A criminal defense lawyer in Wisconsin wrote to TPM:

I was astounded that the defense would put on a “self-defense” argument without the defendant testifying. In most civilized jurisdictions, the burden is on the defense to prove, at least more likely than not, that the law breaking was done for reasons of self-defense. I couldn’t figure out how they could do this without the defendant’s testimony.

I got curious and read the jury instructions Friday night and, I was wrong. In Florida, if self-defense is even suggested, it’s the states obligation to prove it’s absence beyond a reasonable doubt(!). That’s crazy. But ‘not guilty’ was certainly a reasonable result in this case. As I told in friend in Tampa today though, if you’re ever in a heated argument with anyone, and you’re pretty sure there aren’t any witnesses, it’s always best to kill the other person. They can’t testify, you don’t have to testify, no one else has any idea what happened; how can the state ever prove beyond a doubt is wasn’t self-defense? Holy crap! What kind of system is that?

Seriously. I do hope Martin’s family files a civil suit against Zimmerman. Also, I think Charles Pierce is pissed.

26 thoughts on “Afterthoughts

  1. Several years ago over near Cocoa Beach, a teenager was beaten pretty badly by another kid. The beaten boy’s father confronted the kid who beat his son, and the brat confronted the father, who smacked the little shit in the head with an open hand. Dad went to jail, charged with battery on a minor.It was all caught on video. So yeah, if you get in a fight here, just kill the other guy; as Swami wrote, “Dead men tell no tales”.Too many people here are running around with guns, and they’re not afraid to use them, as evidenced by the monthly death by gun tolls in Florida.

  2. Did my latest word-turd disappear?
    Or, did I imagine that I hit “Submit Comment?”

  3. Rules for survival:
    1)Don’t wear a hoodie when it’s raining. It will make you seem like a thug. Better to get soaked then get shot.
    2)If someone is following you, and you’re freaked out, be sure to lead them directly to your home. Don’t hide. Return home so the weirdo following you will know where you live. He can then keep an eye on you and is less likely to have to kill you.
    3)Most importantly, don’t be black. If you’re black you’re just asking to be followed. If you must be black, stay indoors, especially after dark.

  4. Technically Zimmy can go back on patrol starting today, but I would assume the ordeal of being faced with accountability has quenched his appetite for blowing one of “them” away.

    At least now we know that they don’t always get away. Zimmerman changed that dynamic.

  5. the rule in place in FL is the rule in most jurisdictions, including WI. Sounds like the “attorney” could stand to use some more continuing legal ed.

  6. I understand having “get out of jail free” cards in Monopoly, but in Florida it seems to be “get out of jail with a gun”.

  7. I am disappointed. Within that statement, there is a kind of ‘mission creep’ that has evolved. Originally, I clearly wanted Florida to charge Zimmerman – the second injustice (after the shooting) was in the decision to sweep the incident under the rug. Hell, the Sanford cops didn’t even make an attempt to notify the parents of the victim.

    Originally, I simply wanted a jury to decide based on the evidence and the law. Which they did. As this blog post explains, the failure may not be with the jury, but with Florida law, which tilts the balance of justice to favor the survivor. The prosecution had little evidence to ‘prove’ the shooting was NOT self-defense. There were no witnesses who survived.

    We won’t know – probably ever – if the shooting is a cloud that haunts Zimmerman as he tries to restart his life. I hope so – he deserves to be shunned by employers and colleagues as a reckless but lucky killer not fit for civilized company.

    Though I am disappointed, I am satisfied that the jury did their duty. Zimmerman had his ‘day in court’. If he’s smart he’ll play the lottery while his luck holds.

  8. Imagine had George Zimmerman been a black man, and Trayvon Martin had been a pot-smoking white teenager.

    Nope, this is NOT about race…


  9. In Missouri the defendant has the burden of “injecting the issue.” The State then has to disprove self defense. So the defendant has to put on some self defense evidence of some sort. It doesn’t have to come from the testimony of the defendant but as a practical matter it usually does.

    • Lol, beating a guy into the pavement is now a “heated argument”.

      No, when a guy with superficial injuries claims to have been beaten into the pavement even though the altercation took place on grass is now “reasonable doubt.”

  10. We won’t know – probably ever – if the shooting is a cloud that haunts Zimmerman as he tries to restart his life. I hope so

    I suspect he’s ruined his brand.. The homeowners association where he lived paid out an undisclosed settlement already so I’d be inclined to think he’s going to be an insurance pariah no matter where he decides to settle. I don’t think there’s going to be an abundance of opportunities opening up for him in the foreseeable future either. He might get some mileage out of his new found celebrity, but when that wears off life won’t be easy for him.

    Even Fox news probably won’t touch him because his benefit to liability ratio is too unpredictable. His credibility is in a position where it can never increase.. It can only decrease in his retelling of his life and death struggle with a savage black child armed with a sidewalk and a bag of skittles.
    He might consider going the Octamom/John Bobbit route and bill himself as the Hispanic Hedgehog, but in order to succeed that career field he’s gonna have to show himself as more than just a novelty item.
    I don’t see good things coming down the road for Georgie. My guess is his life is going to unravel at mach speed. Unfortunately to remain connected to humanity we have to interact with our conscience. Georgie slipped the noose and avoided accountability before men, yet in doing so he’s set himself up in a life long struggle with his conscience. He’s gonna have to self medicate, whether its drugs, alcohol, Jesus or donuts, he’s got to suppress his conscience.

    Bible says: Nothing profits a man like a good reputation.

  11. Stupidly, I just turned on my TV, which is set to come on to MSNBC, and watched as Jonathan Capehart, a black man, talked about how this verdict will make black males, who are already taught to not run, and specifically not to run with anything in their hands, and to be polite to the police, and never to make ay sudden moves near them, and to always show their hands, and about how this juries decision will make them even more nervous.
    He finished by saying that the e-mails he’s seen from people on the right were “unbelievable.”
    Mika – and wtf ever happened to her, except she’s now a good little DC Villager? – chimed in with, “The reaction from the right AND left are unbelievable.”
    And I turned my TV off.

    Yes, while we mourn the death of a young black man, and a “justice” system that let him walk, and are upset about it, the righties are gloating and celebrating.

    You know what’s unbelievable Mika?
    That you can’t see a difference, Mika.
    That you immediately, Mika, like a good DC MSM Villager, had to equivocate, and do the ‘Both sides ______________________…” BS!
    I take that back.
    It’s all, TOO believable…

  12. Nothing good has come of this whole situation. Nothing.
    –Charles Pierce

    And that sums it up for me.

  13. Re: Zimmerman’s injuries, I grew up in a working class neighborhood, and playground disputes often turned into fistfights. I took worse than he took when I was younger than 12… no one ever thought my life was in danger.

    (Attitudes have changed, and thank goodness. But while I think children need to be taught not to fight, I do sometimes think that people are panic too much over normal rough-housing, and bits of childhood violence. I’m not saying that it should be left alone – I’m saying it shouldn’t be OMG PANIC, a child said “I’ll kill you!” and threw a punch, that’s assault with intent to kill!!!!!1!!1!)

    A bloody nose (with a minor break)? A cut on the back of his head? Those don’t establish fear for his life or great bodily injury, and it sure as hell doesn’t establish that was was straddled and beaten, or had his head repeatedly bashed into concrete.

    In truth, I was hoping someone would raise the question, and put it to rest, one way or the other: were Zimmerman’s injuries consistent with self-infliction? The severity certainly was, but there’s more than just severity involved. Alas, I don’t think anyone considered it important in the time frame where evidence could have been collected.

  14. O’Mara, who led Zimmerman’s defense, said that his client plans to continue carrying the weapon and now wears a protective vest when he appears in public,

    Today it’s cool in Florida.. it’s 91 degrees in the shade. Perfect protective vest temperature.

  15. @ maha: you could always look it up. Or you could continue to just swallow what is spoonfed you by media.

    (see eg State v Head: “Perfect self-defense is a privilege recognized in Wis. Stat. § 939.45(2). Before a privilege may be considered by the fact-finder, the defendant must raise the privilege as an affirmative defense. State v. Trentadue, 180 Wis. 2d 670, 674, 510 N.W.2d 727 (Ct. 245*245 App. 1993). Once the defendant successfully raises an affirmative defense, the state is required to disprove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt”)

    I’d normally provide a link, but maybe it’d be good practice for you try to research on your own.

  16. “Seriously. I do hope Martin’s family files a civil suit against Zimmerman”

    Well I guess that might make them feel some sense of justice, but I would think whatever monetary settlement would just be paid by teabagger trust funds. I predict a flood of donations coming in to Z, the hateful right wing see him as their new savior. He has it all, guns, vigilantism, and he’s Hispanic, could he be the new Ted Cruz!!!

    My hope is that he is profiled and followed into a dark alley someday soon!

  17. jpe – reading through that stuff, it looks to me like in order to raise a defense of perfect self defense in the first place, there is a burden on the defendant to prove, more likely than not, that perfect self defense is in fact what happened. If the judge then allows for raising that defense, then it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that some aspect of that defense does not hold.

    It seems like what the lawyer is saying above is that in Florida there is no need for the defense to prove anything at all, 100% of the burden is on the state.


  18. In Florida, a defendant claiming self-defense has the initial burden of providing evidence that could lead a reasonable person to think that the defendant acted in self-defense. If that burden is met, the state has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that self-defense did not occur. (I think this is fairly typical, though how much initial evidence of self-defense is required probably varies by state.) While evidence of self-defense is often presented through the defendant’s testimony, it does not have to be.

  19. Long Haired Weirdo; head wounds bleed like a bitch! Where was all the blood? I’ve had worse cuts in my EYE!

  20. Erinyes, agreed – that his head wound didn’t bleed badly is what makes me figure he couldn’t have had his head bashed into the ground repeatedly.

    I just thought of one other thing that bugs me about the evidence, and I don’t know if anyone thought of it.

    Two people were fighting. One was yelling. A gun shot was heard. *When did the yelling stop*?

    If the yelling stopped more or less at the gunshot, the yeller was the shooting victim. If it stopped a few moments *before* the gunshot, it might be the shooter, we just don’t know.

    You can’t shoot straight when screaming your head off. And Zimmerman made a good shot.

    (Yes, I know, point blank range – *but he hit the heart*. Forget Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, that’s *not* easy. If he’d shot for center of mass, and made it, that’s consistent with fear and decent training.)

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