The prosecutors in the Zimmerman trial raged on and on about the defendant’s “false assumptions” while never questioning their own. What did they actually know about that night? Almost nothing, save a few pieces of testimony largely beneficial to Zimmerman. Yet they had no problem profiling him as a homicidal racist and concocting a paranoid hate-crime theory of the case. Their defeat deserves a special place in the annals of malicious prosecution.
The trial involved a striking reversal of customary roles: the defense attorneys behaved like hardheaded prosecutors while the prosecutors behaved like unscrupulous defense attorneys. Their closing was nothing more than a fact-free appeal for mob justice.
The victory for the defense appears even more impressive given the handicaps under which it labored. Zimmerman’s attorneys weren’t free to introduce any substantial evidence about Trayvon Martin’s past. So jurors didn’t know that he had drugs in his system, that he had been suspended from school after police found a burglary tool and stolen goods in his backpack, that he had sent text messages revealing a potential gun purchase, that he had a history of violence. “U got heat?” he wrote to a friend in one of the text messages the judge barred from the case. In another, a friend responds to his thuggish bragging, “So you just turning into a lil hoodlum.”
It turns out that all of Zimmerman’s “false assumptions” were perfectly accurate. They weren’t false assumptions but rational observations. If that is “profiling,” society needs more of it. There is nothing evil about behavior-based profiling. It was the prosecution that couldn’t profile intelligently, casting a Hispanic as a homicidal racist on the basis of a fragmentary, non-racist remark.
Their idea of proving this theory of the case was to yell portions of the 911 call at ever-higher pitches and muse darkly about what “was in George Zimmerman’s heart.” One wonders what resides in the hearts of prosecutors who try and goad juries into throwing people into prison for life on unproven hunches.
With egg on her face, Florida state attorney Angela Corey appeared before reporters on Saturday night to say that “common sense” drove her decision to prosecute. She still can’t understand how people, even “some with law degrees,” could have questioned her decision. After all, what could be more commonsensical than thinking a neighborhood watch volunteer called 911 before committing second-degree murder, somehow managed to manipulate conditions so that he sustained self-defense wounds, and then craftily complied with all police questioning without benefit of a lawyer afterwards?
Prosecutors capable of uncorking such theories deserve to be disbarred. The dominant media was equally complicit in the railroading of Zimmerman. But journalists treated defeat like an orphan on Saturday night. Caught a bit flatfooted by the late verdict, they stumbled into their sets to blather on about how the prosecutors had “overcharged.”
The “civil rights story of our time” had ended with a whimper and they didn’t quite know how to process it. In all their desperate attempts to squeeze grand meaning out of the fiasco, they weren’t honest enough to ask: How did we contribute to it? Why did we falsely portray Zimmerman as a “white” racist? Why did we doctor tapes and put racist words in his mouth? Why didn’t we take seriously the sacking of a police chief who had told prosecutors no evidence existed to convict?
It fell to Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara to give journalists a well-deserved smack after the verdict:
You guys, the media. He was like a patient on an operating table where a mad scientist was committing experiments on him and he had no anesthesia. He didn’t know why he was turned into this monster but quite honestly you guys had a lot to do with it. You took a story that was fed to you and you ran with it and you ran right over him.
If elite journalists had learned any lessons from the trial, they didn’t display any on Sunday morning. The sinister demagogues behind it turned up on the usual shows for more fawning questions. The wizened fraud Al Sharpton even got to stick around on Meet the Press to weigh in on new matters.
Amidst all the sham sanctimony and the blah, blah, blah about a “national conversation on race” (which just means the promotion of reverse racism), very little was said about abusive prosecutors. The suggestion was even raised that Zimmerman’s torments could continue with a federal hate-crimes case. Why not treat him like the cops from the Rodney King trial? That’s now the hope of Harry Reid and other hucksters.
So the sick show trial may continue in new venues. But at least one jury had the integrity to resist this vile tempting of America.