Hmmm, what does ‘not guilty’ mean today?


It looks like some judicial sleight of hand is in the works.

At one time a not guilty verdict might have meant what it sounds like. The defendant could go home and get on with life.

Right now the Justice Department is considering other charges against George Zimmerman.

Am I the only one who thinks there is something wrong here?

Terry L. Schoen

Walla Walla



barracuda says...

With the White House commenting on the outcome on a regular basis, the hunt will continue until there is a guilty verdict for something.... even if it for a parking violation, caused by Mr. Zimmerman parking his car to far from the curb during the confrontation. And he will spend time for it too, while other more heinous crimes result in "time served".

Posted 20 July 2013, 11:42 a.m. Suggest removal

stvsngltn says...

Eric Holder, Barack Obama and yes, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (and others) fervently want to turn this simple self-defense case into a civil rights racism/hate crime issue. It's all about POLITICS, not about justice or common sense. Why am I not a bit surprised? Why are they ignoring the thousands of black youths being killed daily in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit and elsewhere by other blacks? Simple answer: There isn't a person assumed to be caucasion (or a "white Latino") accused of the shooting. Unfortunately, racism (and reverse-racism) exists in the world .... but it's outrageous when it occurs within a 21st-Century US Government.

Posted 20 July 2013, 12:52 p.m. Suggest removal

stvsngltn says...

I meant yearly not daily. My mistake. 8-9,000 American black victims per year according to a quick check of the Bureau of Justice stats.

Posted 20 July 2013, 12:55 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

The Zimmerman case may have been many things, but it was never a "simple self-defense case."

I didn't hang on every sound bite from the trial, but the broad outline I've gotten was that Zimmerman suspected Martin of criminal activity, Zimmerman followed Martin, Martin - aware of being followed in the dark - attacked Zimmerman, Zimmerman killed Martin.

If nothing in that scenario troubles you, we must have very different notions of both the rule of law and basic morality.

Posted 21 July 2013, 11:13 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I always thought he law read "innocent until proven guilty". With this Dept of Justice I believe the law is now stated "you are guilty until we want to say you are innocent". This country is on a downhill run and the brakes are non-existent.

Posted 20 July 2013, 1:43 p.m. Suggest removal

MyFamNews says...

'innocent until proven guilty' is an extinct concept in this country at all levels. Everyone needs to spend a few minutes in any courtroom in the land, so they will know that there is no such thing. No matter guilt or innocence or variables, many in the system and on the outside believe that 'if you find yourself in the justice system or court system, then you must have done something wrong'.

Posted 21 July 2013, 9:22 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

I agree to a point - obviously if your in a court room there is a problem, be it 2nd degree murder or a divorce. But when you have been aquitted by a jury of your peers and cleared from racial overtones by the FBI you would think that the trial is over for the most part with the exception of the civil actions.

When the Dept of Justice scams for details (of a hate crime) to incriminate a person with racial discrimination leading into double jeopardy and personal condemation makes this a total different judicial system. The worst scenario is for the bi-racial President to promote racial and social divisiveness in this country. A sad day in America.

Posted 22 July 2013, 9:28 a.m. Suggest removal

VinoTinto says...

Oh please, this was not stand your ground!!!

This was (1) follow a young black man, (even when the dispatcher told you not to do it), (2) get out of your truck, (3) provoke him, and then (3) defend yourself once you've started the altercation, and finally (4) kill him, because you're a racist coward.

Sounds like hunting to me with a heaping helpin' of Southern injustice.

Posted 22 July 2013, 10:42 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Wow..... That pretty easy to follow, VinoTinto...... I wonder why it was not spelled out that way in court?

Posted 22 July 2013, 4:55 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

It is a wonderful thing to check out the court transcripts before inserting ones foot into mouth rather than relying on the Media?

Posted 22 July 2013, 6:26 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

At trial, it was stated that what the dispatcher told him about following was, "We don't need you to do that." That COULD mean, "Don't do it," but it could also mean, "We don't want to be sued for telling you to follow him if you get hurt, but thanks for volunteering," or it could mean, "Don't worry about it; we'll send a unit but if the unit doesn't find him when it arrives, it's that much less paperwork for us to do and burglaries in your neighborhood aren't a priority for us." In other words, it's a totally ambiguous statement.

I know the story plays better if you can say he was "told not to do it," but that doesn't really match the events. If facts matter.

Other than "following" also known as walking behind someone on a public sidewalk and a perfectly legal activity, and getting out of his truck, also a perfectly legal activity, how exactly did Zimmerman "provoke" Martin into attacking him? Or was it provocation merely because Zimmerman was Hispanic and/or white and Martin therefore profiled him as being up to no good?

Do you think that Zimmerman wouldn't have shot if a white guy had sucker-punched him, had him on the ground pounding his head on the pavement, and was within inches of grabbing the gun from him?

Legally, though, I agree this was not a Stand Your Ground case, since there was no evidence that Zimmerman had the option to retreat rather than shoot, once the attack on him began. For some reason, though, the Stand Your Ground jury instruction was given, so the defense must have requested it.

Posted 24 July 2013, 5:59 a.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

I'm sorry, this reply seems to willfully ignore context, from parsing the words spoken by the dispatcher while ignoring tone and emphasis, to the description of all of Zimmerman's "legal" actions taken in the dark by a white man pursuing a black teenager in the deep south.

To ignore context is to ignore a substantial portion of the facts surrounding this tragic incident, and does nothing to promote understanding of what occurred.

Posted 24 July 2013, 7:46 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Don't you need to clarify that it was an American Hispanic (not white), who was the neighborhood watch leader, that followed a strange individual in his immediate vicinity. This whole race issue is disgusting and brought on by the leaders of the race-baiters of America.

Posted 24 July 2013, 10:29 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

What is the difference between "context" and "profiling"?

If Martin is entitled to assume that Zimmerman is dangerous to him because he's white or Hispanic and therefore needs to be preemptively assaulted (and isn't that what you're saying when you talk about this happening "in the dark" "by a white man" "in the deep south" - all appealing to stereotypes), would I as a white person be entitled to ASSUME the same should I discover a black person following me? Would you defend my decision to preemptively attack him? I doubt it. You would call that profiling and me a racist. And you'd be right. Yet your anger against Zimmerman is that he did not allow himself to be beaten to death or serious injury after exactly that behavior by Martin.

Martin's death is a tragedy. I have teenaged relatives stupid enough and testosterone-laden enough to do what he did, and I wouldn't want them to be killed for it. And Zimmerman was incompetent at doing the job he set out to do, although I believe he was well-intentioned. But the only actual criminal act was Martin's. No, he didn't deserve to die for it, but people die undeservedly every day for many stupid decisions, from failing to wear their seatbelts to snorting too much of the wrong substance for a quick high. Putting someone else in prison for life is not a solution to that problem.

Posted 24 July 2013, 10:05 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

As I think more on what you said, I have to wonder:

If Zimmerman had been following a white man, and the same incident had ensued - white guy gets nervous about being followed by a Hispanic, attacks him preemptively, injured Hispanic defends himself by shooting white guy, who's side would you be on?

My guess is you'd be raging at the prosecution as racists for daring to bring the Hispanic to trial under those circumstances. Because, after all, context is everything. And we all know that it's racist to profile Hispanics as people who are dangerous and just attack them for no other reason than following you around. If you're white. But not if you're black. Different laws for different races seems to be where you want to go, all in the name of understanding.

Posted 24 July 2013, 10:14 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

So if we call "context," "profiling" you agree it matters? Okay, let's call context, profiling.

People "profile" all the time simply as part of their awareness when in public places.

Women walking in an empty parking structure at night are much more wary of lone men in their proximity than they are of lone women. Profiling? Sure.

Many folks get nervous when approaching a large group of unknown teenage boys. Profiling? Sure.

Profiling for self protection makes sense. When doing so, we're simply taking into account probabilities (and racially based assumptions which may or may not be justified) when doing threat assessment.

Where we tend to condemn profiling is when it's used offensively to single a person out for special official scrutiny. We generally (at least ideally) require conduct to justify an official intervention with the person who fits into a profiling stereotype.

So far as I'm aware (I could be wrong) Zimmerman had no training, wore no uniform, didn't communicate in any way with Martin and otherwise did nothing to explain why he was following Martin. While all of that might be legal as you said, it's at best stupid, and at worst criminal.

What this case says (and you seem to be defending) is that in Florida one can engage in legal, albeit provocative, conduct until you can get the target of that conduct to react physically, at which time you can draw your hidden gun and kill them.

Zimmerman is alive today because he was smart enough to take a gun to the fist fight he provoked with Martin; Martin's dead for the same reason.

By the way, I made no assumptions about your views, your prejudices, where you direct your anger or how you would react to various straw men I might dream up. I'd appreciate it if you extended the same courtesy to me. I prefer to discuss issues, not each other.

Posted 25 July 2013, 7:54 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Point taken. I confused you momentarily with those who assume I'm a Klan member because I disagree with them on the outcome of a legal case.

But you yourself are making a huge and vicious assumption about Zimmerman - that he INTENDED to provoke Martin into a preemptive attack SO THAT he could kill him.

And yes, I do defend the notion that one can engage in legal behavior without giving others the right to attack one and I deny the notion that when so attacked, one must engage in a psychic analysis of whether the attacker was "provoked" by one's legal behavior and if so, must give up the right of self-defense.

Another word for provocation is excuse. Without getting into Martin's head, we have no way of knowing whether he was in serious fear for his life(or simply looking for an excuse to beat up on a Hispanic and/or white person. And even if in serious fear for his life (and what I read of the conversation he had with the young woman suggested he was more annoyed than scared) he had many options other than attacking Zimmerman. Just as Zimmerman had other options than following Martin. But following is legal, attacking is not.

Now that you've agreed it's likely both men were profiling, you seem to imply that Zimmerman was profiling 'offensively' while Martin was profiling 'defensively' and that makes all the difference. But that's not true. Zimmerman was there in a specific capacity, to defend and protect his community. If he profiled at all, that was his 'context' - a defensive one. As for Martin, for all you know, he was motivated by racial animus against Hispanics (or whites of any ethnic background) or just resentment against being profiled when he attacked Zimmerman, not fear.

On one thing we can agree: Zimmerman was poorly trained, if at all. Neighborhood watchers should wear identifiable clothing and identify themselves to any they approach. For that, he did not deserve to be punched in the face or have his head beaten on the pavement or find himself with a strong aggressive young man sitting on his torso, with that strong aggressive young man's hands within inches of Zimmerman's gun, and Zimmerman's life at major risk of being ended by that young man. Maybe Martin would NOT have grabbed the gun and used it, or maybe he would have.

Posted 25 July 2013, 8:31 a.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

No, I didn't say Zimmerman intended to provoke a fight with Martin, I said he did. Sometimes events we set in motion lead to foreseeable, albeit unintended, consequences. My sense is that Zimmerman saw himself as a hero in waiting and, backed up by his gun, acted on that fantasy.

The simple fact you're ignoring is that Zimmerman's profiling provoked the confrontation. That’s what happens with “offensive” profiling – the profiling almost inevitably leads to confrontation. Zimmerman could have waited for the police, followed Martin in his car, asked him where he was going, identified himself as a neighborhood watch member, or done any of a dozen other things to prevent the result we all now mourn. He doesn't, so far as I’m aware, claim to have done anything of the kind.

You, on your side, are also accepting as gospel Zimmerman’s recitation of events, which is all we have to go on because Martin is conveniently dead. If Zimmerman doesn't profile Martin, none of this happens; Martin's profiling was in reaction to being followed, in the dark by a white man. I’m not sure he chose the best course of action, based on results he clearly didn’t; but to entirely excuse Zimmerman and condemn Martin is simplistic, and ignores deep layers of racial relations in this country, particularly in the south.

Posted 25 July 2013, 10:24 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

You said Z was "smart enough" to bring a gun to a fight he provoked. I'm sorry if I misunderstood that to imply forethought.

Neither you nor I know what was in either man's mind. Nobody really knows whether Z profiled M because of his race or because of his behavior. Nobody really knows if M was spoiling for a fight, carrying a massive chip on his shoulder, or profiled Z for being Hispanic or possibly gay and wanting to hit on him (from what he and Jeanel said to each other).

But I disagree with you that just because you conclude that someone is 'profiling' you, i.e., singling you out for special notice because of some characteristic like race, you are justified in assaulting them.

Yes, Z's following of M was a precondition to what happened. If Z hadn't followed M, they'd both be fine. But likewise M's physical assault on Z was a precondition; if he hadn't done that, they'd also both been fine. Once M assaulted Z, ONE of them was very clearly going to end up NOT fine. Would there have been a national outrage if Z had died from a traumatic brain injury or if M had grabbed Z's gun and shot Z? Or do you think it would have been a valid defense for M to say, "Hey, he was profiling me. He deserved to die"?

I'm still curious whether you think that a man of any other race would have been justified in assaulting Zimmerman under the objective circumstances of this case. It sounds like you are saying, essentially, that because of the history of racial oppression blacks suffered, especially in the South, they get a special dispensation to assault people for reasons that would NOT excuse assaults by anybody else. Isn't that really what you mean by 'context'?

Where does that kind of logic stop? If a white person has been victimized by a black criminal, is she entitled to preemptively attack some OTHER black person who is committing no crime?

Posted 26 July 2013, 1 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

Sigh, I didn't say Martin was justified in assaulting Zimmerman, I said Zimmerman's conduct provoked the assault. For example, I don’t approach young children who are unknown to me because of the reaction it might provoke in the child or the parent. My hypothetical approach to the child is completely legal – as was Zimmerman’s “walking” behind Martin - but my hypothetical conduct would clearly have provoked whatever reaction I received, as Zimmerman’s conduct provoked the response he got from Martin. Zimmerman had no duty to follow Marin and he had no official enforcement role. Neighborhood watch folks are, in my experience, always advised to call the police and let them handle it. It’s called “watch” for a reason.

And while we all agree we can’t read minds, it’s also extremely unclear what happened that evening. There is Zimmerman’s initial 911 call (the transcript is instructive, the police were clearly responding to Zimmerman’s call). There are the 911 calls from witnesses (one of which says a man in in a white shirt on top of the other man shot the man on the bottom – not entirely consistent with Zimmerman’s account). There are the shouts for help on the 911 calls. There are Zimmerman’s head wounds, which could have been the result of an assault by Martin, or Martin defending himself from an assault by Zimmerman. And there’s a dead Trayvon Martin. That’s it. Transcripts of the 911 calls can be found here:

You and others are readily accepting Zimmerman’s story, particularly who attacked whom. But we have no basis for accepting or rejecting that version of what happened.

Race was clearly a factor in this case, but you and I both know that the judge may well have prohibited the prosecution from discussing race and racism. The racial context here is that a white man following a black teenager at night might have put that teenager in fear of his life. The South has a long history of not being hospitable to blacks. Zimmerman, armed, had little reason to fear Martin; Martin however, simply on his way home, may well have been in fear of his life.

You ask, "Would there have been a national outrage if Z had died from a traumatic brain injury or if M had grabbed Z's gun and shot Z?" I don't know. But let me ask you this: do you think the police investigating the death of Zimmerman you posit, would have sent Martin home after a five hour interview, as they did Zimmerman? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Posted 26 July 2013, 6:54 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

First, I don't "accept Zimmerman's story" of who attacked whom. I accept the physical evidence of injuries on both participants. Those are consistent with Z being attacked by M, and not with the other way around.

I am skeptical that M was in fear of his life, because I find the evidence of his friend Jeanel suggestive of him being the instigator of the confrontation.

You say "race was clearly a factor in this case." Surely, race was a factor in the prosecution of Zimmerman and in the media involvement, but the only EVIDENCE that race was an issue to the two participants is M calling Z a "cracker." There is no EVIDENCE that race motivated Z. There's nothing but assumptions, other words for which are prejudice and bigotry. If you think there is EVIDENCE that race motivated Z to kill M, where is it? I haven't read all the police reports of the interviews with him, but as far as I'm aware, not one of them included Z saying he followed M because he was black.

I certainly hope the police would not have sent M home after attacking Z and killing him. Because there was no justification for attacking him in the first place. When you attack someone, and kill him during the attack, there are no considerations of self-defense.

Your statement that M was not justified in assaulting Z, but Z provoked him to do it, leaves me puzzled. If the assault was not justified, then where is the blame in Z defending himself against it, even with deadly force? Who can possibly discern all the different ways someone can be 'provoked' to attack one? I've walked by some construction sites in my younger days and been mightily annoyed and sometimes frightened by the crude sexist comments. I wasn't packing back but even if I had been, it never would have occurred to me to initiate violence because of the provocation.

Posted 26 July 2013, 9:43 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

Zimmerman's wounds could have resulted from Martin's attempts to defend himself following an assault initiated by Zimmerman or, as you have chosen to believe, from an attack initiated by Martin. The wounds say nothing about who initiated the altercation.

Similarly, I don't need to say that race motivated Zimmerman to kill Martin to have race be a factor in this case. I do believe that race played a part in Zimmerman's suspicions about Martin. I also believe that race played a part in the police decision to release Zimmerman after a 5 hour interview. Reverse the races, and that doesn't happen.

I see shades of gray, and am willing to consider my own experience and the experiences of my friends; you prefer "evidence." However, as we know, evidence is dependent on what the attorneys decide to introduce, on rules or evidence, on evidence being excluded because the potential prejudice outweighs the probative value, and so on. Trials such as this are more kabuki theater than explorations of the truth. In any event, I don't think there's good reason to continue this dialogue.

I thank you for sticking to the topic, and not turning this into an exchange of insults.

Posted 26 July 2013, 10:21 p.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

Wow. Get over yourself. Zimmerman probably shouldn't have followed the kid, but he did and was not breaking the law. He didn't attack him, assault him, or anything else. The kid attacked Zimmerman, and the jury believed the Zimmerman feared for his life. It's too bad that Sharpton and his band of goonies have been involved. This is not a racial issue. If it was a white man and white kid, we never would have even heard the story.

Posted 24 July 2013, 9:08 a.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

Were you there? Why do you compartmentalize "Sharpton and his band of goonies"? This is a racial issue, and your utter ignornace is on display for all to see. Well done!

Posted 25 July 2013, 12:10 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Where in the audience were you seated?

Posted 25 July 2013, 6:18 p.m. Suggest removal

VinoTinto says...

It was cold blooded murder! Not guilty does not equal innocent. Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin who was unarmed. I wish Zimmerman had taken the stand. It looks like the fat pig murdered Martin and then ate him.

This will be my last comment on this subject as I see I'm interrupting an on-line Klan meeting.

Posted 24 July 2013, 9:37 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

That's funny!!!

Posted 24 July 2013, 1:06 p.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

Not as funny as your little white hood.

Posted 24 July 2013, 2:47 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Since *none* of us were at this trial, and all of us have had to rely on the news or versions of the news given to us by slanted news casters, I'd say there is no way for ANY of us to tell what is correct or wrong. Fox has one version, CNN has a version and the big three each have version's. All of the versions are deeply slanted towards one way or another. NOBODY here has the truth, we just have a slanted truth, given to us as gospel truth, in one way or another to try to convince us to believe whatever will sell their story.
Wouldn't it be nice to carry on a dialogue to help the race issue, (if there really was a race component) instead snarky replies that have no meaning?

Posted 25 July 2013, 6:14 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

You're right we weren't at the trial, and I for one did not listen to a single 'talking head' about the case; the only information I have is what I read in Wikipedia and in news stories. I assume bias, but usually they're accurate in reporting things like timelines, direct witness statements, medical reports, etc.

But I did listen to and watch the prosecution's closing argument. You would expect that to be the strongest possible statement of the prosecution's view of the case, cast in the light most favorable to the prosecution and least favorable to the defense. You would expect the jury to be reminded of every piece of evidence that supported the prosecution and of every hole in the defense case. And I'm being generous here in saying that the closing argument was extremely weak. If this truly was the best that could be argued of the evidence offered during the trial from the prosecution's side, a conviction was simply never possible. Before starting, I had expected to listen to the defense closing argument as well. After listening to the prosecution, I didn't bother.

Sure, Zimmerman's police interviews could have been fabricated out of whole cloth, the witnesses who supported his claims could have been lying or mistaken, the witnesses who testified against him could have been truthful but weak and not credible, etc.

But a criminal trial does require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the prosecution's closing argument itself established plenty of reasonable doubt. I'm not sure it would have even been enough to support a civil judgment against Zimmerman, and that only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

(I also read the jury instructions, since they usually tell you what the law is that the judge thinks applies to the case and what the jury has been told is the law. That doesn't give you much on the facts, except that a jury instruction can't be given if there hasn't been at least SOME evidence introduced that bears on that issue.)

Posted 26 July 2013, 12:35 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

This makes you more educated in this subject than I or some others.
I too, was attempting to follow this trial on a daily basis, and found nowhere in the trial did the race issue/profiling come up. Now, I am not sure if the issue of race come up and I just missed it, or it really was not brought up.... I have heard the "talking heads" bring it up, but some others have stated that the Pros. and Defense made a point to omit the issue.... What was your take on the amount of racial discussion etc?

Posted 26 July 2013, 5:36 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I didn't follow the evidence day to day. I listened to the prosecution closing argument because I assumed the evidence would be summarized thoroughly there (from the prosecution perspective). The prosecutor did stress that Zimmerman profiled Martin and "made assumptions" and blamed those assumptions for the outcome, but I don't remember him saying explicitly it was for reasons of race. It was implied.

Posted 27 July 2013, 8:09 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Here is a link to a very interesting video.... This guy has some (SOME) very interesting thoughts....
Take a look at this:

Posted 29 July 2013, 6:07 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

A great link!

Posted 29 July 2013, 6:34 p.m. Suggest removal

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