Monday, July 8, 2013

Trials Can Be Murder

I've never been involved in a criminal trial in any capacity. But I've known others who were jurors in such trials, including in the most serious of all criminal allegations -- first-degree murder -- and their recounting of events in the jury room is enough to make one wonder whether a jury of "twelve good men and true" is always concerned with determining guilt or innocence.

Mind you, I don't have a better approach to offer. Indeed, the jury of twelve private citizens is historically the most reliable bulwark against the overreaching State. As long as the punishment of a criminal rests with a jury, none of whose members may be a government official or employee, the State has no power the citizenry cannot override at will. But there have been cases in recent memory in which the focus of the jury was open to dispute.

One might be in progress even now: the trial of George Zimmerman for second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Commentators of every disposition have lined up to give their opinions on this case. Most are quite certain of the outcome, though the trial has experienced several notable reversals in its short run and the defense has yet to begin its case. Bombshells such as the recent indictment of lead prosecuting attorney Angela Corey for destroying evidence in the case haven't swayed the "pro-conviction" pundits one iota. Neither have the "pro-acquittal" opinion-mongers been swayed by testimony from Jacksonville, Florida medical examiner Valerie Rao that Zimmerman's injuries, reputedly inflicted by Martin before the fatal act, were "insignificant."

Both these communities of opinion have based their positions on a presumption they will not explicitly state: that the jury's verdict will not be overly influenced by the jurors' conclusions about Zimmerman's guilt or innocence.

And they just might be right.

Consider the trial, two decades ago, of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his estranged wife and her friend. The circumstantial evidence was stunningly one-sided: If evidence could convict in the absence of a jury, Simpson would have gone down for murder one. Yet the jury acquitted him. Observers drew every conclusion under the Sun, but the predominant evaluation was that the majority-black jury was simply unwilling to convict a black sports icon of Simpson's stature for murder.

The Zimmerman trial might prove to be the inverse of the Simpson circus.

There have been many threats, both open and subtle, of an explosion of interracial violence should Zimmerman be acquitted. The prospect of riots like unto those that followed the original Rodney King Affair trial cannot be waved aside. Indeed, such riots might not be confined to the state of Florida.

There's an equally distasteful inverse approach as well: should Zimmerman be convicted, which at this time would be against the weight of the evidence and the testimony of the available witnesses, blacks might regard it as a license for lawbreaking, including a declaration of "open season" on neighborhood watch volunteers. Not all such volunteers patrol armed.

Add to this the effect on the perceived reliability of the judicial system, should the verdict strike the general public as determined mainly by race-relations considerations. That system has taken enough body blows in recent years that just one more strong one might cast it permanently into disrepute.

A final thought: When a juror drifts away from the testimony, the evidence, and the conclusions to be drawn from the aggregate thereof, and focuses instead on "the good of society," or any partial approximation thereof, he is no longer concerned with justice. Justice is about the redress of violations of rights -- individuals' rights, not the mythical well-being of some mythical collectivity that can't even be intensively defined.

Which is why I find the optimism of well-known gun-rights commentator John Lott -- "the Zimmerman trial is already over" -- to be unfounded, unwise, and unreliable, no matter what fate George Zimmerman's twelve peers might ultimately decree.


YIH said...

IMHO this trial isn't even about the guilt or innocence of Zimmerman, it's about the legitimacy of Florida's 'stand your ground' law.
Myself I think this trial has been nothing but a travesty and that the law is legitimate. Nor do I think this will be over when the verdict (and I have no idea what that'll be) is announced. I've also said that I have no idea if or where riots will happen.
But frankly it appears blacks already have declared ''open season'' on whites starting November 2008 when ''they won''.

Pascal said...

From way back, you know I've touted the views of talker Michael Savage. No more.

Also, our side has been provided many reliable details about Leftist tactics from David Horowitz. The time to reconsider him has arrived.

Details may be reviewed at Despicable "Former" Leftists so that you don't need to waste time on it.

Both men came out last week sounding more like Al Sharpton than what we've come to expect. Since they are both succeeded as "former" Leftists: quelle surprise? Consequently, I expect that Michael Medved (and the rest of that Judas goat's suspect Salem Broadcasting stable) cannot be far behind.

Pascal said...

I messed up the link. Sorry.

Details at Despicable "Former" Leftists so that you don't need to say it.

Also, I agree with YIH that Florida's stand your ground law was a major factor at the start of the Left's polluting the atmosphere of the trial. Now I fear the radicals literally smell blood in the air so their targeting of it becomes a smaller matter for the near term.

Linda Fox said...

I'm with you. This isn't over, and I strongly feel that the heavily-woman jury will want to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, or at least reckless endangerment.

Not because the facts justify it, but because they will "feel" for the mother.

NOVA Shooter said...

The trial *IS* over. The prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a murder of any stripe was committed. Moreover they did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did anything in the slightest bit unlawful. They showed that he *might* have done or said things that were less than wise but that doesn't raise to the level of "beyond a reasonable doubt".

As I said, the actual trial is over. All we have left is the politicizing the situation.

YIH said...

A very good analysis of the trial (so far) is being done by Mansized Target.
''The defense and prosecution traded their theories of the case in the course of arguments on a motion for directed verdict. The state prosecutor Mantei was, in a word, completely out of control. He suggested that Zimmerman was a liar based on his testimony on “stand your ground,” which I–a CHL holder, lawyer, and person interested in self defense law–can also say I wasn’t particularly aware of before the Zimmerman case.''
His posts on the issue are well worth reading.
He also lives in the Orlando area, (I used to live in that region myself) so the local media has obsessed about the case from day one just like they did with Casey Anthony.

Anonymous said...

- the jury for this trial (and the trial I served on) is only six people, not twelve, which is Florida state law.
- I agree that the "facts" of this case should be the only determinant as to the verdict. we will see what occurs...

SiGraybeard said...

The attorney who literally wrote the book on Florida firearms law, Jon Gutmacher has been posting notes on this trial and is coming down on the side John Lott took. The prosecution has only made Zimmerman's position stronger through their week of testimony.

And I know this wasn't your point, but this is not a "stand your ground" case. The defense has not invoked that law. It's a straightforward self defense case. SYG has to do with a duty to retreat. When you're on your back on the ground with someone on top of you hitting you, there is no way to retreat. You're trapped. The answer to the medical examiner is that Canadian actress, Natasha Richardson, who fell and banged her head while skiing. She was dead within 48 hours from a concussion. How many times do you let someone bang your head on a sidewalk, when one hit killed her?

It remains to be seen how the six women of the jury will take this, though.

YIH said...

@Pascal Fervor:
Though I no longer listen to Michael Weiner (his actual name) I thought ''did he actually say that?''
Yes he did.
Like Sean Amnesty, he's a fraud.

Pascal said...

YIH, they are all frauds depending on when it they are assigned by their masters (those who give them access and/or arrange to see they get well paid) to behave radically.

As I said up above, Medved et al. could not be far behind. Today he did it, but played nice on the surface. Details at Medved: For the Record.

Medved today in his first hour said he deplored "those who raise racial tensions as have been on display here." This while 2 hours before his show aired, Judicial Watch released the records that Obama's DOJ was funding and protecting and fomenting the racial protests of GZ. It was no surprise to me that Medved's call screener did not allow anyone to enter that news into the discussion.

No surprise there. Medved (the admitted agitpropper) deplores it when OUR side reacts as the Left exoects to Leftist thrusts.