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There are three ways of looking at whether Zimmerman should be prosecuted in federal court

zimmerman-trayvon

In the aftermath of the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in a Florida court, a question looms as to whether he’ll now face federal charges of violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights.

It seems to me that there are three views on that matter — and two of them are fundamentally wrong.

The first is the purely vengeful view of people who simply want Zimmerman to be punished under law — any law — for having killed Martin. The problem with that attitude is that it presumes, perhaps rashly,  that Zimmerman did, in fact, violate Martin’s rights.

But the matter is not that simple. The burden of proof is considerable. It would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was motivated by racial bias. If that were actually the case, why couldn’t the prosecutors in the Florida trial convince the jurors of it? Why did they not even emphasize that issue? Why did they argue at one point that race was not an issue in this case?

The second view is that a federal prosecution would amount to double jeopardy. But that, too, is a complicated matter.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says no person should “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” But the Supreme Court has ruled that sometimes the same conduct — the killing of a person, for example — may violate two different statutes.

The court has held that “where the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not.”

That distinction may — or may not — apply in the Zimmerman-Martin case. But I know of no cases in which prosecutions under the federal civil rights statute have been overturned on Fifth Amendment grounds.

Which brings us to the third view — and the only valid view, as I see it — of whether Zimmerman should be prosecuted in federal court: Do federal prosecutors — or does a federal grand jury — see good evidence that Zimmerman violated a federal statute, namely the civil rights statute?

If there is good evidence of such, it would be a miscarriage of justice to not prosecute Zimmerman in federal court.

But that’s a very big if.

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37 Comments

  1. Robert

    Neftali, I’m waiting for the crowd that says it was a staged PR event to improve his image.

  2. The picture of Trayvon Martin in the red t-shirt was taken 7 months before he was shot, snuss. Read this, then crawl back under your rock. http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/martin.asp

    So that’s your idea of a hero, Nef? You’re a sick puppy! Crawl under that rock with snuss.

  3. Neftali

    tex – You don’t think saving someone from an overturned vehicle is a hero? I guess you would have driven past the accident. After all, someone from the government would be along sometime to assist, so no need to personally get out and help.

  4. Steverino

    This whole thing should be over and done. Let’s not waste anymore tax dollars in a court of law that has no chance of changing the outcome for Zimmerman. He’s the one who has to get up everyday and look in the mirror and ask what he could have done differently that night.

  5. Nef: I typed the comment above not knowing of the latest news about Zimmerman. I assumed you were referring to Zimmerman shooting Martin.

    But, I have helped 3 young ladies out of an overturned vehicle. I crawled through the back window to do it. But I do not consider myself a hero. I was there, saw it happen, and only did what was necessary, as anyone would. A hero is one who risks bodily injury to accomplish something. There is a difference between merely being a good Samaritan, and being a hero.

    The article said Zimmerman helped those people, who weren’t hurt, out of the car. He is not a hero, so don’t try to make him into one.

  6. Robert

    Steverino, I think its fairly obvious, the pursuit of a federal case is to keep peace amongst the Black community and the leadership that demanded it. I suspect if Zimmerman is not found guilty of some sort of bias crime by the DOJ, then we may very likely see what Obama said he doesn’t want to see… in his words, … “If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.”… The DOJ and the federal attys are usually very good at getting done what they set out to achieve. IMO

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/55669/obama-speech-on-trayvon-martin-full-text-and-video

  7. Willa Cain

    George Zimmerman will reap what he sowed! He will look over his shoulder every day of his life! God knows what he did ! Trayvon Martin will receive justice!

  8. Those on the right are so devoid of heroes they try to manufacture one to fit their agenda. Ronald Reagan, GHWB, and GWB come to mind. Just what did Zimmerman do to get these people out of the vehicle? Was it burning and how bad? The articles I read, said nothing about it burning. Was it just smoking? People have a tendency to exaggerate. Perhaps the other people will come forward and tell how Zimmerman helped. Did he hold the flashlight, or did he crawl into a burning vehicle and save those people? Why did he find it necessary to give his name to the police, and why did it take 5 days to hear of this?

    No other person was there, or at the shooting, but there are thousands of comments online condemning Martin, and now trying to make Zimmerman a hero. Seems odd the right has chosen Zimmerman’s side. I mean after all they are known to not like the Spanish. So, are they just taking the side of the lighter skinned individual? That seems to be the right’s agenda.

    People like Nef and his ninny friends at Biondo’s house, like to belittle us Liberals and make heroes of those on the right. They like to say Liberals are slurping at the government trough. But none of them volunteered to serve thier country. It is a known fact the right doesn’t serve. So they are all slurping at the trough of freedom, provided by the Liberals who served their country. Seems to me, they don’t know what a real hero is.

  9. expdoc

    George Zimmerman was physically attacked and was being beaten up. He responded in a legal way and a jury of his peers agreed.

    He helped people in a car accident when he could have done nothing. He helped while he is probably literally fearing for his life because of left wing hyperbole and race politics.

    He may not be a hero, but he is not a criminal either.

  10. Brian Opsahl

    He murdered that kid Doc, plain and simple….It is NOT ok to just shoot someone when loosing a fistfight…and that is what happened …the jury of peers was also on the O.J. trial who also got it wrong…and after listening to what the jury said…it sounds like to me they we’re very confused as to what the law said.

    Doc…how many kids come to the e-room from a fistfight…how many don’t make it from a hole in the heart…from a gun shot

  11. Unless you were there, you can’t prove any of that, doc. Your just trying to create a pseudo hero, to fit your agenda.

  12. Brian Opsahl

    We absolutly know 2 things.

    1) Zimmerman profiled and followed Trayvon….and creeped him out.
    2) Zimmerman pulled out his weapon and shot Trayvon through the heart….

    And guys like Doc are attempting to now glorify him….sick doc, very sick…!!!!!

  13. Robert

    Brian, why did you move your family out of Rockford?

  14. expdoc

    Glorify?

    The lefties on this site just get crazier and crazier. I stated a series of facts. I didn’t say anything about heroes. I wonder who here is really trying to change the facts to fit their political narrative?

    Profiled? The government “profiles” all of us every day. What do you mean by profile Brian? You do realize that assault is a crime as well, don’t you Brian?

  15. Brian Opsahl

    Doc..follow me in the dark tracking my movments and something bad will happen…ask anyone who has been in that situation before…?
    But pulling the gun out is a whole new catagory….especially over a fistfight…
    You never answered my question….how many e-rooms are taken up on the weekends from fistfights…or how many from gunshots..?

    Robert I moved for one reason..schools…!!

  16. Robert

    What was wrong with the schools? I’ve heard you say you got a bad education at Jefferson. I went there too, back when it was on Ohio Pkwy and was transitioned from a jr to a sr high school. I thought the public schools, back in the days we attended them, were decent establishments with some great teachers and students who had parents who didn’t see school as a public subsidized babysitting organization, but as a place for their child to learn skills that would make them attractive to an employer and with the help of parents who assisted their child in fulfilling the expectations of the teachers and the curriculum. I know the school system in Rockford has decayed greatly since we left, but I wonder what are the reasons for that?

  17. Brian Opsahl

    My first day at Jefferson after getting off the bus was a line of drug dealers offering just about anything a kid might want.

    My Freshman year had no sports so who do you think got all the action…?
    The teachers we’re good but the schoolboard treated us like numbers not students.

    When it came time for my kids to go to school all I asked was where my daughter was going to attend…I lived by elliot golf course they wanted to send her across to the west side of Rockford…a 5 year old kid…Then came Ted Biondo and his cost cutting crew….and that was the last straw…luckly I have a good job and the means to move. Funny all my neighbors came from Rockford and moved for most of the same reasons.

  18. Robert

    How much do you think the People Who Care law suit improved the schools and the outcomes of the students? Who benefited from the most that law suit in the long run? In your opinion.

  19. expdoc

    Like I said, left wing crazies.

    http://host.madison.com/news/local/environment/bizarre-and-alarming-acts-at-mine-site-put-armed-guards/article_d31fc4ae-afb4-545a-851a-1942e24edc15.html

    CONFIRMED: Left Wing Plant at Houston Pro-Zimmerman Rally Is Far Left Activist

  20. Brian Opsahl

    Who benefited the most was the Attorneys from both sides the loosers were the taxpayers and parents. The black students that we’re bussed across town got some changes but from what I have heard NOT much has changed.

    Doc, your supporting with your words…Zimmerman and his right to blow a hole in Trayvons heart…like it’s somehow justified….do me a favor doc…close your eyes and pretend for just one minute your son is Trayvon…?

  21. If you want to play switcheroo on topics, doc, here is one for you. In your own neighborhood no less.
    http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/steven_elbow/concealed-carry-permit-holders-shoot-it-out-on-a-milwaukee/article_2ffe8fb2-400e-511d-bf5e-c88994f4b4be.html

    Especially notice the last paragraph. Sounds like a Zimmerman wannabe. And the guy has been charged with reckless homicide.

  22. expdoc

    Brian,

    If my son started beating the crap out of a person who was following him or even taunting him I wouldn’t be surprised at all if something bad happened to him.

    I have seen many injuries more severe than a gunshot wound from a simple bar fight, with no weapons involved.

  23. Brian Opsahl

    You mean like a bullet hole in the heart…??

    Something like being shot through the heart for taunting…really doc.
    So your into vigilante justice…?

  24. expdoc

    Violent assault Brian, not taunting.

  25. So, what it all boils down to, is if a guy pulls a gun on me, and I slug him, it’s OK for him to shoot me.

  26. Robert

    tex, it might just be ok to shoot him although I’m not saying I agree with that resolution. In some states your supposed to back down or retaliate only with equal force. But in stand your ground states, that might not be the case.

    I don’t understand though, how someone can cause a confrontation like Zimmerman did, have the person he confronted react in a way that would be considered natural to many, and then pull a trump card out which was his gun, and take control of an encounter he caused in the first place and kill the person. That kind of aggression can not be allowed to become the norm, otherwise it can be used as a justification to shoot anybody you don’t like and in some cases get away with it.

    I don’t want to live in a world where that is considered justifiable justice. Because that’s what that jury legitimized.

  27. Neftali

    tex – Zero evidence in any testimony that the gun was pulled out in advance. In fact, according to record, the gun only came into play after the fight was already well underway when Martin was on top on Zimmerman. It was at that time when Martin noticed the gun, threatened Zimmerman’s life, and reached for it. Zimmerman just got to it first.

    The details are important.

  28. Unless you were there that night you can’t prove any of those statements, Nef. That is only what Zimmerman said. What did Martin say?

    And by the way. Zimmerman didn’t make any of those statements, because he didn’t testify. So those statements you made are only hearsay, made by Zimmerman’s attorney. Zimmerman never made those statements under oath.

    I believe it is called perjury.

  29. Neftali

    tex – It’s not perjury. It is the only evidence we have. Plus, all the correlating data and other facts support the evidence as presented by the defense.

    Here’s the real truth. Racial bias is still real, even in our judicial system. However, in this situation the liberal media picked a terrible case to make a big fuss over. In fact, it was one of the biggest screw ups in media history. Now the gullible left wingers have lapped up this garbage and innocent people that have nothing to do with this case are now being punished. Nice going, libs.

  30. Brian Opsahl

    Nef are you drunk…? biggest screw ups in history…wow dude.

    Funny how doc just changed what he said from taunting …to violent assult….why doc..?

    Zimmerman followed and profiled…then shot that kid when he started loosing the fight he started….those are the only facts that matter…you guys just don’t get it.

    For those of us who have a kid that age and mine wears those type hoodies ….it is NOT ok to shoot somebody when loosing a fight…especialy one you started by your actions as Zimmerman did…?bottems up…nef.

  31. Neftali

    Two things Brian:

    1 – Zero evidence of profiling. Other than a person standing around in the rain looking at houses. And there is nothing wrong with Zimmerman asking Martin some questions. For some reason you think that is a bad thing. It’s not. Strangers talk to each other every day. We have for centuries.

    2. The fight wasn’t your typical playground fight. There was sufficient evidence to believe that Zimmerman’s life was in real danger. Martin threatened Zimmerman’s life. So Zimmerman took the legal action of self defense to protect his own life.

    You’ve lost every single point on this matter for several days in a row now. Not sure why you bother to keep pushing it and making yourself look even more ridiculous.

    And yes, when the media is directly responsible for wrongly influencing the case by purposely deceiving the facts and causing thousands of innocent people to become victims, that certainly qualifies as one of the biggest screw ups in history.

  32. Brian Opsahl

    1) you don’t need any evidence to realize that his following (Zimmermans) let to the death of Trayvon……do you understand that..?
    The Fact that Trayvon was minding his own business walking back to his dads …escapes you. you only want to believe what is being reported by the killer…and his motive is strong to fit his version of events…nef.
    2) How would you know what the fight was like …unless you we’re there and you weren’t.

    Who says I lost every point…you…? …again have you been drinking…today already..?

  33. Brian Opsahl

    Nef, your last sentence fits Fox lying news perfectly….Tnx

  34. Neftali

    Brian – I’m going by all available facts in the case. You are the one who is trying hard to believe there might be some other reality than what is currently available.

    All we have are the presented facts, evidence, and testimony of the case. And they all correlate that what the defense has presented is accurate.

    Further, Martin was not minding his own business when he attacked Zimmerman. And continued to attack him.

    And yes, you have lost every single point. Get over it already.

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