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Forum Post: The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand Your Ground’ [& Zimmerman Acquittal]

Posted 9 months ago on July 17, 2013, 1:14 a.m. EST by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand Your Ground’ [& Zimmerman Acquittal]

By Joanne Doroshow | April 13, 2012

For many years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been a particularly influential organization that has promoted the agenda of corporate America and the political right in state legislatures nationwide, but about which the public has known little. ALEC’s members, who work together to draft model bills, consist of state legislators, who pay little to join, and corporations and trade associations, who pay hefty membership fees. These fees purchase influence over ALEC’s agenda and access to lawmakers. Because ALEC’s issue-areas are quite broad – voter IDs, consumer protection, healthcare, education, the environment and guns, to name a few – not every ALEC bill connects to a particular company’s financial interests. Until now, associating with ALEC’s range of issues seems not to have been much of a problem for most companies, well worth the payoff of having their favored bills promoted. That’s why the stream of recent defections of some of ALEC’s highest-profile corporate members – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intuit and Kraft – has been so extraordinary.

The principal trigger, of course, has been the taint surrounding ALEC’S “Stand Your Ground” laws, the statute at the heart of the controversy over George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin. The business downside of associating with an organization pushing a law that seemingly turns a criminal perpetrator into a lawful executioner has apparently become too much for these companies, thanks to pressure from the civil rights and consumer community. That’s a good thing. But as we focus on Stand Your Ground laws, we shouldn’t lose sight of the breadth of ALEC’s damage around the country. In fact, some of the wider harm can be found in other parts of this very statute. This law does not just protect perpetrators. It is also a direct assault on crime victims themselves. Specifically, buried in ALEC’s Stand Your Ground laws – on the books in some form in about half the states in the U.S. – is a chilling measure that confers absolute civil immunity on perpetrators who successfully avoid arrest and prosecution under this law, stripping crime victims of their legal rights and access to the courts. This is important, because often in cases where the criminal justice system fails, families turn to the civil courts for help by bringing a civil suit against the perpetrators directly. This law blatantly tears away their constitutional rights.

In fact, preventing access to the civil courts for everyday Americans is a pervasive theme that runs through ALEC’s entire, corporate-backed agenda.

ALEC has an entire division devoted just to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. Its very active Civil Justice Task Force is co-chaired by Victor Schwartz, general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association, a corporate group seeking to limit the liability of its corporate members. The legislation generated by this task force has been nothing short of a gift to our nation’s most negligent companies, many of which have been successfully sued over and over for recklessly causing death and injury to their customers. In my conversation with the Florida Justice Association this week, I learned that Florida itself has over 18 such ALEC “tort reform” laws already on its books, with many more under consideration.

The problem with these laws is not only that they allow wrongdoers to escape accountability for what they do. They also discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age and income, issues not unlike those raised by the Travyon Martin case itself. For example, some ALEC bills target certain kinds of jury awards, specifically those that compensate for “non-economic” injuries like permanent disability, loss of a woman’s reproductive system, disfigurement, trauma, loss of a limb or blindness. When a bill passed Congress in 1996 that would make it more difficult to bring negligent product manufacturers to court (similar to various ALEC bills), President Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, stating that the legislation’s focus on non-economic damages was “especially unfair to senior citizens, women, children, who have few economic damages, and poor people.” In 2004, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issued a press statement titled, “Tort Reform Movement Has a Massively Disproportionate Impact on Minorities,” in which he stressed the harm that “restrictions on non-economic damages” were causing minorities.

Women are also disproportionately harmed by ALEC “tort” legislation. Some ALEC bills would go even further than federal bills and completely immunize the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing unsafe drugs and medical devices, which they’ve brought to market under lax government rules.

Michigan already has such a law, and ALEC-affiliated lawmakers have proposed this legislation in other states, like North Carolina. University of Buffalo law professor Lucinda Finley, who has written extensively about jury verdicts, found that: “Reproductive or sexual harm caused by drugs and medical devices has a highly disproportionate impact on women, because far more drugs and devices have been devised to control women’s fertility or bodily functions associated with sex and childbearing than have been devised for men.” History shows that many such drugs and devices were made safer only after women and their families filed lawsuits against those responsible. Immunizing the pharmaceutical industry means that women will no longer have any recourse. The same can certainly be said for the increasingly medicine-dependent senior citizen population.

These under-the-radar liability issues may not be garnering the same kind of public attention as some other ALEC priorities. But the concerns they raise are just as poignant. And they put at risk not only the rights of Trayvon Martin’s family but also those of every person living in this country.


Why Stand Your Ground Is Central To George Zimmerman’s Case After All

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/15/2301621/why-stand-your-ground-is-central-to-george-zimmermans-case-after-all/


Zimmerman Juror Says Panel Considered Stand Your Ground In Deliberations: ‘He Had A Right To Defend Himself’

By Nicole Flatow on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm

In an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, an anonymous juror said the panel that found George Zimmerman not guilty considered Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in its deliberations. Earlier reports suggested the notorious law that authorizes the unfettered use of deadly force in self-defense was not applied to the case, because Zimmerman’s lawyers opted not to request a Stand Your Ground hearing. But as ThinkProgress explained in a post earlier today, the jury instructions contained the law’s key provision and instructed jurors that self-defense meant Zimmerman was entitled to “stand his ground” with “no duty to retreat.”

The juror’s interview with Anderson Cooper Monday night confirms that the jury not only considered this language in their deliberations, but that their decision hinged in part on the Stand Your Ground Law:

Watch it: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/15/2306631/zimmerman-juror-says-panel-considered-stand-your-ground-he-had-a-right-to-defend-himself/

In spite of claims by some conservatives to the contrary, the juror’s statements, if accurate, make clear that not only was the Stand Your Ground law included in the jury instructions, but that the jury heavily considered that law in its deliberation.

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[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Why Were Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman Held to Two Different Standards of Justice?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 14:17 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17637-why-were-trayvon-martin-and-george-zimmerman-held-to-two-different-standards-of-justice

Why were Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman judged by different standards?

Ever since a Seminole County, Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on Saturday night of murdering Trayvon Martin, many commentators in the mainstream media have made a special effort to point out that Florida's "Stand Your Ground and Shoot First" law played no role whatsoever in Zimmerman's acquittal. Here, for example, is a clip - cut courtesy of Media Matters - of CNN's Chris Cuomo dismissing Stand Your Ground's impact on the case during a Sunday broadcast, less than a day after the jury announced its verdict.

Chris is just wrong. "Stand Your Ground" isn't some stand-alone law, it's a complete modification of Florida's rules governing the use of deadly force for self-defense. As a result, it played an essential role in the Zimmerman trial. In fact, it created two different standards by which the six jurors judged both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

As former Florida State Senator Dan Gelber has pointed out, pre-Jeb Bush, pre- Koch Brothers, and pre-ALEC Florida law would have required the following instructions to be read to a jury in a self-defense murder trial:

"The defendant [George Zimmerman] cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force. The fact that the defendant [George Zimmerman] was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force."

Note that according to these jury instructions, the defendant must do everything possible, including retreating, before attempting to use deadly force.

When confronted with a threat in 2005 and before, whether it was a deadly threat or simply the threat of violence, or even when confronted with actual violence, like being punched in the face or knocked to the pavement, the legal obligation was to work yourself free and run.

All that changed in Florida in 2006, when Florida's brand-spanking new and ALEC-promoted Stand Your Ground and Shoot First law came into effect.

Since 2006, post-Jeb Bush, post-Koch Brothers, and post-NRA and ALEC, the Stand Your Ground and Shoot First concept has become fully integrated into Florida's law regarding self-defense and the use of deadly force.

This is why the jury instructions for the Zimmerman jury included Stand Your Ground language, because that language is now part of Florida's laws about self-defense.

Listen carefully to the difference between the "You Must Retreat" language in the pre-2006 jury instructions and the instructions used in the Zimmerman trial. Remember, before 2006 Florida law said that even if the other guy started the fight, you still had an obligation to run. The old law read as follows:

"The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force."

By comparison, here are the Stand Your Ground instructions that actually were read to the Zimmerman jury:

"The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

"George Zimmerman... had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself ..."

George Zimmerman didn't even have to have a threat of deadly force used against him. All he had to do was imagine that there was such a threat. And instead of running, he could stand his ground and shoot first to kill.

Even more interesting than this is that both in the actual Zimmerman trial and in the trial conducted in the American media, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were essentially on trial.

In the courtroom proceedings, Trayvon Martin was being judged as part of Zimmerman's self-defense argument. "Why he didn't run away from Zimmerman?" the defense asked. Because Martin didn't run away, Zimmerman's lawyers suggested that Zimmerman was justified in killing him. This was so explicit in the trial that defense attorney Mark O'Mara even asked for four minutes of silence during his closing arguments as if to demonstrate that Trayvon Martin had plenty of time to turn and run.

Here's a clip of O'Mara's remarks.

And in the media trial of Trayvon Martin, commentators have repeatedly asked, "why didn't the seventeen year-old just run away from the armed man who was chasing him?"

As one of Florida's most famous white pastors, Bill Keller, argued in a nationally published op-ed, "The facts were clear that Trayvon Martin had more than enough time to get back to his father's house, but chose instead to confront Zimmerman, break his nose, and continue the violent attack." In other words, Trayvon Martin should have run away.

So, the question: Why was Trayvon Martin judged, both in the trial and in the media, on the basis of the pre-2006 Florida self-defense law that requires a person to do everything they can to avoid violence up to and including running away?

And, equally troubling, if that was the standard that Trayvon Martin was held to, why was George Zimmerman, who actually held the gun and fired the shot, held to a different standard and allowed to stand his ground and kill an unarmed teenager without penalty? Remember, nobody ever seriously suggested, in the trial or in the media, that Trayvon Martin had a right to stand his ground. Instead, everybody wanted to know why he didn't run.

And remember that over and over again the media, George Zimmerman's lawyers, and Judge Nelson herself explicitly said that George Zimmerman had the legal right to stand his ground and use deadly force if he even felt threatened. While Trayvon should have run, Zimmerman didn't have to run.

Remember the actual instructions that Judge Nelson read to the jury about the standard to which George Zimmerman should be judged:

"George Zimmerman... had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another..."

Why were George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin judged by different standards? Why was Trayvon Martin judged according to pre-Koch brothers Florida law, while George Zimmerman was judged according to post-Koch brothers Florida law? And, perhaps more importantly, why is nobody in the media pointing this out?

If you're as astounded by this as I am, you may want to contact your local media outlet and ask them that question.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Zimmerman trial turns spotlight on another Florida self-defense case

http://news.yahoo.com/zimmerman-trial-turns-spotlight-another-florida-self-defense-005758230.html

REUTERS/Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union (UNITED STATES)

By Susan Cooper Eastman

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - Three days after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Jacksonville to call attention to another self-defense case that he called a "travesty" of justice.

Jackson spent an hour in a jailhouse visit with Marissa Alexander, 32, an African American who was sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her home in 2010 to end a violent argument with her abusive husband.

"In one case Mr. Zimmerman kills a young man and walks away, free to kill again," Jackson said. "And Marissa shot no one, hurt no one, and she's in jail for 20 years."

Jackson said the contrast in the Zimmerman and Alexander cases exposed injustices in the justice system.

"We see radical racial polarization in the judicial system," Jackson told the Florida Times-Union. "That's a cause of great concern." After meeting with Alexander, Jackson spoke with Angela Corey, the state prosecutor who handled both the Martin and the Alexander cases. Corey told him that Alexander's case is in the appeal phase and out of her jurisdiction, but Jackson said he asked her to use her power to see that Alexander is released.

"Ours was a moral appeal," he said. "This mother has three children. They need their mother," he said, noting that Alexander had already served the three years originally offered to her by the state in a plea deal.

Michael Dowd, a New York domestic violence attorney handling Alexander's appeal, contends she should not have been charged with felonies, but rather a misdemeanor, such as unlawful discharge of a gun.

Local leaders from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Action Network are calling for Florida Governor Rick Scott to pardon Alexander.

PROSECUTOR'S RECORD

When Scott appointed Corey special prosecutor in the Zimmerman case and she brought second-degree murder charges against him, some legal experts said she had overcharged. After her office lost the case, many legal experts said prosecutors didn't have enough evidence to win a second degree murder conviction. When Corey first ran for office in 2008, the tough-on-crime Republican prosecutor promised voters she would pursue criminals to the fullest extent of the law.

Corey also garnered national condemnation when she charged 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez with first degree murder in the death of his two-year-old stepbrother. At the time, Fernandez faced mandatory life in prison if found guilty.

In the Alexander case, Cory charged the 32-year-old woman with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because her husband's two children were in the house during the argument. Alexander's case received little attention when she was convicted, but that changed after the Trayvon Martin killing cast a new spotlight on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws.

Under the "Stand Your Ground" law, people fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible.

Alexander, a slightly built woman, said her husband, Rico Gray, was moving toward her threateningly when she fired into a kitchen wall. He had previously been convicted on a domestic violence charge for attacking her.

Gray's two children were at home, in the living room. Prosecutors alleged that the shot endangered Gray and the children.

Alexander filed a "Stand Your Ground" claim, but a judge ruled against her because Alexander chose to go back into the house with her gun.

A jury took just 12 minutes to find her guilty of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Because Alexander fired a gun in the incident, Florida's "10-20-Life" mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines required the judge to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

At the time, Alexander had an active restraining order against her husband and she carried a concealed weapons permit.

(Editing by David Adams and Ken Wills)

[-] 0 points by Illuminated (5) 9 months ago

""The defendant [George Zimmerman] cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force. The fact that the defendant [George Zimmerman] was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force."

Well maybe you're late to the discussion and didn't watch the court case because Zimmerman was on the ground underneath Martin and could not retreat. So basically you're getting exactly what you're calling for in Zimmerman using deadly force justifiably in the absence of the pre-ALED changes.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Jury prevented from considering first aggressor

Florida’s self-defense law prohibits "initial aggressors" from using force if their own conduct has provoked that force. So if a defendant "initially provokes the use of force" against himself, he cannot claim to have acted in self-defense, unless he withdraws or retreats.

The prosecution asked the judge to instruct the jury that it could consider who was the first aggressor in the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. If the judge had agreed to give that instruction, the jury might have concluded that, by following Martin, Zimmerman provoked a physical response from Martin. The defense objected to the instruction, and the judge decided not to give the first aggressor instruction.

The jury was instructed to consider only whether Zimmerman reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself - when he later tussled with Martin on the ground. The jury was also told Zimmerman had no duty to retreat, that he could stand his ground, and meet force with force- including deadly force - if he was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in a place he had a right to be. Finally, the judge instructed the jury that if it had a reasonable doubt about whether Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force, they should find him not guilty.

The instructions prevented the jury from considering whether Zimmerman was the first aggressor when he got out of his truck and began following Martin. When Zimmerman told the 911 operator, "Shit, he's running," the operator asked, "Are you following him?" Zimmerman said that he was. "OK, we don't need you to do that," the operator told Zimmerman. But Zimmerman followed Martin nevertheless. Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her on the cellphone he was being followed by a "creepy ass cracker."

The jury was only given partial instructions on self-defense – those parts that helped Zimmerman. They were prevented from considering whether Zimmerman might have been the first aggressor, which would have negated his claim of self-defense.

[-] 0 points by Illuminated (5) 9 months ago

"by following Martin, Zimmerman provoked a physical response from Martin."

I disagree that following at a safe distance and getting jumped out of the bushes made him an aggressor. If he was closer and acting like stalking maniac then I agreed 100%. We are allowed to have our differences yes?

"The jury was also told Zimmerman had no duty to retreat, that he could stand his ground, and meet force with force... not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in a place he had a right to be."

I believe this to be correctly decided since he was jumped. If we had at least one eye witness then we might possibly be able to begin questioning the court-judge-jury, but we don't have anything but physical evidence collected by police and Zimmerman's testimony. So we can't question the Judge's decision here.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

You can't follow at a safe distance and be jumped out of the bushes. A safe distance allows you to see if someone is retreating behind the bushes. You can't follow someone in a vehicle and then armed on foot when you see them running from you and honestly claim to not be the aggressor. Martin had already been retreating from someone who was pursuing him when he had finally decided to stand his ground.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33128) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 months ago

Illuminated??? More like MUSHROOM kept in the dark and fed shit from date of birth - that you would be here now making that absurd comment.

[Removed]

[-] -2 points by BlackRepublic (-33) from East Windsor, CT 9 months ago

This whole post is shit. It's shit because it wasn't Zimmerman who stood his ground but Martin. It's shit because Zimmerman got his ass whooped and had no place to retreat to. You can label Tray a warrior but you can't label him a victim.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Does the NRA Want African-American Men to Stand Their Ground?

Thursday, 18 July 2013 14:14 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17652-how-can-african-american-men-stand-their-ground

On the night of February 26th, 2012, what did Trayvon Martin need that he didn’t have?

A loaded gun!

After all, as the NRA pointed out earlier this week, having access to a gun and being able to “stand your ground” is a human right. In response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments about “Stand Your Ground” laws to the NAACP on Tuesday, the NRA released a statement, saying in part that, “The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it’s a fundamental human right. To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable, and demonstrates once again that this administration will exploit tragedies to push their political agenda.”

And as the NRA’s 2-million-dollars-per-year spokesman Wayne Little Peter – excuse me, LaPierre - has said, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

On the night of February 26th, 2012, both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin felt threatened.

Zimmerman’s lawyers proved that with the pictures of his bloody head and nose, and with the verdict in the case.

And, it’s safe to assume that Trayvon Martin had a legitimate fear about dying since he ended up dead. What greater proof of fear for one’s death is there than being dead?

So for young black men like Trayvon Martin who are being constantly profiled and stalked by “creepy ass crackers” like George Zimmerman, what’s the solution?

Isn’t it obvious?

Give them a gun!

And pro-gun rights fanatics like Ted Nugent, Rick Perry and the late Charlton Heston all agree – right?

Surely these guys aren’t just talking about, and showing us, how great guns are only for white people.

If the NRA is serious about the right to bear arms, and serious about the right of self-defense being a “human right,” then the group needs to announce a new program immediately, complete with a website that takes donations of both money and guns to give to young African-Americans.

Only then, when an African-American male is profiled and stalked by creepy white men in the United States will he, too, have the ability to “stand his ground.”

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] -1 points by BlackRepublic (-33) from East Windsor, CT 9 months ago

16% of the FL populace is black; of those cases involving a SYG defense in 2012, 55% were black. Your argument is shit.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Just what exactly do you see my argument as being since in posting an article, I haven't argued anything at all?

[-] -1 points by BlackRepublic (-33) from East Windsor, CT 9 months ago

I'm going to recant my above statement. My argument has always been that the right shall not be infringed (except by evidence of wanton disregard). Arm them! I've been saying that for years. Look... you can't get the illegal guns off the streets; if the manufacture of pistols is curtailed we'll either build them ourselves or illegally import them. (I've actually seen children make them.) So it will never be a case of no guns; there will always be guns. Others must therefore arm themselves in self defense. And in my mind a 17 year old is an adult. Do you think we'd ever succeed in getting the mothers of America to agree with us? All must yield to motherhood, has always been an American absolute. But sure, I've considered this. You might go so far as to say I have lamented this.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4796) 9 months ago

Key Mistakes Sway Jury in Zimmerman Trial

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 09:57 By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/17620-zimmerman-vs-martin-racial-profiling-and-self-defense

A Southern jury of six women – none of them black – found 28-year-old George Zimmerman's shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to be justifiable homicide because he acted in self-defense.

The jurors were prohibited from considering race. They were instructed only on the parts of self-defense law that helped Zimmerman, and the chief police investigator improperly testified that he believed Zimmerman.

Jury prevented from considering race

None of the jurors thought race played a role in the case, Juror B-37 told CNN's Anderson Cooper. In fact the question of Zimmerman profiling Martin because he was African-American didn't even come up in deliberations, the juror said.

No wonder it never came up. At the beginning of the trial, the judge forbade the prosecution from speaking about racial profiling. Only the word "profiling" could be used, Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled. "Criminal profiling is based on behavior," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said on Democracy Now! "Racial profiling is based on color and on race. And the reality is that it appears that George Zimmerman had a pattern of confusing color with grounds for suspicion."

The entire trial from start to finish was sanitized of any mention of race.

Zimmerman told the 911 operator, "These fucking punks" and "these assholes, they always get away," when he spotted Martin walking down the street in Sanford, Florida, that fateful evening. "Looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman said. "Something's wrong with him." When an investigator later asked Zimmerman what he meant by those words, the shooter replied, "I don't know."

But the prosecutor was forbidden from telling the jury that the "something" that was "wrong" may have been the color of Martin's skin. The Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, told the New York Times, "Trayvon Benjamin Martin is dead because he and other black boys and men like him are seen not as a person but a problem."

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, noted, "George Zimmerman saw a young black male as a threat to his community."

Clifford Alexander, who worked as a lawyer in the Lyndon Johnson White House, said in an interview with the Washington Post, "The clear reason why Zimmerman had the audacity to approach this child was that he saw the color of his skin as a threat."

Two days after the shooting, Zimmerman's cousin, known as Witness No. 9, told a Sanford police officer in a telephone call, "I know George. And I know that he does not like black people." She added, "He would start something. He's a very confrontational person. It's in his blood. Let's just say that. I don't want this poor kid and his family to just be overlooked."

But the judge sanitized the case and everyone involved was forced to ignore the elephant in the room. Indeed, after the verdict, Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's defense attorney, made the preposterous statement that if his client were black, "he never would've been charged with a crime."

Jury prevented from considering first aggressor

Florida’s self-defense law prohibits "initial aggressors" from using force if their own conduct has provoked that force. So if a defendant "initially provokes the use of force" against himself, he cannot claim to have acted in self-defense, unless he withdraws or retreats.

The prosecution asked the judge to instruct the jury that it could consider who was the first aggressor in the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. If the judge had agreed to give that instruction, the jury might have concluded that, by following Martin, Zimmerman provoked a physical response from Martin. The defense objected to the instruction, and the judge decided not to give the first aggressor instruction.

The jury was instructed to consider only whether Zimmerman reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself - when he later tussled with Martin on the ground. The jury was also told Zimmerman had no duty to retreat, that he could stand his ground, and meet force with force- including deadly force - if he was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in a place he had a right to be. Finally, the judge instructed the jury that if it had a reasonable doubt about whether Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force, they should find him not guilty.

The instructions prevented the jury from considering whether Zimmerman was the first aggressor when he got out of his truck and began following Martin. When Zimmerman told the 911 operator, "Shit, he's running," the operator asked, "Are you following him?" Zimmerman said that he was. "OK, we don't need you to do that," the operator told Zimmerman. But Zimmerman followed Martin nevertheless. Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her on the cellphone he was being followed by a "creepy ass cracker."

The jury was only given partial instructions on self-defense – those parts that helped Zimmerman. They were prevented from considering whether Zimmerman might have been the first aggressor, which would have negated his claim of self-defense. Ultimately, nothing mattered to the jury, Juror B-37 told Cooper, except whether Zimmerman feared for his life in the seconds before he shot Martin.

Juror B-37 said that Zimmerman was guilty of nothing more than "not using good judgment." She added, "Both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into."

Officer permitted to make credibility judgment

Sanford police officer Chris Serino, the chief investigator on the case, testified that, given all the evidence, he believed Zimmerman was telling the truth. It is well-established that witnesses cannot make credibility judgments – it invades the jury's exclusive province of determining the credibility and weight of any evidence. But the prosecution didn't object to Serino's testimony until the next morning, at which point the judge told the jury to disregard it. Yet the damage was done, and Serino again testified that there were no significant inconsistencies in Zimmerman's statements to police.

From the beginning, Serino did not believe there was enough evidence to file criminal charges against Zimmerman. The officer told the FBI that he was pressured into making the arrest. Zimmerman finally was charged for Martin's death only after a powerful national outcry, and the governor's appointment of a special prosecutor - 40 days following the killing.

Serino testified, "In this case, [Zimmerman] could have been considered the victim also." Likewise, Juror B-37 felt sorry for both of them - the dead boy and the shooter alike.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

We focus on CU, but the 1% bought our legal system long ago. And we still act astonished at the outcome.

It's extremely frustrating knowing that if we only UNITED we would get almost everything we wanted ~ like Justice, Healthcare and democracy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[-] 0 points by Illuminated (5) 9 months ago

I have no problems with denying these rights to families of murders and rapists killed inside someone's home. I wouldn't want a long, drawn out civil suit for protecting my wife from rape.

I don't get what the outrage over this is all about. Seams quite silly, and being mad just to be mad.

[-] -3 points by Theninthpiecesuv8 (-26) 9 months ago

I'm not sure where you're going with this; you're trying to recruit support for a civil suit that has no standing because there is no guilt? Is Stand Your Ground a self defense statute or a defend your space statute? Aren't they one and the same? Why would someone be required to yield their space to the benefit of a threatening individual of another race? Why would this be a racial issue? You've invited women; what are the repercussions for women? Will they be required to retreat from the irate husband or bf?

[-] 2 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

Trial Fraud.

The racist vigilante stepped in it with his cretinous murder of Trayvon, they tried to cover it up but botched it up, so they contrived a CYA show trial, all to protect ALEC's SYG divide and conquer law.

Perhaps Holder will make up for chickening out on Wall Street Banksters. With no past or future conflict of interest, there's a possibility.

[-] -2 points by Theninthpiecesuv8 (-26) 9 months ago

Holder's not a man of conviction; he's just doing the party's obligatory dance. This voice of the party insincerity was most obvious in this most recent speech.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

Holder is a careerist. Since he cares about some people (other than his own) and is not a cultist, he leans Dem.

He has no direct reason not to go after Koch/ALEC's SYG (murder) laws.

[+] -4 points by Stormcrow3 (-15) from New York, NY 9 months ago

Prove that there was "trial fraud". It's easy to use the word "trial fraud" but prove it with "facts" not suppositions.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

Criminal GOP Gov. Rick Scott appointed the Prosecution!!!!

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[-] -3 points by TikiJ (-38) 9 months ago

What are your thoughts on Angela Corey?

[-] 1 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

She works for Rick Scott!

Not exactly good, humanitarian, democratic thoughts.

[-] -3 points by TikiJ (-38) 9 months ago

That might be a bit of generalization. Do all state attorneys work for Rick Scott?

She's been at it for 26 years. She might suck, but I dont think Scott has too much to do with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Corey

[-] 1 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

It's an employer's economy, and when people come home after work, how "good" they were is irrelevant, it's how much they get paid and how long they get paid that matters. To Kill a Mocking Bird would be a comedy or a Breaking Bad episode today.

[-] 1 points by forourfutures (393) 9 months ago

Seems like an effort to circumvent mental health care that works and substitute it with something that doesn't.

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[-] 3 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

Perhaps they were happier with Move to Amend, ask them.

[-] 1 points by forourfutures (393) 9 months ago

Yep, they support movetoamend, but can't say why congress would amend to reverse citizens united. They can't explain how city councils are going to do it either, but they have citizens working to get those signatures.

[-] 3 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 9 months ago

Ask them.

Meanwhile, boycott all Koch Bros Products: http://www.boycottkochbrothers.com/

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (5654) from St Louis, MO 9 months ago

Excellent link. Thank you.

[-] 3 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 8 months ago

Your welcome, but I thought everybody knew about the Koch Bro Boycott List years ago!

[-] 0 points by gnomunny (5654) from St Louis, MO 8 months ago

I didn't know of the Koch brothers until I came on this forum. For all its faults it's been a wealth of information for me, and I've bookmarked that list for future reference.

[-] 3 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 8 months ago

I'll see if I can dig up some old/pre-OWS posts from back when it was news.

FYI: The Koch Bros are descendents of a defunct, debunked and disgraced organization known as The John Birch Society, who among many other RW transgressions, in the day, were big promoters of McCarthyism. The KBs are the money backers of ALEC and many of the Cato, Heritage, etc. RW "think" (conspiracy) tanks. In the name of "Free Market (predator) Capitalism," Neo-Liberalism, Libertarianism and, when necessary, Jesus; these 1% of the 1% greed-addled tyrants are waging war on democracy, America and the 99%.

[-] 0 points by gnomunny (5654) from St Louis, MO 8 months ago

Descended from 'The John Birch Society?' Well, that says it all right there. I'm a little familiar with that p.o.s. organization. Here's a little tid-bit from their history. They're the organization that spread the rumor back in the '70's that the peace sign signified an upside-down broken cross in an attempt to equate the peace movement with devil worship, a myth that is still pushed in Catholic schools across the country. That's far from the worst thing they've done, of course, but I found it interesting.

[-] 4 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 8 months ago

Basically, if you can think of a dirty trick, lie or twist of the truth, these bastards and their RW RepubliCon ilk have tried it. Nazi propaganda tactics, Shock Doctrine, you name it. Pass the word.

[-] 0 points by gnomunny (5654) from St Louis, MO 8 months ago

I definitely agree and definitely will. I'm passing the word about a lot of things I've been learning on this forum. The masses need to be informed if we're going to effect the changes we desperately need.

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (5654) from St Louis, MO 8 months ago

During the early days of this forum there were a LOT more people participating and posting a lot of good links. It's fallen off greatly since then. True, it's not the best place to get informed and I do learn a lot from many other sources, including some that you have listed here like alternet, thinkprogress, democraticunderground, and nationofchange. The only one I wouldn't touch would be FaceBook but thanks for the others. I'll bookmark them.

[-] 2 points by forourfutures (393) 9 months ago

A list of Koch corps we can avoid. Finally, I was wondering how long it would take.

[-] 4 points by WSmith (5271) from Cornelius, OR 8 months ago

The Koch Bro Boycott List was very popular years before OWS sprung up.