Steve Chapman on the George Zimmerman Trial and Double Jeopardy


Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

You may recall that the Constitution bars trying someone twice for the same offense. The government gets one chance to take away your life or liberty in a criminal trial. A conviction may be appealed; an acquittal is final. If authorities could keep trying until they win, no suspect, however innocent, would ever be safe.

The option of trying someone on a different charge, in a different court system, based on the same conduct, does exist. But it historically has been—as it should be—reserved for extreme and outrageous cases. The George Zimmerman verdict may have been wrong, writes Steve Chapman. But it was not a howling travesty.