Zimmerman in custody, charged with second degree murder

by Walter Olson on April 12, 2012

Coverage everywhere.

Of the continuing efforts in many quarters to demonize “Stand Your Ground” law, despite mounting indications that it will not make the difference in determining George Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence at trial (on which see my Cato colleague Tim Lynch’s writing here and here, as well as mine), Ann Althouse asks: “Why inject an inapplicable, controversial issue? To inflame passions? To skew judgment? To take any opportunity/nonopportunity to push your pet issue?”

The thing is, “Stand Your Ground” hadn’t really been a pet issue one way or the other for many of those who now harp on it. I think the better answer is: because many people yearn for ways to blame their ideological opponents when something awful happens. It’s much more satisfying to do that than to wind up wasting one’s blame on some individual or local police department for actions or decisions that might not even turn out to be motivated by ideology.

Consider, for example, the efforts to set up the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council as somehow the ultimate villain in the Martin shooting. Left-wing groups, assisted by labor union and trial lawyer interests, had been pursuing a campaign against ALEC for months before the Martin case, in hopes of making the group radioactive among generally liberal donors like the Gates Family Foundation and the Coca-Cola Co. Nothing had worked — until the synthetic Stand Your Ground furor finally afforded an opening.

{ 9 comments }

1 VMS 04.12.12 at 7:50 am

Looks like Zimmerman is the proverbial political football. When the police lacked probable cause to even make an arrest, and the original prosecutor didn’t think that the matter should be before a grand jury, this present State Attorney/Special Prosecutor will be hard-pressed to prove each element of a second degree murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt, and prove that there was no justification defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

2 CTrees 04.12.12 at 8:04 am

First thought: How the hell are they going to get an untainted jury?

Now, given everything that’s been shown, all the contradictory evidence, I can’t see how this would result in a conviction. Political pressure over believing there’s a proveable case FTW, I guess?

3 David Schwartz 04.12.12 at 9:19 am

Both of Lynch’s arguments miss the point, for the same reason. Whether or not the SYG law applies, and whether or not Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder, will likely hinge on whether 776.0401(b) applies — that is, whether Zimmerman tried to terminate the conflict.

Of course, we’ll only have Zimmerman’s word on this. And that’s not because Martin chose to confront Zimmerman in an isolated place but because Zimmerman chose to follow Martin.

And the SYG law may let provokers get away with it, because they can often claim that they tried to terminate the use of force. And they can choose the time and place at which they provoke people.

I agree with the point Lynch is making, but both of the arguments he uses in his two articles seem weak and incorrect.

4 barnrd 04.12.12 at 9:29 am

The question is: what right did an armed thug have to stop an innocent person going about their business for no reason other than he thought him “suspicious”? And didn’t Trayvon have an equal right to protect himself against that armer person, unequal though his defense might be?

5 wfjag 04.12.12 at 9:53 am

@CTrees:
“First thought: How the hell are they going to get an untainted jury?”

Drum roll. Open the envelope. And the answer is:

“barnrd
The question is: what right did an armed thug have to stop an innocent person going about their business for no reason other than he thought him ‘suspicious’? And didn’t Trayvon have an equal right to protect himself against that armer person, unequal though his defense might be?”

The race-hustlers and their coherts in the media have made sure that they only place you’ll find people who haven’t formed an opinion are those who have chosen the life of the cloister and taken a vow of silence.

6 William Nuesslein 04.12.12 at 10:13 am

@barnrd
There have been no allegations that Mr. Zimmerman was a thug or that he accosted Treyvon Martin.

By the way, Treyvon Martin was unarmed while walking back from the store and before the scuffle. It has been reported that Mr. Zimmerman said that his gun was in Treyvon Martin’s sight while Treyvon Martin was beating him and that Treyvon Martin then said “you are going to die”. At that point, the scuffle became a race for the weapon and self defense applies, and “Stand Your Ground” is irrelevant. The two people had relatively equal access to the gun, making the claim of unarmed misleading. It will be up to the prosecutor to prove Mr. Zimmerman’s story to be false.

A theory based on the angle of the path of the fatal bullet might be used. That would be interesting.

7 rawdawgbuffalo 04.12.12 at 12:23 pm

Yes he will. Like the history of this nation. They will move him to a place with an all white jury as they did the day an all-white Simi Valley jury, despite the videotape, concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to convict LAPD officers Laurence Powell , Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Sergeant Stacey Koon . Or as when J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant were found not guilty by an all white jury in the killing of Emitt Till. Zimmerman is all that is wrong with America. No wonder The Tea Party reminds many of George Lincoln Rockwell Revisited.

8 barnrd 04.12.12 at 2:36 pm

Re William Nuesslein’s c omment:
The story that Trayvon threatened Zimmerman and that Trayvon knew he had a gun came from either Zimmerman’s lawyers (who admitted they never met him) or Zimmerman’s family, who weren’t there and are justifying Zimmerman’s actions in the press. Do you think there would be less of an uproar if Trayvon had been white? If he had been any other color, it is doubtful he would have been stopped for walking in the rain.

9 Mark Biggar 04.12.12 at 4:38 pm

To borrow an old joke from the O.J. trial:

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Zimmerman
Zimmerman who?
Congratulations, you’re on the Jury!

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