Will DoJ pursue charges against Zimmerman?

posted at 8:06 am on July 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In the wake of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the Department of Justice announced that they will continue their existing review of the case to see if civil-rights charges can be brought.  That will prove difficult not only because of the acquittal in the case Saturday night, but because the results of an FBI investigation undercuts any basis for prosecution:

The Justice Department has responded to appeals to probe whether George Zimmerman committed any civil rights violations in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — but previously filed FBI documents are already challenging the narrative that the shooting was racially motivated.

Sanford police detective Chris Serino told FBI agents last year that after examining the case, it appeared Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin because of his “attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”

According to the document, Serino considered Zimmerman as having “a little hero complex, but not as a racist.”

Serino told the FBI that there had been several burglaries in the area, and that gang members in the community “typically dressed in black and wore hoodies.”

“When Zimmerman saw Martin in a hoody, Zimmerman took it upon himself to view Martin as acting suspicious,” Serino said, while describing Zimmerman as “overzealous.” The FBI document was posted on the Smoking Gun website.

The only basis for federal charges would have to rely on a hate-crime charge. Unlike the Rodney King case, where the DoJ pressed charges after a state court acquitted defendants, Zimmerman didn’t act under color of authority.  He acted as a private citizen.  Whether one believes he “profiled” Martin or not is irrelevant, because “profiling” is actionable by the DoJ only when police forces do it.  And in this case, the DoJ’s own investigators concluded that racism didn’t play a significant role in the incident.

Ruth Marcus calls the DoJ’s intervention a mistake:

Another way to understand the divide is through the prism of legal rules, which may serve the broader ends of justice but produce unjust results in the short run. Thus the exclusionary rule for illegally seized evidence, meaning that some criminals go free because the constable has blundered.

Likewise, the law’s requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal convictions presumes tolerance for a certain amount of unjust results. We accept the bargain, inBlackstone’s formulation, that it is “better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”

Zimmerman’s acquittal is not the end of this sad story. Because of the lower burden of proof, a civil lawsuit by Martin’s family would have a better chance of success. A federal prosecution on civil rights charges would be a mistake; the state trial failed to show adequate evidence of racial animus to sustain such a case.

In the end, society must accept that there is not always a perfect fit between a criminal justice system and justice.

The loss of the second-degree murder charge made that abundantly clear.  The prosecution didn’t present enough evidence of such animus during the trial to merit the indictment, let alone the conviction.  That’s one reason that Alan Dershowitz wants Angela Corey disbarred.

The DoJ is likely playing for time.  They’re probably hoping that having the open probe will defuse some of the acute rage and allow for a safety valve, so that rage can give way to reason and rationality.  If not and they’re serious, they’re setting themselves up for a bigger failure than Corey.  That rage will shift direction quickly if that happens, and the DoJ and Obama White House won’t like the results.


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Comment pages: 1 2

It’s all about vote conversion. ALL of it.

AnonymousDrivel on July 15, 2013 at 8:21 AM

Yes, indeed it is.

But DoJ charges, especially after the FBI’s earlier exculpation, would set off a firestorm in Middle America, already annoyed over other scandals, profligate spending, and government overreach. It would GOTV alright, but far more white votes than black. The backfire would be disastrous for Dems in 2014 elections, with defeats at least as massive as 2010.

Middle America is a sleeping giant. Obama pokes it at his own risk.

petefrt on July 15, 2013 at 9:39 AM

YEP!

workingclass artist on July 15, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Never underestimate this bunch of Obama race hustlers! They have the DOJ but if needed the IRS is ready and willing to take out any political opponent! Thy can sweep the whole team of lawyers, witnesses, cops, judges, unfriendly press, politicians, citizens, etc!! BTW, they already have all of our e-mails, calls, bank purchases etc! EPA and Homeland Security will be available if needed!! (Remember that force they unleashed on the residents of Boston!!) Folks, you are just seeing the beginning of the enforcement of the thought police and civil (means Obama and his Low infos)rights!!

Marco on July 15, 2013 at 11:24 AM

They will.

Zimmerman’s acquittal is not the end of this sad story. Because of the lower burden of proof, a civil lawsuit by Martin’s family would have a better chance of success.

That won’t work for them either. They will have to explain why Martin chose to confront Zimmerman and commit acts of violence against a non threatening citizen. Zimmerman was innocently trying to return to his vehicle when that crazed dope smoking pothead thug jumped him and pummeled him to the ground, beating on him “MMA style” and bashing Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk.

Good luck with that.

dogsoldier on July 15, 2013 at 11:28 AM

People forget another thing that will come in during any civil suit – ALL of that negative info about Trayvon is fair game, the drug use, the school incidents, because the evidentiary standards are so much lower. So Trayvon’s parents will have to ask if its really worth dragging Trayvon through the mud again just to try and get a payout from someone who has no money anyways.

Just about everything that was kept out of the criminal trial is fair game in a civil case.

Tom Servo on July 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

People forget another thing that will come in during any civil suit – ALL of that negative info about Trayvon is fair game, the drug use, the school incidents, because the evidentiary standards are so much lower. So Trayvon’s parents will have to ask if its really worth dragging Trayvon through the mud again just to try and get a payout from someone who has no money anyways.

Just about everything that was kept out of the criminal trial is fair game in a civil case.

Tom Servo on July 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Yep. Had to quote your whole comment because it is worth repeating. All the tweets, FB, prior history, drug use etc. will be laid out.

OJ lost the civil suit against him, which was much stronger than any suit against Zimmerman could ever be. But even that suit would not have been brought if OJ didn’t have deep pockets. Zimmerman has nothing.

Missy on July 15, 2013 at 11:52 AM

They’re probably hoping that having the open probe will defuse some of the acute rage and allow for a safety valve, so that rage can give way to reason and rationality.

since dy 1 of the DOJ nvolvement the opposite has been true. the DOJ has done everything to defuse reason and rationality so that acute rage can thrive why would they want it to stop now.

unseen on July 15, 2013 at 12:16 PM

An increasingly feral and rogue government led by a Dog Eating brutha with daddy issues and a Gibraltar-sized chip on his shoulder against whitey? Yeah, I see the entire weight of the feds falling on GZ’s head.

Big Mooch the Grifter will probably schedule that low-class bigot Beyonce for another White House concert so she can sing her new tune “Kill Whitey and Brownie for Tray”.

Bishop on July 15, 2013 at 8:27 AM

You are in rare form this morning :)

preallocated on July 15, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Will DoJ pursue charges against Zimmerman?

Seriously?

Did the man step in to dop charges agianst the New Black Panther members arrested for carrying clubs & intimidating voters at a voting location during the election of 2008?

Did he REFUSE to press charges on the New Black Panthers for breaking Federal law by offering a BOUNTY on George Zimmerman’s life?

You better believe he did…and that he WILL!

easyt65 on July 15, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Rovin at 10:44 AM,

Thanks, Rovin. You are too kind.

Mostly, I’ve been hanging around the morons at AoSHQ. I’ve needed more humor since the Obama administration took over to get through the interminable assaults on the American way.

I hope you’ll make it over there (unless you’re sockpuppeting already) and jump in. It’s raucous but worth it.

AnonymousDrivel on July 15, 2013 at 4:22 PM

While the FBI has shown that there was no racial bias by Zimmerman in the Martin shooting, I’m guessing that the team who fabricated Obama’s birth certificate will have no problems whipping up Zimmerman’s KKK membership card.

The_Basseteer on July 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM

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