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Archive for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Editorial: Verdict is in

The jury has done its job in a widely debated Florida shooting case. It’s time for the media and the nation to move forward.

July 16, 2013

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A Florida jury has reached its decision in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but, for better or worse, this case will continue to reverberate across the nation.

After hearing what was described as “wildly conflicting” testimony about the events that led to Martin’s death, a jury of six women decided it didn’t have enough evidence to convict defendant George Zimmerman of any wrongdoing. In addition to the obvious loss of 17-year-old Trayvon, the notoriety of this trial will have a long-lasting impact on the Martin family. Although he now is free, Zimmerman also will draw continued focus and scrutiny.

It seems likely that many cases similar to the one in Florida are handled by local authorities with little national attention. This case gained notoriety not only because it involved a black teen and a Hispanic man, but because it attracted the attention of groups and individuals who sought to use it to make a broader point about racism in America. That attention was further heightened by national media outlets, including several television networks that chose to offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Zimmerman trial.

Martin’s death was a tragedy, perhaps a tragedy that signals a broader problem of racial bias in the nation’s law enforcement system. Unfortunately, conflicting testimony and evidence in this trial makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions.

Supporters of Zimmerman and the Martin family will continue to hold differing views about the verdict, but the jury that weighed the conflicting evidence has reached a decision. It may not be the final word on this tragic case, but the nation should accept the verdict and move forward.

Comments

FastEddy 1 year, 5 months ago

Martin’s death was a tragedy, perhaps a tragedy that signals a broader problem of racial bias in the nation’s law enforcement system. Unfortunately, conflicting testimony and evidence in this trial makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions.

As I stated in the Pitts opinion piece, this is the not a case to study for any perceived racial bias in the legal system. The available evidence clearly supported Zimmerman's story and "not guilty" was the correct verdict given the evidence. The media is to blame for making this a national issue with their false reporting and flat out misinformation concerning the facts. This editorial correctly advises to "accept the verdict and move forward".

grammaddy 1 year, 5 months ago

"The only evidence available supported Zimmerman's story..."because Trayvon is dead. If only Zimmerman had stayed in his car. We will never know all the facts. This country needs to have a talk about racism. Until that happens, until black children are valued as much as white children, racism will continue.

Armored_One 1 year, 5 months ago

According to one report I read, Martin was at least vaguely training for MMA. That is an attack-first question-later kind of sport. Who's to say Zimmerman didn't confront him belligerently? I know a few MMA fighters, not national caliber, but if the ones I know are proof of the sport, Martin would have gone on the offensive to protect himself.

Stranger in a strange land mean much to anyone?

Zimmerman's implied threat of carrying the firearm would be viewed as grounds to take him before I take one, if I was Martin. Think of the environment Martin lived in primarily. Between that culture, an unfamiliar environment and a stranger confronting him with a gun...

verity 1 year, 5 months ago

If Zimmerman hadn't stalked and shot him, Martin would, not might, still be alive.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

The prosecution and defense witnesses supported Zimmermans side of the story.

btsflk 1 year, 5 months ago

Hmmmmm, this sounds like Georgie's brother's advice for everyone to take a deep breath and step back. You mean like his brother did(n't)?

I heard over and over about Georgie acting in self defense. I believe a teen ager walking alone at night when accosted by a stranger, has a right to self defense also. But I never heard one word about Travon acting in self defense, seems only Georgie had that right.

As for misinformation concerning the facts, the facts will never be known, we only hear one side of the story. The other side was silenced. I guess how incensed one becomes over media coverage depends on what side of which story one is on. Although I believe media coverage is excessive on most everthing, it's another result of corporate control. Big business, they all have to be there first with the best coverage. Don't expect it to change.

Of course this has elements of racism, as well as gun control.

We should all pack, giving us the right to bully and insult others, and should they resist, we can stand our ground, and shoot them. Guess the one with the gun has the right to stand their ground. If they both have guns???

grammaddy 1 year, 5 months ago

I bet if every member of every minority in this country suddenly purchased a firearm, there would be some common sense gun control.

ChuckFInster 1 year, 5 months ago

Selective outrage brought to you by the media. Take the emotion out of this case and it should be pretty clear the correct verdict was reached.

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

It took him 4 minutes to decide to stand his ground, and when he did it didn't work out nearly as well for him as it would if the other guy had no weapon.

If you stand your ground, you should be ready to stand your ground.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

So, if Martin had had a gun, and shot Zimmerman, do you think he'd be acquitted?

And, do you think it would have been justified, based on Florida "stand your ground" laws?

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

Regarding both questions, yes, if the jury acquitted him.

Alyosha 1 year, 5 months ago

LarryNative, how do you come by the information you are passing off as "fact"? I'm not saying they are or are not facts, but your caveat that we shouldn't believe everything we hear on TV begs the question.

Do you have access to original court documents? Original police reports? How do you come by the information you say is fact?

Did you yourself get this information from a TV news source?

Also, isn't it a fact that the police told Zimmerman not to follow Martin? And who cares whether Zimmerman dated a black girl? Or that he mentored black youth? That's immaterial to his behavior wrt Martin.

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

"Also, isn't it a fact that the police told Zimmerman not to follow Martin?"

No.

Alyosha 1 year, 5 months ago

What is this "race baiting left" you are referring to? Left what? Left coast? Left bank? Left foot?

You throw around terms that have zero meaning in and of themselves as though their meaning is written in stone somewhere.

You make assertion after assertion with zero support in fact — simply your own fevered imaginings.

Strange.

Also: you might recall that our Founders believed it a self-evident truth that governments are instituted among men to secure our rights. So, your hostility to government equals a hostility to individuals having the power to secure their rights. That's a strange and wholly un-American stance to take.

tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

You are obviously not watching the news. There are lots of community groups popping up in large cities who are trying to get people to quit being afraid and step up when they witness a crime, and end the violence. Much of the criminal activity has to do with drugs, but I never see anyone calling for the white race to do something about their drug crimes. I think that horrible murder in Ottawa was drug related, but no task force has been put together to save rural white kids from drugs. Why don't white people get a job and quit doing drugs. They are just lazy and immoral. See what I did there? That's what people do to Blacks. How would you like it if everything you do reflects on all people of your race. You get educated and get a good job, you are a credit to your white race. And most white people do not think this is racist, but it is. There are good Blacks and bad Blacks. There are good Whites and bad Whites, but you expect good Blacks to do something about the bad Blacks, but don't seem too concerned about good Whites doing anything about bad Whites. If you can't see the hypocrisy then you are blind.

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

"You get educated and get a good job, you are a credit to your white race"

People earn a living by doing things, not by looking one way or another. Also, I am a credit to the beige race.

tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

Here's the video that Mr. Pitts is referring to. If you did this experiment over and over in different cities, the results would be the same. Would Zimmerman have followed a white kid in a hoodie? Black men are getting pulled over all the time, only because they are Black. It's their reality, so why do you question it? In large cities, they have a hard time getting a cab. I always think a cabbie's Karma will catch up with them when they are robbed by a white guy. But the white guy will probably be able to bargain down to a misdemeanor, unlike the black man. I used to work with a woman who is a well educated, professional Black woman. She was enjoying herself on vacation two different times, and was told by some white people she should get a job. So, Blacks should work 24/7, and never take a vacation. Black men should never take a taxi, but never drive a car. Granted, Martin's parents probably thought life had changed, so they didn't teach him to shuffle and say yessir and nosir when a creepy guy in a car is following him, but they were wrong. Make sure you teach your boys to run to the closest house and call the police, instead of being macho. Girls know to do this, but guys get a bit cocky.

verity 1 year, 5 months ago

And if a black kid shows up at a house asking for help? How many people would welcome him in while they called the police?

tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

I know a lot of white women who have several babies by more than 1 father. What are you going to do about that? Martin's parents are middle class and live in nice neighborhoods, they don't fit your neat little stereotype.

Seth Peterson 1 year, 5 months ago

And just like that, boiled proves the point everyone was making above. Racism will continue.

btsflk 1 year, 5 months ago

This unfortunate situation has facets connected to racism.

Why are people buying guns and getting concealed carry permits in record numbers? Many are realizing that whites are no longer the majority in this country and afraid darker skinned electees may treat whites like rich white men have, in the past, treated non-whites. They are scared.

Ditto with efforts at voter supression. Past efforts have made it easier for minorities and the disenfranchised (poor) to vote and look what happened. A semi-black president. Voter supression is an effort to put the genie back in the bottle.

Custer's last stand?

ChuckFInster 1 year, 5 months ago

Obtuse doesn't begin to describe those media fueled statements.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

This was a highly publicized trial. Despite that, I was unable to watch the entire trial. I didn't have the opportunity to hear every word, see every facial expression. I didn't hear all the arguments made by the various experts. Most important, I saw none of voir dire, when pre-existing bias would be eliminated by defense, prosecution as well as by the court itself. In other words, despite the fact that much of this trial has been open to us all by way of the media, not all of it has been.

At this point in time, absent significant additional information, I'm unwilling to substitute my judgement for that of the jury precisely because they had access to significantly more information than I had access to.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

That will always be true in jury trials, won't it?

I do disagree that voir dire eliminates bias, having served on a jury.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

Perhaps I should have said that voir dire gives the defense, prosecution and the court the opportunity to eliminate bias. Whether or not they are successful would be open to interpretation.

And yes, it will be true of all jury trials, which means all we're left with (those of us not on the jury) is opinions. All the columnists, all the op-ed writers, all the posters who write are doing nothing more than giving their opinions, though many seem to think we the reader should be taking their opinions as fact.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

It generates the possibility of eliminating bias, but I bet that's very rarely successful in practice.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 5 months ago

While voir dire's intent is to get at the truth in order to choose an impartial jury, it is really a tool for the attorneys to be able to choose the best jurors for their clients. http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/06/meet-the-zimmerman-trial-jurors/

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

The whole point of having an adversarial system, where strong advocates for each position present their case, is with the hope that the end result will be justice. Over the years, the rules of that adversarial system have changed to ensure a better system. I'm certain the future will bring more changes. For now, it's the best system we have and probably the best system that exists. Not perfect, that probably won't ever happen.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

A system that first wanted to find the truth would be far superior to what we have.

Combining two deliberately slanted views doesn't lead well to the truth.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

Of course, in cases just such as this, the truth can be very elusive. What shall be done in said absence? Shall justice be abandoned? Is there some alternate system that produces more truth, better truth, while simultaneously producing the type of justice that we in this country expect?

I was reading a book not long ago, about the current Supreme Court justices. I don't recall the title off hand. What was interesting was that Justice Kennedy, now the swing vote in many of those 5-4 decisions, assists emerging democracies as they try to install constitutions of their own. Interestingly, in return, he has based some of his decisions on their histories, their experiences. To no end, this bothers the strict constructionists on the court, especially Scalia, who believes only a strict interpretation of our Constitution is worthy of discussion. I'm off on a tangent, but it seems if you do find such a place that has more truth, better truth, it's that person in the very middle who seems to be willing to listen. Not those on the extremes. End of digression.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

We'd have to try to create it - it can't be found somewhere already all set up to our liking.

But, it's clear to me that if you add together two deliberately biased views, you don't get the truth. And, finding the truth of what happened should be the first step, and it's a necessary one, before you can determine a just outcome.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

So what you're saying that is when two conflicting sets of facts are present, meaning two witnesses saw different things, or the classic he said/she said situations, where the "truth" can never been known with absolute certainty, that these cases should never be brought before a jury?

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

Nope.

I'm saying that a system which is adversarial in nature, and set up so that both sides will try to slant things in their favor, both in jury selection and in the trial, is not set up to arrive at the truth (or even close to it). And, that without that as a baseline, a just outcome is very difficult to arrive at.

So, many jury trials don't end in just outcomes, because of the way our system is set up.

And, if you add in the numerous and varied ways in which the system isn't even working the way it's supposed to, that number goes up.

Also, I take exception to your use of quotation marks around the word truth. Don't you think that we need to know what actually happened first, before being able to judge correctly? The jury in a case is often referred to as the "finder of fact", which implies that it's their job to decide what happened.

Seems obvious to me - if we don't know what really happened, how can we decide what should happen now, and what would be a just outcome?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 5 months ago

The Constitution Second Amendment says "A well-refluated milieia"

That is what it says.

This self-apointed vigilante got out of his car with a loaded deadly weapon with the intent of stalking his prejudices, a young black man wearing ha hoodie and deliberately intending to confront him.

The Second amendment says "a well-regulated milieia."

A confrontation occured and the young black man is dead. The intent of Geroge Zimmerman was to kill anyone he in his wisdom that was a threat to break into a home.

The Second Amendment says "A well-regulated militia>"

George Zimmerman created this situation, in violation of the Constitution of the United States.

It says "a well-regulated militia"

He is guilty of violating the Constitution, the civil rights of an unarmed teenager.

He should be in prison for causing this event, whatever you want to call it.

Armstrong 1 year, 5 months ago

Not to worry. The next time a murder involving two people of the same race happens I have no doubt the same amount of outrage will be expressed (if convenient).

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

The Constitution also gives the federal government the right to arm, train, regulate, etc. the militia.

It wasn't some sort of rag-tag group of guys with guns.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

jars where is that in the Constitution?

Armored_One 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, and they didn't just act all on their lonesome, but instead reported to a mustering point, where an appointed leader would issue a prescribed set of orders, if they were available. The minutemen were not guerilla warfare specialists. They were civilians that banded together to fight on behalf of their freedom.

Since they weren't regular Army, so to speak, can you guess what they were called?

YOU need to stop trying to rewrite things.

5thStPhoggers 1 year, 5 months ago

Neighborhood Watch means you WATCH! Then you call 911. It doesn't mean you follow someone, with a gun, force a confrontation and then shoot somebody when you're getting your ass kicked. Did the jury consider that Trayvon may have feared for his life or feared serious bodily harm? Does he not have the right to "stand his ground?" I guess old' George took care of answering those questions by killing the only other person who really knows what happened. And, because of that, the jury believed his story . No way he should get off scot free. If the roles had been reversed, the investigation wouldn't have been botched, Trayvon would've been jailed immediately, the jury wouldn't have believed his story and he would've been convicted. And George gets to keep his gun. Insanity-doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. Karma-doing the same thing again and again and getting yours.

Kathy Getto 1 year, 5 months ago

Evidence does not equal truth, unfortunately.

Bryan Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

I have been told that the purpose of a jury trial is not to find out the truth, but to simply determine if the state can prove its case. That is why you see DA's fighting the release of people that have been proven innocent by things like DNA. They feel the state has proven its case against the defendant, the jury has spoken and "truth" is not the point. To the lawyers it is a game. Wins and loses are all that matters and they will fight tooth and nail not to have their victories vacated, innocence be damned. In this case the state didn't prove murder because the law says it's not murder if you are scared. Zimmerman was scared therefore there can be no murder. The truth of who started it or who should or shouldn't have done what is not relevant under this law. Result, Zimmerman 1, State 0. I heard a legal expert saying today that if Trayvon had gotten the gun away from Zimmerman and shot and killed him he would walk for the same reason, he was in fear for his life. Welcome to the winner takes all law.

seebarginn 1 year, 5 months ago

I must have missed something in the last year or so, because I don't recall the activities of the USA and its citizens grinding to a screeching halt because of this trial. In fact, no tragedy has ever had that effect on this country--not even the JFK assassination or 9-11. What I hear in the insistence on "accepting the verdict and moving forward" is an effort to shut down dialogue on the trial itself and its wider implications, and I say "Hell, no" to that stupid and dangerous perspective.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

I accept the findings.

But, those are simply that the prosecution didn't prove it's case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Also, there are many problems with our jury system, and the difference between the way it's supposed to work, and the way it actually works.

Joe Hyde 1 year, 5 months ago

If neighborhood watch George Zimmerman had complied with the police dispatcher's order to stay in his vehicle but try to keep the suspicious person in sight until marked units arrived, within minutes Trayvon Martin would have undergone an ordinary field interrogation by uniformed officers and found to be a legitimate neighborhood visitor: a teenager walking back to his buddy's house after buying himself a can of ice tea and a bag of Skittles.

If Zimmerman had just stayed in his car, done as he was told by police when he phoned in the report! But no: his ambition, his ego, and that heat he was packing made him deaf to the dispatcher's command. Result? He approaches Martin on foot, in the dark, closes the range and spooks Martin into a defensive reaction, then he kills the kid when the fight he provoked goes against him.

I do NOT understand the logic of this not guilty verdict. Boy, am I glad I don't live in Florida. A jury finding like this puts in jeopardy the life of every pedestrian visiting a neighborhood in which he/she does not reside.

Liberty275 1 year, 5 months ago

"I do NOT understand the logic of this not guilty verdict."

You are having problems with a 911 operator's jurisdiction. It's no wonder you can't understand the verdict.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

It wasn't the police that told him he didn't need to follow him and Martin wasn't walking back to a buddy's house.

How can your opinion be viewed as based in fact when you can't even get the basic facts right?

Bryan Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

Kind of like everybody respected and moved on after the O.J. trial, or the Casey Anthony trial? I know the right had "much love" for "due process" in those jury verdicts and never said another word after the trials.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

Where was the rioting and looting by the right as a result of those verdicts.

Pastor_Bedtime 1 year, 5 months ago

I posted this on the other thread and I'll repeat myself here: I'm sure you Zimmerman supporters out there would have a different reaction if it were you, or your offspring on the receiving end of unwarranted scrutiny, harassment, interference or impedance while peaceably conducting your or their own business ~ whatever that may be ~ by a neighborhood busybody with control issues and a loaded gun. And unfortunately, this verdict may very likely embolden fellow low-information gun-packing vigilantes ~ would-be Wyatt Earps ~ looking to take back the streets by accosting anyone they decide to single out, no matter the reason. And if their perceived authority is questioned or their orders ignored, deadly force is permitted.

Maggie Morrissey 1 year, 5 months ago

The verdict is the only one that could have been reached. It has NOTHING to do with racial profiling or anything else. What is put in question is Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Period. Zimmerman was in fear for his life at the moment Martin was on top of him beating him and smashing his head into the pavement. All evidence led to the fact Zimmerman felt his life was in danger and took action to save himself. Under Florida law he was within his rights.

Change the law, don't punish or pass judment on those forced to uphold the law. All evidence brought to court supported Zimmerman's right to defend himself in whatever means he had. Agree or disagree, every one needs to stop making it what it was not. Sad story indeed. Sad loss of a young life. But Florida Stand Your Ground law is all anyone should be questioning/judging at this time.

Bryan Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

The real issue here has never been race. The issue is the gun laws. In Florida all that is required is "perceived" danger to use deadly force. This law makes it where if you don't like someone just get them to a secluded place where there are no witnesses and shoot them and then whack yourself about the head and body with a something that will leave a mark and say "they attacked me and I feared for my life" so I shot them. As long as they are dead your story is all that is needed to walk free. You can start the altercation and if you are not the Billy BA you thought you were and it goes bad just shoot the other person, you were "in fear". This law literally makes the winner of a no witness life and death struggle the righteous party because it is only their story that is heard.

ChuckFInster 1 year, 5 months ago

Yeah, you're right. Getting your head bashed against the concrete and having your nose broken while on the line with 911 would not lead one to fear for their life. Excellent observation.

Bryan Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

I grew up around Lawrence, never did I ever start a fight but I ended up in more fights than I can count. I was very skinny and made a good target for anyone who wanted to impress by picking on the perceived weakest guy. My problem as a young man was that I was a terrible fighter but I wouldn't back down no matter what. I fought a group of four guys one night in a grocery store parking lot each one pummeling me as fought to see through bloody swollen eyes all because they said I stepped in front of their car coming out of the store. Two friends and I were jumped by 15+ members of the Rockhearst High football team outside a bar in Westport (remember it was 18 to drink back in the stone age) because one of them took a liking to my friends girlfriend each of us had 5+ guys beating on us. I have been put in the hospital for a torn retina after being beaten up over a stupid basketball game at the rec center. In all those situations I can truly say I never feared for my life. Was I sore? Yes. Was I humiliated? Yes. But never would I ever have thought that a gun would have been the answer to the situation. If this was Florida and the law was the same I could have shot and killed 10 or 15 people before 25 and been justified in doing so. Maybe one of those was your son or nephew or brother, how would you have felt if I did?

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

Just because you don't mind being beaten, severely injured and possibly killed doesn't mean that everybody has to let people try to kill them.

Bryan Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

That's the point Fred! No one was trying to kill me. They were fights. There was blood and bruising but everybody lived to see the next day. This law says if you get in a fist fight, which so many guys in their teens and twenties do, you can pull out a gun and shoot if you are losing. Now in Florida every argument can end in a gun fight and as long as you perceive your are in danger you are justified.

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

They severely injured you and anyone of those blows could have been fatal. Perhaps their intent wasn't to kill you but only to severely beat you, but the outcome could have been fatal.

And, not being in the mind of the attackers how domyounknow none were trying to kill you?

Any argument that results in someone attacking another person can end with the attacker being shot and rightfully so.

If five guys start beating on me then yes, shooting them to save myself from serious injury or death is an option.

So, you're okay with 5 people beating on your son or daughter? I'm not. One punch could change their life forever. Brain damage, loss of vision or death.

And, for the record, teenagers are not allowed to carry concealed.

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

"Any argument that results in someone attacking..."

Only in states that have loosened their self defense laws. The traditional laws about that require that one be in reasonable fear for one's life, and sometimes that deadly force is the only option available.

cowboy 1 year, 5 months ago

I find it disgusting that all the respectable closet racists are asking the country to accept the verdict and move on. A black victim of a wannabe vigilante acquitted by a group of southern white women. I am quite surprised there has not been a greater uproar i.e. riots or disturbances. That speaks well of the community. I would not be near as gracious had someone murdered my son for walking with skittles.

ChuckFInster 1 year, 5 months ago

Have you bothered looking at the facts of the case or just gobbling up the tripe served by the media ?

Steve Jacob 1 year, 5 months ago

I did not follow the case before the trial, but when on the second day the one witness that saw any of the fight said Martin was on top of Zimmerman hitting him, the trial was over and had no idea how this went to trial.

As the one person on CNN who was on the jury said, Zimmerman should not have gotten out of his truck after calling 911, but his heart was in the right place and Martin probably threw the first punch.

verity 1 year, 5 months ago

"his heart was in the right place and Martin probably threw the first punch."

Well, color me convinced. That's all the evidence I need.

Mixolydian 1 year, 5 months ago

Can we just all go back to the simpler times of judging people based on their income?

Fred Mertz 1 year, 5 months ago

And what makes you think these comments were introduced during the trial?

The dispatcher introduced race not Zimmerman. And Trayvon was indeed a drug user.

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