I am usually a strong advocate of our judicial system. Having been a part of that system for the better part of my life I have (mostly) felt that the system has worked. The Sixth Amendment speaks to the need for a fair trial and it assures those accused certain requirements that the state must meet. The system is not perfect, since those implementing the system are flawed, but the pendulum has always swung farther towards assuring impartiality (the blindfold on Lady Justice speaks to this) and the rights of the accused, the rule of law demands it. But in just 2 weeks the George Zimmerman trial (dead man walking) will commence , he does not stand a chance.
A judge in Sanford, Fla., ruled Tuesday against George Zimmerman’s defense team on several key issues in preparation for his trial on charges of second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
In a two-hour hearing at the Seminole County Courthouse, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that defense attorneys will not be able to mention Trayvon’s past marijuana use, his suspension from school, or his alleged participation in fights in their opening statements.
The rulings came after Mr. Zimmerman’s defense team recently posted online photos and text messages from Trayvon’s cellphone. The texts included several about being a fighter, smoking marijuana, and being ordered to move out of his home by his mother. The photos included a picture of what appeared to be a .40 caliber handgun.
Obviously I don’t agree with this ruling, here’s why. The rule of law and precedent makes clear that the state can not use instances of prior criminal acts as evidence of the crime at hand, independent collaborating evidence must show that the defendant committed this specific crime. This is as it should be. But Travon Martin is not on trial (as the family lawyers keep telling us), George Zimmerman is and evidence of past incidents of violence and fighting on Travon’s part is relevant. A fight broke out between the two men, one of them is dead and the other is on trial for his life. Zimmerman’s basic defense was that he was not the instigator but was attacked, he should be afforded the opportunity to expose prior Martin behavior as bolstering his (Zimmerman’s) version of the story.
All the other stuff, the marijuana use, his suspensions from school, even his home life, these are not relevant since they do not speak to the crime at hand nor ads any clarity to events. And if we had independent witnesses that saw the whole thing unfold then I would say that we don’t need the weight of prior violence to consider. We would know what happened here, but we don’t. We have one man’s version of the story, he should be allowed to present any circumstantial evidence he wants to bolster or add weight to that defense. The jury can determine the probity.
There will be no happy outcome to this trial. If he is acquitted, riots and destruction will ensue. If he is convicted, whether by strong evidence or a jury intimidated by events, then the judge will be forced to come down hard on him, probably beyond what is deserved.
I will hope for a fair trial and calm heads to prevail………………..what are the odds?