So, the previous post (done some time ago) was about the Trayvon Martin case. It contained some tweaked facts that allowed us to illustrate the failings of the stand your ground law. Today, a solid topic for discussion is an op-ed currently on CNN.com by Mark NeJame.
NeJame, you’ll all remember is the fellow that caused the original judge to recuse herself because her husband is a business partner, and NeJame is a CNN analyst who would be analyzing the judge. Mark was also asked to take Zimmerman’s case, but declined. He also looks like someone who spend 30 years on the set of Law & Order, not actually in the practice of law, but we digress.
In his capacity as a CNN analyst NeJame spun this op-ed piece pointing to the erroneous manner in which people had been referring to the use of racial profiling by George Zimmerman. For that his article is a good one. However, despite his extensive experience some points he makes bare disagreeing with.
At its core analysis of this case hinges upon its fundamentals. For example, Zimmerman had no way of knowing anything about Martin other than the fact that he was some kid walking down the sidewalk, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, doing nothing.
So, Zimmerman actually followed someone for mostly no reason, even if he did have a legitimate concern over break-ins in the neighborhood.
Little has been made of the notion that Trayvon had a reason to be concerned for his safety prior to the altercation between Zimmerman and himself. It really is a failing of common sense. Most of us, and likely a jury, would acknowledge that it can be unsettling to have someone follow you down a sidewalk simply because they are going the same way you are.
Now imagine that you are 17, that you asked someone why they were following you and they said nothing (or maybe demanded to know why you were on that sidewalk), and that you made an effort to get away from the person by speeding up… and that they kept up with you… Maybe even attacked you… (not tweaking that fact, just going from what his girlfriend heard.)
(A decent synopsis of the facts is here, though it has also been said that Martin went into a backyard and Zimmerman followed him.)
The bottom line here is that despite NeJame’s well made points and fabulous hair, you have someone that did something to instigate a fight by causing someone else to feel unsafe, that someone looked young, when it turned into an altercation the pursuer did not try to flee, and ultimately shot and killed the young person who turned out to be a minor.
That’s like an essay question on the bar exam. When you try to issue spot that fact pattern you’ll come up with the likely charge of murder against Zimmerman, the possibility of self-defense which is likely mitigated by Zimmerman’s pursuit, assault and battery carried out by Trayvon, and his preemptive self-defense against Zimmerman.
So, when NeJame says he doesn’t see where there’s a case if you can’t prove Zimmerman’s a racist, we say that that is certainly true for hate crime charges, not so true for the murder charge.
The bottom line is, that Zimmerman could plead to a reduced charge and spend not so much time away, be convicted and end up with a similar fate, or walk free and clear. That much is uncertain, but it is clear that the prosecution has a leg to stand on regardless of the race issue.
Hopefully, the ultimate fallout from this whole mess is that Florida and other states think twice about enacting legislation written by lobbyists, and that at some point gun control can become a reality, because NeJame is right about one other thing: if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun to rely on, he probably wouldn’t have followed Trayvon, which means that the kid would still be alive.