This week it’s the Zimmerman trial.
The verdict was so very predictable for me, a lawyer. I don’t have a lot of time to spend in front of the television, but when there is an interesting trial going on, I do pay attention during the hours I am at home with the television news in the background.
I accurately predicted the Casey Anthony case, although I believe in my gut that she killed her child. But the evidence was not there to convict her so I think the legally-correct though morally-stinky decision was reached in that case.
In the Zimmerman case I believe the legally-correct decision was made, and it coincides with what I believe the “right” decision was under the tragic circumstances.
From what I know about the Zimmerman-Martin case, it was a calamitous meeting of two people who both used poor, poor judgment.
I think Zimmerman was an over-zealous wannabe cop who should have stayed in the @*$)!^ car.
I think that if Martin was truly afraid of Zimmerman, he should have been knocking on someone’s door for help or calling the police instead of his girlfriend in New York 1,000 miles away. I am not convinced that Trayvon Martin acted like a scared kid.
All that said, the starting point must be where the two actually met and, from what I understand, Martin was on top of Zimmerman and banging his head against the concrete.
Zimmerman’s self-serving but uncontroverted testimony was that Martin was telling him he was going to die.
Boom! A young life is over. Tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. My heart goes out for Martin’s parents.
But it’s not closed. There were riots (which don’t seem very helpful to me), there are on-going protests against a “stand your ground” defense that was never used in the case, and the President of the United States has weighed in on what should be a local judicial system case.
The case is simply larger than I think it needs to be if you are only considering the facts of the case. We have tragic cases tried every week in the courthouse where I work, many of them warranting public discourse that never happens, so I am impatient with all this, especially given the facts of the case
It all seems so clear to me.
I represent a single African-American mother. She and I have become fairly close during the intensity of a custody case over her fifteen-year-old son. I am happy to say that we prevailed in her custody decision, leaving this child in her care where he very much belongs. However, we have the matter of summer visitation with Dad and Stepmom, who live not far from her home.
Last week she called me up. “I have Son enrolled in a summer program,” she told me. “I would be willing to take him every day if his father will let him continue there through the summer visitation.”
We went on to discuss the fact that Dad and Stepmom both work and Son stands the chance of spending each day at home alone—never a good thing for a teenager. Mom was worried. This is when she said something that pierced me and made me think about perspectives:
“If he’s alone through the day,” she said, “he may take to walking around the neighborhood. I am afraid that someone will think he’s going to burglarize or something and that he will get hurt.”
As a Mom, I would have been worried about my own teen-aged son being at home alone, but I never would thought about my son being accused of burglary just for walking the streets, much less being shot for it.
I am certain that this mother’s mind was on the Zimmerman-Martin case. I am equally certain that her fears and her statements to me are genuine. She was worried about her own African-American son meeting a similar fate as Treyvon Martin.
The thought of my son being shot or even accused, as she worried, would have simply never entered my mind…but I am Caucasian. Hmmmmm…
And then the President comes on and talks about the experience of seeing fear in strangers’ eyes because of the color of his skin. I don’t doubt it.
One can argue the merits and wisdom of that fear, given statistics—another post coming your way soon. One can argue about Civil Rights “advocates,” such as Sharpton, whipping the situation up for gain—yet another post….but you have to give the President his perspective borne of experience.
As soon as I heard the President’s remarks, my mind flashed back to my worried client’s remarks.
As a Caucasian, I must remember that my experiences do not mirror those of my African-American friends.
And experience shapes perception.
So, I try to keep that in mind when I am impatient with the on-going discussion of a case that, as a lawyer, I thought was pretty cut-and-dried.