Michael Gaynor
Eugene Robinson's noxious social justice notion
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By Michael Gaynor
July 16, 2013

It was tragic that Martin was shot, but it was not a crime, and convicting Zimmerman in the name of "history" would have been a travesty of justice (which seems to be Robinson's notion of social justice).

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson is a regular guest on Chris Matthews' "Hardball."

A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, he "appears frequently as a liberal political analyst on MSNBC cable-TV network's programs such as Morning Joe, PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Ed Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann (now discontinued on MSNBC)" and "is often a panelist on NBC's public affairs program Meet the Press" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Robinson_(journalist)).

In 2009 Robinson won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns on the Obama presidential campaign.

Robinson is a journalist and a "liberal."

He's not a lawyer or an unbiased supporter of the rule of law.

On July 15, 2013, Matthews and Robinson discussed the acquittal of George Zimmerman on murder and manslaughter and Robinson apparently inadvertently acknowledged what he wanted that jury too.

First Matthews spoke of 250 years of slavery and another 100 years of Jim Crow.

Then Robinson lamented that the Zimmerman defense wanted the jury to "disaggregate the history from the actual facts."

Bulletin for Robinson and Matthews: a jury is supposed to base its decision on the law as provided by the court and "the actual facts," not sacrifice a defendant as atonement for the crimes and sins of others.

The jury instructions in the Zimmerman case (http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/news/documents/2013/07/12/jury_instructions_1.pdf) were approved by both the prosecution and the defense and given by the Court.

Deliberation Rule 2 stated: "This case must be decided only upon the evidence that you have heard from the testimony of the witnesses and have seen in the form of the exhibits in evidence and these instructions."

Deliberation Rule 7 stated: "Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias or sympathy. Your verdict must be based on the evidence, and on the law contained in these instructions."

These instructions are proper and the jurors followed them, as they should have.

Robinson and Matthews might have preferred jury nullification based on "history," but that would have been wrong.

Wrongly convicting Zimmerman would have been another wrong, not atonement for slavery.

The rule of law prevailed in the Zimmerman case, as it should have.

Zimmerman is not a law enforcement officer, but he certainly had the right to call the police to report his concerns.

Moreover, in Florida, a citizen like Zimmerman is entitled to make a citizen's arrest, and should not make one without sufficient reason.

See the Sun Sentinel's Alexis Campbell's February 14, 2012 article titled " Can you make a citizen's arrest? Yes, but be careful," including this summary:

WHAT YOU CAN OR SHOULD DO:

– You can chase down someone you saw snatch a woman's purse or take down someone you see violently hurting someone.

– You can detain someone you were told committed a felony, if you have strong evidence and witnesses.

– You can stop a drunken driver from getting behind the wheel, if you have strong evidence and witnesses.

– Call police immediately.

WHAT YOU CAN'T OR SHOULDN'T DO:

– Don't pull someone over for speeding or driving through a red traffic light.

– Don't arrest someone for a misdemeanor such as shoplifting.

– Don't seriously injure someone or use excessive force. Avoid detaining someone by yourself, and avoid detaining someone for more than an hour.

– Avoid using handcuffs. It could be used against you in court if the suspect goes free.

As a neighborhood watch captain in his community, Zimmerman understandably was on the lookout for burglaries and he was entitled to carry a gun and to be on the lookout, simply because he's a citizen. Indeed, in Florida, as explained in the Florida Court of Appeals case Ripley v. The State of Florida (2005), "the content of citizen's arrest law is identical to an officer arresting someone outside of their normal jurisdiction" (www.ehow.com/list_7258531_florida-citizen_s-arrest-laws.html#ixzz2ZA1ys6R8).

The jurors did their job, bravely, even though it might have been personally safer for them to convict.

Robinson's notion that a verdict somehow should reflect "history" instead of just being based on the law and "the actual facts" may or may not be what presidential candidate meant by "fundamental transformation," but it definitely is disgusting, dangerous and unAmerican.

Zimmerman may or may not have intended to make a citizen's arrest of someone that night, but he never interrogated Trayvon Martin, much less tried to arrest him. The evidence supports the conclusion that Martin attacked Zimmerman, not vice versa. and Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense after he was knocked down and both the front and back of his head and been bloodied.

It was tragic that Martin was shot, but it was not a crime, and convicting Zimmerman in the name of "history" would have been a travesty of justice (which seems to be Robinson's notion of social justice).

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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