DoJ sending trial balloon about demurring on Zimmerman?

posted at 10:41 am on July 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the White House tried to assure angry supporters of the Trayvon Martin family that the investigation would continue.  Eric Holder yesterday told a luncheon that “I share your concern” over the “tragic, unnecessary shooting death,” while members of Congress pushed the Department of Justice to take some kind of action to address the situation.  Today, though, the Washington Post hears from sources within the DoJ that federal action is all but impossible:

Current and former Justice Department officials said Monday that bringing civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old in Florida, would be extremely difficult and may not be possible.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. vowed to continue a federal investigation of the matter, but other officials said in interviews that the government may not be able to charge Zimmerman with a federal hate crime because it’s not clear that he killed Martin because of his race.

The weakness of the evidence compounds the political problems facing President Obama and Holder, who are under mounting pressure from many liberal and African American groups to bring a federal case against Zimmerman after a Florida jury acquitted him Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Actually, it’s more clear that race was not a motivating factor.  The FBI determined that already in its report, picked up by The Smoking Gun and published over the weekend. One of the jurors in the case emphasized that last night in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN:

The six-member jury that acquitted George Zimmerman did not believe race played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the first juror to speak publicly about the trial said Monday night.

The juror, identified only as Juror B37, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she and the other jurors believed the screaming voice captured on a 911 recording belonged to Zimmerman, and lent little credibility to a key witness who spoke to Trayvon on the phone before he died. …

So far, however, the FBI has found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting. Agents investigating the case last July determined that Zimmerman had not expressed racial animus at any time before the confrontation with Trayvon in a Sanford housing complex.

That eliminates the hate-crime lever for federal intervention in the case.  The jury and the DoJ’s own investigation both concluded that Zimmerman didn’t have the kind of animus required by those statutes, and a further prosecution would not only yield the same reasonable-doubt acquittal — especially after introducing the exact same weak case that the state of Florida had — but also will create even more political damage from its failure.

Generally speaking, anonymous sources from any administration that appear in the Post or the New York Times fall into two categories: whistleblowers and launchers of trial balloons.  The latter get sent out to their contacts in the media to release sensitive information on the administration’s terms.  That seems to be the purpose of this leak, too.  After stoking expectations for forty-eight hours of some kind of meaningful action by the administration, the DoJ appears to be casting a healthy dash of cold water on those prospects.

Bloomberg’s editorial board expresses indignation over the result of the trial, but warns the DoJ to back off:

Now that a Florida jury has acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the U.S. Department of Justice has resumed its inquiry into whether Martin was the victim of a hate crime. The investigation may be necessary and even worthwhile. The answer to the question of whether Zimmerman should be retried in federal court, however, is clear: No.

The Justice Department’s civil-rights investigation, which was put on hold while Zimmerman’s criminal trial was under way, could theoretically uncover new information. And a federal case against Zimmerman might provide a brief catharsis for millions of Americans outraged that an unarmed teen was shot dead, without any criminal penalty imposed on the man who pulled the trigger.

But outrage is not a legal strategy, and catharsis is not something the justice system is especially well-equipped to provide. Pursuing a federal case would ultimately prove both unproductive and unwise.

The DoJ has already conducted an investigation into those issues and come up empty. As Zimmerman was not acting as an agent of the state, there is a good argument that the DoJ doesn’t have a role in this kind of case in the first place, especially after the state has prosecuted for the core act and lost. It’s time to take this advice and end the discussion.

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Comment pages: 1 2

Trayvon is this generations Emmitt Till.

libfreeordie on July 16, 2013 at 9:58 AM

That is a gross and offensive insult to Till and all the others that truly worked for equality in civil rights. The insignificant death of a tatted up street thug when he was stupid enough to assault a fellow citizen falls way short of the mark of civil rights hero.

Happy Nomad on July 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Not to liveasaslaveanddie.

He just loves him some rough trade.

It’s a civil right.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 2:04 PM

With Eric Holder in charge of something an adult should be in charge of, anything can happen.

Like giving matches and gasoline to a toddler.

NoDonkey on July 16, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Can’t fix the stupid…especially when they cling to the stupid.

workingclass artist on July 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

aka the willfully stupid and the willfully ignorant

petefrt on July 16, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Holder is the classic case of a firebug who starts a fire and then eagerly volunteers to help put it out.

I believe any threats of a civil rights trial are mere posturing for the true believers. Succinctly there is no there there in the proof department but, quite frankly, I would love to see these these racist fools pursue a no-win policy that will only fan flames and hurt Democratic candidates.

Things I learned from the trial:

1 Rachel Jeantel will never be nominated to be the president of Stanford University.She’s one step up from a turnip in the IQ department.
2 USA is the only country in history where a 70% white population elected a black president (twice) and the only thanks they get for it is to be called “creepy ass crackers” and “racists” to boot.
3 Apparently the only useful purpose a white can perform is to provide his body for an unmerciful beating every time a black becomes outraged or frustrated or is interrupted while casing the neighborhood before performing a burglary.
4 Blacks got it wrong twice with Zimmerman. a. He is Hispanic not white. b. He was the victim not the attacker.
5 Whenever a case goes against black wishes there is invariably violence and mayhem. When something goes against white wishes there is no violence at all.

MaiDee on July 16, 2013 at 2:11 PM

So, to sum up:

– the Sanford police were essentially pulled off the case because they could find enough evidence to arrest and convict Zimmerman
– the FBI couldn’t find enough evidence to commence a civil rights case against Zimmerman
– the jury heard all the prosecution evidence and found Zimmerman acted with his rights under FL law

But the politically motivated arms of government aren’t satisfied;
– the Sanford Chief of Police was fired because he refused the City Manager’s demand that Zimmerman be arrested despite the lack of evidence
– they removed the county DA and replaced him with a special state prosecutor
– the race mongering US Attorney General is calling for further investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman because he didn’t like the outcome of the trial

Ah, justice in the modern era.

Expect Zimmerman to be prosecuted for not maintaining the proper air pressure in his car’s tires – anything… this is scary new territory in an already unsettling period when the application of the law depends on who you are and what your skin color is (white) or what political leanings you have.

in_awe on July 16, 2013 at 2:15 PM

African-Americans understand that there is a higher justice than the old-fashioned rule of law kind and will come out with a correct verdict accordingly, just as they did in the O.J. Simpson case.

Burke on July 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM

But only for blacks…right?

The law is the law.

If you want a “higher law”…go to church.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Well, Trayvon Martin didn’t get a jury of his peers, says Jesse Jackson. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Fenris on July 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM

The defendant is tried before a jury of the victim’s peers?

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on July 16, 2013 at 1:43 PM

This sort of slick sophistry is effective, though, because there are two few with the analytic thinking skills needed to sort wheat from chaff. Blame our schools for that, since they have more important jobs than to teach kids critical thinking, apparently. And the LSM doesn’t help with this task either, of course. In a similar way, McCain was effective in using the militarized Berlin Wall as an image for our southern border despite the absurdity of the comparison.

Burke on July 16, 2013 at 2:29 PM

And Creepy Azz Cracker is a Skittles flavor, haters. The White Skittle.

LetsBfrank on July 16, 2013 at 12:47 PM

But it can only be ordered in Spanish……or ebonics.

Solaratov on July 16, 2013 at 2:32 PM

This is what children in Madison have been taught:

“Martin died and Zimmerman walked because our entire political and legal foundations were built on an ideology of settler colonialism — an ideology in which the protection of white property rights was always sacrosanct; predators and threats to those privileges were almost always black, brown, and red; and where the very purpose of police power was to discipline, monitor, and contain populations rendered a threat to white property and privilege.”

My stupid little niece “likes” this.

Fallon on July 16, 2013 at 3:04 PM

TerryW on July 16, 2013 at 12:47 PM

You’ve hit the nail on its head. Plus, the effect it will have in further destroying this nation.

avagreen on July 16, 2013 at 3:26 PM

my O my …… we must be very close to the point of no return……where the clusterfaulk of the state…. is worried about dumping on a half white hispanic ……

the total loss of any credibility in 3…2…..


donabernathy on July 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

my O my …… we must be very close to the point of no return……where the clusterfaulk of the state…. is worried about dumping on a half white hispanic ……

the total loss of any credibility in 3…2…..


donabernathy on July 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Two things that scare me since this case is:

1) There’s a big segment of the population (possibly a majority) that don’t care about facts or the truth and who will either do nothing to find said truth or in some cases blatantly throw it out.
2) Said segment of the population is comfortable with the possibility of destroying people’s lives to get what they want.

It’s only a matter of time until someone from this segment of the population kills someone out of some misplaced sense of revenge or ‘social justice’… then gets killed off in retaliation by someone else out of actual revenge.

Then the civil war will begin… and the burning times will commence.

Chaz706 on July 18, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Comment pages: 1 2