Alan Dershowitz: The Only Real Expert Commenting On Zimmerman Case – Bogus Charges Must Be Dropped

May 18, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – A medical report by George Zimmerman’s doctor has disclosed that Zimmerman had a fractured nose, two black eyes, two lacerations on the back of his head and a back injury on the day after the fatal shooting. If this evidence turns out to be valid, the prosecutor will have no choice but to drop the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman — if she wants to act ethically, lawfully and professionally.

There is, of course, no assurance that the special prosecutor handling the case, State Attorney Angela Corey, will do the right thing. Because until now, her actions have been anything but ethical, lawful and professional.

She was aware when she submitted an affidavit that it did not contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She deliberately withheld evidence that supported Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. The New York Times has reported that the police had “a full face picture” of Zimmerman, before paramedics treated him, that showed “a bloodied nose.” The prosecutor also had photographic evidence of bruises to the back of his head.

This Feb. 27, 2012 photo released by the State Attorney’s Office shows George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, with blood on the back of his head. The photo and reports were among evidence released by prosecutors that also includes calls to police, video and numerous other documents.

But none of this was included in any affidavit.

Now there is much more extensive medical evidence that would tend to support Zimmerman’s version of events. This version, if true, would establish self-defense even if Zimmerman had improperly followed, harassed and provoked Martin.

A defendant, under Florida law, loses his “stand your ground” defense if he provoked the encounter — but he retains traditional self-defense if he reasonably believed his life was in danger and his only recourse was to employ deadly force.

Thus, if Zimmerman verbally provoked Martin, but Martin then got on top of Zimmerman and banged his head into the ground, broke his nose, bloodied his eyes and persisted in attacking Zimmerman — and if Zimmerman couldn’t protect himself from further attack except by shooting Martin — he would have the right to do that. (The prosecution has already admitted that it has no evidence that Zimmerman started the actual fight.)

This is a fact-specific case, in which much turns on what the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt. It must resolve all such doubts in favor of the defendant, because our system of justice insists that it is better for 10 guilty defendants to go free than for even one innocent to be wrongfully convicted.

You wouldn’t know that from listening to Corey, who announced that her jobs was “to do justice for Trayvon Martin” — not for George Zimmerman.

As many see it, her additional job is to prevent riots of the sort that followed the acquittal of the policemen who beat Rodney King.

Indeed, Mansfield Frazier, a columnist for the Daily Beast, has suggested that it is the responsibility of the legal system to “avert a large scale racial calamity.” He has urged Zimmerman’s defense lawyer to become a “savior” by brokering a deal to plead his client guilty to a crime that “has him back on the streets within this decade.”

But it is not the role of a defense lawyer to save the world or the country. His job — his only job — is to get the best result for his client, by all legal and ethical means.

Listen to the way a famous British barrister put it in 1820:

“An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes his client, knows, in the discharge of that office, but one person in the world, that client and none other . . . Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them, if need be, to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences, if his fate it should unhappily be, to involve his country in confusion for his client’s protection.”

The prosecutor’s job is far broader: to do justice to the defendant as well as the alleged victim. As the Supreme Court has said: “The government wins . . . when justice is done.”

Zimmerman’s lawyer is doing his job. It’s about time for the prosecutor to start doing hers.

Dershowitz, a defense attorney, is a professor at Harvard Law School.
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Police Reports And Witnesses Back George Zimmerman – Yet He Still Faces Bogus Charges After Killing Druggie In Self Defense During Brutal Beating

May 17, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – Two police reports written the night that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin said that Zimmerman had a bloody face and nose, according to police reports made public today.

The reports also note that two witness accounts appear to back up Zimmerman’s version of what happened when they describe a man on his back with another person wearing a hoodie straddling him and throwing punches.

It has been such a contentious case that even the evidence is being disputed.

The police report states that Trayvon Martin’s father told an investigator after listening to 911 tapes that captured a man’s voice frantically callling for help that it was not his son calling for help.

But Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, claims that is not true. The Martin family lawyer Ben Crump told ABC News that Tracy Martin initially listened to a distorted version of the 911 calls and said he could not identify the voice. But when he listened to a second tape that had been “cleaned,” “He immediately broke down in tears because he knew it was his son calling for help,” Crump said.

The new information is part of a trove of documents released by the Florida State Attorney today in the case against Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder for the Feb. 26 killing of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American male.

Zimmerman, 28, is a multi-racial Hispanic man who volunteered for the neighborhood watch committee who claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense after the 6-foot tall, 160 pound teenager knocked him to the ground, banged his head against the ground and went for Zimmerman’s gun.

The documents start with a criticism of Zimmerman’s decision to follow the teenager, who Zimmerman said was looking suspicious.

“The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement,” an investigating officer wrote.

Zimmerman claims he got out of his vehicle to find a house number to let police know where he saw the allegedly suspicious person, and while returning to his car was knocked down by a punch in the nose and attacked by Martin.

Two police officers reported that when they arrived at the scene of the shooting, Zimmerman seemed to have a battered nose and bloodied face. One wrote that his “facial area was bloodied,” and the back of his clothing was soiled with wet grass.

“Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and the back of his head,” Officer Ricardo Ayala wrote.

Another officer wrote, “I saw that Zimmerman’s face was bloodied and it appeared to me that his nose was broken.”

Witnesses, whose names were redacted from the report, also lent support to Zimmerman’s version of what happened.

“He witnesses a black male, wearing a dark colored ‘hoodie’ on top of a white or Hispanic male and throwing punches ‘MMA (mixed martial arts) style,'” the police report of the witness said. “He then heard a pop. He stated that after hearing the pop, he observed the person he had previously observed on top of the other person (the male wearing the hoodie) laid out on the grass.”

A second witness described a person on the ground with another straddling him and throwing punches. The man on the bottom was yelling for help, the witness told police.

The documents state that Zimmerman can be heard yelling for help 14 times on a 911 call recorded during the fight.

Yet another witness described the confrontation in emotional terms.

The witness heard “someone yelling, almost crying. Then I heard a gunshot.” The witness wrote that he or she “saw a man on top of a guy laying on the ground. He was putting his hands on his neck or chest.”

The man asked the witness to call 911.

“He stood up and took a couple steps away and put his hands on his head and then walked back over to the guy on the ground. He looked at him for a minute, then started to walk away toward the road. That is when the police walked up,” the witness wrote.

The lead investigator on the case, Officer Christopher Serino, wrote that Zimmerman could be heard “yelling for help as he was being battered by Trayvon Martin.”

Martin’s death sparked public outrage after police released Zimmerman without any criminal charges for the killing. Zimmerman was later charged with second-degree murder, and the killing provoked widespread debate about racial profiling.

The autopsy also shows that Zimmerman shot Martin from a distance of between 1 inch and 18 inches away, bolstering Zimmerman’s claim that he shot Martin during a close struggle.

Martin’s autopsy report also revealed that there was a quarter-inch by half-inch abrasion on the left fourth finger of Martin, another indication of a possible struggle.

The teen, who lived in Miami, was in Sanford while serving a suspension for a bag of marijuana being discovered in his possession. Martin had THC, the drug found in marijuana, in his blood on the night of his death, according to the autopsy. His family told ABC News that it was “trace amounts” of THC.
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FBI May Be Preparing Bogus “Hate Crime” Charge Against Zimmerman For Shooting Druggie In Self Defense

May 15, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – WFTV has learned charges against George Zimmerman could be getting more serious.

State prosecutors said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, profiled and stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before killing him, so the FBI is now looking into charging him with a hate crime.

Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin in February during a confrontation. However, he claims the shooting was in self-defense. He’s facing a second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. But if Zimmerman is charged and found guilty of a federal hate crime involving murder, he could face the death penalty.

FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.

Martin was unarmed when he was shot to death, police said, and some accuse Zimmerman of targeting the teenager solely because of the color of his skin.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said federal prosecutors would have to prove the hate crime to charge Zimmerman, though.

“What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African-Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him,” Sheaffer said.

Sheaffer said a federal hate crime murder charge could bring more serious consequences than the second-degree murder charge Zimmerman faces now.

“Mr. Zimmerman could be punished by up to life in prison or even the death penalty,” said Sheaffer.

Zimmerman said he used deadly force in self-defense after Martin punched him, knocked him to the ground and repeatedly slammed his head against a sidewalk.

As of late Monday, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, told WFTV that he’s gotten the first prosecution documents containing the evidence against his client. O’Mara said he’s gotten a redacted witness list with 22 witnesses listed only as numbers.

O’Mara said he believes there are recorded interviews and some documents, but he said he hasn’t even opened it yet.

Prosecutors are required to release information to the defense and the public

However, O’Mara, wants Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to keep some of the key evidence, especially witness statements, out of the public eye by writing a motion to keep it sealed.

O’Mara posted a statement on Zimmerman’s website that said, “We doubt any of them (witnesses) enjoy the scrutiny they are under due to the coincidence of their involvement in such a high-profile matter.”

In the meantime, a photograph recently surfaced which is said to show Zimmerman’s mother in the arms of her grandfather, who is black.

Zimmerman’s mother testified at his bond hearing that she has met the black child whom he mentored and even risked his safety in a dangerous neighborhood to do it, because he didn’t want to abandon the child.

State prosecutors said Zimmerman gave several inconsistent statements to Sanford police, which is, in part, their basis for charging him with second-degree murder.

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Birmingham Alabama Cops File Bogus Charges Against Teen Who Was Legally Carrying Rifle And Minding His Own Business Until Harassed By Police Officers

April 23, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Sean M. Combs, 18, says he’s “100 percent sure” he was acting legally when he strolled on Old Woodward Avenue in downtown Birmingham earlier this month with his M-1 rifle strapped to his back, muzzle to the sky.

What’s unsettling is that Combs is right about what the law says and doesn’t say.

He was arrested April 13 on three misdemeanor charges — for brandishing a weapon, resisting and obstructing police, and disturbing the peace — each punishable by up to 93 days in jail.

But no matter how the case turns out, the Troy High School senior is making his incendiary point.

A teenager out for a Friday night stroll on a crowded street with a classmate friend and his semi-automatic weapon still qualifies as a bizarre night out.

It suggests bad judgment, immaturity and a pathological need for attention — but it’s not banned by law. “You can open carry, like the old wild wild West,” says Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. James Shaw. “It’s legal.”

Still, Sean Combs was deliberately, and perhaps impulsively, pushing the bounds of social acceptability when he grabbed his rifle from the trunk, after deciding not to go to a movie. (Guns are banned from movie theaters, although a pending Senate bill would change that.)

But public strutting with guns is likely one consequence of the au courant embrace of all things NRA, including the state Legislature’s 2011 bill to drop the hunting age from 12 to toddler, or the 2010 law empowering elementary schools to teach children gun safety.

Combs said he believes in “open carry” and the only way to break down social norms against it is to carry firearms openly. He used a rifle, he says, because federal regulations require him to be 21 to buy a handgun. To get the rifle, he only needed to be 18. “It’s like buying a pack of cigarettes,” he explains, correctly.

Why don’t more people walk around with rifles?

Gun law expert Steve Dulan, who teaches firearms law at Cooley Law School, says the law doesn’t differentiate between firearms. “Open carry is certainly lawful and the only reason I advise against it is because of the ignorance of the public and many law enforcement officers,” he says. “You’re likely to be staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun.”

Combs, who was a captain of Troy High’s cross-country team and gets good grades, is a regular guy, says his friend, Lia Grabowski, who was with him that night. “He’s a really, really nice kid. He’s not someone who’s dangerous or scary.”

A self-described “gun enthusiast,” Combs studies “open carry” laws and websites that advocate carrying firearms out in the open as a political statement. “I did my homework,” he says. He took his gun out of the trunk that night because “I wanted to change a social rule that I don’t agree with” — namely the general social disapproval of guys walking down the street with military weapons slung over their shoulders.

Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt, whose officers arrested Combs on April 13, acknowledges the constitutionality of Combs’ decision to carry his gun, but said “this guy was creating a disturbance and he wouldn’t cooperate.”

Those facts are in contention. The youth’s attorney, James Makowski, says Combs had a clear understanding of the law when he decided to walk down the street with his 1942 military-issue semiautomatic rifle. “It isn’t my style, but it’s his right,” Makowski says. “I’ve never had a client who is so clearly in the right.”

There’s no law against being a jerk. God bless America.

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Zimmerman Prosecution: “Not Only Immoral, But Stupid” – Alan Dershowitz

April 20, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – With ABC News’ release of the George Zimmerman photo showing blood flowing freely from his head, the question becomes whether Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the case, had access to the photo before charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

The arrest affidavit did not mention the photograph, or the bleeding, gashes, and bruises on Zimmermans’ head. Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School stated upon release of the arrest affidavit that it was “so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge … everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense.”

After the release of the photo, however, Dershowitz went much further, telling Breitbart News that if the prosecutors did have the photo and didn’t mention it in the affidavit, that would constitute a “grave ethical violation,” since affidavits are supposed to contain “all relevant information.”

Dershowitz continued, “An affidavit that willfully misstates undisputed evidence known to the prosecution is not only unethical but borders on perjury because an affiant swears to tell not only the truth, but the whole truth, and suppressing an important part of the whole truth is a lie.”

When asked if it made a difference whether the prosecution had the bloody photograph at the time they charged Zimmerman, Dershowitz responded, “We do know that there were earlier photographs before the affidavit was done that strongly suggested blood on the back of the head, and we know the police had first access to him, so if there was blood they [the prosecution] would know about it …

“I’ve had cases in Florida against prosecutors,” Dershowitz said, “and this is not the first time they have willfully omitted exculpatory evidence. It’s a continuing problem. Here, it’s not only immoral, but stupid. The whole country is watching. What do they benefit from having half-truths in an affidavit?”

Dershowitz added, “I’m not taking sides, but I’m insisting that both sides play by the rules, and so far the prosecution is not playing by the rules.”

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