A sober look at the case against George Zimmerman.
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Regardless of the facts, we can say that it was a tragedy that the young Trayvon Williams died in any event. But the boy was not well served by a national social culture that led the cute kid we see in the photos celebrated in the national media to identify with gangsta culture as he matured into his later teens, which is also confirmed by photographic evidence.
We will see the full evidence at trial, but I don’t know of any evidence that even contradicts the above statement of the facts. And if these are the facts, then what Zimmerman did was fully justified under the law of self-defense to save his life. That does not involve any stand your ground defense. As noted at the outset, Zimmerman at the time of the shooting was flat on his back struggling for his life, not standing his ground. So stand your ground is not even an issue in this case. What is involved is just standard, common law, self-defense.
Moreover, the legal standard for conviction is beyond a reasonable doubt. There is just no way that standard can be met with all of the evidence supporting the above facts. In addition, note that for a conviction the jury must be unanimous. It takes just one juror to insist that the evidence does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for the defendant to go free. You can’t stuff the jury box with votes from illegal aliens to win.
I predict the prosecutor will argue that in following Martin, Zimmerman lost his right to self-defense. Under the law, an attacker cannot claim the right to self-defense for what ensues thereafter. But a neighborhood watch patrol captain following a suspicious person in the neighborhood whom he reports to the police has not committed an attack that forfeits his right to self-defense under the law. That would amount to saying that when Zimmerman was attacked by Martin he had a duty to die. That is the position of Al Sharpton and Joy Reid, and the Washington Post and the New York Times. But that is not the law. Such a ruling would effectively hold that every neighborhood watch volunteer in America loses his or her right of self-defense just by monitoring the neighborhood.
Zimmerman has worthy defense counsel. They need to ensure that the case is decided by a multi-racial jury with each member of the highest intelligence possible. If the prosecutor tries to eliminate all Hispanics (Zimmerman’s mother is South American) from the jury, such a discriminatory practice has already been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The judge will instruct the jury that they must unanimously find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict, and on the legal standard for self-defense.
The Justice of Stand Your Ground
Over a century before the NRA began promoting Stand Your Ground laws in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1895 in Beard v. U.S. that an innocent person under attack was “not obliged to retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground, and meet any attack upon him with a deadly weapon, in such a way and with such force as… [he] honestly believed, and had reasonable grounds to believe, was necessary to save his own life, or to protect himself from great bodily injury.”
Stand Your Ground laws only became necessary when states began to adopt laws, through either the legislature or the courts, imposing a duty to retreat whenever possible on victims of violent attacks in public. At least one state, Massachusetts, even adopted that duty to flee when attacked in your own home, which is the rule in England.
The point of Stand Your Ground laws is to eliminate the duty to retreat when you are attacked in public. That has now been adopted as the law in half the states. Almost every state I believe has adopted the Castle Doctrine, which says you do not have the duty to retreat from your own home when attacked there.
The duty to retreat would not apply to the Zimmerman case in any state, however, because the duty only applies when it is possible to retreat. For Zimmerman lying on his back with a 6 foot 3 high school football player sitting on top of him slamming his head into the sidewalk, there was no possibility of retreat. So Zimmerman would qualify for self-defense under the laws of every state, even Massachusetts.
Stand Your Ground laws only involve the simple logic of justice. The attacker does not have the legal or moral right to attack the victim. The victim has the moral and should have the legal right to remain where he is if he wants to do so. But the duty to retreat says the violent attacker has the legal authority to impose a legal obligation on the victim to flee the scene. That is not moral or just.
Liberals argue that if victims will just flee when possible then that will reduce deaths or injuries to violent attackers. But the violent attackers can eliminate any possibility of their injury or death from such incidents by simply choosing to stop attacking innocent victims.
Moreover, economist John Lott, an expert in applying regression analysis to use of guns and violent crime, rightly argues that the most important issue is, “Did the [Stand Your Ground] laws increase total deaths? More criminals might be killed in justifiable self-defense, but if the number of innocent lives lost falls by more than the deaths of criminals rises, is that really a bad thing?” The answer to that question is not only no, but Hell No!
Lott reports that the latest edition of his book, More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010), includes the only published, refereed academic study of Stand Your Ground laws, which “found that states adopting Stand Your Ground/Castle doctrine laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crimes by 11 percent. That implies an annual drop in murders that is about 10 times more than the entire measured increase in civilian justifiable homicides from 2000 to 2010 — and it isn’t even clear that there was an actual increase.”
Lott argues the supposed increase in civilian justifiable homicides since 2000 is due to increased reporting of that statistic from states and jurisdictions within states, not because of an actual increase. He notes as well that between 2000 and 2010 the much more numerous justifiable homicides by police increased by 25 percent, and that statistic does not suffer from any change in reporting practices during that time.
Lott further explains why the Duty to Retreat imposes an unreasonable burden on victims, saying, “There have been many cases where victims have been chased and knocked down a couple of times before firing in self-defense, but prosecutors thought that the victim still could have done more to retreat before firing their gun.” He adds, “forcing victims to take time to retreat puts their lives in jeopardy,” which is supported by the above statistics showing that replacing Duty to Retreat with Stand Your Ground actually reduces overall deaths sharply.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online