I De-clare, You Could Knock Me Over With a Feather

by Belle Waring on March 29, 2012

Hey, look who isn’t bleeding from the back of his head! At all. Moms isn’t going to have to get out the Thomas the Tank Engine band-aids. Who doesn’t have a grass stain on his jacket? More importantly, who doesn’t have a broken nose? George M.F. Zimmerman, that’s who.

I consider myself something of an expert on the subject of broken noses. Mine first got straight-up broken in a random mugging by a 5’10’-6 ft tall black guy in a black hoodie and jeans. Actually, for real, not lying here. (Needless to say I didn’t bother to report it to the police. I seriously couldn’t have picked him up out of a line-up, and what, I want them to wander along Amsterdam Ave looking for 6 ft tall black guys in hoodies to hassle? What’s the point there? This was a long time ago, at the peak of NYC crime in the early 90s) Not really a mugging because they didn’t end up taking my stuff, more like a freak-out because I was walking too close to him or something and he was high. Whatever. Since then it has been broken numerous times, but because the initial break weakened it, I think, in a number of the cases. I mean, that one time a guy just hit me in the face by accident, that was a plain old hard hit. (Really an accident, not “I’m being abused” an accident.) The later breakages definitely produced less blood/trauma; maybe Zimmerman is in Fight Club?

Anyway, when someone hits you in the face hard enough to break your nose, you look rather distinctly awful. You are pale*, with bruises starting under your eyes, and the place where the break happened is busted open, and there is blood all over the damn place. Coming from the wound on your face, pouring out of your nose: blood everywhere. Now, maybe there’s some other more manly way to get your nose broken I’m not aware of, and that’s just the ladyway of getting the lady-noses broken. Or I’ve been the victim of some particularly bad nose-breakings? That’s frankly not unlikely. In any case, annoying as the video is (the ABC news EXCLUSIVE banner overlays the interesting part of the image for 90% of the running time), it clearly shows a man who was cuffed (so I was wrong about his not being cuffed!), but did not just get the beatdown from Trayvon Luke Cage Martin. He doesn’t even look shook up enough; dude just shot and killed a kid! If I had done that by accident I would be in agony. So, dear readers, a) don’t believe everything you read, and, b) the Sanford police should really have arrested this asshole at the time and their decision looks worse and worse in retrospect.

N.B. in re: trolling. I myself am mildly pro-troll on principle. I would prefer that there was no one trolling. However, if someone has to troll, they should damn sure be doing it right. Piss everybody off at once. Suddenly advocate nuking Japan for no reason. That’s why, when confronted with the weak-ass “trolling” of…bjk? I can’t even remember; I was inclined to call in the big guns and say if someone’s going to derail my thread it’s going to be a high-quality troll like Bob McManus. I know, you’re all thinking “when the hell are you going to tire of his demands that other people’s blood flow in the streets and so on?” I don’t know. He’s strangely almost exactly like my dad along certain axes, so he’s got a gilt-edge pass from me. We all know he would never abuse that by…what? He just? Oh, well.

*Even very dark-skinned people can look ashen or sallow—fundamentally unwell. In white people this expresses as blanching to paper-white, but there are analogues for the majority of the world that is not white.

{ 180 comments }

1

Randy McDonald 03.29.12 at 6:07 am

Apparently Zimmermann’s father is a retired judge.

2

ascholl 03.29.12 at 6:21 am

I’m totally in agreement or sympathetic to pretty much everything you say here. I almost hate myself for this, but for some reason I really cannot resist w/ some weak-ass (but sincere!) trolling and say that the one thing I really do take issue with is the “He doesn’t even look shook up enough; dude just shot and killed a kid! If I had done that by accident I would be in agony” comment. Not that this isn’t probably true, but people react to traumatic shit in very different & unpredictable ways. This sounds a lot like the all too common “if she had really been rape raped, she’d be sobbing now” claim.

I’m on board with all the rest, but hose two sentences make me squirm a bit.

3

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 6:45 am

American police procedure is weird. The man was cuffed but not arrested? If I see somebody in Dublin being cuffed and shoved into a police car, AFAIAC he’s arrested. Do Americans regard that as some kind of consensual S+M role-play?

4

rageahol 03.29.12 at 6:49 am

agree with #2.

there are a few notable things that have come out about the case today.
1) on the video, the police aren’t wearing gloves, as they would if there was any chance whatsoever that there was blood. at least if they were doing their jobs.
2) pere Zimmerman has been awfully vocal and aggressive. it would be, as the internet saying goes, irresponsible not to speculate thusly:

2a) George Zimmerman got hisself into a little tussle and assaulted a police officer there in Sanford some time ago. being that i am from a small town in florida not unlike sanford, i do not expect that this is the sort of thing that either the police or the state attorney would be eager to let these felonies slide with a diversion program as they did here, unless of course pere Zimmerman pulled some strings.
2b) pere Zimmerman was a judge in VA. and not just any judge, a state supreme court magistrate. clearly this is a guy who knows how to Get Things Done
2c) given also that Zimmerman fils has had such run-ins with the law, both at the time and since then, it seems likely that the entire Sanford PD knew Just Who To Call If The Guy Just Went A Little Too Far.
2d) it doesnt seem like it would be too big a stretch to think that just maybe the sanford pd called the elder Zimmerman in order to uh, “coordinate” in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. and if it’s found that there was, say, a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice on the part of the sanford pd, i wonder what Zimmerman-the-former-judge’s part would have been in that. perhaps something that rhymes with “maccessory”

hm.

5

ponce 03.29.12 at 7:03 am

Somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

6

Belle Waring 03.29.12 at 7:03 am

Kevin: he’s being…detained? In part for medical treatment/assessment according to the Sanford PD at some point, but I can’t handle googling it. His problem is likely that he’s sure he’s innocent. In the US you should be asking “am I free to go” and “am I under arrest” continuously until they either arrest you or let you go. And then, if they arrest you, you should shut up and never say anything to the cops ever except “I would like to speak to my lawyer.” But in practice the police nebulously detain people who aren’t exercising their constitutional rights actively enough.

ascholl: I myself considered including the “people react to trauma in various ways” caveat and then thought, fuck that guy, he’s the perp, not the victim. But, IRL, people react in varying ways to traumatic events. Closed-down, everything-is-normal, nigh-affectless non-reaction is actually a pretty common reaction to being the victim of a serious crime. I kind of don’t give a shit if it’s a common reaction to committing a serious crime. Now that I think on it, it is, in my experience, but that’s just a way to deny the victim any space in which their pain can be validated or acknowledged. “That was 5 seconds ago? Why are you still crying about it like a little baby?” So, fuck that. I’m going to judge his emotional responses to having just killed someone’s teenage child, like a great big judgmental mean girl. He should be pretending to give a shit.

7

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 8:27 am

It seems the gulf between US and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ legalese is widening. But I suppose one of these days the English police will do something like that and say “this is not an arrest, we’re just kettling you.”

Getting back on topic, “NBC News confirmed with FL State attorney’s office that PD sent a capias (request to arrest) Zimmerman soon after shooting.” In a just world somebody would be facing a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice, but it might be the FL State AG rather than the cops (or both of course).

8

ajay 03.29.12 at 8:29 am

American police procedure is weird. The man was cuffed but not arrested? If I see somebody in Dublin being cuffed and shoved into a police car, AFAIAC he’s arrested. Do Americans regard that as some kind of consensual S+M role-play?

Being arrested in the US is certainly a much bigger deal than being arrested in the UK (and I think than being arrested in Ireland as well, given the similarities in the legal systems between UK and Ireland). The evidentiary bar is lower. AFAICT Ireland, like the UK, has a “reasonable suspicion” rather than a “probable cause” standard.

9

asdf 03.29.12 at 9:02 am

[deleted – 1. weak trolling outwith the “bob mcmanus exception”, 2. no valid email address – dd]

10

asdf 03.29.12 at 9:11 am

I do not know who “dd” is, but will you let a similar comment stand if I register with a proper email? I am genuinely curious as to her position and CT’s on this matter.

11

Daniel 03.29.12 at 9:15 am

No. Your question was about the relative propensities of black people and Asians to commit violent crime. It’s off topic for this thread. And the fact that you’re “curious” about Belle’s opinion on something doesn’t mean that you get to bother her when she has a migraine, particularly in a context which would be bound to derail discussion on her thread.

12

Belle Waring 03.29.12 at 9:22 am

I trust your judgment on this front, double D. In general, if we’ve got sexist/racist jerks, or meager trolls who could cut their own selves with a picture of a razor, and I’m not here to police the thread, I am happy for other posters to use the fancy delete button we’ve got up there in the machinery. It says “delete” and everything.

13

faustusnotes 03.29.12 at 9:42 am

Oh come on Belle! This guy’s in the Neighbourhood Watch, ffs. Those are some elite troops. There’s no way he’s going to be blubbering from something as piss weak as a broken nose. You’re going to have to find better evidence than a mere video of his unbleeding face to convince me that he was not just in a fight to the death.

14

soren 03.29.12 at 9:47 am

“More importantly, who doesn’t have a broken nose? George M.F. Zimmerman, that’s who.

I consider myself something of an expert on the subject of broken noses.”

I’ve also had my nose broken and I find it absolute laughable that you think you can tell from that video whether or not he had a broken nose.

15

faustusnotes 03.29.12 at 9:53 am

the news report also says that the lead homicide investigator wanted to do him for manslaughter but the prosecutor said no.

16

rea 03.29.12 at 10:00 am

American police procedure is weird. The man was cuffed but not arrested?

If he’s not free to leave, and it’s more than a momentary detention for on-scene questioning, he’s legally under arrest. He was arrested but released rather than charged.

17

Katherine 03.29.12 at 10:01 am

When my sister had her nose broken by a car windscreen, it was pretty darn noticeable. First off, there was the unconsciousness and the bleeding. That was a bit of a giveaway.

Later on, there were the black eyes and the nose cast. Those were pretty hard to miss too.

18

roger 03.29.12 at 10:07 am

Soren at 14, I think you have confused “picking your nose” – which I am sure you do often – with breaking your nose. The two are different matters. Go consult your doctor.

19

roger 03.29.12 at 10:08 am

ps -I could not resist. I tried to, but I couldn’t.

20

Belle Waring 03.29.12 at 10:17 am

Soren, dude, what? Is this the fourth time he’s had his nose broken? I’ve had my nose broken 5 times, not counting the surgery to repair it, in which they broke it with a surgical hammer. (Sadly it got re-broken after that. Twice. I am considering reconstructive surgery now that my children are old enough not to give me brutal headbutts while playing around, nursing. But it is hideously expensive and hurts really badly.) I’ll admit, the later breaks were more like a pop and a distinctive feeling of “oh, fuck my nose is broken again.” Nonetheless, the contention has been that Zimmerman was essentially getting curbstomped; that he was in legitimate fear for his life. That he got hit in the face so bad during a very recent fistfight that his nose was broken; that Trayvon was straddling him on the ground (hence the alleged grass stains on the back and imaginary head wound) and was just whaling on him. Scalp injuries bleed like crazy, so we know that’s pure BS, and, I’m sorry, that is not the face of a man who just got the tar beaten out of him and his nose broken. They’re selling, and I’m not buying.

21

LizardBreath 03.29.12 at 11:00 am

The video does close down the claim that Martin had Zimmerman down on the ground and was slamming his head into the concrete I’ve seen repeated a bunch. You have to wait to the end of the video to get Zimmerman out of the way of the ABC banner, but there’s no way he has any injury at all to the back of his head.

22

rf 03.29.12 at 11:09 am

A similar case happened in Ireland a couple of years ago when a 61 year old farmer, Padraig Nally, shot dead an Irish Gypsy, John Ward.

(newspaper quote, not good at blockquoting) “When he found Mr Ward coming out of the back door of his house, he shot him in the hip from a distance of about four to five yards and then became involved in a struggle with him.
Mr Nally grabbed the wounded man by the neck and shoved him up against the side of his house, describing it later to police as “a real movie-type effort”.
He then beat Mr Ward about 20 times with a 2ft ash stick, which he had used to mix food for his dog.
When Mr Ward ran out of his yard and down the road, he went to his shed, reloaded his single barrel shotgun and shot him for a second time, wounding him fatally.” (end quote)

Nally was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six years, (according to wiki, my memory isn’t great), for hunting down an injured man and killing him in a ditch. The sentence was quashed after a year when certain elements of our press and public begun to make a consistent and ludicrous case that what he did was justifiable. (John Ward became known universally by his nickname “Frogy” Ward; his long criminal past was used as evidence that he got what he deserved; and of course Nally was sold as the victim of it all)

So it’s just a matter of time before Trayvon’s ‘gang name’ is released, along with pictures of Zimmerman dedicating his weekends to mentoring disadvantaged street kids, and of course the obligatory hour long feature on why America’s gated communities live in constant fear from 17 year old blacks.

Irish Gypsy’s are expendable, they’re expected to cause havoc and die young. That seems to me, as an outsider, the expectation that a whole lot of people have for Trayvon Martin, and if the facts don’t fit the caricature, then they’ll just make up new ones.

23

chris 03.29.12 at 11:30 am

The thing that surprised me was, not only does Zimmerman not have any of his own blood on him, he doesn’t have any of Martin’s blood on him either. Doesn’t that imply that he shot him from some distance, and not in a hand-to-hand struggle?

Although I must admit, I have never shot anyone from any range, so I have no personal experience with how, and how much, a shooting victim bleeds.

24

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 11:35 am

I don’t think the case mentioned by rf is all that similar. Here’s the judgement which resulted in Padraig Nally going free:

http://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/bce24a8184816f1580256ef30048ca50/c11ac1afe2f4ab1d80257205003cb715?OpenDocument

25

rea 03.29.12 at 11:38 am

Apparently Zimmermann’s father is a retired judge.

He was a magistrate, which is different from being a judge. Magistrates are court staffers who hear routine matters, subject to review by a real judge. Being one of those in Virginia wouldn’t give the man a lot of political pull in Florida.

26

Doug 03.29.12 at 11:51 am

Broke my nose in Aussie rules football. Opposing player went up and backward for the ball; I went up and forward; back of skull is harder than nose. (Manly enough?) At any rate, lots and lots of blood.

Did it again in the process of breaking sunglasses between my head and a Munich street, after pitching over the handlebars of my bike. Plenty of blood.

27

Keir 03.29.12 at 12:12 pm

I think, though I hesitate to say it, that Ajay is misplacing emphasis. In the US, when you are arrested, heaps of rights kick in, and so the cops have an interest in never actually arresting anyone until they have to. In the sane world, those rights generally apply from the moment you are a suspect, and besides, the courts take a dim view of trickery around the moment of arrest. So the US system has this weird area of people who are forcible restrained but are not under arrest. In the sane world, we’d say they were either under arrest or falsely imprisoned & assaulted. But in the US they have to pretend that there’s some other bizarre thing happening.

But I don’t think it has much to do with grounds for arrest; after all, if the US has stricter grounds for arrest, then people oughtn’t be cuffed unless they meet that standard. But clearly they are!

28

Manta1976 03.29.12 at 12:20 pm

In normal circumstances, I would be wary of passing judgement in this kind of situations, and in particular I would object that these kind of questions (whether there was a fight, how justified was Zimmermann, etc.) should be left to be investigated by the police and decided in a trial, instead of being discussed on some random blog (past experience with premature judgements should teach us something…).

Unfortunately, in this case the law enforcers did a poor job, so I will have to concur with Belle.

29

Uncle Kvetch 03.29.12 at 12:21 pm

Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him in his final moments, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that she has not been interviewed by police, despite Martin telling her he was being followed.

Breathtaking.

With every day and every new revelation I get a little closer to slamming my own head against some concrete.

30

ajay 03.29.12 at 12:21 pm

I think Keir is either righter than I am, or clearer, or possibly both.

31

norbizness 03.29.12 at 12:39 pm

I sense this case is about to be broken wide open. I got the same feeling after the 15th anecdote illuminating the 318th disclosure in the Natalie Holloway case.

32

LFC 03.29.12 at 12:50 pm

Re handcuffed but not arrested: see this column, in which a young African-American man describes his experiences with the NYPD:

here

33

LFC 03.29.12 at 12:54 pm

The immediate point being that police have been known to handcuff people without arresting them, but that’s the only point of similarity betw. the cases. In Nicholas Peart’s case, they shouldn’t have been bothering him at all. In Zimmerman’s, they didn’t ‘bother’ him enough.

34

Barry 03.29.12 at 1:00 pm

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 6:45 am

” American police procedure is weird. The man was cuffed but not arrested? If I see somebody in Dublin being cuffed and shoved into a police car, AFAIAC he’s arrested. Do Americans regard that as some kind of consensual S+M role-play?”

IMHO (IANAL), the USA seems to be drifting towards a state where just because you’ve been cuffed and locked up, doesn’t mean that you’ve been arrested, so that you can’t sue. Unless you resist being cuffed and locked up, in which case you will be arrested for resisting arrest.

35

Belle Waring 03.29.12 at 1:04 pm

norbizness!! OMG you guys it’s The Left! Aahgh I can’t look at the computer anymore why am I doing this. Someone else take up the cause of right. LB, you’re on.

36

rea 03.29.12 at 1:06 pm

It’s more like, in the US, the police sometimes make the preposterous claim that they’ve handcuffed someone without arresting them, but if it ever matters to the outcome of the case, the court will find they’ve been arrested. I’ve never seen a case where defendant was handcuffed and not found to have been arrested. Given that Zimmerman was both handcuffed and transported to the police station, of course he was under arrest.

37

norbizness 03.29.12 at 1:06 pm

“Nobody nose anything.”

38

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 1:08 pm

On the other thread, Katherine (I’m pretty sure it was) mentioned that one of our porcine friends had apparently ‘corrected’ early witness testimony; that would be evidence tampering/destruction, and should be treated as such. Anyone got more info to hand on that?

Also, I don’t know how it works in the US; maybe there is less separation of powers between the cops and the DA’s office(?), but in the UK a case is built by the filth first and then sent to the prosecutors. Only they, only then, decide (I’m of course describing what is meant to happen) whether the case has an adequate chance of success – and even then I’m pretty sure they have to try to imagine a reasonable jury properly directed. Not the likelihood that some bunch of scumbags like McArdle will bring in a verdict of ‘conscience’. (And in the US they have jury selection by interview, don’t they? Which should mean McArdle would be dismissed on challenge by the defence (a rank speculation suggests the prosecutors should agree, if they are, as in the UK, ministers of justice rather than advocates, and if they, as on Planet Wild-eyed Idealism, were to understand that and take it seriously).

And btw it’s hard to believe that there were no potential charges beside homicide that should have merited investigation.

39

understudy 03.29.12 at 1:42 pm

Belle,

You had some good comments about broken noses and assualt victims. I’m curious, can you extend your analysis? How about rape/sexual assuault victims? How do they appear? If I see a student who tells me s/he’s been sexually assualted, but they don’t exhibit emotions and injuries that I believe would be consistent with a sexual assualt, should I call the police and tell them that s/he might be lying, but that they claim someone sexually assualted them?

40

Anderson 03.29.12 at 1:48 pm

He was a magistrate, which is different from being a judge. Magistrates are court staffers who hear routine matters, subject to review by a real judge.

Warning: in federal court at least, you are risking sanctions if you refer to a magistrate judge as anything other than a “real” judge. They handle important non-dispositive issues and can be assigned to write recommendations on dispositive ones, which the district judge is likely to accept.

In VA state court, I dunno.

41

bexley 03.29.12 at 1:50 pm

@ understudy – I dunno depends if they told you they’d had their nose broken and been brutally beaten 30 minutes previously as part of the assault but in fact had no visible injuries on them.

I expect Zimmerman and the Sanford PD will claim Trayvon Martin was a witch in the near future.

Zimmerman: “He broke my nose!”
Sanford PD: “Really?”
Zimmerman: “I got better”

42

Katherine 03.29.12 at 1:51 pm

Yep, it was me. It wasn’t “corrected” in the sense of “took a black pen to a witness statement and corrected it”, it was in conversation with a witness who said she had heard Martin screaming and was told by the officer conversing with her that no, the person screaming had been Zimmerman. The point being that the early perception of the police and their presentation of it to the outside world was of Zimmerman being attacked by Martin, and defending himself, despite all evidence to the contrary.

I’ll see if I can dig up a reference.

43

Torquil Macneil 03.29.12 at 1:55 pm

If the report in the link is accurate it changes the terms of the police-racism accusation somewhat since it seems that the police wanted to prosecute but were knocked back by the lawyers.

44

John Protevi 03.29.12 at 1:55 pm

Bexley at 41 is an excellent reply to understudy at 39.

45

Marvin 03.29.12 at 1:59 pm

First, we do not know how long Zimmerman sat at the scene before the police drove him to the station.
Second, the video proves nothing.
Third, the authorities should have taken this matter to the grand jury, immediately.

46

Katherine 03.29.12 at 2:00 pm

Ah, here it is:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/18/446768/what-everyone-should-know-about-about-trayvon-martin-1995-2012/

Point 12:

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.” From ABC News

47

kdog 03.29.12 at 2:02 pm

What’s with everybody trying to take their one or two (our 4? ouch!) instances of having a broken nose and trying to prove something about George Zimmerman? This being the internet age, couldn’t someone, say, look up the general symptoms? Oh, here ya go:

“It is usually obvious that there is an injury to the nose due to bruising, swelling, and bleeding from the nose.”

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/broken_nose/page2_em.htm

OTOH, if you want to stick to generalizing from a specific case, I believe I have the footage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9nSSrOp6ck&feature=fvsr

Now *that’s* what a broken nose looks like!

48

Torquil Macneil 03.29.12 at 2:05 pm

One of the police officers has a good long look at the back of his head early on in that video, so it seems that Zimmerman was complaining of an injury at that point. The officer doesn’t look all that convinced though.

49

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 2:15 pm

Katherine – cheers; yes, I got the nature of the intervention – that’s actually more pernicious than the black marker version, since standardly a statement would have to be tested in court in cross examination (‘hearsay’ is basically when it can’t) so (a) a doctored witness statement would be repudiated by the witness – and at that stage the cop might even get a disciplinary talking to or something! (b) correcting the witness at source is likely to (and in this case would naturally be interpreted as intended to) corrupt their memory of events, and thus all subsequent accounts they give, including their oral testimony in court.

My calling it ‘evidence tampering’ was based on those ideas. In fact, though this was not part of my point, witness testimony is the only thing that actually counts as ‘evidence’ strictly so-called. Objects, documents, etc are ‘exhibits’, and are supposed to be introduced into proceedings by way of witness testimony, most notably to establish provenance or chain of evidence. Which is related to the phenomenon whereby witnesses are asked to read out passages from documents even though everyone concerned has a copy.

50

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 2:16 pm

correcting -> ‘correcting’

51

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 2:20 pm

BTW ‘cheers’ just means ‘thanks’ here. I think this is probably not clear to most US readers.

52

understudy 03.29.12 at 2:32 pm

I’m glad we’re all so confident on assessing injuries and he said/other party didn’t say event from a couple seconds of videos and a few second hand statements. But continue on the rush-to-judge-jury-and-convict train I guess…

53

bob mcmanus 03.29.12 at 2:32 pm

Guilty, Guilty, GUILTY!!!

Liberals looking for blood.

“Why” might be interesting to somebody other than me.

54

understudy 03.29.12 at 2:34 pm

reports that a man who claims to have witnessed part of the fight between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman says he saw the 17-year-old student on top of the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, who was wearing a red sweater. “The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me, ‘Help, help,” said the man, who asked to be identified only as John, “and I told him to stop and I was calling 911….When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.” This account, which John reportedly shared with police, is consistent with the grass stains on Zimmerman’s shirt, his bloody nose, and the cut on the back of the head.

But I’m sure we know what really happened …

55

faustusnotes 03.29.12 at 2:35 pm

understudy, this guy is claiming to be a victim of a ground ‘n pound. Here are some examples of classic ground ‘n pounds. These guys shed a lot of blood and that’s when they’re hit with gloves. We’re not talking about internal damage here, it’s a very visible and nasty thing that Zimmerman claims was done to him by someone much, much smaller than he is. It’s prima facie unbelievable, but the idea that this happened to him but doesn’t show on that video is just ridiculous.

56

Katherine 03.29.12 at 2:41 pm

You had some good comments about broken noses and assualt victims. I’m curious, can you extend your analysis? How about rape/sexual assuault victims? How do they appear? If I see a student who tells me s/he’s been sexually assualted, but they don’t exhibit emotions and injuries that I believe would be consistent with a sexual assualt, should I call the police and tell them that s/he might be lying, but that they claim someone sexually assualted them?

Well, understudy, since you’ve opened that door (and seriously, you don’t see something a bit wrong with comparing victims of sexual assault to someone who just shot someone else?), anyone else notice how much the Martin-blaming resembles the well refined rape-victim blaming method? Vis:

– he was wearing a hoodie/she was wearing a short skirt – identification as someone asking to be attacked
– he was a drug user/she slept with other men – reputation imputation
– he hit me/she was flirting with me – fault redirection

It’s a tried and tested method. I hope it doesn’t succeed, but the history of victim-blaming is long and ugly.

57

Steve LaBonne 03.29.12 at 2:56 pm

Following up on rageahol’s comment @4, it seems that Zimmerman pére is a racist wingnut asshole. No big surprise there, I guess.

58

Manta1976 03.29.12 at 3:09 pm

bob & understudy:
what is, in your opinion, the correct reaction to a case when it is quite likely that the police did not investigate properly?

Because the question is not “is Zimmermann guilty”, but “did the police do a thorough investigation, and if not, is it because the innocence of Z. was so evident that no further investigation was necessary, or because they were covering for a crime”?

In order to answer the second question, one does not need to decide if Z. was guilty or not (for that I would prefer the jury to decide), but only if the explanation given by the police holds water: one can, _at the same time_, believe that the police should not have accepted Z’s story at face value, and reserve/defer his judgement about the question whether Z. should be condemned.

59

GBShaw 03.29.12 at 3:28 pm

@Katherine

“Well, understudy, since you’ve opened that door (and seriously, you don’t see something a bit wrong with comparing victims of sexual assault to someone who just shot someone else?), anyone else notice how much the Martin-blaming resembles the well refined rape-victim blaming method? “

This is the general premise of the self defense affirmative defense: the putative victim actually caused his or her own death.

60

Enda H 03.29.12 at 3:32 pm

Really, I think this shows just how divided the nation remains. Fifty years on from ‘I have a dream’, race is still a contentious issue. Observers noted national unity for a while after 9/11, and briefly over Jeremy Lin but — like a candle in the wind — no more. Americans need a cause to unite them. Something less transient than Jeremy Lin. Something permanent.

Like nuking Japan.

61

Barry Freed 03.29.12 at 3:34 pm

Japan has shown that it is quite capable of nuking itself thank you very much.

62

Manta1976 03.29.12 at 3:35 pm

Enda, thanks God that these moment of national unity are over: may I remind you that 2+ wars were the result of the national unity at 9/11?

63

kdog 03.29.12 at 3:35 pm

Manta,

People like Bob are not interested in cases; they are interested pulling the entire system/society off from its roots and starting over again from scratch. They are sure that such an approach is going to turn out peachy.

Go to a rally for civil/human/labor rights, or anti-war, or pretty much anything where the authorities are being question. Now look on the outskirts of the crowd, and find the guy handing out the socialist newspaper. Talk to him as long as you like, but eventually you will find yourself wanting to get back to the point of the rally.

64

Doctor Memory 03.29.12 at 3:40 pm

Manta: if you haven’t figured it out by now, Bob’s opinion of the correct reaction to this case is pretty much his preferred reaction (on the part of other people) to everything: raise the red flag!

As an aside, I wouldn’t mind Bob McM’s constant calls for Lets You And Him Fight if there were any actual evidence that the particular kind of massive bloodletting he wanted were actually going to improve things on this score. If only there we had some test cases of how despised ethnic minorities fared after socialist revolutions! If only we had “history”. Sadly, as we all know, history is bunk and glorious theory must substitute.

(His constant assertion that as a scruffy-looking old white rrrrrrrradical he is in just as much physical danger from the powers that be as any black man ever? Ho ho ho. Never change, Bob.)

65

Steve LaBonne 03.29.12 at 3:49 pm

Now look on the outskirts of the crowd, and find the guy handing out the socialist newspaper.

Bob actually reminds me more of the guy handing out the LaRouchie newspaper.

66

MarkUp 03.29.12 at 3:52 pm

Can we please get back to blaming Obama for the horrendous rise in gasoline prices! Or to paraphrase Annie ‘Got Her Gun’ Coulter yesterday, “All I want is the truth, Just gimme some truth, I’ve had enough of reading things.” Well sort of.

67

ajay 03.29.12 at 3:56 pm

Can we please get back to blaming Obama for the horrendous rise in gasoline prices!

He’s definitely partly to blame. That limo he drives around in gets terrible mileage.

Still, in his favour, he has a very green daily commute (go downstairs).

68

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 3:56 pm

understudy doesn’t supply a source for the “man who claims to have witnessed part of the fight” but evidently it’s this report from a Fox affiliate, last Friday:

http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/state/witness-martin-attacked-zimmerman-03232012

69

Meredith 03.29.12 at 3:58 pm

The outrages pile up.

And then I remember, cases/people should not be tried in the newspapers (as we used to say). For instance, I know I’ve been very influenced in my thinking by reports about the girlfriend’s phone conversation with TM. Then I realize, how do I know she even had a phone conversation with him, much less that she has reported one accurately? (Not that I’m at all inclined to doubt her — just an example of the kind of thing that news coverage thus far could possibly be misleading us about.) I also can’t imagine, having watched this video a number of times now, that the account Zimmerman first gave the police (as reported to us) could possibly be accurate. I’ve tried. For instance, maybe Z changed his bloody, grass-stained clothes and cleaned off his face before this video? (Seems very unlikely — just trying to imagine, for the sake of fairness to “the accused.”)

In other words, there are good reasons for investigative procedures, rules of evidence, cross-examination of witnesses, everything that goes into arrest, arraignment, indictment, pre-trial hearings, trial by jury (or a bench trial) — as opposed to investigation and trial by news media and public opinion. At the same time, it appears obvious that many proper investigative and probably prosecutorial procedures/guidelines were not observed from the earliest stages of this whole business, and that there would never have been any chance of a full and proper investigation, much less (potentially) a trial, were it not for the outrage produced by all this news coverage, however incomplete that coverage and even though it initially got (and will surely continue to get) at least a few facts wrong.

I remain curious about the reasons for the leaks that have come out of the Sanford PD (and also the prosecutor’s office?). Signs of inner turmoil. Turmoil over what?

70

Watson Ladd 03.29.12 at 4:01 pm

For everyone wondering about arrest vs. detention.
In the US we have Terry stops. Terry stops are well described in Wikipedia. Your rights do not start on being arrested: you can always refuse to talk to police, and should always refuse to do so, and can always refuse to consent to searches. Police are reluctant to arrest because they have to inform people that they have these rights when they do so. IANAL, but I can find things written on this to link to that were written by people who are lawyers.

71

Katya 03.29.12 at 4:16 pm

witness testimony is the only thing that actually counts as ‘evidence’ strictly so-called.

OT, but Nope.

72

Greg 03.29.12 at 4:20 pm

After conducting extensive and exhaustive research into this issue, I can confirm that on every episode of “Cops” I ever saw, the police routinely cuffed drivers on routine stop-and-searches: before interviewing them, before searching their vehicles, before having evidence that any crime has been committed, let alone before any arrest is made.

I have no idea what the legal basis is for this practice.

73

bob mcmanus 03.29.12 at 4:21 pm

Fifty years on from ‘I have a dream’, race is still a contentious issue.

That is because racism has become a territorialized site of performativity. For whites, mostly. A spectacle reproducing itself.

62.1: Bout right. I have little interest in showing (to myself, to comfort myself) that the system can really really work. It really really can’t. And somebody who shuns Revolution! on prudential or consequentialist grounds could read “Letter from Birmingham Jail” or…just forget it.

I had a little interest in the “left” recently identifying with prosecutors, but I guess it isn’t that new or simple.

74

Doctor Slack 03.29.12 at 4:21 pm

53: People like Bob are not interested in cases; they are interested pulling the entire system/society off from its roots and starting over again from scratch.

Actually I think it’s fairer to say that they are interested in talking like this is what they are interested in, because it sounds better and sexier than boring old liberalism. As far as I can tell, Bob’s most genuine enthusiasm is for Japanese cinema.

understudy is a poor excuse for a troll, I daresay. When an “eyewitness” conveniently appears out of nowhere to parrot — on Faux News no less — Zimmerman’s story weeks after the fact just as criticism heats up, such a figure is more useful as a gauge of those eager to be taken in than as a window on the actual case.

75

LFC 03.29.12 at 4:34 pm

Watson: “In the US we have Terry stops.”
(The reference is to Terry v. Ohio for those wondering)
We also have some police in some places (e.g., NYC) who claim to be making Terry stops but in fact have no reasonable suspicion of anything: see the column I linked @32.

76

christian_h 03.29.12 at 4:39 pm

Totally OT (feel free to delete, no trolling intended), but we are now seriously using Bob McManus who would not be allowed near any revolutionary socialist organization I know as a hook for liberal anti-communism? Sigh. So just to be clear: us real life commies don’t think that capitalist society and state should be allowed to get away with all kinds of shit because the only way to change anything is instant revolution. We don’t think racism or sexism aren’t real and the only thing that ever matters is class – in fact it’s usually us organising that anti-racist (or anti-war, immigrant rights etc.) demo on the fringes of which we supposedly sell papers. It would be good if Dr. Memory, for example, got her history from some better source than the “Black book of communism”.

Ok, back to the topic at hand. Understudy in 53. quotes: This account, which John reportedly shared with police, is consistent with the grass stains on Zimmerman’s shirt, his bloody nose, and the cut on the back of the head.

So where is the bloody nose, the grass stains, or the cut on the back of the head? You think you are countering Belle’s point, but end up making it.

77

Kevin Donoghue 03.29.12 at 4:47 pm

But Christian, understudy is citing last Friday’s story, Belle is citing yesterday’s. No fair!

78

Doctor Memory 03.29.12 at 4:49 pm

christian_h: nah, I take Bob as symptomatic of nothing but Bob. I have a different set of axes to grind with actual revolutionary communism as it (barely) exists in the real world, but sneering dipshits who use the hypothetical of revolution as an excuse for defending a position of actual total surrender to circumstance are clearly a plague of a very specific type. Carry on with your bad self.

79

Jim Harrison 03.29.12 at 4:53 pm

Trying cases in the newspapers (or comment threads) isn’t optimal, but the reason this case is getting tried in this way is precisely because it isn’t being tried in the courts and will never be tried in a court without loud and sustained public pressure.

80

ponce 03.29.12 at 5:01 pm

I think the important thing is what will a jury think while viewing this video?

Will it back up Zimmerman’s story or not?

81

Barry Freed 03.29.12 at 5:08 pm

Also the testimony of that cop who had a good long (and quizzical) look at the back of his head.

82

bexley 03.29.12 at 5:10 pm

@ 53

But I’m sure we know what really happened …

It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

83

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 5:20 pm

“witness testimony is the only thing that actually counts as ‘evidence’ strictly so-called.” OT, but Nope.

Hmm, not sure where that irrelevant factoid about supposed curious technicalities of usage in (English, it would be anyway) law came from. Missed out an ‘ISTR’, which I should not have done.

The substantive point remains, though – except that I should have mentioned that the hearsay rule has (regrettable but in some cases justifiable) exceptions too, so some evidence can get in without being introduced by testimony.

And closer to being on-topic, the substantial point was of course that witness testimony is evidence par excellence, and should be preserved with at least as much care as exhibits (and can just as well be destroyed of tampered with).

84

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 5:21 pm

of -> or

85

J. Otto Pohl 03.29.12 at 5:23 pm

Christian_h:

While the front piece of the Black Book of Communism by Courtois is a bit polemical, the main chapter on the USSR by Nicolas Werth is quite good as a scholarly piece. Granted that particular chapter does not do as good a job of dealing with the NEP era as one would have wished. But, overall Werth’s work on Stalinist repression is excellent. Unfortunately, a lot of it is in French and not translated. But, the stuff that I have seen translated into English and Russian has been very, very, very good. He has an excellent piece on the Chechens that should dispel any myths that actually existing revolutionary communist regimes have eliminated the problem of racial discrimination. The article is Nicolas Werth, “The ‘Chechen Problem’: Handling and Awkward Legacy, 1918-1958,” _Contemporary European History_ vol. 15, no. 3 (2006), pp. 347-366. It is available on JSTOR.

86

ajay 03.29.12 at 5:25 pm

75: yeah, not to set off Otto again, but scoffing at the idea that ethnic minorities suffer under Communist states is pretty sleazy, TBH.

87

Cian 03.29.12 at 5:29 pm

yeah, not to set off Otto again, but scoffing at the idea that ethnic minorities suffer under Communist states is pretty sleazy, TBH.

Ethnic minorities suffer FULL STOP. All forms of actually existing political systems are equal offenders.

88

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 5:29 pm

Yeah, christian_h, your statements 0f support for Stalin and the USSR are pretty sleazy, wherever they may be.

89

J. Otto Pohl 03.29.12 at 5:32 pm

Oops the title of Werth’s article is “The ‘Chechen Problem’: Handling an Awkward Legacy, 1918-1958” just in case the typo makes it difficult for anybody who wants to find the article.

90

ajay 03.29.12 at 5:33 pm

87: well, I don’t think he ever expressed support for Stalin or the USSR, to be honest, Tim, but he did scoff at the idea that ethnic minorities suffered after socialist revolutions.
You see, Dr Memory said “wouldn’t mind Bob McM’s constant calls for Lets You And Him Fight if there were any actual evidence that the particular kind of massive bloodletting he wanted were actually going to improve things on this score. If only there we had some test cases of how despised ethnic minorities fared after socialist revolutions!” which is pretty clearly implying that, in fact, despised ethnic minorities do tend to suffer after socialist revolutions.

And then christian said “It would be good if Dr. Memory, for example, got her history from some better source than the “Black book of communism” which is, I would say, scoffing.

I hope that’s helped, because you seemed a bit confused.

91

Chris Johnson 03.29.12 at 5:49 pm

Re: Broken noses

The usual rule in medicine is never say never, since all manner of odd things can happen. In my days of doing a lot of ER medicine I saw a lot of broken noses. Most at least had some obvious swelling and some bleeding out the nose. Black eyes are typical. But not always. Also, the swelling can take a while to develop, as in hours.

That being said, if he had a broken nose, short of obvious deformity, which he didn’t have, how could they know that? Did he have it x-rayed? That would be the only way to tell. We generally only x-ray facial bones if there are things like tenderness, swelling, bleeding, deformity. He didn’t appear to have any of those.

Shorter: I’d be very, very surprised to read that he had an x-ray-confirmed nasal or facial bone fracture.

92

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 6:00 pm

Bit of a leap if you ask me, but christian_h can do whatever explaining he wants to I suppose. Anyway I seem to be having a bad thread so I’m going to go down the beach instead of sitting here passing unuseful remarks.

93

Bloix 03.29.12 at 6:07 pm

You’ve broken your nose? It doesn’t show-
http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/

94

Billikin 03.29.12 at 6:14 pm

“witness testimony is evidence par excellence”

What??????!

95

christian_h 03.29.12 at 6:14 pm

I’ll be happy to discuss the record regarding ethnic minorities of both revolutionary Russia, and Russia after the Stalinist counter-revolution in a different thread. This one has a different topic.

96

Barry 03.29.12 at 7:14 pm

IIRC, J. Otto Pohl did research on that. But again, that’s for another thread.

97

Barry 03.29.12 at 7:17 pm

(sorry, referring to revolutions and ethnic minorities. When I hit post, there were a whole bunch of comments between the one I was replying to and my comment)

98

Barry 03.29.12 at 7:30 pm

Chris Johnson 03.29.12 at 5:49 pm
” That being said, if he had a broken nose, short of obvious deformity, which he didn’t have, how could they know that? Did he have it x-rayed? That would be the only way to tell. We generally only x-ray facial bones if there are things like tenderness, swelling, bleeding, deformity. He didn’t appear to have any of those.

Shorter: I’d be very, very surprised to read that he had an x-ray-confirmed nasal or facial bone fracture.”

And if Zimmerman was telling the truth, he’d want a bunch of skull x-rays and photos taken, to document any injuries he had suffered. If you’re going to plead self-defense, it really helps to have proof that you needed to defend yourself.

99

Ranjit Suresh 03.29.12 at 8:07 pm

Barry – Or maybe, as evidenced from the fact that he was sobbing at the scene when police arrived, and by friend’s testimony for days thereafter, he was more concerned over the fate of the young man who was now dead than he was of compiling a robust legal defense.

100

Doctor Slack 03.29.12 at 8:53 pm

That’s it! Zimmerman is guilty!

Of caring too much

The next round of pro-Zimmerman fabrications testimony will feature him crouched over the body howling “Why, dear God! Why do you always take the good ones so young!” at the heavens. Why, if only the young man hadn’t been unwise enough to be black suspicious-looking and over the age of twelve dressed in a hoodie possibly wearing a “grill” the kind of Young Person who may enjoy a little Wacky Tobacky now and then a Super MMA Badass WITH TATTOOZ!!, then the compassion bursting from poor Zimmerman’s ventricles might just have persuaded him not to chase, confront and shoot the guy.

101

js. 03.29.12 at 8:57 pm

Also, Zimmerman didn’t say, “fuckin’ coon”; he said “fuckin’ boon!” As in, “What a fucking boon to society kids like Trayvon Martin are!” But then TM sneered at him. Or something.

102

Barry 03.29.12 at 9:39 pm

Ranjit Suresh 03.29.12 at 8:07 pm

” Barry – Or maybe, as evidenced from the fact that he was sobbing at the scene when police arrived, and by friend’s testimony for days thereafter, he was more concerned over the fate of the young man who was now dead than he was of compiling a robust legal defense.”

‘Fact’?

103

Tim Wilkinson 03.29.12 at 9:49 pm

Just to add to Katherine’s #46 some other items from her link:

21. The police reports were amended to bolster Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. “Initial police reports never mentioned that Zimmerman had a bloody nose or a wet shirt that showed evidence of a struggle.” [Miami Herald]

22. Police ignored witness whose account was different from Zimmerman’s.“One of the witnesses who heard the crying said she called a detective repeatedly, but said he was not interested because her account differed from Zimmerman’s.” [Miami Herald]

27. The lead investigator in Trayvon Martin shooting wanted manslaughter charge against Zimmerman. The lead investigator, Chris Serino, “stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman’s version of events.” His recommendation for a manslaughter charge was overruled by state attorney Norman Wolfinger, who subsequently removed himself from the case. [ABC News]

A couple of the sources make interesting reading in full, too:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/21/v-print/2706876/sanford-commission-votes-no-confidence.html

http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborhood-watch-shooting-trayvon-martin-probe-reveals-questionable/story?id=15907136&singlePage=true

—-

Billikin @93: “What??????!”
What?

104

John Emerson 03.29.12 at 9:50 pm

No matter how much you beg, I’m not coming back, Belle. Except under my seekrit name.

105

Dr. Hilarius 03.29.12 at 9:55 pm

Watson Ladd @69 is correct. To expand on Terry stops, the standard is “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is being committed. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause.

A lawful arrest requires probable cause. So you can be detained for investigation on reasonable suspicion and you can be handcuffed during that detention if the officer has concerns about officer safety or destruction of evidence. And all of this is distinct from being actually charged with a crime.

Fourth Amendment law is murky stuff. The war on drugs pushed courts into ever more exceptions to the warrant requirement with vague standards such as”totality of circumstances” or “exigent circumstances.” Recently there has been some pushback from the US Supreme Court, see Arizona v. Gant. Just to make things even more complex, some states have adopted stricter standards than required under the federal constitution, basing their standards on state constitutional law. Keeps lawyers in business.

The advice to shut up and ask for a lawyer is correct. (“But then I’ll look guilty.” Better to look guilty than be convicted as guilty).

106

Mark Field 03.29.12 at 9:57 pm

@41:

Actually, the dialogue went like this:

“Buffy: No. But he had my diary, and I-I tried to take it back, a-and
that’s when he hit me.

Det. Stein: Where?

Buffy raises her hand to indicate her right cheek. Detective Stein leans
over to have a look.

Det. Stein: Well, it doesn’t look like he hit you very hard.

Buffy: I don’t bruise easily.”

107

logern 03.29.12 at 10:22 pm

Many of the metropolitan areas I’ve lived in had more unstable people probably than criminals. Had I made it my business, as a stranger to confront and challenge them for being suspicious, while I carried a weapon, I imagine there would be a shooting sooner or later.

Well, just following someone (who doesn’t know you from Jack or Jill) is going make even a reasonable person nervous.
,
I thought neighborhood watch was suppose to be once removed from apathetic, to maybe noting strange things at your neighbor’s house that you call the police about. Not become roaming Joe security guard for the neighborhood.

Zimmerman appeared to be looking for trouble. And he found it all right.

108

John Quiggin 03.29.12 at 10:25 pm

I don’t know what went wrong with comments above, but I fixed them, and will now delete meta-discussion

109

logern 03.29.12 at 10:57 pm

Dr. Hilarius -The advice to shut up and ask for a lawyer is correct. (“But then I’ll look guilty.” Better to look guilty than be convicted as guilty).

Senator Larry (wide stance) Craig thought he was smart enough to talk to the police without a lawyer. A fact that he should regret.

110

chris 03.29.12 at 11:19 pm

@Tim Wilkinson 103: That’s pretty definite evidence that the police didn’t want to find a crime, and went to considerable lengths to make sure they didn’t find one.

Also, Billikin may possibly be referring to one of the many studies on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony (even without anyone deliberately lying or trying to rewrite someone else’s memory), which *ought* to make it far less trusted than, e.g., bloodstains, but in general it still isn’t.

111

Barry 03.29.12 at 11:23 pm

Some blogger had commented that it’ll get really interesting when the Sanford PD realizes that it’s in their best intersest to ‘throw Zimmerman in front of the truck and then run him over thirty or forty times’.

His judge father probably pulled some strings, but will the police officers involved allow themselves to be sacrificed?

112

zrichellez 03.29.12 at 11:37 pm

Jesus also wore a hoodie.
Some tell Geraldo and the rest of the racists.

113

Tedra Osell 03.30.12 at 12:02 am

Aside from the lack of blood on the man’s shirt, I was struck, seeing that video, by realizing that Zimmerman is not the big hulk I’d imagined from the “250 lbs” reports. He actually seems like kind of a small guy. I hypothesize massive small man syndrome and overcompensating with a gun, if only to antagonize Emerson.

114

Tim Wilkinson 03.30.12 at 12:15 am

chris – When and if Billikin decides to actually state his or her objection I will address it, but your attempt at reconstructing one sounds plausible I suppose.

If that were it, I’d point out that at that point I (pretty clearly I’d have thought) wasn’t discussing reliability of eyewitness testimony (though the main point was in fact to point out how easily perturbed it is), but rather its central, pervasive and quasi-foundational role in the process of ‘asserting’ evidence. E.g. introducing evidence relating to bloodstains will generally involve witnesses testifying to the integrity of the chain of custody, the lack of tampering, and either tests made, results found, etc., or if for some reason a foundation for admitting hearsay documents is sought (maybe the pathologist has died or something), the authenticity of records or reliability of record-keeping procedures etc. etc. In the end, an actual bloodstained object becomes little more than a prop. Of course props are of great importance given the theatrical aspect of jury trial; just not as evidence.

115

SC 03.30.12 at 12:16 am

…seems like kind of a small guy…

I was thinking along those lines but on second viewing I’m more inclined to think “Whoa, they grow big cops in Florida.”

116

Andrew F. 03.30.12 at 12:39 am

Well, as I said in the other thread, I suspect we will eventually learn that the facts would support a charge of manslaughter.

However, this video doesn’t provide it by itself.

Belle, there are multiple explanations for why he doesn’t appear properly agonized to you. Perhaps he’s simply good at hiding it. Perhaps he’s in shock. Perhaps he thinks what he did was justified and feels no agony at all, at that point. Perhaps he’s a psychopath. Who knows? Nowhere close to enough facts to tell.

As to injuries, I couldn’t make a determination from the video – there will obviously be close photographs of the injuries he claimed to have. At that point, we can make a real judgment.

As to the cuffs, the police may restrain anyone when they reasonably deem it appropriate to their safety. Transporting a guy who just committed honicide? That qualifies. And ajay is absolutely correct that an arrest in the US must pass a higher bar than in many other countries – US law is more protective, not less, of civil liberties in this respect.

117

faustusnotes 03.30.12 at 1:51 am

Andrew F., if you can be transported, hand-cuffed, to the station without being arrested, your law is not being “more protective” of civil liberties.

118

JP Stormcrow 03.30.12 at 5:00 am

Meredith@69: Then I realize, how do I know she even had a phone conversation with him

From the ABC write-up, so to the extent they have it right we know that one (I understand you were just using it illustratively):

Phone records obtained by ABC News show that the girl called Martin at 7:12 p.m., five minutes before police arrived, and remained on the phone with Martin until moments before he was shot.

And is it really true that we will only have the funeral home operator’s observation of the conditions of Trayvon’s knuckles and hands (he says unmarked), or is that something the police made observations of and are holding close to the vest?

119

Meredith 03.30.12 at 5:53 am

JPStormcrow, yes, I was merely using the phone call as an illustration of my initial (days ago now), typically human inclination (I believe it’s pretty typical) just to accept as true and accurate whatever in the things I was reading or hearing was in line with my own predispositions — in this case, the predisposition to rally to Trayvon’s side. I don’t apologize for that predisposition, but I don’t apologize, either, for suggesting that we all must be very careful here, in the interests of justice (may I use such lofty language?). We seem to have a serious investigation underway. Now it’s time for a little patience (along with continued vigilance).

Maybe it’s because my daughter is in the process of becoming a defense attorney (defending with passion mostly poor black or brown males — and the occasional OWSer). Or maybe she’s doing what she’s doing in part because she’s my daughter?

So much evidence now compromised. (In the best of circumstances, it can be very difficult to sort out “what really happened,” of course.) So that now, for instance, instead of relying on the thorough work of a forensic pathologist, investigators and lawyers and jurors will have to rely on the evidence of a funeral home operator — not necessarily a bad source, of course, but one whose testimony will be subject (one can imagine) to all kinds of challenge, fair or unfair, and who probably cannot usefully testify to things like angle of entry, which would be important, I should think, in evaluating Zimmerman’s account.

120

Meredith 03.30.12 at 6:05 am

Or maybe police will also testify about Trayvon’s knuckles and hands? You know, the focus is so much on how Z was dealt with; how did the police and others deal with Trayvon’s body?
Okay, I’ll let the investigators do their work. I really do have to discipline myself to patience.

121

faustusnotes 03.30.12 at 6:15 am

As I understand it Meredith, they did nothing to investigate Trayvon’s body. Why would they? They’d already decided not to charge the person who killed him, so there was no need to investigate anything. THey didn’t even try to find his family.

122

Katherine 03.30.12 at 8:13 am

the predisposition to rally to Trayvon’s side

That, if I may say, was bit further on from the initial outcry, which was at least as much “why the flying f*ck didn’t the Sanford Police Department investigate? Look at the all the questionable and incompetent things they did” as “an armed white man killed an unarmed black teenager (dare I say, child)”.

The waters have been more than a bit muddied since then into trial by public opinion, which as you say, we should be all a bit more careful of. It’s quite difficult though when certain elements have decided to join in the muddying by shitting all over the dead black kid.

123

ajay 03.30.12 at 8:38 am

As I understand it Meredith, they did nothing to investigate Trayvon’s body.

That’s one of the most startling things about this whole business. I would have thought it a truth universally acknowledged that a police department in possession of a dead body must be in want of (at least) an identification. But they just sort of let the body sit around for three days before thinking “we should probably try to find out who that is I suppose”.

124

faustusnotes 03.30.12 at 8:45 am

ajay, you sound like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

I would have thought it a truth universally acknowledged that a police department in possession of a dead body must be in want of (at least) an identification

Maybe the Sanford PD could use your help!

125

ajay 03.30.12 at 8:49 am

Wrong end of the 19th century, faustus… try Jane.

126

faustusnotes 03.30.12 at 8:59 am

Oh I see, it’s a paraphrase. The dead body thing through me, I thought you’d just invented the sentence from whole cloth!

127

Katherine 03.30.12 at 9:30 am

I thought it was rather amusing ajay, as an Austen fan.

128

Keir 03.30.12 at 9:35 am

A lawful arrest requires probable cause. So you can be detained for investigation on reasonable suspicion and you can be handcuffed during that detention if the officer has concerns about officer safety or destruction of evidence. And all of this is distinct from being actually charged with a crime.

See in the sane world, detention without arrest goes by the rather more harsh names of false imprisonment and assault.

129

JP Stormcrow 03.30.12 at 11:26 am

Not wishing to excuse any of the multiple screw-ups by police and prosecutors on this, but at some level I think the whole thing has gone down not that far from the spirit of a law about which the Florida Legislature noted:

“The Legislature finds that it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others”.

Because the difference between law-abiding people and intruders and attackers is so plainly evident.

130

J. Otto Pohl 03.30.12 at 11:46 am

I don’t want to hijack the thread so this will be my last statement on this topic. But, I am quite sure that CT will never have a thread on Stalinist treatment of ethnic minorities. It is just not a topic that interests the people who write the posts here. The orthodox position in American academia is that there was never any action by the Stalinist regime that could be described as racial discrimination. Largely because people like Francine Hirsch claim that official ethnicity (natsionalnost) never had any racial components in the Soviet historical context of the 1930s and 40s. But, I have an open thread on the topic at my blog. I am quite sure that I will get exactly zero comments.

131

chris 03.30.12 at 12:02 pm

As to injuries, I couldn’t make a determination from the video – there will obviously be close photographs of the injuries he claimed to have.

I predict that there won’t. If the police told witnesses to change their stories to corroborate Zimmerman, they won’t likely have recorded any evidence that would tend to inculpate him, like his lack of injuries, or Martin’s lack of injuries other than the gunshot wound. Because if there was evidence that the shot was unprovoked, then they’d have to do something.

If Zimmerman had had injuries, there would have been photographs of them and we would have seen them by now. The reason we haven’t is that the police declined to photograph his absence of injuries because it would have interfered with their plan to not arrest Zimmerman.

Because the difference between law-abiding people and intruders and attackers is so plainly evident.

The police can tell just by looking — can’t you?

132

ajay 03.30.12 at 1:38 pm

“The Legislature finds that it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others”.

This isn’t actually a particularly morally questionable position to take. The common position on use of force – in lots of legal systems and rules of engagement – is that it’s a last resort, and should be used only to protect yourself or others from an immediate danger of physical harm. I can’t really see a way of improving on that, to be honest.

133

faustusnotes 03.30.12 at 1:44 pm

following up on JP stormcrow, if it’s cool for Zimmerman to kill this guy because he was attacked; surely it’s cool for Martin to attack Zimmerman for following him? Where does this “stand your ground” self defense business end?

134

Katherine 03.30.12 at 1:49 pm

I was thinking just that faustusnotes – if everyone can defend themselves against what they perceive to be a threat (subjectively judged) by actively attacking the other person, then two people could be happily beating the crap out of each other with no legal recourse either way. Basically, the one left standing is the winner in all ways. Might is right.

135

Manta1976 03.30.12 at 2:05 pm

faustus and Katherine: that is *exactly* what the law does, and how it has been interpreted: if there is, say, a gunfight between 2 gangsters, they can both claim to act in self defence, and the winner get free.

“Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights,“ Tallahassee state’s attorney Willie Meggs told the Tampa Bay Times.

136

JanieM 03.30.12 at 2:11 pm

But they just sort of let the body sit around for three days before thinking “we should probably try to find out who that is I suppose”.

On the other thread, I posted a link to Tracy Martin (Trayvon’s dad) saying that he found out his son was dead early the next morning. It’s in the second of the three clips here:

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/17/10732812-family-911-calls-show-shooting-of-black-teen-was-not-self-defense

I looked for a long time one day (after I repeated the 3 days thing and my daughter said she had seen this clip), and found no source for the “sat for three days” thing whatsoever, just repetitions on blogs.

If ajay, or anyone, has a link to show that Trayvon’s body did indeed sit around for three days before being identified, I’d like to see it. Otherwise, this turns out to be just another of a lengthening list of things people keep repeating that seem to be made up out of whole cloth, or exaggerated from some kernel of fact, but in any case just passed around uncritically from one blog to another. I’m with Meredith; it’s upsetting. I know I’ve done it myself over the years, but I think/hope this case will cure me of it in a big way. It’s bad bad bad enough without the embroidery.

137

ajay 03.30.12 at 2:25 pm

JanieM: ABC News reported it – or rather reported the family saying it.

Link:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/police-chief-trayvon-martin-case-resigns-temporarily-amid/story?id=15977847#.T3XBudlAVbz

Quote:
“The Martin family also criticized the Sanford police department for failing to identify their son more quickly. Martin’s body was left in the morgue for three days, classified as a “John Doe.” The family charges that officers didn’t bother to ask neighbors if they recognized Martin, who had been staying with his father in the neighborhood. “

Which I found in ten seconds of googling for “Trayvon Martin three days”, as the first result on the first page. Not sure how long you looked.

It now seems there’s doubt over whether this report was true: I wasn’t aware of that.

138

JanieM 03.30.12 at 2:33 pm

ajay, I looked for quite a while, about a week ago, but I think I used more words (like “morgue”) so maybe that murked up the search, I don’t know.

I don’t want to quibble it to death, but your quote does a curious thing between the first and second sentences. It specifically attributes the Martin family in the first sentence, without saying anything about three days. Then, in the second sentence, the “three days” is an unattributed assertion. And now that I look at it again, it doesn’t say when the officers didn’t bother to ask neighbors etc. That could mean the night of the murder, if the writer of the article is determined to distort and sensationalize as much as possible.

Regardless of that, since we’ll never know if it was a deliberate hedge or not, it doesn’t match up very well with Trayvon’s dad saying explicitly, on that other clip, that he learned his son was dead early the next morning.

139

Donald Johnson 03.30.12 at 2:36 pm

link to Bob Somerby’s blog

If you click on the link, you’ll read Somerby venting a bit about the incompetence/idiocy of the media (the standard spiel of this center-left blogger, one I agree with) and then he points out that at 2:45 in the video that he links to, you can see closeups of Zimmerman’s head and there does appear to be an egg-sized lump there with signs of blood. Knowing that it’s there I could just barely see or imagine I could see it in the more distant shots.

140

JW Mason 03.30.12 at 2:57 pm

they did nothing to investigate Trayvon’s body.

Didn’t they test it for drugs? (Not Zimmerman, tho.)

141

ajay 03.30.12 at 2:59 pm

it doesn’t match up very well with Trayvon’s dad saying explicitly, on that other clip, that he learned his son was dead early the next morning.

This is true. As I say, it now looks as though the ABC report was wrong.

142

Billikin 03.30.12 at 4:06 pm

Tom Wilkinson: “I’d point out that at that point I (pretty clearly I’d have thought) wasn’t discussing reliability of eyewitness testimony (though the main point was in fact to point out how easily perturbed it is), but rather its central, pervasive and quasi-foundational role in the process of ‘asserting’ evidence.”

“Evidence par excellence” does not convey that to me. To be sure, testimony is central, but that does not mean that it is not faute de mieux. Human perception and memory are constructed and reconstructed, fallible, and subject to suggestion. In addition, testimony is filtered and interpreted both before and after it is uttered. As evidence, testimony is second hand and potentially second rate.

143

Meredith 03.30.12 at 5:06 pm

After writing my comments @119 and 120 last night, I realized that I’d fallen into exactly the kind of uninformed speculation I claimed to be trying to avoid. So, today I bothered to do a little googling and learned that an autopsy was indeed performed by the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s office; the results remain unavailable to the public until the conclusion of the investigation. See, for instance:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-trayvon-martin-autopsy-20120326,0,5032520.story

144

MarkUp 03.30.12 at 8:19 pm

Any chance there’s a bit of stumbling over “notified” and “identified?” Just parsing time…

145

Phil 03.30.12 at 8:27 pm

I not particularly keen on seeming to take Zimmerman’s side here, but I have “broken my nose” (ie dislocated the cartilage) during a martial arts session in the past with no blood & little or no pain or much else in the way of side effects. A perfectly placed tangential blow knocked it out of place: after a little pulling and prodding it was back in again a few minutes later.

I think colloquially “a broken nose” covers a fairly wide range of possible injuries, from the serious (concussion, blood everywhere) to the very mild as mine was. I’d find it hard to argue that the minor end of that spectrum was strong evidence of ones life being on the line though.

146

understudy 03.30.12 at 9:22 pm

“faustus and Katherine: that is exactly what the law does, and how it has been interpreted: if there is, say, a gunfight between 2 gangsters, they can both claim to act in self defence, and the winner get free. “Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights,“ Tallahassee state’s attorney Willie Meggs told the Tampa Bay Times.

Actually that isn’t quite true – gangsters have gang fights all the time and no one gets charged, because there are no witnesses, and when someone gets to trial, whatever witnesses there were don’t show up, and if witnesses do show up their testimony changes, and getting convictions is difficult in many US jurisdictions. That has been the case long before “stand your ground”.

88 black/hispanic males dead in Philadelphia so far this year, and less than 50% have an arrest for their murderers, but we don’t need to analyze much to understand why there aren’t protests about that:
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120330_At_vigil__Nutter_cites_city_violence_against_African_Americans.html?cmpid=138882544

147

Manta1976 03.30.12 at 11:41 pm

understudy, thanks to the Florida law, people involved in gang shootings got free even when the basic facts were not disputed:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/24/2710297/stand-your-ground-law-had-a-sad.html

148

Sebastian H 03.31.12 at 12:16 am

The law gets misapplied by juries, and hell by judges, every single day. That doesn’t mean, “the law says” the stand your ground is a free for all. In actual fact, Florida does have a duty to retreat law, specifically anyone who …”initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself” is excluded from the stand your ground statute. Fla. Stats. 776.041. Which excludes about half the silly things people say about the Florida law.

149

snuh 03.31.12 at 12:48 am

The law gets misapplied by juries, and hell by judges, every single day. That doesn’t mean, “the law says” the stand your ground is a free for all.

erm, sebastian, if judges are interpreting a law in a particular way, then that is what the law says, period. you can say all you like to the court that in your humble submission, your honour is wrongly applying the law, but his honour will just pat you on the head and rule in accordance with precedent, because that’s how the english and american legal systems have always worked. if the feeling among the law’s proponents is that the law is being misinterpreted by judges, then you would expect that those proponents who are in the legislature will try to change the law. which, i note, they’re not doing.

150

Andrew F. 03.31.12 at 12:50 am

Chris @131: as far as I know, we don’t have the police report. It’s unthinkable, almost, to me that the investigating detective would not have photopgraphs taken of Zimmerman’s claimed injuries. Those photographs may well confirm that Zimmerman is being deceptive, but we need to see them. That one eyewitness says a police officer told her that the voice she heard crying for help was Zimmerman’s doesn’t mean much – more likely a cop being chatty than evidence of a massive conspiracy to shield Zimmerman.

I’m unsure as to why anyone thinks, at this point, that no investigation was conducted. The big questions, for me, are (1) what actually are the facts as collected by the police, and (2) did the prosecutor make a reasonable decision in declining to prosecute.

For Martin’s family, I understand not waiting for more facts to emerge. But for the rest of us, I have to admit that the rush – the eagerness even – to judgment further confirms my faith in the importance of process.

151

ChrisTS 03.31.12 at 1:22 am

I’m too lazy to go through all the comments, but here is a link about the funeral director’s statemnt that there were o signs of a fight on Trayvor Martin’s body:

http://m.cbsnews.com/storysynopsis.rbml?catid=57406725&feed_id=0&videofeed=36

152

Manta1976 03.31.12 at 2:05 am

Sebastian, will you please stop commenting about an imaginary law (a law that does not condone shooting of unarmed people; a law that prescribes that legitimate defence is invoked at the trial, after the facts have been established), and either discuss the actual law enacted in Florida, or drop the discussion?

153

MarkUp 03.31.12 at 3:05 am

@152 – Even the co-sponsor of the [Fla] law Rep. Dennis Baxley has a hard time discussing the beast in a manner that actually shows, in this case in particular and perhaps others, that it doesn’t in fact condone it which IMHO is precisely why so many came out so quick to say it did not apply, in this case.

154

John Protevi 03.31.12 at 12:52 pm

But for the rest of us, I have to admit that the rush – the eagerness even – to judgment further confirms my faith in the importance of process.

Thanks for this note of wisdom, Andrew, as all the CT commenters were under the collective delusion that this was a court of law able to pass judgment and not a blog thread dedicated to discussing a post criticizing the shoddy way the “process” has been handled so far.

155

Uncle Kvetch 03.31.12 at 2:14 pm

Trust the authorities. They know what’s best for us.

156

Sebastian H 03.31.12 at 3:38 pm

Manta. I quoted the actual law. See that little reference at the end? That is the Florida code section. So maybe you should try to discuss the actual law instead of some imaginary boogeyman law. Thanks.

157

TGGP 03.31.12 at 3:42 pm

I had my nose broken (well, fractured) from a punch not too long ago. There was blood, which quickly alerted everyone else to the fact that something was off (I was drunkenly oblivious), but I wouldn’t describe it as gushing out. Also not much bruising. There was a pretty loud snap when I had it pulled back in place though. About a week later I saw a doctor who said it seemed to be healing alright without any more work and I should just avoid contact sports and whatnot. Then a couple days after that someone simply bumped in to me walking by while I’m sitting down, producing a strange sound to my ears, and then he’s surprised to see my clutching my face in a grimace. Nothing bad seems to have come of it, but I was briefly concerned it had ruined all the healing of the previous days.

158

Sebastian H 03.31.12 at 3:57 pm

Snug, the law as applied by trial court judges isn’t precedential. When they make mistakes, except in the very few cases where an appeal is taken, it creates no precedent in the sense you are using the term. Juries and judges misapply the law all the time. Finding anecdotes reported in the newspaper where that has happened is not the same as saying “what the law says”. The federal law of self defense for murder has been virtually identical to the Florida law since at least 1895. The problem isn’t with the law in this case. The problem is with the racist cops who didn’t want to investigate a homicide with a black man as the victim and a white man as the killer. Isn’t that actually a big problem than a self defense law that is already held by a majority of the states and the federal government?

159

Andrew F. 03.31.12 at 3:59 pm

John Protevi, we don’t yet know what process was followed. That’s the point. As to the rush to judgment, the eager conclusions of many in this thread that the police failed to investigate, that the police are racist, that Zimmerman is certainly guilty of murder, etc., are clearly what my comment criticizes; I’m not likening opinions in a comment thread to judgment by a court.

As to the “stand your ground” law, there is a front-page article in the Wall St. Journal noting the rise of self-defense justifications in homicide cases. Worth reading.

160

Manta1976 03.31.12 at 6:44 pm

Sebastian, Snug already summed up the problem with your approach: your opinion (an mine too) about what the law says and what does not say is irrelevant: what counts is how judges interpret it. And the judges say that under that law you can shoot an unarmed person if you think he is a threat to you.

Thus, since your interpretation is very different from the one of the judges, what you are defending is not the Florida law, but an imaginary one.

161

Manta1976 03.31.12 at 7:01 pm

Andrew, see also http://prospect.org/article/thats-specious-reasoning-representative by Scott Lemieux, on how the law “reduced” the rate of crimes in Florida.

162

johnsturgeon 03.31.12 at 8:39 pm

Another really striking feature is the eagerness with which George Zimmerman’s father is trying the case in the media — something frowned upon by legal experts. I guess if you’re not a lawyer and have a client in desperate need of PR, you can do wanton damage to your case without being held to account. And, GZFather seems to be screwing it up royally, without any consequence or debate. You can understand the intent.

He’s been way out in front of the news cycle, transmitting justifications and pleas for sympathy. If any public relations experts had been paying attention, I suspect we’d hear a heavy critique of GZtheElder’s heavy-handed method. Actively shaping the narrative, sure, you want to make the public discussion about what serves your best interest. It shows little integrity, though, and it’s been wholly overlooked. Acting in such a calculated manner is really telling, and botches fundamental elements of functional public relations.

No one’s called him on the off-point info, the refusal to take responsibility, the lack of perspective or concern for the Martin family, or the tone-deaf lines (‘but he’s not white he’s Hispanic’, ‘he has black friends’); nor especially has anyone noted the degree to which GZFather’s commentary doesn’t jibe with objective facts in-hand, their entirely self-serving nature or misplaced focus on George’s plight. The dubiousness of the what he’s said seems to be matched by the displays of dubious judgment required to relentlessly push GZtheYounger’s case in the media.

GZtheElder’s refusal to speak on camera goes to that same lack of integrity in my view. You make statements in the media, in a case like this, you show your face on camera to back up your words. It’s a little piece of kabuki theater, premised on the perverse notion that GZtheYounger is the victim here. Has he had death threats? Yeah*, so what? It hardly entitles the Zimmermans to don the mantle of victimhood. Quite the opposite: responsibly addressing this, civilly and in the civic space, requires facing up up to the situation and to any threats on camera, where putting a face up will function to back up your story. So far, it’s all pretense. None of it instills any trust. Leaving aside GZtheFather’s inherent bias, we have no reason to believe his Son told him the truth and every reason not to. And it needs to be said that the news media actively cooperated in that charade, airing a sensational and one-sided storyline bearing little relation to hard data, without requiring an on-camera appearance.

Color me a stickler for getting the details right, but no one’s touched on this and it stinks.

*accepting this as true for the sake of argument

163

James B. Shearer 03.31.12 at 10:29 pm

98

… If you’re going to plead self-defense, it really helps to have proof that you needed to defend yourself.

In Florida not so much because the state has to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that it wasn’t self-defense. You don’t have to prove anything.

164

MarkUp 03.31.12 at 11:12 pm

@163 “You don’t have to prove anything.”

Except perhaps that, along the lines of 162’s, “piece of kabuki theater, premised on the…,” that there is a Simi Valley [sans Savior] in the Gator State.

165

Tim Wilkinson 03.31.12 at 11:54 pm

Billikin – well at the risk of labouring an off-topic point, I do think it was pretty clear that I was not trying to claim that human memory is the most imperturbable of information storage devices.

In the (common law) forensic context, cross-examined testimony is pre-eminent and hearsay – i.e. everything else – is ‘second hand’ and admissible only faute de mieux. That is the situation in positive law (which was the main point – what counts as ‘tampering with evidence’ by an officer of the penal system does so relative to what counts as evidence in that system).

But normatively speaking there are good reasons for the pre-eminence of testimony. If the jury could be transported (un-Heisenbergishly) to the point in space time at which it is alleged that an exhibit encoded what it is said to bear the traces of, then that would be better than relying on what by this standard could be called ‘second-hand’ accounts – but would also render the exhibit irrelevant. I’ve given the general outline of a concrete example: bloodstains.

The thing is that evidence before a court has an assertoric function, and exhibits do not in fact speak for themselves. In an adversarial system, they are presented as evidence of something (a case is a totality of alleged facts, not of things), and in order to get from brute, mute present phenomenon to assertion about past events, or someone has to make an assertion (and to be present so that their assertion may be challenged). Actually, I think I’m just trying to be cute and exercising some philosophical tissue with that last bit

But in any czse (this not esp. to B’kin) the practice of destoying, altering or neglecting duties to generate evidence is far too easily tolerated or disregarded when carried out by what are best described as authority figures. (Contra omnia contra spol. pron. Om’ knee acont’ ras-pole’, dum diddy dum de dum)

166

Sebastian H 04.01.12 at 2:32 am

No, manta, the judges say that you can shoot in self defense if you REASONABLY believe that you are in danger of serious bodily harm or death, and that you were not the aggressor in the confrontation. Both of those point against Zimmerman in this case. The best evidence at this point suggests that Zimmerman was the aggressor and that he was not in reasonable fear of death or serious injury. So it turns out that I’m the one talking about the actual law.

167

John Protevi 04.01.12 at 3:31 am

Andrew @159: the eager conclusions of many in this thread that the police failed to investigate, that the police are racist, that Zimmerman is certainly guilty of murder

“Many”? It’s generally not a good idea to make exaggerated claims about the very thread you’re in. SebastianH at 158 is the only person to say the police were racist, and Janie at 138 is the only person to use the term “murder” in connection with Zimmerman. I’ll grant that a lot of people here have expressed doubts about the investigation.

168

JanieM 04.01.12 at 4:22 am

Janie at 138 is the only person to use the term “murder” in connection with Zimmerman.

That was carelessness on my part. If comments were editable I would change it to “killing.”

169

snuh 04.01.12 at 5:16 am

Snug, the law as applied by trial court judges isn’t precedential. When they make mistakes, except in the very few cases where an appeal is taken, it creates no precedent in the sense you are using the term. Juries and judges misapply the law all the time…The federal law of self defense for murder has been virtually identical to the Florida law since at least 1895. The problem isn’t with the law in this case.

three things, sebastian:

(1) actually the law as applied by trial courts is precedential. specifically, it’s “persuasive precedent.” look it up, it’s a thing.

(2) your position is that this law is so obviously being wrongly applied that all you need to do is quote the statute to demonstrate this. whilst it is true that “very few cases” are appealed, that is most decidedly not the case where judges make errors that egregious, particularly where the appellant would be the state/prosecution (not notably short of funds to run appeals, and also with a strong incentive to ensure mistakes that are against interest are corrected for the benefit of the state’s future litigation).

(3) you’ve never (in this or the other thread) dealt with the “immunity” provisions in the florida law. these provisions have actually been considered at an appellate level; this is what the florida supreme court says they mean:

“the plain language of section 776.032 grants defendants a substantive right to assert immunity from prosecution and to avoid being subjected to a trial…”

While Florida law has long recognized that a defendant may argue as an affirmative defense at trial that his or her use of force was legally justified, section 776.032 contemplates that a defendant who establishes entitlement to the statutory immunity will not be subjected to trial.   Section 776.032(1) expressly grants defendants a substantive right to not be arrested, detained, charged, or prosecuted as a result of the use of legally justified force.   The statute does not merely provide that a defendant cannot be convicted as a result of legally justified force…

We also reject the State’s contention that the pretrial hearing on immunity in a criminal case should test merely whether the State has probable cause to believe the defendant’s use of force was not legally justified.   Prior to the enactment of chapter 2005-27, Laws of Florida (2005), Florida law defined certain types of justified force, see §§ 776.12, 776.031, Fla. Stat. (2004), and the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure mandated that a trial judge make a pretrial nonadversarial probable cause determination either before or shortly after a defendant was taken into custody, see Fla. R.Crim. P. 3.133 (2004).  “It is a basic rule of statutory construction that ‘the Legislature does not intend to enact useless provisions, and courts should avoid readings that would render part of a statute meaningless.’ ”  Martinez v. State, 981 So.2d 449, 452 (Fla.2008) (quoting State v. Bodden, 877 So.2d 680, 686 (Fla.2004)).   Accordingly, the grant of immunity from “criminal prosecution” in section 776.032 must be interpreted in a manner that provides the defendant with more protection from prosecution for a justified use of force than the probable cause determination previously provided to the defendant by rule.

good luck demonstrating that anything like this has ever been part of federal law, since at least 1895 or ever.

170

Sebastian 04.01.12 at 5:43 am

“section 776.032 contemplates that a defendant *who establishes entitlement* to the statutory immunity will not be subjected to trial. “

But Zimmerman did no such thing. He *ASSERTED* that it was self defense and the police essentially didn’t bother to investigate it at all. And the tiny bit of ‘investigation’ that they did, involved such interesting technique as ‘correcting’ a witness who contradicted Zimmerman’s story, failing to interview the person who was talking to Trayvon on the phone minutes before the attack, failing to establish the wholly legitimate reason for Trayvon to be there, and failure to document Zimmerman’s ‘defensive wounds’.

Furthermore you’re using the Supreme Court quotes grossly out of context. I hope you lifted it from some other source, because it looks really bad for your argument if you read the case yourself and manipulated it in that way. The VERY NEXT LINE is “This plain reading of section 776.032 compels us to reject the State’s contention that a defendant must raise a pretrial claim of immunity only in a rule 3.190(c)(4) motion to dismiss. “

They don’t like the government’s contention because of course a motion to dismiss can only be based on undisputed facts. The accused wanted an evidentiary hearing on the matter of self-defense, which would allow the judge to weigh DISPUTED facts. The Supreme Court of Florida ruled that an evidentiary hearing would be appropriate (which is why they used all that language about statutory construction vs. mere probable cause hearings.) The state was arguing that they could get a probable cause hearing and then go to trial. The court ruled that they would have to pass an evidentiary hearing. I don’t know why you omitted that, but I think most people will agree that it doesn’t sound so dramatic when you include it….

Ugh I seem to have hit the annoying spam filter because I included a link to the super short case. You can find it by googling CLARENCE DENNIS v. STATE OF FLORIDA. No luck needed at all.

171

snuh 04.01.12 at 6:46 am

Furthermore you’re using the Supreme Court quotes grossly out of context. I hope you lifted it from some other source, because it looks really bad for your argument if you read the case yourself and manipulated it in that way.

i did indeed read the case myself. and at the risk of looking really bad, even to you, i’ll just say that i did not actually make a positive argument based on dennis v flordia. i am merely contradicting your assertion about the statute. specifically, the bit where you said that the statute is “virtually identical” to federal law. any time you care to demonstrate that there is a federal equivalent to the immunity provisions,(*) as interpreted in dennis v florida, be my guest.

(*) and that equivalent is pretty obviously not any provision where the standard is “mere probable cause”, as you put it.

172

Sebastian 04.01.12 at 7:01 am

I’m pretty sure that saying the Florida law requires an evidentiary hearing on the issue rather than a full blown trial doesn’t make enough of a distinction between the hundred plus year federal common law on the subject to justify all the “oh noes” we’ve seen on the subject. In fact, you’re the first person who bothered with the distinction. It is a procedural difference between the two, not a substantive difference. The federal law allows for a self defense claim in the same *situations* that the Florida law allows. And so far as I can tell, neither would cover Zimmerman. Your mileage may vary I suppose.

173

snuh 04.01.12 at 11:51 am

federal law requires the self-defence claim to be determined at trial, by a jury of the accused’s peers. florida law, as interpreted in dennis v florida, requires (on a defendant’s motion) a self-defence claim to be determined pre-trial, and not by a jury. if you think this is a trivial distinction, well, i can only conclude that you’ve never practised as a lawyer.

and i am absolutely not the first person to bring up the immunity provisions. they were brought up in the previous thread of this site, as you would know.

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Sebastian H 04.01.12 at 3:34 pm

I see your mileage varied. If the defendant can’t avoid trial by invoking the immunity section, he still gets to present evidence of self defense at trial in front of a jury of his peers etc. etc.. Therefore yes, in the context of a discussion of the substance of the law (which circumstances allow for self defense claims) it is a trivial distinction. If the subject were “additional procedural safeguards which Florida law provides to defendants” you’d have a great point. I’ll leave it to others to decide which has much to do with how people are actually talking about the Florida law.

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Manta1976 04.01.12 at 4:58 pm

snuh, the guy who first brought up the immunity provision is Sebastian himself:
http://crookedtimber.org/2012/03/23/trayvon-martin-disgrace/#comment-407656 “Third, self defense is an AFFIRMATIVE defense. That means roughly that after a prosecutor proves his case beyond a reasonable doubt, if a defendant wants to raise a self defense claim the burden is on the defendant to prove it up”.

With that, I will stop “debating” with him: I have no interest in discussing stuff with (bad) liars.

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Sebastian 04.01.12 at 5:50 pm

Ummm, not to be rude, but talking about the immunity provision substantively, and then having an alleged refutation of that substance by focusing on procedural points (but while pretending not to focus on procedural points by deliberately omitting the fact that the Florida Supreme Court was ruling on the procedure not the substance) strikes me as a lot closer to ‘lying’ than anything I’ve done here.

My point was that the circumstances under which self defense is an allowable claim are SUBSTANTIVELY identical to the federal law which has been around since 1895.

Snuh responded that they weren’t, and then misleadingly quoted the Flordia Supreme Court on the issue, strongly suggesting that they were distinguishing their position in substance while in fact they were only distinguishing the procedure (preliminary evidentiary hearing rather than allowing the defendant to only have the issue heard in a full jury trial). [And of course the defendant can get BOTH at their own option, so that is expanding defendant protections]. I read the case, and pointed that out. So substantively it appears I’m still right. I’ve been ‘refuted’ into admitting that Florida has an additional procedural protection unavailable in federal court, but that the circumstances under which you can shoot someone and validly claim self defense remain the same in both.

I’m not even sure that distinction would win you a point in a formal scored debate, much less whether or not anyone here will find it remotely important to the questions raised in Trayvon Martin case.

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The Beat 04.02.12 at 2:54 am

Dude, you are entirely right. This was all wrong. Taking anyone’s life like that is wrong. If Zimmerman was black, he’d be in jail. It’s the new millennium and we are still as racist.

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Katherine 04.02.12 at 10:34 am

Many”? It’s generally not a good idea to make exaggerated claims about the very thread you’re in. SebastianH at 158 is the only person to say the police were racist,

Gosh, haven’t I said that? Well I’ll say it as plain as day then – I think the Sanford PD were and are racist. Everything I had read about the circumstances of the killing, the immediate investigation, or lack thereof, everything the PD has said afterwards – yep, racist.

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Daniel 04.02.12 at 6:27 pm

The world moves on.

Fox Carolina reports from Seneca, South Carolina, March 29:

6 charged in beating of NC man in Seneca
Seneca police said they arrested six men Wednesday in connection with the beating of a Franklin, NC, man outside a restaurant earlier this month.

The attack happened just before 1 a.m. on March 17 in the parking lot of Applebee’s at 696 Bypass 123.

According to an incident report, police arrived to find a man lying face down in the parking lot.

The report said that a woman told police that there were several black men attacking the 32-year-old white man, whose identity was redacted.

“Upon exiting the restaurant he was jumped by a mob of individuals, and severely beaten about the head and torso,” said John Covington, the Seneca police chief. “The report was that racial slurs were being used toward the victim.”

The man told police that he didn’t know what happened, didn’t remember coming to the restaurant and didn’t know why he was attacked, according to the report.

We spoke with the man, who, almost a week later, has two black eyes and a swollen face. He told us he was leaving the restaurant when a group of black men near the door called him a “tree honkey.” He said he had never heard that, but it “tickled” him, so he turned to ask them what it meant. He said that is when one man hit him, and another hit him in the head with a stun gun; he fell, and others began kicking him in the head.

The report said an anonymous witness told investigators the white man was overheard inside the restaurant, making racial comments about black people and using the “N” word. However, Covington said that investigators have not been able to confirm that.

“The person refused to give their name or a statement,” Covington said. “Therefore, it remains uncorroborated.”

On Thursday, police said they arrested 18-year-old Teryn Robinson, 19-year-old Tray Holland, 20-year-old Justin Alexander, 22-year-old Derick Williams, 25-year-old Kino Jones and 22-year-old Montrez Jones in connection with the attack.

SLIDESHOW: Police arrest 6 in beating by mob

Police said all six men were from the Seneca area and that they were each charged with assault and battery by mob.

Precious Smith, who said she was at the restaurant the night of the attack and is related to three of the suspects, said all of this has been blown out of proportion. She said whatever was said did not cause the fight.

“We are very open-hearted people,” Smith said. “We are not going to mess with anybody unless they mess with us. We have all kinds of friends. I am not racist, and by their acquaintances, I don’t think they’re racist.”

Police said their investigation determined that the attack may have been racially motivated. They said their findings have been sent to the FBI to determine if it should be investigated as a hate crime under federal law. South Carolina does not have a hate crime law.

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Yods 04.03.12 at 9:05 am

Daniel @ 179 – I’m assuming that what you’re doing here is pointing out that in a case of black-on-white violence the perpetrators are quickly arrested, while if a person of colour is killed the known perpetrator is still walking around freely more than a month later. ??

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