Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fear of a guilty verdict.

Althouse has a post up about Professor Jacobson's concerns about a guilty verdict:

"I have a really bad feeling about the Zimmerman verdict."

Jacobson (of Legal Insurrection) writes, and is quoted by Althouse:
Logically, it should be a slam dunk of “Not Guilty” on all charges, since the evidence clearly shows Zimmerman was acting in justifiable self-defense as he was being beaten by Trayvon Martin. Or at least there is a reasonable doubt as to self-defense, which the law requires result in a Not Guilty verdict.

I’ve said it before, this was a case which never should have been brought, and it wasn’t. Not until a carefully orchestrated professionally managed publicity campaign based on false racial accusations, resulting in a Special Prosecutor....
Althouse retorts with
I don't have a bad feeling. And I don't feel drawn to this cynicism about jury trials. I think the case has been tried on the evidence — to a sequestered jury. The racial politics and folk sociology that have permeated the media were not part of the trial, and I expect the jury to handle the case properly.

I understand the point of commentary like Jacobson's and the people on the other side as well. They're laying the groundwork for the political use of the case after we see the verdict. All the hot air about the outrage that will meet an acquittal has stirred up a need to puff about the outrage that should accompany a conviction. But are we a nation of hotheads or do we believe that we have a rule of law? If we want the jury to look at the actual relevant evidence, why don't we wait and hear the closing arguments and see what the jury does? Why anticipate lawlessness? 
 Much to respond to in the Althouse response.

First, we have no idea how much of the racial politics have reached the jury. One potential juror got caught out as someone who had been campaigning for the trial and conviction of Zimmerman. How do we know the other people on the jury really didn't come to this with preconceived ideas? One can never be certain about these things. We do know that the President himself has had his DOJ act to make certain that Zimmerman gets fucked in the ass.

Second, even though the jury is sequestered, that doesn't mean that someone somewhere isn't whispering something in their ears. We don't really know what they may be finding out.

Third, one can cite plenty of examples of the country being hot-headed or a nation that believes in rule of law. But it is impossible to now remember the LA riots that followed the Not Guilty verdicts in the trial of the police officers who beat Rodney King.

It is also impossible to ignore Prof. Jacobson's point that the trial wasn't brought until after much racialist politics had been brought to bear. No Al Sharpton, no President Obama adopting Trayvon as the son he never had, and this story (which was a non-story here locally*, initially) would have never garnered any national attention. Throw in the President ordering his DOJ to investigate Zimmerman for civil rights violations and the DOJ actively organizing protests against Zimmerman, and it is hard to take talk about this being a nation of laws seriously. And that ignores the IRS scandals, the HHS scandals, Obama enforcing or suspending laws willy-nilly, and so on. This is no nation of law anymore.

Also, it is impossible to take the notion that there won't be any violence if Zimmerman is acquitted seriously. Perhaps there won't be. But there are plenty of "No justice, no peace" type folks around, complete with tee-shirts that say that on one side, and "Justice for Trayvon" on the other. It's really easy for a lily white law professor living in a nice neighborhood in Madison Wisconsin to take the attitude that concerns over violence are exaggerations for political effect, and it is quite another thing to take that attitude in places on the firing line. Especially if one is lily white in a black neighborhood, as I am.

I should also note that having various black celebrities (e.g. Spike Lee tweeting out what he believed to be Zimmerman's home address, Russell Simmons stating that Zimmerman will pay whether he is guilty or innocent) making threats against Zimmerman doesn't make for a believable case that we have NO reason to fear violence. Nor do all the threats against Zimmerman that have been tweeted out, apparently with no concern from law enforcement that numerous people are threatening to off Zimmerman and his family.

So is Althouse seriously stating that lawlessness shouldn't be anticipated? Does she really think law enforcement agencies shouldn't make preparations for violence when violence is being explicitly threatened?

(I should note that law enforcement agencies in the city of Sanford, Seminole County and Broward County have taken the opposite position, and are actively preparing for potential violence.)

* I live in Orlando, Florida, Sanford is a short drive away, and I've got friends who live in Sanford.


bagoh20 said...

I would think that if you were the judge in an obviously politically motivated show trial, and you were decent and believed in American justice that you would try to avoid looking like part of the railroading and avoid showing such animosity for the defense.

Icepick said...

She can side with justice, or she can side with the Governor and the President and the angry mob that is threatening to kill people. (On of the witnesses all but admitted on the stand that he has been getting threats since this all became a thing.)

Not to mention: Do you know what the IRS might do you her and her loved ones? Do you know what FBI and DOJ investigations might turn up on her, or already have turned up on her? You think she wants the mob getting bused to HER house? Do you know what the NSA has found out about her using her meta-data? Do you know what promises have been made to her if she sees things the right way?

Justice is a nice concept, but it no longer applies here.

Lem said...

To believe that the jury is somehow isolated to the point of a clinical operation room, where all the participants scrub and everything is uncontaminated Spic 'n Span is tantamount to believing that what is taught in the law classroom is also how it goes down in the real world.

I'm not criticizing the professor, who I like very much, but, the fears we speak of are well grounded. This is not our first rodeo.

Lem said...

The Zimmerman judge got to see how it turned out for Lance Ito after a not guilty verdict for OJ. Whereas she can only imagine what it would have been like for Lance Ito had the verdict gone the other way.

The Zimm Judge knows which side of her bread gets the butter.

Icepick said...

Comment below originally left at Lem's. The quote at the start comes from Lem:

The race, the Hispanic and the black and the whites is stuff that is being manipulated to find this man guilty of something he didn't do.

Wrong. No one in power cares about Zimmerman's guilt or innocence either way, or whether or not he is found guilty or innocent. They merely want an issue from which they can profit either financially or politically. That's why Sharpton got involved, to make a buck off this somehow. (I won't tell a man his business, so I have no idea how he does it. I know how Jesse Jackson runs his shakedown operation, but I don't know Sharpton's business model.)

And Barack Hussien Obama adopted Trayvon's ghost to make certain that the black vote turned out in huge numbers last year.

Governor Rick Scott pushed the prosecution for fear of riots and in an effort to appease blacks so that that WON'T turn out in large numbers when he runs for re-election on 2014.

Actually the Governor is probably the only major party that really cares about this one way or the other, besides the Martin family attorney. It will not help Scott's re-election efforts if a large part of the state gets burned down in race riots. He's only a centi-millionaire, and not a billionaire, so he can't buy enough adverts to paper over large riots.

Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney, is probably secretly hoping for a Zimmerman Not Guilty verdict. If Zimmerman wins, he'll have a lot more incentive to sue the Hell out of organizations like NBC that slandered him last year, and will be MUCH more likely to win. Which means Zimmerman would have more money to pay off the Martin family (and their attorney) later.

The whole damned thing is perverse as Hell as far as the incentives go.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

In terms of faith in the jury system, I have to disagree with the professor. I still think it likely he will be found not guilty, or at least get a hung jury. However, I'm not entirely confident.

I've been on a jury. It was a civil case, but it was a wrongful death case ( of a 17 year old ), complete with grieving parents. No Liability was the obviously correct decision, just as obviously as in the current case. However, when we got to the jury room and took an initial vote, it was 8-4 in favor of finding liability. Lucky for the defendant, myself and one other like-minded juror were able to walk the rest of them through the jury instructions, comparing them to the facts of the case. It took a little over an hour to convince the last person. Their only argument was somebody should have done something.

Of course, myself and the other like-minded juror ( plus the other two who voted our way at the start ) were men. All the women voted for liability in the initial vote.

God help George Zimmerman.