Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A thought about the Zimmerman trial.

I am again moving outside of my area of knowledge to write about the Zimmerman trial. It seems clear that there is something wrong when a kid goes out to buy a snack and is shot to death in his father's gated community.

I think Zimmerman's trial was a reasonable exercise of the American legal process. Judges, lawyers and jury members are all people. They make mistakes. There seems to be no indication that these particular people were incompetent, lazy nor corrupt.

We believe that someone charged with a crime deserves a fair trial. That the charges brought by government have to be shown to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. That is difficult for the police and prosecutors to do, and as a result some criminals are not convicted. On the other hand we know that innocent people are also convicted, even of capital crimes. I think the "reasonable doubt" criterion is the right one for our society/

I suppose that the federal government will do its duty to investigate whether there was a hate crime and make a reasonable decision on whether to prosecute on that charge. If Martin's family chooses to exercise its legal right to bring civil charges against Zimmerman, I assume the legal system will again work reasonably well.

So perhaps we should look to other reasons why a teenager died. Should we change our gun laws, or the "stand your ground" laws. Should we require people claiming self defense to demonstrate that need more fully than is now done? Are the protections against profiling (race, age, clothing) sufficient? Certainly we have to do more to reduce racial prejudice.

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