GLIMMERS: Blow loves a parade!


Part 2—Our brave new liberal ethics: When you’re on duty as a great uncle, at best you’ll get glimmers of the day’s news. That said:

Last Saturday morning, while children were sleeping, we perused Charles Blow’s latest New York Times column concerning the Trayvon Martin case.

One day later, also quite early, we read Brent Staples’ review of the Martin case, a New York Times “Sunday Observer” column. And at some point, we managed to scan this post by bmaz, a legal commentator at Marcy Wheeler’s emptywheel site.

In this way, we got a glimpse of the emerging ethics of the brave new emerging liberal world. All in all, we weren’t impressed.

Our first glimpse came from Blow’s column.

Blow was reviewing a major event; George Zimmerman had now been charged with a crime by prosecutor Angela Corey. In the middle of his piece, Blow waved the American flag:
BLOW (4/14/12): On Wednesday, Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder and he was taken into custody. On Thursday, Zimmerman appeared in a Florida courtroom, and Corey released a simple but chilling affidavit for probable cause that painted a disturbing portrait of Zimmerman as a man who “profiled,” “followed” and “confronted” the boy.

This is a moment when America should be proud. The wheels of justice are finally turning. The State of Florida has taken up the cause of the dead boy. His life is no more, but his legacy will live forever.

The state will vigorously prosecute, and Zimmerman will be vigorously defended as is his constitutional right.

The facts should come out in court and under oath and not just over airwaves and in newspapers. Truth will be sought and, hopefully, found. And whatever the verdict, it will be based on the presentation of evidence and the interpretation of the law, as it should be.
“America should be proud,” Blow said. “The facts should come out in court and under oath and not just over airwaves and in newspapers,” he patriotically added.

Unfortunately, we had already read the opening to Blow’s column. Right as he started, the gentleman made the highlighted factual statement:
BLOW: America has heard the calls for justice from a Florida family.

A boy’s blood had been spilled on a rain-soaked patch of grass behind a row of mustard-colored condominiums by a man who had pursued him against the advice of 911 dispatchers. That man carried a 9-millimeter handgun. The boy carried a bag of candy.

Yet it seems, largely on the weight of his own word, the man who killed the boy was allowed to walk out of the police station that night without even a charge.
Will the facts come out in court? Not necessarily, no; there may never be a court case. More on that below.

But before the facts could possibly come out in court, Blow had asserted a fact in a major American newspaper. Is it true? Did George Zimmerman “pursue [Trayvon Martin] against the advice of 911 dispatchers?”

That’s what Corey says in her affidavit; Zimmerman says it isn’t the case. But so what? Blow simply asserted this claim as established fact right there in one of the country’s top newspapers!

Before the facts could come out in court, Charles Blow simply asserted a fact! A key fact not yet in evidence!

But then, so it has always gone when folk like Blow wave the American flag in support of their outlooks and preferences.

Did Zimmerman pursue Martin against the advice of dispatchers? Like us, Blow doesn’t know. But many people believe this is an established fact, thanks to the work of our brave new liberal super-patriots.

In some cases, the journalistic conduct has been worse than that displayed by Blow in his second paragraph. Two days earlier, readers of the New York Times had read this account of that fact:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/12/12): Angela Corey, the special prosecutor, declined to discuss details of the case but said that if the Stand Your Ground law is invoked by the defense, “we will fight it” with evidence that the shooting was unjustified. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman exited his car to follow the teenager despite a 911 dispatcher’s warning: “We don’t need you to do that.”
Blow’s factual claim hasn’t been established; to all appearances, the editors’ claim is simply false. But this is the way it always has been in the case of unpopular defendants. In such matters, the hacks and the shills have always stepped forward to give us false glimpses of “facts.”

It’s very hard to keep up with the news when you’re the great uncle, or even the parent, of a six-week-old baby. In this case, we cited the factual claim in that editorial to a North Carolina resident who has been very busy of late. Was Zimmerman told to stay in huis car? That’s the way she has heard the facts described, she told us.

And no, this isn’t her “fault.”

Will the facts come out in court? Not if Zimmerman pleads to a lesser charge—and folk like Blow, as they wave the flag, are tipping the scales in that direction. On our One True Liberal Channel last week, you were told that Corey is a hero because she filed that charge against Zimmerman. But uh-oh! From flag-wavers like Blow, you’ll never hear about what Alan Dershowitz told guest host Michael Smerconish on last Wednesday’s Hardball:
DERSHOWITZ (4/12/12): Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past the judge on a second-degree murder charge. There is simply nothing in there that would justify second-degree murder. The elements of the crime aren’t established. Basically, what’s in the affidavit is what’s in the public domain, with the exception of the few little things that were put forward by your previous commentator.


It’s not only thin. It’s irresponsible. I think that what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation, and overcharged, way overcharged.


But it’s worse than that. It’s irresponsible and unethical in not including the material that favors the defendant, unless it’s not true. But if it’s true, as we now have learned from other information, that the grass stains are in back of Zimmerman’s shirt, that there are bruises on his head, you must put that in an affidavit. The affidavit has to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
To watch the full segment, click here.

Not being legal experts ourselves, we can’t really evaluate Dershowitz’s judgments and claims. (Unless we're mistaken, the police report said Zimmerman had grass on the back of his short, not grass stains.) But if Corey’s alleged extreme over-charging forces Zimmerman to cop to a lesser offense, no facts will ever come out in court. And please note:

Dershowitz said Corey was irresponsible, perhaps even unethical, in her affidavit. But you won’t be apprised of such concerns from flag-wavers like Blow.

The flag-wavers have always told it just one way. This unfortunate pattern continues today, as we can glimpse from Blow's column.

One day later, Staples presented his own assessment of the case—and in our view, the mind-reading was rather general. (Note the way Staples is able to tell us what Zimmerman “saw” that night.) Are you sure that our emerging “liberal” practices are different and better than those of the American past, when shoes of presumption were on other feet, when high-ranking players tended to invent and embellish their facts to attack people of color?

Blow was busy dishing the bathos about “the boy” with the candy, the boy who was killed by the man. All through the annals of American history, the hacks have tugged on your heartstrings this way as they feed you their version of “facts.”

In fact, there is an actual, non-metaphorical “boy” in Corey’s line-up of cases—that 12-year-old child whom she is currently charging with murder. (He's the youngest person ever charged with murder in American history.) But you’ll never hear a word about him when people like Blow start waving the flag. That might undermine your faith in the (slightly crazy) prosecutor whom we liberals are now urged to trust.

Is Angela Corey proceeding correctly? Not being legal experts ourselves, we can’t really tell you. But on Saturday, we got a glimpse of old-fashioned liberal values when we read this post by bmaz, who actually seemed to be concerned about the way Corey is acting!

But then, bmaz seems to think that the accused deserve justice in our system too! Remember when liberals believed such things? Back before Florida’s biggest crackpots began to perform on our side?

Like Corey, Blow seems to lean one way when he dispenses his justice. His headline—“Justice for Trayvon”—strikes us as an inverted version of the same old familiar shit.

Blow is parading down the street; as he does, Old Glory flaps in the wind. But uh-oh! People who didn’t have the time to study this case heard two facts from the Times last week:

The editors gave them a “fact” which was false. Blow’s “fact” was merely unfounded!

Tomorrow: A glimpse of Chris Hayes


  1. Ah, so now we are parsing the meaning of "pursue" to point how how wrong the horrible Charles Blow gets this story, and how awful the New York Times is for giving him space to print these lies.

    I happen to think that when Zimmerman got out of his truck with a gun, he just might have been "pursuing" Martin.

    But then again, in the "anything is possible" planet on which Somerby lives, Zimmerman might have merely thought that it was a good time to take his evening constitutional.

    1. Except all of the evidence of the 911 call suggests he stopped following, went to find an address at the front of a building and was returning to his truck.

    2. Blow makes up a fact of the case.

      Charles Blow states, as a fact, something he cannot know.

      The problem with this behavior by Charles Blow is that I hate Bob Somerby.

    3. Did Zimmerman get out of his truck with a gun or not?

      If he did, then what was he doing if he was not "pursuing" Trayvon Martin?

      And if he WAS "pursuing" Travyon Martin, then how did Blow make that up?

    4. "exited his car to follow the teenager despite a 911 dispatcher’s warning"

      THAT is what is not in evidence.

      Did Z "exit his car to follow" M after the dispatcher said "we don't need you?"

      THAT is exactly what we DO NOT have evidence suggesting.

      But Charles Blow states it as a FACT anyway!

      So therefore I am upset with Bob Somerby.


    5. Zimmerman was not making a 911 call and was not speaking to a 911 dispatcher. He was making a non-emergency police call and speaking to a police dispatcher.

      This is one thing the affidavit gets right. It says Zimmerman 'called the police' and spoke with a 'police dispatcher'. Of course, it doesn't specify that Zimmerman made a non-emergency police call, so someone who has heard or read a hundred times or so about a 911 call that never happened will not be disabused.

      You can verify that Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to the Sanford Police Department by listening to the dispatcher answer the phone. If you're not convinced, listen to one or all of the actual 911 calls and compare.

    6. I happen to think that when Zimmerman got out of his truck with a gun, he just might have been "pursuing" Martin.

      It's possible that at the moment he exited the vehicle, Zimmerman just wanted to walk east to the bend in Twin Trees Lane, so that a house would not obstruct his view of where Martin went after walking south on Twin Trees Lane.

      Martin started running, possibly in response to seeing Zimmerman appear from around the side of the house. At that point Zimmerman definitely pursued Martin, and admitted it to the non-emergency police dispatcher (who was not a 911 dispatcher). When the dispatcher advised that this was not necessary, Zimmerman stood down. This is evident because his voice soon returned to normal, after being breathless from running.

      It is not known if Zimmerman resumed pursuit at a later time.

      If Martin went directly home, he would have arrived there before Zimmerman ended his police call.

    7. And what about getting out of the vehicle with a gun? Who does that???

  2. By the way, Bob, can you think of any other attorney, among all the babbleheaded attorneys who have filled air time on this case, who agrees with Dershowitz's assessment of the probable cause affidavit?

    I mean, it simply can't be possible that Dershowitz was saying something outrageous just to get some face time, could it? What would possibly be in his past that would even suggest such a thing?

    1. Every defense lawyer I've seen said it is thin and "they must have more" and most say the judge should throw it out.

    2. Bob notes that Alan Dershowitz finds the Corey probable cause affidavit problematic.

      So, I impugn Dershowitz.

      Please don't point out that by asking Bob "can you think of any other attorney," I am

      A) implying, with no basis, that Dershowitz's opinion on this matter is an outlier,

      B) demonstrating I can't even "think for myself" by finding out if there are other attorneys who concur with Dershowitz, and

      C) hoping you won't "think for yourself" (and prove how ridiculous I am) by finding out that, among others, Dan Markel (of FSU College of Law), Jeralyn Merritt (of TalkLeft blog), Mark Bennett (a criminal defense lawyer in Texas) and Monroe Freedman (who hosts the Legal Ethics forum site) all find the affidavit ludicrous.

    3. This is where common sense comes in handy. In how many high-profile prosecutions have you heard of a case being kicked out because the "probable cause affidavit" was insufficient?

      Not "ludicrous", not "thin." But insufficient?

      Now in order to believe that Angela Corey would submit an insufficient affadavit that could be written by a first-year law student, you would have to believe one of two things:

      1. She is grossly incompetent. (And there should be plenty of evidence to back it up, if that is the charge you are making.)

      2. She deliberately wrote an insufficient probable cause statement to get the case thrown out of court.

      Now if you are going with Door No. 2, you have to ask yourself why in the world would she do that? If her goal is to kick Zimmerman back on the street, she has plenty of opportunity to do that, AND cover her backside.

      Filing an insufficient probable cause statement would be the dumbest way to do it.

      But unfortunately, that is the theory floating around the extreme left blogosphere as they have now married with the extreme right on this issue.

      And it just doesn't pass the stink test.

    4. That none of the lawyers mentioned above float your approved theories to explain the affidavit suggests you may be wrong to limit assert we "believe one of two things" --

      Those two things simply aren't the only possible, or even the most plausible, explanations for an overcharging the defendant.

    5. So what other theories are floating around?

      And the issue isn't whether the defendant has been "overcharged." That's an issue that can be corrected at many levels, including by the jury itself.

      The issue is whether the probable cause statement is sufficient to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with second degree murder. And like I said, it is something a first year law student can write.

    6. Anon 6:19,

      You showing for all to see that you have no idea what is minimally sufficient for a proof by exhaustion, would lead one to the conclusion that you most probably don't know the difference between what a first year law student would write and what a State Attorney would write.

    7. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

      I've posted a lengthy discussion of the affidavit at Bloggingheads, including a link to another good post at South Florida Criminal Lawyers Blog.

      It seems that most of the relevant case law is about challenging search warrants to invoke the exclusionary rule. It may be that defense lawyers rarely think it is worthwhile to challenge arrest warrants, because the prosecutors can usually rewrite them before the hearing. That would explain why they often don't bother to write them up to the theoretical standard.

    8. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      I should have said the prosecutors can usually rewrite the affidavits before the hearing.

  3. "Is Angela Corey proceeding correctly? Not being legal experts ourselves, we can’t really tell you."

    But you will pimp two sources, Dershowitz and the bmaz blog, who will lay the groundwork for a grand conspiracy theory, hatched by Scott and Corey, to blow an extremely high profile case on the probable cause affidavit right out of the gate.

  4. The Affidavit of Probable Cause made artful use of the words "confront" and "profile". The evidence shows that the profiling and confronting that Z did were normal behavior for a volunteer neighborhood watch person.

    Zimmerman "profiled" Martin, only in the sense that he identified Martin as not living in the community and acting suspiciously. However, there's no evidence that Z racially profiled M. Z "confronted" M, in the sense that he approachd M and asked him a question. However, there's no evidence that Z confronted M by threatening him in any way.

    It's an ugly situation when someone can be charged with 2nd degree murder based on tricky wordplay.

    BTW Anon, a number of other lawyers agreed with Dershowitz that the Affidavit of Probable Cause was very poorly written. E.g. see links to several examlpes at

    1. There is also no allegation at this point that Zimmerman profiled Martin racially. But I have a hunch that subject came up during Zimmerman's initial police interview.

      "It's an ugly situation when someone can be charged with 2nd degree murder based on tricky wordplay."

      Yeah, poor George Zimmerman. Railroaded by the state with no dead body, no bullet, no weapon, and nothing whatsoever to tie him to this homicide.

    2. A person "profiling" a suspicious person in their neighborhood by the fact that they are "acting real strange" as Zim said on his call is not illegal. A person following that suspicious person is not illegal. A person seeking an address after asked for it by a police dispatcher he called is not illegal. Answering a question "why are you following me" with "what are you doing around here" is not illegal.

      The sum of all these acts taken together is not illegal.

      Punching a person and beating them after they answer your question is illegal, and killing them if you fear serious injury or death is legal.

    3. Let me express a similar point in a different way:

      I don't see why Zimmerman's motive in approaching Martin is relevant in resolving whether he acted in self-defense. What matters is (a) what Zimmerman did when he "confronted" Martin and (b)how Martin reacted. If Zimmerman peaceably approached Martin, and if Martin responded with force that Zimmerman reasonably perceived to be deadly, then why shouldn't he be allowed to defend himself?

      The problem with the prosecutor's case is that it's based almost entirely on Zimmerman's motive for approaching Martin, rather than what happened during the confrontation -- presumably because the available evidence about the confrontation supports Zimmerman, not Martin. It seems that the prosecution want to argue that Zimmerman's wrongful "profiling" of Martin trumps any subsequent claim of self-defense. I find this position to be disturbing.

  5. BTW the Times editorial refers to the 911 dispatcher’s "warning": “We don’t need you to do that.” That statement is not a warning. It's not even quite advice, but merely a statement that the police could handle the problem without further help from Z.

    It seems to me that Times editorials don't so much want to reflect reality as to create reality. They're like the umpire, when discussing standards for calling balls and strikes, who said, "They ain't nothin' until I call them."

    1. By all means then, filed a habeas writ and get Zimmerman sprung on the basis that the New York Times improperly called a "warning" what the cop on the other end of the line said to Zimmerman.

      We all know how important and relevant is every word that the Times prints on this case.

    2. “We don’t need you to do that.”

      Maybe not a warning, or advice, but more than a simple statement. To me it sounds like a polite way of saying don't put yourself into a dangerous situation.

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  7. This week Piers Morgan was asking some movie star what they thought of the Trayvon case and again repeated "Zimmerman was never even arrested that night". Every attorney on CNN has said he was arrested.

  8. Why are the Trayvon race hustlers so silent on the Tampa case in which the store clerk claimed she shot a robber (a teenager) in self defense, but we now find out it was a set up?

    Oh that's right. The dead black man, 16-year-old Quantavius Moore, gunned down in cold blood, is prejudged as worthless by phony "liberals" because he is black, and making it even more excusable, the murderer is black.

    1. I think I'll let Bob bask in the aroma of his own sewer today.

    2. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 7:27 AM

      Interesting case. The person who claimed self defense isn't even the real shooter. She was (allegedly) covering for her baby-daddy.

      From this article we can't say for sure that the suspected shooter is black, as only the woman is pictured. I would be surprised if he turns out not to be black.

      The big uproar in the Martin case was that Zimmerman should have been charged and held while the investigation proceeded. That he wasn't caused many to suspect that the case wasn't really being investigated at all. We aren't told how the police initially responded in this case.

      If there was suspicion of police misconduct, it would presumably be motivated by something other than racial hostility against blacks. That's a logical, not inconsistent, reason for the Sharpton crowd not to be interested in this.

    3. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      Oops. On second look I see there is a picture of the suspected shooter.

  9. All you guys waxing outraged over improper usage of words, watch out, because you're also saying Tayvon was 'acting suspicious' but the only evidence of that, on the 911 tape is that he had his hand in his pocket. Well, and "he didn't belong" in the neighborhood, because in America, you can only go walking in your own neighborhood, right? No, actually, the evidence of him being suspicious was what, I wonder? His race? Oh, I'm sure not.

    1. Beat me to it Anonymous.


    2. His original lawyers, in a lengthy press conference you didn't see on TV said Martin was walking behind buildings which would be highly unusual. Zimmerman told the dispatcher he was acting strange.

    3. Or perhaps he was taking a short cut? Or avoiding the swarthy-looking jerk who was following him? Who knows? We don't.

    4. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 6:48 AM

      Martin was already trying to avoid Zimmerman the moment Zimmerman first laid eyes on him?

      There's no sign of Zimmerman following Martin, as opposed to watching him, until after a minute and a half into the (non-emergency) police call.

    5. nomatter_nevermindApril 19, 2012 at 7:02 AM

      I think Martin may have been south of the club house, between the club house and the pond. He would have been able to see the backs of several of the houses that surround the pond.

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