TrayDay 2016: Only Fools Attack Armed Men

Today is the four year anniversary of the lawfully justified self-defense shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman would ultimately be acquitted after a mere hours of deliberations following 14 months of investigation and trial.

Personally and professionally I’ve never seen a cleaner self-defense shoot brought to trial. There was no hope for a conviction based on any reasonable application of the law to the facts, but they dragged Zimmerman to court anyway.

That’s what happens, I guess, when the lead prosecutor finds herself doing poorly with a critical racial demographic while running for re-election.

The myths and lies around the killing of vicious aggressor Martin continue, of course, as I’ve noted in my earlier post today: “Lies About Zimmerman Trial Just Keep Coming.”

Of course, such myths aren lies are not new. For a refresher on the worst of these, and their debunking, you might be interested in my post from TrayDay 2015: “Zimmerman Trial Redux: Busting the Myths Again”

I expect we’ll be doing the same again next year, and every year. Eternal vigilance, and all that. 🙂

(And h/t to Jay Hafemeister over at Facebook for reminding me of my anniversary post from last year.)

Coveted Double-Mention of LOSD on Ace of Spades HQ

I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but somehow I was lucky enough to get mentioned prominently not just once today, but twice, on the fantastic Ace of Spades HQ blog.

First mention came in the Sunday morning gun thread, because of my daily coverage of the Zimmerman trial:

Gun Thread 7/21/2013: Stand Your Ground On Stand Your Ground Laws

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Next came mention in the Sunday morning book thread, because of the release of my book, “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition”:

Sunday Morning Book Thread 07-21-2013: All Zimmerman, All the Time

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Thanks a ton, Ace and co-bloggers!

In appreciation, I’ve made a discount coupon code available for all the Ace morons.  Use “LOSD2-AOS” at checkout to get $10 off plus free shipping.  This coupon will be available only until my wife finds out about it, so act fast!  🙂

–Andrew

 


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,, 2nd Edition” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com and also at Amazon.com as either a hardcopy or in Kindle version.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook,, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.

Florida’s Self-Defense Immunity Law: How it really works

Hey folks,

A running question during the long run-up to and trial of George Zimmerman was the issue of Florida’s self-defense immunity statute (often confused with, but completely separate from, the state’s Stand-Your-Ground statute). Mark O’Mara elected to not pursue this legal option either at pre-trial or the trial proper, but in fact Florida’s self-defense immunity is favorably broad, including protecting against both criminal and civil liability, and the recovery legal expenses and even lost income in the case of a successful civil defense.

I did a lengthy analysis of Florida’s self-defense immunity statute, and the evolution of how its applied proceduarlly, over at Legal Insurrection–take a look here:

Florida’s Self-Defense Immunity Law: How it really works

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, #LOSD2

Facebook:  Law of Self Defense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,, 2nd Edition” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com and also at Amazon.com as either a hardcopy or in Kindle version.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook,, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.

The Marissa Alexander Case Wasn't About "Stand-Your-Ground" Either

Hey folks,

By now some of you may have heard about the Marissa Alexander case in Florida.

Many people are trying to twist the facts of this case in a fashion that will be familiar to the rational among us who watched the Zimmerman case.

Essentially they want to know why Florida’s stand-your-ground law was sufficient to win Zimmerman an acquittal yet when applied in the Alexander case it produced a speed-of-light guilty verdict in a mere 12 minutes (did the jurors even bother to sit down, or were they putting on their coats while coming to consensus?), and a sentence of 20 years.

I did a lengthy analysis of this issue over at Legal Insurrection–take a look here:

The Marissa Alexander Case Wasn’t About “Stand-Your-Ground” Either

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, #LOSD2

Facebook:  Law of Self Defense

 


 

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,, 2nd Edition” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com and also at Amazon.com as either a hardcopy or in Kindle version.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook,, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.

Attorney Andrew Branca Participates on NPR ZImmerman Panel

“The permissible number of times my kids can have their heads bashed on the sidewalk by Trayvon Martin is zero.”

UPDATE: Fred Thompson, a commenter over at Legal Insurrection, was kind enough to transcribe pretty much the entirety of my remarks. I’ve pasted them here at the bottom of this post. Thanks, Fred, gift to you on the way!

It was mid-afternoon when I received the phone call.  Would I be interested in participating on a panel discussing the Zimmerman case and self-defense law in general, to be hosted on KPCC, the Los Angeles are National Public Radio station?  Meh, why not, I told them.  And there I was, on hold with my iPhone waiting to “go live,” and thinking: boy, didn’t they see ANY of my tweets?  Why would NPR want me on the air?

The show was AirTalk with Larry Mantle. Unsurprisingly, I’d never heard of either the show now Larry, but then my home hunting grounds in Boston were a considerable distance away.  The others on the panel (although we weren’t all on at the same time) included Brian T. Dunn, a sensible sounding lawyer from the California office of the Cochran Firm, Lawrence Rosenthal, a Professor of Law at Chapman University and Jon Greenbaum, Chief Council for Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, and Stanley Goldman, Professor of Criminal Law at Stanford Law School and an old-school gun control fascist–he’s the third voice on my segment of the show.

And, me, your humble correspondent.

I didn’t hear the entirety of the hour-long program–hey, I’ll suffer for my craft, but only so much–but did start listening a few minutes before they promised to put me live.  Professor Goldman was going on about how the reason Florida v. Zimmerman was such a debacle was because of it’s crazy “Stand Your Ground” law, and how the outcome would have been infinitely more sane had the case been tried, for example, in California.  Florida’s SYG law, he explained, gave individuals egregious powers to kill others, above and beyond that found anywhere else in America.

And then I was live.

Larry Mantle: “I know that there are supporters of George Zimmerman who feel he never should have been on trial, to have him even face these charges was malfeasance.  What is your opinion about his, particularly looking at it fro a self-defense standpoint?”

Andrew Branca: “Well, I certainly agree with that, and I’d like to talk to that. But before we do , I’ve been listening to the show on hold while it’s been going on, and I hear a lot of discussion about how Florida has this crazy stand-your-ground law that creates these unique legal scenarios. The fact is Florida’s stand-your-ground law is quite common, 33 states are effectively SYG states and have very similar provisions.  In fact there is one state that not only lets you to stand your ground,it explicitly allows you to pursue your assailant if necessary for your safety.  And that state is California [where the station is located].

KABOOM.

There was more fun antics of that nature, including my closing line: “the permissible number of times my kids can have their heads bashed on the sidewalk by Trayvon Martin is zero”.  To listen to the whole thing, see below.

www.lawofselfdefense.com

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, #LOSD2

UPDATE: Here is the almost totally complete transcript of my remarks, as prepared by Fred Thompson, a commentator over at Legal Insurrection.

The following is a partial transcript of the interview (leaving out much of Rosenthal’s comments, and summarizing some of Mantle’s questions):

Mantle: Why was it wrong for the case to be brought?

Branca: Well, they didn’t have probable cause to bring the charges. The prosecution, even after 14 months – essentially, if you heard their closing, they had almost no direct evidence and very little circumstantial evidence on the elements of the crime that they had to prove to get murder 2.

It was a very emotional appeal, it was to the heart and ‘Trayvon’s dead’ and so forth, and of course that is a genuine tragedy, but they actually have an affirmative charge, an obligation to bring evidence before the jury beyond a reasonable doubt on each and every element of that second degree murder statute, and they simply didn’t have it.

Mantle: Is there recourse for Zimmerman in the wake of his acquittal?

Branca: I don’t know. That’s not my area of expertise. I certainly think that a hearing on sanctions on these prosecutors’ conduct is well warranted. I believe from my observation – and I’ve watched the trial and discovery in its entirety – there was to my eyes considerable misconduct in that discovery process.

I’ll give you perhaps the most egregious example. The whole point of discovery is that both sides start the trial with the same body of evidence. Now they can take those elements of evidence and build their own story, build their own compelling narrative of guilt or of innocence. They can choose to ignore pieces of that evidence. They can choose to emphasize other pieces more than the other side. That’s all perfectly appropriate, but they’re supposed to start with the same pieces. Like a jigsaw puzzle, they both have the same pieces. When one side denies the other pieces, either affirmatively or by trickery, then it’s not a fair game any more.

And what the State did in this case was they had a data file from Trayvon’s phone. They generated a written report of the contents of that data file. In fact, the written report only represented a portion of the contents. Then they handed the file and the report together to the defense and said, ‘Here’s the data information.’ Well, the defense assumed that the report covered all the data on the file, especially since they didn’t have the specialized equipment to break into the phone and look at the data themselves. When it was discovered that in fact the report left out a lot of the information, particularly information that would not have looked good for the State, like Trayvon holding a gun, or marijuana plants, or things of that sort, well then of course the whole thing was blown open, and sanction hearings were begun before the trial. Judge Nelson suspended them until after a verdict, but that was egregious, that was trickery.

Mantle: Should Zimmerman be allowed to get his weapon back?

Branca: Well if he was allowed to before, why wouldn’t he be allowed to now? He hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Mantle: Well, not something that was judged as a jury by criminal, but the fact that he used the gun against someone else, couldn’t local law enforcement deny his request to carry a weapon?

Branca: I don’t see that happening in the State of Florida. I mean, I live in Massachusetts where licenses are very discretionary, and that would certainly be the outcome here. I expect in California it’s a very similar situation. But in states that are ‘shall issue’ states, unless the state can affirmatively demonstrate some reason why you are not entitled – and that would be some kind of criminal offense or history of domestic violence or something along those lines – unless they can demonstrate that affirmatively, they can’t deny you the permit. It’s not discretionary on their part.

(Lawrence Rosenthal makes some remarks on his desire for greater gun control and his belief that “Stand Your Ground” is responsible for an increased number of deaths.)

Mantle: You want to respond to that? Justifiable homicides up significantly since “Stand Your Ground” was enacted.

Branca: Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ll accept that for discussion’s sake. But I guess I would say, what’s the problem? Because there were justifiable homicides. That means people were lawfully defending themselves against death or grave bodily harm. Would we want the alternative, where they’re forced to suffer death and grave bodily harm rather than defend themselves?”

Lawrence Rosenthal makes some more comments and then remarks: “There was no good reason that Trayvon Martin died. We shouldn’t forget that.”

Mantle: And I know you have to go Mr. Branca. Quick closing comment, sir.

Branca: Well I would just say that I’m afraid there was good reason. He was committing an aggravated assault on somebody, he was beating their head on the sidewalk, and I don’t know if you have any children, but I have several, and my permissible number of whacks of their head on the sidewalk by Trayvon Martin is zero.

Thanks, Fred!


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com and also at Amazon.com as either a hardcopy or in Kindle version.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.

WSJ: Legal Insights on the Zimmerman Verdict

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July 14, 2013, 12:02 PM ET

Legal Insights on the Zimmerman Verdict

By Joe Palazzolo

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict was read in court.
George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict was read in court.

We asked a panel of self-defense experts for reactions to a jury finding George Zimmerman not guilty of all charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Joshua Dressler, a professor at The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, said the acquittal came as no surprise. In an email to Law Blog, he wrote:

Given the presumption of innocence and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which places an even greater burden of proof on the prosecutor, the acquittal was no surprise in light of the conflicting evidence.  One could see that the prosecutor knew he was in trouble when he asked to include a manslaughter count, and even tried the outrageous felony-murder count (that the judge rejected).  Race was never expressly raised, but it was still there lurking.  The question that the criminal trial didn’t answer, and probably couldn’t is whether, had Trayvon Martin had been white, Zimmerman would have grown suspicion and confronted the person so aggressively.

The state’s 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law removed a person’s duty to try to run away in the face of danger before using deadly force, created a presumption that such force is lawful and immunized those who kills in self-defense from prosecution and private lawsuits.

The law provides that a person who claims to have killed in self-defense can seek a court ruling, before any trial, that they acted legally, but Mr. Zimmerman and his lawyer decided against that option and presented his case directly to a jury.

Still, according to Mr. Dressler, the law played a role in the trial.

The statute itself places the burden of persuasion regarding self-defense on the prosecutor  — to prove that the defendant did NOT act in self-defense.  In the past, in most states, if a defendant claimed self-defense, it was up to the defendant to prove he DID act in self-defense.  So the SYG law in this case had an important legal impact.

Stephen P. Garvey, a professor at Cornell Law School, said he thinks the jury “got it right.”

Unless you think Zimmerman “provoked” the use of force against himself it was pretty easy to find self defense. If you think he did “provoke” the use of force you have a pretty expansive view of provocation. Think about it. Even if Zimmerman did follow Martin, should that mean he loses the right to defend himself when thereafter faced with an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm?  Following someone when maybe you shouldn’t make you guilty of murder, or even manslaughter.

Andrew Branca, a Massachusetts lawyer and author of “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” went even further. The Zimmerman case, he said, “would make a very nice case study of the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense for a law school criminal law text book.”

Mr. Branca explained why the most recognizable aspect of the “Stand Your Ground” law didn’t apply in Mr. Zimmerman’s case.

“Stand your ground” is a legal release from the traditional duty to retreat, if safely possible, before using force in self-defense.  When safe retreat is not possible, however, the duty does not apply.  If the duty does not apply, “stand your ground” is not needed to release you from that duty. In this case, at the moment George Zimmerman used deadly force in self-defense his attacker was pinning him to the ground and reaching for his gun. [This is Mr. Zimmerman’s version of events.] Under such circumstances no reasonable avenue of self-defense exists, so there is no duty to retreat even absent “stand your ground.”

The next legal issue will likely center on Florida’s self-defense immunity statute, 776.032, he said. (The immunity provision was passed as part of the “Stand Your Ground” law.)

While Mr. Zimmerman’s defense lawyers elected against seeking immunity before trial, they have said they will do so should he face a private lawsuit related to Trayvon Martin’s death, Mr. Branca noted.

Copyright 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Angela Corey's "Downfall"– LMAO Funny!

Hey folks,

Just learned that Evi L. Bloggerlady (@MsEBL on Twitter) put together a “Downfall” video for the Zimmerman verdict.

It is fall-off-your-chair funny. If you are eating or drinking, stop before watching the video, or be prepared to do an extensive cleaning of your computer.

Hey @MsEBL, there’s a nicely autographed book on its way you to you! Thanks!

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Zimmerman Trial: VERDICT–NOT GUILTY See video!

The Zimmerman trial jury returned a guilty of NOT GUILTY this evening.

I’ll have a great deal more to say about this case in the coming days, but for the moment I’m going to leave you with simply the verdict.  A little tired after several weeks of very, very, long days.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Zimmerman Trial: Prosecutor Corey Fires IT Tech Who Disclosed Discovery Misconduct

Hey folks,

Well, the blood-letting in the State attorney’s office has claimed another victim. On Friday State Attorney Angela Corey fired IT director Ben Kruidos because of his actions in disclosing the State’s misconduct in meeting their mandatory discovery obligations. That misconduct remains the subject of a sanctions hearing overseen by Judge Nelson, which hearing she suspended pending the return of a verdict in the trial.

The termination letter, stating that Kruidos “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office,” was hand-delivered by a State Attorney Investigator to Kruidos’ home early Friday morning, before the workday began.

It seems likely, however, that Kruidos will have legal recourse for this termination.

448.102 Prohibitions [on employer retaliation against employee]

Stay up to date with our live-stream, Twitter-scroll post:

Zimmerman Trial: Verdict Watch LIVE

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Zimmerman Trial: Jury Asks for Clarification on Manslaughter

The Zimmerman trial jury paused their deliberations at around 6:00PM EST to present Judge Nelson with a question:

“May we please have clarification on instructions regarding manslaughter?”

Nelson announced the question to the parties in open court, and has now recessed court 30 minutes to address the issue with the jury.

The implications of this question can only be addressed speculatively.  It does, however, strongly suggest that murder 2 has been discarded from the jury’s consideration.  All six jurors may be seriously considering manslaughter, or it may be a situation in which 5 jurors believe manslaughter does not apply (presumably because the State has failed to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt) but find they are having trouble convincing the 6th jury of the same.

Update: The Court took a brief recess to allow the parties to gather case law on the issue of providing jury clarification. Parties agree it is acceptable to clarify on a specific question, if that is what the jury is struggling with, but not to provide a general overview of manslaughter. The parties are now co-drafting a question to the jury to ask whether what they seek is, in fact, clarification on a specific issue. Judge Nelson will then deliver this question to the jury.

Stay up to date with our live-stream, Twitter-scroll post:

Zimmerman Trial: Verdict Watch LIVE

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense