Saturday, July 13, 2013

CrimCourts: Zimmerman Defense Continues to do Well


Some good points toward the end of this post.

Since everybody here but me is convinced that Zimmerman is the bad guy, I'll include this link. I'm back to being unconvinced either way.

My only fairly solid view at this point is that--no offense--people are leaning pretty hard to try to make this Zimmerman's fault. It really seems to me that, at every questionable point, there is a hard anti-Zimmerman lean among the people I tend to respect and discuss such issues with. Which might, of course, mean that I'm just confused in the opposite direction... My own efforts to wipe out any spin in my own mind leave me undecided, but with a hunch that Zimmerman is less likely to be guilty that most of my political compatriots seem to think. Which may still make him (morally, and possibly legally) guilty--I just can't seem to get to a clear conclusion on that yet. He does seem to bear at least some fairly significant responsibility here, though I think that people are illicitly leaning hard on some unstated premises about moral luck... If Martin had turned out to be, say, a killer or a rapist, Zimmerman would be a heroic figure who watched over his neighborhood and refused to let the police dissuade him from... ( the leftosphere, he'd probably still be reviled/derided because he had a firearm...) That is to say, I think that many people are invoking external considerations selectively. The fact that Martin seems to have been an innocent kid is being used in anti-Zimmerman arguments, but we're not supposed to be able to use the fact that Zimmerman was an innocent guy trying to watch out for his community in assessing Martin's actions...  Now, questions about using evidence unknown by the agent to determine guilt are difficult ones...but we have to be consistent about them. And I think that many on the left are not being consistent.

That's just a quick, not-too-precise summary of a slice of my own current inclination, FWIW... Nothing I say here is worth giving much weight to, obviously.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no, no, a thousand times no. If you buy into the moral luck account, where Zimmerman's shooting is justified if Martin was a bad person or could be believed to be a bad person, then we're hosed. Then, we really are on our way to a gun dystopia, where anyone can shoot anyone else, so long a jury thinks of the shooter as a better pillar of the community than the victim. Some on the anti-Zimmerman side have unfortunately added to this, by dwelling overmuch on that fact that Martin was a pretty typical kid and trying to paint Zimmerman as a nut, when neither really matters. If Martin were a habitual puppy-crusher, on his way back home with stolen shoes for more puppy crushing, Zimmerman would still be guilty.

You had it nailed in your second post when you referred to the special duties of being armed. Zimmerman was carrying a gun. Whether his reasons for doing so were good or bad, it made him more dangerous to his fellow citizens. He knew this or ought to have known this. Just as a person driving a load of dynamite has as special obligation to go slower than the speed limit, Zimmerman had a special obligation to avoid creating dangerous situations in which his gun could end up killing someone. (He's not a cop, so he has no duty to place himself in dangerous situations.) Zimmerman, for whatever reason, failed in this duty and decided to escalate an otherwise non-dangerous situation. His escalation resulted in a death. End of story.

If we are going to live in a society where a great many people are walking about armed, the only way its possible is for the special duties of being armed are rigorously enforced. If everyone is walking about with a gun, then acts of simple incivility are reckless endangerment. Acts of incivility that result in death really really are homicide. Maybe we do all have the right to go about armed, but then we must expect to be held to a higher standard, not the who-hit-who-first standard of a middle school slappy fight. Failure to enforce the higher standard does amount to gun dystopia.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Josh Marshall says:

"If you’re a wannabe cop loser with a gun who starts stalking a kid in the dark, you’re responsible for the outcome."

In my mind Zimmerman stalked Martin. Period. This lead to a confrontation of which, in my mind, Zimmerman is responsible. Police told him not to, he did it anyway. As Michelle K says in the comments, Martin also had a right to stand his ground and did. Unfortunately, when he did stand his ground and defend himself he was shot by the stalker.

Whether 2nd degree murder is the correct designation or not (possibly manslaughter is more appropriate?). Zimmerman is responsible for the unnecessary death of another human being.


2:15 PM  
Blogger jtnRN said...

I am writing this after the verdict, so technically Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. But that in no way makes Zimmerman not responsible for what happened; a 17 year old boy was walking home, minding his own business. Z created the situation in which he had to apparently defend himself, and now a boy is dead. The wrongness of this makes my skin crawl. Gun advocates always talk about responsibility - until they actually have to have some.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

2 other folks beat me to it, but the basic fact remains:
Martin was walking home from the 7/11
Zimmerman actively went looking for trouble. Martin's "creepy-ass cracker stalking me" is not evidence that Martin was racist. It is evidence that he was running scared.


3:37 AM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

So I'll jump in late with a few comments from a "wannabe" lawyer. Given Florida law, right or wrong, the DA overcharged and then compounded the issue by putting what appeared to be a rather poor ADA on the case. The law just didn't support a murder charge, the state needed to prove malice and just calling someone a F'in punk isn't malice. I call people F'in punks all the time, its probably the fact that I am a crotchety old 29 year old guy who (probably like Zimmerman) doesn't think kids these days have any manors or are taught how to interact with other people showing respect. Manslaughter aka criminally negligent homicide seemed to be the more appropriate charge to my mind, all they needed to prove there was Zimmerman intentionally did the act that caused Martins death and he wasn't legal excused for some other reason. Now, the self defense stuff would still come into play, BUT, I think the ADA spent to much time trying to prove that Zimmerman was a bad guy, and I think he probably lost a lot of jurors there.

That said, I agree, regardless of what Florida criminal law says about this case the fact remains that had Zimmerman not followed Martin, Martin would be alive today. Its my personal opinion that he followed Martin because he has some stereotyped idea of what a black teen is going to do and thus treated him differently than he would have treated a white teen in the area. Does that make him a racist? I don't know, I'm hesitant to say that he is a racist based on a single incident, we need more info about that before a call can be made there. All and all I don't think this is over, a civil case for wrongful death can and likely will still be filed as it was in the OJ case and I imagine they can get a win there.

10:32 AM  

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