SOCIETY DOWN: Woodruff fails to act!


Part 2—No false claim left behind: It’s good to be Professor John Blume of the Cornell Law School.

In 1984, Blume graduated from Yale Law School. Yesterday, the New York Times published a letter from Blume about the Zimmerman verdict.

When elite professors function this way, we’d call that “society down:”
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (7/16/13): Despite the rhetoric on both sides, the criminal justice system sometimes works as it is supposed to. George Zimmerman should have been charged. He ignored a direct police order not to follow Trayvon Martin, he initiated the encounter, and he intentionally shot and killed an unarmed teenager. His statements about the events were inconsistent, and there was evidence he was the aggressor. In legal terms, there was definitely “probable cause” to charge Mr. Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

The prosecution presented its case, warts and all (with a few self-inflicted wounds no doubt), and the jury unanimously decided that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt of Mr. Zimmerman’s guilt. Whether one likes the results or not, based on an objective assessment of the evidence, the jurors made the right decision. In short, the case played out as it should have.

Now let’s hope the civil justice system works just as well, and Mr. Zimmerman is sued, found liable and forced to pay damages.
Incredibly, that letter was written by a Cornell professor—a Cornell law professor! Let’s consider the highlighted sentence, which has several remarkable aspects:

At the New York Times letters page, a basic policy seems to obtain: No False Claim Left Behind! In fact, Zimmerman did not “ignore a direct police order” that night, as Professor Blume dramatically claims.

Zimmerman did not disobey such an order. This was directly testified to in the trial and has been widely reported.

We’ll grant you that the New York Times didn’t report what Sean Noffke said. But on June 24, the first day of the trial, Noffke, the young police dispatcher, testified about his conversation with Zimmerman on the night Trayvon Martin died.

By July 7, even Jonathan Capehart had heard about what Noffke said. This comes from Capehart’s high-profile fact-check in the Washington Post Outlook section:
CAPEHART (7/7/13): Those who fault Zimmerman have latched on to this back-and-forth with Sean Noffke, the operator, as proof that Zimmerman defied a direct police order.

Not so. Noffke testified on the first day of the jury trial that it is dispatchers’ policy not to give orders to callers. “We’re directly liable if we give a direct order,” he explained. “We always try to give general basic . . . not commands, just suggestions.”

So, “We don’t need you to do that” is different than a more direct “Don’t do that.”
Duh. On the very first day of the trial, Noffke, the police dispatcher, testified that Zimmerman hadn’t been given an order. On cable, we’ve seen this basic point explained about ten million times.

Nor did it qualify as news when Noffke testified to this effect. For anyone who has followed this story, the fact that Zimmerman wasn’t given an order was established long before this.

On March 21 of last year, the Sanford police chief issued a statement noting that the dispatcher’s “suggestion” was “not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmermann would be required to follow.” That statement was made last year, in March of 2012.

Up in Ithaca, lost in his thoughts, Professor Blume hadn’t heard! He missed the initial statement last year, then missed the testimony by the dispatcher. He missed the ten million explanations on cable. He then missed Capehart’s fact-check.

Do you get the sense that Professor Blume may not be following this matter real closely? Despite this problem, the lofty fellow jotted a note to the Times. He misstated a basic fact of the case, then began to reinvent the basic story line.

Did Zimmerman “initiate the encounter” with Trayvon Martin that night? That’s what our lofty professor said, though he didn’t explain what he meant by the statement or why he thought he knew this. Note again the bowdlerized way he described the events of that night:

“He ignored a direct police order not to follow Trayvon Martin, he initiated the encounter, and he intentionally shot and killed an unarmed teenager.”

The first of those statements is false. The second statement is unfounded. The third statement is certainly true—but as in so many such recitations, the professor has simply dropped the other facts which explain the jury’s verdict.

His account would fit a case in which Martin was shot in the back, or by a sniper in a tree, or from a distance of several feet in the course of a verbal argument. In the professor’s account, no fight occurs. The fatal gun shot occurs, but no one sustains any injuries before the shot is fired.

It’s good being Professor John Blume! His knowledge of the case is so weak that he started his account of the shooting with a blatant false statement. But in spite of his manifest ignorance, Blume proceeded to tell the world what should happen from here.

He knows that Zimmerman should be sued, and that he should lose the case. These would be our questions:

Is there any chance that Cornell should be sued by the parents of this man’s students? Is there any chance that the Times should be sued for its incurable habit of printing letters which contain false facts?

At any rate, at the New York Times, it’s No False Claim Left Behind! But then, this habit is deeply ingrained all through the upper-end “press corps.”

Consider Judy Woodruff’s performance on Monday evening’s NewsHour. To watch the whole segment, click this.

Dearest darlings, it just isn’t done! In the world of celebrity broadcast news, you simply don’t correct inaccurate statements by your guests! That explains why Woodruff just sat there smiling when Christina Swarns offered an apparent false fact.

Swarns is from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. At one point, she told Woodruff this:
SWARNS (7/15/13): The second thing I would point out is, you know, the jury selection in this case. I don't understand how the prosecution believed that a jury of six white women was going to be favorable to its case against Mr. Zimmerman. So I think that was another error.
Swarns was an endless embarrassment Monday night. Before we examine the highlighted phrase, let’s note an obvious fact:

To state what is blindingly obvious, the prosecution didn’t engineer or select the racial composition of the jury. Almost surely, it didn’t think that the jury’s racial composition “was going to be favorable to its case.”

Indeed, the prosecution was overruled and rebuked by the judge for its efforts to strike prospective white jurors. As a courtesy, we will assume that Swarns knew these things—that she was simply pimping criticisms of the prosecution as a way of advancing the claim that we need a new, federal trial.

As a courtesy, we’ll assume that Swarns was deliberately misleading Woodruff’s viewers. But put aside her ridiculous claims about the prosecution’s mistakes. Instead, consider the “fact” she offered about the racial composition of the jury.

Really? This trial was conducted before “a jury of six white women?” The court doesn’t release the race of jurors, but that is not the way the composition of the jury was reported at the time of its selection.

As best we can tell from a Nexis search, The NewsHour has never reported the jury’s racial composition. But everywhere else, news orgs reported that the six-member jury was composed of five white women and one woman who was black or Hispanic. That said:

Is it just our imagination, or is the claim that this was an “all-white jury” emerging as a new fake fact? We’ll offer a separate post on this emerging point.

At any rate, Woodruff just sat there and smiled when Swarns made this factual claim. But then, she also accepted the leading fake fact of this 16-month story—and this false claim was stated twice, first by Swarns and then by Jelani Cobb, another leading professor.

George Zimmerman was told to stay in his car! All pundits know they should say it:
SWARNS (7/15/13): What happened in Florida to Trayvon Martin was that Mr. Zimmerman looked at him walking down the street with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea and determined that, based on those factors that he could see, this young man was a criminal.

He warranted a call to the police, he warranted being followed, he warranted being followed, Mr. Zimmerman getting out of his car and following him down the street on foot, notwithstanding the fact that the police department told him not to get out of the car.


COBB: The fact of the matter is, whatever the conflict was, it was precipitated by Mr. Zimmerman. The police—the dispatcher told him not to get out of his vehicle. He proceeded to get out of his vehicle.
George Zimmerman was told to stay in his car! It has turned out to be the leading fake fact in this 16-month story. Woodruff accepted it twice Monday night, without correction or comment.

In fairness, we ought to acknowledge a basic fact. It may be that Swarns, Cobb and Woodruff believe that Zimmerman was told to stay in his car. Within our journalistic culture, the leading fake facts get repeated so often that major players end up believing that the fake facts are true.

In theory, these people are paid to know better. But Woodruff may have had no idea that this fake fact is false.

Crackers! Our modern “journalistic” system runs on fake facts! (And on the withholding of accurate facts.) In the past week, we have recalled the astounding fake facts which were invented in the summer of 2001—fake facts designed to make you think that Gary Condit murdered Chandra Levy.

In that instance, something unusual occurred—a professional journalist, Mona Charen, actually wrote a column debunking those fake facts. Under the circumstances, those fake claims were really quite astounding.

(For our real-time report, just click this.)

Just imagine! Imagine inventing a pair of fake facts designed to get someone accused of a murder he didn't commit! But that is plainly what happened that summer—and something like it has happened this year, as an old-fashioned lynch mob runs through the streets, shouting out claims which are false.

Jelani Cobb has been part of this mob. Why is he still a professor? Swarns, who was awful all night Monday night, is also part of that mob.

Meanwhile, up at Cornell, it’s good to be Professor Blume! He doesn’t know his ass from his ascot when it comes to the basic facts of this case. But the New York Times couldn’t run fast enough to put his false claim into print.

This is the way your discourse works. It has worked this way for decades.

Your discourse runs on Standard Fake Facts. All good pundits agree to state them. This is also the way lynch mobs work. And please understand:

Back in the day, the people in those southern lynch mobs thought their cause was righteous too.

Might we make the world’s most obvious statement? When a society tolerates this sort of thing, that society is on its way down.

Tomorrow: Where did the basic fake facts of this story come from?

A sign from the gods: In a wonderful sign from the gods, we note that Professor Blume has co-written a book with this title:

"A Modern Approach to Evidence."

That's what we've been talking about, over the past fifteen years.


  1. By all means, Bob, stick with your favored narrative.

    Ignore the fact that if Zimmerman was trained in neighborhood watch, it was strongly and repeatedly stressed to him never to follow suspects.

    And ignore the fact that the dispatcher told him, "we don't need you to do that" when she Zimmerman told her he was following the kid on foot.

    According to the Somerby narrative, because the dispatcher didn't use the precise words, "Do not follow the suspect," then Zimmerman was never told not to follow the suspect. Ergo, he thought it was perfectly okey-dokey to grab his gun and follow the kid.

    1. The dispatcher also asked Zimmerman what Martin was doing and in what direction he was running.

      Would any rational consequences of those questions give you the slightest pause in judging this guy as being a predator stalking his prey for the kill?

    2. Agreed.
      To me, all it does it reinforce the idea that Zimmerman was given no accountability to go along with the responsibility of his neighborhood watch position. It's a nice position for the police, too. They don't want to issue an order because they don't want liability or responsibility so they deliver training and then issue "suggestions" or "advice" or however we're describing this now.
      George Zimmerman makes judgment calls, and we'll all just have to live with them, I guess. Or not, depending.
      I would be more comfortable if the Zimmerman defense team hadn't relied on the neighborhood watch classification as a justification for his actions. If they had picked one; he's either a ordinary person OR some sort of quasi official who has to follow specific guidelines. Instead, they got the benefit of the neighborhood watch status with none of the downside: following rules.
      One more way it went advantage Zimmerman.

    3. I am surprised, given the number of times Zimmerman called the non emergency dispatcher, that Trayvon was only his first stalk and kill. I am sure he will carve a notch in his gun when they give it back to him, if he did not do so the night of the killing when they gave it back to him the first time.

    4. There's the other part of it, too, the implication that by being neighborhood watch he's insulated from accountability.

      Is that because he's a volunteer? I'm a volunteer in one capacity where I live and if I do a BAD JOB I"m not really doing anyone any favors.

      Do you think Martin's father is grateful for Zimmerman's protection?

      "Volunteer" doesn't mean "completely unnacountable". I hope.

    5. Zimmerman helped catch a burglar who had been preying on one of his elderly neighbors not long before this event. Maybe he was motivated by that. Is that a bad thing?

    6. Anon1147, why wouldn't the defense "rely" on the fact that GZ'S was watching TM as part of his neighborhood watch person role?

      It is true.

    7. Somerby is talking about the false media narrative here, that Zimmerman disobeyed an "order" not to leave the car. Nothing else.

      So why some of you guys want to go off and talk about the case entire is baffling. Plus, your own facts are dubious. Try as you might, you're propping up a rationale for prosecuting Z that may not have existed.

    8. "I am surprised, given the number of times Zimmerman called the non emergency dispatcher, that Trayvon was only his first stalk and kill. I am sure he will carve a notch in his gun when they give it back to him, if he did not do so the night of the killing when they gave it back to him the first time."

      Errr-- you don't seem to realize that this goes to his innocence, do you? If he did indeed stalk so many other times without incident, then he's obviously not as trigger-prone as his enemies want to make him out to be.


  2. Hey, Bob, can you sent me an e-mail when you are finally done with this "Zimmerman was never told to leave his car" meme?

    I know this is only Part 2, and you got a long way to go. But I really don't have a heck of a lot of time to read blogs, and yours used to be so good.

    Let me know in about six months, or 13 years, when you have finally moved on and start writing about something that hasn't been beaten to death in 10,000 other places.

    1. This coverage has been beyond superb and necessary.

    2. Anonymous 11:20 [Shitforbrains]July 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      Yeah it's not like huge news orgs keep repeating the "meme" that Zimmerman *was* told to leave his car!


      Oh yeah oops, guess I really am a stupid fuck!

    3. Oh absolutely, guys. Where would we be without Somerby hashing over every minute detail of this case? I mean, it's not like we are living in an Information Age or anything.

      Obviously, if it weren't for Bob, nobody would we talking about this case.

    4. "Information Age!"

      Tell it to Judy Woodruff, gasbag.

    5. That's pretty much my point. Somerby used to be at least somewhat original. Now he just latches onto the hot story of the day while decrying how the media latches onto the hot story of the day.

      Sure does build a comment box up that's been on life support for quite some time. And I am sure his "hit" counts are finally up beyond that of "Grandma's Blog."

    6. Hey Anon,

      Did Bob steal you candy in third grade or something? You sound like you've got one hell of an axe to grind.

    7. Anon's not in third grade yet. September, september!

    8. To Somerby's critics here:

      I don't see ANYONE else making these points, or correcting the record. So I think it's great that he is.

      Why is it that I get the funny feeling that you're actually hostile to his views, and that that is what the real gripe here is?

  3. I quite often hear Judy Woodruff and others on PBS challenge guests when their accounts steer away from prior reporting. You can't catch them all, however, and it's especially galling when an interviewer lets your particular hobby horse slip by.

    1. Jeeves, Stumped As UsualJuly 17, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      slip by, again, and again

      Just a little slip.

      Why correct it?

      Not like anyone's pretending it's an important fact that Zimmerman was told to stay in his car when he really wasn't.


      Oh, guess I am just a stupid fuck.

  4. Angela Corey has some fake goodwill banked now with the Sharpton crowd. Florida prosecutors can go back to removing black jurors from the pool where there are black defendants.

    Way to go, tribal idiots! You made a difference!

  5. You know how much of a problem "black boys getting gunned down by whites" ISN'T?

    This case was the best Rev. Al and his lynch mob of rubes could do. They couldn't find a case with a white. They couldn't find a case with someone who wasn't in the process of having an ass beating inflicted upon him by their "victim."

    Slim pickings out there, so they worked with what they had and just lied about the facts and made up new racial categories that included the word "white" like "white hispanic" instead.

  6. Hi Anon 11:20

    No - like a dog with a bone - this gent will not let this one go. Just look how long he has obsessed about the "Al Gore was mistreated" meme.

    He's playing a game that he cannot lose - but then he can be the target of the game also. He writes

    "Whether one likes the results or not, based on an objective assessment of the evidence, the jurors made the right decision."

    The jurors made a decision to acquit. And that is the final legal verdict on this case.

    What is his basis for saying it is 'right'? Since it is legally 'right' by definition - he must mean "morally" or "factually" or "politically" (thats what crackers in Florida and elsewhere wanted and therefore it must be right), or "aesthetically" (Martin would have eventually been gunned down by a black criminal as he pursued his inevitable career in crime and Z merely made it happen sooner).

    In whatever sense he thinks the verdict is 'right' he needs to justify it beyond merely asserting the obvious fact that in the American system a Jury's verdict of acquittal is final.

    1. Douchbag 12:02, where does Somerby say "the jurors made the right decision?"

      Oh, he doesn't?

      Oh, that's not Somerby, but a letter to the NYT?

      Oh, you don't know what the fuck you're even talking about?

      Color us extraordinarily unsurprised, then STFU and go away.

    2. He played the same game with Bush's "Sixteen Words." Because Dubya said "Africa" and not specifically, "Nigeria," then he wasn't lying when he said Saddam had a full blown nuclear program underway.

    3. Anon 12:18

      I didn't catch the indentation - so yes I was mistaken in attributing that to the blogger. But not to worry

      "SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2013

      Capehart checks the facts: Was last night’s verdict the correct verdict?

      We would be inclined to say yes."

      Directly from the horse's mouth, even using the royal "we" as he does from time to time.

      Now stop being an infantile potty-mouth and defend your hero with rational argument.

    4. Translation: Wahhhhhh!

      But as for a brand new issue, not the one you were uninformedly nattering on about:

      "Was last night’s verdict the correct verdict? We would be inclined to say yes"

      I don't think that needs much "defense."

      But yes, I too think the jury reached the correct verdict.

      I found it doubtful from the get-go that you'd get a panel of jurors to agree, based on the evidence that would be admitted, that there was no possible way Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, which is what they'd have had to do to convict.

    5. Hey 1:11

      Its going over your head, as it did over your hero's and also the professor he was ridiculing.

      A jury verdict for acquittal is neither right nor wrong - it is the final say of the American system of criminal justice on the matter. You, your hero and everybody else may have an opinion in agreement or disagreement, but that has no bearing on the "correctness" of the verdict.

    6. Hey douchebag, When you ask for my opinion, watch out cause you just may get it! No use cryin' afterwards, and pretendin' I said it was "right" or "wrong."

      And I'm real sure everyone's innarested in what you've gotta say, too. Doncha hear them clamoring for your voice to be heard, as to why Somerby's "wrong" to say "We would be inclined to say yes [the jury reached the correct verdict]?" Doncha hear it? The clamor?


    7. Anin139, then it's all moot... Go in peace.

    8. There you go.

      You are incapable of understanding that a verdict for acquittal cannot be "correct" or "incorrect". It is merely the irreversible outcome of the case.

      See how my insistence on highly precise statements drove you to a faeces-hurling temper-tantrum?

      Thats what our esteemed host has been doing ad infinitum - looking for nitpicking "gotcha"s against "liberals" to spew hatred.

      "Stay in your vehicle" is a natural, innocent mischaracterization of "we don't need you to do that (follow him)" that makes no difference as to how you would approach the case - but our esteemed host will never quit shoving it up "liberals'" behind for the next 100 million years.

      I don't think even Coulter or Hannity have been as viciously hateful as this gentleman in defending Z.

    9. Anon2:15 try telling a defendant that a verdict is merely a social construct.

    10. "Stay in your vehicle " is not an innocent mischaracterization of "we don't need you to do that" (stated after GZ already had) when the charge was Zimmerman had ignored the dispatcher because he had gotten out of his vehicle and was hell bent on chasing Martin.

    11. But Cecelia 2:19

      Thats what it is, precisely.

      (1) Other countries do not have jury trials

      (2) It is not a search for the truth, because the fifth amendment stops us from torturing Z to get the truth out of him - or for that matter even from forcing to testify.

      The trial gave the Martin family the comfort of having had their day in court. Thats the only non-arbitrary thing it accomplished.

    12. 3) The concept of right or wrong is relative, thus making guilt and innocence an arbitrary and wholly subjective construct, capricious in its impartation.

      Oh, and the notion that certain venues such as news rooms and court rooms require language more precise than pillow talk? That's merely cultural prerogative too.

      Have I negated everything that doesn't suit my narrative yet?

    13. "a natural, innocent mischaracterization":

      Yup, sure.

      And one that innocently tilts against one side, that innocently changes a statement into an order, and that innocently requires time-travel

      But other than that, I don't see what the problem is!!!

    14. Anon@128: well-put, Bob.

    15. there is a massive difference in most people's minds between "he was told to stay in his vehicle but didn't" and what actually happened, which was that he was already outside of his vehicle and following Trayvon on foot when the non-emergency police dispatcher asked, 'are you following him?' 'yes' 'ok, we don't need you to do that,' at which point Z says 'ok' and shortly after which point you can clearly tell by the change in background noise and by the change in Z's speech and breathing that he stops his pursuit. (if you don't accept that interpretation, at the very least you have no way of knowing whether he disobeyed the dispatcher's suggestion.) the inaccurate scenario, which thanks to the media (criticizing which is the whole point of this site!) is now firmly planted in millions of outraged people's minds, Z is given an ORDER by the police, he DISOBEYS, and BECAUSE HE DISOBEYS the police's ORDER he is now outside of the vehicle - a state of affairs which makes the whole tragedy possible, whereas it would not have even been a possibility if he had just followed the police's (fictional) command to stay in the vehicle. this is one of the biggest things people appear to be outraged about - if he just would have listened to the police, Trayvon would still be alive; therefore, he's even more to blame because 1. he defied the cops' command, and 2. that command was to stay in the vehicle, which would have prevented the tragedy altogether. now, compare that to what ACTUALLY happened: Z's being outside of the vehicle was NOT THE RESULT OF HIS DISOBEYING A COMMAND BY THE DISPATCHER. he was already outside of the vehicle, and when the dispatcher suggests that he not follow Trayvon, Z apparently OBEYS...A MERE SUGGESTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU GET IT? DO YOU SEE WHY SOMERBY MIGHT WANT TO CORRECT THIS INACCURACY? IN THE MADE-UP VERSION WHICH THE MEDIA PREFERS TO TELL, IT IS ZIMMERMAN'S WILLFUL, RECKLESS, VIGILANTE DEFIANCE OF THE POLICE'S COMMAND THAT RESULTS IN HIS BEING OUTSIDE THE VEHICLE, A CONDITION WHICH IN TURN ALLOWS THE WHOLE TRAGEDY TO UNFOLD. but the reality is much less "sexy" - and much less likely to provoke outrage: Z is already outside of the vehicle when the dispatcher gives his "command"; and the "command" is not about staying in the vehicle, but is instead a suggestion that Z not follow Trayvon on foot, and Z apparently listens to him.

    16. Hi, Mike L.

      May I say, even though your screed is hard to read, not in paragraph form, and gets a BIT LOUD, there is not a single thing wrong with it logically.

      It explains and rebuts much of the idiocy that has so far transpired in these comment threads.

      Thank you sincerely, Mike L. for being a voice of reason.

      Sadly however, reason has no place here. Please return often and help change that. We could use it.

    17. yeah, i'm clearly in need of an editor. i can barely make sense of it myself.

  7. “He ignored a direct police order not to follow Trayvon Martin, he initiated the encounter, and he intentionally shot and killed an unarmed teenager.”

    Bob said: The first of those statements is false. The second statement is unfounded. The third statement is certainly true—but as in so many such recitations, the professor has simply dropped the other facts which explain the jury’s verdict.

    I counter. The first statement is false, the PD did not order him to stop following Trayvon, rather the PD ASKED him to stop following. Fine point, who cares? Did Zim stop? Uncertain.

    The second statement is true. Of COURSE Zim initiated the encounter. Zim saw someone he found suspicious, so he started following him. In the real world (i.e., not Florida), you follow someone with your car, you're harassing/stalking that person. TM began to run. How can anyone claim TM initiated things?

    Look, an armed adult began harassing some kid walking home with skittles, the kid apparently got nervous and ran, Zim left his car to pursue. Soon after a fight ensued. The adult was getting his ass kicked, so he shot the teenager 70 yards from the teenagers home. Nice. What a freakin' hero.

    Florida's laws say Zim is innocent? Florida needs to change some laws.

    Hank Borelli

    1. No, following isn't stalking, not in FL, and not in your jurisdiction either Borelli.

      Especially not when a dispatcher says: "what's he doing?" "where's he going?"

    2. Ok, don't like the term stalking? how about harassing. You're waling down a street and I'm driving slowly in my SUV following you, or better yet your teen daughter. That's not harassing? bullshit.

      He harassed the kid - causing the kid to run. That instigated the whole lovely evening.

      Hank Borelli.

    3. Ah, I get it. "What's he doing?" is permission to follow, and "We don't need you to do that" is not even suggesting he should wait for the cops.

      But you are correct in one regard. "Stalking" under the law requires repeated behavior. But "stalking" in the common everyday understanding of the rather simple word does not.

      Now here is something that I have learned about the peculiarities of Florida law, thanks to it being an NRA laboratory.

      You can actually start a fight in Florida, throw the first punch, and then shoot the guy if he defends himself and beats the hell out of you.

      And no, you don't need a full-blown "Stand Your Ground" hearing to do that. It was written in the Zimmerman jury's instructions.

    4. Anonymous on 7/17/13 @ 12:26P,

      Stalking under the law requires repeated behavior; stalking in the vernacular does not but carries the connotation of hunting prey.

      If you start a fight in Florida, you may legally defend yourself during the fight, but you can't legally use lethal force to do so unless you first flee or surrender in good faith and still find yourself under attack. I don't think this is much different in other jurisdictions.

      If you waive your SYG pre-trial hearing in Florida, you may still avail yourself of that law's protection at trial. What's your point?

    5. "No, following isn't stalking, not in FL, and not in your jurisdiction either Borelli."

      Yes, and if you're a neighborhood watch person that makes things different. A concept that's being ignored here by all of the hanging judges.

      Look, I used to be seriously anti-Zimmerman. Then I heard the rest of the story. I changed my mind because I was not hung up with the 'tribe's" drumbeat crap.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Why the obsession with skittles?

      Can someone please explain that to me? It's irritating. Like skittles are supposed to make some difference either way.

    8. Matt in the Crown,

      Skittles is, I'm told, a very popular candy with children. They're equal parts high fructose corn syrup and variously numbered dyes, so I'm willing to believe it. This detail has the benefit of being true, while playing to the image of Martin as an innocent, candy-munching child. What kind of a narrative would it be if the innocent boy was carrying a brown-bagged 40 ounce bottle of Colt .45 malt liquor and a 12-pack of ribbed condoms of assorted colors?

  8. Slightly off topic. Here's a parallel case from 2009 with the races reversed. The black shooter of the white criminal was also acquitted of manslaughter.

    1. I remember that story. Good point, upstate NY is a sick as Florida, I don't know how that guy got off.

      Hank Borelli

    2. I have lived in Upstate NY all my life and we are not "sick."

    3. Hardindr, i spent 4 years in Plattsburgh, let's just say i see things differently. But then, you'd probably be no fan of Brooklyn.

      anyway, a bit off topic, no offense meant my Cream Ale drinking friend.


    4. There is a lot of tension between downstate/NYC and upstate. I have only been to NYC once, but I had a good time there. I know many people from Brooklyn (friends and coworkers) and they are fine people.

      I don't drink beer, only the finest scotch and bourbon.

    5. Quaker in a BasementJuly 17, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      The cases are remarkably similar Dave, but with one glaring difference: it didn't take the police 44 days to arrest and charge Mr. Scott. Why do suppose that is?

  9. Bob needs to keep repeating because the media never gets it. That's why he keeps repeating the "Al Gore invented the internet" story. I keep running into people who think that Al Gore actually said that. I saw a writer for the New Yorker on PBS the other day who said Zimmerman was ordered to stay in his car. So Bob obviously needs to keep repeating things. The rest of the media won't say so.

    1. Another theory: repetitive posting is much easier to cut-and-paste.

  10. Did Trayvon initiate the physical confrontation or not? No, "following" is not the physical confrontation.

    Did Trayvon continue to walk home but was physically stopped by Zimmerman from doing so? Or did Trayvon stop walking home, circle around and jump Zimmerman?

    Why won't anyone in my tribe (democratic/liberal) discuss this?

    And can you "Anonymous" idiots understand the concept of scrolling down to "Name/url" in the "Comment as:" box and type in a freaking name? I know most of you are as old as Bob and don't really understand this whole inter-tubes thing, but it's not that difficult.

    1. Then why don't you get it Marcus, you smartie?

      All you have to do is select the Anonymous person you want to reply to, and click reply beneath their comment, rather than starting a random new one yourself.

      Or you could note the time of their Anon comment in your reply if you insist

      It's not that difficult. Someone can do it for you. Ask your mom.

      As to your substantive point, do you understand the concept of "facts in evidence?"

      Getting that point would go some way toward your wish that people would discuss things that aren't in evidence.

    2. You can't reply to a reply. Idiot. There is only one indentation, so there could be twelve different "anonymous" names in one thread. Using the time instead of a name is moronic.

  11. Marcus, the confrontation was started by an armed adult named Zim, that is indisputable. Who threw the first punch based that ensued due to the confrontation? No one knows.

    You may think harassing some innocent teen doesn't mean you deserve a busted nose. I may think that getting a busted nose doesn't mean you deserve to die.

    I'm not a liberal or a democrat...

    1. "Who threw the first punch based that ensued due to the confrontation? " Should be

      "who threw the first punch, a punch that only happened because of that initial confrontation..."?

      or something


    2. Do you understand what the word "confront" means?

      Are you saying that Zimmerman stopped Martin and began a dialogue with him? And at that point, Trayvon or Zimmerman began punching? Can you point to the evidence that you based your "indisputable" fact on?

    3. Marcus, i'm clearly not too smart, but i do understand that to initiate a confrontation is to initiate a challenge. And yes, following someone walking home is a way to initiate a confrontation, at least in Brooklyn.

      Don't believe me? Do you have a teen daughter, would you consider a grown man following her in his car on a dark rainy night initiating a confrontation? I would.

    4. Trayvon threw the first punch. Zimmerman knew cops were on the way, he was moderately afraid ("I don't know where this kid is I don't want to give my home address"), Trayvon liked to start fights, Trayvon had no injuries from any hits from Zimmerman except the bullet wound, Trayvon had 4 minutes to retreat.

    5. Oh, plus the exact quote was "He initiated the ENCOUNTER." not "confrontation." Do you deny that Zim initiated an encounter?

    6. The "Initial confrontation"? You mean when Trayvon walked up to Zimmerman's car/stared as Zimmerman reported while on the phone in his truck?

    7. Also why do you bring up the broken nose as if it's the outcome that decides whether self-defense can be used, when you obviously know that outcome has nothing to do with it. Does someone have to wait until they've sustained brain damage or life-threatening injuries before fighting back?

    8. Anon, 1:17 how do you know who threw the first punch. Wasn't Zim arrested for assaulting a cop, and had an order of protection placed against him by an ex fiance? yes on both. When was Trayvon arrested for violence?

    9. So if you follow a suspicious person in your neighborhood, they have the right to, and generally should bash your head into the curb until they feel like stopping?

    10. We don't know that Zimmerman threw *any* punches, never mind the "first" punch, Jus Asshole, er, Askin.

    11. Marcus, are you happy? We are now discussing a bunch of shit that's not in evidence. Hooray!!!

    12. Yes Anon, I am happy that we are making clear that there is no evidence for the "facts" that my (democratic/left/liberal) tribe have been repeating over and over the past few weeks.

    13. Marcus, if someone is following you and you start wailing on him simply because he was following you, you should be arrested. No doubt. Is that what happened? I don't know, Martin is dead, so we don't have his side.

      Oh, to continue the thought, if you are following someone with a loaded gun, and the guy decides to hit start wailing on you, in a sane world, you do not have the right to shoot him dead.

    14. Hank - I agree with your first paragraph completely...but what are you being arrested for? If you start wailing on him to the inch of his life, wouldn't you assume some kind of attempted murder charge might be involved?

      Doesn't that shed light on your second paragraph? If I'm beating up someone who was following me to the point where they fear for their life and I would be charged with attempted murder, they don't at any point in the scrum have a right to defend themselves?

      I completely agree that we don't know for certain what happened, which is why I don't understand (from a non-emotional/biased perspective) the protests and calls for a federal trial, people so certain about a travesty of justice, etc.

    15. Marcus, Zim knew the cops where on the way, the ME said Zim's injuries were not serious. I don't see how anyone who has actually been in a fist fight would think Zim was in real trouble. Did Zim think so? Is that all it takes to kill someone legally these day, I guess it is in Fla.

      I've actually BEEN arrested for fighting, where I was peeled off by cops while wailing on some schmuck's skull in Canarsie back in '94. I was not charged with attempted murder, I was charged with disorderly conduct. As Martin should have been, if he wasn't killed by a pussy with a gun.

      Zim was driving around with a loaded weapon, he initiated an encounter with an innocent teenager, a fight ensued and the teen ends up dead. Sick. Sick. Indefensible.

    16. "if you are following someone with a loaded gun, and the guy decides to hit start wailing on you, in a sane world, you do not have the right to shoot him"

      Nope, you've gotta let that child beat you to death, cracker!

    17. Marcus, or Mr "tribal" hating fact guy. Where did you come up with the "fact" that Zim was being beaten within an inch of his life? that's not true. You made that narrative up.


    18. Hank - "Did Zim think so? Is that all it takes to kill someone?" I'm not an expert, but isn't the answer to that a resounding YES, no matter what state of the union you're in? Isn't that the definition of self defense?

      Jus Aski - I've never once stated that it's a fact that Zim was being beaten within an inch of his life. fail.

    19. Also Hank, it obviously was defensible, as it was defended, and that defense was successful.

    20. Let's see:

      1. If you're in a fight in Florida, no matter who started it, you have the right to defend yourself if you reasonably fear serious injury or death, which, presumably both parties might fear. If you started the fight, lethal force is not legally available to you unless you flee or surrender in good faith and your opponent won't stop hitting you.

      2. Generally speaking, it's difficult to put yourself in the wrong, e.g., provoking or starting a fight, by exercising your rights. Following someone in a public place is not illegal, so it's not provocation. Encountering someone or even confronting them in a public place isn't illegal either. Until, of course, you do something that a reasonable person would consider a threat.

      3. Prior arrests are inadmissible in court. Prior convictions pretty much as well. They're called prior bad acts, and they're generally not relevant to the current crime in question.

      4. Some states demand that your defense in a fight be commensurate with the violence of the fight. Not Florida.

      5. Hank B, I'm a grown man and I followed your teen-aged daughter in my car last night. I confronted her and told her to stop hooking in Park Slope where I live. This was on 7th Avenue near Ocean Parkway. What are you gonna do? Shoot me?

      6. Fercryanoutloud, it's "whaling on"; not "wailing on."

  12. I'm fascinated with the Zimmerman Theory of accountability. Not legal liability, but accountability and responsibility.

    I was a playground supervisor 15 years ago. A volunteer. If I had chased one of the high schoolers into the street , no real reason, just a hunch I had that he was a "threat", where he was then killed, do I have NO responsibility for his death?

    There was no direct order not to do that! You can't nail me there! I used my best judgment.

    The sort of capper is the insistence that we all have to be grateful for his volunteer work. No, I actually don't have to be grateful, and I'm not.

    1. Amen brother.

    2. Naturally you had to change the scenario from "crime ravaged neighborhood" to "playground" and casually walking while on the phone with cops to "chased"

      So your comment warrants no consideration.

    3. How come all of the parallel stories that this case is "just like," never have the surragate Trayvon being violent?

    4. But he's "fascinated" with his made-up shit.

      Thank the dear lord he only used to supervise our children.

    5. Because eliminating important facts is the only way these psychopaths can pursue their lynching of George Zimmerman

    6. 1:18, unlike Zim, who was arrested for assaulting a cop, and had an order of protection against him, I don't believe Trayvon had a history of violent behavior. Smoke pot, cut class... sure. But violence, when did he get in trouble for that?

    7. "violence, when did he get in trouble for that?"

      When he tried to give a beatin' to that cracker who turned out to be armed.


    8. Anon Ooopsie. i think this is the case where the exception might prove the rule. One person with a loaded gun and a history of violence murders someone with no history of violence....

      do the math

    9. "Murders."

      Thank god you're only a dog and not a lawyer. Well, you'd be disbarred pretty quick anyhow, so I guess it's no matter.

    10. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013 at 1:03 PM -- If you had chased the high schooler into the street, do you think it would hvae been appropirate if he knocked you down, broke your nose and bashed your head repeatedly against the sidewalk?

    11. actuarial a-holeJuly 17, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      In answer to your hapless and hopelessly-loaded question, it depends.

    12. It doesn't much matter if someone has "no history" of violence, if they're bashing your head on the pavement At The Current Moment.

      History isn't real crucial then.

      6 out of 6 jurors agree. YMMV. Try not to end up dead.

      God bless.

    13. I'm still guffawing over the new notion that a gated community is now a "crime ravaged neighborhood."

      Talk about inventing your own facts.

  13. "How come all of the parallel stories that this case is "just like," never have the surragate Trayvon being violent?"

    Even if I accept Mr. Zimmerman's recitation of the sequence and nature of events (I don't) the "initial act" could vey easily be portrayed as Zimmerman following Martin.

    Because we're talking about CAUSE. The online Zimmerman Defense Team want to start the clock at the altercation. But that's a choice you're making! I can CHOOSE to start the clock at Zimmerman's poor decision to follow Martin.

    Zimmerman got this. He understood it was important. If one reads his statements and interviews he's very careful to divide the event into Act One and Act Two, just like you're doing. It's one the things that I found really disturbing about his statements and interviews. He worked real hard to make himself blameless, up to and including ridiculous rhetorical dodges to avoid the fact that he was obviously following Martin.

    At one point he insists he wasn't "following" but walking behind Martin in the same direction. I mean, come on. Even the cop laughed.

    1. "Even the cop laughed."

      But not the jury. Cracker racists.

    2. Any time you guys can't respond you type the word "racist"

      I didn't say anything remotely like what you're implying.

      The officer who interviewed him is another interesting piece, now that you mention it. It was my understanding he filed an affidavit (sworn statement) along with his recommend that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter after an initial investigation. The county prosecutor declined to indict, but the officer thought he SHOULD indict.

      So why did he change his mind, and say at trial that Zimmerman was telling the truth?

    3. This was addressed in the instructions to the jury. The act of self-defense is limited to the beating itself, not any of the acts that preceded it, whatever they may have been.

  14. HANK "SKULL-KRUSH" BORELLI is a loose cannon and shouldn't be allowed near anyone's children or small animals. As a parent I would have this man labeled criminally dangerous and removed from the jurisdiction of my home owner's association.

    1. And your handlers shouldn't have let you anywhere near a keyboard.

  15. "But he's "fascinated" with his made-up shit.
    Thank the dear lord he only used to supervise our children."

    Well, I volunteered for 3 years and never got one of them killed, so there's that.

    Do you see why it's hard to give Zimmerman "protector" status? The idea would be to leave everyone in the complex alive, at a minimum. First Do No Harm, as a volunteer. Words to live by.

    1. "I volunteered for 3 years and never got one of them killed"

      High standards, indeed.

      Kidding aside. If someone is bashing your head on the sidewalk, how long do you have to wait until you can use deadly force to stop them, if it's available to you?

      Kidding again, I know the answer (your answer).

      Your answer: If deadly force is available to you, you must never use it, you must simply hope you won't be beaten until you are dead or grievously injured.

      No, kidding again. I'm sure you have a serious answer:

      If someone is bashing your head on the sidewalk, how long do you have to wait until you can use deadly force to stop them, if it's available to you?

    2. Sorry, your time is up, but thanks for playing.

      "If someone is bashing your head on the sidewalk, how long do you have to wait until you can use deadly force to stop them, if it's available to you?"

      The only correct answer was:


      [Goddamn racist jurors]

    3. And of course, the only way to get to the "only correct answer", would be to charge the guy who used the deadly force.

    4. "And of course, the only way to get to the "only correct answer", would be to charge the guy who used the deadly force."

      Well, 5:16 Anon, that's a pretty difficult comment to comprehend sensibly.

      But let's try anyway.

      I'm going to have to assume that you do understand that "charging the guy who used the deadly force" is just exactly what happened. (Dear lord, I hope I'm not wrong in that assumption.)

      Are you suggesting Zimmerman should never have been charged? There may be a valid argument that there was never sufficient cause to charge Zimmerman, but no one has really given that argument yet. So if you think he shouldn't have been charged, you should probably say why not.

      On the other hand, if this is supposed to be some back-handed sarcasm on your part, it's going have to be forever recorded in the Annals of Spectacular Failure, Irrelevant Internet Comments Category.

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