AP: Zimmerman unworthy of basic Constitutional rights

This weekend, the AP published what has to be the most slanted, biased, loaded piece of “journalism” it has ever been my displeasure to read: “Law Gives Zimmerman Extra Chances In Legal Fight

MIAMI (AP) — George Zimmerman persuaded the police not to charge him for killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, but the prosecutor has accused him of murder. Soon, armed with unparalleled legal advantages, Zimmerman will get to ask a judge to find the killing was justified, and if that doesn’t work, he’ll get to make the same case to a jury.

Only one paragraph in, and already there are numerous problems.  Zimmerman “persuaded the police not to charge him”?  Really?  Boy, that fast-talking half-white jive artist had those racist cops right in the palm of his hand, didn’t he?  Or maybe we should just simply state the truth here:  Zimmerman didn’t “persuade” the police to do anything with regard to charges, because the police don’t charge detainees.  State or county prosecutors do.  In Zimmerman’s case, the Sanford police originally requested a manslaughter charge, but state prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to counter Zimmerman’s self defense claim so they declined to press charges.

Upon reexamination of the case (and, I would argue, under tremendous political pressure and fear of violence and/or reprisals by the civil rights lynch mob) the state prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second degree murder.  But doggone it, that sneaky SOB managed to shield himself behind a wall of “unparalleled legal advantages.”  Such as … requesting a hearing before the judge to show that the preponderance of evidence in the case points to self defense and not second degree murder.  And being tried before a jury.  What, these are “unparalleled legal advantages?”  Maybe if you’re a graduate of the Barack Obama School of Constitutional Scholarship.  But to the rest of us, they are basic Constitutional rights, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.  Next paragraph:

The wave of National Rifle Association-backed legislation that began seven years ago in Florida and continues to sweep the country has done more than establish citizens’ right to “stand your ground,” as supporters call the laws. It’s added second, third and even fourth chances for people who have used lethal force to avoid prosecution and conviction using the same argument, extra opportunities to keep their freedom that defendants accused of other crimes don’t get.

The NRA has nothing to do with this case, but that doesn’t stop the author from injecting an obligatory smear, while conveniently ignoring the fact that “stand your ground” and “castle” immunity laws have been strongly supported by Democrats, due to their association with domestic abuse cases and the efforts of feminists to permanently eliminate “duty to retreat” presumptions from applying to attacks in one’s own home.

Then there’s the unbelievable claim that defendants who choose to invoke SYG immunity arguments automatically get second, third, and fourth chances to avoid prosecution or conviction, that other defendants do not receive.  Really?  Do tell, please.

While the states that have passed “stand your ground” laws continue to model them loosely after Florida’s — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire put expanded laws on the books last year — Florida is unique.

One area that sets Florida apart is the next step Zimmerman faces: With the police and prosecutor having weighed in, a judge will decide whether to dismiss the second-degree murder charge based on “stand your ground.” If Zimmerman wins that stage, prosecutors can appeal.

But in another aspect peculiar to Florida, if the appeals court sides with Zimmerman, not only will he be forever immune from facing criminal charges for shooting the 17-year-old Martin — even if new evidence or witnesses surface — he could not even be sued for civil damages by Martin’s family for wrongfully causing his death.

As Ann Althouse recently pointed out, “stand your ground” is nothing more than an immunity statute.  It is not a legal defense.  SYG gives the defendant the opportunity to persuade the judge, at a pretrial hearing, that the preponderance of evidence is consistent with self defense.  If the judge agrees, then he can dismiss the criminal charges against the defendant (though the prosecution can still file new charges against the defendant and attempt to negotiate a plea from the defendant for a lesser charge).   Again, pretrial hearings are not unusual, or unprecedented, or unparalleled.  Neither are plea bargains.  Nor is the application of  immunity statutes to both criminal and civil cases, since the burden of proof required to find a defendant guilty in a civil suit is much less rigorous than a criminal trial.

And I certainly hope I am misreading the last paragraph I quoted, because it seems to me that the author is doing his best to disparage the concept of double jeopardy, which again is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Americans by the Fifth Amendment.

I could pull more quotes from the article, but I think everyone already understands what’s going on here.  The author of this story has deliberately loaded it with opinion regarding the case, choosing words and thoughts that convey the idea that George Zimmerman is obviously guilty of murder and that he has been exploiting the system in order to get off scot-free.  And the AP calls this “news.”  Whatever.

So why did the AP publish this story?  I believe it is a preemptive attempt to justify the standard talking points of white progressives and black civil rights agitators who routinely accuse our courts of being a “white injustice system.”  And the AP is doing this because their legal writers (and probably many others on the left) know that Zimmerman was overcharged, that the evidence presented in the second degree murder charging document was thin and most likely will not survive a pretrial hearing.   But liberals and civil rights agitators are in a bind, because they have all but convinced a significant segment of the population that Zimmerman is guilty of murder.

If the case against Zimmerman falls apart in court, there will be a lot of angry people in the streets demanding “justice.”  The left-wing media/social justice complex will never admit that they grossly misreported the facts in this case, so they need to make certain that the mobs are angry at the judicial system and the “establishment.”  And they will print even more false and misleading information in order to do this.

Disgusting.  And the media wonders why fewer and fewer people trust them …

(h/t Don Surber)

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  • The problem with the “persuaded police not to charge him” part is that in fact it was a prosecutor that chose not to charge him, overruling the lead detective IIRC. But that would have opened the question of who would have a better idea of the legal issues in filing such a charge — a cop, or a lawyer who puts food on his table by proving criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law?

    Until publicity and politics intruded in this case, the system was working. The fact Trayvon’s family didn’t think so is understandable but no less wrong.

  • Guest

    Quick note:  The initial hearing regarding self-defense is not a Sixth Amendment right. It’s actually a specific pretrial hearing that is available under Florida’s stand your ground law, created by statute, and not constitutionally guaranteed.   And an additional point:   Immunity from civil suit has nothing to do with double jeopardy.  Double jeopardy pertains to criminal charges.

    • ackwired


      You seem to be familiar with this law.  Let me ask you this…In your opinion would Zimmerman have been freed by the police if the “Stand Your Ground” law had not been in place?  I’ve heard conflicting views about what this law does, and I don’t think that I really understand it, nor the reason to put it in place.  Thanks

      • Guest

        My familiarity is more on a general level. I have a decent knowledge of con law, but professionally, I work with civil law, not criminal law.

        But Stand Your Ground does set up extra procedural safeguards (or hurdles, depending on your POV) to successfully prosecuting this kind of case. And these safeguards are stronger than what is available under the Constitution or ordinary criminal procedure.

        But in my opinion (for what it is worth) Zimmerman would have been detained pending bond without this law in place. According to media reports, at least one investigator wanted to press criminal charges, but the prosecutor did not believe there was evidence to overcome the self-defense claim.

    • MichaelLaprarie

      The right of a defendant to ask a judge specifically to dismiss charges based on a self defense argument is unique to SYG statutes, but pretrial hearings and motions to dismiss themselves are not unusual.  The article seems to be implying that they are.

      Most of us remember the OJ Simpson affair well enough to understand the limits of double jeopardy.  But the article seems to imply that at some point new evidence or witnesses against Zimmerman may surface, and therefore the double jeopardy clause is an injustice.

      • Guest

        The SYJ pretrial hearing is unusual in one respect. Typically, if you’re going to prevail on a summary judgment (or summary judgment-like motion), you have to have a LOT of evidence weighing in your favor. SYJ is unusual because it lets the defendant prevail before trial based only on a preponderance of evidence.

  • GarandFan

    The lib writers at AP once again show how they really know so little.

  • Hugh_G

    Well you could “pull further quotes ” from the article but they’d contradict your basic premise.

    • GarandFan

       Examples would be nice.

      • Hugh_G


        The quotes about how law enforcement and prosecutors feels about stand your ground. Read it you”ll find them.

        The quotes about what his rights are without judgement about them. Read it, you’ll find them..

        That’s just 2 examples.

        The author of this thread castigated the “author of the article”. There were several authors.

        The author of this thread claims to know what’s inside the head of the contributors to the article. Why? Could it be because that’s how he justifies his errant conclusions?

        • GarandFan

           Odd, you don’t castigate Cory for knowing ‘what’s inside the head of Zimmerman’.

          Once again your “outrage” appears highly nuanced.

        • SCSIwuzzy


          That is not providing quotes.  That is asserting quotes exist that make your points.

    • MichaelLaprarie

      It’s a fair call to say that the AP attempted to balance this story by including the information about SYG laws.  But the overall tone of the piece still suggests that Zimmerman is benefiting unfairly by being allowed to argue self defense.  This is clearly an attempt to convince readers that injustice will be done if Zimmerman is not convicted of 2nd degree murder, because the law is loaded in his favor.  That’s not news reporting, it’s editorializing.

      • Hugh_G

        Well I respectfully disagree with one exception. The exception is that I agree with you about the “Zimmerman persuaded” the police to let him go. First, I don’t think it’s correct and, as I’ve said before, lets wait till all the facts come out.

  • Nuts.

  • herddog505

    In Zimmerman’s case, the Sanford police originally requested a manslaughter charge, but state prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to counter Zimmerman’s self defense claim so they declined to press charges.

    Really?  I thought that the racist cops in the podunk town of Sanford clapped Zimmerman on the back for a job well done, gave him back his pistol, took up a collection to pay for his ammo costs, promised to see him at the next klan rally, and sent him on his way without so much as a HINT of an investigation.  Now, you tell us that they wanted to charge him with manslaughter???

    / sarc

    Once again, there’s so much disinformation, misinformation, misunderstandings, and outright lies swirling around this case that it’s impossible to know what’s true about it any more.

    With regard to the al-AP article, who knew that libs hated due process so much?

    / sarc

  • q> But the overall tone of the piece still suggests that Zimmerman is benefiting unfairly by being allowed to argue self defense.

    I am confused:

    Clearly O’Mara will argue self defense if the case goes to trial and this legal defense is not dependent on the  “stand your ground” statue.

    Is  Michael Laprarie referring  solely to the pre trial hearing which will argue Zimmerman has  immunity from prosecution under the “stand your ground”  based on self defense ? 

    q> As Ann Althouse recently pointed out, “stand your ground” is nothing more than an immunity statute.  It is not a legal defense.

    Again, I am confused:

    Does the statue provide Zimmerman with only immunity from prosecution in the pre trial stage? 

    If Zimmerman fails to prevail in a pretrial hearing based on the  “stand your ground” 
    statue  and the case goes to trial, can O’Mara raise the “stand your ground” statue again at trial?

    Finally, it is my understanding that the concept of double jeopardy is not applicable to civil 
    suits in Florida.

    Thank you.