Zimmerman Jury Instructions: Is the Fix In?

Despite objections by the defense, George Zimmerman trial judge Debra Nelson changed the rules in mid stream, allowing the jury hearing the case to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter during their deliberations. This, after furious pleading and groveling by the prosecution who, like most observers, have apparently concluded that they haven’t come close to meeting the burden of proof for a second degree murder conviction. Here are Judge Nelson’s instructions to the jury courtesy ajc.com . . .

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEETH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA
CASE NO.: 2012 CF 1083 AXXX

STATE OF FLORIDA
vs.
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN

Instructions read to jury by The Honorable Debra S. Nelson, Circuit Judge.
DATED at Sanford, Florida on ______________________________________, 2013.

CIRCUIT JUDGE
Members of the Jury, I thank you for your attention during this trial.

Please pay attention to the instructions I am about to give you.

STATEMENT OF CHARGE
George Zimmerman, the defendant in this case, has been accused of the crime of Second Degree Murder.

INTRODUCTION TO HOMICIDE
In this case, George Zimmerman is accused of Second Degree Murder.

A killing that is excusable or was committed by the use of justifiable deadly force is lawful.

If you find Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, you will then consider the circumstances surrounding the killing in deciding if the killing was Murder in the Second Degree or was Manslaughter, or whether the killing was excusable or resulted from justifiable use of deadly force.

JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE
The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the attempted killing.

EXCUSABLE HOMICIDE
The killing of a human being is excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the three following circumstances:
1. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, or
2. When the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or
3. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the attempted killing is not done in a cruel and unusual manner.

“Dangerous weapon” is any weapon that, taking into account the manner in which it is used, is likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
I now instruct you on the circumstances that must be proved before George Zimmerman may be found guilty of Second Degree Murder or any lesser crime.

SECOND DEGREE MURDER
To prove the crime of Second Degree Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. Trayvon Martin is dead.
2. The death was caused by the criminal act of George Zimmerman.
3. There was an unlawful killing of Trayvon Martin by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that:
1. a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
2. is done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, and
3. is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

In order to convict of Second Degree Murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove George Zimmerman had an intent to cause death.

POSSESSION OF A FIREARM AND DISCHARGE CAUSING DEATH
If you find that George Zimmerman committed Second Degree Murder and you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the crime, he discharged a firearm, and in doing so, caused great bodily harm to, or the death of, Trayvon Martin, you should find George Zimmerman guilty of Second Degree Murder with discharge of a firearm causing great bodily harm or death.

If you find that George Zimmerman committed Second Degree Murder, and you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the crime, he discharged a firearm, you should find George Zimmerman guilty of Second Degree Murder with discharge of a firearm.

If you find that George Zimmerman committed Second Degree Murder and you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the crime, he actually possessed a firearm, you should find George Zimmerman guilty of Second Degree Murder with actual possession of a firearm.

A “firearm” is legally defined as any weapon which will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.
To “actually possess” a firearm means that George Zimmerman
(a) carried a firearm on his person; or
(b) had a firearm within immediate physical reach with ready access with the intent to use the firearm during the commission of the crime.

WHEN THERE ARE LESSER INCLUDED CRIMES OR ATTEMPTS
In considering the evidence, you should consider the possibility that although the evidence may not convince you that George Zimmerman committed the main crime of which he is accused, there may be evidence that he committed other acts that would constitute a lesser included crime. Therefore, if you decide that the main accusation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you will next need to decide if George Zimmerman is guilty of any lesser included crime. The lesser crime indicated in the definition of

Second Degree Murder is:
Manslaughter

JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE
The killing of a human being is justifiable and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the attempted killing.

EXCUSABLE HOMICIDE
The killing of a human being is excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the three following circumstances:
1. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, or
2. When the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or
3. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the attempted killing is not done in a cruel and unusual manner.

“Dangerous weapon” is any weapon that, taking into account the manner in which it is used, is likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

MANSLAUGHTER
To prove the crime of Manslaughter, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. Trayvon Martin is dead.
2. George Zimmerman intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide:
Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence.

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the killing.

The killing of a human being is excusable, and therefore lawful, under any one of the following three circumstances:
1. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution and without any unlawful intent, or
2. When the killing occurs by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or
3. When the killing is committed by accident and misfortune resulting from a sudden combat, if a dangerous weapon is not used and the killing is not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

In order to convict of manslaughter by act, it is not necessary for the State to prove that George Zimmerman had an intent to cause death, only an intent to commit an act that was not merely negligent, justified, or excusable and which caused death.

If you find George Zimmerman committed Manslaughter, and you also find beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the Manslaughter, George Zimmerman carried, displayed, used, threatened to use, or attempted to use a firearm, you should check the appropriate box on the verdict form which I will discuss with you later in these instructions.

The definition of a ‘firearm’ has been previously provided in these instructions.

JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE
An issue in this case is whether George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. It is a defense to the crime of Second Degree Murder, and the lesser included offense of Manslaughter, if the death ofTrayvon Martin resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.
“Deadly force” means force likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.
In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.

If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

In considering the issue of self-defense, you may take into account the relative physical abilities and capacities of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty.

However, if from the evidence you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was not justified in the use of deadly force, you should find him guilty if all the elements of the charge have been proved.

PLEA OF NOT GUILTY; REASONABLE DOUBT; AND BURDEN OF PROOF
George Zimmerman has entered a plea of not guilty. This means you must presume or believeGeorge Zimmerman is innocent. The presumption stays with George Zimmerman as to each material allegation in the Information through each stage of the trial unless it has been overcome by the evidence to the exclusion of and beyond a reasonable doubt.

To overcome George Zimmerman’s presumption of innocence, the State has the burden of proving the crime with which George Zimmerman is charged was committed and George Zimmerman is the person who committed the crime.
George Zimmerman is not required to present evidence or prove anything.
Whenever the words “reasonable doubt” are used you must consider the following:

A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find George Zimmerman not guilty because the doubt is reasonable.

It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.
A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of George Zimmerman may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence, or the lack of evidence.
If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find George Zimmerman not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find George Zimmerman guilty.

DATE OF CRIME
The State must prove that the crime was committed on February 26, 2012.

VENUE
It must be proved, only to a reasonable certainty, that the alleged crime was committed in Seminole County.

WEIGHING THE EVIDENCE
It is up to you to decide what evidence is reliable. You should use your common sense in deciding which is the best evidence, and which evidence should not be relied upon in considering your verdict. You may find some of the evidence not reliable, or less reliable than other evidence.

You should consider how the witnesses acted, as well as what they said. Some things you should consider are:
1. Did the witness seem to have an opportunity to see and know the things about which the witness testified?
2. Did the witness seem to have an accurate memory?
3. Was the witness honest and straightforward in answering the attorneys’ questions?
4. Did the witness have some interest in how the case should be decided?
5. Does the witness’ s testimony agree with the other testimony and other
evidence in the case?
6. Did the witness at some other time make a statement that is inconsistent with the testimony he or she gave in court?

It is entirely proper for a lawyer to talk to a witness about what testimony the witness would give if called to the courtroom. The witness should not be discredited by talking to a lawyer about his or her testimony.

You may rely upon your own conclusion about the witness. A juror may believe or disbelieve all or any part of the evidence or the testimony of any witness.

EXPERT WITNESSES
Expert witnesses are like other witnesses, with one exception – the law permits an expert witness to give his or her opinion.

However, an expert’s opinion is only reliable when given on a subject about which you believe him or her to be an expert.

Like other witnesses, you may believe or disbelieve all or any part of an expert’s testimony.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN NOT TESTIFYING
The Constitution requires the State to prove its accusations against George Zimmerman. It is not necessary for George Zimmerman to disprove anything. Nor is George Zimmerman required to prove his innocence. It is up to the State to prove George Zimmerman’s guilt by evidence.

George Zimmerman exercised a fundamental right by choosing not to be a witness in this case. You must not view this as an admission of guilt or be influenced in any way by his decision. No juror should ever be concerned that George Zimmerman did or did not take the witness stand to give testimony in the case.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN’S STATEMENTS
A statement claimed to have been made by George Zimmerman outside of court has been placed before you. Such a statement should always be considered with caution and be weighed with great care to make certain it was freely and voluntarily made.

Therefore, you must determine from the evidence that George Zimmerman’s alleged statement was knowingly, voluntarily and freely made.
In making this determination, you should consider the total circumstances, including but not limited to
1. whether, when George Zimmerman made the statement, he had been threatened in order to get him to make it, and
2. whether anyone had promised him anything in order to get him to make it.
If you conclude George Zimmerman’s out of court statement was not freely and voluntarily made, you should disregard it.

RULES FOR DELIBERATION
These are some general rules that apply to your discussion. You must follow these rules in order to return a lawful verdict:
1. You must follow the law as it is set out in these instructions. If you fail to follow the law, your verdict will be a miscarriage of justice. There is no reason for failing to follow the law in this case. All of us are depending upon you to make a wise and legal decision in this matter.
2. This case must be decided only upon the evidence that you have heard from the testimony of the witnesses and have seen in the form of the exhibits in evidence and these instructions.
3. This case must not be decided for or against anyone because you feel sorry for anyone, or are angry at anyone.
4. Remember, the lawyers are not on trial. Your feelings about them should not influence your decision in this case.
5. Your duty is to determine if George Zimmerman has been proven guilty or not, in accord with the law. It is the Judge’s job to determine a proper sentence if George Zimmerman is found guilty.
6. Whatever verdict you render must be unanimous, that is, each juror must agree to the same verdict.
7. Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias or sympathy. Your verdict must be based on the evidence, and on the law contained in these instructions.

NOTES
During this trial, I have permitted you to take notes. You will be allowed to take those notes into the jury room during deliberations. You are instructed that your notes are a tool to aid your individual memory. You should not compare your notes with those of other jurors in determining the content of any testimony or in evaluating the importance of any evidence. Notes are for the note taker’s personal use in refreshing his or her recollection of the evidence. They are not evidence. Above all, your memory should be your greatest asset in your recollection of the evidence.

CAUTIONARY INSTRUCTION
Deciding a verdict is exclusively your job. I cannot participate in that decision in any way. Please disregard anything I may have said or done that made you think I preferred one verdict over another.

VERDICT
You may find George Zimmerman guilty as charged in the Information or guilty of such lesser included crime as the evidence may justify or not guilty.
If you return a verdict of guilty, it should be for the highest offense which has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If you find that no offense has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then, of course, your verdict must be not guilty.

Only one verdict may be returned as to the crime charged. This verdict must be unanimous, that is all of you must agree to the same verdict. The verdict must be in writing and for your convenience the necessary forms of verdict have been prepared for you. They are as follows:

SUBMITTING THE CASE TO THE JURY
In just a few moments you will be taken to the jury room by the bailiff. The first thing you should do is choose a foreperson who will preside over your deliberations. The foreperson should see to it that your discussions are carried on in an organized way and that everyone has a fair chance to be heard. It is also the foreperson’s job to sign and date the verdict form when all of you have agreed on a verdict, and to bring the verdict form back to the courtroom when you return.

During deliberations, jurors must communicate about the case only with one another and only when all jurors are present in the jury room. You are not to communicate with any person outside the jury about this case. Until you have reached a verdict, you must not talk about this case in person or through the telephone, writing, or electronic communication, such as a blog, twitter, e-mail, text message, or any other means. Do not contact anyone to assist you during deliberations. These communications rules apply until I discharge you at the end of the case. If you become aware of any violation of these instructions or any other instruction I have given in this case, you must tell me by giving a note to the bailiff.

If you need to communicate with me, send a note though the bailiff, signed by the foreperson. If you have questions, I will talk with the attorneys before I answer, so it may take some time. You may continue your deliberations while you wait for my answer. I will answer any questions, if I can, in writing or orally here in open court.

Your verdict finding George Zimmerman either guilty or not guilty must be unanimous. The verdict must be the verdict of each juror, as well as of the jury as a whole.

During the trial, items were received into evidence as exhibits. You may examine whatever exhibits you think will help you in your deliberations. These exhibits will be sent into the jury room with you when you begin to deliberate.

In closing, let me remind you that it is important that you follow the law spelled out in these instructions in deciding your verdict. There are no other laws that apply to this case.

Even if you do not like the laws that must be applied, you must use them. For two centuries we have lived by the Constitution and the law. No juror has the right to violate rules we all share.

160 Responses to Zimmerman Jury Instructions: Is the Fix In?

  1. avatarEagleScout87 says:

    Why the hell do we even have rules?! The New Jersey Senate, this court room… you teach your kids to follow the rules, and then bodies of real power flagrantly disregard them… and few people seem to give a shit.

  2. avatarKory says:

    You know the US has really taken the term “Show Trial” to a whole new level.

  3. avatarGtfoxy says:

    I smell mis-trial!

    Justice for Zimmerman!

    I bet you wont see the extortionist Jesse Jackson in a march for that one!

    • avatarVoidDragon says:

      Everyone seems to forget Trayvons right to self defense. If you were being followed by a strange man, what would you do? GZ was part of the Neighborhood Watch. Watch. Not Follow. Not Apprehend. Not Vigilante.

      If Trayvon had been armed and felt threatened, would you support his right of Self Defense? He confronted someone who was suspiciously following him. I would bet a majority of readers would’ve had hand on their concealed had they been in TM’s place, and rightly so.

      • avatargloomhound says:

        This just might be the most foolish thing I’ve have ever seen posted here.

      • avatarjwm says:

        The question you should ask, Void, is that if GZ had been a cop and TM had been white under these exact same circumstances would GZ be getting such support from the AI?

      • avatarboardsnbikes says:

        Moot issue. CCW requires an adult. I’ll translate for you–21 years of age.

      • avatarJandrews says:

        Following someone is not illegal. Sidewalks, in fact, exist solely for the purpose of pedestrian traffic. Someone following you means nothing.

        Someone slamming your head into concrete because you were following them on a sidewalk? That means something. It means if you’re the person doing the slamming, for that reason, you are committing aggravated assault, a felony in most jurisdictions. Possibly with intent to kill.

        No, being followed does not merit deadly force. What happened to Zimmerman? Justified use of deadly force. The man should walk, and he should never have been on trial in the first place.

      • The proper response to someone suspiciously following you is “hey, what are you following me for?” not *punch*.

      • avatarWLCE says:

        bullshit.

      • avatarTony says:

        In a DUTY TO RETREAT state: It is DIFFICULT BUT POSSIBLE to imagine scenarios where both parties in a confrontation could have a FACTUALLY VALID claim to self defense.

        In a DUTY TO RETREAT state: It is FAIRLY EASY to imagine scenarios where both parties in a confrontation could have a LEGALLY REASONABLE claim to self defense.

        In a STAND YOUR GROUND state: It is NOT TOO DIFFICULT to imagine scenarios where both parties in a confrontation could have a FACTUALLY VALID claim to self defense.

        In a STAND YOUR GROUND state: It is VERY EASY to imagine scenarios where both parties in a confrontation could have a LEGALLY REASONABLE claim to self defense.

        I got my C.H.L. and started carrying at age 18 just a few months older than TM was. If I had been in TM’s shoes with a “CACracker.” following me I might very well have turned back, raised my sweatshirt, and put my hand on my gun while asking “why are you following me”. We could have shot each other and both have been acting in lawful self defense.

        However:

        1) If I was being followed by a black man I would not have told my friend over the phone that I was being followed by a ‘creepyassni**er’.

        2) If I was walking home in the rain my average speed would be more than 1mph.

        3) My police, school, social media and cell records would not need to be suppressed for fear of confirming that I was either a thug or a wannabe thug.

        GZ was tried and convicted by a media lynch mob based on an extremely one sided reading of the facts. It is only my fellow white liberals who tend to be emotionally incapable of being reasonable about self defense. African Americans are much more likely to view self defense cases in a reasonable way.

        However after hundreds of years of slavery, a century of Jim Crow and decades of the war on drugs It isn’t surprising that many African Americans might feel that ‘turn about is fair play’. I just wish African Americans would channel their outrage into ending the militarization of the police, the encroachment of the police state, and the war on drugs.

  4. avatarGov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Seems to me that a manslaughter conviction would bring grounds for appeal, since the defense was not given the opportunity to provide a proper defense of the crime.

    • avatarSid says:

      Harumph!

      I concur. From what I have read and viewed in the coverage of this case, most people completely misunderstand the term “lesser charge”. It is only a lesser charge because the sentencing is lower. But lesser charges are actually different crimes. The elements of each crime are different. If there were to be lesser charges, then the defense should have been given formal notice in order to prepare a defense.

      The mens rea of each crime is substantially different. To shoot someone in self-defense is a different mindset from shooting someone you have always known and hated. The prosecution has made such a goat-impregnation event of this case that now it is a Hail Mary play. We are just going to throw every charge in the book up there and hope that the jury finds something it can fit onto it. The police in Sanford apparently made the right call from the very start of the case. They apprehended George Zimmerman, looked at all available evidence, and ruled it to be a justifiable homicide.

  5. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    Manslaughter is a normal lesser included. It is in judge’s discretion to include. The 3d degree murder w child abuse was bs and glad she threw that out b/c there is no self defense permitted there. Regardless of 2nd degree or manslaughter, there is still self defense available. Moreover, GZ’s counsel will argue that manslaughter does not have an “intent” component although GZ intended to shoot. It was no accident. That alone should help the jury. My concern is (no offense to the ladies watching) but women are more likely to compromise and want to reach consensus. In turn, does this mean less likely to be hung and more likely to compromise just to be unified? O’mara started out this morning essentially arguing this point to make sure they didn’t feel they had to go along to get along.

    If he is convicted, there is so much error that he will get a new trial. Not a good result but better than a guaranteed 30 yrs

    • avatarTom in Oregon says:

      Yup. Couldn’t have said it better.
      After reading the jury instructions, I see a not guilty verdict in fairly short order.

      • avatarDaniel says:

        I agree with you in your conclusions with one exception. I see not guilty of 2nd degree murder, guilty for manslaughter for the exact reasons Dirk laid out. I hope I’m wrong and it’s not guilty on all counts and charges.

        • avatarblumsky says:

          It depends on why they find him not guilty. If they affirm his claim of self defense, they cannot find him guilty of manslaughter. If the only reason they don’t convict on 2nd degree murder is because they feel he did not have a depraved mind, then they can convict on manslaughter. As a whole, though, the state has not done anything to form a coherent hypothesis that fits the facts which negates his claim of self defense. Basically, they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self defense for EITHER charge to stick. (Someone please correct me if that is totally wrong.)

  6. avatarGtdad says:

    For two hundred years, some have followed the constitution.

    • avatarneiowa says:

      For the last 100 years many have not.

      For the last 50 years most have not

      • avatarChris Mallory says:

        Lincoln used the Constitution as toilet paper in 1861. The Constitution has been dead since.

        • avatarTony says:

          The concept of states rights was/is a turd that needed to be flushed away so good on Lincon. States don’t have rights people do! Local administration of small details is fine, but rights are universal / inherent / God given and do not vary by border or jurisdiction.

        • avatartdiinva says:

          Another ignorant statement. The South quit the union because their guy lost an election and they saw the demographic handwriting on the wall. The South was using Dred Scott to enforce and extend the institution of slavery and that wasn’t going to hold up with continued influx of European immigrants who were opposed to slavery. They lost an election and took their bat and ball and went home.

          Your assertion that Lincoln tore up the Constitution and destroyed states rights is BS. The relationship between the States and the Federal government was the same before and after the Civil War. Plessy vs Ferguson reaffirmed the Southern view on states rights. States rights began erode with passage of the 17th amendment which undermined the Federal system by depriving the State governments of representation in Washington. The decline in federalism had little to do with the Civil War.

  7. avatarMatt in FL says:

    There’s an exact scrollable copy of the Jury Instructions located here: http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/07/zimmerman-final-jury-instructions/

    As for it being a big conspiracy, it’s not. The defense knew it was coming all along. Manslaughter is a Category 1 Lesser Included Offense, and is virtually always given to the jury in Second Degree Murder Cases. The only requirement for that LIO to be given to the jury is for the Prosecution to ask for it, and for the judge to find the facts of the case meet the standard. As Manslaughter is exactly the same as Second Degree Murder with the exception that Second Degree Murder has the “hatred, ill-will, and spite” section, the facts are pretty much always going to meet the standard for Manslaughter.

    There was some question of them being given Aggravated Assault, which is a Category Two Lesser Included, but at the last minute the Prosecution pulled a bait and switch and tried to get Third Degree Felony Murder added to the list, but the judge found no basis for that charge, and disallowed it.

    To repeat, there is nothing remotely out of the ordinary for Manslaughter to be included as a LIO on a Second Degree Murder charge. The defense argued against it, because that’s what the defense does, but they had no real expectation of having it excluded.

    • avatarneiowa says:

      No conspiracy. The Judge and the Prosecution have simply received the call from the adminstration “information that the NSA has chanced upon indicates _____” ” You need to _______” See also Petraus, etal.

    • avatarDaveL says:

      I agree. Both sides, being practicing criminal attorneys in the state of Florida, knew about this all along. Does the easy inclusion of lesser included offenses give prosecutors an incentive to overcharge? I think it does. But the real effect isn’t on cases like Zimmerman’s, with his expensive legal team and expert witnesses. The people it really hurts are the Joe-blow defendants with public defenders. They’re the ones who get bullied into plea deals by prosecutors threatening to send them away for exorbitant sentences for minor crimes.

  8. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I predict a shitload of misunderstanding of the law in this comment section. I’ve already seen two that are flat wrong, legally.

    • avatarMatt in NC says:

      I’ve enjoyed seeing you comment on Legal Insurrection. Also, I agree with both of your previous posts. The defense knew this was coming, and prepared for it.

    • avatarSertorius says:

      +1

    • avatarPascal says:

      Ignorance and Emotions are not exclusive to the agitpop crowd.

    • avatarTom in Oregon says:

      Only by those who don’t want to read and understand.
      You are spot on.

    • avatarGeorge says:

      Why expect understanding in the comments when the article text shows its author to be horribly misinformed as well?

    • avatarAlan Rose says:

      Her final comment seems to show her disdain for jury nullification. Or are those “model” instructions for Florida?

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Part of the standard instructions in Florida.

        Not commenting on their legality or applicability or whatever, just saying it wasn’t the Judge.

  9. avatarJoseph says:

    If all this be true then their are millions of people that live in the USA that are guilty of one/all of the charges. Almost all of the military and most of the police, hell even half the doctors in the USA are guilty… I fall under the military myself…

    This is just another reason why I won’t even step footy into Florida anymore. They have become almost as bad as NY state…

    • avatarPwrserge says:

      It’s not that bad, the justifiable and excusable homicide exceptions have this one in the bag. I smell an acquittal.

  10. avatarMick says:

    Now you understand why you wear a ski mask or a hat low over your eyes and pick up your brass after you shoot someone in defense of your life and then run like hell…

    • avatarSD3 says:

      “pick up your brass…”

      You know, if you shoot a revolver or a doubletap, that’ll never be a problem

      • avatarGyufygy says:

        Especially with a DoubleTap since you won’t freaking hit them with the first shot, and you’ll be too traumatized by the recoil to pull the trigger a second time.

    • avatarBastiat says:

      You should load your defensive ammo directly from the box using latex gloves. That way you know there will be no prints on them. :)

  11. avatar.9mm says:

    I move to change the line “Instructions read to jury by The Honorable Debra S. Nelson, Circuit Judge.” to more accurately read “Instructions read to jury by Debra S. Nelson, Circuit Judge.”

  12. avatarST says:

    The point of this trial is to appease the Black political bloc.Had Martin been a white teenager those jurors would be hearing a different case .

    • avatarJoseph says:

      Had that teen been white he wouldn’t be on trial right now..

    • avatarIdahoPete says:

      Had Martin been one of the 500 black “youths’ killed by other black youths in Chicago, it would not have even been mentioned in the news. And President “my child would look like Trayvon” would not have given a shit.

  13. avatarChuckN says:

    The prosecution alluded to lowering the charge to 3rd degree
    murder (and added a nice charge of child abuse) during closing
    arguments. And the judge ordered the jury to disregard both!
    But that was Wednesday.

    Something tells me the judge was told from on high that
    “Zimmerman must serve jail time, or else”!

  14. avatarTaco Ninja says:

    Isn’t it against the rules to add another charge right before closing arguments? That’s like getting to the bottom of the 8th inning, realizing your team is losing, and appealing to the umpires to change the rules so you have a chance…

    What the judge did is criminal…how we let our gov’t do these things…disgusts me. I hope Zimmerman gets off… I feel Stand Your Ground is on trial…and the next person in this situation could be you or me for defending ourselves and our family…

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      No, it’s not against the rules. It is the rules. See my first comment above.

      Stand Your Ground has nothing whatsoever to do with this case.

      • Matt, why don’t they include the charge of manslaughter at the outset then if it’s automatically going to be included when it goes to the jury?

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I don’t have a complete answer for that, except that “that’s how it’s done.” I assume it has something to do with “charging the highest thing you can get.”

          Someone else may give you a better answer.

        • avatarthe last Marine out says:

          You have missed the point 100 % , this whole deal is about Stand your ground , Jesse Jackson has come right out with a attack program on Stand your Ground ,,, This is a all out attack (communist) on our Bill of Right…The Race card is all SMOKE… You are a sad —- Amerikan…

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          That’s because Jesse Jackson is either too stupid, or more likely, doesn’t care that SYG has no bearing on this case.

        • avatarPch101 says:

          “this whole deal is about Stand your ground”

          Er, no.
          _____________
          George Zimmerman, set to stand trial in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, on Tuesday waived his right to a “stand your ground” pretrial immunity hearing. Zimmerman’s attorneys have decided they will try this as a self-defense case.

          http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/30/justice/florida-zimmerman-defense

          It’s nice to have an opinion, but it’s better to get your facts straight.

    • avatarPwrserge says:

      Manslaughter is almost always included as a lesser included charge in a murder case. It’s a SOP cover your bases sort of deal. On the other hand, there has been quite a bit of reversible error in this case. Even if the jury convicts on manslaughter an appeal is fairly likely and probable to succeed.

  15. avatarFYI says:

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0776/0776.html
    776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
    (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
    History.—s. 13, ch. 74-383; s. 1188, ch. 97-102; s. 2, ch. 2005-27.

    http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=15738
    Protection of Persons and Property: Authorizes a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under certain circumstances; creates a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists; creates a presumption that a person acts with the intent to use force or violence; provides that a person is justified in using deadly force under certain circumstances; declares that a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force in certain circumstances; authorizes a law enforcement agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibits the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines that there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful; provides for the award of attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and other expenses to a defendant in a civil suit who was immune from prosecution for justifiable use of force.

  16. avatarthe last Marine out says:

    Someone has to be pushed under the bus, G.Z. needs to be set free , I have seen nothing to send him to jail(death by other inmates)… woe to the GOP in Florida , what a bunch of cop outs …and the real people that need to go to jail is Jesse Jackson, And Al Simson the real trouble makers, This country is LOST no matter the out come.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      GZ has a price on his head, regardless of the ruling. Our government was looking for a race trial, & this case had all the perfect ingredients.

      Even if declared innocent, GZ will never be able to travel, work of live freely in this country again, and that’s exactly what Special Prosecutor Angela Corey wanted.

      “Innocent until proven guily” is a lie.

    • avatarStinkeye says:

      Who the heck is Al Simson?

  17. avatarDirk Diggler says:

    If it is any consolation, jesse’s son gets sentenced aug 14th. He will get approx 4-5 yrs for misusing campaign funds. :-)

  18. avatarBob4 says:

    Show trial? Mostly. Will Zimmerman go to jail? Maybe. Will the government get away with it? Perhaps for a little while, but definitely not forever. In America, the balance of power always changes. Traditionally, Democrats protect their own only until it is no longer politically convenient. I have to believe that those who have sacrificed their oaths for political favor will eventually face the other end of the criminal justice system…as long as we remember what they did.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      As far as I know, nobody involved in Waco or Ruby Ridge has ever been held accountable in any way. It doesn’t make me optimistic, though I’d like to think you are correct.

  19. avatarBlue says:

    This judge is in the bag for Corey and Crump & Parks. They got to the last judge as well and he was removed. She is trying to bait the jury into thinking that its a lessor penalty but 30 years in prison may has well be the death penalty. Frankly, if he is found guilty of spitting on the side walk, there should be riots going the other direction.

    • avatarSertorius says:

      This may be true, but the jury charge is not evidence of it.

      Manslaughter is an absolutely standard “lesser included” charge in Florida and elsewhere.

      Further, self-defense is a legal defense to BOTH the murder and manslaughter charges.

      The only way the jury convicts him on manslaughter is if they disbelieve Zimmerman that he was in fear of his life, but also disbelieve the prosecution that Zimmerman had the “depraved mind” to qualify for the murder charge.

      I definitely think he should be acquitted, and think he will be, but these jury charges are totally standard.

  20. avatarDoomsdayJames says:

    I’m starting to second guess that Florida family vacation that we are leaving for tomorrow. In my mind, it’s looking more like a trip to ZOMBIE ISLAND and less like a relaxing family vacation.

    It’s a good thing there is still time to do some contingency planning.

  21. avatarA-Rod says:

    Saddest part of all in this whole thing is all the new armchair lawyers that this will produce. Worse than the ones post-O.J. Simpson trial.

  22. avatarg says:

    Sound like normal jury instructions to me.

  23. avatardan says:

    the facts and evidence support an NOT GUILTY on all charges…under the self defense law….we will pray the JURY get’s it right….

  24. avatarTim says:

    Zimmy is not guilty of 2nd degree murder IMO, but he’s not innocent either. He’s responsible for inserting himself in that situation even after 911 told him not to follow TM. I would find him guilty of manslaughter.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      “He’s responsible for inserting himself in that situation even after 911 told him not to follow TM.”

      911 didn’t tell him to not follow. And “inserting yourself into a situation” (whatever that means), is not a crime, despite how much you might want it to be.

      Your desire to find a ‘compromise verdict’ in order to appease the worst instincts of our society are deeply disturbing.

      • avatarTim says:

        So imagine if in this same situation Zimmy had been killed by TM. TM would put up the same defense, and the prosecution would be the same. Point is that none of this would have occurred if Zimmy didn’t follow him, get out if the car, etc.

        • avatarSD3 says:

          What a retarded thin to claim. How can you possibly claim to know that? So I guess if GZ had never lived in that neighborhood this never would’t have happened either, would it?

          How about this: If TM hadn’t been a violent little thug & attacked an innocent man legally walking in his own neighborhood, none of this would ever have happened. How’s that for rationalization?

          Every piece of evidence presented by both sides supports GZ’s statements.

        • avatarPat says:

          One could make the same argument that if TM didn’t go get Skittles, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attack Zimmerman…

          Both statements are 100% correct, though mine isn’t as “catchy” and doesn’t elicit the emotional response that yours does.

          As much as you may prefer it be, “inserting yourself into a situation” is not a crime. There is no evidence to suggest that Zimmerman instigated the altercation. The fact that you would find him guilty of a crime that wasn’t committed is appalling…

        • avatarSertorius says:

          Huh?

          You are saying that if Zimmerman followed Martin, Martin attacked Zimmerman and beat him to death, that Martin could successfully claim self defense?

          No. Self-defense has to be based on a reasonable fear of great bodily injury. Even if Martin, for some weird reason, was afraid Zimmerman would kill him, that would not be a reasonable fear.

          Newspaper reporters, private investigators, police, security guards and others routinely follow people. The people being followed don’t get to beat them up and then claim self defense.

        • avatarthe last Marine out says:

          Watching the case on TV it has never been proven that GZ followed or attacked Martin, In fact one man said how he came out and clearly saw Martin on top of George beating him , at that point he ran inside to call 911, and as for 911 it’s the biggest joke of all time.. You need to turn in your guns and 911 will take care of you … BOY no wonder this country is LOST!

      • avatartdiinva says:

        Did you bother to actually listen/read to the testimony? Here is the sequence of events as presented in the trial.

        Zimmerman sees a suspicious person. He gets out of his truck and follows. Then he calls the non emergency number and the dispatcher advises (not orders) him that he doesn’t need to do that. At that point Zimmerman turns around to return to his vehicle and meet the police. Martin appears as Zimmerman is returning to his truck. That’s when the altercation happened. So you statement that ” He’s responsible for inserting himself in that situation even after 911 told him not to follow TM.” is a product of the media imagination and not the facts as presented at trial.

    • avatarSertorius says:

      “Inserting himself” into a situation is lawful, and following someone is lawful. Even saying something like “Why are you in this neighborhood, I don’t recognize you” is lawful. Continuing to follow someone after a 9-1-1 dispatcher tells you you don’t have to is lawful.

      None of these hypotheticals change anything legally. You don’t get to start beating up someone for following you or asking you what you are up to.

      If Zimmerman started the fight, then under most circumstances he has lost the right to defend himself. But there is no evidence of this at all.

      • avatarBruce says:

        Actually, I don’t think there is any evidence of who started the fight. No one reported seeing the start of the fight, only seeing it after the fight had started. So we are to assume Martin is guilty because he was winning the fight?

        • avatarMister Fleas says:

          If there was any evidence that Zimmerman started the fight, then where are the bruises, lacerations, etc. on Martin?

    • avatarHimself says:

      911 didn’t “tell him not to follow.” The 911 operator–not a law enforcement agent, by the way, and in no way in a position of authority–said simply “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman was a Neighborhood Watch captain, and he did what he was supposed to do: he followed. Not chased, followed. Martin jumped him, threw him to the ground, straddled him, and pounded his head on the pavement. Zimmerman shot him. Martin got what he deserved, and Zimmerman should have been given a medal for bravery.

    • avatarSteven02 says:

      A 911 operator has no legal standing to order anyone to do anything. It is ok for anyone to investigate suspicious (or what they think is suspicious) activity. If I remember correctly, George Zimmerman says he lost sight of Martin and was going back to his truck.
      If George Zimmerman started the fight, you might have something to go off of. But, we don’t know who started the fight. Zimmerman claims it was Martin. The dead can’t speak.
      Say it happened just like Zimmerman said it did. Say Martin started the fight and was beating on him. Say he was yelling for help. Say he feared for his life and killed him. If that is the case, manslaughter is not appropriate, not guilty should be the verdict based upon self defense.
      What the prosecution has to be able to do is prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t self defense. From my understanding, they have proved anything to say it didn’t happen like Zimmerman said it happened and they haven’t proved that Zimmerman threw the first punch.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      Tim,

      With your dubious understanding of the law, you’d make a very good juror in LA.

  25. avatarBill says:

    Does anyone remember that the police told him NOT to follow the kid? He killed someone and it didn’t need to happen. He is guilty. If he and the kid met in that spot with no previous interaction, that’s a different story.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      “Does anyone remember that the police told him NOT to follow the kid?”

      No they don’t, Bill, and for good reason. Because the only place that ever happened was in your imagination. The 911 dispatcher even testified to the fact that they were not giving him an order.

    • avatarSertorius says:

      This is 100% not the law of Florida or any other state.

      If Martin was attacked/punched Zimmerman, and Zimmerman was afraid of serious injury, he may use deadly force to defend himself. The exception is if Zimmerman legally provoked Martin – which means he started the fight or made threats or something. Lawful activities like following someone are absolutely NOT legal provocation.

    • avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

      Bill,
      The police didn’t tell GZ anything. The 911 operator is not a police officer and has no authority to give orders to anyone. When the 911 operator figured out GZ was on foot trying to locate TM, the operator said “we don’t need you to do that”. That is not a clear order and yet GZ complied and was returning to his vehicle. GZ was attacked and successfully defended his life. Not guilty.

  26. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    “Even if you do not like the laws that must be applied, you must use them. For two centuries we have lived by the Constitution and the law. No juror has the right to violate rules we all share.”

    Yeah Judge about that, you’re forgetting that the jury has a duty to not only judge the facts of the case, but the justness of the law and whether it’s being applied in a just manner. The jury has the power to decide even though Judges try to convince them otherwise.

    • avatarPwrserge says:

      That’s actually an inappropriate instruction. Common law precedent most certainly states that the jury can nullify.

    • avataruncommon_sense says:

      Excellent. I posted a comment below stating your comment with different words. (I had not read all the comments yet.)

      This is something that all citizens in the U.S. need to know.

      • avatarUncle Lar says:

        You will never ever hear a judge or prosecutor mention to a jury their constitutional right of nullification. They all hate it that a jury has more power than they have and do their best to sweep it under the rug.

  27. avatarDoc Brown says:

    Remember the cops in Los Angeles. They went to trial twice I believe before they went to prison for the color of their skin. How many trials will George have before he is locked up for the color of his skin?
    So who is committing the hate crime here?

    • avatartdiinva says:

      The Feds cannot bring a civil rights charge against Zimmerman because the FBI cleared him of racial animus. I suppose they could go back and change their minds but I wouldn’t be the Assistant US Attorney trying that case with reasonable doubt already established.

  28. avatarGw says:

    Admittedly borrowing on vague recall and certainly open to correction as always, the State of Florida passed the protection of persons and property laws in part, as a response to known cases in which individuals were clearly and righteously acting in self defense, but were nevertheless convicted on manslaughter charges based solely on strict interpretations of the laws as they existed.
    Ancillary to this, the latter part of the laws were instituted to stop members of the legal community — rallying to their mantra that ‘every shooting is legally actionable’– from further disrupting people’s lives and clogging up the court system in their hunt for extorting blood money from anyone and everyone they could find to file a civil suit against. ( Including but not limited to the defending party and their homeowner’s or business owner’s insurance companies. )

  29. avatarChris Mallory says:

    I didn’t see the most important charge to the Jury.

    “Being free and sovereign citizens, you the members of the Jury have the natural right to judge the law in addition to judging the facts of the case.”

    This charge should be given to every jury.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      And following that instruction is the *only* way they can legitimately convict GZ of anything.

      • avatarthe last Marine out says:

        If G.Z. goes to jail he is a DEAD MAN, and stand your ground will be in the dust pan of history, Riots, that’s nothing , YOUR life will be worth nothing and LIBERTY too will be history. Either way this country has had it!

        • avatarSD3 says:

          You’re exactly right. Our government setenced him to death the very day they brought these charges.

          His only realistic option for a life is to change his name & leave the country premanently.

        • avatarDarren says:

          If Zimmerman had asked for a SYG hearing prior to the trial, then SYG might have some bearing on this case. As Zimmerman did not, SYG is not at issue here. SYG is an affirmative defense to prosecution that you can claim in Florida if a judge assesses the evidence and finds a SYG claim reasonable.

          Again — SYG is not at issue here. GZ did not put forth a claim that the SYG law exempted him from prosecution. GZ bypassed that to simply say that he was not guilty because his gun was fired in self-defense. Self-defense has been a justification for use of deadly force for centuries, SYG is about a half-decade old in Florida.

        • avatarAdam says:

          He can always move to to the NorthWest. Idaho, Montana, etc. Murk Fuhrman moved here after the OJ debacle and nobody cared about the BS he put under.

          GZ is more then welcome to come out this way and he will most likely be well received.

  30. avatarDarren says:

    Question to Matt in FL,

    GZ waived his SYG hearing initially, in which if he was successful he would have gained criminal and civil immunity. I understand that it is probably easier to beat the State’s case on Murder 2 and it’s not good to go into the courtroom having lost a SYG hearing (cf Monica Alexander, though that case has a lot of other issues). At this point the defense has done an admirable job, and I believe GZ will not be convicted of Murder 2 but may get hung on Manslaughter. Shouldn’t, but may.

    Assuming he is found not guilty of all charges, can he ask for a SYG hearing at that point and potentially gain civil immunity as well?

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      My understanding (I am NOT a lawyer, I just read a lot) is that if he is acquitted, he gains civil immunity. It is my understanding that a separate hearing is not necessary.

      • avatarSD3 says:

        I don’t see how that can be true. OJ was acquitted and still had a successful civil suit brought against him.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I was under the impression that the disparity was because this is Florida, and our laws are slightly different here.

      • avatarSertorius says:

        This is not correct. All an acquittal means is that there was, at least, reasonable doubt. That is not the same thing as a jury determination that Zimmerman was acting in lawful self-defense.

        If Zimmerman is later sued, he can raise the “Stand Your Ground” immunity as a defense in that lawsuit. If the court rules he falls within the law’s protections, the plaintiff (the person who brought the lawsuit) will have to pay his attorneys’ fees and all his expenses (like lost time from work, etc).

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I would appreciate it if you could supply some evidence of that, specific to Florida. The reason I said “my understanding” is that I don’t have any evidence to back it up, but I was told that by an attorney who I have never known to offer an opinion he wasn’t sure of. I’m willing to accept being wrong, but I’d like to have something to point to.

        • avatarSertorius says:

          All I can say is here is the text of the immunity provision in the stand your ground law, and it makes no mention of an acquittal precluding a later civil suit. That would be bizarre, as the standards of proof are different.

          776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—
          (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
          (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
          (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

      • avatarJeffR says:

        It varies by state. I read somewhere that Florida’s stand your ground law included a provision that an acquittal in a criminal trial creates civil immunity. What happened in the OJ trial in California has no bearing on this. Has anyone actually looked this up?

      • avatarJeffR says:

        I think I found the relevant provision of the SYG law. Since the jury is not determining whether the SYG defense applies, I doubt this provision would apply. That said, there could be a separate provision of Florida law that could provide civil immunity that has nothing to do with the SYG law.

        776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

        (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

        • avatarSertorius says:

          This is correct. It goes back to the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof. If Zimmerman is found not guilty, all that verdict means conclusively is the jury decided “We cannot say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Stand Your Ground/lawful self defense did not apply in this case.”

          That is a very different conclusion from saying it did apply.

  31. avatarRalph says:

    The trial has been fair and the jury instructions are fair. That’s what the law really requires.

    FWIW, I don’t think that the jury will need to consider self-defense on the murder count, since the state never proved the basic elements of depraved murder in the first place. Where’s the hate? Where’s the spite? Where’s the depravity? I don’t see any of that. Does a hateful man call 911 first? Does he walk into a dark area with his pistol holstered? It’s all bullsh1t.

    The manslaughter count is a much closer case. The state has proven the basic elements of manslaughter and the jury will need to decide whether the shooting was justified or excusable.

    Let’s just keep in mind that Zimmerman’s fate is being decided by six people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty, okay? I have no idea how they will decide the case.

    • avatarSD3 says:

      Take a look at that jury. Are those your ‘peers’, sir?

      • avatarwebpawn says:

        Knock, knock…..

      • avatarRalph says:

        @SD3, we can’t actually see the jurors, so I can’t look at them.

        As to being my peers, that means that they are of legal age, chosen from the public at large, impartial based on the voir dire and not barred from jury service for any reason. If Zimmerman is convicted, maybe he’ll appeal based on a conviction by an all-female jury that bears no relationship to the public at large.

        Zimmerman’s counsel retained Robert Hirschhorn to be the jury consultant for this case. Hirschhorn is reputedly top notch, so I think that O’Mara is happy with this jury. For now.

        • avatarJake says:

          “impartial based on the voir dire”

          in theory yes yes but in practice in my experience it is the opposite. Either the lawyers want partiality or they want people who have just enough brain cells to pump blood accurately to the brain without shooting it out the ears by accident, people who can be easily steered and thus not impartial.

          Guaranteed at least one will be a coin flipper too. Had one of those in a jury I was on, dude almost took some amateur flying lessons.

        • avatarRalph says:

          @Jake, unfortunately, the voir dire is all we have until technology advances to the point where jurors can be hooked up to an infallible lie detector. Until then, the lawyers are fallible lie detectors, and in high profile cases (like this one) they get help from jury consultants.

          I served on two juries before I joined the bar. I didn’t see a lot of bias among my fellow jurors, but what I did see is that everyone wanted to get things over with as quickly as possible. And we weren’t sequestered like the Zimmerman jury. Those six ladies haven’t been home in three weeks.

        • avatarDonS says:

          until technology advances to the point where jurors can be hooked up to an infallible lie detector
          At that point, the criminal justice system needs neither jurors, lawyers, judges, nor courtrooms. Just connect the accused to the machine and get the infallible verdict in a squad car.

      • avatarDirk Diggler says:

        are any of them hot enough that I wouldn’t mind having been sequesterd with them . . . ?

        • avatarRalph says:

          Double D, we can’t see the jury, but I’m fairly certain that Selma Mora, a witness, would get your attention.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          Ms. Mora damn sure got my attention. The fingerprint examiner, Kristen something, was quite cute, too, and I was disappointed when she was only on the stand for 10-15 minutes.

      • avatartdiinva says:

        I have read that two of the jurors have concealed handgun licenses. Alternatively they have bee just described as gun owners. If they do indeed have a CHL, those are very jurors I would want deciding this case if I were the defense. Would you rather have six Hispanic anti-gunners or or an all female juror that included gun owners?

    • avatarMark N. says:

      I fully agree. My wife turned on the rebuttal this morning, and was “shocked, shocked I tell you” when the prosecutor argued that George exited his vehicle “with hate in his heart.” I just don’t buy that. I haven’t heard of any evidence that supports it, and there is a substantial amount of evidence that disestablishes that claim. This is why the second degree charge will fail.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      I didn’t find the inclusion of Manslaughter surprising. What amazed me was how different in wording the FL jury instructions are from the statutory definition of justifiable homicide. I was also amazed that the defense never made the argument outright concerning “renewal of the right to self-defnse” for which there is explicit statutory provision. I would not be surprised if the jury is confused on the issue, and ends up believing that the ‘following’ bit prevents the self-defense assertion from being valid. I realize it was a strategic decision to avoid seeming to admit, possibly, that GZ somehow started the physical altercation. I’m still amazed that this defensive provision was ignored. Once the defense realized that SYG was not the appropriate claim and that there was ambiguity as to which man was the ‘provoker’ I would think asserting the “renewal of self-defense rights” provision and applicability would be essential. I’ll wait for the post-game analysis by local experts hoping this decision is elucidated.

  32. avataruncommon_sense says:

    “Even if you do not like the laws that must be applied, you must use them. For two centuries we have lived by the Constitution and the law. No juror has the right to violate rules we all share.”

    Incorrect. The jurors’ ONLY duty is to serve justice. That is why we have juries of our peers. Juries are the LAST stopgap measure to counteract a government gone wrong. When our legislatures, governors/presidents, and courts have all failed us, juries of our peers are all that is left to ensure that we have real justice.

    • avatarCraig says:

      Juries, or judges in bench trials, do not serve anything. They’re the fact finder, sometimes said “finder of fact.” Its in every pre-law and law textbook that deals with criminal justice.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      No, it is dead bang right on and legally correct. The jury does not get to decide what the law is or what the law should be–those laws were enacted through the legislative process and vetted through hundreds of cases over the years. The judge tells the jury what the laws is, and it is their SWORN duty to apply the law to the facts as they find them. The jury serves “justice” by ascertaining the “true” facts out of all the conflicting evidence presented to them It is not for the jury to decide what is first degree murder or second degree murder–those are legal elements of a crime. The jury functions to determine if those elements are proved (in a criminal case) beyond a reasonable doubt. Juries determine facts, not law.

  33. avatarBrooklyn in da house says:

    I have not heard or seen any evidence to prove this was not self defense. The prosecutor is closing as i write this and asking the jury to use common sense. I thought they were supposed to use the law, facts and evidence to make a decision. He actually just said “TM lost the fight and thats a fact”. This is a joke.

  34. avatarTommy Knocker says:

    I’ve made up my mind on this case. It doesn’t really matter what I think to anyone other than myself. But…

    In these highly publicized cases I always remember the quote from F. Lee Bailey. When asked where he would like to try a murder case as defense attorney, he thought for a moment than responded: “In Texas, where you can convince a jury that the deceased needed killin”.

  35. avatarGreg M says:

    “The police are not your friend” needs to be amended to “The police and the courts are not your friend”

    • avatartdiinva says:

      In this case I think the police have been Zimmerman’s friend. They all provided testimony that supported the defense.

      • avatarRalph says:

        I agree. Neither the former lead investigator nor his female second seemed to have anything bad to say about Zimmerman. By and large, their testimony was helpful to the defense.

      • avatarUncle Lar says:

        As opposed to the Justice Department which as far as I can tell caused this trial to happen and has done everything in its power to railroad a Zimmerman conviction.
        Local cops gave him a pass, as did the local prosecutor. State of Florida had to appoint a special prosecutor to even begin a case, I suspect with the strong encouragement of Justice.
        Sanford police chief got fired, investigating officer got demoted, and I see that now that a prosecution employee has also been fired for testifying under oath that an attempt was made by the prosecution to hide exculpatory evidence.
        All moot at this point as six very brave ladies did the right thing and made their decision based on the facts rather than public opinion.

  36. avatarCraig says:

    I don’t like George Zimmerman because he’s fat. There, I said it and I feel better.

  37. avatarOut_Fang_Thief says:

    Geez, are they going to take a recess in reading the jury instructions?
    I read nearly all of that, and right now feel like I need to take a nap.
    When did jury instructions become longer than closing arguments?

  38. avatarJake says:

    Take that last paragraph of lies and shove it in your mangy sandbox, judge.

  39. avatarthe last Marine out says:

    Anyone who wants real good back ground information on what is taking place in America right now needs to read the book, “GRAVE INFLUENCE ” by Brannon Howse packed with facts and information on 21 different radicals and their Worldviews… First the light bulb will come on about our schools and what is wrong and will have changed the ways that you viewed things & have told (educated)… Our whole way of life is under attack… Read the book get some real facts the truth is out there but it not freely told…

  40. avatarKirk says:

    NOW WE KNOW: Judge Debra Nelson grilled Geo. Zimmerman the other day because she was interested in preparing these Jury Instructions, which include specifics about defendant testimony.

    As such, Judge Nelson put her personal interests as a judge under extreme scrutiny above the interests of impartial treatment of the defendant.

    She has undoubtedly committed reversible errors, the most egregious of which is not ruling for a Directed Verdict.

    https://guardamerican.com/index.php/blog/146-crime-punishment/911-zimmerman-why-judge-nelson-grilled-defendant

  41. avatarensitue says:

    GZ is unfortunately a pawn on the stage where the last act of Free America is playing out. I strongly recommend The Gestapo (by Larue) page 30-38 reads like recent history, specifically The Patriot Act. It took Hitler a decade to achieve power but once he had it he put a Police State in control of Germany and accomplished his coup, seized retirement accounts, instituted his Concentration Camp program in 5 months

    • avatarSD3 says:

      Agreed. Yet this situation reminds me that most historic “sparks” that forever altered world history were not recognized as such at the time. Like the one 99 years and 2 weeks ago.

  42. avatarS.CROCK says:

    can the prosecution be called out on double jeopardy? they tried to slap him with 2nd degree murder, now they are trying to charge him with different charges but for the same incident.

  43. avatarShawnK says:

    I was on a jury with similar sentencing about a month ago. My fellow jurror made up a fairly good cross section of the public ranging from bat shit crazy to refined lounging scholars. It was unbelievable how quickly people latched on to emotions and simply picked facts to fit their prerogatives. Hell, they even grew so worked up they all prepared to march out with a decision based simply on the palatable attitude in the room. It was a constant struggle to give a voice to the meeker members of the group, while at the same time fending off the blood lust of the more vocal members by slamming them with a law book in the face. Of a twelve member jury only an elderly gentleman ( who was beyond the age of emotional insanity) and me (with my autistic brain) were keep our promises of impartiality and accordance with the law. If I ever find myself in the same situation I hope someone will put a bullet through my brain and save the savage legal system the trouble.

  44. avatarDavid says:

    Two words: Jury Nullification. The jury has the ability to not only judge the accused but the ability to judge the law. Always have been able and ,hopefully, always will.

  45. avatarMaltwit says:

    “I’m not a lawyer, I just play one on my couch.”

    Against Zimmerman’s lawyers’ objection, Nelson demanded that GZ answer her questions whether he would take the stand and testify.

    Wouldn’t that, in itself, be a reason for appeal (if it becomes necessary) since it violated his Miranda rights: i.e. “… the right to remain silent”?

    • avatarSertorius says:

      No. Technically, although colloquially people say the “right to remain silent”, the actual 5th amendment right is the right to avoid self-incrimination. Answering a judge’s quetion abiut testifying or note outside the presence of the jury, could not possibly incriminate someone.

      This is standard practice where I live. Because the decision to testify or not is so important, the judge wants to get the defendant himself on the record explaining his choice to make sure he understands. It prevents later legal wrangling about whether the defendant got bad advice from his lawyer.

  46. avatarBlindKyle says:

    Sucks to be GZ. When the option of a lesser charge became available, it went from, “you might walk” to “you are definitely going to prison for SOMETHING.”

    • avatarDonS says:

      “When the option of a lesser charge became available”

      Which was at the exact same instant he was charged with second-degree murder.

  47. avatarCrunkleross says:

    The whole question of self defense goes away with one substitution. If Zimmerman was female would anyone question what she did? None or very few of the far out there folks who don’t believe in self defense at all.

    If the owner of the Gym is correct, and he rated GZ as a .5 out of 10 on the fit to fight scale, I submit he’s less fit than many women to defend himself. My SO figures she could whip his ass in short order, I think she could. So the question is just because he is male why would anyone assume he could even hold his own against a young black man who sounds like he is at least is a wanna be banger?

    I believe this trial is very important to the concealed carry issue, I think it could have huge repercussions especially if it goes against GZ. The cornerstone of self defense is what , you at that time believe is happening, not what other people think from the comfort of their chairs and all the time in the world and facts you won’t have to contemplate.

  48. avatarRich says:

    They have to convict George Z because he killed the Presidents son. I am sure by now the jury has been compromised with money or threats. You know, just like Stymie caused Justice Roberts to change his vote on health care. Probabl had pictures of Roberts child porn from his home computor.

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