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.  


Anonymous said...

But the point is that he shot and killed an unarmed boy and got away with it. Profiling and racism are certainly evident, but not illegal. The problem with the Stand Your Ground law is that it allows any armed person to shoot and kill at will so long as they can make it appear as though their life was in danger. How do you think the unarmed boy felt in this case? Was he scared of the man threatening him with a gun? Why couldn't Stand Your Ground apply to him? Because he is unarmed he doesn't get a free pass? Shoot and kill first or be shot and die seems to be the policy. As long as you kill the person and they cannot express the extreme fear they may have felt, you get off without any
punishment. Just say you were threatened so you
killed him and walk away a free man.... Stupid.

Carl Steeg said...

I must disagree with "Anonymous." The point is not that he shot and killed an unarmed boy. The point is that the State failed to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. The jury was unable to be convinced by the evidence presented. Yes, Zimmerman killed an unarmed boy, but every killing is not "murder," and the jury was unable to conclude that this killing was murder. By the way, the Stand Your Ground law was invoked in this trial.