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DOJ Convenes Grand Jury For Zimmerman Civil Rights Case

DOJ Convenes Grand Jury For Zimmerman Civil Rights Case

But where’s the credible evidence?

Note: Title has been updated.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper today reported that the Department of Justice has assembled a Federal Grand jury to meet next week to hear testimony about whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights on the night that Zimmerman ultimately killed Martin in self-defense.

It was only last month that the Washington Post reported that unidentified Federal law enforcement officials thought it very unlikely that federal charges would be brought against Zimmerman, due to insufficient evidence.  Indeed, despite having dozens of FBI agents interview scores of people regarding Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin, not even a smidgen of racism was uncovered in Zimmerman’s past or in the particular events surrounding his self-defense shooting of Martin.

Indeed, quite the contrary: what evidence was uncovered with regard to race showed the opposite of racial animus.  For example, Zimmerman and his wife tutored black school children. Zimmerman’s elderly black neighbor testified at his trial (by television, due to severe illness) in glowing terms about Zimmerman’s kindness towards her.  One of Zimmerman’s college professors, a black Naval officer, also spoke glowingly about him, and noted that Zimmerman had told him he’d planned to become a prosecutor someday.  When a local black youth was beaten by the son of a local police official, Zimmerman organized the community to rally in favor of accountability.

There is little indication that any new credible information has appeared. The only witness on record as being scheduled to appear before the Grand Jury is the Frank Taaffe.  Taaffe styles himself as a “friend” of Zimmerman’s, a claim for which there seems little actual support.  Taaffe also seems to be an anxious attention seeker, having somehow extended his 15 minutes of fame in the aftermath of Zimmerman’s trial to the current day.  The Orlando Sentinel piece reports that Taafe:

believes Zimmerman was motivated by race the night he followed then shot Trayvon in 2012.  Taaffe cites a phone conversation he had with Zimmerman in the days following the shooting but before Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

That purported phone conversation revealing grounds for a federal civil rights prosecution would have occurred in early 2012.  The credibility of Taaffe’s claim is considerably reduced by the fact that for some reason he never thought to mention this call to anybody until two years later, in early 2014.  Indeed, Taaffe was among those interviewed by the aforementioned FBI agents in the aftermath of the shooting, and yet never thought to make mention of this incriminating phone conversation with Zimmerman.

The timing of this announcement must also be seen in light of the upcoming election, which polling suggests will be an utter political catastrophe for Democrats.  One reason for this is that the turnout among black voters–who typically vote ~95% for Democrats–is expected to be very low compared to the Presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 when Obama was on the ticket.  Might this sudden announcement of a Grand Jury targeting Zimmerman for civil rights violations be an effort to show the black community that Democrats are attempting to do something positive for this traditional Democrat constituency?

Interestingly, with the Grand Jury scheduled for next Wednesday, the day after the election, there will be no opportunity to evaluate the seriousness of this Grand Jury hearing until voting has been completed. Convenient timing, for some.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.


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All Holder needs is this Taffey character for an indictment and another year of race bating.

The language of the underlying Statute requires a gun used in inter-state commerce. Zimmerman’s weapon was manufactured in Florida.

the defendant employs a firearm, dangerous weapon, explosive or incendiary device, or other weapon that has traveled in interstate or foreign commerce –

I am sure that such legal technicalities won’t deter another two years of race baiting.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to sequester. | October 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I suspect that DOJ put Taffy on a rack in their basement and drove his new position.

    Most certainly, there should be a Grand Jury convened to address violation of so many people’s civil rights by the Scheme Team. There really should be both criminal and civil actions to reign in a large scale for profit racket and systematic abridgement of due process.

Political bull.

The most vehement, uncompromising, and vile racist scum could still shoot one of the targets of his racism in legitimate self-defense and it would not be a civil rights violation. A racist does not lose his right to defend himself against violent attacks from the subjects of his racism just because he hates them.

OK. THIS deserves a LOT of noise, and maybe MORE than just noise.

Join me in raising your voices, people. I will be addressing a letter to my Senators and Representative.

This is just an outrage, and a transparent outrage to boot.

If HOlder does not back off of this, I WILL support an action in the streets. Not violence, but effective.

    sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | October 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Collateral Estoppel is recognized by Federal Courts in criminal cases. Could one then construct an argument that the juries fact finding of self-defense is binding on a subsequent prosecution? I would argue that the United States by virtue of its early involvement and testimony of Federal Officers was an implicit party to the State prosecution.

      Ragspierre in reply to sequester. | October 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      I frankly have no flucking clue as to what, where, or how there is any…ANY…legal basis for this bullSHIT.

      Near as I can tell, this is PURE politics. Again, however, I am no kinda criminal practitioner.

        amwick in reply to Ragspierre. | October 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        Collateral Estoppel seems to be a kind of protection, something like double jeopardy. Right? I want it to be a good thing. (lawyers and their strange vocabulary!!)
        You could make “Collateral Estoppel for GZ” protest signs. Kind of catchy.

      Technically the trail jury doesn’t “find self-defense,” they simply determine that self-defense hasn’t been disproven beyond a reasonable doubt.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        sequester in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        You are 100% correct. Collateral Estoppel generally holds that a jury finding cannot be disturbed. Absent new facts to litigate I do not see how a successive prosecution by another sovereign can be undertaken.

        It is utterly preposterous to think that Zimmerman was considering Martins race when his head was being pounded on the pavement. What he may have considered earlier is irrelevant to the plea of self-defense.

        Another issue. The incident took place on Florida sovereign territory. Will the self-defense laws of the State of Florida apply in the District Court? If these laws apply, as they should, isn’t Zimmerman immune by the immunity clause from further prosecution.

          MarkS in reply to sequester. | October 30, 2014 at 6:49 pm

          This happened to the cops that beat Rodney King. A state jury acquitted and then the Feds tried on civil rights violations and two of the cops went to jail.

          sequester in reply to sequester. | October 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm

          Dual prosecution is based on the tenuous legal notion that the laws of different sovereigns apply (Heath v US). The distinguishing factor here is that Zimmerman’s self-defense conduct was most likely governed by the laws of the State of Florida. Arguably, Florida self-defense statutes must be applied by the District Court. That creates a host of estoppel and statutory immunity issues not present in the King case.

          However, both cases were about politics not law.

        I’m not at your skill level but that is not the case in WA state. I dealt with a case where a father took his kid to protect her and was charged with custodial interference. He pleaded not guilty with an affirmative defense of necessity (statutory defense). The jury was instructed that the affirmative defense was the defendant’s burden to prove by a preponderance. The jury verdict form stated: The jury finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant reasonably believed that his actions were necessary under the law to protect his daughter from abuse.

        Now that sounds to me like a finding of fact. In his family law case, I wrote a brief for his attorney that argued that it was a finding of fact and that collateral estoppel barred revisiting a criminal jury verdict with a special finding by retrying the fact in civil court, and I found several good cases for precedent.

          In the case you cite the standard of proof was the same in the criminal and civil trial–by a preponderance of the evidence (51%).

          But that’s NOT the case where the defense is self-defense. With self-defense, the defendant need merely maintain a reasonable doubt at criminal trial, which is a vastly lower standard than the preponderance of the evidence required in a civil case.

          You’re comparing apples to oranges, thus the wrong outcome.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          P.S. There IS one state, Ohio, which still requires the defendant to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence, in which case it would align with your scenario. The other 49 states, not so much.

      NotARealLawyer in reply to sequester. | October 31, 2014 at 10:56 am

      The jury didn’t rule on self-defense. They apparently started deliberations on that issue and were hung on whether Zimmerman had acted in self-defense or not.

      They then considered the criminal charges against Zimmerman and concluded that even if he had not acted in self-defense, that his actions did not fall under the criminal statutes he was charged under.

      It was clearly not second degree murder and the Florida manslaughter statute he was charged under explicitly excludes actions done in the heat of the moment. Shooting someone while they are on top of you and beating your brains in seems to fall under that exclusion.

      The not guilty verdict does not prevent the Federal Government from charging Zimmerman. Dual Sovereignty has already been mentioned. Beyond that, the Federal Government would be charging him with a crime that requires proving different elements. It will face the same insurmountable hurdle that Florida faced in the State Prosecution. Namely that at the time Zimmerman acted he was flat on his back with someone pounding the snot out of him.

        Ridiculous. No offense.

        Sure, murder 2 was never going to stick.

        The jury WAS, however, ALSO INSTRUCTED ON EVERY INCLUDED LESSER CHARGE, including manslaughter.

        It was uncontested that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Under Florida law this is at a minimum voluntary manslaughter, even if one granted adequate provocation. UNLESS one has a legal justification for the act.

        The only defense presented, and therefore the only one that could enable a jury to conclude that Zimmerman ought to be acquitted, was the justification of self-defense.

        The idea that Zimmerman could have been acquitted on any other basis is pure hogwash.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          sequester in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm

          The second degree murder jury instruction included the words

          is done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, and

          Those words are broader than the Federal Hate Crimes Statute.

          I did some cursory checking. While the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine permits successive prosecutions, collateral estoppel can be claimed in a criminal case with different sovereigns if the Defendant can show privity. Collateral Estoppel alone will not bar prosecution, but it will result in jury instructions that make conviction impossible. The Estoppel occurs after a final judgment of acquittal.

          Of course since this is a political and not a legal matter, legal niceties go out the window. A claim of privity can easily be waved away by a District Court judge. I am awfully afraid that the convening of a Grand Jury means the Administration is looking to stoke racial fires for another two years.

          Bruce Hayden in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm


          Bruce Hayden in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

          Yes, Murder 2 required a depraved mind. But, in the end, that was irrelevant, since, as Andrew pointed out, manslaughter was a lesser included offense, and the jury was given manslaughter instructions (along with the 2nd Degree Murder instructions). Manslaughter was pretty forward, absent self-defense. Zimmerman immediately confessed that he had shot Martin, the autopsy showed that that one shot was the proximate cause of Martin’s death, and that is all that would have been required to convict him, absent self-defense.

          So, we really know nothing, from the verdict, about what the jury thought of the depraved mind element of 2nd Degree Murder, and, it turned out to be irrelevant, since the only thing that could have saved Zimmerman from manslaughter was his defense of self-defense, and that applied equally to the 2nd Degree Murder charge. Or, maybe another way of saying it is that 2nd Degree Murder is Manslaughter with the added element of Depraved Mind (in this case), and the jury couldn’t (logically) find Zimmerman not guilty of Manslaughter, but then guilty of 2nd Degree Murder. Think of it as a Venn diagram, with the bigger bubble being Manslaughter, and a smaller bubble inside the bigger one being 2nd Degree Murder. Since 2nd Degree Murder is a proper subset of Manslaughter (which is why it is a lesser included offense), you can’t be in the 2nd Degree Murder bubble/subset w/o also being in the Manslaughter bubble/set. But since he wasn’t in the Manslaughter bubble, he couldn’t be in the 2nd Degree Murder bubble either.

They’ll waste the grand jurors’ time, the witnesses’ time, the lawyers’ time, not to mention thousands of taxpayer dollars, for this farce.

And in the end, it won’t change the fact that Trayvon Martin didn’t have a “civil right” to assault and pummel George Zimmerman because Martin didn’t like the way Zimmerman was looking at him, and Zimmerman did have a “civil right” to use a gun to defend his life.

Time to gin up the dumbass vote!

Why does the headline say that the “FBI convenes” grand jury? Unless I am confused, the FBI has no involvement in Grand jury proceedings other than as possible witnesses.

Other than that, I thought Grand juries were secret. Including whether the GJ was investigating any specific persons. Sounds (and smells) to me like more thug-loving politics.

    That’s an error-this was originally combined with a second story involving the FBI, then we decided to split the stories, and the headline went all bonkers.

    Headlines are tricky to fix, messes with the URL and search engines, I’ll have to bump it upstairs.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

A “finishing stretch” get-out-the-vote scam, nothing more.

Eric “The Gun Runner” Holders last gasp for race baiting relevancy. As a government official that is.

You’ve got to be shidding me! These dirt bags will stoop to any level to get a little more mileage out of this case. I hope that GZ and his defense team can use this as a platform to humiliate all of the politically motivated scum that keep this atrocity alive.

I see this as a way of passing the buck. They will throw it to the GJ because they know they do not have anything, let the GJ clear him and then say; “Look we tried!”. Also, I Laffy Taffee the the best they can bring forward, then its just sad.

I am wondering if Rachel Jeantel would testify.

same thing they did to OJ really, lost criminal case so took him for everything in civil court.
I vehemently disagreed with it then and I do now.

    Totally different situation to this one. That was criminal liability (to the state) versus civil liability (to the surviving family). This is criminal liability to one sovereign (the state) versus criminal liability to a second sovereign (the feds).

    Just because someone manages to maintain a reasonable doubt in a criminal case and achieve an acquittal has nothing to do with whether they can maintain their innocence by a preponderance of the evidence in civil court.

    In any case, the criminal case is a matter of being held accountable for wrongdoing by the government. The civil case is a matter of being held accountable by the civilian victims. Two entirely different matters.

    Of course, much the same applies in a similar fashion to the different sovereigns.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      the reason is the same. the civil case is used because they lost the criminal case. its a second bite at the apple. if they had won the criminal in either there would be no civil trial.
      its a tool losers use. And I have never personally met a lawyer (no idea of your feelings on it) that doesn’t love it for some reason. People can justify any way they want but in the end what I say is true, its a tool losers use. And no matter the law its wrong.

        Ragspierre in reply to dmacleo. | October 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm

        That simply is not true.

        The plaintiffs in the civil case would have pressed their cause regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, as was their right.

        NotARealLawyer in reply to dmacleo. | October 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

        Not necessarily true. There are often civil cases brought after criminal cases have been won. Especially if the person has assets the family can go after.

        Winning the criminal case first actually makes it much easier to get a civil judgement. The family may actually not have to go to trial. Just present the findings in the criminal case.

    Ragspierre in reply to dmacleo. | October 30, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    You could not be more wrong.

    You should think of the OJ matter in terms of two completely separate tracks that run parallel for some distance.

    One track is owned by the state, and has its own set of laws that restrict and empower it.

    The other is owned by private parties…in the OJ case the survivors of the murdered…and has an almost completely different set of laws that restrict and empower it.

    Regardless of the events on the state track, the private track still leaves people with things they have every right to do. ANY outcome of the state trial would have left the private parties with the same powers to seek redress for their loses.

    You would not want it any other way. Or you shouldn’t.

      sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | October 31, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Rags and Andrew are legally correct. Estoppel usually requires mutuality of parties. In this the criminal case the “Plaintiff” was the State of California. In the civil case the Plaintiffs were the aggrieved families. Although the mutuality requirement has been loosened by the Courts in recent years, a Defendant generally cannot estop a new Plaintiff from litigating the same facts reduced to judgment with earlier and different Plaintiff.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | October 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Another way to look at the question is “res judicata” or “Latin for “‘a matter [already] judged'”.

      The elements required to prove the crime of murder are NOT the same elements for proving the civil torts of assault and battery or wrongful death. SOME of them are the same, but a failure (or success) to prove one is not the same as proving (or failing to prove) the other.

        sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | October 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        18 U.S.C. § 249 requires the Attorney General (Holder) to certify:

        (1) In general.— No prosecution of any offense described in this subsection may be undertaken by the United States, except under the certification in writing of the Attorney General, or a designee, that—
        (A) the State does not have jurisdiction;

        (B) the State has requested that the Federal Government assume jurisdiction;

        (C) the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or

        (D) a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.

        It is beyond me how such a certification can be made to the Court.

        For a conviction the prosecution must show a nexus to interstate commerce. The Statute mentions a firearm that travelled in interstate commerce. Zimmerman’s gun was made in Florida.

        Finally, unlike the Civil Rights Statutes this law is not carefully crafted. The underlying crimes, are arguably governed by the laws of the State where the offense took place. In other words Florida immunity and self-defense laws should apply.

        I don’t see how this dog hunts except in a kangaroo court.

        Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | October 31, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        Yep. As I said…it’s all politics.

        But that is the Obamabanana Republic, in a nutshell.

Henry Hawkins | October 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Holy midterm desperation, Batman!

What puzzles me is the total lack of evidence supporting anyone but Trayvon initiating the conflict. Nothing supports Zimmerman ever approaching Trayvon.

How do you violate civil rightw doing the totally legal watching of a stranger in your neighborhood, who then attacks you?

OTOH maybe this is a good time to clear up any claim of Trayvon’s innocence.

    Gunstar1 in reply to MikadoCat. | October 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Strange. I would want an attorney to use a method that had been proven to work really well.

    I would not want to run the chance of my attorney making the jury feel sorry for the victim and therefore convict me of some lesser crime.

    It isn’t a TV show.

We are soon to be the envy of every third world justice department. Observers from Malawi and Zimbabwe will come to observe and, perhaps, learn. North Korea will institute a system of “American Justice”.

We be numbah one!!!

JoeThePimpernel | October 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

All they need to do is look at the transcript of the criminal trial.

Rachel Jeantel, the big, fat, dim-witted black woman that Saint Skittles was talking to when the incident occurred, testified under oath that Saint Skittles attacked George Zimmerman, but that Saint Skittles merely intended to give “the creepy @$$-crackah” a little “@$$-whooping,” and Zimmerman “overreacted.”

Case dismissed.

Richard Aubrey | October 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Hard to imagine any additional, useful information or evidence. The feds must be hoping for a jury of meatheads. Maybe they’ll bring in a slew of witnesses who will weep and preach, talk about Amistad….

I wonder how this miscarriage of justice will affect the White Hispanic vote. Will the Democrat-appointed community organizers be able to mollify their second-tier constituency?

As I understand it what they would need to prove is that Zimmerman didn’t shoot Trayvon because his head was being beaten on the pavement, or Trayvon reached for his gun and said he was going to die, but because Trayvon was black.

Maybe this time Zimmerman won’t decide to use a whimp attorney that isn’t willing to rock the boat and shred Trayvon and his family aggressively fighting the charges.

    Milhouse in reply to MikadoCat. | November 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    It’s worse than that. Even if he’d killed him for being black, that would not be a civil rights violation. It would be a state crime of murder, with a sentence enhancement for being motivated by hatred.

    No, to be a civil rights violation, and thus a federal crime, the jury must find that GZ killed TM, not because TM was in the process of killing or severely injuring him, not because TM reached for his gun, not because TM was black, but because GZ was upset that a black person was using a public facility, i.e. a sidewalk. I.e. that GZ was trying to enforce a privately decreed system of segregation, under which that street or sidewalk was reserved for non-black people, and any black person who used it would be punished.

    See, e.g., the federal conviction of Lemrick Nelson for depriving Yankel Rosenbaum of his civil right to walk on the street; the state’s case alleged that had Rosenbaum been on private property Nelson would not have killed him. That’s obvious nonsense, but the jury had to find that with a straight face in order to convict him.

    Which makes me wonder, isn’t that development private property? If so, how can there be a civil rights case at all?

Does anyone know what are the elements of the crime of violation of civil rights? Does some protected class status have to be involved? I assume that even if Trayvon had been white that the Feds could still bring a civil rights case against GZ. Or am I wrong?

If the civil rights case doesn’t work out for the government, I wonder what’s next. Maybe declare Zimmerman an enemy combatant ship him off to a cage somewhere? For something that never should have been tried in the first place, this case sure has legs.

I seriously doubt it will be pursued with any vigor – although that doesn’t help Zimmerman’s stress level or need to pay lawyers until it clears.

Investigators had to pursue anyone he spoke with via phone in the days following the incident. Anything he told anyone could be used against him: the hearsay rule has an exception for ‘statements against penal interest’ – meaning if you tell your pals you did it, it can come into evidence.

[Hearsay is only uniformly forbidden if it helps you. What you tell a cop in an interview is just inadmissible hearsay if exculpatory].

So this guy was spoken to by police, if indeed there is any record of the call at all. And he told them nothing that could be used against Zimmerman. OR there was no call and he’s making it all up.

Flimsy witness to build a case upon.

But, of course, the point is NOT to indict George, but rather to remind black voters that Whitey is out to get them and they need to get out and vote for Democrats less they all end up like Trayvon.

Fear and Loathing are the Democrats’ last issues. It’s what they trade on.

the ham sandwich was unavailable for comment.

One of two FBI interviews Frank Taaffe gave where he admits he does not know George Zimmerman beyond a casual acquaintance and Frank also admits the two have never discussed anything involving race or racial issues

The ACLU sent Eric Holder the letter linked below stating that the ACLU’s position is that any DOJ prosecution of Zimmerman falls within the scope of double jeopardy

Any chance that Benjamin Crump is behind all of this? IANAL, so I don’t know what is “required”, legally speaking, to allow the family to sue for damages in a case like this.

And Mr. Crump and his ilk are all about collecting a paycheck.

He even has a saying about it, I believe – something about “just get the indictment” or some such nonsense.



Remember when I predicted this…???

My $0.02 – This is about scaring people who would use a gun to defend themselves. It’s a means to achieve gun control by the leftists, without having to actually ban guns. Zim is as clean as it gets. So if HE gets punished, every single person that would contemplate using a gun to defend their own life will think twice about it. And this is a win for the gun control zealots. The fact that this Grand Jury is even being convened is a message, and that message is “No guns, not ever.”

My view is that this is a last minute attempt to fire up the Black vote in places like Florida. It isn’t well sourced, which says to me that it is more likely politically than legally motivated.

As has been pointed out above, if the DoJ did indict Zimmerman, it would be for a civil rights violation, not for murder. Obviously different sovereigns, but also different elements. The problem that I see is that whereas self-defense is well laid out in statutes as it applies to state criminal law, it is seemingly less so when it comes to civil rights. Not sure if the Florida or federal self-defense law would be applicable here, but doubt if that really matters, since I think it likely that Zimmerman’s self-defense claim would have even worked in Ohio, despite the burden and level of proof there being tilted towards the state. But, if self-defense isn’t applicable, due to the nature of the defense, how about necessity as a defense? Necessity and self-defense are pretty close together, when it comes to the use of deadly force, at least in cases like this.

Interesting post today by Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy in WaPo: What if you use deadly force because the attacker is about to kill you and you hate him? Not clear from that post and the comments whether or how you could lose a defense of self-defense even if you did hate the party you killed or gravely injured in (otherwise) self-defense.

    I’m a huge fan of Eugene’s, but the question he raises isn’t really a serious one among serious scholars of self-defense law.

    Eugene wonders if one might act in perfectly lawful self-defense based on necessity of self-preservation, but then lose that justification if a layer of “hate” is slathered on top, even if it was undisputed underlying necessity remained unchanged.

    That’s just not how it works. If it’s uncontested that someone is about to unlawfully kill you unless you use force to stop them, the law in EVERY jurisdiction allows you to use whatever force is needed to stop that attack, no matter HOW much you also happen to hate them for other reasons.

    Eugenee lays out the reality well enough in his own piece–so long as there is adequate cause to have killed in self-defense, it doesn’t matter if there might have been additional factors at play.

    Where people get into trouble is when those “additional factors” appear to undermine the credibility of the “adequate cause.” If you “defended” yourself against a person for whom hate or greed or other malice motives alone might have been sufficient motive to kill–a cheating spouse, the secretary you knocked up, a disgruntled business partner, someone to whom you own much money, someone from whom you stand to inherit much money–then it casts doubt on the credibility of your claim that the killing was in necessary self defense.

    But that’s a matter of sufficiency, weight, and credibility of evidence, which is the same in every trial, and not something particularly remarkable to self-defense cases.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Bruce Hayden in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 31, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks. Pretty much agrees with my thoughts – but they are, admittedly, biased, having recently read your book.

      sequester in reply to Andrew Branca. | October 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      I think the underlying elements of the Hate Crime Statute (18 U.S.C. § 249) have already been reduced to final judgment in the Zimmerman case. The jury instruction to subsumes the Hate Crime Statute. The jury was charged in in part:

      An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that:
      1. a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
      2. is done from ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, and
      3. is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.
      In order to convict of Second Degree Murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove George Zimmerman had an intent to cause death.

      18 U.S.C. § 249 is silent and vague on the definitions of the underlying offenses. Since the underlying acts happened in Florida, rather than Federal land, the District Court arguably must follow Florida Statutes for the underlying crime. I don’t see how you can expect a person to follow two different self-defense standards on the same ground.

      But if Florida Statutes apply to the underlying offenses, Zimmerman can invoke the Florida immunity statute in District Court. (The Florida courts have used preponderance of evidence for immunity hearings. One would think that acquittal also confers immunity, but I do not know how the Florida Courts view the matter).

      Of course this is an exercise in politics and not law. So if there is an indictment you can bet the “randomly” hand selected District Court judge will reject these arguments. It is a safe bet that Zimmerman would be the first Federal Prosecution following a self-defense acquittal under 18 U.S.C. § 249.

Char Char Binks | October 31, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I got your credible evidence right here!

This is purely political.

Holder and Company only need to present the case to the grand jury then their job is done. If Zimmerman is indicted, they win. If he is not indicted, they just blame a racist jury and claim they tried.

They then announce plans to investigate the very prejudicial legal system. They win again.

Remember, the low information voters they are targeting won’t question reality. They don’t understand when politicians patronize them. They will only see an excuse for failure and an administration catering and pandering to their race. That’s all they will see and all they care about.

I see this less of a mid-term move and more of a ferguson spin move. As the grand jury comes closer to announcing Wilson wong be charged, doj renews zimmerman to refocus the justice taking place on Z.

B.s. either way. time to give Zimmerman his gun back.

Hip-Hop radio stations in North Carolina are playing an insulting ad in support of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) saying the her opponent, Thom Tillis, supports stand your ground laws, “the very law responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin.”

You know, if Dems couldn’t cheat, or lie about their opponent, they would probably capture about 30% of the vote.

Actual ad quote: “Tillis even led the effort to pass the type of stand your ground laws that caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin,” the ad claims.

This is about two things
– Politics – winning elections, stimulating black voter base.
– Propaganda – spreading the lies, furthering the agenda and increasing membership the black Muslim communist party group. (NAACP now means advancement of Communist Party and is allied closely with Islam).

There are two precedents which shows the race-baiters can fail in prosecuting Zimmerman.

After the 2006 Sean Bell shooting there was a trial in 2008 in which the three cops accused were acquitted. Two years later the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ refused to prosecute them in a civil trial stating: “Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids… Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation.
… the evidence was insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the law enforcement personnel who fired at Bell, Guzman and Benefield acted willfully.”

After Johannes Mehserle’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of Oscar Grant civil rights charges were brought against him and yet the Jury refused to convict him. The AP reported: “The jury awarded no damages to Oscar Grant’s father in his suit against the transit agency and former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle.
The jury of six women and four men unanimously found there were no deep family ties between Oscar Grant III and his father, Oscar Grant Jr., who was in prison at the time of the shooting and remains behind bars for murder. Jurors also answered “no” when asked on the jury form if Mehserle “acted with a purpose to harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement objective” when he shot the younger Grant.”

If he managed to be acquitted even if he was convicted on a lesser charge. That means Zimmerman can again be acquitted. If the criminal trial established you acted in self-defense. How could you possibly be willfully violating someone’s civil rights ?