that it is more likely than not that scenario 4 happened.  That is because the prosecution has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  

    •  OK, then ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sukeyna, wishingwell
      A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
      I think that a large man parked outside a store in my neighborhood, starting up his car and following me slowly for a distance, then parking the car and approaching me questioning my right to walk on a public street is threatening.  That he's a big man with a gun visible on his waistband and has not identified himself as a police officer makes it even more threatening.

      Trayvon Martin used force, but he did not use deadly force.  Zimmerman's still alive.  We don't know if Martin would have used deadly force, but we do know Martin would have used none had he not been followed in a car, followed on foot, and accosted by Zimmerman.

      From what you posted, I'd say Martin was in the right to strike Zimmerman, because it was reasonable to believe Zimmerman was going to use unlawful force.  I certainly would have believed it.  And I'm a big white guy.

      •  This is true. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        loretta, VClib, brooklyn137
        I think that a large man parked outside a store in my neighborhood, starting up his car and following me slowly for a distance, then parking the car and approaching me questioning my right to walk on a public street is threatening.  That he's a big man with a gun visible on his waistband and has not identified himself as a police officer makes it even more threatening.
        You may very well feel threatened.  That does not answer the question of whether the law allows you to hit him.  You are not allowed to hit people because you feel threatened.  (Racists would love a law that allowed them to hit someone every time they feel threatened, because racists feel threatened by every African American man they see.)

        The legal standard, however, is that you must have a REASONABLE belief that the man is about to ("imminent" under the law means "any second") use unlawful force.   You have to have a basis for believing he's about to use that gun (if you see it -- if you don't see it, the fact that he has a gun plays no role in your self-defense claim).  A motion toward the gun would justify using self defense, for example.  

        Martin may have been in fear that Zimmerman was going to use unlawful force. I was not there, so I have no idea.  I'm only discussing what the prosecution has to prove to support a legal conclusion.   To prove that it was A REASONABLE belief, however, the prosecution has to introduce evidence of something a motion toward a gun, a swing and attempt to hit someone, a statement like "I'm going to beat you up" -- something that would have demonstrated to Martin at that time that Zimmerman was going to do something MORE than ask what he was doing there and maybe call the police -- something that indicated, for example, that after Zimmerman said "what are you doing here," Zimmerman was going to hit him..  There is not any evidence that Martin was aware, up to the "what are you doing here" exchange, that Zimmerman had a gun.  So if the prosecution wanted to argue that. when Zimmerman walked up to Martin and Martin said "why are you following me," Martin had a REASONABLE belief that Zimmerman, any second, was going to hit Martin, they'd have to be able to point to something -- a gesture?  some additional words -- that would reasonably lead to that conclusion.  Even if there was some evidence that, when Zimmerman followed Martin in the car, Zimmerman was making threatening gestures -- that would support a REASONABLE belief by Martin, when Zimmerman came up to him, that Zimmerman was about to resort to physical force.  .

        And the prosecution's theory of the case is based on the notion that Martin did NOT hit Zimmerman first (see Ms. Jeantel's testimony).  They have not argued that Martin was justified in hitting Zimmerman.  In their opening, they told the jury that Zimmerman just followed Martin and shot him "for no other reason than that he wanted to."  

    •  What's interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, VClib

      is that not all states put the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove the killing wasn't self-defense. It's definitely the law in Florida, though, and in fact the uniform jury instructions were recently revised. This site does a good job of explaining how easy it will be for Zimmerman to walk, even if he did start the fight - no one saw who started it, and all the defense has to do is introduce 1% doubt in the mind of the jury that it was Trayvon, not Zimmerman, who threw the first punch. 1% isn't much.

      My BF (who represented the state in criminal appeals for years) had this to say about Florida's self-defense standard: "You know what fucks with me? This Zimmerman asshole can go free on self-defense without ever taking the stand." In states with self-defense laws that favor the defendant less, the defendant would testify to explain his state of mind at the time, how he felt threatened, etc. It's the only thing that makes sense because only the defendant can testify as to his state of mind.

      Despite his protests that he hasn't decided whether Zimmerman will testify, there's no way in hell O'Mara will put him on the stand. Why would he? No one saw who was the aggressor. Rachel Jaentel heard the conversation, but regardless of how effective a witness she was (and I believe the jury will regard her testimony well despite its shortcomings), she doesn't know with 100% certainty who was the aggressor either. It doesn't even matter who was on top pummeling whom, or that Zimmerman had been working out at the "best mixed martial arts gym in central Florida" three times a week for the past year and most assuredly knew how to do a takedown and a "ground and pound."

      Nope, when the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman wasn't defending himself, one person who saw it is dead, and the other one will never testify, he's going to walk.

      And that, as my BF put it, fucks with me.

    •  I believe that's correct but there are exceptions (0+ / 0-)

      Scenario 3, if Joe is a heavyweight boxer, Bob has reasonable fear of grave bodily injury from a single blow.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very true. If Bob KNOWS that Joe (0+ / 0-)

        is a heavyweight boxer.  (That's why Zimmerman is not allowed to introduce evidence of Martin fighting, for example -- because he didn't know it at the time, so it doesn't have relevance to his self-defense claim.  

  •  "Stand your ground" is not an issue in this case (4+ / 0-)

    Zimmerman is not asserting it. Also, while it may be a lie, Zimmerman claims in his reenactment that Trayvon attacked him. The jury will have to decide.

  •  Trayvon did stand his ground (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, sukeyna

    The only thing is, he didn't have a gun so his act of self-defense isn't protected.  Zimmerman posed a threat and the young Martin attempted to fend off an attacker.  I think it is insane that a stalker is allowed to shoot his victim during some sort of scuffle and claim self defense.  If I was being followed by a stranger in Florida, the choices between fight or flight should be reserved for me alone. If my stalker ups the ante with a weapon, that just proves "his" criminality. In my opinion.

    it wasn't persecution by a liberal government that persuaded the earliest immigrants to escape to the Americas.

    by dunnjen on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:15:17 PM PDT

    •  you must be terrified of everything (0+ / 0-)

      if merely being asked what you're doing is so impossibly scary that it justifies attacking.

      •  He wasn't merely asked ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        My understanding was that Zimmerman was parked and sitting in his car outside the convenience store.  When Martin walked out of the store and onto the public sidewalk Zimmerman started his car and followed him.  Zimmerman then parked the care and got out and, with a gun visible on his hip (albeit holstered) challenged Martin's right to walk on a public street.

        For a young black man being followed then accosted by a large white man with a gun -- in the South -- I'd say that's pretty threatening.  It wasn't so long ago lynchings and arson were common attacks on blacks from whites.

        •  Zimmerman isn't white (0+ / 0-)

          he's native American and Hispanic.

          •  During the last census, I asked for clarification (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sukeyna, deePA, a2nite

            regarding mixed/multi racial backgrounds.  I was told that a person should check off or write in the race that they personally identified with.

            During initial document dumps, the police report identifies Mr. Zimmerman as Caucasian.  

            It would appear that Mr. Zimmerman self identified as "white" at that time and perhaps up until the negative publicity about him being a racist.

            Mr. Martin apparently visually perceived him as being white-which is a point being made about fear in the comment  by huntsu.  IMHO, a terror fear that some have never known nor truly be able to understand.

            •  he identified as Hispanic. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              worldlotus, nextstep

              he put that on gvt forms, for example.

              •  But Z did profile Trayvon perhaps , why did he (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                worldlotus, a2nite

                consider Martin suspicious  then and not others walking about the place?  But I think Z's race has less to do with this case..then the victims. I doubt the prosecution or the defense will bring up Z's heritage at all.  As Martin appearled to think he was white if one believes some of the testimony, all of the testimony or parts of the friend's testimony about that.

                Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 03:07:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  it was raining and TM was meandering around? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  UbuRoi

                  that's, well, sorta weird.  if one lives in a neighborhood that's been subject to high levels of crime, you'd have to be - to borrow from the prosecution's witness  - retarded not to think that's suspicious.

                  •  meandering about? I thought he was just on his (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sukeyna, worldlotus, a2nite

                    way back to his dad;s girlfriend's house whom he was visiting. I am thinking Martin did not know his way around all that well. But if you know teens, they often would take the long way home if on the phone as maybe he would did not want to end the call. But I thought it was Ok for anyone to talk a walk around ..I do it all the time, so I guess I meander too.  I guess I should be careful as I often just take slow leisurely walks. So if meandering about is a sign of suspicion, I will need to watch I do not do this..I guess?

                    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

                    by wishingwell on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 04:12:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Where did you get these facts? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          UbuRoi, HairyTrueMan

          Have you watched any of the trial?

      •  not everything, but stalkers always. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indianobserver

        I don't think anyone following me has good intentions.  

        My point was that those shooting a gun, even in 'mistaken' fatalities seem to have legal self-defense built-in.   Scuffling with an armed stalker seems to be a capital offense, decided and accomplished by the stalker.

        Why is the STAND YOUR GROUND law for gun carriers but not for fist-fighters? Answer is ALEC and NRA.  it seems like Trayvon is judged wrong because he stood his ground instead of bowing and groveling and explaining his existence to a stalker.

        it wasn't persecution by a liberal government that persuaded the earliest immigrants to escape to the Americas.

        by dunnjen on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 05:29:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well said. That's exactly my problem with this (0+ / 0-)

          situation, despite all the legalities in favor of Zimmerman. Also, despite the legalities which favor those who carry guns, had TM been also carrying a gun, being black, he would have been labelled as 'asking to be shot', I will bet.

           I mean if TM was considered suspicious without visibly carrying a gun, how much more worthy of suspicion would he be, had he been carrying a gun?

          Gun rights are for white people and everyone else who carries is presumed criminal. Sorry, but it seems that way from this case.

    •  The law matters. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, loretta, VClib, brooklyn137

      I set out the law in my comments above.

      The only thing is, he didn't have a gun so his act of self-defense isn't protected.  Zimmerman posed a threat and the young Martin attempted to fend off an attacker
       

      Martin would not be entitled to hit Zimmerman (if that's what happened) simply because Zimmerman followed him in a public area, watched him, came up to him and said what are you doing here.  Martin would not be entitled to use force in self defense  because of a subjective belief that Zimmerman "posed a threat."  The self-defense law, as I quoted it above, requires more than "posed a threat."  

      For Martin to act in self-defense, he would have to have a reasonable belief that Zimmerman was about to do an act of unlawful force.  The "reasonable" standard generally means something objective that you can point to that constituted an indication of imminent unlawful force, not simply a belief that someone creepy is following (following is not unlawful force).  If Zimmerman pulled his gun out, or tried to hit Martin, Martin would e entitled to hit Zimmerman.  If Zimmerman did those things, he would be an attacker.  If Zimmerman do not do anything more than walk behind Martin and watch him in a public area, and walk up to him and say "what are you doing here," Zimmerman is not legally an "attacker" in the sense of giving Martin a legal right to hit Zimmerman (if that's what happened).  

    •  How could Zimmerman have posed a threat? (0+ / 0-)

      He was talking on his phone while he was "stalking" Martin. To whom could Martin have possibly thought Zimmerman was speaking?

  •  When two individuals stand their ground ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell

    in fear for their lives, the one with a gun generally wins. Trevon was doing nothing wrong in walking home. George created the opportunity for confrontation, and set the Stand Your Ground Law into play.

    Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

    by glb3 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:35:33 PM PDT

    •  Stand your ground is not a part of this case (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, brooklyn137

      Zimmerman is not relying on it. It involves whether he had the right to use deadly force in self defense. read coffee talk's posts to understand the issues.

      •  I'm aware of that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        Trevon has right to self defense too. When two people are defending themselves, the one with the gun usually wins.

        Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

        by glb3 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 06:15:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In a nutshell. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite

          You are doing nothing wrong or illegal. Some stranger is following you. He approaches. You fear for your safety, and take swing at him. A fight ensues, and you start to get the best of the stranger. The stranger pulls a gun, shoots, and kills you. Is that justifiable homicide? Is that self defense? That is what the trial is about.

          Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

          by glb3 on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 06:25:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the discussion, all (4+ / 0-)

    It clarifies things a lot, for laymen - much more than does the incessant blathering on cable news.

  •  nice diary. Agree. But problem is.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sukeyna, worldlotus

    It's been shown in scientific studies that WHite people have trouble empathising with Black people...ie imagiining themselves in their shoes.

    That means MANY Whites, ie the Jury, will not be seeing this from Trayvon's point of view. Teen in new/strange/not usual to him neighborhood, at night, raining,someone in a car follows him then runs after him on foot.

    That behavior alone, if the stranger then approaches, might we worth a proactive push or punch.

    Zimmerman is not able to understand I think that his behavior would have made the average person ALREADY really leary and creeped out and suspicious. Imagine if you are a woman and that happened but you know some form of martial arts. If the strange man caught you I think many people might have tried to temporarily disable chaser before they tried to get away. I can imagine if I, a woman, were trained and not injured I'd kick his knee, stomp his arch with my heels, try to poke out his eyes or smash his nose

    I would assume he was an attacker, period. Chasing me. I would feel endangered in the dark at night. HE RAN AFTER ME!

    Trayvon is a young man and strong so he may have not have felt he had to run away right away. He may have stood his ground. OR Zimmerman got him down and got on top of him at some point...Though Trayvon was pretty strong (everyone says "he played football"! well his football picture he's just a little kid before puberty and I'm pretty sure he did not play in high school so that may not be relevent) Zimmerman DID outweigh him by about 20 lbs.

    Anyway It would be good for EVERYONE to remind people TM's point of view of being run after in strange neighborhood by an adult at night in the rain. Then we also have the problem that young Black men already have the antipathy and suspicion of White people and they feel that.

    I actually think that is why Trayvon's friend Rachel would not admit that "cracker" is racist. .TM called hiim that because, I think, he though a White person who'd chase him, a Black kid, might be a racist because he, Trayvon, had done nothing wrong. He' s pissed at being chased possibly for racial reasons ...Zimmerman was acting like a predudiced White person (ie cracker). (I also think that some people of all races think racist ...or any "ist" is more narrrow and only when a majority-straight, White, Male, Christian-uses pejoritives against a minority)

    Anyway please anyone when discussing this case with people bring them to imagine Trayvon, or anyone, in the situation of being actually chased after by a strange grown man, not in your home neighborhood, at night, in the rain. It is threatening. Zimmerman's behavior was threatening and I think that is not discussed enough. Possibly because White people have trouble putting themselves in a Black person's shoes.

    •  That's why the racist comments here are relevant. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, a2nite

      Z's notion activating his entire course of conduct was that black males in hoodies are all of bad intentions and form a threat,  as stated to the 911 dispatcher, and the question is whether that is a reasonable view for the reasonable Floridian. Remembering that many Floridians are African Americans and a number of those AA Floridians lived on that very street.

      •  I don't think it isn't relevent here. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus

        My intent was to encourage other White people to go beyond our common limitation in empathising with Black people (as the researchers found) and to remember that anyone in TM's shoes would have felt stalked...and then think "how would I have reacted in his shoes". From there one sees that Zimmerman created a situation where a minor felt stalked and chased...any reaction from said minor, if any, would be from a context Zimmerman irresponsibly created anyway. Zimmerman I feel in the moment had NO CLUE he'd just created the impression in TM of imminent threat and danger because he was thinking of TM as a threatening object one of "those people who always get away" and couldn't hold also in his mind that if he were wrong, how would someone react to being chased at night?  I do not see it discussed that much here when discussing that case nor in the press coverage. I think it is a blind spot.

        •  Sadly agree. Something else I have not seen (0+ / 0-)

          discussed is the only first aid given to Trayvon Martin was by law enforcement.  
          To my knowledge, not a single witness nor Mr. Zimmerman provided CPR or even checked to see if Trayvon Martin was still alive.

          Instead, a witness took photos...

          Speaks volumes.  About what, I have yet to completely process.  Only felt.

  •  Let's say Trayvon DID stand his ground. (0+ / 0-)

    Do you think that was a good decision?

    SYG removes a person duty to flee. Traditional self defense, however, assumes that the person cannot escape, which is what GZ is claiming.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 05:21:19 PM PDT

  •  I suspect that Zimmerman skipped the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    SYG hearing because the law is apparently unclear who has the right to use the greatest force when, at varying points in a confrontation, each is the attacker and each is the attackee.

    If the law does not specifically define that point and specify who has the greater SYG right to use violence (keeping in mind that once the greater violence is used the other part has the right to claim SYG) then there is no way for a judge or jury to apply the law.

    Clearly the law was expected to be claimed by an armed person against an unarmed aggressor. (Shades of right wing victimhood delusions.)

    Life is much more complicated than that and I suspect in a year or two the Fla. Supremes will strike the law down as being unclear and inapplicable in most cases.

    It will be interesting to see if the defense tries to allude to the LYG right in their closing arguments and whether the prosecution will object and be upheld or denied.

  •  Victims don't matter, only money (in this case (0+ / 0-)

    blood money).  The NRA and ALEC will keep pushing these laws as they are good for business.

  •  Questions. (0+ / 0-)

    GZ showed surprise during his interview with Officer Doris Singleton at the police station that TM had died. Wasn’t TM lying motionless on the ground for approximately 3 minutes, maybe longer, near GZ before he (GZ) was taken away by the police? How could GZ not realize TM was dead at that point? The confrontation between GZ and TM lasts approximately 1 minute. Did GZ ask any of the officers on the scene about the status of the person he just shot, and was laying motionless on the ground? Did GZ ask anyone at the police station about the status of the person he just shot? Not until GZ was told about TM did he show some emotion.

    7:16:00 – 7:16:59 TM call to girlfriend goes dead sometime during this minute of the call
    7:16:11 Sound of screams on 911 call
    7:16:55 Sound of gunshot on 911 call
    7:19:43 GZ taken into custody by police
    7:25 GZ is in squad car
    7:30 TM pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics

    Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

    by glb3 on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:36:41 PM PDT

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