For those who have paid attention to the trial, the acquittal probably comes as little surprise. Will that extend to everyone else in Sanford, in Florida, and around the country? We’ll soon find out (via Worldwide Standard):
(CNN) — The acquittal of George Michael Zimmerman, 29, means he’s a free man and will be able to walk out of the courthouse because he’s no longer in police custody.
He will be free, if he chooses, to leave Seminole County, Florida. But one of his attorneys, Mark O’Mara, has said that Zimmerman is a marked man and lives in fear for his life.
In fact, during court proceedings, Zimmerman didn’t disclose where he had been residing for more than a year, and he dared to venture outdoors only when in disguise. Zimmerman also wore body armor.
Was justice served? The jury had raised eyebrows by asking just a couple of hours earlier for an explanation of the manslaughter charge, so it’s not as if they weren’t open to a conviction. The panel appeared to have taken its duty seriously, and reached the only verdict possible with the evidence presented to it. Clearly the second-degree murder charge was ridiculous on its face, and the prosecution’s decision to overcharge could possibly have undermined its credibility, too.
John Hinderaker says his faith in juries has been vindicated:
As Paul noted a few minutes ago, the jury in the George Zimmerman case, after deliberating for around 12 hours and having carefully considered the evidence and the court’s instructions, returned the correct verdict: not guilty on all counts. This is a tremendous vindication of our jury system. Is it perfect? No. But it is pretty damn good.
I tried my first jury case when I was 24 years old and have tried 100 jury cases since then. My experience has given me a great deal of faith in the common sense and good judgment of jurors. But cases like this one, conducted in the glare of publicity and with massive political pressure brought to bear, from the White House on down, are necessarily unpredictable. So let’s congratulate the six citizens of Seminole County, Florida, whose identities are still unknown, for standing up to the political gales and doing their duty: because it was always obvious that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, and never should have been charged.
The second-degree murder charge was unreasonable — and the prosecution provided almost no evidence in support of it. A manslaughter charge was at least rational, though, and a jury might have convicted on that charge, if they could find no reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had rationally feared for his life or grave bodily harm without the use of lethal force. That was always the only legal issue in question, and apparently the jury couldn’t dispel that reasonable doubt — and therefore reached the proper verdict. While my faith in the jury system isn’t vindicated or demolished on the basis of one case, this jury at least took their responsibilities seriously and executed them in a thoughtful manner. Maybe the prosecution could learn a lesson from them.
Update: John Nolte indicts the media. We are all the jury in that case.