The New York Times Says Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' Law Played 'Pivotal Role' in Zimmerman's Case

Video via The Orlando SentinelVideo via The Orlando SentinelIn a "news analysis," New York Times reporter Lizette Alvarez, who covered George Zimmerman's murder trial, tries to clarify what role Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law did or did not play in the case:

Soon after Mr. Zimmerman was arrested, there appeared to be a chance that the defense would invoke a provision of Florida self-defense law known as Stand Your Ground. Ultimately it was not part of [defense attorney Mark] O'Mara's courtroom strategy, though it did play a pivotal role immediately after the shooting.

The provision, enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2005 and since adopted by more than 20 other states, allows people who fear great harm or death not to retreat, even if they can safely do so. If an attacker is retreating, people are still permitted to use deadly force.

The provision also allows a defendant claiming self-defense to seek civil and criminal immunity at a pretrial hearing.

Mr. O'Mara said he did not rely on Stand Your Ground as a defense because Mr. Zimmerman had no option to retreat. A pretrial immunity hearing, which prosecutors said they had been expecting, would only have divulged his case. So Mr. O’Mara gambled on a jury trial.

Alvarez neglects to mention that the fear justifying the use of deadly force must be reasonable given the circumstances, and I'm not sure where she sees permission to kill an attacker who is retreating. In fact, the statute says an aggressor may himself be justified in using force if he "withdraws from physical contact with the assailant [i.e., the person initially attacked] and indicates clearly to the assailant that [he] desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force." In any event, these are the ways in which the "stand your ground" law did not affect the outcome of Zimmerman's case. In what way was it "pivotal" right after the shooting? Here is Alvarez's explanation, for which she relies on University of Miami law professor Tamara Lave:

Under the law, if the police believe there is probable cause that someone acted in self-defense, as Mr. Zimmerman said he had, they are not allowed to make an arrest, [Lave] said.

Actually, the law says police need probable cause to believe a shooting was not justified before they can make an arrest. To charge Zimmerman, they needed reason to believe not only that he had killed Trayvon Martin (which he has always admitted) but also that he did not do so in self-defense. As I have said before, this provision is completely distinct from the "stand your ground" principle, which removes the duty to retreat for people attacked in public places. Furthermore, its impact in this case would have been limited to delaying Zimmerman's arrest. The probable-cause requirement did not make it any harder to convict him once he was arrested.

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  • John||

    They just can't stop lying about this.

    Mr. O'Mara said he did not rely on Stand Your Ground as a defense because Mr. Zimmerman had no option to retreat.

    It wasn't used as a defense. It therefore played no role in the trial. It is really that simple. I know reporters are generally stupid and uninformed about the topics they cover. But no one is this uninformed. The attorney just told them he didn't use SYG as a defense. This is not stupidity, this is mendacity.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I don't think they are saying it played a role in the trial itself, but that it played a role in the 'case' by delaying arrest.

  • John||

    How did the delay in the arrest affect anything? The facts wouldn't be any different had he been arrested that night.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's a big deal. People that are arrested immediately are subject to different investigative techniques and circumstances and are convicted at higher rates, for reasons similar to why people who don't make bail are convicted at higher rates than people who do.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Because they're more likely to be guilty?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Imagine conducting your defense from inside a jail vs. doing so at home while you can still work, go to your lawyer's at any time, etc.

    Likewise, when people are arrested they usually get prompt and heightened interrogation when they are most shaken and get tricked into incriminating things.

    I don't like it, but that is how things often work.

  • KPres||

    "Likewise, when people are arrested they usually get prompt and heightened interrogation"

    Zimmerman talked to the police voluntarily, and made statements during that session the prosecution picked apart later. If they'd have arrested him, he would have shut his mouth and called his lawyer, no "interrogation" whatsoever. I'm not sure whether what you're saying is, in general, anything but BS, but in this case, not arresting GZ seems to have helped the prosecution.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I'm not sure why you would think that his making voluntary statements to the police which the prosecution picked apart later is evidence he would have done the smart thing had he been arrested and interrogated. Any defense attorney would have told him not to have made those initial statements either.

  • John||

    That may be true in the aggregate. But that would not have been true in this case. Zimmerman gave a statement to the cops. Unless they planned to beat him into lying, arresting him would not have changed that statement. And just what other investigative techniques would have been used that would have made a difference here?

    There are none. To say that his not being arrested played a role is to say that his being arrested would have resulted in new or different facts going before the jury. And such facts do not exist. All of the relevant facts that could have been known were known and were presented to the jury.

    SYG played no role in this case, period.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You're kidding right? Because no one has changed their initial statement or made incriminating remarks under intense and rather immediate questioning following arrest.

  • John||

    Because no one has changed their initial statement or made incriminating remarks under intense and rather immediate questioning following arrest.

    What evidence is there that Zimmerman had anything incriminating to say? Is it your opinion that the police should have beaten him into lying? Basically what you are saying is is that had Zimmerman been arrested he might have confessed to murder and therefore SYD was pivitol here. Maybe, but very doubtful. More likely is that Zimmerman, a guy who once wanted to be a cop and now wants to go to law school, would have invoked his rights and talked to a lawyer before speaking to police had he been arrested. The reason why he gave the initial statement was because the police were not combative. If they had started pressuring him and thrown him in jail, he would have invoked and probably never given a statement.

    Just stop it. You are approaching Tulpa level here.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You're amazing.

    Did you not see or hear about the PBS special on the NYC kids arrested for gang raping that jogger and how they were led via interrogation to make remarks that got them locked up for years when they plainly were innocent? That happens more than you might think.

  • robc||

    Yes it happens, but did you read John's response? Zimmerman is not some dumbass. He would have invoked his rights, probably, and once the lawyer shows up, this stuff doesnt happen.

    I have to agree with the Tulpatude on this one.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Why do you assume Zimmerman would have handled this well? He didn't invoke his rights right away.

  • John||

    I am fully aware of the possibility of false confessions. But for SYD to play any role much less a pivotal role, you have to assume that there was a significant if not high likelihood that Zimmerman would have been forced to give a false confession had he been arrested. And that is absurd. The existence and problem of false confessions in general does not mean there is any significant likely hood that such a thing would have happened here. You are basically fantasizing facts that do not exist to support the NYT lying here.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Again, it's not just 'coerced' or 'false' (not always the same thing btw), but people make incriminating statements immediately after a traumatic event that they might not when they've had time to recover and prepare.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Did the cops question Zimmerman that night or did they not?

  • free2booze||

    Did the cops question Zimmerman that night or did they not?

    Zimmerman was taken into custody and questioned.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I hope Zimmerman doesn't go to law school. He'd have a more productive career as an artisanal soap maker.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    In a just world Zimmerman could sue the prosecutors and judge who took this chunk of his life away for something they had to have known he would not be convicted on, and he could retire on their pensions.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    People that are arrested immediately are subject to different investigative techniques and circumstances and are convicted at higher rates...

    Wait, those with enough circumstances against them to be arrested immediately are convicted at a high rate than those who aren't? How the fuck can that be?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Your faith in the justice system's initial assessments is noted.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    And your passive-aggressive style of argumentation is noted as well.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I don't know what to say. On previous threads in other cases there is, to say the least, some healthy skepticism about police judgments. But suddenly the idea that those who are arrested immediately are more likely to be convicted is just evidence the cops are really good at their initial assessment.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I don't know what to say

    Because you're not making a legitimate argument based on the facts, you're just being a passive-aggressive asshole.

    But suddenly the idea that those who are arrested immediately are more likely to be convicted is just evidence the cops are really good at their initial assessment.

    Which isn't what's being argued, but go right ahead and pretend otherwise.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's an absolute fact that people that are arrested immediately are subject to more and heightened interrogation than those who are released and arrested later, and an absolute fact that during that heightened scrutiny many people make incriminating statements they might not have later.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's an absolute fact that people that are arrested immediately are subject to more and heightened interrogation than those who are released and arrested later, and an absolute fact that during that heightened scrutiny many people make incriminating statements they might not have later

    It's also an absolute fact that Stand Your Ground were never relevant to Zimmerman's defense, nor the charges brought against him.

    Keep up the passive-aggressive arguments, you mendacious troll.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You're quite insulting for someone who continues to miss my point. Are you like that in general life or is it an internet thing?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You're quite insulting for someone who continues to miss my point.

    Your point isn't relevant to the case.

    Are you like that in general life or is it an internet thing?

    That isn't relevant to the article.

  • ||

    But the cops didn't have PC to arrest Zimmerman that night, regardless of SYG. Even if SYG was repealed Zimmerman should not have been arrested that night because there was no PC Zimmerman committed a crime.

  • robc||

    You are one of those idiots who dont understand two factors, arent you?

    If I put it in equation form would it help you to understand?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    On previous threads in other cases there is, to say the least, some healthy skepticism about police judgments.

    The skepticism that police are likely to overstep the law and evidence supports the idea that there was really not enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman. When the pattern is arrest a ham sandwich, the lack of an arrest says something.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This provision being talked about protects people from that initial assessment. It raises the bar they have to meet to arrest. See how that plays directly into your point?

  • ||

    But suddenly the idea that those who are arrested immediately are more likely to be convicted is just evidence the cops are really good at their initial assessment.

    No, it's not. It's consistent with that idea, but because we're talking probabilities, it would be the case even if they were mediocre.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    OK, cops are usually too quick to make an arrest. We agree on that?

    When cops make an arrest they can further interrogate a person, usually in a heightened way (on 'their turf' and longer)? Anyone disagree here?

    Those kinds of interrogations often lead to incriminating evidence. Disagree here?

    The probable cause change that went through under "SYG" made it harder to do step one. Disagree?

    So all the NYT says here is that the law change might have played a big role by delaying the arrest. That's not really controversial.

    The NYT gets enough wrong without us wishing it were when it's not.

  • sgs||

    "Those kinds of interrogations often lead to incriminating evidence. "

    This idea is central to your point, and John has addressed it.

    You've failed to rebut him.

    "So all the NYT says here is that the law change might have played a big role by delaying the arrest."

    Again, because you seem to be slow, John has addressed this point and you have failed to rebut him.

    Stop repeating yourself and address the arguments.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    John's addressing of the point was to assume that Zimmerman would have handled the ensuing interrogation well and in assuming the police would have played by the rules during it.

  • ||

    OK, cops are usually too quick to make an arrest. We agree on that?

    No. Evidence that this is "usually" true?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I don't think they are saying it played a role in the trial itself, but that it played a role in the 'case' by delaying arrest

    Which is still inaccurate, because the whole reason charges weren't initially brought was that the police determined Stand Your Ground never applied as Zimmerman had no means of escape once Martin pinned him to the ground and started beating him.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    the law says police need probable cause to believe a shooting was not justified before they can make an arrest.

    That's certainly a different and higher level necessary than usual, so I'm not sure it's irrelevant to whether he would have been arrested earlier.

    I'm not against it btw, it should be harder to arrest people.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Look, I'm going to say it again:

    STAND YOUR GROUND NEVER APPLIED BECAUSE THE POLICE DETERMINED THAT ZIMMERMAN HAD NO MEANS OF ESCAPE. THAT MEANS THE MEDIA'S OBSESSIVE CHIN STROKING OVER THESE LAWS AMOUNTS TO MASTURBATORY CONCERN TROLLING.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    The reforms that introduced 'stand your ground' included this probable cause change in the law. They all were protections for people claiming self defense (protections I support btw).

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The reforms that introduced 'stand your ground' included this probable cause change in the law. They all were protections for people claiming self defense (protections I support btw).

    Which still isn't relevant because STAND YOUR GROUND WAS ELIMINATED FROM CONSIDERATION DURING BOTH THE INVESTIGATION, THE ARREST, AND THE TRIAL.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That's not technically true as it was entered into the jury instructions.

    But more importantly, since you like caps: THIS CHANGE COULD LIKELY HAVE EFFECTED THE TIME OF ARREST, WHICH ANY COP CAN TELL YOU IS NOT UINMPORTANT TO THE INVESTIGATION AND LATER TRIAL.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    That's not technically true as it was entered into the jury instructions.

    From a previous article:

    That language is part of the standard jury instruction [3.6(f)] in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. But it is hard to see how it applies to the facts of this case, since Zimmerman claimed he was unable to retreat and therefore did not base his defense on the right to stand your ground. The fact that a legal provision was mentioned in the instructions does not necessarily mean it was relevant in reaching a verdict. For example, the instructions also mentioned accidental killings and attacks on dwellings, neither of which applies to the circumstances of the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin.

    THIS CHANGE COULD LIKELY HAVE EFFECTED THE TIME OF ARREST, WHICH ANY COP CAN TELL YOU IS NOT UINMPORTANT TO THE INVESTIGATION AND LATER TRIAL.

    EXCEPT IT NEVER CAME UP AS AN ISSUE DURING THE INVESTIGATION OR TRIAL, AND THUS YOUR ARGUMENT IS IRRELEVANT.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Of course something that did not occur did not have an impact on the investigation and trial, that's the point of the article and my point: if it had occurred could it have had a significant impact? Answer: of course.

  • John||

    Arrest is not conviction. Whether you are arrested or not the night of the crime is not relevant in determining your guilt in court. Your logic boils down to, if SYD had not been the law, Zimmerman might have been arrested that night. Well so what. That is only relevant if being arrested would have changed some fact that went before the jury. Just stop it.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Whether you are arrested or not the night of the crime is not relevant in determining your guilt in court.

    You're arguing as if nothing in the investigative phase has an impact on what happens at trial. That's almost Platonic.

  • John||

    You're arguing as if nothing in the investigative phase has an impact on what happens at trial. That's almost Platonic.

    Who cares if it does? Had the investigation been done differently would only matter if it resulted in some new or different fact getting before the jury. And absent a coerced confession from Zimmerman, no such facts exist. Changes to the investigation only matter insofar as the change what goes before the jury.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Again, it's like you suddenly live in a Platonic ideal world of trials. This comment is literally incredible: absent a coerced confession from Zimmerman, no such facts exist. It's as if you don't think people under intense interrogation are ever tricked into saying things that later harm them.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Do you think there are witnesses out there that moved away or hid? Absent getting Zimmerman to say something incriminating, what other evidence do you posit was out there to be discovered but wasn't?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Absent getting Zimmerman to say something incriminating"

    Wow. That's my entire point.

  • John||

    You conflated the legal doctrines and put up so many red herrings here, you have effectively destroyed the threat. Thanks a lot and shame on me for responding to you so you could do it. But for one last time

    1. The need to have probable cause to believe that both a shooting occurred and it was not justified is NOT SYD.

    2. Even if it were, the is no evidence or reason to believe that the case would have gone any differently had Zimmerman been arrested.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    So your point is that they, what, might have gotten something incriminating if he'd been telling his whole story on video while under arrest as opposed to telling not under arrest like he actually did?

    They questioned the hell out of the man. What more would they have done if he were arrested? Do you assume that'd he'd have cooperated while under arrest and not just lawyered up?

  • John||

    It's as if you don't think people under intense interrogation are ever tricked into saying things that later harm them.

    Which again fantasizing facts that don't exist. You are assuming that because people can an indeed often do say things under interrogation that look bad later in court, that there is any likelihood Zimmerman would have done so here. And you can't make that logical leap. Zimmerman gave a statement. To assume he would have given a different one in custody, you have to assume he either withheld some fact or would have been forced or tricked by the cops into revealing something. You can't prove a counter factual. So we will never know. If you want to tell yourself that as a way to feel like SYD is relevant here. Have fun. Those of us who live in the real world what is likely or reasonable rather than merely possible, see this case as having nothing to do with SYD.

    And further, your entire argument assumes that the police needing probable cause to believe a shooting was NOT JUSTIFIED rather than just probable cause to believe there is a shooting to arrest someone is SYD. It is not. I would surprised if any states allow arrest on the basis of a shooting alone without any concern towards whether the shooting was justified.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -I would surprised if any states allow arrest on the basis of a shooting alone without any concern towards whether the shooting was justified.

    Even Sullum admits this is a significant change in the law, shifting the burden of probable cause for arrest.

  • sgs||

    "It's as if you don't think people under intense interrogation are ever tricked into saying things that later harm them."

    So your argument is, the NYT is right, because SYG may have prevented the police from getting an arrest, and tricking Z into saying something.

    Am I getting it?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Yes. Stand your ground the principle would not have prevented arrest, but the probable cause change that passed in the "SYG reforms" would have made arrest more likely and it's common knowledge interrogations and searches incident and after arrest often lead to damaging statements or evidence.

    I'm fine with pointing out to critics that the stand your ground principle itself is not the same as this probable cause change and that the SYG itself didn't matter. But did the probable cause potentially matter? Sure.

    By the way, to repeat, I support the probable cause change.

  • Pro Libertate||

    From what I can tell, it looks like the cops and the state attorney's office found the evidence to be consistent with Zimmerman's version of events. Which means they thought the evidence that it was self-defense was great enough to make probable cause to arrest questionable, at best. Remember, Zimmerman said he was on the ground getting beat up, and a neutral witness corroborated that. No SYG.

    Let's not forget the prosecution witnesses that basically hammered home reasonable doubt. You know the case is a dog when that happens.

    It's possible to arrange the facts so that SYG could be argued, but neither side really did that.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Most people, including journalists, are not lawyers. When they are talking about the "Stand Your Ground Law" in Florida that they probably just heard of you don't think they might be talking about any of the reforms that were passed concurrently with the provision eliminating the retreat requirement? How helpful is it to say to them "a-ha you fool, that's a different subsection of the Florida penal code, so there!"

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, attacking SYG when what's really at issue is the absolutely entrenched self-defense right is a little off-base, don't you think?

    Even in non-SYG states, the duty to retreat is usually only applicable if the defendant can do so in complete safety. So it's not some absolute duty to avoid conflict.

    I believe that even Florida weakens the SYG and/or self-defense situation if the defendant is the aggressor. In such cases, he has to try to retreat if he can do so safely. That's not really on the table in this case, though it could've been if the facts had been different.

  • John||

    You are correct in Florida Pro. Even under Florida SYD, if a person is the aggressor and the victim threatens deadly force, the aggressor has a duty to retreat before invoking SYD.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -attacking SYG when what's really at issue is the absolutely entrenched self-defense right is a little off-base, don't you think?

    Yesterday I argued at length with Jhk1776 about this very point.

    But today we're talking about this article. It's clearly referring to the change in probable cause for arrest that went in concurrently in the same bill with the same sponsor as the SYG change. I don't think someone is "mendacious" for talking about that as a "SYG reform."

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a red herring. One of the problems I have with the media running with misinformed legal news is that there are loads of lawyers out there who will explain it. This is a little different than bad science news, where the number of experts is much smaller and the information is (usually) harder to explain to a layman.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    In this case the lawyer they consulted was correct: the probable cause change could very well have played a part in whether he was arrested sooner.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's clearly referring to the change in probable cause for arrest that went in concurrently in the same bill with the same sponsor as the SYG change.

    Which still isn't relevant to the events surrounding Zimmerman's case.

    I don't think someone is "mendacious" for talking about that as a "SYG reform."

    They are when they're arguing that it applies to Zimmerman's case.

    Either you actually believe Stand Your Ground applies in this case, which makes you an idiot for buying the media narrative, or you don't and are simply being a contrarian, which makes you a passive-aggressive asshole.

    Which one is it?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -Which still isn't relevant to the events surrounding Zimmerman's case.

    It's relevant in that he might have been arrested earlier without the probable cause change and when people are arrested earlier they get convicted more often, for reasons I've explained.

  • John||

    It's relevant in that he might have been arrested earlier without the probable cause change and when people are arrested earlier they get convicted more often, for reasons I've explained.

    No it is not. First, since the Constitution requires probable cause that a crime has been committed in order for you to be arrested and a justified shooting is not a crime, police could not Consitutionally arrest you unless they have probable cause to believe the shooting is not justified. If they don't think the shooting wasn't justified, they don't have probable cause to think you committed a crime.

    You are acting like that requirement is some kind of special thing that came along with SYD. It is not. It is a restatement of what would be true anyway.

    You really are a living example of an idiot lowering everyone to their level and beating them with experience.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The cops felt they didn't have probable cause because of the changes that came with SYG? Look, we've seen the evidence they saw--Zimmermans's account of events, Zimmerman's injuries, the eyewitness that bolstered Zimmerman's account, and the lack of evidence to the contrary. Even without an SYG statute on the books, there's reason to doubt probable cause existed.

    That's at least debatable. What isn't, really, is whether there was even a remote possibility of proving Zimmerman's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe the cops should've arrested him, maybe not, but the state attorney's office had no business trying Zimmerman with murder, with the evidence at hand.

    Also, why no grand jury indictment?

  • TexLawyer||

    Under old law, the existence of a dead body with a bullet wound would be more then enough probable cause to arrest. At that point, it would be up to the defendant, at trial to raise the issue of self defense. Under Florida's law, you must have probable cause to believe a murder took place (the dead body with the bullet wound) AND probable cause to believe the person who did the shooting did not do so in self defense. This is a pretty significant change in the law and to say that they would not have had probable cause under traditional law is wrong.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's relevant in that he might have been arrested earlier without the probable cause change and when people are arrested earlier they get convicted more often, for reasons I've explained.

    Except that's not what happened. So your argument that SYG is relevant here is baseless.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    The specific provision referring to duty to retreat or 'stand your ground' was not at issue.

    My point is the probable cause change, which passed in the same bill and can be called part of the "STand your Ground Law" or reform without being mendacious, could have been important in that it delayed arrest.

  • ||

    Except that's not a SYG issue. That it was passed in the same bill with the SYG provision doesn't mean the probable cause change is an aspect of SYG. That the bill is commonly referred to as the "Stand Your Ground Law" doesn't make everything in the bill about SYG. Just like how the Food Stamps provision in the old Farm Bills in Congress didn't have anything to do with farm subsidies.

  • robc||

    How helpful is it to say to them "a-ha you fool, that's a different subsection of the Florida penal code, so there!"

    Its very helpful IF they will actually listen and learn.

    So probably not very helpful at all.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    How helpful is it to say to them "a-ha you fool, that's a different subsection of the Florida penal code, so there!"

    How helpful is it to perpetuate the idea that a law applies in a case where that law was clearly eliminated from consideration?

  • free2booze||

    What evidence is their that they delayed arrest? Zimmerman was taken into police custody after the shooting. He was interviewed by two different detectives, and then was let go because they didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest.

    It wasn't a clear case of murder at the time (or even now). The police were investigating a shooting, not a murder.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "then was let go because they didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest."

    Right, and as Sullum concedes the change in the probable cause necessary to make an arrest could have played a big role in that. Without the change it would have been a lower threshold of probable cause and arrest would be more likely.

  • free2booze||

    They let him go because there was no evidence to counter Zimmerman's claim that he was jumped by Martin, and shot him in self defense.

    If Martin had survived, he would likely have been looking at assault charges

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The media's trying its damndest to insert a gun control narrative into this circus. "WELL IF THESE LAWS DIDN'T EXIST ST TRAYVON WOULD STILL BE ALIVE AND THAT EVIL WHITE HISPANIC ZIMMERMAN WOULD ONLY HAVE HIS PRIDE BRUISED."

    These people are transparent as hell in their motivations, and it shows how degraded the nation has become that it largely buys into the narratives they push.

  • tarran||

    It's funny: my mom broke her nose in a fall a couple of years ago, and it was a life changing event - one of her greatest pleasures is cooking, and she has clearly had her sense of smell affected, and she is miserably aware that her cooking is not what it was.

    It's not pride bruising. Head injuries can not only kill, even 'minor' injuries can significantly and permanently affect the quality of someone's life. If Zimmerman had broken Martin's nose in a scuffle, you can bet that his family's attorney would not be characterizing Martin's injuries as a bruised ego.

  • John||

    I had a good friend who fell off of a step ladder getting a concussions. Years later she was still unable to work full time and was suffering from horrible migraines.

    Aren't head injuries a huge deal when talking about the NFL? Funny how talking points never cross from story to story.

  • sgs||

    "Head injuries can not only kill, even 'minor' injuries can significantly and permanently affect the quality of someone's life. "

    At the risk of admitting something too personal, I had a fall as a child, and haven't slept properly since. I suspect it also affected impulse control.

    I rarely sleep more than four hours a night, and my health has suffered significantly as a result.

    No medication or intervention helps for more than a few days.

    Head injuries are no joke.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The media clearly prefers for the Hispanic guy to have been murdered.

    If anything, this case is an example of why people should be armed.

  • sarcasmic||

    You mean the left is going to lie and make dishonest arguments in an effort to strike down a law against self defense, because they feel that self defense is vigilante justice?

    I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!

  • Duke||

    I think The Left hate self-defense via guns so much because rural folks tend to own and use guns lawfully more so than city-dwellers. Therefore, NYT must be against self-defense with guns because we know that they 1) hate all southerners and 2) hate all rural folks.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "As I have said before, this provision is completely distinct from the "stand your ground" principle, which removes the duty to retreat for people attacked in public places."

    If they were all enacted at the same time with the bill being called something like "stand your ground" then this point is a bit pedantic if the person is objecting to the "stand your ground law."

  • sarcasmic||

    Goalposts go 'Whoosh!'
    Bravo, Tony. Bravo.

  • John||

    It is not pedantic at all. SYD is a legal doctrine. When people refer to SYD, they are referring to the doctrine not whatever omnibus crime bill Florida passed it in.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    When people refer to SYD, they are referring to the doctrine not whatever omnibus crime bill Florida passed it in.

    Sugarfree was right, you can read minds.

  • John||

    No. I am just not stupid and generally assume other people are not. It would make no sense to use the term SYD to refer to some anonymous crime bill in Florida. So I don't really have to read minds. I just have to read what people say in a way that assumes they are talking rationally.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Actually no, you read it in a way that they are stupid and mendacious (your words).

    It's much more charitable and yet still rational to consider that non-lawyers might conflate the several subsections that pass under one bill name from the same sponsor dealing with related things.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's much more charitable and yet still rational to consider that non-lawyers might conflate the several subsections that pass under one bill name from the same sponsor dealing with related things.

    Which still doesn't have anything to do with the facts of the case.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Explain that.

    The "facts of the case" were not clear that night. All I'm saying is that if Zimmerman were arrested and questioned more immediately that night then he very likely might have said something that later could have hurt him. That's all I read the article as saying.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    All I'm saying is that if Zimmerman were arrested and questioned more immediately that night then he very likely might have said something that later could have hurt him.

    Except none of that happened. So your point is irrelevant.

  • John||

    It's much more charitable and yet still rational to consider that non-lawyers might conflate the several subsections that pass under one bill name from the same sponsor dealing with related things.

    Then they don't understand what SYD means and are conflating legal doctrines. And thus pointing out what SYD actually means is a valid criticism. All you are saying here is that people can be wrong. Sure, and that was the whole point; they don't understand the law and are misapplying it to this case.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If it is clear they are talking about the duty to retreat provision then it might be helpful, but if it is clear they are actually talking about the probable cause for arrest change then what is served by saying "a-ha, you said SYG and that provision has nothing to do with standing your ground!!!" They are clearly talking about a section of the "Stand Your Ground" reforms that went through in one bill from the same sponsor.

    People are wrong about enough things without wasting time on such pedantic points scoring. Yesterday I argued at length with Jhk1776 who criticized the law starting with the duty to retreat but who was clearly upset about what he read as a subjective element of reasonable belief of imminent harm. I pointed out that's old school common law self defense applicable everywhere, and it's an objective standard.

    But this is just pedantic points scoring. The probable cause change is a significant change, it passed as part of the SYG reforms, it aimed like SYG to protect people claiming self defense, and it might have played a difference. Fair enough.

  • John||

    If they are talking about probable cause, they are not talking about SYD. Second, saying that you have to have probable cause to believe the shooting was not justified is just another way of saying the police have to have probable cause to believe you committed a crime. If they don't have probable cause to believe the shooting was not justified, they don't have probable cause. That part of the law is just a restatement of what the law is anyway.

  • Calidissident||

    Actually, for the vast majority of people who I've seen bring up SYG, I do not think they're talking about the probable cause provision that isn't a part of the legal doctrine of SYG, even if it was part of the same law. They're talking about the SYG provision itself, even though it didn't apply in this case.

  • Hash Brown||

    The NYT is a ass--a idiot!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If an attacker is retreating, people are still permitted to use deadly force.

    Oh?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Actually, the law says police need probable cause to believe a shooting was not justified before they can make an arrest.

    Up, down; whatever.

  • sarcasmic||

    Goalposts have been moved. Straw men have been set alight. Ad hominems have been leveled.

    These comments have been officially Tulpafied.

  • sgs||

    Smells a lot like Tulpa doesn't it.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    It has to be Tulpa. I've never seen such Tulpafied comments by a non-Tulpa in a Tulpa Tulpa Tulpa.

  • OldMexican||

    "Ultimately it was not part of [defense attorney Mark] O'Mara's courtroom strategy, though it did play a pivotal role immediately after the shooting."


    Captain Conflator has spoken! So say we all!

  • paranoid android||

    IANAL and all that, but would the prosecution have had a better case if they'd conceded the basic facts of Zimmerman's self-defense claim, but turned their focus instead to whether his use of force was "reasonable"? That's the one point of the case that sticks with me--even assuming Martin attacked Zimmerman, was it really reasonable to believe Martin was trying to kill him? I guess only Zimmerman could ever know the answer to that, but it sseems like it sort of got glossed over at the trial in favor of the prosecution's insistence on making it about who started the fight--once it was established that the state couldn't prove that Zimmerman started the fight, the reasonableness of his self-defense claim seemed to be taken as a given.

  • Andrew S.||

    If they'd been going for manslaughter from the start, that would have been their best option to get a conviction.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Except that self-defense guts that charge, too.

  • Andrew S.||

    It does, but self defense is based on reasonableness - did the defendant have a reasonable belief that he was under threat of death or serious bodily injury, and that force was necessary to avert that threat. The prosecution's only chance would have been to show that he did not have a reasonable belief that lethal force was necessary to avert a threat of serious bodily injury or death.

    They wouldn't have been able to do it. But it would have been their only chance.

  • John||

    If Zimmerman's actions had been unreasonable, meaning his fear was unreasonable or his force was unreasonable given the threat, he would have been guilty. He was acquitted because the jury found that his actions were reasonable.

    Both Murder 2 and Manslaughter examine the issues of reasonableness. Which one you are guilty of depends on just how "unreasonable" you found to be. If you intend to kill the person and use deadly force where you did not have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, you are guilty of murder 2, period. If you didn't intend to kill the person but recklessly and depraved indifference used deadly force where you did not have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, you are guilty of manslaughter.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    They tried that because, well, their burden was to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt or Zimmerman walks, period. It's pretty obvious that the jury felt Zimmerman acted reasonably or he probably would've been convicted on the lesser included offense of manslaughter.

  • John||

    What NEM said. And more importantly, they did go for manslaughter. The jury was instructed on that charge and acquitted Zimmerman of that as well. So it is a complete lie to say that Zimmerman was never charged with manslaughter. He effectively was and the jury was given the option of convicting him of that.

  • Floridian||

    Except for self defense you don't need to think they are going to kill you, only cause great bodily hard. Like brain damage.

  • Floridian||

    Harm not hard. Typing is hard though.

  • Hash Brown||

    would the prosecution have had a better case if they'd conceded the basic facts of Zimmerman's self-defense claim, but turned their focus instead to whether his use of force was "reasonable"?

    That is what they did (and had to do). Zimmerman made a prima facie showing that his use of deadly force was justified because he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In view of that showing, the prosecution had to show that his belief was not reasonable. They failed to show that beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Floridian||

    I really don't understand the push against SYG laws. They protect everyone. To say they are racist is to claim minorities don't enjoy the same protection under the laws as Chalk-casians.

  • ||

    Actually, "stand you ground" makes more sense from the other side's perspective.

    If Martin was being stalked by Zimmerman, he probably had reason to fear that Zimmerman was going to jump him and mug him or rape him (who the heck knows). Thus Martin's use of deadly force against Zimmerman may have been a justifiable act of self-defense under "stand your ground".

    The irony here is that both sides could legitimately have claimed self-defense no matter which one had ended up dead.

  • Floridian||

    Except that claim would not be reasonable. If he would have spoken to Zimmerman and found out he had called the police he would have seen he was not a threat. If I see a guy on my front lawn I can't shoot him just because he is on my property and might break in. I have to wait for him to attempt to break in. Being paranoid is not enough for SYG.

  • ||

    We don't know who started the fight. Maybe Zimmerman threw the first punch. May Martin saw that he was carrying a gun and freaked out. A strange man following you with a gun at night would scare lots of people.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "Maybe" doesn't get you a lot of convictions. Someone should have told the prosecutors that.

  • ||

    There wouldn't be a conviction if both sides get to claim self-defense, would there?

  • Floridian||

    Your statement that Martin had a better claim to SYG only makes sense if you ignore all other points in evidence. Most people don't call the police before committing a crime. Conceal carry requires taking a course on firearm laws. Every permit holder in FL knows exposing their firearm in brandishing and can lead to criminal charges and loss of permit. If we are playing the if only game Martin would be alive if only he went home and called the police. Is it possible Z threw a punch? Sure but why call the cops if you are going to pick a fight?

  • robc||

    Every permit holder in FL knows exposing their firearm in brandishing

    Does FL not have open carry?

    Here in KY, we have constitutionally protected open carry without any sort of permit, but concealing requires the permit. Brandishing takes much more than merely exposing the firearm.

  • Floridian||

    No. No open carry. Legend has it when they passed concealed carry in 1986 it accidentally outlawed open carry. I don't know if that is true but I remember as a kid some people would open carry in downtown now it is illegal.

  • sarcasmic||

    It doesn't seem very reasonable that Zimmerman would call the cops and then pick a fight.

    I mean, if you're planning to beat someone up you generally don't invite the cops. Unless you're a cop that is.

  • Floridian||

    Hmm... Something about minds thinking alike.

  • sarcasmic||

    Some things are just obvious. For example you don't call the cops before you commit a crime. That that has to be explained is telling in itself.

  • ||

    Does SYG require that there be a plan to commit a crime?

    All that has to happen is that Martin THINK (have a reasonable fear) that a crime is about to be committed.

    It's possible there was a verbal argument and Martin provoked Zimmerman. Or maybe Zimmerman pulled his gun, and Martin reasonably took that to be an aggressive action - that he was about to get shot.

    There are all sorts of scenarios that could have happened where Martin may have been beating Zimmerman because Martin reasonably through that Zimmerman meant him harm.

  • Floridian||

    I find your scenario unlikely because Z had made multiple calls and never assaulted anyone one else he suspected. Concealed carry means hidden so unlikely Martin was afraid of his gun. If he had drawn his weapon at a distance no way anyone attacks. If Z's weapon was out before the attack why suffer so many blows before firing a single shot out of his available 7? SYG ground does not take into account your imagination or paranoia.

  • Hash Brown||

    I've heard some people try to make this argument. They claim that Zimmerman engaged in aggression by following Martin, and that Martin was entitled to stand his ground and beat up Zimmerman in response to Zimmerman's aggressive following (or something like that).

  • Floridian||

    Yup. Following does not meet the standard of causing death or great bodily harm.

  • sarcasmic||

    My neighbor insists that Zimmerman initiated the events by getting out of his car and not being a big badass. If he'd stayed in his car then he wouldn't have been jumped, and if he was a big badass he should have been able to handle Martin without resorting to deadly force.

    Nevermind that getting out of your car is not a crime, and jumping someone is. That part doesn't matter.

  • Floridian||

    He was a just kid sarcasmic, dammit! He was only 340 months old. Barely able to feed and dress himself. Why do you hate the children so much?

  • sarcasmic||

    Why do you hate the children so much?

    Just because I fully support abortion up to and including the 57th trimester doesn't mean I hate children.

  • Floridian||

    + 1 extremely large coat hanger

  • Michael||

    tl;dr

    SKITTLES!!!

  • ||

    He was following him, at night, carrying a gun. We don't exactly know what happened in the confrontation, but it's possible that Zimmerman might have done something that Martin perceived as more threatening than just the stalking. (i.e. pulling his gun).

  • Floridian||

    I always carry a gun at night. I have threatened zero people by doing that. Following is not stalking.

  • sarcasmic||

    Carrying a concealed weapon is not threatening because, well, because it is concealed, which means no one can see it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's totally wrong, of course. Besides, even if Zimmerman started the fight, which seems unlikely, if Martin decided to beat the living shit out of Zimmerman, Zimmerman could easily regain a self-defense right.

    I'm highly doubtful the gun was drawn before the fight went south.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Isn't there some new variety of arglebargle about how the gun was somewhere near the small of Zimmerman's back, thereby making it impossible for him to draw it with Martin sitting on his chest? Proving, of course, that Zimmerman sniped him in cold blood from a great distance, or something.

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