Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Thought on the Zimmerman Trial

I have been following the trial of George Zimmerman. I find the prosecution's case to be troubling. They are focusing really hard on the extent of Zimmerman's injuries, when they know that the defense will be making the case of his state of mind at the moment of the terminal fight. He needs to show that he felt that he was in great danger in order to succeed in proving self defense. The prosecution is also making a point of putting forth his law enforcement studies and training.

Implicit in the attempt by the prosecution to frame Zimmerman as "a wannabe cop" is the idea that LE has more leeway to shoot citizens than civilians do. It seems to me that they do not. The big difference is that when a law enforcement officer shoots his weapon, his actions are reviewed and judged by other police. They are qualified to make these judgements. What a civilian shoots his weapon his actions are judged by a political prosecutor and then by a jury of citizens who are entirely unfamiliar with the circumstances of a fight, and exactly how fast things happen in the real world of a dark rainy alley in the middle of the night.

Apparently this jury is about to be asked to judge Zimmerman's state of mind and his subjective feeling about the degree of danger he was in by studying the severity of the resulting injuries he received. It is amazing to me that such testimony is even allowed in. How can the severity of resulting injuries be relevant to Zimmerman's state of mind? What if he had been shot at and the bullet missed? The only thing that is relevant is what he thought was about to happen, not the end result. It is incumbent upon the judge to instruct the jury of this in her charge to them before they begin to deliberate, but it surprises me that she is allowing the prosecution to put these thoughts into the juror's minds in the first place.