Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin

It's horrific.  A young, black boy is shot by an older white man (who's really Hispanic).  A police chief is suspended.  A community and nation scream for prosecution and justice.  Experts in hate crimes, self-defense, and murder spring forth with opinions.

This is the type of case that requires a thorough police and district attorney investigation.  It requires a grand jury to hear evidence and decide what happened.  Most of all, it requires a refrain from public and political pressure.

In any case, there are certain time frames that must be adhered to or dire consequences exist.  There are statutes of limitations, speedy trial rights, discovery dates, motion practice, and various other dates.  Most of these timelines begin the minute an arrest is made.  An investigation that could be thorough and meticulous is now rushed and messy.  If timelines aren't met because a case still needs investigation, the court can impose drastic remedies that can affect the case.

High profile, racially motivated cases are the most difficult to prosecute.  Every move is critiqued.  Witnesses are interviewed in local news media and the national news before we even have a chance to speak with them.  Experts provide their opinions based on media reports that don't provide the full information.  Family members cry for arrest.  Politicians use the case to garner air time.  The accused's family cries for sympathy.

Then, there is the prosecutor.  The United States Attorney in this case.  His sole focus is on directing the investigation and prosecuting any provable crimes.  Saying that the investigation is continuing doesn't make for an interesting soundbite though.

A prosecutor needs to step back from public pressure and analyze a case like it was any other.  Granted, we are all humans and it is impossible to take the pressure completely out of it.  As a society, we want prosecutors to independently analyze every case.  If a crime is committed prosecute it, no matter who the suspect or victim is.  If not, do not prosecute the case, no matter who the suspect or victim is.

A CNN poll said that 75% of all Americans want Zimmerman arrested for shooting Martin.  What if the poll said that 75% of Americans believe Zimmerman was justified?  Should that matter?  This is the kind of sweeping conclusions and opinions thorough investigators avoid.
I fully expect a grand jury to investigate the murder of Trayvon Martin.  What happens from there is anybody's guess. 

This week, I'll discuss the law of self-defense.  I'll also talk about prosecuting hate crimes.  I'll mix in as much Florida and federal law as I feel competent in delivering.

1 comment:

  1. I think investigation is warranted. I would say I do not have enough information to say whether I think Zimmerman should be arrested, only that there should be an investigation for sure. I don't envy the United States Attorney. This issue is so provocative.