And now, for something that doesn’t matter!

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012

Did you understand what this means: No, this doesn’t exactly matter. But did you understand the following passage?

It comes from yesterday’s New York Times—from a news report about the charges which have been brought against George Zimmerman. Do you understand what this says?
SCHWARTZ (4/12/12): The charge of second-degree murder also means that Mr. Zimmerman will not be entitled to be released on bail before his trial. Instead, his lawyer will be able to ask for what Florida calls an Arthur hearing, which can take place weeks after the arrest, to determine whether he should be allowed to post bond.
He can’t get bail—but he might post bond! Do you have any idea what that means?

No, it doesn’t exactly matter. But for ourselves, we’ll admit we do not.

46 comments:

  1. If I recall correct -- and I may not as law school and my life of crime is long behind me -- when a suspect seeks bail, he or she presents the court with 100% of the money required to ensure appearance at trial. When he or she presents himself or herself before the court, the bail is returned.

    Bond, however, occurs when the defendant pays 10% of the required amount to a bondsman. The bondsman guarantees the entire amount demanded by the court. The 10% paid by the defendant is not returned.

    Perhaps Zimmerman's attorney is asking the court to visit the issue of bail, and the reporter's description was unclear.

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  2. Bob, spend five seconds on google and find out what an Arthur hearing is.

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    1. Should NY Times readers have to resort to Google searches to figure out what their articles are trying to say? Have we gotten to the point where newspaper articles in our nation's leading newspaper can't explain basic facts?

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    2. No, the New York Times should be required to present everything on a silver platter and perfectly so you can believe every word written without taxing your brain cells.

      That will save you the hard work of thinking for yourself and doing your own independent study.

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    3. "That will save you the hard work of thinking for yourself and doing your own independent study"

      If each of us realizes we must do our own independent study, why read the New York Times in the first place? There is no reason, except to make us feel good to hear our own ill considered and unsupported opinions.

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    4. I don't read the New York Times regularly. I do read my own metropolitan daily. And it's a good starting point. But in the age of the Internet, that's all it is.

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    5. The point of a newspaper is to educate their readers about important topics of the day, and, one might hope, to get to the truth behind these topics. I don't have the time to do my own research on every single topic of importance, and neither does anybody else (coincidentally, I had an old intro to criminal law text book sitting on my bookshelf and I looked up the correct information in it). If people can't expect newspapers to get basic information right, then I don't know where that leaves the hope for an informed public.

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    6. Allow me to help you here. Unlike Somerby's daily sermons, "getting basic information right" is not the same as getting every detail right, no matter how inconsequential or minute.

      And over time, people have been pretty good at sorting through a variety of competing details and voices.

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    7. All the "details" for example about the Zimmerman/Martin case that the Howler has addressed have been inconsequential.

      Well, I mean, they *were* very consequential -- when they pointed in the direction of Zimmerman's guilt or the Sanford cops' incompetence -- but since it turned out they weren't facts at all they are now "inconsequential."

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    8. Allow me to help you here. Unlike Somerby's daily sermons, "getting basic information right" is not the same as getting every detail right, no matter how inconsequential or minute.

      I would hope that a reporter on a legal beat would be familiar with the basics about bail/bond, or if she wasn't, would know enough to find out. Apparently this isn't the case at the NY Times.

      And over time, people have been pretty good at sorting through a variety of competing details and voices.

      What planet do you live on, and how do I move there?

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    9. Nope. Zimmerman's true weight, the number of 911 calls and when, the troubling "enhanced" photos of those terrible unbandaged injuries, and anything said by Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow and especially the hated Lawrence O'Donnell didn't mean squat.

      Kinda like what Trayvon Martin means to Bob Somerby.

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    10. Hardindr, I live in the Unites States of America. Where do you live where people are so reliant on cable TV hosts for "news" and so dumb they are incapable of sorting through what they babble about?

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    11. I've lived in the US all my life. People's skulls here are full of old shoes (not sure if that is the same in most countries). The NY Times (and other high-brow news organizations) don't help matters much.

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    12. Remember people: the NYT is a PRINT publication. Many of its readers are its readers BECAUSE THEY DON'T USE THE INTERNET. Telling some 80 year old to Google "Arthur hearing" is like telling them to flap their wings and fly down to the store to pick up their groceries. I'm a highly educated person, and have no idea what an "Arthur hearing" is (I assume it has nothing to do with Dudley Moore), and the passage Somerby highlighted makes no sense to me. If I were reliant on just the newspaper itself I'd have been very confused. Some of you are so eager to prove how smart you are you end up looking stupid.

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    13. "Some of you are so eager to prove how smart you are you end up looking stupid."

      Exhibit A:

      "...didn't mean squat. Kinda like what Trayvon Martin means to Bob Somerby."

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    14. Except, dear boy, I am not the one devoting an entire blog to the notion that people are so dumb that they will never figure out anything if Lawrence O'Donnell, et al, keep misleading them.

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    15. Nope, I'm instead devoting my entire life to pretending people are so dumb they'll believe an Anonymous idiot who says that's what Somerby's blog is.

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  3. I don't think the important distinction is between bail and bond, but rather between being entitled to it and being able to get it only after a hearing and at a court's discretion. Poorly written article.

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    1. I would say those two sentences are perhaps confusing and poorly written. But I'm not quite ready to toss out the entire article because of it. Actually, the article is quite informative.

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  4. nomatter_nevermindApril 13, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    I googled 'Arthur hearing' as A8:10 suggested, and read one article.

    The difference seems to be that someone accused of a 'bondable' offense will usually get his bond set on his first appearance. It's not clear to me that such a defendant is literally 'entitled' to a bond. I think the judge still has discretion to deny the bond completely if he wants to for some reason.

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    1. The Eighth Amendment specifically forbids "excessive bail." Without getting into a couple hundred years of case law allowing courts to deny bail, suffice it to say that a defendant is entitled to a hearing on that issue.

      But to put it in a nutshell, the purpose of bail is to guarantee, as best as possible, a defendant's appearance in court.

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  5. What I get from it is that Zimmerman can only post bond after a hearing, which sometimes takes weeks.

    It could be clearer, but hardly an outrage.

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    1. Well, rest assured that Somerby will leave no stone unturned in his quest for egregious reporting by the New York Times, no matter how inconsequential.

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    2. As all liberals, slackjawed, stare off into space and do nothing.

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  6. Still, The Daily Howler is correct, the journalist could have clarified the point ( if Zimmerman is going to be out before his trial) for the reader.

    And another day passes with the dreaded Maddow on top of the bestseller list with a good book on a critical issue, and crickets from The Daily Howler.

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    1. Yes, Somerby simply must speak about Rachel Maddow's book! Why? Because I say so!

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    2. Go back a couple of weeks and read how your guru demanded that Maddow correct an egregious error (that existed in his head). Why? Because he said so!

      Somerby has demanded that TV cable hosts, including Maddow, address serious issues and lay off the trivia.

      When she does, what do we get from Somerby?

      [crickets]

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    3. Hey, Greg. Obviously Somerby has more important things to worry about than how the legislative has ceded warmaking powers to the executive.

      Like Piers Morgan.

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    4. What Rachel Maddow says doesn't mean squat. No one listens to her anyway. No one cares what happens on the Rachel Maddow show.

      Bob should stop talking about Rachel Maddow's show (which is irrelevant to all liberals, anyway) and start talking about Rachel Maddow's book, which is hugely important.

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    5. I find the comments hear hilarious. I wonder if Rachel Maddow's book could be taken more seriously if she were more serious of a person on her TV show? Isn't Bob constantly saying that to have some sort of rhetorical high ground you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk? What sort of high ground does Rachel have if her show is an unserious snark fest?

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  7. I bet everyone would have understood the point if the article had said "automatically entitled."

    Of course, if you think about it, that's redundant! So I don't know that it was awful to write it the non-redundant way.

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  8. I agree with those here who don't see Bob's particular example a particularly good one. Every article can't explain everything. The important point here for the article's readers: when might Zimmerman be able to get out of jail? That could have been handled better.

    But if Mr. Somerby didn't choose a great example, I take his point. Too many articles in the NYT (and elsewhere) substitute details (presented, to the appearance of probably most readers, utterly gratuitously) for a clear argument (in the service of which the details are presented). I read the NYT daily and read college students' papers regularly. I would never let my students get away with the shoddy argumentation of most articles I read. The sloppiest, most padded papers I read are based on a better sense of how to construct an argument.

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  9. nomatter_nevermindApril 13, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    hardindr:

    I would hope that a reporter on a legal beat would be familiar with the basics about bail/bond, or if she wasn't, would know enough to find out.

    That's a good point. I should have thought of it myself. I was recently pointing out that a reporter on a police beat should know the difference between a 911 call and a non-emergency police call. He should also be skeptical when a call that obviously should be non-emergency, like a four-minute report of a 'suspicious person', is represented as a 911 call.

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    1. Boy, you've been banging that brilliant discovery, if true, as if it holds the entire key to this case. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how the press' representation of who Zimmerman called could possibly have any significance.

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    2. nomatter_nevermindApril 14, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      It's not brilliant. If it were brilliant, it wouldn't be so sad and pathetic that almost the entire national and local press corps of the United States has missed it.

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    3. If they did indeed miss it and the dispatcher simply didn't answer the phone differently that one time.

      But even assuming they did, the question remains: So what?

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  10. nomatter_nevermindApril 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    If a 911 dispatcher chose to impersonate a police dispatcher, that would itself be an oddity that the press should take note of and investigate.

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    1. Oh, by all means, let's put an end to the scandal of 911 dispatchers impersonating police dispatchers. I'm certain there is a Pulitzer Prize in there.

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    2. nomatter_nevermindApril 14, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Sorry. I forgot the rule that a reporter never works on a story that can't lead to Pulitzer Prize.

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    3. OK, we are agreed that it isn't Pulitzer Prize material.

      Now explain to me what difference it could possibly make if Zimmerman's recorded call went to 911 or to a non-emergency police line.

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    4. Call 911 and find out .
      "What is the nature of your emergency ?"


      Sheesh ...

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    5. Once again, the way the person on the police end answered the phone has what to do with value of the rest of the call as evidence in this case?

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    6. anonymous (if that's your real name):

      allow me to explain. the fact that mr. zimmerman called the sanford police non-emergency number goes to his state of mind. clearly, he didn't feel the situation he was calling about was an emergency, requiring a call to 911 instead. in fact, from the conversation, it isn't real clear to me exactly what he thought he was calling about at all, since mr. martin, in mr. zimmerman's own words, wasn't doing anything overtly illegal at that point.

      because the SYG law requires that a person have a reasonable belief in a life threatening danger to themselves or others, to assert immunity under it, the prosecution may well introduce the taped call(s) as evidence to show the opposite. as well, the advice by the non-emergency line operator, that mr. zimmerman didn't need to follow mr. martin, but that he chose to anyway, may be further evidence that he didn't feel any concerns for his safety.

      just speculation on my part.

      the point i believe mr. somerby was making was that it was confusing to read that, on one hand, the charge didn't allow for a defendant to be out on bail, and yet, they could request a bail hearing at a later date. the use of the words bail & bond are moot, bond is simply a % of the total bail required. the explanation of an "arthur hearing" given doesn't clear up this seeming contradiction.

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    7. Or, cpniva (if that's your real name)

      He could have called 911 so often in the past that they told him to call a "special" number just for him, and he bought it.

      Or . . . he didn't want the cops showing up tooo fast.

      Or . . . any number of things it would take Kreskin to figure out.

      How about we do what the prosecutors are going to do and just consider the evidence they have?

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  11. nomatter_nevermindApril 15, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    OK, we are agreed that it isn't Pulitzer Prize material.

    I don't know. Maybe it could be. Maybe it isn't just a few rogue dispatchers. Maybe it's the first overt act of a vast conspiracy to undermine public confidence in the nation's emergency call system.

    (Did you catch how I turned our single entirely speculative rogue dispatcher into 'a few' that are apparently assumed to exist? It's fun working in media.)

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  12. Because Mr. George Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder, he will not be permitted to post bail until an Arthur hearing, weeks away, that may allow him to post bail.

    or

    It could be the Martin Rule, that explains how child molesting radical leftist terrorist sympathizers will publicly try to embarrass Sanford's race biased law enforcement, that up until now was no big deal, if Zimmerman is permitted to bond out too quickly.

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