Jeralyn Merritt joins Plato and Lyons!


TalkLeft’s account of the case: Jeralyn Merritt is a well-known criminal defense attorney and the founder of the TalkLeft blog. Starting last year, she has produced endlessly detailed work about the Zimmerman prosecution.

In this new post from this morning, Merritt cringes at Piers Morgan’s groaning incompetence last night. That said, such multimillionaire buffoons have a substantial influence among us the people.

We thought of Plato, and of Gene Lyons, when we read Merritt’s update of her view of this case. For background on Plato and Lyons, see our previous post.

Here’s Merritt’s view of the case:
MERRITT (7/11/13): Now that the evidence has been presented, my previously expressed opinions on this case have only become more solidified. Looking to the future, and the legacy of this case, here is what I see. Keep in mind this is only my opinion.

Whether George Zimmerman is acquitted or convicted, and I am not making any predictions before hearing closing arguments and reading the jury instructions, the legacy of this case will be that the media never gets it right, and worse, that a group of lawyers, with the aid of a public relations team, who had a financial stake in the outcome of pending and anticipated civil litigation, were allowed to commandeer control of Florida's criminal justice system, in pursuit of a divisive, personal agenda.

Their transformation of a tragic but spontaneous shooting into the crime of the century, and their relentless demonization of the person they deemed responsible, not for a tragic killing, but for "cold-blooded murder," has called into question the political motives and ethics of the officials serving in the Executive branch of Florida's government, ruined the career of other public officials, turned the lives of the Zimmerman family, who are as innocent as their grieving clients, into a nightmare, and along the way, set back any chance of a rational discussion of the very cause they were promoting, probably for years.

The problems of racial disparity and arbitrary enforcement of our criminal laws are real, systemic and need to be addressed. Criminal defense lawyers see it and fight to correct it every day. From charging decisions to plea offers to sentences, the system is not fair and everybody knows it.

But this case has never been representative of those problems. And perhaps most unfortunate of all, as a result of the false narrative created by the lawyers for grieving parents who tragically lost their son—a narrative perpetuated by a complicit and ratings-hungry media—any attempt at meaningful reform is likely to fall on deaf ears for years to come.
Plato: “When I saw all this, and other things as bad, I was disgusted and withdrew from the wickedness of the times.”

We strongly suggest that you review Merritt’s brief treatment of the way the prosecution painted Zimmerman as a racist because he had, on four other occasions, called in descriptions of other black suspects to police.

As Merritt explains, two of those calls involved the August 2011 home invasion experienced by yesterday’s witness, Olivia Bertalan. In the aftermath of that crime, Zimmerman twice called in sightings of someone matching the description of the perpetrator, a description which had come from Bertalan.

Merritt: “The person he reported not only turned out to be the perpetrator, but the perpetrator was only able to be charged after his latent prints were found on the wall he had jumped over from Retreat at Twin Lakes to the neighboring complex.”

In short, the prosecution was tagging Zimmerman as a race man for correctly sighting a perpetrator who had been described by his victim. This is the kind of “wicked” behavior Plato described long ago.

Just so you’ll know:

This prosecution was overseen by Angela Corey, the biggest crackpot prosecutor in all of crackpot Florida. She was prosecuting a 12-year-old Hispanic boy for murder at the time she was appointed.

Corey was assigned to the case by Governor Rick Scott, one of the most repugnant right-wing pols in the country.

This is who our liberal heroes are cheering when they clown for us on cable TV every night. That said, we’re glad to see Merritt discussing Piers Morgan, who would be deported tomorrow morning if we the people had the slightest sense of decency.

We humans have always been badly impaired, intellectually and morally. We’ve always been easy to stampede at times of tribal high feeling.

Chris and Lawrence have been cheering the horrible people Merritt describes in that piece. Last year, the conduct by MSNBC was the worst we've ever seen. In the past few weeks, the channel has been doing deeply indecent work.

On the bright side, Chris and Lawrence are being well paid and corporate ratings this week have been good. Truly, there is no “wickedness” without some transplendent gain!


  1. The initial, justified, outrage over the affair was that the local authorities wanted to let Zimmerman go without conducting any serious investigation. This brought a lot of media attention to the case.

    Once the state and the DOJ got involved, so a serious investigation would be made, I personally was ready to
    let them do their job and let the cards fall where they may.

    But, by that time, the publicity had gotten people engaged in it as some kind of drama which they couldn't let go. This is an unfortunate aspect of high profile cases. My personal view is that no one who hasn't heard everything the jury heard, including the judge's instructions, is really entitled to an opinion about the jury's decision. Neither are you entitled to any opinion on the guilt of the defendant without extensive, scholarly really, study of the case.

    That's the jury's job, I haven't got the time.

    Media/water cooler trials are bad news indeed. They used to have a very similar system---they called it a lynch mob.

    If somebody knows what to do about it, let us know!

    1. The initial, justified, outrage over the affair was that the local authorities wanted to let Zimmerman go without conducting any serious investigation.

      Is this really so? According to then Chief of Police Lee and lead investigator Serrino, the local authorities conducted a thorough investigation. The claim that their investigation was inadequate was merely an excuse to give the case to someone who would indict, regardless of the facts, says Lee.

      Having followed the case fairly closely, I think Zimmerman will be acquitted by the jury or on appeal. That will show that indeed there never was a case. Unfortunately, Lee's been fired and Serrino's been demoted. If their conduct is validated long after the event, that won't undo the unfair harm they're suffered.

      Those claiming that the local investigation was not serious usually don't identify what wasn't done that should have been done. AnonymousJuly 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM, do you have details or evidence that the local investigation wasn't serious? If so, could you please share them with us?

    2. The state uncovered nothing that the SPD didn't find first. No new evidence, no new witnesses.

      The entire persecution is based on the SPD investigation.

  2. I'm a lawyer and I read Zimmerman's statements and I think he's lying.

    She's on her own crusade. There was no STATE demonization of Zimmerman, but she feels she has to create some out of thin air because she's a famous Left Defense Lawyer.

    I'd like to ask the defense lawyer if Martin gets a defense? Zimmerman portrayed Martin as a cold blooded killer, with that ridiculous appearance on Hannity. Zimmerman has an obvious interest in doing that, because it's crucial to his defense.

    I love the sanctimony of Zimmerman's fans. I think that's my favorite part of this whole thing. They're not "even-handed", although they lecture us endlessly.

    They're on a crusade against what they perceive as false charges of racism, which have absolutely nothing to do with the legal case, as presented. Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal. That's the state's case on the intent factor. It's not complicated. The state says Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal based on Zimmerman's own statements.
    I mean, Jesus, Christ. He refers to Martin as 'the suspect" after he's been told he shot a kid who was walking home. He obviously profiled Martin as a criminal, and the facts didn't even sway him even after he found out he was wrong, and Martin wasn't a criminal. "The suspect". Did he profile OR NOT?

    1. Anon, here's a serious question. How would you vote if you were on the jury? Thinking that Zimmerman is lying isn't enough, legally. You'd have to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Z is lying.

    2. "here's a serious question. How would you vote if you were on the jury?"

      Uh, who cares?

      Anonymous dog on the internet ("I'm a lawyer") at 5:52 is utterly full of beans.

      The talk on Hannity ("crucial to Zimmerman's defense") has quite literally nothing to do with Zimmerman's defense.

      Without blinking, the Anonymous dog on the internet ("I'm a lawyer") characterizes unknown people as "Zimmerman's fans." Grotesque, dog.

      With a mouth full of Alpo, the Anonymous dog on the internet ("I'm a lawyer") says the state is claiming Zimmerman "profiled" Zimmerman. But of course the state isn't actually claiming that at all, doggie.

      Can we believe anything that this doggie on the internet ("I'm a lawyer") says? Does anybody want to know this little doggie's opinion? Really?

    3. How do we know that Martin was not a criminal? It seems to me that is an assumption too.

      No one has explained what Martin was doing for the 45 minutes he was out of the house -- clearly not just walking to and from the store to get skittles. Information about Martin's previous school and discipline problems was withheld from the jury. That means the jury will make its decision based on incomplete knowledge, but it doesn't make Martin any less of a teen with behavior problems consistent with a more aggressive role in this tragedy.

    4. A minor point as far as the trial goes, but we do know that Martin was a criminal.

    5. "I'm a lawyer and I read Zimmerman's statements and I think he's lying."

      I think YOU are lying.

    6. Anonymous "lawyer":

      You're a lawyer and you think 2nd degree murder in Florida requires intent?

      Where did you go to law school?

  3. Somerby: Martin is dead. Zimmerman eats dinner tonight. Life is good.
    Stop hiding behind the minority kids you taught in Baltimore 30 years ago. I wonder how many of them are dead. Your influence having been so enormous.
    Every thing Zimmerman says is the way it happened.
    Zimmerman says Martin is a "fucking punk". No hostility there.
    Returning home, armed with a snack and a drink, Martin was so threatening to the person following him that he ended up dead.
    Fucking punk.
    Somerby: To you and your acolytes (even those who link to racist sites) always keep this in mind: Martin is dead, Zimmerman eats dinner tonight.
    Enjoy yourselves.

    1. Martin didn't end up dead he attacked someone and caused his own death

    2. You sure?
      How about the fact that Zimmerman had no idea what he was talking about? He said "these punks" always get away with it. Martin didn't "get away with it". He was shot dead by the guy who called him a 'punk".

    3. Zimmerman, on the original police recording describes Martin as peering into houses. On the police video he describes Martin as being on grass, not the sidewalk, which is entirely consistent with his original claim. Assuming that Zimmerman is telling the truth that would indeed qualify as suspicious behavior.

      The physical evidence overwhelmingly indicates that it was Martin who attacked Zimmerman. Martin was shot but Zimmerman was beaten up.

      Also, if you want to commit a racist murder, exactly why would you invite the police to drop by as potential witnesses?

    4. There is ZERRO DNA evidence to support Zimmerman's claims. That doesn't sound "overwhelming" to me.

    5. This is wrong. There was Trayvon Martin's DNA on the back of Zimmerman's jacket (at the shoulder). Also, there was testimony that the evidence was improperly stored (in plastic bags instead of paper, permitting mold to grow and DNA evidence to deteriorate). That explains why there was less DNA than might have been expected. The evidence that exists supports Zimmerman account of things.

  4. I'm not clear on why Merritt brings Zimmerman's family into it unless she is convinced the prosecution never should have been brought forward (in which case I don't understand why she's withholding her -- crucial, no doubt -- prediction about the outcome. If the charges never should have been brought, shouldn't the outcome be a given?). Is the argument here, "Don't prosecute people who stalk and kill other people, because they have families?" That's ridiculous. As a black man, I also don't like seeing race drug into this. The question here ought to be simple: Should people be able to follow innocent people around, armed with a gun, at night, and expect to suffer no ill effects from it?" That Martin happened to be black has nothing to do with that question. In some ways, the fact that Martin ended up shot dead has nothing to do with it -- that's strictly the jurisdiction of the court system, which is itself an end product of the attitudes and behaviors we, as a society, have decided are acceptable and "legal."

    When behavior like Zimmerman's becomes normalized, we become the wild west. People like Bob get to use this case to put his hair up in a bun, put on his granny dress and spectacles, and deliver ruler-shaking lectures all around, but there are more profound issues here that aren't being touched on. A person can take whatever position they like on Zimmerman's guilt or innocence, but his behavior itself is outrageous, and that should be a starting point. Instead, it's hardly discussed.

    1. "Should people be able to follow innocent people around, armed with a gun, at night, and expect to suffer no ill effects from it?"

      I don't think Zimmerman's possession of a gun was a factor in TrayVon's decision to attack and savagely beat him. If Zimmerman didn't have a gun, TrayVon would probably still be alive and Zimmerman would have been beaten who knows how much worse. The question in my mind is why so many people think would be better for an innocent person like Zimmerman to be beaten savagely than for a ghetto thug criminal like Trayvon to be prevented from ever hurting anyone again? I guess "as a black man", you'd prefer that all black people everwhere have the right to physically assault nonblack people whenever you feel "disrespected". Sorry, I disagree.

    2. Apparently the new rule is that if you violently attack someone and get shot and killed it is entirely the fault of the person who you have just been beating the crap out of because, otherwise, America is no different than the wild west.

      And, once again, let's ignore the fact that Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain and was doing his duty in keeping an eye on Martin who appears to have been on the lawn of people's homes peering in their windows. People who act suspiciously should, of course not be treated with suspicion and we can take comfort in the fact that, had Zimmerman not had his gun, he could very plausibly have wound up dead or brain damaged, which would have been arguably bad for him but at least liberals wouldn't have to twist themselves into particularly arduous knots in order to maintain their sense of moral and intellectual superiority.

    3. Brainless: If Z had just said why he was following TM instead of grabbing for his gun (Z lied to claim it was his cell phone), then Z wouldn't have to go to prison. But maybe you could visit him.

    4. First of all, let's take a look at a history of Zimmerman's record of 911 calls:

      That's a lot of suspicious people for one neighborhood, especially a gated community. So no, taking Zimmerman's word for what constitutes "suspicious behavior" doesn't look like good judgment: pretty much everyone he saw and didn't recognize was behaving "suspiciously," at least if they were black (which goes to Zimmerman's mindset, rather than getting off on the racial tangent the one guy above is obsessed with. Apparently he never saw suspicious white people). Second of all, the notion of Zimmerman, just doing his job as a neighborhood watchman, is A) false, since -- as has repeatedly been pointed out here and elsewhere -- the neighborhood watch tells its people not to carry guns, and not to follow "suspects," and B), as I said, the point is that Zimmerman, armed, is following someone around at night, and since, as we've discovered, Zimmerman is hardly capable of handling himself in a physical altercation, the odds were high that eventually, that gun would be used, either by him or against him. So none of what you say excuses Zimmerman from the original sin of stalking someone, at night, while armed. And he was, pretty plainly, stalking Martin. Whatever the outcome of this trial, Zimmerman's behavior was wrong, inexcusably so, and no amount of "Neighborhood watchmen" stuff makes it otherwise.

      Here's a thought experiment: knowing what we know about Zimmerman, would you feel safe knowing he was cruising around your neighborhood at night in his car, armed? Especially if you had guests over, guests who might walk to the store to buy junk food? Would you feel more, or less, safe?

    5. HB here.

      I looked at those reports and there are some where the race of the people being reported is not identified. I would assume that they were white.

      Zimmerman claims on the original call to have lost Martin. If he stalked the kid, I don't think much of his technique.

      I would be perfectly happy to have Zimmerman as a security officer as he only used his gun when he had reasonable cause to think he was being beaten to death. The physical evidence overwhelmingly points in that direction.

      You can huff and puff all you want. Zimmerman is going to walk because bigots like you don't have a case.

    6. "stalked" is til's loaded word, and is bullshit

    7. Whatever you may think of Zimmerman, the fact remains that it simply isn't against the law, or even really unethical to follow someone. If that's the "original sin" on which we're supposed to condemn him, it's pretty weak. He may have been a shitty neighborhood watchman indeed, but that doesn't make him guilty.

    8. "Zimmerman may have been a shitty neighborhood watchman indeed"

      Not according to the irrelevant, disappeared people like the police department and his neighbors who were robbed, who say they were helped by his efforts that led to the criminals being apprehended.

    9. "Whatever you may think of Zimmerman, the fact remains that it simply isn't against the law, or even really unethical to follow someone."

      That depends on the circumstances, the intent, and in this case, the outcome. It isn't "against the law" to do all sorts of things, but reasonable people refrain from doing them because they are likely to lead to unfortunate outcomes.

      Here's another thought experiment:

      What would our society look like if we all took to following people around, at night, while armed with guns. I mean, it isn't against the law, so things should turn out perfectly OK, right?

  5. Before calling cops, Zimmerman probably would have observed a white hoodie wearing loitering teen for a couple minutes longer than he observed Trayvon before calling. Lock him up

  6. Hope you're happy Bob...The racists are moving over here from Jeralyn Merritt's house of legal disrepute now...More traffic.

    BTW, Jeralyn still deletes the comments with factual information that show her positions wrong, but leaves a few of the comments that just criticize her. I do find it strange that you attack liberals who get their facts a bit askew, but embrace someone in bed with right wing gun nuttery.

    1. Jeralyn's left-wing credentials are impeccable. That is why her blog is named "TalkLeft".

    2. She deletes factual data in comments that dispute her positions, which is the opposite of being "liberal". Her coverage of Zimmerman has been indistinguishable from being on the payroll.

      And if she named her blog "monkeytalk", would that make her a monkey?

    3. You tools ought to be able to tell us which "facts" have been deleted at Merrit's blog.

  7. Somerby: Martin is dead. Zimmerman eats dinner tonight. Life is good.

    No, Z's life isn't good at all. He and his family have been forced to live in hiding, because of the very real risk of assassination. That risk won't end if he's acquitted. Zimmerman has had the enormous stress of facing a 30-year jail sentence. Presumably that stress had led to his 120 pound weight gain. No matter what the jury decides, millions of Americans will continue to believe that he's a heartless racist murderer. His dreams of becoming a lawyer and a prosecutor are in shambles. He hasn't been able to hold a job. Even after he's acquitted, his reputation will be so bad, he'll have a hard time getting a job.

    No, life is not good for George Zimmerman.

    1. And Zimmerman, in turn, has accused Martin of a vicious and deadly unprovoked attack, where Martin said things like "you're going to die tonight".

      In fact, that's the central premise of Zimmerman's defense: that a 17 year old tried to kill him. Because of the nature of self- defense in Florida, Martin has no ability to defend on ZIMMERMAN'S accusations, which he has made freely,. and added to over time!

      Oddly, there's absolutely no cries of outrage about that. Are Zimmerman's "honor" and "reputation" somehow more valuable than Martin's? Why?

    2. The liberal press, contrary to your fantasy world, is chock-a-block FULL of outrage that Zimmerman is defending himself.

      Oddly, you pretend to live in some other world.

  8. The case Bob cites in which Merritt gives credit to Zimmerman for catching the perps is the Emmannuel Burgess breakin. However, that case is the one that roofers saw the crime and then later saw the perps and called the police, directly resulting in their arrest. Z later said one of the perps was someone he had reported to police for looking into an empty house some time earlier.

    Do note that JM makes it appear that Zimmerman was central to solving the case when he literally had almost nothing to do with it.

  9. The solved crime that Merritt cites and Bob notes is the Emmannuel Burgess case, where roofers saw a later crime, then some time afterwards spotted the perps and the ROOFERS called police, who caught the perps. Zimmerman later said one of them was a guy he saw peering into an empty house one day, his link to the case.

    Implying Zimmerman solved the case is just another example of the role Merritt has played in the case.

  10. Weird...I posted, saw the comment, then hit backspace and the post I rewrote it...Now they're both there. Sorry.

  11. Oh, baloney. She's doing exactly the same thing all the other media people and lawyer-commenters are doing on this case, which is spinning.
    The state's theory on where Zimmerman gets the ill will required for the charge is profiling. He profiled Martin as a criminal in the first 60 seconds.
    She can't defend on profiling because it's obvious from his statements that he profiled, so she's claiming bias.

    1. This doesn't even make any sense. Ill will required for the charge? So he profiled and therefore decided to murder someone?

    2. Are you following this trial you're so outraged about?
      The state's case is that Zimmerman profiled the boy as a criminal based on Zimmerman's past experiences and perceptions. They got that from Mr. Zimmerman. There was absolutely no reason to follow him (which Mr. Somerby finally admitted, that Zimmerman was following him) because he hadn't done anything wrong.
      The state does not believe Zimmerman's account of the altercation. There are good reasons for that, including problems with the timeline, his injuries, his location and his inconsistent statements.
      They think he profiled him, tracked him and shot him without the justification of self defense.
      You may certainly disagree with the state's theory, but this idea that they shouldn't be permitted to bring it based on your belief that Zimmerman is telling the truth is nonsense.
      They think he's lying. Obviously. He says he's not. That's why we're having a trial.

    3. Who on Earth said that the state shouldn't be permitted to "bring it"?

    4. To assert that Zimmerman profiled Martin, you have to believe that Martin was doing nothing that justified suspicion. That isn't supported by the evidence of the trial. Martin was loitering, going up on the grass and the porches of houses, behaving like he was on drugs (the THC in his system supports the possibility he was drug-impaired, based on the tox screen). The 45 minutes he was gone supports the idea that he didn't walk directly to the store and back but lingered somewhere. Loitering in the rain is suspicious behavior because most people avoid getting wet when they can. Also, Zimmerman didn't know him since he had just arrived in the neighborhood. Neighborhood watch exists to call attention to unfamiliar people doing suspicious things. Zimmerman was doing his job.

  12. Unlike Zimmerman's online defense team, I'll accept the verdict of the jury.
    If he's acquitted I won't claim he's some martyr who has been unfairly targeted by the state for the OUTRAGE of being indicted.
    How dare Florida try this man! Obviously, it's a government plot to....make him into a RACIST!
    "Reverse racism" is clearly the scourge of our time. Forget all about the dead 17 year old or blow it off as a "tragic accident", right?
    Should people just say "self defense" as some kind of absolving incantation and we'll never indict? Or should he actually have to present it?

  13. As I said, I think he's lying too, based on reading his statements and media interviews.
    Does that mean I think the state shouldn't have to meet the burden? Of course not. If he's aquitted I'll accept the result. I'll still think he lied about the events leading up to the shooting. That's my opinion. Do I think the state should accept self defense without the defendent having to present it? No. I think he shoukd have to.present his case to the jury. I'm not OUTRAGED that his honor has somehow been impugned by the state forcing him to present his defense to the killing. Why would I be, unless I have some "REVERSE RACISM!" agenda I'm promoting?
    I love this idea that even questioning Zimmerman's account is PROOF of something or other. It's Zimmerman's account of events. That's all it is. It's not "true" because he said it.

    1. You think he lied absent any evidence except a hope that he lied. Why do you hope that he lied?

  14. To me, it's not the trial that is interesting, it's the commenters. Reading their views reinforces a beief of mine that people that express self-doubt should be listened to, and, on the other hand, those that are certain of things should be treated with utmost caution. People who are strongly convinced of something grab onto anything within their field of view that supports their conclusion and believe that, too, with clarity and strength. Other things that might make them rethink their postions are not seen, like the man in a gorilla suit walking through a basketball game.

    FOX and MSNBC are there for their viewing pleasure.

  15. Four minutes to travel 138 feet. Trayvon was waiting to attack Zimmerman.

  16. Thank god we're coming up on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

  17. The other interesting part of this is this dogged insistence that Zimmerman is the only person who is being accused (heaven's to betsy, an accusation after he shoots someone, how unfair!)
    Zimmerman's entire defense is grounded in Zimmerman accusing Martin of launching a deadly attack! He even added some dramatic language! There isn't a person on earth who knows whether Martin said all the terrible things Zimmerman attributes to Martin, or indeed DID any of the things Zimmerman is relying on as his defense, yet in bizarro world Zimmerman is being unfairly accused!
    There are TWO accusations being lobbed here. Regarding ONE accusation, the accusation that comes from Zimmerman and his online defense team, the accused is dead. Yet this all about how Zimmerman is being smeared. Like I said, bizarro world.

    1. Hey, dumdum.

      The issue? It's not that Zimmerman is "unfairly accused." It's all the made-up shit the press is delivering, all the factual stuff it's eliding.

      Now you, making up more shit, like your pretending that pointing out the bullshit in the press is equal to saying "Zimmerman is being unfairly accused" -- that's Bizarro World.

    2. There is a witness who saw Martin straddling and beating up Zimmerman (Good) and there are Zimmerman's injuries which include a broken nose and abrasions on the back of his head, and there is Martin's DNA on the shoulder of Zimmerman's jacket, even if you set aside the testimony about who was yelling for help as inconclusive and disregard Zimmerman's own statement of what happened. How then is Martin being falsely accused of attacking Zimmerman?

  18. If Martin threw the first punch then slammed Zimmerman's head onto the pavement, "dissed" or not, all bets are off. Sadly, as Martin learned the hard way, sometimes it can be a hellava lot easier jumping on than it is jumping off.

  19. Jeralyn Merritt, Bob Somerby, and Ann Coulter celebrate acquittal:

    1. They aren't the only ones. Everyone who doesn't have their head up their ass is celebrating.