Criminal Justice

George Zimmerman Skips Self-Defense Hearing

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18th Judicial Circuit, Florida

For almost a year now I have been saying that, contrary to the impression left by press coverage of the case, George Zimmerman's defense against the second-degree murder charge he faces for killing Trayvon Martin does not hinge on the "stand your ground" provision that was added to Florida's self-defense law in 2005. That's because, according to Zimmerman's account, he was tackled by Martin and had no opportunity to retreat. The one 2005 change that could help Zimmerman, I said, was the right to a pretrial hearing where he could try to convince a judge that he reasonably believed shooting Martin was necessary to prevent death or serious injury. Now it looks like Zimmerman won't make use of that provision either. Today his lawyers announced that he has decided against presenting his self-defense claim to Seminole County, Florida, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson at a pretrial hearing scheduled for April. ABC News notes that by moving for dismissal of the case based on his self-defense claim Zimmerman would have "risked the possibility that the judge would reject the motion and the hearing would give prosecutors an opportunity to pick apart [his] testimony." 

ABC News says it is still possible that Zimmerman will opt for a self-defense hearing at a later date, giving him more time to prepare. His trial is scheduled for June 10. It is worth reiterating that the pretrial hearing is designed to save innocent people the burden of a trial in cases where there is strong evidence that their actions were justified. If the prosecution has enough evidence to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt, it necessarily follows that the defendant could not meet the preponderance-of-evidence standard for a dismissal, which means he must show it is more likely than not that his actions were justified. 

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  1. Only slightly off topic: Gun control squirrel finds nut of freedom, promptly discards it for empty promises of safety.

    Why are the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments subject to erosion in the name of homeland security, but the Second Amendment is beyond compromise in the name of saving innocent lives?

    1. Because the erosion of the Second Amendment was accomplished early in the 20th century.

    2. That’s the first time I have ever heard New England referred to as “Gun Valley”

      1. There was a time when 90% of the small arms in the country were manufactured in the Connecticut River Valley. That’s the reference. Hell, California and New Jersey were red states, once upon a time. Things change.

  2. For almost a year now I have been saying that […] George Zimmerman’s defense against the second-degree murder charge he faces for killing Trayvon Martin does not hinge on the “stand your ground” provision…

    Well congratulations, Sullum. You were right. You don’t have to rub our noses in it.

    I like the Cardassian style of justice. The guilty verdict is found first because it would be cruel to put anyone but the guilty through a trial.

    1. You and Spike Lee both.

  3. “If the prosecution has enough evidence to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt, it necessarily follows that the defendant could not meet the preponderance-of-evidence standard for a dismissal, which means he must show it is more likely than not that his actions were justified. ”

    How can he show that “his actions were justified”, if the assumption is “the prosecution has enough evidence to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    If you’re assuming the prosecution has that evidence, then by assumption his actions were *not* justified.

    1. The point is that in cases where the prosecution would win at trial, the defendant would not have prevailed in the pretrial hearing afforded by the stand your ground law, so all the pretrial hearing does is save (fairly) clearly innocent people the trouble of a trial.

  4. Also only slightly OT:

    Black gay mayoral candidate was killed by another black gay man. But Gawker is still keeping the dream alive by not mentioning that. Like I said, only slightly OT considering they did the same with Zimmerman.

    1. Look, any time a minority is killed, it’s a hate crime. Period.

    2. I’m happy that this wasn’t a hate crime. I mean, damn, a man is dead and he apparently died horribly. That’s nasty enough. If he’d died this way simply because he was black and/or gay, it would’ve only make it nastier (to the extent that that’s possible). The world is bad enough without my wishing more nastiness into the world.

      I thought for a second this was mocking how stupid hate crime legislation is. Then I remembered I was on Gawker.

  5. I really wish 2nd Amendment supporters would back off their rabid support for Zimmerman. He was behaving irresponsibly by arming himself and going outside to play make-believe power-tripping cop harassing a completely innocent brownskin on the street. As the only surviving witness he can of course say Martin attacked him out of the blue and he had to shoot him to save his life, but it’s more likely he tried to confront/detain Martin who then told him to fuck off and a fight ensued.

    I completely support wide availability of guns and concealed weapons, but if you’re carrying a gun you have to act responsibly and can’t go around physically confronting random innocent people for absolutely no reason.

    The 2nd Amendment opponents would love to portray Zimmerman as the quintessential gun owner – reckless and racist. The truth is he’s a wannabe powertripping cop, and gun rights supporters should acknowledge that he was not acting like a responsible gun owner.

    1. Wow, you better head to Florida and talk to the cops, since you were there and saw what happened. Unless you have a source for the three huge assumptions you have in your first paragraph alone.

      1. Tell me the part where Martin left the sidewalk and got into Zimmerman’s car to confront him. Zimmerman exited his car with a gun to confront him.

        1. Zimmerman exited his car with a gun to confront him.

          Maintain a visual, as two weeks before a burglar had gotten away when he did not. Or was looking at him enough to justify a retaliatory attack in your mind?

        2. So? Unless he pointed the gun at Martin, or threatened him verbally by referencing it, he was within his rights.

          1. BS. Martin was standing his ground if he was chased by Zimmerman and then was murdered for standing his ground.

            Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation. He was told not to follow Martin. He is a coward who hid behind his gun and killed an young man who was walking home after terrorizing him by chasing him.

            1. BS. Martin was standing his ground if he was chased by Zimmerman and then was murdered for standing his ground.

              Assuming a fact not in evidence.

              Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation.

              Assuming a fact not in evidence.

              He was told not to follow Martin.

              911 operators have no authority to issue instructions to citizens.

              He is a coward who hid behind his gun and killed an young man who was walking home after terrorizing him by chasing him.

              Assuming a fact not in evidence.

              1. Also, 911 operator didn’t order anything — when Zimmerman said he would follow Martin the operator said “we don’t need you to do that.”

              2. What else is there to assume. He had no reason to confront Martin to begin with. He had no reason to chase Martin.

                But you go ahead and you keep your head up your ass about this because you know, young black kid, you don’t care if he was killed.

                If it had been the other way around you would be calling for the lynch mob and saying that Zimmerman should have been carrying a gun as a upstanding white citizen.

                1. What else is there to assume. He had no reason to confront Martin to begin with. He had no reason to chase Martin.

                  Everyone has the right to speak to people on public sidewalks. Zimmerman violated no laws, and infringed on no one’s rights by talking to Martin.

                  But you go ahead and you keep your head up your ass about this because you know, young black kid, you don’t care if he was killed.

                  Put it back in the deck.

                  If it had been the other way around you would be calling for the lynch mob and saying that Zimmerman should have been carrying a gun as a upstanding white citizen.

                  Again, you know this. But don’t ask you how. You just know. With your magic powers of knowing.

        3. Didn’t you hear? Martin was a drug kingpin, who was waiting for Zimmerman in Zimmerman’s house leering at Zimmerman’s wife, hopped up on Four Loko. He had to die.

          1. I believe Zimmerman quoted Martin as saying, “Where the white wimen at?”

    2. Somebody needs to listen to the unedited 911 call.

      1. Martin wasn’t committing a crime. The only person committing a crime was Zimmerman who was chasing a teen age boy who reasonably could feel endangered having large adult male chase him.

        1. Interesting how you respond to that particular comment. How about you listen to the fucking tape before spewing idiocy? But you’re obviously a troll (calling 5’7″ Zimmerman large), so either you already have and just want to be an idiot, or you never will, since you’re afraid of the cognitive dissonance that might bring.

          1. I listened to the tape, and it doesn’t disagree with the arguments that Zimmerman provoked that confrontation, leading to Martin’s death.

            Here are the facts in evidence:

            Trayvon Martin – not armed. Walking down a public street with a bottle of iced tea. Committing no crime.

            George Zimmerman – armed, trailed Martin down a street at night, despite Martin’s repeated attempts to evade him.

            Doesn’t matter whether Zimmerman found Martin’s behavior suspicious, doesn’t matter whether Martin was a complete jerk in instances outside of this incident (not that Zimmerman would have known that), doesn’t even matter whether there were break-ins in the neighborhood before. Fact was that Martin was walking home, unarmed, doing nothing wrong or illegal, and wound up dead because some paranoid with a gun decided to chase him.

            Personally I think the prosecutor overcharged, but Zimmerman still belongs in jail and he’s no poster child for self-defense or responsible gun ownership or usage.

            1. Following someone isn’t a crime. Neither is “confronting” someone. If what Zimmerman says is true, he committed no crime. He was being stupid, and someone died unnecessarily, but I’ve seen little reason to believe Zimmerman is a murderer.

            2. I listened to the tape, and it doesn’t disagree with the arguments that Zimmerman provoked that confrontation,

              Actually, it does. He stops running and says he lost sight of him. We know that Martin then doubled back. I personally feel that there is nothing wrong with him doubling back. You seem to feel that the pursuer prior to the confrontation was the responsible party. At this point, by your own logic, Martin was the one in the wrong.

              and wound up dead because some paranoid with a gun decided to chase him. He attacked and injured a man with a gun.

              There. Fixed it for you. Odd how you seem to have forgotten that point.

              1. You claim he doubled back or did he run in circles because he was scared? More likely the latter and you can’t suddenly go from being the pursued to the person chasing if the person chasing you is still chasing you.

                Twist all you want, we both know Zimmerman had no reason to even talk to Martin, let alone chase him.

                1. we both know

                  No we do not. This keeps coming back to the same fucking point: you and the others who want to put Zimmerman away repeatedly assume things went the way you need them to for your theories to hold true. You continuously assume crucial questions have been answered in your favor, when in point of fact they are either against you, or unclear. Then you bring up entirely irrelevant facts. Police dispatchers do not have the authority to give orders to citizens. Having your head beaten on the ground is legitimate cause for lethal force.

                  The fact is Zimmerman has told the same story for a year, without the cops being able to trip him up with inconsistencies. Every single scrap of physical evidence matches Zimmerman’s story. That doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth. But it does mean you cannot put him in prison, because you cannot prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

              2. I didn’t forget that point…it’s irrelevant. By the time Zimmerman made the phone call he’d been chasing Martin for awhile. Martin attacking him at that point was simply self-defense.

                You could certainly argue that Martin was kicking his ass to a degree that Zimmerman felt his life wa in danger, but since Zimmerman provoked the entire confrontation by stalking someone through the streets with a gun out of paranoia, I’ve got no sympathy. Wannabe cop with a gun went looking for trouble and found it. Martin was just defending himself from a crazed stalker.

                1. By giving Zimmerman the slip and doubling back and then confronting Zimmerman and then attacking him?

                  That doesn’t sound very self-defensey.

                2. I didn’t forget that point…it’s irrelevant. By the time Zimmerman made the phone call he’d been chasing Martin for awhile. Martin attacking him at that point was simply self-defense

                  Ass. Listen to the phone call. Zimmerman begins to follow Martin and then stops when he is told ‘we don’t need you to do that’. He tells the dispatcher he’s lost sight of him.

                  The call is very clear, very specific, and the times can be easily worked out.

          2. 5’7 is not tall. You can still be a rather large man and not tall.

            I’ve listened to the tape. He followed Martin after being instructed not to. He had no reason to chase Martin to begin with.

            You can twist what happened all you want, but the truth is Zimmerman never should have even stopped to begin with unless he was looking to create a confrontation.

            1. IIRC, he was breathing heavily when the dispatcher asked if he was following him. Zimmerman said yes and the dispatcher replied with “we don’t need you to do that,” and from that moment on in the tape, Zimmerman is no longer breathing heavily and says he lost sight of Martin. Obviously I don’t know what happened, but what I heard in that tape sounds like him obeying the orders. Zim shouldn’t have been in that situation, but it sounded like he followed orders and ended his pursuit. How the confrontation occurred after that, I don’t know and am looking to find out if that information comes to light in the trial.

            2. When the dispatcher tells Zimmerman ‘we don’t need you to do that’, Zimmerman responds with ‘okay’, after which his breathing changes.

  6. Maybe he is calculating that the Judge was specifically appointed to make sure he goes down and figures he can’t get a fair hearing in pretrial anyway.

  7. People Magazine exclusive with George Zimmerman’s new legal Defense Team has revealed secret Wikileaks inside information that this Zimmerman Florida criminal trial is being delayed until after our Next 2016 Hillary Clinton U.S. Presidential Elections.

    Apparently everyone political is afraid future riots might occur in Florida if Zimmerman is found to be OJ innocent & the future trial is now going to take place at Gitmo Cuba..

    Apparently new heart VP Dick Cheney & Super PAC rich Karl Rove will be attending the Guantanamo Bay Pretrial WaterBoarding of Zimmerman..

  8. “Apparently new heart VP Dick Cheney & Super PAC rich Karl Rove will be attending the Guantanamo Bay Pretrial WaterBoarding of Zimmerman.”

    Do you want the truth to come out or not?

  9. TMZ reports the State of Florida has today offered accused murderer George Zimmerman an opportunity to prove his non guilt in Tyron Martins shooting death !

    Apparently Florida’s new killer Minnie drone flying over Disney World will be used to see how fast George Zimmerman can really run when he is being shot at from above.Florida says if George Zimmerman lives after this event he is a free man.

    ESPN says they will be carrying this run from the killer drone event this weekend and will also show it live on the www.

    ESPN also has announced that Janet Reno will be their chosen Drone Pilot with new heart Dick Cheney in the wings as their backup..

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