I went to bed before the Jury came back with its verdict of not guilty on murder two and acquittal on all lesser charges. My facebook friends are filled with rage over the verdict and are pronouncing it an outrage and evidence of a justice system that is broken. They are ashamed of their country. They are disgusted with their fellow country women and men.
I am not at all surprised by the acquittal. Nor do I think it was a miscarriage of justice. That I am not surprised by the verdict has nothing to do with a belief that the system is flawed or a conviction that six female jurors from a southern state are racist and incapable of delivering justice. It has everything to do with the failure of the state to produce enough evidence to convict. I did not watch the trial proceedings very much, but my wife has the news on all the time and the presented facts of the case got repeated over and over and over again. I was pretty sure that the jury would not be able to find guilt on a murder charge. I thought manslaughter possible but am not surprised that the jury was unable to convict on that charge either. With reasonable doubt as the standard of conviction, the bar was relatively high. I can see how there was not enough evidence to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt. There were no witnesses other than the defendant. And as much as we would like to convict based on our gut instinct about what may or may not have happened and about what the intent of the defendant was, the system would be broken if we did so. Here is an analysis from the New York Times:
But because of Florida’s laws, prosecutors had to persuade jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. A shortage of evidence in the case made that a high hurdle, legal experts said.
Even after three weeks of testimony, the fight between Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman on that rainy night was a muddle, fodder for reasonable doubt. It remained unclear who had started it, who screamed for help, who threw the first punch and at what point Mr. Zimmerman drew his gun. There were no witnesses to the shooting.
NYT – Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Trayvon Martin Killing
I believe there is racism in this country. I believe it possible that racism was a factor in the unfolding of events that led to Trayvon Martin’s death. I believe that George Zimmerman contributed to the circumstances he found himself in through the decisions he made. But I have no idea what happened at the moment of confrontation, which is all this case could have been about in criminal court. I don’t believe the results of this case are a vindication of the defendant but I do believe the system worked as it should have. We will have to find other things wrong to make right, there are plenty of them. But how the justice system operated in this particular case is not one of them in my opinion.