I still think it’s 90 percent probable that no federal charges will be filed, but I’ll grant you a 10 percent chance that he brings a case in the full expectation that Zimmerman will be acquitted. That was basically what Corey and the Florida prosecutors did. The first duty of the prosecutor is to cover his/her own ass politically. If charges are filed and the jury acquits, hey — at least they gave it the ol’ college try.
Key words here from the Moses of our time: “Unnecessary shooting death.” Is that what the Florida jury found? The confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman was unnecessary, but if you’re letting a guy off on using lethal force in self-defense, by definition you’ve endorsed his view that the shooting was necessary, no?
Of course, as this celebration unfolds, we are also mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida last year – and the state trial that reached its conclusion over the weekend. As parents, as engaged citizens, and as leaders who stand vigilant against violence in communities across the country, the Deltas are deeply, and rightly, concerned about this case. The Justice Department shares your concern – I share your concern – and, as we first acknowledged last spring, we have opened an investigation into the matter.
Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally-charged issues that this case has raised. We must not – as we have too often in the past – let this opportunity pass. I hope that we will approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon’s parents, have demonstrated throughout the last year – and especially over the past few days. They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure – and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive. Even as we embrace their example and hold them in our prayers, we must not forego this opportunity to better understand one another and to make better this nation we cherish.
Moreover, I want to assure you that the Department will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We are committed to standing with the people of Sanford, with the individuals and families affected by this incident, and with our state and local partners in order to alleviate tensions, address community concerns, and promote healing. We are determined to meet division and confusion with understanding and compassion – and also with truth. We are resolved, as you are, to combat violence involving or directed at young people, to prevent future tragedies and to deal with the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the basis for these too common incidents. And we will never stop working to ensure that – in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community – justice must be done.
“Independent of the legal determination that will be made” sounds to me like he’s preparing people for a letdown. With good reason:
[Some] experts said it would be legally inconsistent for the Justice Department to consider filing criminal charges against Zimmerman under the federal Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. Generally, that law prohibits someone from “willfully causing bodily injury” to another person because of his race, color, religion or national origin.
“If the state jury had been persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman caused bodily harm to Trayvon Martin because of Martin’s race, it would have almost certainly convicted Zimmerman of second-degree murder, which requires proof of ‘ill-will’ or ‘malice,’” said Scott Srebnick, a prominent federal criminal defense attorney in Miami. “So, to bring a federal civil-rights prosecution against Zimmerman, the attorney general would essentially be second-guessing the state jury’s verdict as opposed to vindicating a different or broader federal interest.”
It’s not just the jury’s determination that Zimmerman didn’t act with ill will. It’s the FBI’s determination too, as Ed noted this morning. This is why I think Holder will eventually back off, after a few months have passed and this has fallen off the left’s radar: Waiting to prosecute him after the state verdict, with the DOJ’s own police force having found little to support a civil-rights case, would smell too rancidly political even for Obama and Holder. Why chance it? If they want to mobilize lefties with hot-button racial issues, they’ve got the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision and the amnesty bill to make magic with. We’ll have a better idea of what they’ll do once the first few polls about the verdict come back. If it splits along racial lines, with strong support for Zimmerman among white voters, congressional Democrats in vulnerable jurisdictions will get nervous about a new federal trial and quietly ask O to drop it.
By the way, has any prominent Democrat mentioned the vigilante threats against Zimmerman in passing in their statements about the case? I’m struck by how much of a non-person Zimmerman is in Holder’s statement, even though he’s now been cleared in court, has been smeared relentlessly in the media as a racist contrary to the findings of Holder’s own police force, and both he and his family are living under threat of death. (Obama’s statement yesterday calling for “calm reflection” is as close as we’ve gotten, I think.) I realize he’s the villain in this racial passion play, but he’s a U.S. citizen who committed no crime according to a jury and is being targeted for criminal reprisals daily. Maybe a word or two from “Moses,” however perfunctorily, that Zimmerman’s a human being too and people should respect the process?