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A Trayvon-Zimmerman Miscellany

I’ll use this post to list interesting things about the Zimmerman-TrayvonMartin case as they come up, so it will grow over time.

July 20a. Some people say that the standard should be reduced from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence” or something. Wikipedia has a nice Legal Burden of Proof article with:

2.1.1 Reasonable suspicion
2.1.2 Reasonable to believe
2.1.3 Probable cause for arrest
2.1.4 Some credible evidence
2.1.5 Substantial evidence
2.1.6 Preponderance of the evidence
2.1.7 Clear and convincing evidence
2.1.8 Beyond reasonable doubt

Maybe relaxing the burden is a good idea. The usual argument is that if someone is killed, he can’t testify, so we should make up for the loss of victim evidence by reducing the burden of proof, perhaps to “clear and convincing evidence.”

I sort of like that idea, but if we do it for self-defense killings, it makes just as much sense to do it for all other kinds of cases where the victim can’t testify. Start off with murder in general. The victim can never testify, so maybe we should reduce the prosecutor’s burden of proof. There are a lot more murder cases than self-defense cases, so the idea would be a lot more important in this context. Next, think about other offenses where the victim is not available as a witness. Car theft. Burglary (usually— we could differentiate and just reduce the burden for burglaries without anyone in the house). All victimless crimes, unless a government agent is participating in a faked crime, e.g. drug buys, prostitution buys, gun buys. Anything else? Would this be a good idea?

July 20b. The Faculty Lounge has a good listing of Zimmerman’s previous telephone calls to police, with commentary.

July 20c. A Florida newspaper had a good article on race and the stand-your-ground law in Florida. It’s most often and most successfully invoked by black people.

July 20d. I would have liked to have seen more discussion of the possibility that Martin was on more drugs at the time than just the marijuana that the autopsy found. In particular, is there anything to the possibility that he was buying Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea watermelon drink to mix with codeine or other medicines to make “lean” or “purple drang.” Apparently it’s common for people to mix codeine with a sweet drink with candies crushed up in it for extra flavoring, and Martin’s text messages did talk about “lean”. But is that drink common in Florida, is it ever made from those exact ingredients, etc? See here for a starting point.

zim
20e. The Daily Mail talks about Zimmerman’s great-grandfather from Peru. Certainly under segregation law in Virginia, where Zimmerman grew up, he would have had to go to the colored school and his parents would have gone to prison for miscegenation. Interestingly, in Virginia a marriage between a black and a white was perfectly valid— but it was also a felony, so man and wife would both go to prison for at least a year for being married to each other.

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  1. July 25th, 2013 at 09:03 | #1

    Another item. I have been looking to see if any law professors are willing to say that they think Zimmerman should have been convicted; i.e., that beyond a reasonable doubt he was not engaged in self defense. I thought I’d found one, but now I see that she’s just calling the result “unfair”, so maybe she just wants to change the law to make it easier to convict someone of murder. See
    http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2013/07/margaret-burnham/

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