On Thursday, March 22nd, a former governor of New Mexico got into my taxi. I recognized him from a State Bar speech he gave about ten years ago. Over the course of the thirty-minute ride we discussed many legal issues, but my position on the Martin-Zimmerman case had him nonplussed.
I told him that just considering the police releasing Zimmerman without an arrest indicated there was particularized evidence supporting self-defense; therefore, no grand jury would be able to indict him.
The governor reminded me he started out as a district attorney and state attorneys general, but conceded that the parents of Martin would sue Zimmerman civilly. ‘What good would that do” I asked. ‘Zimmerman is collection proof.’ (In addition, Florida law bars civil complaints if criminal charges failed.)
As the week’s reporting provided more information, it seemed I was correct. Zimmerman had physical evidence of being beaten, and while on his back . . . which even later in the week was supported by an eye-witness. WE HAVE NATURAL RIGHTS, MERELY BY BEING LIVING BREATHING SENTIENT CREATURES, SPECIFICALLY THE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE . . . PROTECTED BY LAW IN THE 2ND AMENDMENT.
At the end of this article, I am going to provide links to information on the Martin-Zimmerman case so you can make your own informed decision. However, this case may affect you more than you think, so don’t dismiss this as a ‘race’ issue or a problem limited to Florida.
I do dangerous work on the weekends. Until I win in court money the law says I’m due for a landlord forfeiting my place of business because of his code violations, I am struggling each week while rebuilding in a new location. My business has been closed for a year . . . something for which I will not be compensated.
Anyway, that dangerous work requires me to pack a pistol when the night starts getting crazy. Having that pistol saved my life once. It was good to have it many other times, but I was only put in an imminent life-threatening situation once; the other times I was able to cool off the situation with bravado and my physical size.
What I am saying is that if you keep a gun in your home, or you decide to keep one close in your car during business or on long trips, please research your state laws governing self-defense. Another good idea is to seek out an attorney familiar with those laws and who has represented clients who have exercised their 2nd Amendment Right in self-defense. Bring him your questions and get the ‘street’ view, and keep his contact information . . . just in case. For half the price of that new gun, or seven boxes of ammunition, you can add tremendously to your confidence in situations requiring deadly response.
Neighborhood Watches are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police. Zimmerman had the right to follow Martin, a stranger on foot in that gated community, until he was satisfied he was a legitimate visitor or the police arrived. Think of a retailer when a kid in a ‘hoodie’ enters the store. The best defense the retailer has against shoplifting is to let the kid know that the shopkeeper is aware of him. A simple greeting at the door, or a ‘may I help you’ on the floor goes a long way.
Racial Profiling is the only case the Justice Department may have against Zimmerman. However, if the community has had a rash of break-ins by local black youths, Zimmerman was not profiling by race but influenced by a recent fact pattern.
Now, it is unlawful for police to stop a vehicle based on an anonymous tip, e.g., that a crime was committed by a black man with dreadlocks accompanied by a white woman in a green SUV. However, Zimmerman was representing all residents and property owners in Twin Lakes Retreat and had a natural right and official sanction to approach anyone on the property whom he did not recognize or was behaving suspiciously.
Suspicious Behavior is not ‘walking while black in a gated community.’ Walking with a gangsta-style strut and wearing a ‘hoodie’ at night during a rash of break-ins may trigger suspicion. Is that black profiling? Not when so many white youths emulate the rapper, hip-hop dress and ‘attitude.’
A middle-aged lady walking her dog is not suspicious. If Martin had smiled and said ‘Good Evening’ to Zimmerman, that would allay suspicion. However, pulling the hood up and walking away is ‘articulable suspicious behavior.’
‘Hoodies’ are sinister and appear criminal if not having an aura of a ‘monkish’ eeriness as portrayed in many films in the horror film genre,’ suggestive of the hiding of one’s identity while performing acts in the service of Satan. Please, a hooded-cloak or robe in the setting of a church or monastery communicates purity and peacefulness, but at night on the street the covering of one’s face be it the hoodie or Islamic coverings is just downright sinister.
So, can the Justice Department meet the burden of proof Martin was profiled as a black? Martin was black but, as required in a Terry Stop, Zimmerman had articulable suspicion which he communicated to the 911 operator; that Martin seemed stoned and was a stranger.
Did Zimmerman violate civil rights by approaching Martin? No. Zimmerman was in the common area of his home and community and was in a quasi-official position as a watchman. In fact, Neighborhood Watch persons are protect from ‘harrassment, threats, and physical abuse’ by Florida state law.
The police report (linked below) records an investigation listing conditions of Zimmerman’s shirt and injuries to his head consistent with his story, that Martin knocked him down with a sucker punch to the nose and battered his head against the pavement.
There was no avenue of escape, so the Stand Your Ground statutory provision is less applicable as a legal defense than pure terror of imminent great bodily harm, e.g., head trauma.
Martin had complete control over the outcome of his interaction with Zimmerman. As opposed to Al Sharpton’s baseless accusation that Zimmerman ‘hunted’ Martin down to kill an innocent black boy, Martin attacked visciously and with malevolence.
Zimmerman will be justified and free from prosecution, but first the authorities must bolster their courage and position against the race-baiting media and media whores.
A wealth of legal citations and analysis is well-presented by Dave Kopel at http://volokh.com/author/davek/ . Dave Kopel is the Director of the Independence Institute and, along with other members of his family, a highly-dependable legal consultant. Scroll down to March 27, 2012.
Here is one statute Dave Kopel missed, protecting Neighborhood Watch volunteers: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/onr/resources/publications/2011/NWIntrobookletrev610.pdf.pdf See bottom of page 12.
I have downloaded the Police Report created by the Sandford Police Department in the course of their investigation clearing George Zimmerman of manslaughter or any other criminal violation. As you all may know, or have experienced, anytime there is a death the police engage in enhanced investigation procedures including the coroner and CSI. Twin Lakes Shooting Initial Report
The city manager issued a timely press release explaining why the Police Department did not charge George Zimmerman. It includes an explanation of the police findings and cites several pertinent laws. Zimmerman_Martin_shooting
An opposing opinion
The chief author feels Zimmerman approaching Martin voids any application of self-defense law. I disagree. Every free man has that right by Natural Law. If it can be proven that Zimmerman had criminal intent, e.g., to stalk and shoot Martin, that would vitiate the self-defense. However, Zimmerman was reporting every step of his actions to 911, as required by Neighborhood Watch. That precludes any mental state of criminal intent, thus leading to a criminal act: