Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thoughts on the Martin-Zimmerman Case

Of course there are profiling issues and racial issues in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman incident.  There almost always are when a non-black individual representing law enforcement or something like a neighborhood watch team has an encounter with a black man whom he regarded as "suspicious."  But these issues are socio-political issues.  They are NOT legal issues.  It is a mistake to conflate the one with the other.

Though profiling may be "wrong," most, if not all of us, engage in it.  We may profile by ethnicity, we may profile by dress and appearance, we may profile by behavior, etc.  It's one of those human foibles that just seems to define who we are as human beings.  Profiling may be a fault and may be unethical or  even immoral, but it is not illegal.  The use of racial epithets may be unethical or immoral, but it is not illegal.  One may "profile" George Zimmerman as being over-attentive and over-zealous in his trailing of Trayvon Martin, but this was not illegal and can play no part in decisions regarding the facts.

A court must be the place where a jury knows to apply the law narrowly and "to the letter."  It is not a forum for discussion of, or judgements on, issues such as racism, profiling, and the like.  Any one of us who may stand accused of a felony would wish to be judged only by the facts - not any mitigating circumstances that may becloud them. Whether whites are more apt to kill blacks, or Hispanics are more apt to kill Asians has absolutely no bearing on an individual case.  It is just plain wrong to consider race or ethnicity, or any other "profile" when adjudicating a specific altercation.

Social issues must be addressed by legislatures - not by juries in courtrooms.