Almost Done, Zimmerman Case Winding Down (maybe)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s almost over – the George Zimmerman trial – it’s almost over. Soon we’ll get back to blogging about Ben Bernanke and the banking cabal, or the raging abortion debates in Texas and North Carolina, or over-zealous government interventionism in “the land of the free” … but for now, we wait for the Zimmerman trial to cap.

Judicial Weirdness …

Honestly, things have gotten weird in the past few days. Yesterday the Judge made some rather odd confrontational statements to the defendant, Zimmerman, demanding to know if he planned to testify. The general take amongst legal experts has been that this was utterly and completely out of line (prior to the conclusion of the defense’s case) and could only have served the purpose of tainting the jury against Zimmerman.

Whether it did or not is anybody’s guess. Even avid court watchers admit that juries are really difficult to predict. I will say that if I were the prosecution I’d be mildly perturbed. On the one hand, I’d be happy to see the judge give it to other side. On the other hand, this smacks of “grounds for appeal” if a guilty verdict does come back.

Perhaps Manslaughter …

The judge today decided to allow the jury to consider a manslaughter charge in addition to the second-degree murder charge. I’m honestly a bit surprised that it was even a question – I thought it was a given that Zimmerman would face the entire suite of “wrongful death” charges.

While most pundits are calling it a “win” for the prosecution, I think I see it more as “begging for an out”. The prosecution appears to have failed miserably in presenting the second-degree murder case and is looking for any conviction they can find. However, one might wonder if they were actually trying to get a manslaughter conviction, would they have presented the case differently?

About Those Riots …

I don’t often watch “All In with Chris Hayes” – because Hayes is a progressive’s progressive, a holier-than-though elitist. Still, he made some interesting arguments yesterday about all of the warnings of riots if Zimmerman is acquitted. His point was simply that conservatives are putting forward this “blacks will riot – it’s what ‘they’ do when things don’t go their way” narrative. He might be right. Having heard his comments though, I thought I’d clarify my prior discussion of the potential for riots.

First off, it is NOT a slam dunk that Zimmerman is acquitted.

Second, I’ve never viewed riots in this case as something “those people” do. Rather, riots like the ones folks are warning of, I think, stem from a focal point for underlying discontent. When we saw the riots in the post-Rodney King verdict, it represented a singular focus for decades of discontent with inequitable treatment from the LAPD. It wasn’t some out-of-the-blue rioting over just the Rodney King verdict. No, blacks in LA had come to understand that they were continually treated as second-class citizens by the LAPD, with Rodney King being the most vibrant example. Then the aggressors were acquitted? It was too much for that level of discontent to tolerate.

I hold something similar here. There is, I think, simmering discontent out there. For crying out loud, the unemployment rate amongst young black men is pushing 50%. There is a fundamental belief that the system isn’t fair, and won’t work the same for everyone. Discontent? You bet. An acquittal in a case like this could, could, provide the spark for a significant release of said discontent. The “letting out of water” as Proverbs describes it.

Never Fear, the Feds Are Here …

I saw an interesting headline just the other day discussing¬† how the Justice department had spent millions to organize a movement and demonstrations for “Justice for Trayvon”. It is, of course, odd that the federal government would inject itself into a state-level murder trial.

I suspect that federal involvement will ramp up in earnest if Zimmerman is acquitted. The theories have been flung far and wide that he will face charges for violating Martin’s civil rights. I will admit that I haven’t given much though to the merits of that case, but it seems to have a better “hook” than the second-degree murder charges currently pursued by the state. It is perhaps small solace to those looking for a Zimmerman conviction, but I strongly suspect that if he is acquitted his legal troubles will continue.

Of course, it’s not like my prediction record is stellar. It will be an interesting (and potentially difficult) few days though.

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