Why the Martin Zimmerman Case Was a Litmus Test

As I said in the post below, I never followed the intricacies of this case the way some did. When I would argue about the case on blogs, I was often amazed at how much detail some people knew. I guess if I knew that other people clearly knew more about the subject than I did then it would have been wise for me to keep my opinions to myself or at the least to hedge,  but I was aware of the general scenario, and I had such confidence in my thoughts about that that it gave me confidence to speak on the matter as a whole. Perhaps that confidence was unwise, but it was there nonetheless, and in hindsight it looks entirely justified.

What I knew was the general scenario. The original local jurisdiction did not charge Zimmerman because they didn’t think they had a case. The State appointed a Special Prosecutor in response to the cries of the PC mob with the assistance of a complicit liberal media because they didn’t get the indictment they wanted from the local jurisdiction, and that Special Prosecutor brought an indictment (surprise, surprise!).

Here is why I think this case is a litmus test. It indicates where a person believes bias predominantly resides. If you asked me who I think is more competent to investigate a potential murder case, the state or the local jurisdiction, then I would say the state because they obviously have more experience, more tools at their disposal, etc. In fact, I could imagine a local jurisdiction that doesn’t deal with this kind of thing much doing a pretty incompetent job of it (unless the local jurisdiction is Sheriff Walt Longmire’s. Then the killer is as good as in jail. :-) ). But this was never largely about competence. Some alleged the local jurisdiction did a slap shot job with the investigation, but the issue of the competence of the investigation was always in the context of the question of bias. What was primarily being debated here was the issue of bias. So here is the issue boiled down: do you believe the local jurisdiction is more likely to be biased because the victim was black and the perpetrator was non-black and that a PC outrage motivated  state investigation is more likely to be less biased, or do you believe that the local investigation is less likely to be tainted by bias?

The latter seems so obvious to me that it is hard for me to even frame the question without indicating my own thoughts on the matter. The former accepts the obvious and known bias of the external calls for an indictment, and still thinks that is less bias than the unknown bias of the local jurisdiction. This is almost unfathomable to me. Imagine how much unknown bias you have to presume on the part of the local jurisdiction for that to be more than the known bias that is behind the state investigation. I am no apologist for the police, as anyone who knows where I’m coming from will know. I think police officers often have a power complex and abuse people’s rights. And cops are people so I don’t doubt that they often engage in the same kind of profiling that we all do on a daily basis. But what group A has to presume here is not just profiling or commonplace bias, but that an indictment was not brought because Martin was black and Zimmerman was non-black. In fact, I think it is much more likely that the local jurisdiction was actually more careful to avoid the appearance of bias because of the sensitiveness of the situation and the scrutiny, than it is that they refused to indict Zimmerman because of bias. My assumption when arguing with the anti-Zimmerman crowd was that the motives of the local jurisdiction were likely either benign or excessively scrupulous. This strikes me as a no-brainer, and why I had such confidence in trusting the motives of the local investigators over the obviously politicized state investigators. The assumption of the anti-Zimmerman crowd was that the motives of the local jurisdiction were malign and that the state case was necessary to set that right. This strikes me as borderline delusional.

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29 thoughts on “Why the Martin Zimmerman Case Was a Litmus Test

  1. roho

    Red…….This was political from the start. Seminole County is about 11% black, yet Sanford is about 30% black. The politicians in the judicial system need that vote, as well as the State Govnt needs to avoid “HOT SUMMER RIOTS”……..During the trial, two teen blacks in Sanford, beat a white man into a coma with a hammer, and not a word from the MSM?…..Not a word?…….Yet Sanford Florida is ABOVE the national average in violent crime?

    Dr. David Duke has a great video about this, but I’m sure that his coverage would be toooooooo radical for “White Guilt” Americans?

  2. Weaver

    Red,

    Most white pro-Martin supporters simply don’t know the details. If you talk 5 minutes pointing out that Martin used racist language (according to his own defending witness), his primary witness (phone call) was caught lying, Martin was taller, Zimmerman claimed Martin jumped him and that he was being beaten to death: the person will drop it.

    Many I’ve talked to don’t believe me when I say Zimmerman is Latino, looks very Latino.

    I also haven’t followed the case. I only recently picked up the details from discussing it.

    Roho,

    my white guilt is regarding what America has done to Europe and colonies. America truly is Great Satan, an evil empire.

    That’s not to say it’s fine to harm others, but our worst crimes surely have been against Western Civilisation. It might be that we balance China, prevent it from great evil (expansion). But that’s merely good through a balance of power, haha.

    Had I foreseen these results of subjugation,
    I would have preferred to die at Appomattox
    with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.

  3. Thomas O. Meehan

    The reason that prosecutorial power was taken from the local authorities and handed to a close political friend of the Florida Governor is that the locals saw the killing for what it was. Back when I was in law enforcement we called such killings “Community service homicides.” That is, a taxpayer taking out a malefactor with some justification.

    Another way of looking at this is to ask the question, what were the two likely life trajectories of the actors in this case? If Martin had killed Zimmerman, the community loses a tax paying participant. What cost do we pay for the absence of Trayvon Martin? One less dope taking thug who will never punch someone out again.

    This is harsh, unsentimental arithmetic, but any society forced to endure endemic minority crime cannot avoid it.

  4. Thomas O. Meehan

    Red, I take your point. I was blowing off steam and not actually addressing your point at all.

    Regarding your point on bias. I think we have all become a bit confused on the point of bias. Bias is not exactly the same as prejudice. For instance, in a similar situation to the Zimmerman case, even rather bigoted white cops would tend to have a bias in favor of a black home owner over a known street punk of any race. I think this is the natural bias we all used to have to show some solidarity with virtue. In a community with a common culture bias is just tending toward the common good. This is not to excuse falsification. It is only to give the benefit of the doubt to those who are objectively upright. Zimmer appeared to be an upright guy to the responding officers. (On a personal note. Nothing makes me seethe with anger like the sight of upright Blacks being preyed upon, either by the government or the troglodytes they live with in crappy neighborhoods.)

    As to bias at the local vs state level, I don’t think you can draw an enduring line. As you say, the state authorities may have large, sharp political axes to grind. But local jurisdictions can be very parochial and biased in there own way. What is undeniable is that local authorities are far more likely to know offenders and victims and their reputations and relationships than the boys from the state AG’s office. What is also undeniable is that local patrolmen, detectives and jurists must live with the decisions that they make. They see the victims and defendants in the supermarket. The AG’s boys who descend on local jurisdictions and perform a hatchet job, or conversely, a “friendly prosecution” of someone with political clout, never have to meet the people who’s lives they screwed up again.

    As to competence, local jurisdictions with few major crimes are notorious for making a mess of investigations. How would it be otherwise? Small town cops do not as a rule, investigate murders. They get bumped up to the County level. On the other hand, there are rural states with one or two big cities. Obviously in this situation the big city Detectives tend to be at least as good as the state ones.

    Finally, it should be remembered that the Zimmerman case was in no way a “Who done it.” The local cops were not investigating a mystery but simply applying the law to known facts. Zimmerman had the injuries, professed openly to shooting the tall unidentified male corpse on the lawn and presented a perfectly plausible account of his actions under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The corpse had no identification and no obvious connection to the community. Absent evidence to the contrary, they were obliged under that Florida law to release Zimmerman. They always had the option to charge him if contrary facts came to light. They never did. But the State decided to prosecute him never the less as a sop to the usual suspects.

  5. roho

    I also believe that the true “Defendant” was the “Stand Your Ground Law.”…….Our Justice System is out of control like the “Military Industrial Complex”, needing crime to feed the system.

    An attorney once told me that the present system is to “Throw everyone into the system. Like a funnel some will come out the other end guilty and some will come out innocent. But ALL will come out broke.”

  6. Kirt Higdon

    Zimmerman’s likely life trajectory past and present is to fatally shoot someone and/or be fatally shot himself. That’s the likely life trajectory of anyone who makes a hobby of arming himself and prowling the night looking for bad guys. Sooner or later he’ll meet someone, bad or good but in any event armed, who can draw quicker or shoot more accurately.

    I don’t object to the jury verdict. You have that pesky combination of presumption of innocence, reasonable doubt and protection against self-incrimination. Add that to the lack of eye witnesses other than the accused and his account is not subject to cross-examination. And then there is the apparent tendency of Florida prosecutors to overcharge – see also Casey Anthony. What else can a jury do but vote not guilty? I’d have done so myself, but with a bad taste in my mouth.

    Let me also add that I don’t object to people who carry arms for personal protection. I have friends and relatives who do so, including women who work late night jobs and people who live or work in dangerous areas, including a disabled vet. I do have a problem with the wanna-be cops like Zimmerman who are armed and looking for trouble. Worst of all are the wanna-bees who actually do become cops. Thank God that won’t include Zimmerman.

  7. C Bowen/Hawthorne

    Kirt;

    A libertarian prefers agents of the state over volunteer ‘police’ operating with permission of local property owners?

    That makes no sense, and I cannot quite see you rooting for the cops to catch Paul Kersey in Death Wish.

  8. Thomas O. Meehan

    Kirt, Zimmerman said he was on an errand when he saw Martin. There is no requirement for neighborhood watch people to be unarmed. In Florida everyone is armed. Hell, my own state carry permit is honored in Florida, and I don’t even live there. Zimmerman may be a bit of a jerk but most jerks in Florida are in fact armed and don’t manage to shoot other jerks all that often.

    It would have been better if he stayed in the car. From looking at exhibits shown during proceedings and via Google satellite imagery, I believe that Zimmerman left his car because I doubt that he could have seen down the alley otherwise. He didn’t foresee Martin doubling back.

    Either we have neighborhood watches or we don’t. Expecting them to operate with all the professionalism of police is just another way of objecting to them en toto. I think people have a right to keep tabs on their own neighborhoods. I won’t vilify them.

  9. Kirt Higdon

    Zimmerman was acting pretty much like an agent of the state does and the problem with the state is that they employ way too many Zimmerman’s. As far as his operating with the “permission” of local property owners, I don’t know exactly how explicit or formal this permission was or what the local property owners thought they were permitting. If he was in fact acting as their agent, then they would be legitimate targets for any civil liability suit filed against him.

  10. Kirt Higdon

    Tom, I was under the (possibly mistaken) impression that a neighborhood watch involved watching, not armed interdiction. If the latter is a presumed function of the watch, then it is de facto another police force and not something I would voluntarily participate in when I already live in one of the most overly policed societies in the world.

  11. Weaver

    Kirt,

    if you’re unarmed, how do you stop an armed attacker intent on killing not only you but others around you, women and children?

    You sound more like a Quaker than Catholic on this.

    Christians survived at Chalons and at Tours and at Vienna and in many another crisis, not by book, bell and candle, but by grace of the shining sword in a mailed fist, directed by a dauntless heart.

    Revilo P. Oliver. Christianity and the Survival of the West.

  12. Thomas O. Meehan

    I thought I made it clear that Zimmerman was in fact watching Martin. He got out of the car in order to observe Martin. It is not against the law to follow people, exit your car, or observe people on the street. There is no evidence whatsoever that I am aware of that Zimmerman confronted Martin or even approached him. Zimmerman was wandering around trying to keep Martin in view.

    No neighborhood watch have police powers. They are not sworn officers and they have no right to interfere with people beyond what any of us have. Their value is in their observation and reporting to the police. That is what Zimmerman was doing on his cell phone.

    I agree that neighborhood watch participants who go beyond their mandates need to be confronted by the police and set straight.

    BTW, as I write, Nancy Grace is showing the footage of both Zimmermans police interrogation and his walkabout with the PD on the next day. It does seem that he walked a good bit further from his car than originally reported. While not acting illegally, he put himself in real danger doing this, obviously. It also appears to me that Martin could have eluded him rather easily from the footage, especially as Zimmerman’s flashlight was OOC.

  13. C Bowen/Hawthorne

    “Pretty much like”–was he paid by the state? Does he get a pension? Paid administrative leave? Zimmerman’s act received severe scrutiny very rare for acts by state agents–hence we know all the details if interested. This sort of security is what people can afford, it’s volunteer localism, like a volunteer fire department and it will become more common–it is becoming more common because…well, anyway, if Trayvonne had been brought to the police after the school suspended him for posession of stolen goods, maybe he’d still be alive–but they didn’t, they just suspended him and left him for others to deal with.

    You finish the thought by calling in the lawyers? At the end of the day, you have more sympathy for the Police State then I do.

  14. Kirt Higdon

    Semp and Bowen, I don’t know what you guys are talking about with respect to my being anti-Semitic or having sympathy for the police state. I stated above that I would have voted not guilty myself. In my jury service, I tend to vote not guilty and in opposition to the majority. By this time prosecutors generally have me pegged as a defense oriented juror, so I get eliminated in the voir dire process. So much for my “sympathy” for the police state.

    But apparently, I’m in violation of some kind of right wing PC simply because I don’t necessarily accept Zimmerman’s story as gospel truth and don’t strut around my very safe neighborhood carrying a gun and looking for bad guys. What will happen to me and my loved ones if the Huns, Arabs, and Turks descend on Corpus Christi like they did on Chalons, Tours and Vienna? I guess we’ll be SOL. Meantime, I can’t stop any of my neighbors from playing Batman or Zimmerman if that’s how they want to practice “volunteer localism”. But I don’t endorse them and I’ll continue to practice my own “volunteer localism” through my church’s outreach program.

  15. Weaver

    Lol, the point is he might have needed the gun on patrol. Often your liberal stances are due to some insight you have in Catholicism, so I figured I’d quote for militant Christianity. The criticism Catholics often have of Protestants is they take part only of the whole, so I post that there are times when arms are indeed needful, in rough opposition to the Quaker view.

    This was Zimmerman’s own neighborhood, not another’s. It’s fitting for him to patrol it, armed.

    For all we know, it saved his life here – could have otherwise been beaten to death. I don’t assume Zimmerman is innocent, but I see nothing to suggest he acted wrongly either.

  16. Weaver

    It appears that liberalism is weak (or wants its subjects weak), and liberalism is really just a perverted form of Christianity, don’t you agree? Anders Breivik was sentenced a mere 21 years with a mere minimum of 10 years. That’s Norway’s maximum sentence, not even life in prison.

    And yes, this is absolutely related. Zimmerman’s neighborhood is crime-ridden. Of course he’d carry a gun; it’s weak to insist a community oughtn’t defend itself. This is one of the few areas we should have less anarchy (we need more freedoms in other areas) in: more gun-toting law-abiding citizens.

  17. Sempronius

    Kirt Higdon on 19 Jul 2013 at 3:42 am #

    Semp and Bowen, I don’t know what you guys are talking about with respect to my being anti-Semitic or having sympathy for the police state.

    Read the article I linked to. I’m not saying it, Eugene is.

    (Why doesn’t Eugene write about Jewish involvement with the NAACP? The Leo Frank trial? Eichmann? Nuremberg? What the heck is going on over there?)

  18. Kirt Higdon

    I read the article, Semp. I still don’t see even what it has to do with the Zimmerman case, let alone with me. It refers to a trial held in Tsarist Russia where a Jew accused of murder was acquitted. Apparently the prosecution was anti-Semitic, but at least one prominent anti-Semite supported the accused. So from this you conclude that I must be anti-Semitic because I favored Zimmerman’s acquittal, but the prosecution was anti-Semitic too? Even though the trial had nothing to do with Jews? I guess this “reasoning” would also apply to my opinion of the Casey Anthony verdict, another acquittal which I think was correct application of the law, although very unsatisfying. Zimmerman’s a poor excuse for a neighborhood watchman and Anthony’s a poor excuse for a mother. There, I said it. If this be anti-Semitism, make the most of it.

  19. Matt Weber

    Sempronius, why don’t you just come out and say why you hate Chronicles so much, then we’ll all know and you can have that off your chest.

    I don’t think one has to find Zimmerman’s actions wholly defensible to say that he basically did the right thing to investigate suspicious behavior and that neighborhood watchmen are preferable to a distant and militarized police force. The odd thing about the standard line here on the neighborhood watch is that if Martin had attacked a policeman in the same way he attacked Zimmerman, he would have been shot immediately without much of any consideration–and I guess that’s just fine then.

    But to my mind the real interest of the Zimmerman/Martin case is less the altercation between them which has always struck me as “tragic” in the classical sense, and more of how the media in this country is utterly poisonous and has become a propaganda arm without any concern for the truth or anything approaching fairness. They were the ones that ginned this thing up into a national controversy and are still trying to pull anything they can out of it. In my estimation, the sooner they go down in flames the better.

  20. C Bowen / Hawthorne

    Kirt;

    I see no other way to read your comments as saying you prefer agents of the state doing “police work” rather than volunteers. That is a common position in 2013 US of A.

    Like preferring the TSA over leaving security to the airlines.

    However, it is a strange position for a self-professed libertarian.

    The return on a Zimmerman is far better than that of the state agents and subject to more scrutiny. And just to mention, Zimmerman spoke out against the agents of the State in 2010 in regards to the beating of local black homelessman. Most everyone else kept their mouth shut less they challenge the agents of the state.

  21. Weaver

    C Bowen,

    If you have what’s called “anarcho-tyranny”, with the government not bothering to protect citizens from street crime, there’s a need for Zimmerman.

    I think it’d be fun to argue a case for anarcho-tyranny here – get that term back into use. There’d need to be another part for the tyranny, such as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

  22. Hawthorne

    Weaver;

    Exactly. The failure of the state to provide collective security creates a market for other forms that are in fact, held to higher legal norms then the privileges granted to modern agents of the state.

    I think there is a certain bigotry towards the very real occupation of maintaining security/reducing threats (including raising opportunity costs from a criminal perspective.)

  23. roho

    “Documents Obtained By Judicial Watch Detail Role Of Justice Department In Organizing Travon Martin Protests”.

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/doc

    I don’t know if it will post or not, but those interested can go to judicial watch and find it?………Once again, “Eric Holder’s” minions were outside of their jurisdiction, creating problems that according to Alan Dershowitz, gives Zimmerman a clear lawsuit against the Government for violating “HIS” civil rights?

  24. Kirt Higdon

    I don’t see a need for an armed police force at all. This is the first step in the correctly decried militarization of the police. I also don’t see a need for volunteers to arm themselves and roam the commons acting like police and imagining themselves immune from legal due process. This is quite different from people carrying arms for their own personal protection, as I stated above. And where, Bowen, do you get the idea that I prefer the TSA to airline security? I’ve advocated abolition of the TSA on numerous occasions and in several forums. It’s been established by a few incidents in the last several years that even unarmed passengers can provide quite good security for airplanes.

    As far as preferring a distant and militarized police force to a neighborhood watch, that depends on whether or not the watch is armed and acting as a police force. If it is, I’d prefer it to be as distant as possible.

  25. Hawthorne

    Kirt;

    I did not say that you preferred the TSA to the airlines doing their own security–only that your opinion is common place in 2013. Re-read what I wrote.

    As Weaver expanded upon, the State refuses to protect its citizens, and therefore alternative, cost effective means are sought after. A neighborhood watch likely increases property values in that community, and as it raises opportunity costs, might make another neighborhood a better choice.

    And again, you preferred a centralized police force, rather than one rooted in the community–got it.

  26. Hawthorne

    It occurred to me that I should be clear on the narrative: some common link between the likes of Manning, Snowden, and Zimmerman. Who is consistent, who isn’t?

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