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The long-awaited trial of George Zimmerman, charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin, started Monday with jury selection. George Zimmerman should be acquitted. Yes, that’s right. Our legal system is flawed, it is far from perfect. However, I believe our legal system is the best available and sometimes I honestly take comfort when the courts deliver a verdict that the public by and large disagrees with. If we, as I believe, truly have the best legal system in the world then there is no way George Zimmerman should or will be convicted.
I’m not going to rehash all that we know to have happened that night. It’s been done many, many times. I’m focusing more on the fact that it’s becoming impossible these days for justice to truly be served. This case is a glaring example of that. Whether he is convicted or acquitted, justice will not be served here. This is Casey Anthony all over again. Justice was absolutely not served in that case, not because of the verdict, because the verdict was absolutely correct, but because the mob wasn’t placated. The men and women on that jury were vilified because they rendered a verdict based on the facts and evidence presented. They were vilified because the prosecutor, who himself admitted to overreaching, could not prove his case. Casey Anthony was a bad mother, but that’s not what she was charged with. She was charged with murder. The state proved that Caylee Anthony was dead. We knew that. What they couldn’t prove was that she had been murdered. I personally believe that Casey Anthony murdered her child. The state however came nowhere near proving it. And it’s the same thing in the case of George Zimmerman.
George Zimmerman caused the death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman however, did not murder Trayvon Martin. Not by the definition of the law, and that is what matters here. The law doesn’t change because CNN says so. The angry mob doesn’t get to decide how a case is investigated. The law didn’t overcharge George Zimmerman, the mob did. This trial isn’t going to be fair or impartial. The mob made sure of that a long time ago. The DA, in order to placate the people, forgot the law and charged Zimmerman with a crime he didn’t commit. I am eager to see how the state tries to prove that George Zimmerman intended to kill anybody. To prove murder, you have to prove intent. Though it wasn’t his intent, he is responsible for the death of another person. That is manslaughter, but manslaughter isn’t sexy enough for the media or tough sounding enough for the masses even though we know with no doubt that there was an altercation which led to the death of Trayvon Martin. It can even be proven to be negligent homicide, but that was too benign for Nancy Grace to scream about on TV despite the fact that (like often in manslaughter cases) there was an altercation which led to the death of Trayvon Martin. In addition had he been charged with negligent homicide his claim of self-defense is null and void since he got out of his car and followed him even though the 911 operator who he was on the phone with at the time told him not to.
Our legal system isn’t about how loud Nancy Grace can scream or how unlikable the defendant is. It’s not about what we “think” happened, it’s about what we can prove happened. It’s not about what today’s tracking polls say, or about what 30 second clip some news director thinks is good tv. It’s about the state’s lawyer presenting testimony and evidence that proves the accused is guilty of the crime he’s charged with. It’s about the lawyer for the accused proving not that he didn’t do it, but that it’s reasonably possible that he didn’t. It’s about an impartial judge assuring that both sides fairly argue their cases. And above all it’s about 12 men and women listening to the testimony, examining the evidence and rendering a verdict within the parameters of the charge even if it is 100% at odds with what everyone else thinks.
That’s not going to happen here. There’s no way it can. We should be concerned that crimes are being investigated not by the letter of the law but by how well it will pacify the angry mob. We should be fearful that trials aren’t being held in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion. I’m not ok with “looking guilty” carrying more weight than being guilty.
This thing was screwed up from the start. The first officers on the scene didn’t bother to secure or note the location of Zimmerman’s truck after he’d just told them that he was attacked while returning to his car. The detectives, who instead of performing a thorough canvass of the neighborhood to try to identify the dead kid with no ID, called it a John Doe and shipped him off to the morgue. Had they knocked on a few doors they would have discovered that Trayvon Martin died 70 yards away from the back door of the house he was visiting. Not to mention the fact that HE HAD A CELL PHONE IN HIS POCKET!
The Martin family attorney who not only was so desperate for headlines that he held press conferences where he made comments that were direct contradictions to statements the family were making, but introduced his “star witness” who would confirm that Martin feared for his life because she was on the phone with him at the time, only to find out after that she lied, twice.
And once the media got a hold of it that was it. The amount of bad information, shoddy journalism and flat out fabrications was staggering. Every news outlet was on this at the same time and too often reporting different stories. Geraldo Rivera, Sean Hannity, Nancy Grace and Wolf Blitzer were far and away the biggest culprits. Grace had Zimmerman tried, convicted and sentenced before he had been charged. Geraldo was reporting as “exclusive breaking news” the same false information that Blitzer had reported 10 minutes before. Al Sharpton went farther off the reservation than I thought possible for Al to go.
Reasonable people started doing unreasonable things. A member of the US House of Representatives was escorted from the building by capitol police after he entered the chamber with a hoodie and sunglasses despite a no headwear in the chamber rule that has been enforced for almost 250 years. The President of the United States had to clarify what he meant when he stated “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon.” And Spike Lee, who I lost all kinds of respect for, tweeted the address and phone number for George Zimmerman to half a million people. It was a different George Zimmerman that lived in that area.
The KKK offered to provide Zimmerman security. The Black Panthers put a bounty on his head. Zimmerman’s medical records, psychiatric evaluation results and transcripts of every 911 call he ever made were given to the press. The network news led with reports that Trayvon Martin had recently been suspended from school for graffiti, and that sources confirmed that Martin’s autopsy revealed trace amounts of THC which suggests that he had, and I am not making this up, “possibly smoked marijuana sometime during the week preceding, but not on the day of his death.”
All of that leads me to two important questions which gets me to my point. Everything you read leading up to right now happened before a trial date was set and any pre-trial hearings had been convened.
1. Isn’t it at best extremely naive to believe that there are 12 people in the U.S, let alone Seminole County Florida who can render an impartial verdict either way?
2. If these were the initial reactions and displays before the trial, or even for that matter before the charges, what’s it going to be like after the trial? Especially if the verdict is different from what Nancy Grace will have been screaming about for 6 weeks.
If Zimmerman gets convicted, he has a gift-wrapped appeal that his attorney should be filing before the verdict is done being read. Because the mob tried, argued, and passed judgement long before the first juror was picked.
If Zimmerman gets acquitted the jurors will be absolutely crucified. The prosecution will be incompetent, the judge will be a bigot. Because the mob on day one decided that the charge had to be murder and the verdict had to be guilty no matter what the charge that the actual evidence supported.
I want justice done. I want to believe that despite its flaws, our legal system is still the best in the world. That in the eyes of the law, who you are, what you are, or how you are perceived don’t matter as much as leveling a charge that the evidence supports, making your case in the courtroom and not on CNN, and accepting that much of the time doing the right thing is entirely different than doing the popular thing. Too many people have been charged with and convicted of crimes that the evidence didn’t support because the masses decided they were guilty. Too many criminals have walked because of public pressure to charge them with crimes that the evidence didn’t support.
A lot of things happened that night that got us here. Some things we will never know. A young man is dead. Another man is responsible for that, and two families have been tragically changed. I want justice for Trayvon Martin, because like President Obama said, if I had a son he too would look like Trayvon. I want George Zimmerman to have his day in court. I want him to answer for his actions, and I want him to stand before the court and be judged, and to be judged fairly.
And most important in my opinion, I want the system to work as it was made to do. In my opinion the only way any of those things happen is if George Zimmerman is found not guilty of murder in the 2nd degree, because by the legal definition of the crime George Zimmerman did not murder anyone.