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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zimmerman Trial

     Having followed this incident since a day or two after the actual encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin I have read so much information and heard so many talking heads discuss the facts that I feel I could recite the events verbatim.  However, my thoughts here are from afar and not fully informed since all my information has come from the media sources that everyone else has also had access to during this seventeen to eighteen months.

     Evidently that portion of Seminole County had trouble with property crimes and it had caused enough of a concern that a Neighborhood Watch program had to be initiated.  That in itself is not to be treated lightly because citizens and professionals in law enforcement had to come together to make that happen.  Next GZ is part of the "watch" program and the neighborhood is comparatively compact so anyone living there should be fairly familiar with the premises and those who frequent them.

     That theory, right or wrong, means someone who has just arrived in the neighborhood and is not known to the other residents will stand out.  A young man of any color or creed walking around alone, after dark in the rain, would reasonably be out of place to a regular resident when he hasn't resided there for any significant length of time.  Nothing about the circumstances up to this point is out of sync with rational thought to me.

     Even though GZ wasn't "on duty" as a "watch" person he was out and about and saw something out of the ordinary.  Think about what we are told on the news almost daily - report anything that seems suspicious to you.  GZ did just that!  But, he went further and followed the unknown young man, going as far as getting out of his car to continue following.  Sensible?  Probably not!  Illegal?  Absolutely not!

     From that point forward no one knows what happened between the two.  We have the testimony of the young lady, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with TM and her one side of the events from down in south Florida.  Unlike the jury, we also know about pictures on TM's phone, some messages he sent, his school status, prior behavior and the presence of marijuana in his system.  They do not paint a picture of a young man that is exemplary by anyone's standards.  Neither do they paint a picture of a gangster, a criminal or a person of such a violent nature that one would have trembled in his presence.

     We do have Ms. Jeantel's version of the sound of someone being struck which somewhat coincides with GZ's version.  She also told us TM was close to his father's then current residence.  Why he did not go inside and report the incident to his father is a great unknown.  Why didn't he hang up from Ms. Jeantel and call 911 if he was experiencing the greatest fear of any child - a stranger following him home - is another.  You can draw a number of conclusions from those failures to act in what I would believe to have been a rational manner.  None of the conclusions I would draw from that would support the idea that TM was a "frightened child" attempting to flee a pursuer.  During my career I have represented too many young men of his age group that are all "ten feet tall and bulletproof!"  Youth has a certain lack of ability to rationally perceive circumstances that crosses all socioeconomic strata.  Personally, I hate dealing with teenagers because of their inability to understand that actions have consequences and the shock they express at learning that lesson.

     At this point in time nothing had yet been done by anyone that was illegal.  Even if there were an exchange of words between the two there was nothing outside of the law as it is known to me.  Something changed quickly though and erupted in a way that no one in their circle of families and friends will ever forget.

     From the evidence as we know it there was no physical evidence of hitting TM.  No black eyes, broken noses, cut head.  The only injury I have heard referenced is the bullet hole that led to his death.   GZ, on the other hand, had a broken nose, blackened and swollen eyes, cuts to the back of his head, wet jacket and grass or other debris on his back.  Logic indicates, from those facts alone, that TM was the physical aggressor.  Whatever went before, right or wrong, is indicative of no criminal behavior by GZ.

     The legal question that then is left is whether or not his fears leading to his use of a firearm were reasonable.  No other issues are of true import, no matter what Crump et al have to opine.  No matter what the SAO argues about blood on GZ's hands.  Those are emotional presentations that are inappropriate in the legal arena.

     An overriding issue that has weighed upon my mind since learning it is why TM's father, who was residing in the neighborhood where he died, never heard any of the commotion - gunshot, police, fire and rescue, people talking and moving about in the seemingly compact neighborhood.  Finally, why did he wait until the next day to report his minor son missing?  I don't consider that to be a rational act of a parent!

     The tragedy is that young men the age of TM are prosecuted routinely for adult crimes.  Our society has seen an increase in this kind of activity both by the young men and by the justice system and has turned a blind eye to the development.  It needs to stop, from both sides!

     I cannot predict the verdict and will not pretend to have a crystal ball that gives me an advantage over non-lawyers.  There were six people in the jury box.  My prayers are with them!  I pray for justice every day and will continue to do so until I no longer have the ability for rational thought.

1 comment:

  1. From your post: "I pray for justice every day and will continue to do so until I no longer have the ability for rational thought"
    Happily, the capacity for rational thought is not a qualifying factor for those who are inclined toward prayer. The prayers of the dull-witted and irrational are surely heard, are they not? As I understand it, the mandate is not for rationality, but rather fervency. This speaks to that part of me that is far more moved by the ecstatic cries of impassioned charismatics than by the flat-affect rote incantations of the learned orthodoxy.
    To go further, it is (perhaps) rationality itself that stands as the great barrier, built on the shifting sand of reason, forever binding us to the empirical, and blinding us to the superempirical.