I consider myself a Liberal with a capital “L.”  I lean left.  Far, far left.  In my view, society has an absolute obligation to provide an adequate level of support and care for those who cannot provide it for themselves.  I believe health care should be a right, not a privilege guaranteed only to those with the good fortune to have extraordinary wealth.  I believe a woman’s body is her own and the state has no business telling her what to do with it.  It is my sincere belief that no country, including the United States of America, has any business invading another one, especially under the pretext of some bizarre principle of preemptive protection.  I am an advocate of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and would heartily endorse nationalizing pharmaceutical companies and health insurance.

Based on my “belief credentials,” you might expect that I would join in what appears to be a huge groundswell of liberals expressing outrage at the jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.  You might expect to hear my voice among those who say our system of justice was manipulated to trivialize the death of a Black boy in favor of a Hispanic man.  You might assume I would join the liberal hue and cry demanding that Federal civil rights charges be brought against Zimmerman If you expect and assume those things, you will be disappointed.   With all its flaws and failings, I believe our judicial system is, at its core, built on solid principals and should be allowed to work as designed.

While I think Zimmerman is probably an aggressive racist, I don’t know that to be true. I don’t know what really happened that night when he shot Martin. I don’t know who screamed.  I believe Zimmerman should not have followed Martin.  I believe he should not have been carrying a gun.  If Zimmerman hadn’t been carrying a gun, it’s possible he would have been the one who died.  Or maybe nobody would have died.  But I don’t know.  But six women who were given the responsibility to listen to the evidence and make a determination of guilt or innocence made the call.  They listened to every word of testimony.  They were in the courtroom.  Based on what they saw and heard, they found Zimmerman innocent.

I find offensive the calls for a Federal investigation of Zimmerman, the obvious purpose of which would be to “make him pay” for what is assumed to have been a race killing.

Don’t misunderstand. I didn’t like the verdict.  I thought Zimmerman should have been punished for what he did; I thought he deserved to be imprisoned.  But what I think doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.  What matters is what the jury thought.

I actually believe in the concept that a person should be found guilty only if the jury believes, beyond reasonable doubt, the case made by the prosecution.  If the State fails to prove its case to the jurors, who are presumed to be “reasonable persons,” beyond reasonable doubt, the jury is obligated to acquit the accused.  And if that happens, the case should be closed.  The State should not be permitted to manufacture other charges or to put a different slant on the matter with the objective of finding another way to put the accused behind bars.

For those who would accuse me of being willing to see justice go undone in this case, I would respond by saying “justice was done.”  It just wasn’t done in a way that pleases me. And that’s OK, because the measure of justice is not whether it pleases me.

And for those who are calling the verdict unjust and who are calling for the State to pursue other charges against Zimmerman because the jury’s verdict didn’t go the way they wanted, let me ask this question: should we give like opportunities to persons convicted of crimes?  Seriously, shouldn’t “justice” work both ways?  If a person who is found innocent should be subjected to further prosecution because you didn’t like the verdict, shouldn’t a person who is found guilty have the same opportunities?

“Your Honor, the verdict in this case, which found me guilty of murder, did not meet my standards of righteousness, therefore I demand a do-over with a different jury, a different team of prosecutors, and a different charge; next time, let’s change the charge to failure to stop and render aid.”  Obviously, this is ridiculous.  So is the idea that the State should be permitted to use that tactic to pursue “justice” when the results of a trial are not satisfactory to the State.

Finally, to those who are calling for Zimmerman to be retried on different charges in order that Justice be served, ask yourselves if you would be calling for a retrial after you, personally, had been found innocent of charges levied against you.  I believe the concept of double jeopardy should apply both to retrial for the same crime and to trumped up charges in lieu of prosecutorial success.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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16 Responses to Justice

  1. druxha says:

    A FB contact posted this this morning, a follow up to your previous video post. Perhaps you’ve already viewed it Juan, but could be of interest to John….


  2. jserolf says:

    My 75 year old uncle is a member of a neighborhood; in his club, guns are not allowed.

    In the end, we don’t really know who perpetrated the violence. Trayvor Martin in an attempt to defend himself, may have “stood his ground”; He just didn’t have a gun. Mostly provided in that blog site reveals nothing more than circumstantial evidence, and we can’t work from that..
    Racially motivated? That one sees a member of a group as less than — what then is not? While you don’t need to wear a hood to show racism, interesting that “the hoody” or “the hood” still enters into the picture. American history is a testament to that sort of thing.

    Windows were reported broken in Los Angeles, and a white man was robbed and beaten, though the thief said he did it for Trayvor. It all becomes some horrid feast now: media, thieves, biggots, gun enthusiasts, religious zealots, and carnival barkers!

  3. druxha says:

    Okay, saw this video through, Juan. Interesting and persuasive information in defense of Zimmerman, and in general to support the view that this was never about race….at least as far as Zimmerman was concerned. I did hear at 13:41 one comment that gave me pause. The commentator states that Martin punched Zimmerman in the nose, and was sitting on top of his chest. He goes on to say the Zimmerman was choking on his own blood from his broken nose, and couldn’t breath, yet he goes on to say it was Zimmerman whom was screaming for help. How could that have been if he was choking, and unable to breath? Aside from that, there’s a great deal of data here that is quite compelling, and in favor of Zimmerman’s actually intent, which cast another light on the event that is a far cry from what he have been hearing thought the average media stream…

  4. jserolf says:

    Thanks, Trish. My students are currently discussing the matter through a forum I created. Here’s an interesting site one student posted:


  5. druxha says:

    And Juan…great tune by Dylan…haven’t heard this in eons! Middle class dreams! Thanks!

  6. druxha says:

    John, we are on the same page, in regards to the verdict. No other charges should come forward, and the jury’s decision should by no means be overridden in their conclusion. After all isn’t that what a jury is all about?? A judgement by our peers in view of evidence provided. Okay…many do not agree with this judgement, I do adhered to the public’s voicing outrage of the decision, but change or alert the verdict, by no means.

  7. Trish, I agree that “tolerance is low, ignorance is high.” It’s maddening, though, isn’t it? There certainly is a place for the protests against the verdict, but there’s no place, in my view, for demands that the verdict be set aside in favor of a more favorable “verdict” on different charges for a different crime…not at this late date, anyway. I loathe what Zimmerman did; I loathe the circumstances that allowed him to do what he did. I loathe a law that protected him from his actions in stalking and then killing a young man, whether that young man was an aggressive punk or not. But, as you say, the legal system in the US is far better than most; it deserves, at the least, our acceptance of its failings as we attempt to remove them to make it more perfect.

  8. druxha says:

    People need to step back, exam their history to know what makes us “tick.” Hence, understanding what creates this in the first place. If that is not done, this will only manifest and fester into a great problem than it already is. Our history from its very roots demonstrates this “radical and racial” issue time and time again. The legal system in the US is far from perfect, but its far better than most, if you take into context that its the only country that is the famous “melting pot.” Tolerance is low, ignorance is high. Yes, I’ll add that the protest again the verdict has its place in all of this…that is what makes this country great…the cry of the people saying the legal system is under scrutiny….

  9. jserolf says:

    Love your site. I’ll visit more often.

  10. Thanks very much, Juan, for your comments. I appreciate your taking the time to share your perspectives on this. Yes, even when the situation is such that it is hard, very hard…even impossible, to know the true answer, we too often want a sacrificial goat.

  11. jserolf says:

    Part IV:
    Zimmerman is “not guilty.” Like John, I don’t say that with any particular relish. I’m almost indifferent to it, though might be driven to some sense of difference had Zimmerman been judged guilty. Why? Because, like John, I would know then that the jury was partial and had come too much under the uncritically thinking and naïve collective that too quickly wants a sacrificial goat, and too often forgets to work with the principle of “reasonable doubt.”

  12. jserolf says:

    Part III: Frankly, Zimmerman is as guilty as Casey Anthony – the woman who eluded imprisonment for the alleged murder of her child – and yet another case rooted in Florida. Anthony was acquitted and so too Zimmerman: “Not guilty” for the lack of information available to the jury. Note the use of the term “not guilty,” for collectively speaking, we can hardly call them innocent. It is likely that Zimmerman – like Anthony – will have to live incognito for some years. Interestingly, they bear the mark of Cain, and so must lead their lives in some dark area of East of Eden and in the land of Nod. Who knows what will happen them? Even Anthony is rumored to being pregnant.
    Candidly speaking here, I am more ready to blame the state of Florida for consuming this foolish law to begin with — And consumption is the correct nomenclature here, for since the law’s passage in Florida, the gun industry, along with the State has experienced tremendous profits in both sales and licensing.

  13. jserolf says:

    Part II Zimmerman holsters a Kel-Tech semi-automatic 9mm pistol. A simple firearm … nothing unusual … a gun any police officer would carry for personal protection,” says Tom Gresham, host of Gun Talk radio. Moreover, Zimmerman is perfectly licensed to carry a concealed weapon in Florida, a law signed into effect in 2011 by Governor Rick Scott, and which has resulted in Florida becoming one of the largest states in the union to issue “may carry” licenses.

    It is true, Zimmerman was warned not follow – possibly the strongest point in Martin’s defense, but in that he continued to follow bears little weight for Martin, for we are not sure what happened between those two that morning. As Zimmerman claims, Martin approached from the dark when he heeded the warning and was on his way back to his car, and said, “you got a problem?” Sadly, from the point at which the dispatcher made the warning, the story goes completely under the radar.

  14. jserolf says:

    Part I
    If there’s any racism exhibited from Mr. Zimmerman, it’s done as some homage to his need to be accepted by the community he was “Watching”; hence, I find it non-remarkable that Zimmerman lived and “watched” what is a predominantly white neighborhood. As the old saying went – mutedly said in Chicano or Mexican American households: “If you’re Black, get back; if you’re Brown, stick around, and if you’re White then you’re right.” Zimmerman’s actions are a product of his need to fit in – to “stick around.” It is often the miserable plight of Latinos trying too hard to fit in.
    And so we might imagine a thinner Zimmerman, sitting in his car, in the dark mornings alone with his gun –waiting for some opportunity to prove his oddly contrived sense of worth. The lad Trayvon Martin crosses his path; he’s black, young and wearing a hoody, and unarmed.

  15. druxha says:

    Good article John, and I must say I happen to agree with what you’ve written here.

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