We assume Chris Hayes is perfectly bright!

FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2013

That’s why we’re appalled by his conduct: What did George Zimmerman do that night, in the dark, without any witnesses watching?

Alone among observers, we’d have to say we don’t know. We can imagine a very wide range of possibilities.

Others imagine just one.

That said, Chris Hayes said a very odd thing on his cable show Monday night. Hayes played videotape of Zimmerman explaining what happened. Then, he offered this:
HAYES (7/1/13): We’re talking of course about Day 6 in the George Zimmerman trial. That account that George Zimmerman gives there in that taped interview differs from some of the other testimony we’ve heard and what other eyewitnesses may have heard.

But I kept thinking, “OK fine. Maybe everything you’re saying about that is right. Maybe he jumped you.” But it’s like, “You followed him! You followed him! You precipitated this whole thing.

“So if it ends up coming to be the case that you precipitated him and you tracked him for no reason other than he was a suspect in your mind and then it went down the way you said, and this dude beat the crap out of you because you were following him, then you get to shoot him and what?”
To watch that full segment, click this.

That strikes us as a remarkable statement by Hayes. Because we assume that Hayes is perfectly bright, we think it demonstrates the moral squalor many high-paid professional liberals have brought to this discussion.

Please note what Hayes does in that statement. Implicitly acknowledging that he doesn’t really know what occurred that night, he accepts a hypothetical:

Hayes imagines that everything Zimmerman said about the encounter is accurate. Even making that assumption, he seems to say the altercation is still Zimmerman’s fault because “you precipitated him.”

“You precipitated him?” Chris Hayes is perfectly bright—and at that point, he’s no longer speaking English. Does that show how far we’re willing to go to stick to the tribal line?

Let’s consider Hayes’ overall statement in two different ways. First, consider the confrontation as Hayes describes it in his own words:

In the account directly given by Hayes, Trayvon Martin “jumped” Zimmerman that night, then “beat the crap out of him.” But somehow, the incident remains Zimmerman’s fault because he had followed Martin.

Please understand what Hayes is saying. He is saying that if Person A follows Person B for a short while as he walks through Person A’s neighborhood, then Person B is allowed to jump Person A and beat the crap out of him.

Obviously, that can’t be something Hayes believes. Why then is he saying it?

Now, let’s consider Hayes’ statement from another perspective. Let’s consider his implicit concession about Zimmerman’s account: “Maybe everything you’re saying about that is right.”

We tend to agree with Hayes’ insinuation. Based on what we’ve heard so far, we think it’s entirely possible that the events of that evening happened as Zimmerman said.

We can imagine other scenarios too, but we agree with the gist of Hayes’ concession—Zimmerman's account may be accurate. But good lord! If everything Zimmerman has been saying is right, then Martin assaulted him as he was walking back to his car to meet the police.

If everything Zimmerman has been saying is right, Martin doubled back to create a fight with someone who was simply walking back to his truck. He proceeded to beat the crap out of that person, to the point where Zimmerman thought he was going to black out.

(That’s what happened if “everything Zimmerman is saying about that is right.”)

Is that what happened that night? Like Hayes, we don’t know! But according to Hayes, the confrontation was Zimmerman’s fault even if that is what happened!

The confrontation would still be Zimmerman’s fault because “he precipitated the whole thing.” Less coherently, it would still be Zimmerman’s fault because he “precipitated Martin.”

Surely, Hayes can’t believe such a thing. Why then did he say it?

Watching pundits behave this way, Jeralyn Merritt has been unimpressed at TalkLeft. Recalling the Salem Witch trials and imperial Rome, Merritt wrote the following in a short Independence Day post:

“It is beyond shameful that on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, our national and cable news channels, instead of paying respect to the rights and individual freedoms we all enjoy today, choose to fill the airwaves with guilt-mongers, who out of ignorance or to promote their personal partisan agenda, unite to declare a man guilty before his defense has even begun to present its case.”

As a general matter, we don’t think the cable coverage has been that bad. But we think Hayes behaved abominably on Monday’s program.

We will do another post about the work of Hayes’ panel. But if you watch that evening’s segments, you will definitely see Hayes displaying the new, caffeinated “showmanship” he discussed with Salon last week.

You will see the mild-mannered fellow putting a new excitement on display. Is he willing to send a person to prison to bump himself up in the ratings?

We’ll have to guess that the answer is yes. What Hayes said made no earthly sense, and Hayes is perfectly bright.

This is ugly behavior. It reminds Merritt of Salem Village. More often, it has made us think of old-world Southern injustice, the kind we all say we hate.

We have decided who we loathe. Now we pick and choose and invent our facts, trying to put him in prison.

Logic may be abandoned too, as Hayes made plain Monday night.

Still coming: The rest of the panel

To watch the two segments that night: Hayes and his three-member panel did two segments about the trial. To watch the first segment, just click this.

To watch segment two, click here.


  1. You and Jeralyn are right to criticize the liberal media in the days after the Martin death became public. It was bad. But you are in bad company with her. Jeralyn has savagely ridiculed the Martin family while explaining away Zimmerman negatives. She has deleted comments that do not fit her blind support for the defense and banned commenters who stick to their differing opinions. Her comments section now has been largely reduced to sycophants. (Also, I was puzzled by her, as a supposed liberal, cheering for the GOP's blocking of the recent background check for gun purchases bill in Congress.)

    But you've all missed the key to the case. Zimmerman revealed it to Hannity. Zimmerman said to Hannity (et al) that Martin asked him why he was following him, and that he (Zimmerman), instead of answering, made a confrontive demand that maintained his identity as a likely racist vigilante. (Z demanded in effect "what are you doing in my neighborhood?".)

    So, the same Zimmerman who rambled to all about his neighborhood watch status and program, refused to identify himself to an actual target and give him a chance to explain. That shows Z did not want an explanation from TM, or to resolve the matter without a confrontation. If so, Z would have done so. That sets the stage for the ensuing events.

    And with Z desiring a confrontation, the scenario most likely under the circumstances is that Z grabbed TM to hold him for the police, whom he had called and knew were on the way. TM fought the (to him) racist vigilante, who quickly lost so then screamed to alert the arriving police as to where he was...But when they fail to arrive quickly enough, pulls out his gun and kills his victim.

    Note that this scenario fits every known fact of the events when you realize that Zimmerman wanted a confrontation.

    So when Chris Hayes elaborated on that possible scenario most favorable to Z, Hayes actually erred by not focusing on the ones that are just as or even more likely. (Anon LW)

    1. "The scenario most likely under the circumstances is..." [and now 12:35 Anon inserts his evidence-free fantasy scenario ("Z grabbed TM")]

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Granted, members of the public, those who are not acting as the judge in the case nor as a jury member, are free to presume the guilt of a particular person or persons prior to their conviction. And unless the person making the presumption, say an employer in some instances, has a legal obligation to allow the accused to assert due process rights the people making a presumption are free to act according to their beliefs though, for reasons related to liability for slander, they should be careful in asserting that it is but their own personal belief that an individual is guilty when making statements to that effect prior to a conviction.

      According to Wikipedia:

      [INDENT]>>>>>Jeralyn Elise Merritt (born September 28, 1949) is an American criminal defense attorney in private practice in Denver, Colorado, since 1974....<<<<<[END INDENT]

      Even when speaking publicly about a case with which she is not associated with as a defense attorney, Merritt, almost invariably, provides the best arguments she can muster on behalf of any suspect or indicted defendant. Her arguments are often maddening to hear by certain people who are following a case and presuming the guilt of a particular individual whom she is advocating for as a commentator.

      Whether she is always taking these positions out of her own personal belief in the case or because Merritt does so, at times, to fulfill what she thinks is a useful public purpose I do not know. If you are the type of person who is unsettled hearing rigorous arguments in the defense of an accused when you think that particular person is guilty of a crime then you probably don't want to read or listen to Merritt. My advice to those who only want to hear what agrees with their presumptions is to tune in to Merritt about a particular case only when you think the person or persons standing accused of a particular crime are not guilty.

    4. CMike: Your words are puzzling. The accused has a right to be presumed innocent. But opinions have no rights and there is no presumption that all points favorable to the accused are true. If that were true, then testimony negative to the defendant would be presumed to be untrue and all verdicts "not guilty". But maybe some lawyers think that way at times.

      Recognizing that, then your defense of JM boils down to this: Only those biased against evidence a defendant is guilty should take her seriously. I personally reject that since I often agree with JM and am puzzled by her bias in the Zimmerman case. It's about truth vs propaganda.

      To "Anon 1:03": Scenarios are projections of possible sequences of events that square with the known facts. They can include assumptions or extrapolations. The scenario I speculated on above was a worst case for Zimmerman, but still at least as likely to be true as Zimmerman's exculpatory claims after killing the only witness to how the fighting began. The presumption of innocence does not mean we must presume "the words" a defendant says are true. And we can not presume the defendant would give evidence of guilt if it exists. The simple fact that Z admits not explaining to Martin who he was or what he was up to when Martin asked is a lynchpin for malicious intent sufficient for manslaughter. A jury does not even need to know who hit who first after realizing that. (Anon LW)

    5. Anonymous on 7/5/13 @ 6:34P,

      The presumption of innocence does not mean that the sworn testimony of a defendant is true. The sworn testimony of a defendant has the rebuttable presumption of truth, however. The jury may find that the evidence rebuts the defendant's narrative or that the evidence indicates that the defendant has too little credibility to be believed.

      Manslaughter in Florida does not require "malicious intent." It doesn't require intent at all. Manslaughter requires culpable negligence. "Malice" as a legal term of art probably doesn't mean what you think it means, anyway.

      The jury will likely wrestle with who hit whom first. If Zimmerman hit Martin first and without provocation, that Zimmerman did not have the legal right to use lethal force to defend himself. If Martin hit Zimmerman first and without provocation, the jury will have to determine whether Zimmerman was reasonable in his fear of serious injury or death. If they can't figure out who was the aggressor, then they have to worry about reasonable doubt.

  2. After he killed Trayvon Martin and the cops came and read him his rights...anything you say may be used against you...Mr. Z talked and talked and talked and talked. I'd dearly love to see Mr. Z tell We the People and the jury, in his own words, what happened.

    Wouldn't you?

    1. He did. Didn't you see the videotaped walkthroughs?

      And it was the prosecution that used them.

  3. Quaker in a BasementJuly 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Other news from central Florida:

    Black shooter, white victim. Stand Your Ground defense denied. Sentence: 8 years for manslaughter.


    1. I'm sure all the other facts are identical, so that case is very relevant to this one!

    2. Quaker in a BasementJuly 5, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      Get back to us after you read it.

    3. Well, since Stand Your Ground is explicitly not an issue in this case, it's pretty dubiously relevant on its face.

    4. Quaker, on reading the news article, I agree with you that there are several similarities. I appreciate your linking to this case. There are some differences, aside from race, which may be significant:

      1. The Dooley case was a SYG; the Z case is not. Z (if you believe his story) had no way to retreat.

      2. The Zimmerman case was exacerbated by hustlers who promoted a false view of the facts and by the media who went along with this false view. As a result, we can deduce that politics may have played a significant role in the way the case was handled.

      However, I do agree with you Quaker that the case has many important similarities.

    5. Dooley apparently was attempting to retreat when the deceased assaulted him. It sounds like the fact that he instigated the confrontation over-rode his self-defense claim which, given his age and the physical disparity between him and his attacker, seems on its face stronger than Zimmerman's. Manslaughter is what probably Z should have been charged with.

    6. OK, let's go over this one more time. Dooley asserted SYG, and the judge rejected his claim. The article doesn't say whether Dooley reasserted SYG at trial. According to the article, Dooley revealed he had a gun and cursed at his victim. According to the judge's ruling, Dooley pulled the gun to confront his victim. That's called improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon, a crime under Florida statute 790.10, the commission of which removes the availability of SYG.

      Zimmerman passed up the opportunity to plead SYG to the judge before trial began. He is allowed to bring it up in his defense. Zimmerman claims that Martin was the aggressor. If the jury believes him, retreat won't be an issue. That's the whole point of SYG: there is no duty to retreat. If the jury believes that Zimmerman was the aggressor, then lethal force wasn't a legal option for him. Unless and until he fled or surrendered in good faith and Martin continued to attack him.

      Of course the jury doesn't have to come to a conclusion either way. A tie goes to the defendant.

      The main difference between the two cases is that there were witnesses in the Dooley case who contradicted Dooley's story that he was being choked by the man he eventually shot.

    7. No, no, no, deadrat. You've got to stop confusing people with facts and law.

      Everyone knows you lead with and conclude with the most important info, just as QiB did.

      It's all about this: "Black shooter, white victim."
      And this: "8 years for manslaughter."

      See, you're meant to realize the inverted analogy:

      "Black shooter, white victim" : "8 years for manslaughter"


      "White shooter, black victim" : "That fucker's gonna get off"

  4. Quaker in a BasementJuly 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    "Watching pundits behave this way, Jeralyn Merritt has been unimpressed at TalkLeft. Recalling the Salem Witch trials and imperial Rome, Merritt wrote the following in a short Independence Day post: "

    Wait. I thought this whole column was supposed to be about the evils of "tribalism." If so,then here's a news flash: Jeralyn Merritt is as deeply in the tank for her own tribe as anyone else you can name. The only difference in her case is that the tribe she belongs to doesn't hold a fixed place on the political spectrum. She belongs to the tribe of Defense Attorneys and her high-flown patriotic rhetoric would bend the other way if Martin was on trial for the killing of Zimmerman.

    1. I've been reading Jeralyn Merritt's's blog. She does indeed belong to the "tribe" of leftists. A clue is the name of her blog: "TalkLeft".

      See: http://www.talkleft.com/

  5. This is putting words in Hayes mouth, a practice TDH has too frequently engaged for his standard targets. In the cited material, Hayes raised provocative and important questions. He may be strongly hinting that he finds the Zimmerman scenario doubtful, but questions still are questions.

  6. Hey Bob, why don't you invite Chris Hayes to respond to your concerns. He seems fairly thoughtful and intelligent. Maybe he can explain to you what he meant.

    1. I think you got that one backwards. It's Bob who wants to be invited to express his concerns beyond the purview of this play-pen here.

      However, when a blogger, who has the advantage of editing and reflection -- unlike a daily TV show host not reading a teleprompter -- writes as follows:

      "Because we assume that Hayes is perfectly bright, we think it demonstrates the moral squalor many high-paid professional liberals have brought to this discussion."

      it's unlikely his command of English (for which Hayes is faulted), his intellectual honesty or his lucidity is likely to recommend him much to national TV, as an alternative to the usual gasbags.

      It doesn't help that Bob is unwilling to consider *any* reading of the facts inconsistent with his own, while innocently protesting that he wasn't there, and doesn't know what happened! He just knows everyone else is wrong and morally squalid....

    2. AnonymousJuly 5, 2013 at 2:33 PM, go back and read the post. It was Hayes who offered an opinion based on the assumption that "“OK fine. Maybe everything [Zimmerman is] saying about that is right. Maybe he jumped you.” Bob's discussion then follows Hayes's assumption that everything Z said was right

    3. All good points, but you know, I assume Bob is perfectly bright and would welcome a dialog on this matter.

    4. Also, what in the quoted statement do you think shows a poor command of English?

    5. Also it would be appalling if Bob did not show the intellectual honestly of allowing Hayes to respond. Very appalling.

    6. There's a way to prevent Hayes' responding?

    7. Well, I guess if you don't directly address your criticism to Hayes and he doesn't read this blog, then how can you expect him to respond to Bob's concerns?

  7. Hayes doubt's Zimmerman's account not because he has evidence to doubt it, but because he has an emotional desire to.

    1. He is saying Zimmerman legally defended himself with deadly force, but he should be imprisoned for doing something legal (walking behind someone while on the phone informing police dispatchers in response to questions they asked).

    2. and making sure that "f***ing punk" doesn't get away this time. You're welcome.

  8. I wonder if it's possible for Americans to have a national discussion of any event or concept without everyone needing to shower in bleach a day into the matter.

    The Salem analogy is dead-on. On all sides we are just vicious and heartless in our attempts to render up some witch and to label those who disagree as abetting that sacrilege. Whether it's the weed-smoking, rap-quoting, street punk martial arts expert, or the hateful racist authoritarian cop-wannabe.

    1. Or the unattractive old maker of fatty, sugary foods who said a forbidden word 20 years ago!

    2. Just imagine all the lardons jokes.

  9. Good job Somerby. If someone follows me, first in a car then on foot, I have no right to confront this person. Especially if I am black.
    If I dare to confront this person and "beat the crap" out of this person by repeatedly banging their head on cement (injuries so severe that he needs two band-aids to treat the wounds) then I can be shot dead. No need to inquire. Charges against the killer? You must be joking.
    Riding high in April; Shot dead in May.
    During the confrontation I punched him and broke his nose, causing bleeding. Then sometime later I put my hand over his nose and mouth. But at my autopsy the ME finds no blood on my hands or under my fingernails. No big deal. After all, I am black.
    Shorter Howler (and acolytes): If Zimmerman said it, then it must be true!
    Zimmerman's story has changed only in small details.
    Paraphrasing Zimmerman to the police:
    1)Martin was running. Zimmerman to Hannity: Martin was walking casually, looking into peoples houses.
    2) Zimmerman to Hannity: I know nothing about "stand your ground" or "self-defense". College instructor: I taught him those concepts in a course in which he got an "A".
    Pseudo-liberals-what's the matter with you?
    Zimmerman eats dinner tonight. Martin is still dead.
    Remember two things:
    1) I am black and I have a gun.
    2) Time longer than rope.
    Finally, some advice to non-white Americans: Get yourself a gun.

    1. Why aren't you addressing Chris Hayes rather than Somerby who was only questioning the logic of Hayes declaration that everything Zimmerman says could well be true, but...

      Does everything short of "Zimmerman is guilty" sound like "Zimmerman is not guilty" to you?

    2. "Zimmerman eats dinner tonight. Martin is still dead."

      That's the crux of the matter. Martin's fate is so disproportionate to anything that he did or seems that he could have done, that his shade cries out for some recompense, if only the punishment of his killer.

      But here's one problem: black or white you have every right to confront someone who's following you in a public place. But if following you is all he was doing and you beat the crap out of him anyway, you're going to risk frightening him into believing he's in serious peril. And in Florida, he can legally shoot you dead.

      Here's another: when the accused kills the only rebuttal witness, the only narrative available in court is the killer's, making it hard for the state to make its case beyond a reasonable doubt. To say that is not to express belief in Zimmerman's veracity. Making up alternative narratives isn't a good idea. To sa that is not to dismiss Zimmerman's inconsistencies.

      So you've got a gun and a grudge longer than time. Here's my advice to you: if you live in Florida, get out; if you don't, stay away.

    3. I may be hard to understand so I will repeat: Time longer than rope. Comprende? Capiche?
      Or should I say it again? Time longer than rope.
      As Somerby would say; Quote me correctly. Jackass.
      And what is the significance of where I live?
      Come follow me.

    4. "If I dare to confront this person and 'beat the crap' out of this person by repeatedly banging their head on cement (injuries so severe that he needs two band-aids to treat the wounds) then I can be shot dead."

      Yes, unfortunately if you make the choice to beat the crap out of a person in that way you are creating in that person a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury, and yes, they can shoot you dead.

      To dramatically lower your chances of being shot, simply make the choice to refrain from beating the shit out of somebody in that way.

    5. majneb: Try me.

    6. Anonymous on 7/5/13 @ 5:38P, People who seem as angry as you are often hard to understand. So re-spew whatever bile you think you need to.

      I'm not quoting you. You can tell because there aren't any quote marks. I'm making a simple observation from what you've written.

      Anyone can play a angry, armed black man in cyberspace. But if that's what you are, and you decide to shoot me in Florida because I'm following you, then prepare to spend a long time in prison. Witnesses or no.

      Just sayin'

    7. Fat-fingered the reply as. The "d" is me.

      It should be obvious from my comment that I'm white.

    8. Just like Zimmerman.

    9. Deadrat,
      I'm an old (black) man and do not play anymore.
      To follow your logic, Martin cannot defend himself.
      Thanks for your insight.
      As I said before, follow me.

    10. Anonymous on 7/5/13 @ 8:12P,

      To follow my logic? That's rich. I'm the guy who says that if Martin had been armed, the two could have shot each other, and both might have been able to invoke SYG.

      I'm the guy who says we have no reliable evidence for exactly what happened in in the last minutes of Martin's life.

      If Zimmerman had threatened Martin, who thereby reasonably feared for his life, then he, Martin, not only had the right to defend himself, he had the right to use lethal force to do so under Florida law.

      Where do you get the idea that my logic requires that Martin couldn't have defended himself?

      My logic requires that we know the facts before we can draw valid conclusions. YMMV.

      As I said before, shoot me because I'm following you in Florida, go to prison.

    11. To the old black man who will assault followers.

      Want to know where the blame for TM's death should be attributed?
      To you, asshole.
      Maybe if he TM came from a community where the old men taught the young ones to obey the law, then maybe TM would still be alive.
      Keep on teaching your children crap like your threatening statements and see how far that gets you. Then blame others for your evil.
      That's working out great, isn't it?
      Why are 60% of violent crimes are committed by 6% of the population? Because of people like you.

    12. Hey anon 1:51PM. Old black man here.
      Since I raised three (black) children, all college graduates, all successful in their lives, I look at you with scorn.
      You are free to call me names. I am sure the term you used to describe me is not your preferred term. C'est la vie. As you may imagine, I have been called other names.
      A few questions:
      1) Which law did Martin "disobey" before he was killed? (Don't say smoking pot. A large % of the US population has used pot. Maybe even someone you know).
      2) Which statement in my comment(s) is threatening?
      a) I am black and I have a gun?
      b) Time longer than rope?
      c) Non-white Americans, get yourself a gun?
      d) Follow me?

    13. Well, anyone can play the wise old black patriarch in cyberspace, but I'll answer your questions:

      1) None we know of. Tests show that Martin had marijuana in his system, but being high isn't illegal.

      2) In the context of online bloviating, none of a), b), c), or d) constitutes a threat under the law.

      The objections flow from the inference taken that if someone follows you in a public place, then you'll shoot him. Now, perhaps your challenge to follow you was meant to gather the clueless in one convenient place so you could instruct them on proper behavior in a multi-racial society.

      In which case, never mind.

    14. Martin broke the law by assaulting GZ.

      That was the first law broken.

      Just because you have kids doesn't mean you raised them well. If they think like you? Well, better luck next-time, race-monger.

    15. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 9:24P,

      We have no reliable witnesses to the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Zimmerman ended up with some minor injuries that seem to indicate that he was in a fistfight.

      If Zimmerman provoked the attack, then Martin was legally allowed to use force to defend himself. This would not preclude throwing the first punch.

      I think the (supposedly) old-black-armed dude is a bit of a drama queen, and I think his is a bad idea that it's OK to shoot people who follow him, but nothing he's posted makes him a race-monger. He's outraged at the unnecessary death of another black adolescent and at a legal system that seems ill equipped to deal with the tragedy. Bear in mind that the Florida legal system has a long history of ill-serving its minority population. Which isn't to say that it isn't operating correctly in the Zimmerman trial. I find nothing he's written is as offensive as your implications that black people are a criminal class and that he's personally responsible for that.

  10. No, not just like Zimmerman.

    I check the non-Hispanic box on the census form. I never went into business with a black partner. I don't live in an area that has a Neighborhood Watch. If I did, I wouldn't consider myself qualified to join. I don't own a handgun. If I did, I wouldn't carry it in public.

    But perhaps the biggest difference is that I'm sure I don't know what happened in the minutes after Zimmerman and Martin confronted each other.

    But we do all kinda look alike.

  11. George never would have been charged if his name was Jorge Velasquez. Unfortunately, he inherited the teutonic and vaguely sinister-sonding last name "Zimmerman" from his father.

  12. deadrat: A tie goes to the defendant.
    This is a point I've been wondering about. In law, you are absolutely correct. However, it may be against human nature to expect a jury to follow that standard.

    Consider this scenario: Suppose the jury thinks Z does NOT have a valid self-defense claim. They think the shooting was unjustified. However, they're not sure. The jury is unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Z doesn't have a valid self-defense claim. Then, the jury is supposed to acquit Z of both murder 2 and manslaughter.

    Under this scenario, I don't think they'd acquit Z. I think they would go with their best belief that the self-defense claim is probably invalid.

    1. DAinCA,

      If Zimmerman presents an affirmative defense of justification, then the burden shifts to him, but it's reduced to preponderance of the evidence. So what happens if the jury rejects Zimmerman's defense, figuring that it's more likely than not that he wasn't defending himself? Say they're 60% sure it wasn't self defense?

      The jury will be instructed as follows: "If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty."

      I'd say 40% sure of self-defense is better than reasonable doubt, so both murder 2 and the lesser included charge (if the judge decides to include it) are out.

      Suppose they're absolutely sure that self defense wasn't involved. Then they have to examine the state's case. If they're absolutely sure that Zimmerman showed a depraved mind, then they vote the top count. If they're not sure of that but they are that Zimmerman was culpably negligent, then they vote the lesser included charge. If there's some doubt about Martin's contribution to the incident, then theoretically that should preclude manslaughter.

      So can the jury resist the temptation to split the difference? That is, can they resist punishing someone for such an injustice (in the existential sense)? They're not supposed to do that if they believe that the self-defense claim is only "probably" invalid.

      But I'm inclined to agree with you about human nature.

    2. I hope they ignore the evidence and the law and consult their natures instead. That would be justice for Trayvon.

  13. I read all of Zimmerman's statements and interviews with police and I don't find his story credible.
    He was very inconsistent on "following" and uses two different rhetorical dodges over tge course of the interviews to recharacterize what he doesn't want to admit IS "following"
    The physical evidence also doesn't match his dramatic depiction of "the beating". At all.
    I don't know what happened that night but I don't think Mr. Zimmerman is telling the truth. Of course, "truth" often has very little to do with a legal result, but that's my opinion on his credibility. He doesn't have a whole lot.

    1. He was legally allowed to follow but probably was not after agreeing not to because he had lost sight of Martin and repeatedly indicated as much in his continued, whispered conversation including his reluctance to give out his own address.

      Zimmerman's broken face, beaten head, and agonized screams as well as John Good's independent eyewitness testimony match his depiction of the beating.


    2. @Anonymous July 5, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      He was legally allowed to follow but probably was not after agreeing not to.

      This statement is just wrong.

    3. I had to read the statement several times, but I think it might mean "He was legally allowed to follow but after he agreed not to, he probably stopped following."

      At no time during the events in question, was it illegal for Zimmerman to follow Martin.

  14. I have a 19 year old and I CAN say I wouldn't want Zimmerman patrolling my neighborhood.Martin wasn't dressed any differently than the 17 year olds around here, in middle class rural area. I have no idea why so many people seem to believe Martin's appearance was somehow thuggish or gang-related.
    Maybe peoples' 17 year olds are wearing ptessed khakis and a school blazer, or something, but all the 17 year olds I know dress just like Martin.

    1. Martin would have been fine if he had taken 12 or so seconds to go home instead of creeping around for a full two minutes in wait for his victim.

    2. Brilliant Anon 10:43! Indeed, every victim of anything can avoid that fate by just being somewhere else at the time.

    3. Sure they can, and they can even remain where they are and not become the cause of their own death if they refrain from attacking people.

  15. According to Z, he profiled M because he didn't recognize him as a resident, M was standing around in the rain, and M looked like he might be on drugs. As it turns out, tests of M's blood show that he had ingested some amount of marijuana, so Z was perhaps correct about that latter guess. However, the judge has forbidden that fact to be presented to the jury.

    BTW, I don't think it's a big deal to be incorrectly profiled. Suppose the police had arrived before the fight and asked M what he was doing there. M would have said that he was staying at his father's girlfriend's at such and such an address. Perhaps the police would have confirmed M's statement by checking with the resident. That would have been the end of it.

  16. I think Anon at the top is on to something, but it's not enough. How Martin ended up beating on Zimmerman is unknowable beyond Zimmerman's account, and matters more ethically than legally, it would seem. Zimmerman clearly went over the line playing cop on his "watch" and the result is the needless death of what used to be called a juvenile delinquent, and he'll have to live with that for the rest of his life. But it's impossible to not give him the benefit of the doubt on self defense.
    That said, why is Bob so obsessed with writing about this case so much? Doesn't he see when he rubs it MSNBC's face, he's rubbing it in Martin's family's face as well? David in Ca's presence here reminds us of the duplicity of a typical Republican Bozo's reaction to the now fully debunked IRS "scandal", that a couple of weeks ago David in Ca and his ilk want taxpayers to start footing a SP's bill over. No remorse from hapless Dave on that one, as he struts his stuff over this, which is after all just one of hundreds of murder cases being addressed this week, and has none of the grand importance of the IRS and the fabled 157 visits.

    1. I applaud him rubbing it in MSNBC's face (not like anyone there cares about Bob Somerby's little blog, though). MSNBC, in conjunction with other major news outlets, deliberately ignored important exculpatory evidence, and, in some cases, deliberately falsified evidence, in a racially charged quest to gin up a lynch mob against Mr. Zimmerman. It should be an important lesson for any self respecting member of the press, if there are any such remaining. However, just as with their conduct in the lead up to the Iraq war, I suspect no such lesson will be learned.

  17. So what's Tawana Brawley up to these days?

    1. It wouldn't be so funny that some people have swallowed this current FRAUD of a case, jumping on the bandwagon determined to believe the first reports at a cost to their objectivity and ultimately for some, their sanity. Except for the fact that the same person (Al Sharpton) ginned up BOTH frauds.

    2. Quaker in a BasementJuly 6, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      the same person (Al Sharpton) ginned up BOTH frauds.

      I see. Are you saying Martin wasn't really killed in the same way Brawley wasn't really assualted? Or are you trying to say that Martin shot himself?

    3. Martin caused his own death and his prosecution is a fraud

    4. Quaker in a BasementJuly 7, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Martin caused his own death

      He had help. You need some.

  18. The defense will fill in more details about how Martin ended up beating on Zimmerman when they address the long period of time after Zimmerman left his truck to the end of his non-emergency call, and the period of time between the end of the non-emergency call and the beginning of the fight.

    7:12:00 - 7:12:59 — Jeantel calls Martin again during this minute.
    7:13:10 — Zimmerman tells dispatcher he does not want to give out his address because he doesn't know where Martin is
    7:13:41 — Zimmerman's call to SPD ends
    7:16:11 — First 911 call from witness about a fight, screams heard

  19. If you think Martin saying "you got me" is funny you should hear what they said John Lennon said when he got shot. "I'm shot!" Can you believe that? "I'm shot!" Groan. someone back then obviously had been watching too many five year olds playing cowboys when they tried to sell us that one.

  20. If Zimmerman presents an affirmative defense of justification, then the burden shifts to him, but it's reduced to preponderance of the evidence.

    deadrat, I thought I had read elsewhere that the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt still applies in this situation. That is, in order to convict, the jury would have to believe BARD that Z's affirmative defense of justification is wrong. IANAL so you may be right. Do you have any cites verifying preponderance of the evidence would apply in the case of claim of justifiable homicide?

    1. DAinCA, It's the other way around for an affirmative defense. The jury need believe the testimony for self-defense only by a preponderance of the evidence to acquit. If they don't buy self-defense, they still need to believe the evidence for the elements of the crime BARD to convict.

      The jury instructions will say that if there's reasonable doubt about their disbelief in the claim of self-defense, they're to acquit. That's because the state hasn't proved BARD that the homicide was unlawful. Let's say, however, that the jury decides that Zimmerman is completely unreliable and they dismiss his testimony (assuming he testifies) in its entirety. They're still supposed to acquit on murder 2 if they believe there's reasonable doubt that he acted with a depraved mind.

    2. What precisely is the testimony for self-defense if Zimmerman doesn't testify? How can one claim affirmative self-defense if they don't take the stand and subject themselves to cross examination? Who else can say, "I was defending myself"? Who else can explain his reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm? Is it all going to be argued based on his previous self-serving statements to the police? If I'm on the jury I'm going to see that as a pretty weak defense. Why does the prosecution have the burden of proving it wasn't self-defense when the fact of the matter is, nobody has taken the witness stand to testify that it was self-defense?

    3. No need to take the stand for self-defense in Florida, Anon 6:35, though it would probably be essential without the words of the defendant already in evidence as in the Z case...The lawyers can use other evidence and testimony to make the point. I agree that it should be required to have a cross-examination in court on the defendant's claims of self defense.

      But I am not convinced the defense will not put Z on the stand. Remember the Hannity interview, now in evidence? Z made statements directly contradicting what he told the police as to what he was doing, what TM was doing, where the confrontation occurred, where he parked, admitted that when TM asked him why he was following him, that Z would not identify himself to defuse the situation. The prosecution will probably be devastating in closing compared to its feeble effort so far.

    4. I don't know how they can argue that since it's based on Z's state of mind at the moment he shot, and who can possibly talk about his state of mind except the person himself? Anyway, thanks for the answer.

    5. @Anonymous July 6, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      GZ has pleaded innocence and claimed self-defense.
      His lawyers speak for him.
      You should have a rudimentary knowledge of how trials run before making comments like yours. Or, more accurately, to allow you to avoid majing ignorant comments like yours.

    6. What precisely is the testimony for self-defense if Zimmerman doesn't testify?

      Eyewitnesses, every piece of physical evidence being "consistent" with Zimmerman's story (and consistent as in common and expected, not as in possible but not probable), and Zimmerman's statements to police directly after the event which matched eyewitness reports he knew nothing about.

    7. Anonymous on 7/6/13 @ 1:42P, Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty. There is no plea of innocence. Zimmerman's lawyers speak for him unless he takes the stand to testify in his own defense. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense but not under oath. And he needn't, but his defense must include some evidence beyond his assertion before he gets the favorable jury instruction on the matter.

      Anonymous on 7/6/13 @ 9:55A, Juries are routinely called upon to determine a defendant's state of mind without the testimony of the defendant. For instance, if Zimmerman doesn't take the stand, the jury will still have to determine whether he acted with a depraved mind. Since Zimmerman killed the only other witness, I'd think a jury would be skeptical of a claim of self-defense if he doesn't testify. But he needn't do so.

    8. Of course, you are correct. I should have written Not Guilty.

    9. Anon of 2:56 and 1:48; Your "not guilty" v "innocence" error was the very least one you made. You claimed to be correcting someone in your 1:48 post about the defense and trial who knew what he was talking about by spewing complete bulls**t.

  21. And, it's not just Zimmerman's life. This (admittedly very right-wing) and this right-wing site list a number of brutal attacks on white people by black people that allegedly were precipitated by Travon Martin's killing. I don't fully trust either of these sites, but even if 1/3 of the cases they describe are accurate and were motivated by revenge, then there has been a substantial amount of vicious harm done.

    I said these attacks were motivated by Martin's killing. But, more precisely, these attacks were precipitated by Sharpton and the Martin family lawyers who used this tragedy to whip up race hatred. And, the media deserve blame for the attacks as well, by presenting Z as a white racist, when he's actually Hispanic, with a small amount of black heritage, and there's evidence that he's the opposite of a racist.

    I personally expect Zimmerman to be convicted of manslaughter. If he's acquitted, there's concern about possible riots. I have an additional concern. I worry about another spate of horrible attacks like the ones listed at the links.

  22. I think we'd all be safer if you went back to worrying about the 157 visits.

  23. Quaker in a BasementJuly 6, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Shorter: "Here's some absolute crap I found at a couple of white supremacist sites. I don't think any of it is true, but what if it is?"

    And you accuse the Martin family lawyers of "whipping up race hatred?

  24. Anon of 2:56 and 1:48; Your "not guilty" v "innocence" error was the very least one you made. You claimed to be correcting someone in your 1:48 post about the defense and trial who knew what he was talking about by spewing complete bulls**t.

  25. Quaker, your many thoughtful comments demonstrate that you're a smart person, so I know you know how to follow links. The reported attacks have links to respectable newspapers. They really occurred. The area of doubt is whether they were fully motivated by the Martin killing. The evidence that they were so motivated is stronger in some cases than others.

    You correctly presented the PC viewpoint, which decrees that one ought to underplay black crime in order to avoid whipping up race hatred. In particular, PC says one should avoid examples and statistics that would show how much higher the rate of black on white crime than the reverse. (I just looked it up. I was surprised. Blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then vice versa.)

    Although a policy of minimizing black crime is well-motivated, IMHO it disserves blacks, because it encourages laxness toward black criminals. Don't forget that most victims of black crime are also black.

  26. DAinCA,

    You just looked it up and you were surprised, eh? Didja look far enough to find out that your link is to the New Century Foundation, a white supremacist and separatist organization (which has the odd distinction of disavowing antisemitism)? Now that you know, do you think they're lying to you, damnably lying to you, or lying to you with statistics?

    Or all of the above.

    But I'm sure black people everywhere are grateful to you for pointing out how quoting a racist source is such a great service to them.

  27. 34 people shot in Chicago yesterday, 7 dead.

  28. Quaker in a BasementJuly 6, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    D in C, you really ought to look deeper into those stories. The Mobile story has been debunked and I can't find any evidence that suspects were ever identified in the Kansas City case.

    In any event, none of your supposed counterexamples involve the police deciding not to charge black suspects for attacks on white victims.

  29. 34 people shot in Chicago Friday, 7 dead. If there are any examples among these in which police and prosecutors decide there is no probable cause to charge a black shooter of a black, in not one of those cases will police and prosecutors from other jurisdictions later decide under public pressure to charge a black shooter of a black.

    This goes for every Chicago shooting death involving a black shooter not only Friday but every day.

  30. deadrat, thanks for pointing out the unsavory position of the New Century Foundation. I had been unaware that they explicitly favor racial separation. They claim not to be biased against blacks, but it's pretty obvious that they are.

    Of course, holding an offensive position doesn't mean that their statistics are wrong. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Southern Poverty Law Center accepts their statistics:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center...has argued that the reason for the disparity in crime rates shown in [the Color of Crime] is not Black genetics, but rather, the fact that Blacks have a lower socioeconomic status.

  31. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 12:59,

    Are you under the impression that "police and prosecutors" with no jurisdiction in Sanford, Florida charged Zimmerman with murder?

  32. Police and prosecutors in Sanford concluded no probable cause and officials prosecutor shopped after pressure which will not be similarly applied to any Chicago case involving a black shooter who is not charged originally for lack of probable cause.

  33. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 3:52,

    The lead investigator for the Sanford PD wanted Zimmerman prosecuted; the state attorney declined on the grounds that SYG made a conviction unlikely. There was an uproar, and the state attorney stepped aside. In that case the Governor appoints a special prosecutor to handle the case. Illinois has a similar mechanism, although I think the courts may be the one to do the appointing, but don't quote me.

    Your claim is false that "police and prosecutors" with no jurisdiction in Sanford indicted Zimmerman. A duly appointed prosecutor issued an information that a court found to have probable cause behind it.

    If you'd like to cite a case parallel to Zimmerman/Martin in Chicago in which the the states attorney hasn't prosecuted a black shooter when there's probable cause that the shooter committed an illegal homicide, please do so.

    I'm no fan of Angela Corey. I think she overcharged 2nd degree murder in the hope of getting a quick plea to manslaughter. And I'm unimpressed with some of the rhetoric used by the prosecution. But there's plenty of probable cause to have indicted Zimmerman for illegal homicide.

  34. There was no probable cause and you completely understood the meaning of "other jurisdiction." Sometimes sophistry is of no value.

  35. Let us put it this way. There was no reason to override the original, commonplace call of no probable cause but it was done because of a racist lynch mob seeking yet another scapegoat.

  36. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 5:29P and I suppose @ 5:31P,

    I hope you've informed the judge who found that there was probable cause that he's wrong. Probable cause is a low bar. Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by "other jurisdiction." Which is why I asked a question. "Jurisdiction" has a meaning in the law, which you apparently don't understand.

    Public pressure had much to do with overriding the original decision not to prosecute. If you want to decry that, fine. If you think that the reason was "a racist lynch mob," I suggest you read up a little on the history of race relations in Florida history. Perhaps you'll become as disgusted with yourself as reasonable people have to be disgusted with you.

    Or not, I guess.

  37. The prosecution is legal much as a conviction for second degree murder will be legal. Largely beside the point.

  38. What does the history of race relations in Florida have to do with the decision to override the original call in is case for this specific defendant? You are arguing that it would be just and proper to allow the same original decision to stand for a darker-colored shooter because of Florida history, though not because of any particular evidence in this case. In your words, disgusting.

  39. Why do "reasonable people have to be" disgusted with me, specifically? This ought to be good.

  40. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 5:52

    The history of race relations in Florida certainly has something to do with the public pressure to indict Zimmerman. And it's possible to make a reasoned argument that the original decision not to indict should stand. But my comment has nothing to do with allowing the "decision to stand for a darker-colored shooter" and everything to do with an ignoramus who thinks a judicially-approved indictment is somehow action by "a racist lynch mob."

    Got it now, Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 6:01P? Or do I need to type slower so you can follow?

  41. You say Florida history has "something" to do with it, as if it is an incidental part of the public pressure as opposed to a significant factor or the only factor, yet you offer no other reason for the public pressure.

    Curious what the other factors are, and whether you think history alone is a reason to apply greater scrutiny to a white shooter than would have been applied to a black one. We would also need greater specificity as to what is meant by history. Dates, events. Whether the same individuals were involved.

    You also seem to suggest that judicial approval of a revisited sound decision makes the revisiting justified as opposed to "wrong" and "racist," even if the revisiting only occurred because of the color of the party who was forced to defend himself.

  42. George Zimmerman's story was accepted and believed after he and others were questioned, and prosecutors did not find any evidence of wrongdoing to indict him. All the evidence available to prosecutors at the time is also available to us and we now know the correct decision was made not to charge him. Any evidence countering his story exists solely in the imaginations of the racist lynch mob.

    Al Sharpton noticed the case because Zimmerman's face is white and he brought pressure to bear on politicians. As a direct consequence of George Zimmerman's white face and despite a complete absence of supporting evidence of any crime at all, a man is forced to stand trial for defending himself because his skin is white.

    It's good though, because Florida history means we need to even up the score.

  43. Nothing? I admire deadrat's effort to be a paragon of precision and even-handedness for TDH comments section.

    Unfortunately it gets awkward when facts and evidence don't cooperate, and there are too many trolls around who are resistant to fantasies and hunches taking their place.

    Sometimes too much is learned and available to concede the benefit of the doubt for good intentions, and characterizations like "racist lynch mob" are the only accurate ones remaining. At that point, no gold stars are given out for taking offense to it.

  44. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 8:50P,

    If you want to know about history, look it up. Start with Sanford. Go back to the 1940s.

    I'm not saying that history is a reason to apply greater scrutiny, although I think a reasonable argument an be made for that. My personal opinion, as though anyone would care, is that there should be equal scrutiny. And as the lapses in forensic procedures have come out in the trial, I think a reasonable argument can me made that that didn't happen either.

    Judicial approval is what's required to ensure that the prosecutor has met the bar for probable cause. If you'd like to make the argument that the judge was "wrong" and "racist," or if you'd like to make the argument that there was no probable cause to indict Zimmerman, be my guest.

    Note that your conclusions are colored (no pun intended) by your assumption that a party was "forced to defend himself." There's at least probable cause to think that wasn't the case. That doesn't mean it didn't happen that way, just that we have only the killer's word for it. Certainly there's no independent corroborating evidence for your view.

    Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 9:06P,

    Zimmerman's story was not accepted and believed on the night in question. The lead detective wanted him indicted; the state attorney declined because he didn't think he could get past SYG, which hasn't made its appearance yet. I assume that you're using the imperial first person plural when you say that "we now know." I suggest you use your royal prerogatives to inform the court of your insights.

    The story of "the racist lynch mob" exists entirely in your royal imagination. No mobs were ever in evidence; no one was in danger of lynching. That hasn't always been true in Florida, which is why I directed you to learn some history so you'd know how inapt your description is.

    I suppose there's been some progress since they ran Jackie Robinson out of Sanford: people like you now think that Zimmerman is white. Maybe it's only in comparison to Trayvon Martin's skin color, but it's something.

  45. Equal scrutiny. So you think if Zimmerman had black skin and repeatedly called the cops before and including on that night, got beaten, had a story that jibed with eyewitnesses, his claim of self defense would have drawn the same scrutiny (including comment from a US president)and an already more than sound decision by prosecutors would be overridden?

    The lead detective is your reason for scapegoating George Zimmerman by subjecting him to a second look after national attention was brought to this case due to his relatively light colored face?

    The lead Sanford Police investigator who sought manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman told the FBI that a sergeant and two other officers tried to pressure him into making an arrest in the controversial case — even though he didn’t think there was enough evidence.

    The summary of Serino’s statement does not mention the race of the officers who allegedly pressured him, but sources told The Miami Herald that Barnes and Perkins are black, and Villalona is married to an African-American man. All three, the source said, had been called in by their supervisor and questioned about leaking information in the case.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/12/2892510/more-evidence-released-in-zimmerman.html#storylink=cpy

  46. Even worse. Those doing the pressuring not only had no evidence of race as a factor but didn't think it was and sought to placate a mob that apparently had no knowledge of Martin's use of fists and sidewalks.

    Records released Thursday show that Sgt. Barnes, a 25-year veteran of the department, told the FBI that he believed the black community would be “in an uproar” if Zimmerman was not charged. “The community will be satisfied if an arrest takes place,” the FBI quoted him saying. Barnes “felt the shooting was not racially motivated, but it was a man shooting an unarmed kid.”

  47. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 10:47,

    I think that had Zimmerman been black, he would have been arrested on the spot.
    There are no eyewitnesses to have stories that jibe with Zimmerman's.
    The President was asked about a story in the news. I think he would have commented on such a story if Zimmerman had been black.
    George Zimmerman isn't being scapegoated. Maybe it's unfair or at least unfortunate for him that the state took a second look, but it's because he killed an unarmed adolescent with a gun, not because his face is "relatively" light.
    So Serino now tells the FBI that he didn't want to arrest Zimmerman. Fine. Three others in the department did.

  48. Anonymous on 7/7/13 @ 10:52P,

    There were no mobs excepted in your overheated imagination.

    Nobody in authority has suggested that the killing was racially motivated.

    The only "knowledge" we have of Martin's offensive use of fists and sidewalks is from Zimmerman. Doesn't make the story false. Doesn't make it true, either. That's what we have courts for.

  49. The only "knowledge" we have of Martin's offensive use of fists and sidewalks is from Zimmerman.

    There are 3 bits of evidence supporting Z's version:

    1. The closest neighbor, John Good, who testified, based on color of clothing and of skin, that M was on top and was striking Z with mixed martial arts blows.

    2. Z's injuries to his face and head, as testified to and shown in photos.

    3. M's lack or injuries, except to his hands (presumably from striking Z) and being shot to death of course. M don't have injuries consistent with having been beaten up by Z.

    IMHO the jury will #2 persuasive.

  50. Also, from the jury's POV, 2 other points that are not determinative, but which I think will carry some weight:

    4. Z's relief when he was told (falsely) that there was a video of the fight.

    5. Inspector Serino's statement that he believed Z. The judge later threw out that statement, but I don't see how it could be removed from the jury members' brains.

  51. If you want to know about history, look it up. Start with Sanford. Go back to the 1940s.

    I'm not saying that history is a reason to apply greater scrutiny, although I think a reasonable argument an be made for that. My personal opinion, as though anyone would care, is that there should be equal scrutiny. And as the lapses in forensic procedures have come out in the trial, I think a reasonable argument can me made that that didn't happen either..