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Why We Have Juries

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We have a jury system not because jurors are are necessarily wiser, more educated, or innately smarter than the alternatives (judges, kings, standing tribunals, viziers, etc.).  By and large they almost certainly are not.  We have juries because they are safer for those of us without power (the 99%, to use a phrase that has become all too hackneyed in such a short time) than the alternatives.

The Zimmerman case is a classic example.  The prosecution was not based on the evidence against Zimmerman.  It was based on the politics of race.  The State Attorney should never have brought the case.  She had no hope of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman committed murder, but she was afraid to do the right thing.  The jury protected Zimmerman from her abuse of power.  It just that simple.

To protect people like Zimmerman (and you and me) from the power of the state we have to put up with a few OJ-type juries.

50 Replies to “Why We Have Juries

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BA: A sobering thought — that the jury’s veto is a needed check on the potential to abuse state power. Reminds me of how jury nullification by refusal to convict under many crimes with death penalties disproportionate to what was done led to legal reform of many draconian penalties. Well worth pondering. Let us hope the mischief that has been stirred does not end in the absurdity of destructive and murderous rioting. KF

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    And hey, today is: Bastille Day.

  3. 3

    Some thoughts on the Zimmerman case.

    95% of all black men killed by guns are killed by other black men. None of those cases got this kind of coverage. Had Zimmerman been black, none of us would have probably even heard about it. This was a racial powder keg trumped up by the Obama administration (the DOJ provided support for those demonstrating against Zimmerman) and the media (especially MSNBC and NBC, caught selectively editing 911 tapes and photographs to make Zimmerman appear guilty) to foment racial unease.

    On twitter, there were many death threats against Zimmerman, and widespread threats of violence and rioting if Zimmerman walked. Interestingly, I heard of no death threats or threats of rioting if Zimmerman was found guilty, which would have been the true travesty of justice.

    It appears that few people cared whether or not Zimmerman was actually guilty or innocent under the law, but rather were only interested in fomenting some sense of racial oppression to justify potential civil unrest.

    Those six jurors should be commended for their bravery and sense of duty to justice.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Good point, kairosfocus. That was the most persuasive argument when Canada abolished capital punishment: If you remove the drama around the death penalty, jurors are more likely to just vote to acquit or convict on the evidence. They are not being asked to decide if the person should live or die, just whether there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt. If there is, the judge can sort out how much time the accused should do. So people don’t feel either way that they have something on their consciences.

    The Zimmerman case feels odd to me because here is a question no one asks: If Martin were white, would Zimmerman have behaved any differently?

    Martin, though a minor (17), was apparently bigger than Zimmerman. (The photos widely disseminated in the media apparently show Martin at a much younger age than when the fatal encounter actually took place.) And Zimmerman did not know that Martin did not have a gun. Zimmerman had also sustained injuries in the encounter, so he must have felt his life could be at stake.

    Not only is it unclear to me that Zimmerman would have behaved differently if the other guy was white, it is not clear to me that I would have behaved any differently from Zimmerman in either case. If the women on the jury were thinking like me, it is no wonder they felt they could not convict, no matter what the prosecution or anybody said about race. – O’Leary

  5. 5

    I agree with Denyse and Kairofocus.

    (I hope that doesn’t worry either of you :))

  6. 6
    keiths says:

    From a Slate article on the verdict:

    On Saturday night, a Florida jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty of any crime in the shooting death of a black teenager named Trayvon Martin. Not murder. Not even manslaughter. A lot of people are having a hard time accepting this verdict, given that Zimmerman was armed with a pistol and Martin was not, and a police dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin, and he did it anyway.

    It doesn’t help that the same prosecutor who lost the Zimmerman case recently won a conviction against Marissa Alexander, a black woman who fired a warning shot to chase off her abusive ex-husband, hurting no one. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Twenty years for a warning shot against a known abuser versus no time at all for killing an unarmed teenager leaves you scratching your head and wondering if justice is not just blind but also insane.

    I spent four years covering criminal courts in Florida. I covered every kind of case, from misdemeanors to murder. One thing I learned is that you can never predict what a jury might do once it’s locked away to deliberate. I covered one trial where the defendant was accused of bigamy, and his defense was: Sorry, I forgot I was married already. He walked.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    keiths, I am not sure what point you are trying to make, but I assume it is something along the lines of: This black woman was convicted in a wholly unrelated case about which we know practically nothing other than what the reporter chose to tell us (and what the reporter chose to tell us is absurd on its face and almost certainly false or at best misleading). Therefore, Zimmerman – whom no reasonable person could believe was guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt – should have been convicted too.
    If your point is what I assume it to be, then your point is beyond idiotic. Get a grip man.

  8. 8
    JDH says:

    The sad thing is that there is nothing we can do in this situation.

    1. We have a racism industry in this society consisting of some powerful men who greatly benefit from any perceived racism and can only carry on further profitable action if there is a perception of racism.
    2. The key figures in this racism industry, despite being discredited by the non-factual statements they bring forward, still have reporters who cover them and people who listen to them and accept their word as the truth, facts be damned.
    3. Fortunately, I think that the most vocal proponents of the racism industry are older, and they are not being replaced by new leaders ( unless you count rappers ).
    4. When the older members of this racism industry die out, there is a chance that race relations will be better. Until then every potentially racial situation, independent of what the actual facts are, is going to be exploited because the perception of racism is just so profitable for the racism industry.

  9. 9
    keiths says:

    Barry,

    The point is that juries, while they offer some protections to the accused, can also be incredibly stupid, as the Slate article demonstrates.

  10. 10
    computerist says:

    When the news media hypes up certain events such as the Zimmerman case etc…, it usually mean’s there is something more important going on in some other part of the world the government would rather keep you ignorant about, such as war.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Keiths, the Slate story is certainly false. Firing a shot into the air is not criminal assault under the law, and the woman would not have been charged with criminal assault if that is all she did.

    Furthermore, if the point of the Slate article were to demonstrate that juries can be stupid, then the point could have been made by simply telling the story of the woman’s conviction (even though that story is – as I have explained – certainly false). There was no need to compare it to the Zimmerman verdict to make that point.

    No, keiths. You and the Slate author were making a different point (and you are trying to run from it now that you’ve been caught out). Your point was about race. Your point was “innocent black woman gets convicted because she was black (never mind that she was certainly guilty of something – no jury is that stupid); guilty white man (never mind that he was not guilty) gets acquitted because he was white (and never mind that he was Hispanic). In short, you and the Slate author are shameless race mongers and you disgust me.

  12. 12
    keiths says:

    Barry Arrington:

    Your point was about race.

    Barry,

    If you are truly capable of reading my mind, then why do you fare so poorly when debating me?

    My point was in direct response to your OP, which, if you haven’t already forgotten, was entitled “Why We Have Juries.”

    Juries offer some protections against the unbridled power of the state, but they can also be quite stupid, as you acknowledged in the OP.

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    OK wait, there’s too much we/ I don’t know. Z sed he got out of the car to look for a reference point so he could relay his location to the dispatcher.

    How did it go from that to a physical confrontation?

    If Z confronted Martin he should have identified himself and asked Martin what he was doing.

    True that could have happened and TM just snapped, saw he was up against a wimp, albeit an armed wimp, and had at it. But really?

    This is almost like the old west- small guy with a gun gets his butt kicked and shoots the butt-kicker. And the people say the butt-kicker deserved it for kicking the wrong butt.

    But anyway- if you want to have neighborhood watches they need to be multiple people with non-lethal means for deterents. Oh, and they should be able to handle themselves against teens.

    Neighborhood watches are supposed to make the streets safer. They are not supposed to be street gangs in their own right killing any intruder they deem is a threat to their turf.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    keiths: If you are truly capable of reading my mind,

    I can’t read your mind. I read what you posted, and it was disgusting race mongering from beginning to end.

    keiths: then why do you fare so poorly when debating me?

    Now that’s funny. I’ll give you points for humor. Wait, you’re not serious are you?

  15. 15
    Robert Byers says:

    I never heard of this case or understand why its on a origin forum?!
    The reason we have juries is from old ideas that it would be more likely a just verdict from ones peers because they would be more likely fair and perfectly intelligent enough to weigh the case.
    Judges never know better because a case is based on raw facts. Not higher insights if people think Judges are more wise.

    For sure America has allowed true Americans and others to be accused generally of historic and so present racism. So with this premise it can be invoked as needed or wanted by the immigrant peoples.
    The way to beat this is to take on this premise.
    Americans have nener had any raist etc beliefs that interfered with justice.
    If small numbers of people did then its the same as with the immigrants.
    In fact more likely its more with the foreigners.
    Americans and America (and Canada) will never be free of the oppression of racial secret motivationism until she defends herslf on this accusation and attacks the accusers.

    Just like in origin issues creationists are attacked as anti-science or very incompetent in understanding science and so explaining our dissent.
    Accusation is not indictment.
    Just take them on.
    North America today is in a state of invasion and occupation by segregated identity peoples in every way possible. Ethnicity or sex.
    It must be dealt with just like the old invasions where violoence was used.
    This time its moral and intellectual invasions.
    Anyways this is a origins forum.

  16. 16
    Mark Frank says:

    I guess the jury system is like democracy – not very good but it is hard to think of something better. I am not at all happy with the combination of Jury trial with competitive lawyers pleading cases. There is just too much scope for manipulation. The fact is juries are full of people of varying abilities and backgrounds being manipulated by professionals and they often make the wrong decision and sometimes that wrong decision goes the other way convicting an innocent man. We should not be complacent.

  17. 17

    Golly, I agree with Joe too!

  18. 18
    Mark Frank says:

    I agree with Joe too – especially this comment:

    But anyway- if you want to have neighborhood watches they need to be multiple people with non-lethal means for deterents. Oh, and they should be able to handle themselves against teens

  19. 19
    keiths says:

    Yes. If Zimmerman had been armed with a can of pepper spray instead of a gun, this could have had a much happier ending.

  20. 20

    Of course to a Brit, the idea of an armed neighbourhood watch guy is absolutely bizarre.

    Not even our police are routinely armed.

  21. 21

    But anyway- if you want to have neighborhood watches they need to be multiple people with non-lethal means for deterents. Oh, and they should be able to handle themselves against teen.

    Yeah, that way when they come across an armed criminal, we can have two or more dead good guys. Good thinking. Let’s bring a can of pepper spray to what might probably be a gun fight.

    As far as I can tell, not only did Zimmerman do nothing illegal, he did nothing wrong. Trayvon Martin shouldn’t have attacked him, plain and simple. I’d be happy to have him and a dozen like him patrolling my area.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    WJM:

    Yeah, that way when they come across an armed criminal, we can have two or more dead good guys.

    If you taser someone they cannot shoot you. And if TM had a gun Zimmerman would have been dead.

    The LAST thing we would want is citizens who have never been in a gunfight shooting it out with people who have.

    Yeah William let’s have tens of innocent people shot because of a gunfight started by hero-wannabes.

    As far as I can tell, not only did Zimmerman do nothing illegal, he did nothing wrong.

    Shooting someone is illegal unless you are a a cop of some type trying to stop a felony.

    As far as anyone knows Zimmerman started it- ie he is guilty as sin. I don’t want people like him patrolling anything. When innocent people die because of some loser, that is just wrong.

    Also T Martin could have thought that Zimmerman was a mugger- no one has even thought of that. We didn’t get his side of the story…

  23. 23

    If you taser someone they cannot shoot you. And if TM had a gun Zimmerman would have been dead.

    Yeah, let’s see who wins in a taser vs gun fight. Why is it that you only want the bad guys to have guns? People walking around with tasers is not a deterrent. To criminals, it’s a joke. Can you taser someone from across the street?

    The LAST thing we would want is citizens who have never been in a gunfight shooting it out with people who have.

    No, that’s not the last thing we want. The last thing we want are innocent civilians without guns facing criminals with guns. Every good citizien who carries a gun should be trained on how and when to use it.

    Yeah William let’s have tens of innocent people shot because of a gunfight started by hero-wannabes.

    Your disparaging, dismissive attitude about people that take their own safety, and the safety of those they are protecting – be it family, friends, or the neighborhood – by calling them “hero wannabes” is disgusting and intimating that they are as dangerous or more so than criminals with guns is patronizing and silly.

    Zimmerman was only “dangerous” to someone who was beating his head into the ground, and here you go and disparage him and any like him – why? All the evidence indicates Zimmerman acted responsibly and only shot Trayvon as Trayvon was beating his head into the ground, and after Zimmerman couldn’t get anyone to come and help him.

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    WJM:

    Yeah, let’s see who wins in a taser vs gun fight.

    That would depend on the scenario- If I had my taser out and ready and the criminal was just standing there, I would win.

    Why is it that you only want the bad guys to have guns?

    I don’t want that. Martin didn’t have a gun.

    People walking around with tasers is not a deterrent.

    Strange that many women carry them for protection.

    To criminals, it’s a joke.

    Until they get tasered.

    Can you taser someone from across the street?

    Most people couldn’t hit anything with a pistol from across a street.

    The last thing we want are innocent civilians without guns facing criminals with guns.

    And yet we already have that.

    Every good citizien who carries a gun should be trained on how and when to use it.

    Just give everyone a gun and the training. Let us carry them around and see what happens.

    Your disparaging, dismissive attitude about people that take their own safety, and the safety of those they are protecting – be it family, friends, or the neighborhood – by calling them “hero wannabes” is disgusting and intimating that they are as dangerous or more so than criminals with guns is patronizing and silly.

    Zimmerman KILLED AN INNOCENT TEEN. Zimmerman was wrong.

    Zimmerman was only “dangerous” to someone who was beating his head into the ground, and here you go and disparage him and any like him – why?

    Zimmerman should not have left his car. He went against the orders of the dispatch.

    And as far as you know he- Zimmerman- started it all. You get a very one-sided story and you buy it- why?

  25. 25
    Chris Doyle says:

    As an outsider looking in, who doesn’t know very much about this case, I have some thoughts and questions.

    I believe Trayvon Martin was staying in a house inside the gated community. So, is it fair to say, he was on his way home to the house, minding his own business and not intending to commit a crime when he met George Zimmerman?

    If not, I’d like to know why not.

    If so, then my concern is this: George Zimmerman, emboldened by the fact that he was carrying a firearm, aggressively challenged Trayvon Martin who presumably responded with even more aggression (especially if George Zimmerman’s injuries were all caused by Travyon Martin).

    It sounds like Trayvon Martin made a bad situation worse, but was it right to shoot him for it? The idea that someone can be innocently walking down the street one minute, and then lying dead the next is frankly very disturbing to me. Especially when it happened because a complete stranger, armed with a gun, decided that he “looks like he’s up to no good” and challenged him in a state of agitation?

    If George Zimmerman just stayed in his car, Trayvon Martin would have gone back to the house he was staying in. So, there was no crime to be prevented and no need to enforce justice. Is it not fair to say then that George Zimmerman initiated an easily avoidable confrontation which ended in the death of Trayvon Martin? And the law supports his right to do this?

    Does this not set a very dangerous precedent?

  26. 26

    Except that story is not what the evidence indicates. Zimmerman followed Trayvon like he should have since he was on neighborhood watch – didn’t know the guy, he was in a hoodie walking around at night while it was raining. He was in contact with a police dispatcher.

    He lost sight of Martin and the dispatcher told him not to attempt to continue following. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle in order to find the street sign names (it was dark and raining) to give to the dispatcher before he left the area and Trayvon came out of some bushes and confronted Zimmerman as he was heading back to his vehicle to give the dispatcher the street names.

    Zimmerman only pulled the gun out after he had his nose broken and his head bashed against the ground as a much larger Trayvon sat on top of him and beat him, and after no one responded to his calls of help.

    If that is not acting responsibly, I don’t know what is. Zimmerman did nothing wrong as far as the known facts are concerned. Your idea, apparently, is for all of us to hide in our cars and houses and call the police after a criminal act has occurred, instead of actively pursuing our safety and the safety of family, friends and community.

    How long does it take for the police to come and do anything, if they come at all? Should Zimmerman just “go home” and leave his neighborhood unprotected until the police decide to come around – if they even come at all?

    It was Zimmerman’s right to be patrolling his neighborhood with his gun. It’s his right to shoot someone who is pounding his head into the ground.

    There is no law against following suspicious people in your neighborhood – I’ve done the same thing. I live right next to an elementary school and all the kids walk up and down the street in front of my house to get to and from school. I’ve followed suspicious vehicles before and so has my wife, even after the police said they’d send a car.

    The police cannot protect you, your family, or even your neighborhood – that’s the responsibility of every good citizen. Your “hide in the car until the police come” mentality is what emboldens criminals and makes them think they can do whatever they want – this is why the crime rate goes down wherever concealed-carry and open-carry laws are passed.

  27. 27

    Zimmerman KILLED AN INNOCENT TEEN. Zimmerman was wrong.

    Trayvon wasn’t innocent. He was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the ground and broke Zimmerman’s nose.

  28. 28
    Chris Doyle says:

    Thanks for the response, William.

    Okay, if that’s what happened and Trayvon literally ambushed Zimmerman so he could inflict some serious bodily harm then I agree that Zimmerman shooting Trayvon was a better outcome than Trayvon causing unprovoked serious bodily harm.

    But, I’ve got this nagging feeling that it wasn’t as straightforward as that. I mean, Trayvon had every right to be on that street: he was heading to the place that he was staying. Zimmerman was clearly very agitated to the point of aggression when he called the police. It is entirely plausible that he was spoiling for a fight, then when he got one, he reached for his gun and killed a man.

    Establishing the facts about what happened that evening is of paramount importance. It seems like they weren’t able to do that in the courtroom and so, it would have been wrong to find Zimmerman guilty. We may never know what happened that night…

    For the record, I have no problem with people shooting people in clear cases of self-defence or even break-ins: be it in the home, or in the street. I do have a problem with an innocent man, minding his own business, walking down the street ending up being shot dead after a complete stranger instigated a confrontation/pursuit/whatever-really-happened.

  29. 29

    Zimmerman was clearly very agitated to the point of aggression when he called the police. It is entirely plausible that he was spoiling for a fight, then when he got one, he reached for his gun and killed a man.

    Being frustrated that the neighborhood is being burglarized and the police do not catch the criminals is **not the same thing** as wanting to get into a fight and kill someone. Your scenario is possible, but is not supported by any of evidence.

    For the record, I have no problem with people shooting people in clear cases of self-defence or even break-ins: be it in the home, or in the street. I do have a problem with an innocent man, minding his own business, walking down the street ending up being shot dead after a complete stranger instigated a confrontation/pursuit/whatever-really-happened.

    So here’s a question: both men had phones. Only Zimmerman called the police. When Trayvon noticed someone was following him, he called his friend and said a “creepy ass cracker” who “might be a rapist” was watching him.

    Why didn’t Trayvon call the police?

    I’m sorry that Trayvon got killed, but as far as the facts are concerned, Zimmerman did nothing wrong, and ascribing to him disparaging characteristics seems to me nothing more than an emotional desire to make sense out of a tragic incident in terms of one’s own worldview.

  30. 30
    Mark Frank says:

    #26

    I live right next to an elementary school and all the kids walk up and down the street in front of my house to get to and from school. I’ve followed suspicious vehicles before and so has my wife, even after the police said they’d send a car.

    It may be legal but it is a bit weird if I may say so. I wonder what the drivers thought! How did you decide they were suspicious? Do you live in a very rough neighbourhood to be so concerned about crime in general and crime against children in particular?

  31. 31
    JDH says:

    Chris –

    What I don’t like about your comments @25 and @28 is that you admit that you don’t know what the situation was and in @25 made conclusions based on ignorance. You probably know just the same amount as I do. But @25 where you assume Zimmerman is guilty preceded @28 where you admit that you don’t know the evidence.

    Here is the problem. The jury did hear the evidence presented as best can be done by advocates. The jury rendered a verdict of “not guilty”. My assumption – if I don’t have solid evidence to the contrary – is that the jury responded rationally.

    Why do you assume otherwise?

  32. 32
    JDH says:

    One more comment, I have never heard anyone present a compelling case of facts that show GZ did anything other than self-defense. The protests all start with speculative assumptions. Why people choose to riot over speculative assumptions and trash the jurors is beyond me. I assume the jurors got it right, seeing they sat through all the evidence and then deliberated.

  33. 33
    JDH says:

    Joe @22 @24 – Where did you get your information about the Zimmerman case? I think we see some of the problem if you think that you were told the truth. Why not believe the jury? You obviously have either heard bad reporting, or made bad conclusions from partial stories. If you are ignorant of the evidence, don’t make conclusions.

  34. 34

    WJM:

    Why didn’t Trayvon call the police?

    It’s a good question. If it had happened in London, there’d be quite a few answers. It would be interesting to know whether any of the same answers are relevant to Florida.

  35. 35

    You may not realize this, Mark, but it doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in – children are abducted everywhere. It’s happened before around here.

    I live in a small town. When a vehicle – especially a van – I don’t recognize is driving very slowly and stopping at each child that is alone walking down the street, that is suspicious. Both times that has happened, when we started following them they sped off and away from the school area. We never saw them again. Out here, it might take the police 30 minutes to get to the scene. That’s too late for an abducted child, Mark.

    I also watch my neighbor’s houses – and they watch mine. For example, there’s an elderly woman that lives across the street by herself. Whenever a service vehicle like an electrician or satellite company pulls up to her house I make sure and go outside and watch what is going on to make her feel safe answering the door and talking to such people. I know this because she’s told me so.

    I also helped put in her air conditioner. She bakes us sweets every now and then. She stayed at our house last night when the electricity went out for the whole area.

    That’s what a community is about, Mark. We watch each other’s stuff and look out for each other. Nothing “weird” about it. If my grandkids are walking to and from school, I hope a George Zimmerman is on the lookout.

    One time, another neighbor, my wife noticed people going in and out of the house he was remodeling at an odd hour. She went down there and talked to them, took down the license plate numbers. When the owner showed up, even though the workers were legit, he was extremely happy we were keeping an eye on his project.

  36. 36
    Chris Doyle says:

    WJM: you dismiss my speculations about Zimmerman’s aggression and then introduce your own when you read significance into Trayvon not calling the police, as if that contributes to the justification for his shooting! The evidence is not decisive enough either way so, JDH take note as this is the second time I’ve said it, a guilty verdict would have been wrong.

    BUT, and it’s a big BUT. Trayvon was indisputably innocent – and we are all obligated to presume his innocence – right up until the attack occurred.

    Did Trayvon over-react? Or did Trayvon attempt to execute the same lethal force that Zimmerman succeeded in executing because he genuinely feared for his safety? Did Zimmerman provoke the confrontation unnecessarily? Was Zimmerman just defending himself
    from a crazed thug? We still don’t know.

    So, I would advise moderate statements, uttered cautiously rather than certain ones where there is no certainty.

  37. 37

    WJM:

    I entirely agree that “that’s what a community is about”. I entire agree that we need to watch out for each other.

    The reason I agree with Joe isn’t because you and I disagree on that – but because what I DON’T want in my neighbourhood is a neighbourhood watch guy with a gun.

    If I thought my neighbour was “watching out” for my kid with a gun, I’d keep my kid indoors.

  38. 38

    Then it’s a good thing you don’t live in my community, Dr. Liddle. We all have guns.

  39. 39

    WJM: you dismiss my speculations about Zimmerman’s aggression

    Because it was speculation.

    and then introduce your own when you read significance into Trayvon not calling the police,

    I introduced no speculation. I asked a question.

    as if that contributes to the justification for his shooting!

    That is your speculation, not mine. I just asked. If Trayvon felt threatened by Zimmerman, he had plenty of time and opportunity to call the police.

    The evidence is not decisive enough either way so, JDH take note as this is the second time I’ve said it, a guilty verdict would have been wrong.

    Yes, the evidence is and was decisive – we have a verdict. What is not known is what went on in the minds of either individual. To speculate about the character of Zimmerman, or about what went on in his mind, is something you and Joe are using to justify something else – perhaps your politics or some other worldview agenda.

  40. 40

    WJM:

    Yes, the UK does have its advantages 🙂

  41. 41
    Mark Frank says:

    #35

    William – I also live in small town which is a supportive community and I like to think I contribute my share. But I am aware that fear of crime is a worse problem than crime. We have a high proportion of elderly people. Most of them are very sensible and don’t concern themselves too much about crime and know to ignore the scare stories in the press. It may be that by watching over your elderly neighbour makes her feel safer and that’s a nice thing you are doing for her. But unless there are some peculiar circumstances the threat of crime against her is very low – most crime victims (in the USA and the UK) are male, young (but not children) and live in large urban areas.

    Unless you live in a particularly rough neighbourhood you can more or less forget about the risk of children being abducted by strangers

  42. 42

    Mark,

    I don’t gauge how to live my life or determine what my responsibilities are via statistics.

  43. 43
    Mark Frank says:

    #42

    I don’t gauge how to live my life or determine what my responsibilities are via statistics.

    May I quote you on that in the future?

  44. 44
    Chris Doyle says:

    It was a very leading question, WJM. So, you conclude from the fact that no phone call was made to 911 by Trayvon, that he did not feel threatened by Zimmerman and therefore he attacked Zimmerman because…?

    Okay, I have a couple of questions: if the jury decided that the evidence is and was decisive against Zimmerman and we had a guilty verdict, what would you be saying then? Is your faith in the US justice system such that you will accept the verdict of any US court?

    Rest assured, my politics has nothing to do with my concerns about this case. I have no issue with the right to bear arms. I’d be perfectly happy to see citizens gunning down criminals who had broken into their homes while they slept, for example. As for my worldview, well, truth and justice are extremely important to me. I get twitchy when I feel like there hasn’t been any. One of the main reasons why I follow the evolution debate actually.

    The only thing I have issue with is this: someone like me, could be walking down the street at night in a gated community in America where I am staying with someone who lives there. All of a sudden, a strange man in a strange car pulls up near to me and starts watching me. He does not look very happy with me. I don’t know what he wants, maybe he’s crazy, maybe he’s high, maybe he’s confused me for someone else. Anyway, he keeps staring at me and I think he’s hostile, I decide to put as much distance between me and him as possible so I run (because I’d rather avoid physical confrontation).

    Now he’s following me. Not good. If this guy gets out of the car looking for a fight, I’m going to make sure I hit him before he hits me…

    Next thing you know, I’m dead.

    And you’re calling him a hero and saying I deserved to die.

    I’m not saying that is definitely what happened with Trayvon and Zimmerman. But you can’t say that definitely didn’t happen with Trayvon and Zimmerman.

    Again, a not guilty verdict is the correct one. But this is a very disturbing case that you don’t seem to be very disturbed by.

  45. 45

    It was a very leading question, WJM. So, you conclude from the fact that no phone call was made to 911 by Trayvon, that he did not feel threatened by Zimmerman and therefore he attacked Zimmerman because…

    No, I dont conclude it. I’m saying that of the two people, both had the opportunity to call the police, and only one did. IMO, that reasonably tips a slight favor to the guy that called the police. Also, the detective who interviewed Zimmerman found him credible. When the detective tried to bluff Zimmerman by saying that a neighbor had recorded the whole incident on their cell phone, his reaction was “thank god”.

    If I have a cell phone, and I’m alone in the dark in the rain and someone is following me in a vehicle that I don’t recognize, I call the police. Or I ran. Do you seriously think Trayvon couldn’t outrun Zimmerman? Why didn’t Trayvon run away?

    Okay, I have a couple of questions: if the jury decided that the evidence is and was decisive against Zimmerman and we had a guilty verdict, what would you be saying then?

    If you mean, given the same evidence and testimony we have now, if the jury had gone the other way? I’d disagree with that verdict. I don’t hold the verdict correct because the jury said not guilty; I hold the verdict correct because, IMO, the evidence and testimony available could not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman was not defending himself – which is the burden of proof in that case, under that law.

    In case you didn’t know, the Police Chief that originally oversaw the investigation wouldn’t even bring charges against Zimmerman because there was no evidence to support any wrongdoing. He was forced out.

    Once again: if Zimmerman had been black, there would have been no public outcry, no case, and no charges. Period. This was all about a trumped up racial issue from day 1, and the only reason it got as far as it did in the first place was because the major news media assumed, that with a name like “Zimmerman”, that he was white. By the time they found out he was hispanic, it was too late, so they started referring to him as a “white hispanic”.

    All of a sudden, a strange man in a strange car pulls up near to me and starts watching me. He does not look very happy with me. I don’t know what he wants, maybe he’s crazy, maybe he’s high, maybe he’s confused me for someone else. Anyway, he keeps staring at me and I think he’s hostile, I decide to put as much distance between me and him as possible so I run (because I’d rather avoid physical confrontation).

    If you have a phone and have the time talk to your friend about a “creep ass cracker”, why do you not call the police?

    Now he’s following me. Not good. If this guy gets out of the car looking for a fight, I’m going to make sure I hit him before he hits me…

    Or, you could run, or shout and scream for help as you run. You don’t think that Trayvon could outrun Zimmerman?

    Next thing you know, I’m dead.

    Except you’re leaving out all the parts where there are things you can do to avoid confrontation on a dark, rainy night, if avoiding confrontation was really what you wanted to do. You can call the police, yell and scream for help, or just run and hide in the dark. Sorry, your scenario is full of holes you gloss over to create a narrative not suppoted by the facts.

    And you’re calling him a hero and saying I deserved to die.

    I never called him a hero, and I never said Trayvon deserved to die. I said Zimmerman did nothing wrong, as far as the evidence was concerned.

    I’m not saying that is definitely what happened with Trayvon and Zimmerman. But you can’t say that definitely didn’t happen with Trayvon and Zimmerman.

    I don’t care about what is possible; I care about what the evidence available clearly indicates.

    Again, a not guilty verdict is the correct one. But this is a very disturbing case that you don’t seem to be very disturbed by.

    Because it is not disturbing at all. Shit happens, and a lot of the time it’s nobody’s fault – it’s just shit happening. Trayvon had many options available to him to avoid this. He could have waved at the vehicle or shouted out for help.. He could have called the police. He could have outrun Zimmerman and hid in the dark. Zimmerman did nothing wrong. That doesn’t mean Trayvon did anything criminal, it just means he probably made some bad choices that night – choices any teenager might have made.

    But even if Trayvon had no malice or ill will in his body, that doesn’t mean Zimmerman did anything wrong, and there is no evidence that demonstrates otherwise. We live in a country where you are presumed innocent of a crime until proven guilty. Disparaging the character of a person, and making speculations about their motivations or mental state because one doesn’t like what happened is not a rational response.

  46. 46
    Chris Doyle says:

    Fair enough, WJM. I’m of the opinion that when a media circus jeopardises a fair trial, then the trial should be thrown out and the media bosses should be imprisoned for contempt of court. It certainly sounds like that would apply in this particular case.

    I still maintain that there is a very important difference between shooting down a stranger who was innocently minding his own business before you showed up; and shooting somebody who has broken into your house while you’re sleeping. The former should not happen in a civilized society and legislative steps should be taken to discourage it.

  47. 47
    tlwillis says:

    Are we done yet? One man is dead and another will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his days.
    Without being at the scene, or without being able to read Mr. Z’s mind, how can anyone know for sure what transpired or prove the ‘facts’ one way or another?

    This is a ‘legal’ system that governs our disputes, one that relies on verifiable evidence to reach a conclusion. In most cases this system functions and the ‘bad’ guy goes to jail. Like science, there is little room for arguments and theories which lie outside of the evidence or beyond what to a judge/jury appears to be the most plausible accounting of the incident.

    Far be it from me to argue against the consensus arrived at by the jury in this case, or by the cult of Darwinism for that matter, since both seem part of an institution that intends to protect us from chaos.

    In either instance, it is up to each of us individually to decide if the institution works and chaos has been prevented…and at what cost to our future.

  48. 48
    Joe says:

    WJM:

    He was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the ground and broke Zimmerman’s nose.

    And you don’t have any idea why that happened. IOW, William, you are just as ignorant as the rest of his wrt what actually happened. So perhaps you should just shut up about it.

    Zimmerman was told to stay in his car. He was a WATCHMAN ONLY.

    So according to William, if I attack someone’s family, and someone stops me by beating me up, I can shoot that person and it is OK. I can break into someone eles house, get beat up and shoot the person.

  49. 49

    And you don’t have any idea why that happened.

    Untrue. The evidence gives me a good idea about what happened.

    IOW, William, you are just as ignorant as the rest of his wrt what actually happened. So perhaps you should just shut up about it.

    I’m just as knowledgeable as anyone else. My opinion is based on the facts in evidence and reasonable interpretations thereof, not upon characterizations or emotional rhetoric or what is simply “possible”.

    Zimmerman was told to stay in his car. He was a WATCHMAN ONLY.

    No. He was not told to stay in his car. He was not told to stop following the suspect. I suggest you go here and actually listen to the tape:

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com.....von-Martin

    Listen to Zimmeran’s voice. The idea that he is a “hero wannabe” or someone out on a rage is belied by the tone of his voice and by what he actually says in the conversation with the dispatcher.

    The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following the suspect, and Zimmerman said yes, then the dispatcher said “we don’t need you to do that”. He didn’t say “don’t do that”, nor is it implied that Zimmerman should stop. It sounds like while the dispatcher appreciated Zimmerman’s involvement, he wanted it to be clear that following was not necessary – but he certainly didn’t try to dissuade Zimmerman from following.

    So according to William, if I attack someone’s family, and someone stops me by beating me up, I can shoot that person and it is OK. I can break into someone eles house, get beat up and shoot the person.

    Your unfounded assumption is that Zimmerman attacked Trayvon first. There is simply no evidence to suggest this is true.

    In any scenario, Zimmerman cannot sneak up on Trayvon, because Zimmerman is in a car, while Trayvon is out in the rain and dark on foot. In any scenario where Zimmerman is the aggressor, Zimmerman must get out of the car. This leaves Trayvon with the option of running away, yelling for help, even running up on someone’s porch and banging on the door – if nothing else, to get the cops to come.

    Also, Trayvon had a phone and could have called the cops at any time. Trayvon was much bigger than Zimmerman, and Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman beating his face and pounding his head against the concrete.

    The facts of the case do not support any scenario, or any verdict, as it turns out, other than exactly what Zimmerman says happened. That doesn’t mean Zimmerman isn’t a bad guy, it just means the available evidence doesn’t support your perspective of what happened.

  50. 50
    Joe says:

    Yup I listened to Zimmerman- he sounds like a little whiny baby. He had no business owning a gun.

    And T Martin didn’t need help- why should he run away? He was NOT doing anything wrong!

    Remove Zimmerman from this scenario and all is OK. Therefor Zimmerman is the whole problem.

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