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Zimmerman Not Guilty??????
Posted: 15 July 2013 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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In other jurisdictions, it would seem a charge of reckless endangerment would have been appropriate, if manslaughter was not.  I don’t know if Florida has such a law, though.  My guess is it does not.


From what I’ve been able to glean from the scant evidence given to us on the networks, had I been on the jury I would have leaned towards manslaughter or your idea Ciceronious, reckless endangerment. The kid had his fists and Zimmerman had a gun. Even if Martin had struck first Zimmerman used lethal force to subdue him, and he wasn’t a cop.


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Posted: 15 July 2013 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 15 July 2013 06:30 AM

We should do away with jury trials and use a panel of judges.  The jury system inconveniences people and it accomplishes nothing IMO.

Ahhhh…so you like Star Chambers staffed by people on a government payroll who thinks that Big Brother knows best.

Got it. (Wish I’d noticed this last night)

You know, as flawed as the jury and adversarial system is, at least it empanels people who are NOT on anybody’s payroll to make the decision and hold the state accountable. Until somebody comes up with something demonsterably better, I’ll stick with it.

Any type of jury - professional or not, is a bad idea, IMO. But it’s in the constitution, so there is very little chance of doing away with it.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Occam. - 15 July 2013 01:05 PM

  In talking with the other potential jurors in the waiting area I realized that most of them were there either because they didn’t know how to get out of it, because they had nothing else to do, or because they needed the few dollars a day pay.  Almost none were there because of civic duty. 

Occam

This says a lot about the jury concept. Few people really care.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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[This says a lot about the jury concept. Few people really care./quote]

I agree. have you ever heard of anyone “volunteering” for jury duty? Here the jury is randomly picked from a list of registered voters; you revive a summons in the mail and you must appear at the given date. It’s not an invitation so most people view it as an inconvenience. Also most jury members have little or no knowledge of legal procedure and have to be schooled before serving. that’s one of the reasons they’ easily swayed by whichever lawyer spins the best story, e.g. “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must aquit”.


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Posted: 15 July 2013 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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macgyver - 15 July 2013 11:18 AM
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 15 July 2013 06:30 AM

In the meantime, since it looks like most (Though certainly not all….thank you MacGyver) people here are just going to form their opinions along party lines and go along with a mob mentality instead of being objective and rational, I’m not going to bother with this discussion any further

Secondly, for everyone screaming that the “reasonable doubt” approach allowed a murderer to go free, where were these people when O.J. Simpson was let free with far less reasonable doubt? Where were the cries of racism when a black man killed a white woman? It seems to me there is a bit of a double standard.

Mac, that is a very good point. Keep in mind, I’m of a mind to believe O.J. was guilty as hell, and if HIS nearly headless body had been found in that alley, I would have been looking towards Nicole as the one who either did it or (More credibly) arranged to have it done.

However, “Believe” is NOT good enough. The standard of evidence is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. given the way the prosecution didn’t have their ducks in a row and even had their star witness (Det. Mark Furman) commit perjury, I would have aquitted O.J. too.

Same with the Casey Anthony thing in Florida.

I agree with you. I am just pointing out that the same standard needs to be applied in all cases regardless of what we may believe to be the truth in regards to guilt or innocence.

As long as we have juries there will never be one standard applied.  There will always be differences of opinion.  In this case everyone on the jury voted against conviction.  It was not a matter of a lone holdout.  Zimmerman isn’t the first to get away with murder and he won’t be the last—especially in a red-neck state where gun ownership is the norm. It makes me wonder if a jury in a high profile case with an excellent defense team will ever vote for conviction in a gun rights case in a gun rights state. Juries always have “reasonable doubt” to fall back on—even if they don’t know what it means.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I agree juries are not perfect. As a physician I am all too aware of what can go wrong when you have people judging you. Juries have a number of potential flaws including personal biases, ignorance of the subject, ignorance of the law, inability to make your duty to the case a priority, Personal difficulties. yet with all those problems I think a jury system is far better than an appointed judge in most cases.

A jury is made up of 6-12 people who don’t know each other so corruption is less likely to be an issue. They aren’t appointed by politicians so there is less chance that a single political point of view will rule the decision. They participate in just one case and go back to their lives so while they will have their own personal biases they are less likely to be jaded and more likely to consider the case based on the evidence.

I think its a mistake to imply that the outcome of this case was wrong and the result of a flawed jury system. Given what the jury was asked to do I think they did a very good job of making the correct decision. From what I heard they were not given the option of voting for a lesser charge like involuntary manslaughter. The only two charges they were allowed to consider required them to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman meant to kill Martin at the moment he shot him and that he did not feel his own life was in danger.

I understand why people are upset with the outcome. Zimmerman did something foolish and his bad decision resulted in the death of a young man. That does not constitute murder though and the jury did their job here with no concern for their own safety or how society would judge them. I think it would be difficult to find a group of judges who could perform as well as these 6 women did.

I am curious what alternative others would offer to our current system. You could make minor tweak to the system perhaps but IMO a Jury system is still the best way to obtain an outcome that is incorruptible and fair.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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P.S. - As a side note I have appeared for jury duty 3 times in the past decade. I have never been chosen for a case most likely because lawyers are leery of having doctors on cases, but my experience has been mostly positive. Yes a lot of the people did not want to be there and tried to give answers that would get them out of jury duty. Its understandable. Unless you’re retired life is crazy and few of us can afford to spend a week or two in court.

I think there is a big difference though between the reaction you get when people are sitting around waiting to be called and the position they take once they have been chosen. Most jurors that I have spoken to take their responsibility very seriously. They realize someone’s future and even their life depend on the decision they make. I am not saying there aren’t a few jerks out there who can’t see beyond how this affects them personally, but for the most part I think people take their duty as a juror very seriously. At least that’s my own observation as limited as that has been.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Regarding the jury, I would never get picked. If it came to something like this, I would stick to doing as I preach: no free will, no guilt. I can ignore it when I don’t have muh time to think about it, but that would never be the case in a situation like this.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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macgyver - 15 July 2013 06:19 PM

I am curious what alternative others would offer to our current system. You could make minor tweak to the system perhaps but IMO a Jury system is still the best way to obtain an outcome that is incorruptible and fair.

I think the Common Law system itself is dumb. If it was possible, I would say ditch the whole thing and adopt Civil law, but that’s not feasible.

So we’re stuck with what we have.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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George - 15 July 2013 07:16 PM

Regarding the jury, I would never get picked. If it came to something like this, I would stick to doing as I preach: no free will, no guilt. I can ignore it when I don’t have muh time to think about it, but that would never be the case in a situation like this.

Q.F.T.

You would probably be held in contempt of court if you said that. The “spirit” of our (US and Canada) legal system is strongly based on free will.

[ Edited: 15 July 2013 08:11 PM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 15 July 2013 10:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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First, I think there should be some sort of simplistic IQ test given to prospective jurors to eliminate the dumbest ones.
Second, allowing the lawyers to challenge or preemptively challenge prospective jurors is really questionable to my mind.

I recall a case where a young black college student was arrested for being on drugs because when coming home from classes he stopped to talk to a few of his old highschool friends, the group was told to move along, and he questioned why since they were just talking.  He had no alcohol on any of the three types of tests they gave him so they wrote him up as having been under the influence of some other drug.  The public defender was a completely incompetent young woman in a light pink suit.  The D.A. accepted only dolts and rejected anyone who showed intelligence.  One prospect, when questioned said he was a chemical engineer in sales - gone.  I was called next.  I had moved out of the lab and into sales.  I played dumb - one word answers.  “What do you do?”  “Salesman.”  “What do you sell?”  “Paint.”  (I didn’t tell him they were based on exotic polymers, some of which I had developed, for use on the space program.)  I was chosen.  Similarly, a telephone operator was chosen.  He didn’t find out that she was a supervisor who was also a registered nurse. 

The initial vote of the jury was nine guilty and two not guilty.  It took a while for us to point out the weakness and often downright stupidity of the police and D.A. arguments, but we convinced the rest of the jury and the kid got off. 

Occam

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Posted: 16 July 2013 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Occam. - 15 July 2013 10:55 PM

First, I think there should be some sort of simplistic IQ test given to prospective jurors to eliminate the dumbest ones.

I would respectfully disagree.  For starters, there is already a lack of intelligent jurors in the pool because they simply don’t want to spend the time at the courthouse and now you’d be asking them, in addition to sitting at the courthouse, to take a 30 minute or longer IQ test to prove they’re worthy of making factual determinations.  I don’t see this working because I think many potential jurors would simply ignore it and then come in on their required day (this is of course if they haven’t already called to get out of service) and saying “Opps, I forgot about the test.  Damn guess I can’t be a juror now!”  You could say that the test would be made available after the jurors arrived at the courthouse, but now you’re asking the court to wait for the test to be administered, graded, and the results given to the opposing counsels.  That’s a lot of time and money and many would argue is elitist.

Second, allowing the lawyers to challenge or preemptively challenge prospective jurors is really questionable to my mind.

Could you specify what you mean by preemptively challenge?  There are two types of ways to eliminate prospective jurors - strikes for cause and peremptory challenges.  Striking a juror for cause is striking them while opposing sides are still questioning the jury pool.  Just like the name sounds, there must be a reason for these strikes - one of the jurors recently had a baby and is breast feeding is usually a reason allowed by most jurisdictions, or one of the jurors stated that he/she cannot remain unbiased is a reason allowed by all jurisdictions.  Peremptory challenges are used after all the questioning is completed and the attorneys are trying to narrow down the jury pool to the required number of jurors and alternates.  These strikes do not have to be explained and attorneys can strike for any reason (except gender or race).  If the jury pool started with 30 and there were no strikes for cause, there has to be a method to narrow the jurors down to 12 or 6 or whatever the statutory requirements are for that specific trial.  Either way, striking based solely on race or gender is unconstitutional.  If a lawyer believes that opposing counsel is striking solely based on race or gender then he/she can raise a Batson Challenge and, if the opposing counsel cannot articulate a reason for the strike other than race or gender, there are serious repercussions.  I think both types of strike serve a valid purpose and should remain intact. 

I recall a case where a young black college student was arrested for being on drugs because when coming home from classes he stopped to talk to a few of his old highschool friends, the group was told to move along, and he questioned why since they were just talking.  He had no alcohol on any of the three types of tests they gave him so they wrote him up as having been under the influence of some other drug.  The public defender was a completely incompetent young woman in a light pink suit.  The D.A. accepted only dolts and rejected anyone who showed intelligence.  One prospect, when questioned said he was a chemical engineer in sales - gone.  I was called next.  I had moved out of the lab and into sales.  I played dumb - one word answers.  “What do you do?”  “Salesman.”  “What do you sell?”  “Paint.”  (I didn’t tell him they were based on exotic polymers, some of which I had developed, for use on the space program.)  I was chosen.  Similarly, a telephone operator was chosen.  He didn’t find out that she was a supervisor who was also a registered nurse.

As to the specific trial you were a juror on, I would like to say thank you for your service.  Not nearly enough people believe in the value of civil service and whenever someone with your background and intelligence voluntarily goes in without making excuses and actually wants to be apart of the judicial process it’s amazing. 

Obviously, I was not at the trial you were at so I won’t comment on specifics because, well, I simply don’t know any.  In the general sense, I will say that many public defenders get a bad reputation for being just that - public defenders.  Most are very well qualified attorneys who are also highly experienced.  The problem is that public defenders offices are usually underfunded and carry significantly more cases than prosecuting offices do (mainly because prosecutors have more attorneys in their office thus have better caseload distribution).  It may appear that they are incompetent but remember, they all graduated from law school and passed the bar which, I can assure you, is no easy feat.  The incompetence that you see may just appear that way because she was balancing 80 cases that month and trying to adjudicate them as quickly as possible to get onto the next cases.  It’s a horrible system and many academics are advocating for equal funding laws - any amount a city or state government spends on prosecutors, an equal amount must be spent on public defenders.  Of course the problem with such legislation is that no state or local politician will introduce it for fear of being called soft on crime.  As to the attorney that was striking jurors with intellectual backgrounds - there are bad lawyers out there, just like there are bad doctors, engineers, architects, accountants, scientists, etc.  I wish there was a way to round up all the intentionally discriminatory attorneys and revoke their license to practice law but, unfortunately, there isn’t.

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Posted: 16 July 2013 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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George - 15 July 2013 03:01 PM
Lois - 15 July 2013 11:15 AM
George - 15 July 2013 10:22 AM
ciceronianus - 15 July 2013 09:40 AM

That said, Zimmerman should not confronted Martin to begin with, and his use of a gun in these circumstances merely serves to confirm that we shouldn’t be carrying them around, especially while playing Junior G-Man.

That’s not what he was being tried for, though. Neither confronting Martin nor carrying a gun were against a law.

Evidently, in Florida, killing an unarmed, innocent person who is walking on a public street, doing nothing wrong, isn’t either.

He was doing something wrong: he was beating Zimmerman up.

Zimmerman was the attacker.  He was even told by the police to stop following him. 

What would you have done if you were in Trayvon Martin’s place and a wannabe cop came up to you and assaulted you?  Would you run away and cry? What would you tell your unarmed, innocent teen-age son to do in such a circumstance?

Lois

[ Edited: 16 July 2013 12:21 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 16 July 2013 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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We have no idea who attacked whom. Following somebody is not attacking.

[ Edited: 16 July 2013 02:22 PM by George ]
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Posted: 16 July 2013 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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George - 16 July 2013 02:18 PM

We have no idea who attacked whom. Following somebody is not attacking.

I think this is the key issue that you just have to accept, Lois. As George is saying, we really don’t KNOW what happened. Besides, there was no legal authority ordering him to stop following the kid. What happened (I listened to the call) was that, while he was describing the kid, the 911 OPERATOR (a regular citizen) asked if he was following the kid, and GZ said “yes”. The 911 operator simply said, “well, we don’t really need you to do that”. That’s it. No police officer. She simply made a suggestion. 911 operators are trained to say whatever they can to keep the person out of potential trouble, even if that person could potentially avert or prevent a crime. She has no legal authority, that is why she didn’t issue an order.

Again, there is nothing illegal about following someone. If you are living in a gated community that has suffered some recent burglaries, and you, the neighborhood watch captain, come across a suspicious looking individual who doesn’t appear to live there, and is not using the sidewalk, but cutting through the back areas nearby the houses, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you trying to see where he is going or what he is up to. We can debate whether or not it’s wise (a lot of unknown circumstantial factors would have to be laid out in order to determine that, so even that would be difficult), but there is nothing illegal about that.

Finally, it’s also important to note that, in Zimmerman’s account, when the operator said “we don’t need you to do that”, he actually said “OK”, and started to head back to his car to wait for the officer to arrive. He said that the kid then approached HIM while he was heading back. So do we just say “whatever” to Zimmerman’s account and pick the one we “like better”? Of course not. We have to consider his as well. Various testimonies seem to back up many elements of his side of the story too, so we can’t just throw out everything he said. That’s not how the legal system works.

The bottom line, once again, is that we DON’T have a lot of information to go on, neither did the judge or jury, and the final ruling reflects that.  While there are problems with our current system, this case does not seem to be an example of that problem.

As a side note, I do find it a bit interesting that the kid had a bag full of women’s jewelry and a screwdriver, by the way….

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