On the Zimmerman acquittal: recommended reading

by Walter Olson on July 16, 2013

Seven columns/posts I recommend, without necessarily agreeing in full with their contents:

* Eric Zorn, “20 Things I Think About the George Zimmerman Case,” Chicago Tribune (pre-verdict)

* William Saletan, Slate (case “was about misjudgment and overreaction — exactly what we’re doing now to the verdict.”)

* John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum, on prosecution’s post-trial interviews.

* Jonathan Adler, New York Times “Room for Debate” (don’t use federal “hate crimes” statute to give prosecutors second bite at apple).

* Jeralyn Merritt, “The Legacy of the George Zimmerman Trial” (and Merritt’s writings on the case generally), TalkLeft.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic (and archive).

* Dan Markel, PrawfsBlawg (“even though over-charging is routine,” it’s “an ethical problem hiding in plain sight.”)

{ 10 comments }

1 Isabelle 07.16.13 at 11:49 am

I agree with everything Zorn writes.

2 Paul McKaskle 07.16.13 at 1:47 pm

I suggest you add the Ann Althouse posting (7/16/13) which has the caption:
“Why are black boys expendable?” is the heartwrenching question on the front page at the Washington Post.

3 Walter Olson 07.16.13 at 2:39 pm

The link to the Ann Althouse post is here. She is reacting to a column by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post which I agree is remarkably bad.

4 William Nuesslein 07.17.13 at 9:34 am

The Ann Althouse post was very good.

Much is made of Zimmerman’s impudence in getting out of his vehicle. First is said that had stayed in his vehicle, Martin would not have been killed. But that is sophistry as Martin was not going home, a 10 minute trip, he was taking 40 minutes to do something else. And we can back up causation to Zimmerman’s mother saying OK to his father – the same for Martin. The Son-of-Sam used to just shoot into cars. Martin could have done that to Zimmerman had Martin been armed.

Implicit in the complaint against Zimmerman is that he should have known black males to be exceedingly dangerous. Martin had some aggression that had to be released that night. That aggression lead to his being shot, and it was his misfortune that the shot was fatal. Most shots are not.

5 RLVon 07.17.13 at 12:56 pm

“Martin was not going home, a 10 minute trip, he was taking 40 minutes to do something else.”

How do we know what Martin was doing? Since when is it a crime to walk your neighborhood? I walk my neighborhood all the time, hell, I walk other neighborhoods. Maybe Zimmerman was afraid that “they all get away.”

6 Rick 07.17.13 at 9:32 pm

It wasn’t Martin’s neighborhood at all. He was a short term guest at his fathers girlfriends condo because his mother had kicked him out for his repeated fighting. However, it was Zimmerman’s neighborhood and he was doing what neighborhood watch guys do.

7 RLVon 07.18.13 at 12:06 am

Rick, was the neighborhood off limits to Martin?

Neighborhood Watch programs (and specfically in Sandford, FL) say that it is the job of the watchers to “be the eyes and ears of the police. so they can follow up on your leads. What you will not do is get physically involved with any activity you report or apprehension of any suspicious persons. This is the job of the law enforcement agency.”

While Martin may certainly have some responsibility for what happened, so did Zimmerman…

8 William Nuesslein 07.18.13 at 9:38 am

RI Von’s logic leaves much to be desired. Had Martin been enjoying a joint or a cigarette, fine. He was not walking a dog. Looking for a burglary target was more than possible and of concern.

9 RLVon 07.18.13 at 11:13 am

William, what makes you think he was looking for a burglary target? Please give us your reasoning.

10 Paul 07.18.13 at 5:48 pm

RLVon, that’s not what he said. Nobody has to think TM was looking for a burglary target to make it relevant, since was already an existing concern about burglaries in the area. People concerned about such things tend to look for new faces and unusual behavior. Some communities even formalize that kind of thing, encouraging citizens to take responsibility for their neighborhoods and report unusual activity to the police.

I’m sure quite often the “suspicious” activity has good explanation. I’ve been on the wrong end of that more than once….I bought a vacant house and when I moved in, the cops got called because the neighbors didn’t expect people to be there. When I was a kid I forgot my house keys once, and hopped the fence. Cops got called. It happens. I would have been much happier if a neighbor had come to speak to me instead of calling the police. I probably would not have punched them.

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