THE VERDICT…


and the Jury.

I have heard, for years, that a Jury trial is a “crap shoot” and that you never know which way they will go.

The basic trial is made up of a number of parts, all of which have their function.  There is the prosecution/plaintiff, the defense, the judge, and, if it is a jury trial, the jury.

Of course they get there through, normally, the efforts of some investigative agency who builds a case against the soon to be defendant.  The prosecutor decides at what point he believe the case could be proven and then takes him to court.  The defense represents the defendant and tries to prove that he is not guilty.  They each do this by introducing information which they believe will prove their side of the argument, it is then up to the judge to decided if the jury can hear this information (evidence), and the jury uses this information to decide if the defendant, or the prosecutor, have proved their case.

This is a simplified version  of the process.  Both side must be familiar with the law, that is prosecution and defense, as well as the judge who must decide if the information introduced by the two sides can be used but, in order to get justice the jury is expected to be made up of not only the persons “peers” but made up of people who are not knowledgeable enough of the case, or issues, so that they will not form opinions about the case prior to the introduction of the information, by either side.  This part can be tricky, and it is the reason that both side get to interview the jurors in order to determine if a juror has knowledge that may cause them to form a premature opinion….  This last part can be a problem in cases such as the Zimmerman, O.J. Simpson, or even the recent Casey Anthony trial where the press was all over the cases like flies on, well, you know.

Since these cases get the attention of people like Nancy Grace and rest of the TV talking heads, to find someone who does not know about the case you pretty much have to find people who do not have computers, T.V., Radios, newspapers, or get out of the house.   This would eliminate the average thinking person and only leaves you with the people who decided the Casey Anthony trial, or the O.J.Simpson case..  and that is not even taking into consideration the people who get out of Jury duty

So, what does that leave us with?  Both the prosecutor and Defence try to convince the jury of their version of what happened.  While both sides try to introduce information to the jury that explain their version it is up to the Judge to make sure that both sides stay with in the guide lines for evidence…  Often jurors who are in certain professions will get knocked out of the jury box because one side, or the other, fears that they might be either too knowledgeable about evidence, or have view that are contrary to their clients interest..  My Grandmother was once put off a D.W.I. jury, in Florence, S.C., when the defence attorney recognized her as someone who once tought his sunday school class.

It would be nice if everything worked just as it was planned.  That prosecutors never hid information that might help the defence but, yes, it happens, or that they never let public pressure push them into a trial they were not ready for, or did not believe in, but, yes it happens.

In the case of George Zimmerman the prosecutions job was to prove, to the jury, that Zimmerman was the aggressor..  One of the neat things about TV investigations is that by the time the show comes to a close, unless it is a multi-part episode, no matter how muddied the plot got you can be assured that when they arrest someone the story is ended…  They can do this because in the world of TV, they don’t have to wait weeks, or months, to get lab results back, and they always have a magic procedure that allows them to find the one piece of evidence that will either lead to a conviction or confession.  Not at all like the real world where sometime what happened, as for as proof is concerned, is just a matter of conjecture..  In the real world prosecutors had to sift through the stories that Zimmerman told and try to explain to the jury that he had attacked Trayvon Martin.  It would have been preferable to have a witness to the initial encounter so they could say, with certainty, that Zimmerman had tried to detain Martin after having seen NO EVIDENCE of a crime but, what they got was an accumulation of statements, and some eye witness reports, that did NOT paint a clear picture.

The jury could only decide its verdict based on their understanding of the information presented to them by either the prosecutor or defence, while I was in favor of a guilty verdict, I can understand how they might not have thought that it was proven that he had started the fight…..  If they had proven that he had tried to detain Martin then it would have been a case where he was doing something that was not allowed and therefore he would not have been able to use the self-defence excuse.  If the defence had been able to prove that Martin attacked Zimmerman,  the suspicious man following him, then Zimmerman would have been able to say he was defending himself but, neither side seemed to be able convince the jury of their version of the story so, the reasonable doubt had to go to Zimmerman.

Thanks,

That Joe Guy.

 

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Stand Your Ground? Yes or No.


The Florida State law, often called the “Stand Your Ground Law”  is one that has been needed for years.  Prior to the new law, if someone broke into your home that laws at the time stated that you must retreat, and that you could only defend yourself if you were backed into a place from which you could NOT retreat, such as a closet, or bathroom, that had no other exit.  Then, fearing for your life, you could defend yourself.

If someone attacked you, such as a fight that you did not start, you could defend yourself, though if they then broke off the attack and attempted to flee, you would be the aggressor if you continued to fight and you could be the one charged.

As I understand it the main change is that you do NOT have to retreat if attacked.  For example, if someone breaks into your home you no longer are required to flee them, and can “Stand Your Ground”.

The recent death of Trayvon Martin, in the City of Sanford, Fl., is putting the Stand Your Ground Law under public scrutiny, and raising question about the the law itself.

George Zimmerman admits to having shot Martin but claims he did it in self-defence.  The Sanford PD claims they did not arrest him at the scene because, at the time, circumstances seemed to agree with Zimmerman.

I would hate to be the person charged with making the determination of whether it was a justified act on the part of Zimmerman.  Sure he was supposed to be some kind of Captain, or whatever, with a Neighborhood Watch group, though reports say he was NOT on duty at the time of the shooting.

I have a number of questions:  what did Zimmerman think he was doing by chasing Martin?  Did Zimmerman ID himself as part of a neighborhood watch?  Did Martin confront a suspicious person, who was following hm for no apparent reason?  If Zimmerman was injured, Sanford PD says he had blood on his lip and the back of his head, which of the two started the scuffle.  As a neighborhood watch member he had the legal authority of the average citizen, the right to citizen’s arrest, though there did not appear to be an apparant offence to arrest for.  The would most likely have resulted, saying that he had detained the person, in his arrest for either “false arrest”, “unlawful detention”, or even impersonating a police officer, if he had given the impression that he acted in such a capacity.

I have never been in a neighborhood watch program but, I had worked for about 20 years in the Security field, both in the Air Force, where I got out as a Security Police SSgt.  Now Mr. Zimmerman might have had a concealed weapons permit but, that would not give him the legal standing to carry it as part of his neighborhood watch.  When I did private security, after 7 years in the Air Force, I worked for a number of private security companies.  Mostly with an unarmed security license, where state law said that even if I had a carry permit, or other authorization, that, unless I had an armed guard licence, I was still not allowed to carry the weapon.  Basicly that would mean that, say I was a Deputy Sheriff and wanted to do security work while off duty, I would have to have a Guard License and and Armed Guard License.  So why was he carrying?  Did the Law Enforcement Co-ordinator for the group know he carried?  If so why didn’t they expel him from the program.

From what I have seen of this story, so far, I would have to say that I do NOT think it was a justified shooting.  The “Stand Your Ground Law’ might protect him from an aggressor but, if it turns out he was doing something he had NO legal right to be doing, or if he was the aggressor, then he has no protection under the law, even this one.

To me the law is clear.  He has to have a reasonable belief that his life is in danger.  The keyword would be “reasonable belief”.  At this point I don’t see it.  What I do see is poor judgement on the part of a gung-ho wannabe cop, who charged in where he had NO training, or legal authority.

What we have here is a mess, and what we don’t need is the Rev. Al Sharpton stirring up the pot.  Sometimes the question is not “black or white” but “right or wrong”, and this is a question that must be answered by law and not because some publicity seeking Rev. Al Sharpton says so.