"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.Althouse retorts with
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....
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.Much to respond to in the Althouse response.
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?
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.