Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University at Huffpoop:
George Zimmerman Bail Reverses All Hard Work Done for Trayvon Martin
What do you do when your municipality is holding arguably the most-hated and notorious killer on earth? You grant him bail. That’s exactly what Judge Kenneth Lester did for George Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
As a condition of his bail, Zimmerman is not allowed to have possession of firearms, drink alcohol, or use drugs. He must also maintain a curfew. How nice.
If the city of Sanford wanted to embarrass itself any further, it just did.
The justice system that has obtained international prominence as one of the most inept, irresponsible, racist and unprofessional organizations in the country has set a new standard for judicial indecency. The family of Trayvon Martin worked hard to get Zimmerman arrested because he was a flight risk, now he’s a flight risk all over again.
Granting bail for George Zimmerman, for the most part, is a slap in the face to those around the world who worked for his arrest. It simply says that without regard to the will of the people, those possessing the power of the state have no obligation to answer to anyone or even share whatever information they are using to come to their illogical decisions.
Granting bail to Zimmerman renders all the rallies, petitions and hard work done around the world to bring him to justice meaningless. It effectively communicates defiance within the Sanford judicial system to say, “We don’t care what you think. We’re going to do whatever we choose to do.”
At this point, it’s hard to argue against anyone who feels compelled to hold the city of Sanford accountable for its actions. Boycotts, (peaceful) civil disobedience, and other tools at our disposal are called for when it comes to dealing with this tragedy of a judicial process. George Zimmerman himself should not be tried in the court of public opinion, but the public deserves answers to ensure that this son of a judge who’s been allowed to skirt responsibility for his actions in the past, isn’t being given yet another free ride by one of his father’s friends.
George Zimmerman may or may not be guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. But when accused of racial inequality, disrespect for the law, and stomping on the civil rights of its citizens, the Sanford judicial system has been found guilty beyond measure.
The same system that let a killer walk away from the scene of the crime and held a boy’s body in the morgue long after his parents filed a missing person’s report, is the one that is now allowing George Zimmerman to walk the streets with the rest of us.
This is what Sanford justice is all about, and it is a reminder that we cannot simply sit back and let the system take its course.
In case you were wondering, no, Dr. Watkins does not teach law. What is it about these people with finance and economics degrees? I think all those numbers must kill brain cells. I would be embarrassed to take any class from someone so woefully ignorant, especially at a university as prestigious as Syracuse.
Let’s start with the factual errors. The City of Sanford did not grant bail to George Zimmerman. That decision was made by a circuit court judge employed by Seminole County. There is no “Sanford judicial system.” This case is in the jurisdiction of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
The investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin was originally handled by the City of Sanford Police Department. Due to media attention and public pressure, the case was taken over by a special prosecutor appointed by the governor. That prosecutor is Angela Corey, the State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court.
George Zimmerman did not simply walk away from the crime scene. He was the focus of a continuing investigation. He was questioned at length on several occasions, including an four hour interrogation on the night of the killing. The police notified Trayvon’s father of his son’s death at 8 am the following morning. Trayvon’s body was autopsied the next day after the killing and was held an additional couple of days as a courtesy until funeral arrangements were made by the family.
Our legal system is based upon the presumption of innocence. The 8th Amendment is the shortest amendment and states:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
In Florida as in all the other states, the amount of bail is determined by a judge after the consideration of certain factors. These include the seriousness of the offense charged, the danger to the community, the risk of flight and the strength of the evidence. The opinion of a lynch mob is irrelevant.
The judge in this case determined that Zimmerman was not a flight risk. He has longstanding ties to the community, his family lives in the area, he voluntarily surrendered his passport, he stayed in contact with the police and he had turned himself in when charges were filed.
Dr. Watkins admits that George Zimmerman should not be tried in the court of public opinion but that is precisely what he is demanding. The “court of public opinion” is simply another term for mob rule. And when the mob is made up of people like Dr. Watkins, injustice is the only possible outcome. One of the Huffpoop commenters said it best:
Watch a Western film some time, Professor. The people who storm the jail in a mob action aren’t the heroes.
Media attorneys due in court in Zimmerman case
Attorneys for the Orlando Sentinel, WFTV-Channel 9, NBC, CNN, The New York Times and other media companies are to be in court today fighting for access to records in the George Zimmerman case, but today’s fight may not be a long one.
Some of what they’re demanding was released Monday, a week after they made their requests. Those are the records in Zimmerman’s court file, such things as his written plea of not guilty and a request by his lawyer that an earlier judge step aside because of a potential conflict of interest.
Another set of much-sought-after records may be another, bigger fight. Those are the ones collected by the special prosecutor and spelling out what evidence she has against Zimmerman.
Two weeks ago, Zimmerman’s lawyer formally asked Special Prosecutor Angela Corey to provide the records by today, a deadline she is required by law to meet.
Once she provides them to him, they’re public records, meaning they should be available to anyone who asks for them.
But the day after Zimmerman’s arrest, defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked that those records be sealed, and Corey’s trial lawyer, Bernie de la Rionda, agreed, and so did Seminole County Judge Mark Herr.
But on Thursday, Corey’s office indicated it was preparing to release them to the public.
It’s not clear whether the case’s new judge, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., will listen to arguments today about those prosecution records.
If those records are released, we’ll know everything the prosecution knows.
Filed under: Crime | Tagged: People v. George Zimmerman | 60 Comments »