George Zimmerman was acquitted, but do you think that is the end of his legal problems? Not by a long shot. The Martin family will undoubtedly try for a civil judgment and the U.S. Department of Justice is considering a federal civil-rights indictment. If the federal prosecutors think that a defendant got too little justice in state court, they are liable to try in federal court. That is what happened in the Vincent Chin case in Detroit. It would be a terrible violation of the prohibition on double jeopardy, but the Supreme Court did to the Double Jeopardy Clause what Leatherface did to teenagers.
That Zimmerman was tried and acquitted should be the end of the story, but the clowns in the Sanford Media Circus just will not stop performing. According to Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Trayvon Martin’s family, reportedly compared Trayvon to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till, stating that he will be regarded as a civil rights hero, which is ridiculous. That is like comparing your neighbor with Adolph Hitler because he lets his cocker spaniel pee on your lawn.
Medgar Evers was a field secretary for the NAACP when he was murdered for civil-rights activism. Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy who was murdered for flirting with a white store owner’s wife in a store he had every right to visit. No matter what his ethnic or racial characteristics, Trayvon Martin may have been a victim of a racially-charged confrontation, like Emmett Till, but he was not a civil rights “hero.” A civil rights hero confronts a hostile government, knowing that he or she is risking life and limb for the principle of equal rights.
Crump is a lawyer who represents the family of the deceased, so his excessive rhetoric is understandable. Bernie de la Rionda, the lead prosecutor in the Zimmerman trial, has no excuse for his outburst after the trial. He is reported to have said, “What it boils down to is you got a 17-year-old kid, who is minding his own business, wearing a hoodie, and gets accosted — gets followed by an individual who wants to be a cop.” De la Rionda lost the case, so now he wants to retry Zimmerman in the media. De la Rionda should be censured for that type of unnecessarily incendiary remark and for being a bad loser.
It is extremely sad that a 17-year-old boy died as the result of a confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer, but to call the trial a miscarriage of justice because the defendant was acquitted is asinine. The jury heard the evidence and made its decision. Each side had the same opportunity to present its case. That is what “due process” means. It does not mean that the jury will always reach the right result.
There is no reason to believe that the jurors were racists. Sanford, Florida in 2013 is not Tallahatchee County, Mississippi in 1955. Some of us may not like the verdict, but calling it a miscarriage of justice is counterproductive and unfair to the judge, the jurors and George Zimmerman. Having been found not guilty, he has the right to pick up what is left of his life and keep on truckin’, at least until the Martin family sues him.
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
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