My previous post on Trayvon Martin led to a flamewar in the comments. I had to censor some offensive comments, which I normally don’t do.
In Florida (and also in NY), a prosecutor can submit an “information”, without using a grand jury. That’s what the prosecutor did in this case. Here is a link to a copy of the warrant.
There was one serious omission. There was a charge of 2nd degree murder. Why didn’t the prosecutor include the lesser charge of manslaughter? Is that a mistake, or an intentional oversight? Or, will manslaughter charges be added later?
In a murder trial, the prosecutor normally includes a lesser charge of manslaughter. That enables the jury to “compromise” and acquit for murder but convict for the lesser charges. That enables the prosecutor to say “We didn’t convict for murder, but we did get a partial conviction. Hooray for the State!”
What is the “advantage” of omitting the lesser charge? It forces a jury to either convict or acquit for murder. It prevents a lesser conviction for manslaughter. That could work in George Zimmerman’s favor, if the evidence is too weak to support murder. That could work in favor of a conviction, because the jury can’t compromise and convict for a lesser offense.
This isn’t going to be dismissed in pre-trial arguments. The judge is definitely going to let a jury decide. “Was it self-defense or not?” should be decided by a jury. “Stand your ground” shouldn’t apply in this case, because George Zimmerman initiated the confrontation with Trayvon Martin. However, some appeals court might see things differently.
There’s another interesting bit. George Zimmerman can waive a jury trial and ask for a bench trial. That could work in his favor, due to all the negative publicity. On the other hand, one defense lawyer wrote “Always use a jury. Never get a bench trial. If the judge likes your client, that will affect the jury. If the judge doesn’t like your client, there’s a chance that some jurors will think for themselves.” However, policemen frequently ask for a bench trial, when accused of a high-profile crime.
I was surprised that George Zimmerman was not also charged with manslaughter. Is the prosecutor doing George Zimmernan a favor? Without manslaughter as an option, the jury might straight acquit. However, the jury might decide to convict for murder, if a lesser conviction is not an option.
That’s a serious omission. In a case like this, the prosecutor almost always includes lesser offenses.
“No third solution” had the most interesting analysis. There were a couple of interesting points.
The State police monopoly was doing a lousy job. People felt the need to form a “neighborhood watch” to supplement the State police monopoly.
The State police failed to protect Trayvon Martin from George Zimmerman.
The State police failed to arrive quickly, once George Zimmeman called them. If they arrived quickly, George Zimmerman would not have felt the need to follow and confront Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin didn’t trust the police. When he noticed he was being followed by someone with murderous intent, Trayvon Martin called a friend instead of calling 911 himself.
If Trayvon Martin was carrying a gun, he might have been able to defend himself.
The blame for this disaster lies 100% with the State. Most of the proposed “solutions” increase State power, such as “stricter gun control” or “change the law so it’s harder for someone to claim self-defense”. The State “justice” system can’t tell the difference between sincere self-defense, and murdering someone. None of the proposed solutions are “Eliminate the State police monopoly and State justice monopoly.” Anything else is patching up holes in a fundamentally flawed system.