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July 19, 2013


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Stand Your Ground law is been widely misinterpreted to mean you can goad someone into attacking you and 'make my day' (as some called that law.)

In Florida,
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

But in Texas,
c) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the deadly force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the deadly force is used is not required to retreat before using deadly force as described by this section.

Notice the 'who has not provoked the person against whom the deadly force is used' in the Texas statute. Florida does not have so well written out but it can be interpreted that way because of the 'who is not engaged in an unlawful activity' portion. If they jury feels the goading is unlawful (say provoking them was disturbing the peace) then the SYG defense crumbles. Texas law just makes it easier to understand and use in judging the conduct of the defendant.

Zimmerman never faced Martin to provoke him. True he followed him for a while but he broke off the search and went back to his car. Martin, on the other hand, sought out this 'cracker' to fight.

Racial profiling? I think that has less legs to stand on than the manslaughter charge had!

Will be interesting to see how the DOJ twist itself into a pretzel to charge Zimmerman with anything.


Buzz, I see Yebby61 prefers RATIONALIZATION to actual evidence in order to justify his already-decided idea of what happened.

Real American

Incredible job. Unfortunately, analyzing these calls in great detail won't convince the unconvinceable such as the President, Attorney General, the Sharptons of the nation or their sheep followers, who don't care one wit about the facts or details of this case. Instead, the race-baiters, who at every turn in this saga have ignored the actual facts and evidence that Zimmerman was not only not a racist, but acted completely lawfully from the first moment to the last, will continue to do so, they're only reply being, in essence "but, still." The race-baiters focus on and really only care about two facts here: Trayvon Martin was black and George Zimmerman wasn't. They don't care that blacks kill blacks at much higher rates, but rather care only about exploiting this case for their own political and personal gain, facts be damned.

William O. B'Livion

" journalists, scholars, and lawyers, all of whom should prize fidelity to facts "

Oh, a comedian.


Michelle N. Meyer said, "I’m inclined to support repeal of the SYG laws that exist in some 20 states...". Ann Althouse also blogged about Al Sharpton's stated opposition to the Stand Your Ground laws. See But from the Dept of Further Speculation, consider how this story would have played out if George Zimmerman had NOT had a gun. Martin would be alive today, but Zimmerman might have been seriously injured or even killed.

Considering the suggestive evidence (compelling but not "overwhelming" as Skeptic above asserts) that Martin may have thought Zimmerman a rapist and attacked him for that reason, Martin could easily have invoked Stand Your Ground as his defense for the assault on Zimmerman. What a different case we would have had, and how differently Stand Your Ground might look to many of its critics.

Also note the ironic difference a single letter in a word makes. Some people view Zimmerman as a "racist" while Martin might have viewed him as a "rapist."


According to the toxicology report, Martin had THC in his system, indicating he'd smoked marijuana in the past four hours. He'd probably smoked in the 30 minute gap between leaving the 7-11 and Zimmerman spotting him. If he had any left, he might have been paranoid that a cop or security guard would find it on him. In Zimmerman's re-enactment, the timeline and geography show that Martin would have had to double back from his father's gf's house, where he possibly stashed his weed.


Mr Zimmermans role was keep watch and only report suspicious and actual criminal acts - he was or is a watcher for the police authorities, simply,
And his training by the authority would also legally explain that any confrontation or the use of arms to arrest a person was strictly not his job!


Baldeagle ... the evidence demonstrated that Zimmerman had broken off and gone back to his car. He wasn't trying to arrest Martin when the confrontation happened. He watched, he reported, and he followed Martin for a time to keep tabs on him. Then he broke off and went back to his car (the police were only a few minutes away by that point). Martin looks to have circled back to confront Zimmerman, not the other way around. At least, this is what the evidence shows.


You further point AGATHIS is only based upon what the defence presumably alleged?

And it is very clear that Mr Zimmerman could have easily exited in his vehicle and avoided any confrontation, or threat of such contact.

Indeed, where is the independent evidence you cite: that the late Mr Martin turned back to attack Mr Zimmerman in the first instance ?

More-over the immanency of the 'not un-noisy arrival of the police' in their high-speed vehicle, in minutes as you say .

Is in my humble opinion most likely to have motivated the ' deceased ' to leave the scene as quick as possible !

Bruce Hayden

Why did GZ seemingly become more definite about TM's race?

Let me suggest that the NEN call to the police should be reviewed in relation to the reenactment he did with the police the next day. The following essentially merges the two to some extent.

When GZ first saw TM, TM was walking around slowly on the front lawn of a house, in the rain, possibly trying to look into the windows of that house. This was apparently a couple doors away from a recently burglarized house (I believe the one that Burgess was involved in). He was also not apparently walking very steadily. This was also seen in the 9/11 video of his purchase of Skittles and Arizona Watermelon Ice Tea. At the 7/11, and maybe later in front of the 111 Retreat Circle residence, this could have been because he was on Lean, or maybe on his cell phone (possibly with Jeantel/Dee Dee). Race was apparently hard to determine because TM's hoodie was pulled up over his head, and probably to some extent, his face. This could have been for anonymity, or because it was raining. Much has been made about TM being legally able to be where he was at the time of the physical altercation. What is ignored though is that he was probably trespassing at the time that he was first observed by GZ (depending on the HOA rules, and how the townhouses were titled). And, even if he had the legal right to be there (unlikely, but possible), he probably didn't have the moral right - this was someone's front yard, a lawn between the sidewalk and the front of their townhouse. Objectively, TM apparently looked like he might have been casing the house out for a burglary. Why else was he walking around slowly on the front lawn of that house in the rain? Not that he was casing the place, but rather that he appeared to have maybe been, which is probably just the sort of thing that the local PD wants to hear about from their Neighborhood Watch people (even though GZ was on the way to the store, and not working NW that night)..

GZ apparently saw TM as he drove down the street. He stopped, watched him for a short period of time, then drove onto the club house a block or so further on the street, where he pulled into a parking place to make the NEN call. While he was on the NEN call, TM walked by, walked around GZ's vehicle, looking in, and acting somewhat intimidating. At that point, TM's race was now clear (but not age, since GZ apparently didn't know that TM was not an adult until the next day) since he was looking into GZ's vehicle directly at GZ.


You say "I’m inclined to support repeal of the SYG laws that exist in some 20 states"

Why? There is no rational reason to do so. "Stand Your Ground” Laws Don’t Increase Murder, Manslaughter Rates and the nation's gun & violent crime rates have been falling for more than 20 years. In Florida specifically, firearm violence has fallen to the lowest point on record.


[quote]“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”[/quote]

Mangled quote. Go back to the record and read again. And try to get this stuff accurately, because truth counts.

The 911 operator asked GZ if TM was black. GZ's comment "He looks black" was the answer to a question.


[quote]Shoots TM dead and emerges without a scratch on him.[/quote].

Wrong. Completely. Take another look at the pictures of GZ. Do you really not see the bloody nose? Did you not read the police record of the abrasions on the back of GZ's head?

Try and get this stuff right. Truth counts.

Michelle Meyer

@pabarge: Simmer down. That these "facts" (note the scare quotes) are all false was my point. You may wish to click through to the links and/or read the rest of the OP before commenting.

Michelle Meyer

@Jay: I'm *inclined* (I haven't given it serious thought based on rigorous study of SYG) because I think that taking life is a very serious thing that generally should occur when there are no other options. If someone a breeches a contract (to move away from life-or-death matters for a moment), the breached-upon party is still generally expected to mitigate the damages. Under just war theory, a just cause gives justifies the use of force, including deadly force, to incapacitate the enemy; it doesn't give them the right to kill the enemy who is no longer a threat. And so on. If someone can safely retreat (both GZ's account of events and third-party evidence corroborating it suggested that he could not safely or otherwise because he was pinned; I realize that it will often be difficult for a would-be shooter to know with sufficient certainty that she can safely retreat, and probably the law ought to give her the benefit of the doubt on that question), I prefer a rule that requires the victim to refrain from unnecessary killing. Indeed, I am inclined to extend this critique of SYG into the home -- that is, to the common law castle doctrine -- which I realize would leave the property of the retreating homeowner open to further destruction or theft. But for me, life trumps property, especially when "burglars" not infrequently turn out to be, e.g., the shooter's own kids sneaking back home. I'm aware of the empirical debate to which you allude about the possible disparate impact of SYG on certain groups, and were that so, it would be gravy. But I'm troubled by SYG even if it has no disparate impact on any particular group. Again, however, I'm open (as always) to being convinced otherwise.

Curt Matsune

To my mind, what the pattern of calls indicates is that Zimmerman started calling more about black subjects after the home invasion and rash of burglaries, all committed by black subjects. In addition to race, though, his calls also focused on age and behavior. His "suspicious" calls never included children or the elderly, and they never included someone just walking down the street. So it appears to me that he was profiling but not solely on race; he was also factoring in recent events, age and behavior. Call me crazy, but that seems entirely rational and appropriate.


Michelle - nothing about SYG allows for an "unnecessary killing." Which is I think something that based on what you've said you would never agree with me on.

If you reasonably fear for your immanent death or great bodily harm, it is hard to tell that person with that fear that it was "unnecessary" to use lethal force. I'd also note while 31 states have this, some states require that the person attacking you have a weapon before you are justified in using deadly force.

As a point of fact: blacks are disproportionately benefitting from the law in Florida. See these cases

Curt Matsune

Regarding SYG, the problem I see with a duty to "safely" retreat is how do you define "safely"? It's subjective. Just a quick example, what if someone says, "I shot because I'm just a slow runner and the guy attacking me was moving really fast." Could that person have "safely" retreated? Who's to say for certain beyond the Monday morning quarterback?

I raise this question because, like Ms. Meyer, I too believe that matters of life and death are of the greatest import, but I believe that if someone attacks someone they ought to be prepared to face all the consequences. Otherwise don't attack in the first place.


A comment for those who think a "whoppin" is ok for watching out for your neighborhood as a watch person who at all times were in contact with police. By the way there are neighborhood watches in many countries even Russia and "vigilante" ednotes a person out for revenge being motivated to chase a person to capture or kill. Zimmerman was watching. If you have trouble with the language please consult a dictionary.

I work up north in a very clod climate. One year a young man was working up haere and his feet sliped out fromunder him and he fell and hit the back of his head on the ice.... Done. He was dead a very short time later, one blow to the back of the head. This was not continous banging a person's head on the concrete nor bashing his face with you fist as you say on top of him and he screamed for help while you relentlessly pounded his face and bashed the back of his head it was one blow. The ocipitial lobe which governs sight is at the back of the head and the the prominence of the skull. The proper strike can cause irreparable blindness.

It was quite obvious that Martin was ina rage or angry to the point that Zimmerman's cry and plea for help was either ignored or not heard due to the rage. Those who respond to the appeal that Martin was only 17 need to understand that it is not the age but the intent to do the crime that elevates a person to adult status in criminal actions. Did Martin have a chip on his shoulder because he was Black and had been taught that by his peers his parents and his family??? God question here. So who is responsible for the actions that led up to Martin's death. Zimmerman did not pull his gun and shoot Matrin until he was on his back receiving physical damage from an assualt with the perpetrator straddling him with little possibility of escape and the assualt seemed endless. Zimmerman did not hunt down MArtin as it has been painted. He did not pursue Martin with the intent to shoot him or he cold have done that at several junctures in during him observing Martin. He only shot Martin when he could not escape and his cries and pleas were ignored by his assailant while he was being beaten relentlessly.

I will say this I carry a .45 and there will be no hesitation should I experience this sort of thing. I am a very very good shot and am an instructor with military background and an accomplished martial artist. I do not demean people for any reason. If I say a thing to you it will be courteous and respectful but I will not give ground. It is my right as a human being and I afford that right to everyone, no exception. You don't deny me my right and I will not deny yours. I do not care if you are yellow black white or polka dotted.

My ancestors were indentured servants when they came to this country, they had to earn their freedom. I am also Native American and this part of our culture has more to complain about than any other. Remember that it was Black tribemen in Africa that supplied the slaves they made from the fellow Africans, those along with the Muslims. The white folks only bought property that was gathered out of conquest. It still goes on in Africa today to some degree. Maybe we should just treat everyone as we would be treated, I know that is is a novel concept but just maybe it will work if we ignore thhose who would use the divisiveness for their own ends. Of course I speak of reason but hey, why not be reasonable.....

Laurent Sacharoff

Wonderful article.

You make a strong case Zimmerman didn't profile (and in earlier posts, that he may have acted reasonably in self-defense). And yet, as you acknowledge, this likelihood must co-exist with the extraordinary and legitimate pain and grievance the black community feels about pervasive and real racial profiling, mass incarceration, etc. The rallies and dignified anger have truly moved me, and the Trayvon Martin case must be seen as an important galvanizing force that has made public this disgraceful, persistent problem.

You really do need a PhD in negative capability to accept both can be true.

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