Lion of the Blogosphere

Are George Zimmerman’s constitutional rights being violated?

Reported by the NY Times:

At a hearing Tuesday in a Seminole County court, Circuit Judge Debra Steinberg Nelson denied a string of defense motions concerning evidence that was intended to portray Mr. Martin as a troubled teenager with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns. Prosecutors argued that such evidence had nothing to do with Mr. Martin’s death.

George’s story is that Martin attacked him first and was beating him up, and fearing for his life or, he shot Martin in self defense.

Because there are no witnesses to the fight except for George himself, Martin’s propensity for fighting is very relevant evidence because it increases the likelihood that Martin started the fight.

Such evidence of prior behavior would not be admissible if Martin were on trial for beating up George, but Martin is not the one on trial here. Normally, the law gives deference to the criminal defendant who has a constitutional right to introduce evidence that he’s not guilty (with a politically correct exception for so-called rape shield statutes).

Are George Zimmerman’s constitutional rights being violated? Are there any criminal lawyers who read this blog?

* * *

In a comment, Peter from Long Island writes:

He should have fought back like a man rather than relying on his gun. I really don’t care if he ends up in prison.

Trayvon was taller and more muscular and an experienced street fighter. George was short and his weight was fat, mostly stomach fat (38-inch waist).

But I agree that he shouldn’t have been following Trayvon in the first place. Instead of patrolling his prole community, he should have used his free time to increase his job skills so he could make more money so he could move to a more expensive and safer gated community.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 29, 2013 at EDT am

Posted in Law

26 Responses

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  1. Yes. Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690 (noting that criminal defendant has a constitutional right to present a complete defense).

    You are also correct that the in limine ruling is incorrect under the rules of evidence, because a criminal defendant asserting self defense is permitted to use propensity evidence to show the victim’s violent tendencies.

    Steve Z

    May 29, 2013 at EDT am

  2. I am a criminal lawyer, and I will tell you that he’s not being treated any differently than other defendants here. It’s pretty much a no-brainer that the motions you mentioned would get denied. It’s pretty widely alleged that the only reason George’s lawyers even made those motions was so that the general public would be aware of Martin’s prior behavior through the media coverage of the hearing, in order to “educate” (or tamper with, depending on your point of view) potential jurors of Martin’s bad character.

    As far as the motions go, it would be a different outcome if George actually knew Martin at the time of the incident and witnessed him getting into fights with other people in the past or knew him to be an assaultive person. Then the motions pertaining to Martin’s propensity for violence would have more likely been granted since it’s relevant for purposes of George’s decision to shoot him in self-defense.

    I don’t disagree with your analysis but as far as these motions go he’s being treated just like everyone else.

    Jeff

    May 29, 2013 at EDT am

    • The evidence is relevant to whether Martin was, in fact, beating on Zimmerman, not to Zimmerman’s state of mind.

      Steve Z

      May 29, 2013 at EDT am

  3. According to the Conservative Treehouse, Trayvon’s phone has a video showing him and his crew beating a homeless person.

    Camlost

    May 29, 2013 at EDT am

    • O’Mara discussed the homeless man beating video briefly on Fox News. So I guess it’s confirmed. I hope that everyone learns about that video. They should spend as much time talking about the “real” Trayvon as they did the 12 year old boy with Skittles and Iced Tea. I’d also like to see Ben Crump explain why it was a-okay for Trayvon and his buddies to beat up a homeless guy.

      AE

      May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

      • if you lived in crown heights youde know skittles or jolly ranchers and arizona watermelon iced tea are the ingredients to make “lean” SYZZRUO\P or “”PURPLE DRANK” just throw in promethazine some cough syrup and i think dristan real bad for kidneys liver and wicked high even violence and paranoia
        But of course Tray wouldnt do that or did his face book posts talk a lot about that

        viking

        May 30, 2013 at EDT pm

  4. TheConservativeTreeHouse has been all over this. It appears that the judge is railroading Zimmerman for political expediency, but that she is deliberately leaving a wake of appeals. The nuanced thought is that the jury finds him guilty to mollify the black mob, and then he gets the verdict overturned on appeal, allowing him to go free.

    However, the State is Nifonging themselves over this case. Among other revelations, most recently a whistle blower has come forward to share videos on Trayvon’s cell phone of him and friends beating a homeless person were not given to the defense. This is why it’s important Trayvon’s character not be allowed into the trial. They have to maintain the cell videos were irrelevant.

    There’s also the matter of the witness that claimed she was on the phone with Trayvon right before the assault perjuring herself, and that there are no cell tower ping records (ie. GPS location data) to collaborate that George chased down Trayvon, and not that Trayvon double-backed and snuck up on George.

    Finally, the State has no evidence that George started the fight. They have no witnesses that George started the fight. All they have is the 911 call where the operator tells George he doesn’t have to follow the suspect. That’s their entire case. Everything else is impeachable and if they bring it into the trial they open the door for Zimmerman’s attorneys to bring in counter-factual evidence, like Trayvon’s toxicology report. Did the NYT mention the toxicology report being deep-sixed?

    Portlander

    May 29, 2013 at EDT am

    • Can you take an immediate appeal of these sorts of evidentiary rulings in Florida? Or seek a writ of mandamus?

      Steve Z

      May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

  5. He should have fought back like a man rather than relying on his gun. I really don’t care if he ends up in prison.

    Peter

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Trayvon was taller and more muscular and an experienced street fighter. George was short and his weight was fat, mostly stomach fat.

      But I agree that he shouldn’t have been following Trayvon in the first place. Instead of patrolling his prole community, he should have used his time to make more money so he could move to a more expensive and safer gated community.

      • “Trayvon was taller and more muscular and an experienced street fighter.”

        Maybe an inch or two taller, which would have zero bearing on his street fighting ability. Nor was he muscular. He only looked that way in a couple of pictures because, like most non-overweight young black males, he had a very low bodyweight percentage and therefore his muscles were more visible.
        The only evidence we have that he was an “experienced street fighter” was some childish bragging on Twitter. I could brag on Twitter that I’m a world-class triathlete. It won’t make me one.

        One thing I remember from attending a fairly well integrated high school – okay, it was a while ago, but I doubt human physiology has changed much – is that the black kids were *not* generally regarded as skilled street fighters (and back in those days, school fights were pretty much routine, not the terrible crises they are today). One thing they were noted for is piling on and attacking someone three-on-one or something like that. Getting into a one-on-one punch up, now that was mainly the province of the white students and occasionally the Puerto Ricans.

        Peter

        ironrailsironweights

        May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Zimmerman is 5’8″, Trayvon was 6 feet.

      • I meant *bodyfat* percentage in my prior comment. Sorry.

        A theory I’ve come across recently suggests that Zimmerman didn’t try to fight back because he was relying on his gun. In other words, he didn’t try to ward off Martin’s punches and deliver a few of his own because he was concentrating on drawing his gun and getting it in position to fire. According to people knowledgeable about guns, this is entirely plausible, as people who carry guns often believe that they are invincible and that the guns are the solution to everything. Needless to say, neither belief is correct.

        Peter

        ironrailsironweights

        May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Great, yet another reason I need to move out of Long Island.

      John

      May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

  6. I don’t watch TV so sorry if this is already widely known: Zimmerman’s HOA paid a “$1 million plus settlement” to Trayvon Martin’s parents, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

    Zimmerman’s lawyer wants to bar from the jury the audio clip containing screams for help even though the screams might reasonably be Zimmerman’s. The prosecution has two expert witnesses who will say the screams are Trayvon Martin’s.

    Mark Caplan

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

  7. We discussed this at length on your old blog. It was critical Zimmerman get a male judge. Originally he had an attractive woman judge but she resigned, then he had an ugly male judge, but now he has a dyke judge. With a female judge her conscious desire would to uphold PC. Her sub-conscious desire would also be for Zimmerman to have died during the beating as George was being taught the pecking order.

    Conquistador

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

  8. I’d like to respond to Peter with a story. I once witnessed (getting blood spattered all over me) a one-punch “fight” in which a black guy, 5’11″/175 lb., caved in the face of a white guy who was 6’1′”/200. Many thousands of dollars of reconstructive surgery for the white guy. Obviously, the severity of the outcome was unusual, but there really is something about black fighting ability. Hell, if you really want to you can watch black junior high school girls practicing their fighting. It’s just part of the culture. If anyone wants full details of how the above developed, just ask.

    alonzo portfolio

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

    • “I’d like to respond to Peter with a story. I once witnessed (getting blood spattered all over me) a one-punch “fight” in which a black guy, 5’11″/175 lb., caved in the face of a white guy who was 6’1′”/200. Many thousands of dollars of reconstructive surgery for the white guy. Obviously, the severity of the outcome was unusual, but there really is something about black fighting ability.”

      Anyone can land a lucky (or unlucky) punch. There was a weird-news story making the rounds a few years back about a man who suffered a broken jaw when his *three-year-old* son playfully punched him. It wasn’t a case of a freakishly strong little boy, instead the punch just happened to land in a spot and at an angle where it came up against a weak point in Dad’s jawbone.

      Outside of the blogosphere, no one believes there’s anything special whatsoever about “black fighting ability.” It could be argued that their penchant for group attacks is actually a subconscious acknowledgement that they’re at a disadvantage one-on-one.

      Peter

      ironrailsironweights

      May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Hmm so wheres the great white hope

        viking

        May 30, 2013 at EDT pm

  9. I thought the judge was only barring these things as part of the opening statement.

    steve@steve.com

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

  10. Both Seminole County and the State of Florida are desperate for a conviction. They are deathly afraid of getting labeled as a racist community by the national press if Zimmerman walks.Sharpton and his ilk will hammer the justice system of this State as racist.

    So naturally, they will pull out all the stops to convict Zimmerman. If there are fewer than 5 black jurors I’ll be shocked.

    Mike

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

    • it only takes one holdout for justice

      viking

      May 30, 2013 at EDT pm

  11. Quote: ” Instead of patrolling his prole community, he should have used his free time to increase his job skills so he could make more money so he could move to a more expensive and safer gated community.”

    But what if his IQ was not sufficient to allow him to significantly increase his jobs skills? For all we know, he may have reached the limits of his natural ability. In that case, all he could really do was try to protect his community from the Trayvon Martins of the world since his ability to move to a better neighborhood was limited.

    Joe Walker

    May 29, 2013 at EDT pm

    • George Zimmerman was white, and with his white privilege behind him, his only excuse for not being Harvard material is that he was too lazy to do the right things.

      • Uh, whut now? You are kidding, right? Haven’t you been following that ongoing Steve Sailer shtick where he shows that Zimmerman, the so-called “white hispanic”, is much darker and more mestizo-looking than many self-proclaimed “hispanics” who are clearly white?

        Tarl

        May 30, 2013 at EDT am

      • If the MSM says Zimmerman is white, it must be true. Stop reading racist blogs.


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