Three Reasons to Reject Federal Hate Crime Charges Against George Zimmerman

WFTV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, reports that the FBI is looking for evidence to support federal hate crime charges against George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin on February 26. Three reasons it should stop:

1. There is very little evidence that Zimmerman hates black people, let alone that he shot Martin because he hates black people.

2. In the absence of a legal justification (such as self-defense), killing people should be a crime, but hating them because of their skin color should not be. By treating crimes more severely when they are motivated by bigotry, hate crime laws effectively punish people for their beliefs.

3. Federal hate crime laws are even worse, because they expose defendants to double jeopardy (although the courts deny this reality by calling it "dual sovereignty"). The federal investigation means that even if a Florida jury acquits Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter, he can be tried again for the same crime (killing Martin) under a different label (a possibility I noted two months ago).

Meanwhile, ABC reports that newly revealed medical evidence supports Zimmerman's self-defense claim:

A medical report compiled by the family physician of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman and obtained exclusively by ABC News found that Zimmerman was diagnosed with a "closed fracture" of his nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury the day after he fatally shot Martin during an alleged altercation....

The record shows that Zimmerman also suffered bruising in the upper lip and cheek and lower back pain. The two lacerations on the back of his head, one of them nearly an inch long, the other about a quarter-inch long, were first revealed in photos obtained exclusively by ABC News last month.

These injuries, the very existence of which lawyers for Martin's family questioned, are consistent with Zimmerman's story, although hardly conclusive evidence that he is telling the truth about his fight with Martin. But if this evidence, together with everything else Zimmerman presents in his defense, persuades a jury to acquit him, the Justice Department reserves the right to try, try again. Should Zimmerman be convicted of murder as a federal hate crime, WFTV notes, "he could face the death penalty."

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  • ||

    It's gonna get ugly when he gets acquitted.

  • ||

    +"I-hate-to-agree-but-I-think-you're-right" :-(

  • kinnath||

    Zimmerman killed a black kid during an election year when POTUS needs every black voter aligned on the re-election of the second black president.

    Zimmerman is utterly fucked.

  • TELLMOFF||

    We are all "utterly fucked" because our fellow citizens respect, elect, and obey the tyrants that rule us.

  • John||

    I am open for suggestions as to a more disgusting example of the politicization of the justice system than the FBI investigating this much less charging him.

  • ||

    I am open for suggestions as to a more disgusting example--

    I'm gonna need some time, so I'll have to get back to you on that.

    Personally, if he's acquitted in state court, I can't imagine a Justice Dept. prosecutor convincing a jury to convict Zimmernma of anything else, much less a "hate crime."

  • John||

    It was a serious question Karl. I can't think of one. But knowing DOJ I would not be shocked if someone can come up with something.

  • ||

    It was a serious question Karl

    You're right, it is. There's lots of egregious shit out there, but to so flagrantly put someone on trial twice for te same crime . . . that would be on par with arbitrarily deciding that the trial was going to be decided without a jury. And I'm not sure there's a more disgusting example out there.

    If the average citizen realized his true true powers, rights, and duties as a juror - like, if this was taught in schools from an early age - they wouldn't even bother trying to pull a stunt like this, because they know a jury would slap them down.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    If the average citizen realized his true true powers, rights, and duties as a juror - ... - they wouldn't even bother trying to pull a stunt like this, ...

    Karl, when you have judges telling jurors that they are to only look at the law and determine if the accused violated it or not, and not to consider if the law makes sense, you get things like this. People are way too accomidating to authority and are afraid to stand up for their rights.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    If the average citizen realized his true true powers, rights, and duties as a juror - ... - they wouldn't even bother trying to pull a stunt like this, ...

    Karl, when you have judges telling jurors that they are to only look at the law and determine if the accused violated it or not, and not to consider if the law makes sense, you get things like this. People are way too accomidating to authority and are afraid to stand up for their rights.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    If the average citizen realized his true true powers, rights, and duties as a juror - ... - they wouldn't even bother trying to pull a stunt like this, ...

    Karl, when you have judges telling jurors that they are to only look at the law and determine if the accused violated it or not, and not to consider if the law makes sense, you get things like this. People are way too accomidating to authority and are afraid to stand up for their rights.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Third time's the charm!

  • Killazontherun||

    If you read closely there is a subtle difference between the three. A perfect palimpsest.

  • sloopyinca||

    Legal question: Could Zimmerman call the jury members from his Fla trial as witnesses in his federal trial? Get them on the stand and have them explain their "reasonable doubt" to a federal jury. How the hell could a prosecutor overcome that?

  • sarcasmic||

    (not a lawyer)
    What does the state trial matter with regards to the federal trial?

    Fla is trying him for what he did.

    The feds want to try him for what he was thinking when he did it.

  • sloopyinca||

    No, they still want to charge him with the act of murder, but with the mindset of racial hatred causing him to act. Otherwise, they're just charging him with hating blacks, which isn't a stand-alone crime, but a contributing factor to the crime of murder.

  • sarcasmic||

    Otherwise, they're just charging him with hating blacks, which isn't a stand-alone crime

    Yet.

  • Killazontherun||

    The biggest problem with hate crime law is that it is based on what the defendant thinks but what a DA thinks he should have been thinking. Motive becomes a pretty fucking weird concept under this bastardization.

  • Killazontherun||

    hate crime law is NOT that it is based on what the defendant thinks

  • John||

    No. But he could use testimony from that trial.

  • sloopyinca||

    Could he not call them as character witnesses?

  • Randian||

    I don't think a juror is allowed to talk about deliberations, but I don't know if they would be allowed to talk about their own internal thoughts and impressions. That's an interesting question.

  • R C Dean||

    I am open for suggestions as to a more disgusting example of the politicization of the justice system

    Fast Furious.

    The failure to go after Jon Corzine.

  • John||

    True. But I was thinking more of prosecutions rather than non prosecutions.

  • tarran||

    I am open for suggestions as to a more disgusting example of the politicization of the justice

    Mary Beth Buchanan's persecution and jailing of Tommy Chong for appearing in a movie promoting marijuana decriminilization leaps to mind.

    Also Tandy jailing Emery for publishing a magazine advocating marjuana legalization.

  • tarran||

    Of course, I wouldn't argue that they are necessarily more atrocious, but it fits with the prosecutor destroying lives for political advantage theme.

  • sloopyinca||

    I am open for suggestions as to a more disgusting example of the politicization of the justice system than the FBI investigating this much less charging him.

    OK, OK, OK. I've got the answer......

    Terry Schiavo

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Dual sovereignity? Fuck that, Zimmerman, as well as every sovereign citizen, should challenge Federal jurisdiction. Unless one lives in the "ten mile square", which is the only place the Feds have jurisdiction, one isn't a federal citizen.

  • SIV||

    sovereign citizen

    You just set off alarms from the Department of Homeland security to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • sloopyinca||

    Well then in case they're both still here, I'd like them to know that they can kiss my fucking ass.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    4. Hate crimes in general are unequal. To assign greater or less value to a crime based on the race of its victim is not blind justice.

  • ||

    That's right; it's social justice.

  • ||

    THIS. Does the reason someone is killed make the victim any more or less dead?

  • John||

    The point of "hate crimes" is to have a way for the feds to prosecute in the rare situation where the locals are so fucked up and racist that they won't charge the state level crime. In this case, the state is not only charging but over charging this. This is a new low point for Obama. And any person who isn't appalled by it is just telling you that are a worthless partisan hack who would support his team no matter what they do.

  • sloopyinca||

    I disagree, John. The point of "hate crimes" is so the DoJ can fuck with people they don't like. If hate crimes were legit, the DoJ would have gone after the NBP thugs who intimidated all of those people during the 2008 election when the local PD's stood by and watched them threaten innocent people and brandish weapons, all the while spouting racial hatred.

    Sorry, but "hate crime" legislation is so politicians can fuck with people that hold distasteful views but have otherwise been exonerated.

  • John||

    I realize that is how it actually works. I am just saying how it was supposed to work.

    And this is a new low even for DOJ.

  • Bee Tagger||

    It also provides a rationale for the ever-expanding surveillance of citizens' lives. It's now a necessary component of the justice system since those facebook wall posts could well determine he was a racist.

  • sarcasmic||

    How long before the facebook posts themselves become grounds to be charged with a crime?

    I mean, if you are obviously racist as evidenced by your wall posts, shouldn't you be locked up before you commit a crime against someone?

  • Lord Humungus||

    see the U.K. for exampled of this...

  • sloopyinca||

    I brought this up the other day, and randian brought up the dual sovereignty issue. I sure hope they charge him in federal court for the same crime (once he's acquitted in Florida). The line of criminal defense attorneys wanting to take the case would be a mile long, and each of them would be hoping the DoJ appeals it to the SC so this perversion of the Constitution (dual sovereignty) could be rectified.

    That and I hope they burn down the entire state of Florida after he is acquitted. I want to see how the assholes in the media cover the violence they helped foment in the name of ratings.

  • John||

    Duel sovereignty is not going away. That is how they got the Rodney King cops. And people are not often but often enough sent up on federal and state drug charges doing time in each system.

  • sloopyinca||

    Oh, I think it will go away if this case gets to the SC. No way in hell the judiciary lets the DoJ make a mockery of the legal system by charging a man with exactly the same crime he just got acquitted of. No way.

  • WTF||

    You, sir, are too optimistic by far.

  • sloopyinca||

    Not optimistic at all. I just know the size of these peoples' egos. And their ego is not gonna stand for a federal prosecutor telling them they are wrong to think charging someone for a crime they have already been acquitted for is double jeopardy.

    I'm just appealing to their over-inflated sense of self worth.

  • sarcasmic||

    He's not being charged with the same crime.

    One trial is for what he did, the other is for what he was thinking when he did it.

  • ChicagoTom||

    Sloopy, think again.

    Heath v. Alabama -- "Writing for a 7-2 majority, Justice O'Connor ruled that "the dual sovereignty doctrine . . . compels the conclusion that successive prosecutions by two States for the same conduct are not barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause."[10] "The dual sovereignty doctrine," she wrote, "is founded on the common-law conception of crime as an offense against the sovereignty of the government. When a defendant in a single act violates the 'peace and dignity' of two sovereigns by breaking the laws of each, he has committed two distinct 'offences.' United States v. Lanza, 260 U.S. 377, 382, 43 S.Ct. 141, 67 L.Ed. 314 (1922)."[10]"

    Now that case was about being prosecuted for the same crime by two states (Alabama and Georgia), but I dont see how that wouldn't extend to a case where State and the Feds both try and prosecute since again, both would be considered separate sovereign entities. Not that I agree with it, but there it is.

  • sloopyinca||

    But two states are separate and sovereign entities. A state is not separate and sovereign from the federal government, but rather is subordinate to it. Supremacy clause FTW here. And it should be any person's defense charged with federal and state charges for the same crime.

    IANAL, but this sounds like a pretty sound defense.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    So was he literally straddling the state line while performing an act that was illegal in both states? Seems like his lawyers screwed up by not arguing that both states couldn't have jurisdiction at the same time, instead of double jeopardy. But we already know that the US recognizes no real limits to it's jurisdiction. So that obviously won't work either.

  • TELLMOFF||

    "Dual sovereignty" is an abstract fabrication used to give the government the power to retry the acquited.

  • Lyle||

    This is just politics to satiate the mob.

  • ||

    5. Hate crimes are prosecuted arbitrarily and capriciously. Exposing only certain groups of people to prosecution and increasing penalties beyond any reasonable limit.

  • LarryA||

    Hate crime law is written arbitrarily and capriciously. You're guilty of a hate crime if you hate the people in one of the listed categories, but not if you hate people in other categories.

    The unibomber wasn't a hate criminal because "nerd" isn't a listed category.

  • radar||

    So what did that dipshit prosecutor Corey think she was going to accomplish by conveniently leaving all of this out of her affadavit as if none of it was going to come to light? The second degree murder charge was already highly questionable. Now, it's outrageous.

  • John||

    It kept her from having a riot thanks to the media and the race whores.

  • ||

    Which is also the point of the Federal intervention, John. They want this man to fry in some way, shape, or form. I don't know if he is innocent or guilty, but the government sure seems to think he is guilty of something, which is the government's default position.

  • TELLMOFF||

    The physical evidence shows that Zimmerman was wounded while being attacked. Where is the autopsy report that shows what drugs Trayvon was cranked-up on?

  • Mensan||

    I haven't seen anything about toxicology, but Martin's autopsy report does say he had injured and bloody knuckles.

  • radar||

    If that was her thinking, 1)how repulsive 2)it's only delaying, not preventing.

  • ||

    It'll help her run for Attorney General.

  • ||

    Overzealous Prosecutors, especially DA's, run for governor. This case could help her side step the AG route.

  • Mo||

    The medical report doesn't support a self-defense claim, it supports the claim that there was a fight. One can start a fight and lose.

  • John||

    It certainly supports the claim. It doesn't prove the claim because you are right he could have started the fight and lost. But it certainly supports his claim and ends any idea that he hunted Martin down and killed him.

    More importantly, all Zimmerman has to do is create reasonable doubt. And this evidence goes a long ways towards doing that. Sorry, but "it could have happened this way" doesn't equal a conviction.

  • R C Dean||

    ends any idea that he hunted Martin down and killed him.

    Not entirely. He could have hunted Martin down, and Martin got a few punches in before he was shot.

  • John||

    I know you and fluffy are convinced that is what happened. But that seems increasingly less likely. This supports Zimmerman's claim. It doesn't totally prove his claim. But it certainly supports it. There is no getting around that.

  • R C Dean||

    I know you and fluffy are convinced that is what happened.

    I'm convinced we'll never know. The key issue is who started the fight. Confirmation that there was a fight casts no light on this.

    I think the "right" outcome on this comes down to who has the burden of proof on the self-defense claim. There is no dispute that Zimmerman killed Trayvon, after all. The only issue is whether he was acting in self-defense when he did so, and that issue comes down (or should) to who started the fight.

    The only evidence on that is Zimmerman's testimony. If he has the burden of proof, then the jury could conclude that it just doesn't buy his story and convict. If the prosecution has the burden of proof, I'm not sure what evidence they put on, and he should probably walk.

    There is also the issue of Florida's screwed up statute, which seems to allow you to kill someone after you start a fight, if they are whipping your ass sufficiently. So even the issue of who started the fight may be irrelevant, in which case Zimmerman walks.

  • Mensan||

    Since Zimmerman is presumed innocent, doesn't that mean the burden of proof is necessarily the prosecution's? Zimmerman does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was self defense. He only must create the belief that it is a reasonable possibility that it was self defense.

  • John||

    And if you were hunting someone down to kill them, how would they get a punch in? You would just shoot them and that would be it. How would Martin have gotten a punch in? Zimmerman would have just shot him before Martin got close enough.

    I am amazed at how you guys are grasping to try to dream up a way for Zimmerman to be guilty.

  • Pip||

    I find the claim that Martin doubled back a sucker punched him. It's a very ghetto tactic. The video of the soldier who was attacked by thugs shows a similar MO.

    The attack came when he was walking home and using Iowa St. to get from Westshore to Dale Mabry. At the intersection of Iowa and Renellie Dr., the man came into the view of a neighbor’s motion-activated security camera.
    A group of three young men is seen walking ahead of the soldier. Police say one of the men in the group doubled back and asked to soldier to borrow a dollar. When the soldier reached for his wallet, the first punch flew.
    The first, tremendous sucker punch laid the victim onto the ground. The other two men joined in, punching and kicking the soldier.
    A fourth man comes sprinting into view from the left edge of the video. The new attacker — a man the soldier said he had walked past earlier — joined in the beating

    http://www.theblaze.com/storie.....n-florida/

  • R C Dean||

    And if you were hunting someone down to kill them, how would they get a punch in?

    Nobody has said Zimmerman set out to kill Trayvon. By his own words, Zimmerman set out to stop Trayvon, to keep him from getting away. In the course of trying to stop him, he could well have violated the law/started the fight.

  • radar||

    At this point, that seems like a remote possibility. So far, nothing that's come to light has clashed with Zimmerman's account of the incident. Of course that doesn't PROVE he's telling the complete truth, but then that burden's not supposed to be on him, is it?

  • sloopyinca||

    The burden is on the prosecution. Barring eyewitness or video evidence, this has to rise well beyond the level of reasonable doubt.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Hate crime legislatiin and prosecutions is nothing more than political pandering to blacks and gays. One would think it would have been declared unconstitutional by now.

  • sarcasmic||

    One would think it would have been declared unconstitutional by now.

    It's a step towards the outright criminalization of politically incorrect thought.

    No way they're going to give up that kind of power.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    You had me at double jeopardy. But, I will play devil's advocate against this line of reasoning:

    In the absence of a legal justification (such as self-defense), killing people should be a crime, but hating them because of their skin color should not be. By treating crimes more severely when they are motivated by bigotry, hate crime laws effectively punish people for their beliefs.

    I agree that hating per se shouldn't be a crime. But consider three motivations for killing somebody:

    1) you want something somebody else has
    2) your dog told you to do it
    3) you catch your spouse cheating on you. shooting ensues.

    When trying to figure out exactly what constitutes "justice", I don't think it's unreasonable to consider the kinds of motivation one might have for doing bad things. And that applies either for sentencing or classification purposes.

  • John||

    True. Then make it a sentencing enhancer to the underlying crime, not a crime in itself.

  • AlmightyJB||

    How does that not violate Equal Protection. You might be able to satisfy that if you started charging black on white crime as hatr crimes. There are certainly plenty of opportunities to do so. It's never going to happen.

  • Bobarian||

    This^^
    That is why, in most cases, judges have some latitude in sentencing.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    sounds good to me. I aim to prevent libertarians from trying to argue more than we need to, if that extra argumentation gets fuzzy and harder to convince non-libertarians with.

    If it starts to approach "motivation shouldn't matter at all ever for anything", then I think we are starting to approach biting off more argument than we can (or need to) chew.

  • AlmightyJB||

    In your examples the motivation is either obvious or self-reported. In this case as with most hate crime cases, motivation is "assumed" by the state.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't think it's unreasonable to consider the kinds of motivation one might have for doing bad things.

    Up to a point, yes. The distinction between the various degrees of murder is mostly a distinction based on the kinds of motivation (premeditated v. reckless v. negligence).

    Chopping it finer than that, so that we look at why you were premeditating or reckless, is where we get into thought crimes.

  • sarcasmic||

    Chopping it finer than that, so that we look at why you were premeditating or reckless, is where we get into thought crimes.

    Isn't that the point?

    I mean, they sell drug laws by saying that the victimless act of using drugs leads to criminal acts against other people.

    Why not criminalize certain thoughts on the grounds that they lead to crime?

    Overhear a non-black using the word "nigger" and you better lock them up before they commit an act of violence against a black person.

    Overhear someone using the word "moonbat" and you better lock them up before they choose to vote for someone other than a liberal.

  • ||

    2) your dog told you to do it

    Ah, like Jared Lee Loughner. Though he had a grudge against the English language or some such case of "barking at the moon crazy" (yes, this is a fancy doc speak term).

    Seriously though, IANAL, but the non compus mentis stuff is difficult to prove, but when it applies, it applies.

  • sloopyinca||

    If you're crazy as shit, post this again.

  • Mongo||

    Ha, Sloop - you made me laff!

  • ||

    2) your dog told you to do it

    Ah, like Jared Lee Loughner. Though he had a grudge against the English language or some such case of "barking at the moon crazy" (yes, this is a fancy doc speak term).

    Seriously though, IANAL, but the non compos mentis stuff is difficult to prove, but when it applies, it applies.

  • Mongo||

    2)think twice if your dog tells you to kill people

    Son of Sam received his orders from the neighbor's dog.

    If I remember correctly, the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre was masterminded by a dog too.

  • some guy||

    This never made sense to me. Everyone knows cats are the evil pets.

  • Mensan||

    All my dog ever tells me to do is give him more milk bones.

  • CloneOfThrawn||

    Totally going to bring up double jeopardy the next time one of the liberal friends brings up hate crimes.

  • Pip||

    OT: Gay week enters its second week.

    POLITICS IN PLAY: DEGENERES NAMED NEXT MARK TWAIN PRIZE FOR AMERICAN HUMOR HONOREE

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-H.....-degeneres

  • Rich||

    Brace yourselves for *triple* jeopardy when UN jurisdiction is deemed appropriate. 8-(

  • DRM||

    Brace? The International Criminal Court is up and operating, and has been for ten years come July.

  • Robert S||

    But he was clearly motivated by racist intent. Remember when he said "Fucking coons", followed by "I'm going to kill that innocent looking black kid because he's black and I hate me some blacks"? Its all there in the garbled section of the 911 call. I will take your refusal to hear this as evidence of your own personal racial animus.

  • Mr. Weebles||

    I loved your work at NBC.

  • Coeus||

    Anyone mentioned the bullshit way the hate crime statistics are compiled yet? Like how if Zimmerman is convicted, it goes on the stats as a white-on-black hate crime? And if he is assaulted later and becomes a victim of a hate crime, he's listed as hispanic?

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