Zimmerman: Be Wary of the Power of Belief to Shape Perception

Searching Mind and I have been arguing about why Jeralyn Merritt continues to support George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.

SM says her belief may be based in a psychosexual fascination or fatal attraction for George Zimmerman. I disagree.

I believe our disagreement provides one of those proverbial teaching moments, so I have decided to post my latest response to SM as a new article rather than a comment and solicit your views.

DISCLOSURE: I have known Jeralyn since 1995 when I met her at a conference of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. We were both members of the Board of Directors and got to know each other on a professional basis due to our work as directors. I characterize our relationship as professional acquaintances rather than friends because we have never shared any personal information.

This is my answer.

I strongly disagree with Jeralyn’s opinion about this case and I disagree with your opinion about why she holds that opinion.

I also believe that it’s sexist to attribute her belief in George Zimmerman’s innocence to a psychosexual fascination or fatal attraction to him. I regard your opinion as a form of demonization.

No one should make an accusation like that unless they can prove it and I seriously doubt you can prove it.

Do not make the mistake of underestimating a criminal defense attorney’s passionate embrace of the presumption of innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt. I spent most of my adult life looking at the world from that perspective and I can assure you that I did not regard it as a mere intellectual pretension to be uttered in social situations to politely remind people who we are and what we do. I lived it and breathed it into being. I walked my talk. A lot of people thought I was crazy to do that. Most people do not and cannot comprehend why anyone would be a criminal defense attorney. There were many times when I did not understand it either.

Jeralyn and everyone else I knew at NACDL is the same way. It was a great source of pride and an important part of our identity to speak for and defend the poor and the marginalized.

My unwavering support for Trayvon Martin in the face of some of the most vile and disgusting lies and criticism that I have ever encountered is born of my belief in and commitment to justice and ending racism. This belief and commitment is why I became a criminal defense attorney and you can see it in everything I say and do with this blog.

I believe Jeralyn’s unwavering support for George Zimmerman is born of her passionate and self-defining belief in the presumption of innocence.

Absent compelling evidence of some other motive behind her support for George Zimmerman, I am not going to assume that she is motivated by anything other than her desire that George Zimmerman be presumed innocent and found not guilty, unless the jury unanimously concludes that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense when he killed Trayvon Martin. He committed the crime of murder in the second degree.

The lesson in this teaching moment is to never underestimate the power of a belief to filter and shape human perception. Should you doubt its power, consider what it did to George Zimmerman.

97 Responses to Zimmerman: Be Wary of the Power of Belief to Shape Perception

  1. jd says:

    I followed Jeralyn Merritt’s blog on the Trayvon Martin case extensively in the first months of the case because it was in-depth and moderated to exclude intolerant postings and attempted to stick to the facts. She presented a good format for useful discussion when others were “all over the place.” After a short blurb of her own, usually highlighting to non-lawyers aspects of the way a case like this runs, she opened the floor to around 200 comments, and then closed the thread until the next blurb appeared. All sides were able to present their opinions and the hate speech was scrubbed quickly. A divisive, but coherent community of sorts emerged in spite of the obvious bias towards the defendant. Several honest bloggers seemed to be willing to wait for the facts to fully emerge even though the overall climate from day one was led by Jeralyn’s insightful posts about the legalities and formalities of the case, always slanted towards the defense. As a community it seemed somewhat poisoned by these semi-authoritarian posts of hers, and yet eventually the evidence mounted in a manner that was no longer favorable to the defense – if it ever indeed was.

    She seems to be a concealed handgun carrier herself, and while she calls he blog talkLeft, I suspect her version of “left” is less progressive and more libertarian at the core.

    What I learned from posting there as the often lone voice who found GZ not credible from almost the very start is that she herself shies away from the closer look at his story, and instead falls back on legalities when push comes to shove. She’s honest enough in pushing the idea that she is presenting “the way” that GZ can defend his case, not “this is what happened,” and that’s what I take away from her posts. I found it useful to be challenged by this thinking, and continued to post there for several months as the discovery documents slowly emerged into the public realm.

    And I learned a lot – and I still think the state is going to have its hands full getting a guilty verdict in some regard even though it seems obvious that George pushed a false narrative and lied to investigators. It’s now clear to me that George can be proven to have lied about his movements from clubhouse to cut thru and the prosecution can prove it “six ways ’til Sunday” that he chased Trayvon down Twin Tree Lane with his car and that most of what he says happened in this first portion of the altercation is a pack of poorly told lies. The rest, including the reasons for the shooting, will be much harder to prove for the prosecution IMO. (He has however established a pattern to his lies that can be extended past the part where his own call to police dispatch obviously contradicts his statements to investigators.)

    But on Jeralyn’s site, I made the mistake of challenging the status quo of the group over there and was eventually banned from being able to post there, mostly for asking the one question that his supporters cannot answer: where were the two persons when GZ told the dispatcher in this exchange, “is he by the clubhouse now? /Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.”

    George himself repeatedly insisted to SPD investigators that he was parked in front of the clubhouse, or at least “at the clubhouse” when he said this. (This is all in his final SPD interview) He’s lying and it’s obvious, because were he there the physical timing of his other claim, that TM emerged from the cut thru to menacingly circle his car elsewhere is not possible. This is the ONE question that will stump any supporter of GZ. Try it yourself. Someone who contradicts themselves so clearly is either lying once, or lying twice and in this case GZ is telling lies both ways that he wants the story to go.

    That’s where and how I lost any faith in Jeralyn’s credibility in regards to this case. An honest person admits when they are “licked.” She chose to dodge the issue and ban me as a poster instead.

    I never once claimed to know that GZ was guilty or innocent when he pulled the trigger, and I await a jury’s decision on that question but the facts are in regarding George’s account of where he was that night and what he was doing, and he’s lying. I hope he receives a good defense and fair trial, but he’s not going to escape his lies regarding his movements. His “selective memory” does not remove him from the space-time continuum, and the pattern of his lies lends strong support to the prosecution’s case. GZ himself has proven the case against his credibility, and in a self defense claim, credibility is everything.

    There is a map, a stopwatch and GZ’s own words to show he’s lied to investigators. And of those three things, the defense would have to impeach their own client, the defendant to move away from this sad fact. That tends to go poorly with juries.

    Jeralyn can have whatever motive she carries in her heart for continuing to defend his actions, but she moved outside of the realm of me having much respect for what she says when she crossed the line of refusing to listen to reason and ignoring the facts of the case. I see her merely as someone who is striking a pose for a case she knows she’s lost, and turning the corner into a dark area where she is forced to obfuscate and prevaricate to continue to do so. One can strike poses in a courtroom, and should do so in fact, but in my opinion she’s stepped outside her role as a credible blog moderator when she actively denies the truth and works to squash it citing fuzzy “rules” regarding the discussion on a blog. It’s easy to ban the truth on one’s personal blog. All it takes is a lack of credibility, and this is something she choses to share with George Zimmerman.

    • CommonSenseForChange says:

      Exactly! The rules are fuzzy to permit power abuse. I was threatened with banning as well. I just took the stance that there’s no prob and no need since I’ve got the whole www to post on. LOL

      The disservice is to those that want answers from multiple “expert” sources — like potential lawyers and the general public. That’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for this blog by Professor Leatherman. He presents the law and allows opinions recognizing we’re part of the mix.

  2. SearchingMind says:

    Professor, I shall let the Jeralyn-issue rest on the following grounds.

    First, you are a Professor of Law and you have many years of experience practicing law. That carries huge weight as far as I am concerned. Indeed, during my student years my favorite lecturers were the ones who were judges/layers (emeritus) and lecturers at the same time. They always see thing from a broader perspective and teach their students the kind of stuff one would never learn from text books.

    Furthermore, I think that your arguments in the matter at issue are well thought through and compelling. I can relate to them. I had a client who asked me to (a) file for divorce (b) get a restraining order against her husband (c) get the judge to award her full custody of their daughter and (d) ownership of the house and all the household items therein. My client told me that she has been physically abused and humiliated by her husband for many years and that he has threatened to kill her. I believed her and came down hard on her husband with the “sledgehammer” – even when some of my colleagues told me that aspects of her story did not make sense. I would not listen to them and accused them of meanness and being contemptuous- and unable to relate to the plight of ordinary poor women. I had to come up with good explanation (e.g. trauma and the symptoms thereof) to fill in the blanks in her story. I was also outraged by the conduct of the man (and unconsciously wanted to punish him for that). I remember some of my colleagues asking me if it is possible that I am- or may be getting emotionally involved in the case! That infuriated me very much. I am sure smoke rushed out of my ears when I heard that. My client came across emotionally and physically feeble and timid and had – in my untrained eyes – other signs of a battered woman. I knew that I had to protect her and her child. Somehow I believed that she depended on me to be safe and strong enough to move on with her life. I could not fail her. And I did not. The judge ruled as I requested. Of late, it emerged that MORE THAN half of what I believed then was NOT true. In the mean time, the social life of the ex-husband has been devastated and I am at war with my own conscience. Within this context I think that Ms. Jeralyn Merritt’s may have been wrongly carried away in her zeal to see justice done. The difference, though, is that even though Ms. Merritt is not Zimmerman’s lawyer, she dose act like someone who has her own dog in the fight – as Malisha et al have bittingly point out. And that’s what makes Ms. Merritt’s ‘zeal’ ‘peculiar’. But as I said, our elders always know better. You, Professor are the elder in this matter. I am just a FEW MONTHS old in this business. So, I shall defer to your analysis and judgment in this matter and consider the case closed. I would also like to thank Malisha and others for their very educated contributions.

    • rachael says:

      Don’t be so hard on yourself SearchingMind. It is very hard not to get emotionally involved sometimes. You have a job to do and you want to do it to the best of your ability for your client and when you are working with emotional issues, it is hard to not get emotionally involved. That is a very large reason why I got out of nursing. I think in any profession where you work with people and knowing their lives is part of what you do to help them, it can be very hard to make that separation. I seriously doubt there is anyone who never has. Some deal with it better than others. Some get better at it over the years, I got worse. LOL

      Maybe people who go into being a doctor, a lawyer or a nurse or that type of thing just for the money is better off in that sense because if you go into it because you want to help people, you take a real chance of getting hurt – because you are a people too.

      I don’t know anything about this other lawyer the two of you are discussing, but it makes sense to me that she could be carried away in her zest to see justice done and she acts like someone who has her own dog in the fight just as we all do, she just has a difference of opinion. Maybe she, as a seasoned professional, should not let her emotions get involved, but the fact is, this is a very emotional case, regardless of which side one is on.

      But again mostly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You fought for your client just as you should have. She did need you, you did not fail, you will do the same when it comes up again, and you sound like a wonderful lawyer.

      • Lonnie Starr says:

        When an act has been committed, it must first be determined that the act is a crime, i.e. a violation of law. The investigation produces facts that are used to support any charges that may be laid. Then, a dispassionate view of these facts, reveal two or more theories about what has taken place and/or why.

        The expected challenge by the defense is either factual or emotional. If it is factual, then it’s in a “remains to be proven” category. But, if it’s emotional then it’s in a “these are the reasons why this is so”, category. Obviously to challenge facts with emotions, the emotional side must be compelling “in the extreme”.
        It’s the reason we have “guilty with an explanation”.

        I was once stopped for going through a red light. A crime!

        In court I explained to the judge that I had gone though the red light! My reason was as follows; I had heard sirens and did not know, and could not see where the sounds were coming from because of the traffic behind me. Looking around, I saw light flashes against a building along side me, that seemed to indicate that the emergency vehicle was trapped in traffic behind me. Knowing that time is of the essence for emergency vehicles, and being the first in my lane at the light, I decided to err on the side of caution and attempt to clear for the emergency vehicle by proceeding to pull to the side, which also required me to go through the light.

        The officer pulled in behind me, and to my chagrin I finally discovered that the emergency vehicle was actually coming from another direction, the flashing lights I had see were the caution lights of a non-emergency vehicle that was somewhere behind me.

        That was a plea based on emotion, and I suspect I won, because the judge felt that he did not want to stop me, or other people, from impulsively clearing for emergency vehicles, or wasting the time needed to be certain, because that could be the difference between someone’s life or death.

        This case has several important differences. LE does not want to encourage people to take their own paranoia based reasons as justification to take a life. So, they must demand that a clear and serious threat present. Since anything less puts the entire order of society at risk. The emotion to “err on the side of caution” in this case goes the other way, against any action being taken.

        If not, then, how could anyone risk going to a big box store or a supermarket? Or any other place where large numbers of people might be? It doesn’t have to be a dark sidewalk, it could be someone standing at a concession stand at a racetrack. Is he reaching for his wallet to pay for that hot dog? Or is he some ill intended crazy, pulling a gun to shoot people?

        We don’t think that way, because we’re used to a much more orderly society where such things are the exception, not the rule.
        But, with a few highly publicized tweeks of the law, that perception can be easily changed! All these “police involved shootings of unarmed people” is already changing the public’s perception of police. So much so, that you’ve already, no doubt, noted the absence of “law and order” planks in political platforms.

        Now, with SYG laws in the news, you can bet they’re going to begin to impact public behavior elsewhere. So, how the law is enforced is going to shape how society reacts for a very long time.

    • Malisha says:

      SearchingMind, you have a searching mind!

      For some unknown reason (I read quickly when I’m blogging and I have some recent memory problems in the “emotional memory” area, so forgive me) I did not remember that you were a practicing attorney.

      I must take some responsibility for your finding my provocative and “catty” question about the source of Merritt’s “mental block” vis a vis George Zimmerman possibly valid; I do talk a good game when I’m riled up. And I know very little about Merritt and I don’t read her stuff any more — got too disgusted by her assumption that Trayvon viciously attacked George and didn’t want to elevate my blood pressure unnecessarily.

      But in the story you tell about the divorce case you handled, let me suggest something to you. Because of a significant experience in my own past (long ago), I saw first-hand about 200 knock-down-drag-out divorces between REAL battered women and their abuser-husbands and I can tell you that over 80 percent of the time, the abusers won hands-down. I found it hard to believe that the abusers’ lawyers did not see through their clients’ vapid stories about their own innocence.

      Then I met a man who had been in the position that you now realize the husband/father was in, when you represented the liar mother/wife. I believed this man 100%, even though our initial conversation started out this way, verbatim:

      ME: [Name omitted], I have often met men who say what you are saying now, and I have often come to the conclusion that they were lying, but I will not start out with that assumption. I just want to tell you that before we speak. AND I want to make it clear that I will pay for my own meal and that in the end, if I believe you, I’ll pick up the tab for the whole dinner because I appreciate you coming to speak with me.

      HIM: Thank you. All I can tell you is the truth, and if you believe me, I will appreciate your help.

      At the end of the evening I paid for his dinner and my own and I left a big tip. I did try to help him but his case was lost, and it shocked me how the judge treated him the way I had seen judges treat battered women they disbelieved. Then it hit me, and I took him to dinner again to let him know what my conclusion was after the eight-month travail he and I went through while we witnessed a giant miscarriage of justice. Here was my conclusion:

      “It is not that the judges hate battered women and feel good siding with their abusers. The point is that whichever parent has the better KILLER INSTINCT wins! Most of the time, the abusers have such good KILLER INSTINCT that they win not only in the marriage but in the divorce as well! In fact, being abusive in the marriage puts the battered spouse — of either gender — at such disadvantage that it helps the abuser win in court! YOU lost because you were the spouse withOUT the KILLER INSTINCT! And of course, that’s the opposite of justice because the better parent is always the person with the protective instinct, not the killer instinct.”

      I have lost touch with this man. I hope when his daughters turned 18 they learned the truth not only about their father, but also about their abusive mother. You can hope for the same when the children of this client turn 18. Perhaps you can then “get away with” sending them each a simple birthday card saying — without violating client privilege — that you hope they have a happy birthday and you hope they have a good relationship with their father, too, or words to that effect. Who knows. I have often sent 18th birthday cards to children saying something harmless like I hope they have a good relationship with both their parents.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve made the same mistake and it’s one of the reasons why I say that a lawyer should not assume the client is telling the truth. I am not saying that we should assume the client is lying. I am saying that we should not ignore our knowledge and common sense when the client narrates what happened. Our job is not to judge our client. Our job is to provide our client with the benefit of our knowledge and experience.

      We need to retain our objectivity so that we can provide our clients with effective assistance of counsel. To provide that assistance, we also have to let them know if their narrative is credible in light of the evidence and common experience. We have to have this conversation with them after we establish a relationship of trust or they may reject what we say. We also have to conduct this conversation in a manner that does not violate the ethical prohibition against assisting a client to create a false narrative tailored to fit a cause of action or defense to a claim or criminal charge.

      None of this is easy to do. We cannot help our clients or ourselves, if we shut down our emotions and passion to the point of not caring about our clients. Yet, we cannot allow our objectivity and professional judgment to be compromised by our emotions. Finding and maintaining that balance from day to day, month to month, and year to year is no easy task.

      We will make mistakes because we are human and because we are human we must forgive ourselves for making those mistakes.

      Final point: Never assume that your elders know better. For example, your opinion about why Jeralyn Merritt so strongly supports George Zimmerman may be right. I do not know for certain that it isn’t. I do not believe you are right because I know her personally. In any event, your theory ventures into dangerous territory because it asserts that she has a psychosexual motive and you need to be able to support such an allegation with evidence because it’s inflammatory.

      As you may recall from your torts class, there is a category of cases called libel per se where the plaintiff need not allege damages to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim because damages are presumed. You did not cross that line because you only expressed your opinion without malicious intent and she probably is a public figure, so do not be concerned about that. I only mention this to provide an example why this subject matter is problematic and no one should go there without proof that they speak the truth and perhaps not even then due to privacy concerns.

      • Malisha says:

        Professor, thanks for the good explanation of how an attorney should view what a client is telling him (and I say “him” for convenience because obviously this includes both genders).

        When I first went to a lawyer to seek representation in a “spin-off” case related to my divorce, I introduced the subject by saying, “in this banker’s box I have the written proof of what I’m telling you, but to save time, I’d like to describe this situation first.” He agreed. I then described the situation and the underlying case and he said he believed me 100%, though obviously he was going to read the file. I asked him WHY he believed me so firmly and this is what he told me:

        1. Because you realized, coming in here, that the story sounded crazy and your recognizing that meant that you were looking at it accurately in spite of your obvious personal feelings about it.

        2. Because the story is internally consistent and whenever I have interrupted to ask a question you have answered it in a straight-forward manner and the answer has addressed my concerns in asking.

        3. Because although you’re smart, nobody is smart enough to make up a story like THAT and defend it with the documents; the only possible conclusion is that it is true AND it is supported by the documents. And you knew before you showed up here that I was also smart so you couldn’t be hoping to fool me with a ridiculous story like that unless it was, as it most probably is, true.

        I had heard almost the same three reasons (for why I was being believed) from a forensic psychiatrist, who said:

        1. Your affect while you told the story was appropriate to what you were saying;

        2. The story was internally consistent;

        3. Whenever I challenged you on something, your response satisfied me both as to fact and as to your responses to the situations that arose; and

        4. I’ve been doing this work for 35 years and it’s not that easy to fool me; and

        5. Who could make up something like that?

        ——————————————–
        I put all this together whenever I’m trying to figure out if a story being told to ME is true or false or something in between. And obviously an attorney interviewing a client will do some combination of things to determine what his take is on the client and on the case.

        Many defense lawyers will not disagree with the statement: “Most of the time the client has actually committed either the crime charged or something like it.” I have heard that on radio programs, in personal conversations, and from many written sources. That does not mean, however, that the defense lawyer cannot give the defendant the best possible defense. In fact, if a defendant is guilty but does not intend to plead out, it is to his (defendant’s) actual advantage that the lawyer DOES KNOW what he did, in great detail, so he can avoid slipping up and exposing part of the defense case that he could not foresee!

        This is not the same in a civil suit, of course. If someone represents a parent in a custody case, and that lawyer actually knows that the parent he is representing has lied about the other parent and has abused the children, it is probably NOT acceptable for him to continue to present a false case for custody, because the rights involved are not just the rights of his client and his client’s adversary’s — also involved are the rights of children who, if they already have an abusive parent, surely do not need any more enemies!

        Anyway, I’ve said enough for a person who has never been a lawyer but who has had and known (and even worked for) a slew of them.

  3. grahase says:

    Trent Sawyer has just posted, in 5 parts, the interview of RZ Jr. and Elder. Professor, the Title of this post is so appropriate to RZ Jr. – Be Wary of the Power of Belief to Shape Perception. This interview will make your blood boil – I couldn’t finish listening. THIS interview is definitely race baiting and a political stab at Democrats including President Obama – count the number of times Obama is brought up. GZ is a two-bit murderer and his brother is on a campaign tour. Sickening and sad. Until I followed this case, I could never have imagined that people like the Zimmermans actually walk among us. I cry.

    • Jun says:

      I think RZ Jr & Sr will be getting obstruction of justice charges as well as perjury charges, when they take the stand.

      It is obvious to anyone that the Zimmermans have an agenda and it really is not different than Drew Peterson or Sandusky going around media and lying to the public.

      They are not the first, nor will they be the last.

      The reason they keep screaming and screaming their story is that they are hoping for the, repeat it long enough you believe them effect.

      Most people are not stupid and are not going to fall for them hence them always hiding.

      You can tell Robert Zimmerman Jr is not very honest by his tone of voice as he is very robotic and emotionless and monotone and hypocritical, and if you pay attention, he always contradicts himself.

      The bottom line is RZ Jr. was not there, he has not even looked at the evidence, and he is only going by what GZ says, which is hearsay, as it is unproven at this point.

      You can tell he is scripted and staged because when confronted with questions concerning the inconsistencies, they all just dodge the questions and use the straw man argument of “race” to try and change the subject, and he does this because he can not answer the question.

      Piers Morgan asked him early on, why George did not simply leave the kid alone and not harass him as he was just walking home with candy and ice tea, and RZ Jr just skipped the question and kept repeating the scripted story.

      The funny part is even though it is scripted, they all contradicted each other many times, are inconsistent.

      The only part they repeat is the broken nose, sidewalk head bashing, and the suffocating, however, both Roberts & George of the Zimmerman KKKlan all change the order of how it all happened, and later George added the 2 dozen punches.

      It does not take a rocket scientist to see they are full of BS when you see the actual pictures of Z’s face and head from the night, and videos, that he was never in the altercation he was in, and he could have very well staged his injuries to bolster his self defense claim, and if so, Zimmerman would not be the first person to try that crap.

      From what I have read, Corey has dealt with people many times, trying to use SYG to avoid responsibility, when they are guilty.

      That hearsay crap from the Zimmerman KKKlan is not going to fly on Corey’s cases and will be objected for many reasons.

      In a court of law, what is proven, and what is credible is what is important, and an objective jury and judge.

      Once the people see that Zimmerman lied in a trial or SYG hearing, his credibility will keep dwindling and dwindling.

      Zimmerman can try the “Sandusky Rape Victim Blame and Conspiracy” type of defense, as Sandusky tried saying that the “victims” were just conspiring against Sandusky, but it is not going to work, because whatever type of person Trayvon was (he was a normal teenager), it is still beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zimmerman targeted, stalked, harassed, attacked, terrorized, shot, then pinned a kid that was unarmed and had skittles and ice tea facedown, and asphyxiated him, hence the global edema.

    • jm says:

      grahase says: “Until I followed this case, I could never have imagined that people like the Zimmermans actually walk among us.”

      Their brazenness and sense of entitlement is astonishing. Their ability to lie over and over and over is amazing. The fact they want to cover up a murder with their lies is beyond belief. That the whole family is corrupt including the sister who helped to hide Paypal money in her account is indeed sad.

      I also could not have imagine a whole family including ShelLIE would lie for an obvious sociopath like GZ. The fact that they are appealing to racists for money/support is disgusting.

    • Malisha says:

      Grahase, sorry. It is an ugly experience, I agree.

      Unfortunately, I knew that people like the Zimmermans walked among us from my earliest days. But I always imagined that our culture was going to be able to keep them under control.

      That remains to be seen, of course. One never knows.

    • MichelleO says:

      Humanity has had to suffer the petty small-mindedness of people like the Zimmerman’s in all sorts of communities, throughout time. To actually run into one of these mean-spirited and petty people will make you weep for all mankind. Sometimes, they actually arise to become the next later day Hitler or pot-bellied Southern sheriff.

  4. princss6@gmail.com says:

    The power of perception indeed…with overwhelming evidence that shows this man is guilty of murder 2 and possibly murder 1, there is a real chance that the scary black man will trump all of it…very possible!

  5. thejbmission says:

    Great post Professor, I agree,

    “Jeralyn’s unwavering support for George Zimmerman is born of her passionate and self-defining belief in the presumption of innocence”.

    I’ve demonstrated that same belief for most of my life.
    Professor, as you may or may not know, I was one of the very few who believed in Casey Anthony’s innocence. Unlike you, it wasn’t my life profession to fight for justice, I was taught by my mother “JB” to never believe everything you hear and only half of what you see.
    She couldn’t believe the monster pupil that she created. LOL — I also didn’t believe OJ killed his wife. The reason? If I believed OJ killed his wife then I’d have to believe he’d kill his children and that I could not believe. OJ knew his children were in the home, how would he know they wouldn’t hear Nicole’s screams or Nicole screaming his name? I think OJ Simpson cared more for himself than anyone, so his freedom was his priority. JMO And of course the blood collection screw up and the gift to the defense, Mark Fuhrmann.
    As for Casey Anthony, I just knew the family had to be involved in some way. Nothing was stranger to me than George and Cindy. There was also a very special moment between George and Casey that couldn’t be denied. The first and only time (up until her trial) that Casey cried was when she saw George at her first bond hearing. It was as if she were begging him to get her out of this mess. The other reason — The autopsy report didn’t actually support murder — no actual proof of cause of death.
    This was Dr. G’s report:

    Aphixiation
    Conclusion/Opinion: As often is the case with a skeletonized individual, the exact cause of death cannot be determined with certainty. The manner of death is based on available information, including circumstances

    “Based on circumstances” isn’t exactly fitting for 1st deg murder w/DP pending, at least not in 2011 w/DNA forensics. And of course the discovery of Caylee’s body was a colossal mess. Considering all of the facts, I agree with the verdict.
    I apologize for getting into all of this. I promise not to discuss the Anthony case on your blog again. I’m just trying to say that like you, I’m not one to take the side of the prosecution just because they claim to have a case.
    However, in the Trayvon Martin case, I’m actually shocked that this case hasn’t brought people together rather than apart. I never felt it was a racial issue. I looked at it as a law enforcement debacle. Maybe they were racially slanted? But as Joe Blow Public, I thought we’d all agree that Sanford PD screwed the pooch on this one. There was no reason for GZ to get out of his vehicle and search for TM. Before jumping completely on board, I wanted to know for a fact that GZ never explained to TM who he was and why he was following him. Now knowing GZ didn’t tell TM, I’m feel certain, Trayvon Martin’s death is because of George Zimmerman. JMO

    • Malisha says:

      I don’t think it is at all inconsistent to believe that George Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty and to simultaneously believe that he did the crime of murder on 2/26/2012 and that he should now be held accountable (prosecuted) for it. What was happening BEFORE GEORGE WAS CHARGED WITH A CRIME was that the presumption of innocence was being elevated to a DECISION of innocence by the law enforcement branch of government itself, which is a very big NO NO that makes the system completely fail. RIGHT NOW, legally, George is still presumed innocent. Not until after a trial can that possibly change.

      Because George is still presumed innocent, he is granted bail and his defense counsel is given the full latitude at law to examine evidence, depose witnesses, make and publish his own take on the case, give speeches anywhere he wants talking about George’s innocence, etc. etc. etc. We, the public, are also given the right to discuss the case, see some of the evidence, comment on the case itself and on the various public utterances made by parties and non-parties, etc.

      None of us who is commenting here publicly would ever be permitted to serve on the jury that will (or will not) decide whether the presumption of innocence turns into a FINDING of NOT GUILTY. So our own personal BELIEFS about the guilt of the defendant do not disturb his legal presumption of innocence. We are not required to change our personal opinions about his innocence or guilt to preserve that presumption. I think he’s guilty but I agree that the presumption of innocence is his absolute constitutional right. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      The jury doesn’t have to agree with me. That’s the American way.

      • Lonnie Starr says:

        The presumption of innocence entitles him to a fair trial before an impartial jury with a “disinterested judge” and an effective advocate.
        When we support his right to have a fair trial, we give him the presumption of innocence he is entitled to. However, he is not entitled to our opinion that he is innocent, that is something that has to be “earned”.

  6. whonoze says:

    Jeralyn doesn’t have a psychosexual thing for George Zimmerman, but she may have a psychosexual thing for guns. (I’m kidding. Well, mostly kidding…) Fatal attraction for the Second Amendment (or rather her typical misreading thereof).

    • Marilyn Neuner says:

      I remember early on Jeralyn reluctantly admitted that she supported Stand Your Ground laws. She had been asked and asked, it took a lot of prodding for her to open up and say it. This, along with finding out about her concealed gun permit, felt to me like there had been uncovered at least a partial explanation for her remarkably relentless stance.

      Jeralyn, with her intense bias, has stifled all real conversation over on her blog and forum regarding Zimmerman. It’s become just the same bunch of folks endlessly reinforcing their own points of view over and over. It’s tedious. This sort of defense is going to be blindsided by all the stuff Jeralyn doesn’t let them talk about, by which are all the truths that have been uncovered.. . Pity.

      • CommonSenseForChange says:

        Been a while since reading to catch up, but your post is spot on, imo. I think jeralyn is just like zimmerman and is simply a power-tripping racist that plays judge due to some psychosis or private failure. Quite often, people don’t even know they are racists. It is their actions, stances and abuse of power that gives it away every time.

        I agree it is a pity.

  7. ed nelson says:

    Fred,

    You are a most dedicated “Defense Attorney”, ( do I have that correct?), but what about an idea to be like to aspire to be like ole’ Perry Mason, what about an attorney/lawyer who might/should be able to play both angles, ( multi task some…) like any service employee in today’s little fucked up non union world… ?

    And/or to be able to take any side of any argumention/position… defense or prosecution/offense? I am naive maybe, but shouldn’t any competent lawyer be able to take on a case on either side? Wasn’t ole “Honest Abe” a self taught Lawyer? I bet he would fight the fight to prosecute a bad apple, or defend a fall guy too.

    I didn’t go to Law school, nor colleege, nor did I richly deserve to pass Type 101 in High school, but I can type…na na na na na..!

    To the above, I mean,

    ___________________________

    My quandary is this: Why would an established Defense Attorney become so much the voice behind a perceived need for a more robust prosecution, (as that was the thing that stands out as needed,).

    From the beginning point where the cops may have dropped the ball, and the subsequent dropping of it…. and lack of correct protocols and procedures that make this case an issue, suggesting a failure of prosecutorial action that is… the main thing!

    _____________________________

    I recommended this book about a prosecutor on a mission to bring in a monster, who other wise from his vigilance would no doubt, would have got away with murder.

    http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Name-Legacy-Mothers-Murder/dp/0671694162/ref=la_B000APZZ1Y_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1350089571&sr=1-6

    ______________________

    http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Maas/e/B000APZZ1Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1350089554&sr=1-2-ent

    • You said,

      “My quandary is this: Why would an established Defense Attorney become so much the voice behind a perceived need for a more robust prosecution, (as that was the thing that stands out as needed,).

      From the beginning point where the cops may have dropped the ball, and the subsequent dropping of it…. and lack of correct protocols and procedures that make this case an issue, suggesting a failure of prosecutorial action that is… the main thing!”

      I used to save lives. Today I speak for the dead. I speak for Trayvon Martin because my sense of justice commands me to do so.

  8. Professor, I think I read you live in Kentucky.
    Do you remember a case of a woman named Brenda who was tortured & killed by a sexual sadist ?
    He went to trial and his lawyer blamed the exgirlfriend, saying she was jealous because she was overweight, ugly and the victim was a very beautiful young woman.
    The sadist was acquitted
    He put his house went up sale,. A worker in the house found negatives buried under a floor that proved without a doubt the guy was guilty of murdering the young woman.
    Of course he couldn’t be tried again for the same crime.
    How does a defense lawyer feel when it turns out the person really did commit the crime and got away with it ?
    How do they feel when they make accusations about a totally innocent person like this lawyer did to the killers ex girlfriend ?
    Is it all just part of the job and it doesn’t bother them ?

    • Jun says:

      Actually, they can retry him for the crime, since the trial was based on fraudulent information. When a trial is based on fraud, the defendant was never in “Jeopardy”, therefore, the clause for double jeopardy does not apply.

      • Beg to differ. I believe the Double Jeopardy Clause applies.

      • Jun says:

        Wouldn’t the new found negatives be new found information tying the crime in? That would mean the if retried, the new trial is based on new information, and the trial beforehand was based on false information, hence a fraud.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Jeopardy_Clause

        That is what it says on wikipedia anyways….

        • From the Wiki article you cited:

          Once acquitted, a defendant may not be retried for the same offense: “A verdict of acquittal, although not followed by any judgment, is a bar to a subsequent prosecution for the same offense.”[5] Acquittal by directed verdict is also final and cannot be appealed by the prosecution.[6] An acquittal in a trial by judge (bench trial) is also generally not appealable by the prosecution.[7] A trial judge may normally enter an acquittal if he deems the evidence insufficient for conviction. If the judge makes this ruling before the jury reaches its verdict, the judge’s determination is final. If, however, the judge overrules a conviction by the jury, the prosecution may appeal to have the conviction reinstated. Additionally, although a judge may overrule a guilty verdict by a jury, he or she does not have the same power to overrule a not guilty verdict.

    • That murder must have happened before I moved To Kentucky because I am not familiar with it.

      I have never encountered that problem and certainly would never want to feel responsible for a situation like that. Fortunately, I no longer practice law and won’t be in that situation.

      • jm says:

        Professor says: “Fortunately, I no longer practice law and won’t be in that situation.”

        Why do you consider yourself fortunate?

        • I got tired of playing games with peoples lives and the suffering of everyone involved overwhelmed me.

          • jm says:

            “I got tired of playing games with peoples lives and the suffering of everyone involved overwhelmed me.”

            Thank you for your honest answer. I can’t imagine defending someone like GZ at the expense of maligning the victim’s name to save your client and hurting victim’s family further in a court trial and with pre-trial “propaganda” to save the client. (Don’t know if this is a good example for why you quit.)

            With all due respect, it seems the whole judicial system is a matter of playing games, political and otherwise.

      • rachael says:

        Professor, Jun is referring to:

        Fraud
        If the earlier trial is a fraud, double jeopardy will not prohibit a new trial because the party acquitted has prevented themselves from being placed into “jeopardy” to begin with.[9]

        Harry Aleman v. Judges of Circuit Court, Cook County, 138 F.3d 302 (7th Cir. 198)

        But this is what it was about:

        In 1991, Aleman pleaded guilty to extorting money from bookmakers Anthony Reitinger and Vince Rizza in 1972. Aleman was convicted and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. In 1993, based on Robert Cooley’s testimony, Aleman was re-indicted for the 1972 Logan slaying.[7] In 1997, Aleman was convicted of the Logan murder and sentenced to 300 years in state prison. Aleman’s re-trial and subsequent conviction are historic as he is the first American to be retried for murder following a fraudulent first trial. This was first profiled in 2002 and verified on the A&E Television Network/Biography Channel program “American Justice”/“Notorious,” and later on the National Geographic Channel documentary: “National Geographic: Inside” – “Chicago Mob Takedown” in 2011. The retrial, however, does not constitute double jeopardy. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled original trial presided by Judge Frank Wilson was a sham – because the acquittal was guaranteed by the bribe he accepted.[8] This Fifth Amendment ruling was named Harry Aleman vs. Judges of the Criminal Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, et al., 1998. The ruling basically means that if in a bench trial the defendant is found not guilty, but if evidence is shown that an act of bribery took place between the defendant and the judge, the defendant can be retried again for the same crime and it would not be considered double jeopardy. This is because the defendant was never in jeopardy to begin with.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Aleman

        Entirely different (@ Jun)

      • Malisha says:

        Perhaps in that case, the acquitted defendant could now be prosecuted for the crime of “obstruction” and certain similar crimes for hiding the evidence and so forth. Perhaps also he could be prosecuted federally under the civil rights act for deprivation of constitutionally protected rights, something like that? At least that might be good for a couple of years of rehabilitation?

    • shannoninmiami says:

      @bonnie, i saw a documentary about that case. It was an extremely horrific murder after the torture and rape committed by both the man and the other woman, and they photographed it and kept them hidden. The woman even testified about the photos but didn’t know where he put them. But yet he was acquitted and wasn’t subjected to a retrial even after they found that irrefutable evidence because of double jeopardy! he is a monster! and he’s still roaming the country today! ( i think in florida too)

  9. Malisha says:

    Being against diversity is one thing, but being against the life interest that an African American juvenile has in being allowed to walk around without getting shot dead and then slandered is quite another. Many of Zimmerman’s defenders (including Jeralyn Merritt) have promulgated and publicly supported the uncorroborated and scurrilous story that Trayvon Martin made an unprovoked violent and in fact murderous attack on George Zimmerman, showing not only his criminality but also his profound stupidity, since he should have considered the possibility that a man he described as “following [him]” might have been armed.

    Perhaps it stung Zimmerman-Dad to hear that the President of the United States made a comment about the prominence of the Trayvon Martin case, when it still WAS the Trayvon Martin case, before it became the George Zimmerman case. Did it sting him?

    Did it sting Tracy Martin to hear that his son’s killer was not charged because the police believed (or pretended to believe) the killer’s story that the boy had needlessly attacked him and nearly killed him? Did it sting Sybrina Fulton to hear that her son’s killer was claiming that the prolonged scream that sounded like “nyauuuuuughhhh!” was actually her son’s killer yelling “Help”? An armed man yelling for help in shooting her son in the heart? Did it sting for DeeDee to see herself denigrated in the tweets of an alcoholic who said her boyfriend was killed because his killer — who had never met him — was “fed up and wasn’t going to take it any more”? Did it sting for Angela Corey to read that an acclaimed constitutional scholar from Harvard publicized his bizarre idea that she committed a crime by not including a specious DEFENSE argument in her probable cause affidavit while charging a crime? Did it sting for the mother and the father and the teacher and the friend of every young African American in this country to realize that someone who admitted shooting an unarmed AA youth dead in his tracks was identified as “still the good guy here” by the cop interviewing him about the event? Because damnit, all that stung ME. It stung ME. And I’d stand right here and say I don’t know this kid, never knew this kid, Trayvon. But I DO know Joel, and I know Dominic and Avram and I know Pierre-Alain and I know Manny and I know Maxx and Myles and I knew Kyle back in the day and I know Jelani and Jabari and I knew Darren and if any of them got shot through the heart, could their killer just walk because he said they hit him first and the President of my country wouldn’t care?

    I do not feel for Robert Zimmerman Sr. after reading his letter of thanks to the Outhouse Crowd. Had he kept his big mouth shut, I would have felt for him. Had he maintained a modicum of respect and decorum, I would have felt for him. Had he stopped fussing about his son’s nose and stopped pontificating about his precious prayers I might have felt for him. Every aggressive, thoughtless, ignorant, arrogant word he utters makes me feel less and less sorry that I don’t feel for him. Let it sting.

    • cielo62 says:

      [Standing ovation!] thank you!

    • jm says:

      Malisha says: “I do not feel for Robert Zimmerman Sr. after reading his letter of thanks to the Outhouse Crowd. Had he kept his big mouth shut, I would have felt for him. Had he maintained a modicum of respect and decorum, I would have felt for him. Had he stopped fussing about his son’s nose and stopped pontificating about his precious prayers I might have felt for him. Every aggressive, thoughtless, ignorant, arrogant word he utters makes me feel less and less sorry that I don’t feel for him. Let it sting.”

      As I mentioned before the Zimmerman clan protests too much and I think it has to due with arrogance and pride. If GZ did something wrong, they did something wrong. It would serve them better to let this case run it’s course. Because of them, I want the whole family to be exposed as lying frauds, not unlike their son.

      I am not following this case so closely, but I do not remember Sybrina Fulton or Tracy Martin ever commenting on GZ or his family. They are the true victims and yet they have the class to keep their mouths shut about Zimmermans. If anyone knows of an instance where they have been out of line regarding Zimmerman and his family, please let me know.

      So let the Zimmerman family sting and sting and eventually end up with a son in prison and publicly humiliated for their support of their lying son. Then I hope and pray they go into hiding for real and disappear forever from all media outlets.

      • Malisha says:

        They will probably keep up their “victim victim oh poor us” routine until the word “Zimmerman” enters the common parlance as a verb: Definition. “To Zimmerman: to out-victim everybody.”

        Oh some kid got shot in the heart. GET OVER IT! Stop whining! You’re just trying to make money off your kid’s death.

        Oh some child’s life was snuffed out. So what, he had it coming.

        Oh my son was killed. Stop complaining; the guy who shot him wasn’t a racist.

        But on the other hand, “Our poor son is being prosecuted when he says he shouldn’t be!” BOOOOOO HOOOOOOO HOOOOO big green greasy tears from the Limpopo River, you poor dears!

        “Our brother is having to face charges and live on bail with restrictions!” Stop it stop it I can’t cry any more I’m getting dehydrated!

        “It ain’t fair; he was a hero and now you’re not thanking him for killing a suspicious f*cking punk who was up to no good.” Awww, you guys, you really have it bad. What can I do to make you feel better. Here, I’ll support you, will that help? Awwww…

        Man, with the price of food being what it is today, do NOT make me lose my lunch with this crap!

      • rachael says:

        I would be laughing at this, except it is only too true – and I choked on my lunch today as well.

      • Jun says:

        Bottom line

        Trayvon was walking home with skittles and ice tea and committed no crimes

        George has no right to stalk and follow and chase him with aggression and hateful attitude towards Trayvon when Trayvon never provocated or did anything to Zimmerman for him to come to such a deluded conclusion

        George than attacks and terrorizes the kid with crazy strange behaviour and shoots the kid in the heart and asphyxiates him until Trayvon stops struggling and screaming for help

        No mercy was shown by Zimmerman due to his hatred toward Trayvon because of George’s deluded belief of who Trayvon and continues to slander and abuse Trayvon’s rights

        The Zimmermans and the Conservative Tinfoil Hat actions and sanctions is simply bringing more evidence of aggravated and depraved minds regardless of human life

    • Tzar says:

      *slow clap*

  10. Jun says:

    Freddy

    I do not believe it is an unwavering belief in the presumption of innocence.

    If that were the case, she should also be giving Trayvon that same love and affection in regards to that standard of thought.

    Why is Trayvon automatically guilty of assaulting George, because George says so?

    How come Trayvon is not shown the same standard of law of presumption of innocence?

    She says that George’s myspace is irelevant but Trayvon is guilty and should have all his school records and facebook and twitter unleashes onto the public, when he is not even on trial, and, he can’t even confront any allegations made about him or find any witnesses on his side for those certain allegations, if there is any on those records, on top of being irrelevant.

    I can understand her belief in “GZ’s” presumption of innocence but the standard alone belief, she is not showing the same objectivity to Trayvon Martin.

    I also feel that even if she is defending GZ, she should be more objective, and use facts, because no one has stated that Trayvon hit George at all from the STATE, and she should show realistically by law how things work.

    • I am not defending anything Jeralyn said and I’m not even certain what all she said since I do not read her blog regularly. I am merely describing her strong bias and suggesting that it may explain a lot of what she said. I do not believe she has a psychosexual fascination or fatal attraction for George Zimmerman and I find that accusation to be sexist and offensive.

      I think we cross a line and get into trouble when we speculate as to the “real” motives of people with whom we disagree and attribute sexual, evil or demonic motives to them.

      With that proviso, I agree with everything you said

      • Jun says:

        I agree with that. I am not sure of her motivations either.

      • MichelleO says:

        THEY do not agree with the “civil rights” turn of this case. It truly stung the Zimmerman clan that a sitting U.S. president would speak out about this case. In particular, President Barack Obama spoke about having a son that would look like the Trayvon. This comment wounded the sensibilities of many who are against diversity.

    • Jun…Had I scrolled down further before I made a comment, I would have seen your post stating everything that also concerned me…only you said it better! I should read before I write… 🙂

  11. bettykath says:

    Thanks for this thread. I was going to respond to searchingmind on previous thread but had trouble following the post.

    I think that Jeralyn is holding steady on a defense attorney pov that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. There has been lots of material presented from the prosecution but only GZ’s story for the defense. She hasn’t seen what else the defense has to offer to refute what the prosecution has put out. It is reasonable to see what the defense team is able to put together to counter the prosecution. Nothing has been presented in court. So far, except for the racists supporting GZ (I take the word of others following here), it does seem that there’s a pile-on GZ. I expect that defense attorneys tend to side with the underdog and GZ is the underdog here.

    Jeralyn’s blog may be more interesting after the verdict.

    • SearchingMind says:

      Hey, BettyKath, you have been absent for a while. Where have you been and what have you been up to? Nice to see you again.

  12. Malisha says:

    As to the question, “If a defense attorney starts to doubt his client’s innocence does he have any obligation to quit the case?” NO. He is not obligated to quit simply because he personally believes his client may be guilty, or even if he believes his client IS guilty. The law guarantees to a defendant that he will receive a vigorous and zealous defense “within the bounds of advocacy.” That is, the lawyer may not indulge in or promote illegal activity (such as witness intimidation or bribery). The lawyer may not suborn perjury. The lawyer may not personally hide or alter evidence. BUT a lawyer is REQUIRED to use every legal angle he can possibly use to defend his client. If his client can get off on a technicality — even if he is a guilty criminal AND a horrible person — that lawyer is required to get that defendant off on that technicality. THE LAW DOES NOT WORK if this is not strictly enforced. We have an adversary system and the defendant’s counsel is his advocate against the adversary, the state. That’s what the Constitution guarantees.

    I support this 100% because of the structure of our system. If we had restorative justice rather than adversary proceedings, I would think otherwise. As is, I say whatever defense O’Mara can provide, he must provide. Eichmann got a zealous defense lawyer (OK, granted, he wasn’t tried in the USA); Zimmerman is entitled to no less.

    I do think, however, that a defense lawyer who really believes that his client is guilty should, as part of his job, level with his own client about his own belief. I believe that a lawyer like O’Mara should have a conversation with his own client and let him know what he finds believable, what he finds unbelievable, what he finds problematic, convincing, or even objectionable. Then let the client decide what to do about it. Let the lawyer say, for instance, “George, this doesn’t sound right to me. I can’t square it away in my own mind, so think about how it plays out to a jury.”

    That’s IF O’Mara doesn’t believe his client’s fairy-tales.

    In my opinion, O’Mara came close to crossing a line he should not have crossed when he said, on the web-page, “If you believe George Zimmerman’s constitutional rights were denied,… if you would have done what he did…”

    Excuse me: If YOU would have done what HE DID? Uh…WTF?

    • Jun says:

      I dont think Omara believes George

      He has stated “We are trying to defend a man who claims he was attacked and it was necessary self defense.”

      Omara is a dumb ass but he still a lawyer and even he must know that the forensics show that George is full of BS about the attack by now.

      • Tee says:

        Name calling is not what we do on this blog it makes us seem as small minded as the people who claim to be pro Zimmerman. Not judging just saying that we are bigger and better than that.

      • Tzar says:

        but what if O’Mara is a dumb ass?

        Exhibit A
        “I have my own thoughts as to what happened that night. My thoughts matter less than anybody else’s because I’m not even allowed to give my personal opinion. More importantly, I know the evidence presented that night. Regardless of how these two men, call them young men, how their lives intersected, one ended up passed away and one ended up in hiding. He will never have the life he had before that fateful night he was going to Target. And Trayvon will never grow up to be an 18-year-old because of that night.

        “And that’s tragic for both of them. I think I know how it happened. I think I know what the evidence is going to support as to how it happened. It doesn’t mean because there’s a tragedy there was a criminal act. There was just a tragedy maybe.”

        Interview with Mark O’Mara 9-9-12
        http://victimsheartland.forumotion.com/t5829-interview-w-defense-attorney-mark-o-mara-george-zimmerman-s-lawyer-plight-of-young-black-men-isn-t-the-issue

      • Tzar says:

        PS: I am definitely ot bigger and better than calling someone who has behaved like O’Mara a dumbass
        :0)

      • Jun says:

        I think Omara is a dumb ass and a douche. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it. I have read his motions and he always makes many errors and uses many lies. He tried being sneaky by using a civil subpoena to peel into Trayvon’s personal records, complaining that the State is being unfair, while putting 3000 bodyguards on Zimmerman’s medical records. His actions at the second bond hearing are very amateur and undignified and from his actions it seems to me he has not read the evidence and compared it to Zimmerman’s statements.

  13. Malisha says:

    Professor, thank you for this thread. I appreciate the fact that publicly wondering about Jeralyn Merrit’s motivations being good or bad comes dangerously close to the line of “demonizing” her and that it looks misogynist to speculate that she’s got a so-called lady lawyer’s crush on George (either image or reality) and I want to take responsibility for having introduced the idea myself. When you said you knew her and that was not her motive I immediately withdrew the idea — in fact, it was made half in gest and the other half because I felt the desire to take a nasty swipe at her for what she has written under the cover of her expertise, which she has misused. I have attacked Dershowitz for his attack on Corey, questioning his motives, but I must admit that I did not even speculate about a psychosexual motive on Dershowitz’s part, my bad. In defense of my disrespectful speculation about Merrit that I didn’t also apply to Dershowitz, I have considered Dershowitz’s positions on many things so wrong for so long, however, that it did not surprise me when he came in totally bongo-out-of-his-mind on this one, so I didn’t spend long wondering, “WTF?”

    With Jeralyn, what bothered me most was her initial unfathomable belief in the transparent lies being told by Zimmerman. Why would she presume he was telling the truth about the attack by the kid minding his own business while visiting his dad? Why would she believe that Zimmerman lay on his back without putting up a struggle or using his hands to defend himself while a young thug repeatedly smashed his head on the sidewalk? Why would she glom onto the preposterous notion that the kid would “emerge from the darkness” to demand, “What the F*ck’s your problem homie?” in a backyard where he didn’t know the residents whose window he stood under? So I went too far in wondering why. Also, obviously, I wanted to deliver a bit of an insult, I’ll admit it.

    I back off on the idea. I will, however, reiterate my basic question about this: What on EARTH could make a lawyer who is presenting a blog for public consumption go whole-hog into the assumption that the explanation offered by an accused murderer, impugning criminal conduct to his victim in order to justify the killing, is the version of reality that is automatically to be accepted? She made the assumptions. She did not say “Zimmerman claims his head was being smashed on the pavement.” She said it HAPPENED.

    That is why I was so astonished as well as so infuriated. Rather than say “His defense was that the victim attacked him after he had given up his attempt to find the youth,” her story was that George was innocently returning to his car when vicious Trayvon attacked and injured him. That was unprofessional and kinda silly, too.

    So my official position is now this:

    1. I made the thinly veiled allegation about Jeralyn’s own belief (“he’s innocent”) shaping her perception (“so Trayvon must have attacked him and made him fear for his life”) being the natural result of her suspected unwarranted admiration for him.

    2. I now think that Professor Leatherman is correct in saying that was not her motivation.

    3. Damned if I know what her motivation could have been, because I believe firmly that her belief (“he’s innocent”) has obviously shaped her perception (“Trayvon did enough wrong to justify George killing him”).

    BTW, I have not looked at Jeralyn’s other cases. I only heard about her through the Jonathan Turley blog on the Zimmerman case. And Jonathan Turley has been on the defense’s side all along in the Zimmerman case, and actually called the first bloody head photograph “proof” of “serious injury” to Zimmerman! ❗

    • Thanks, Malisha.

      You are an impeccable warrior in search of the truth.

      • Malisha says:

        Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

        The opportunity to take part in your blog has seen me through a period of “R&R” from too much warrioring. What a gift!

    • Tzar says:

      Rather than figure out her motivation, why not consider the ramifications of her definition of justice. Imagine a world where what Zimmerman did was completely ok, Any child walking home could be stalked chased and killed with impunity. There is no defending Zimmerman, his NEN call impeaches him, he called Trayvon an asshole, a coon and said he was on drugs and up to no good, when we know for a fact the kid was just walking home and then strangely the kid winds up dead, shot from his gun and by his trigger finger. The absurdity that I have to presume that this guy is innocent is sublime.

      I really don’t care what this woman’s motivation is, I just know that she is not a promoting justice, because in a just world a kid should be able to walk home without being vilified, terrified, molested or killed.

      • Jun says:

        I think it is ridiculous for Zimmerman and his family and his cult to claim it is railroading and their other race based theories. Our country of the USA would be so dangerous if people killed and we simply took the killer at their word, without investigation. If any of the Zimmermans or his cult were to have a family member killed, and the killer simply claim self defense without investigation, you best bet they would demand an investigation. The fact of the matter is, Zimmerman targeted and stalked a kid, then killed him, and then made claims of self defense. The investigators did their work and found that it was a murder and had probable cause, so they arrested and charged him. Simple as that. People should not be surprised he got charged because he did kill someone and his claims are sketchy and lies once you do actual research. Only a real sicko and weirdo would think what the Conservative Tinfoil Hat says is cool and okay.

      • Malisha says:

        Tzar, to borrow a phrase from my grandfather, for whom English was a third language, “goot like you seddit!”

        And when I read over your “world where what Zimmerman did was completely ok,” again, I realized that to my great surprise, about 25 years ago, I learned that such conditions did not even really describe the deep South during the slave years! I remember reading an old lawsuit named “State versus Mann” in which a guy was acquitted for shooting a slave but the judge made it clear that he did not really WANT to acquit the man, although the law required him to do so. The reason the man was charged with a crime to begin with was that the slave he shot was NOT HIS OWN slave but had been rented out to him by the real owner, so his conduct in shooting the slave was not automatically considered his right. The case shocked the Hell out of me ten different ways, still does, each time I read it, but now I am going to force myself to go back and read it again.

        Why do I even ask myself the question, “What could make Jeralyn Merritt post such obviously, transparently, wrong crap on her own blog and thus display either stupidity or worse?”

        I guess something really bothers me when I see really intelligent people (which she obviously is) losing themselves — seemingly deliberately — in an objectionable and in fact sociopathic “false world” created for us by “real devils.” And here I step into the use of symbolic speech. (I’m not trying to lend any religious intonation to what I’m saying here, I just don’t have really good tools to describe what I’m trying to convey so I borrow from the great works of religious literature.)

        The Zimmerman case, before Corey charged him, was the work of a devil. Here I am deliberately demonizing the murderer of Trayvon Martin. It was not only George Zimmerman who was this demon, however. George is, in my opinion, correctly named as the defendant in the actual lawsuit about the act committed, but he is not the whole demon. [Here, I won’t go into my own theory of crime, but refer anybody interested to the work of Hal Pepinsky, a professor at Indiana University.] So I will call the demon Zim. We can come back to Zim later, because this is not about him, this is about my dissection of the character (whom, this time, I will refrain from demonizing) Jyn, who listens to Zim and believes Zim as if Zim is a real demigod.

        So now the little story goes like this:
        =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

        One day Zim was on his mountain with Shei, his wife.

        Zim was made very angry because The People had not offered him a sacrifice at the time that they were required to do so. 😡

        Zim had threatened to smite several People as an example to the others but the People were stiff-necked and did not take heed.

        Zim departed from his mountain in a chariot and drew close to a youth named Tray in the valley below. Tray saw Zim approaching him, and he knew that Zim bore his wrath openly and let the earth begin to shudder before his mighty tread. But Tray did not stop what he was doing and offer to make the forgotten sacrifice. In fact, Tray acted as if whatever he intended to do that day was greater in importance than the sacrifice that had been required by Zim and ignored by the People. 😯

        A prophet of Zim named Ost said, “O Zim, the People will not listen unless you smite someone to show them the path.”

        A prophet named Taaf said, “O Zim, look how the People turn their faces from you and heed only what they want to do, in their trifling ways. Even as your wrath increases they are ignoring you.” 😳

        Therefore Zim’s wrath increased and he said, “I will put my mark upon Tray and the People will have to see it and they will say ‘this is Zim and I will not forget it,’ and he dismounted from his chariot and he stood before Tray.” 😛

        But Tray was even then stiff-necked and refused to offer the sacrifice and Tray turned his face to a young woman, Dee, and he said to Dee, “Even as Zim follows me through the valley, I will mind my own business.” 😐

        And Dee laughed and said, “Do as you like, Tray, do not bow down to Zim.” 😎

        And Zim smote Tray. 😦 😥

        And some of the people saw, and were filled with awe, and offered a sacrifice. And those who did not rose up and joined forces and rebelled and a woman named Korr who did not sacrifice to Zim led those who rebelled. ❗

        And Korr said, “We will not sacrifice to Zim because Zim is a deposed deity and a fallen king; and those who offer to him will be ashamed among the People and will not prosper. And among the People who did sacrifice to Zim was a prophet named Jyn. 🙄

        And Jyn said, “Who will stand up to Korr?” 😮

        And Dersh said, “I will stand up to Korr and I will bring Korr down from her mountain and I will throw her on a dung heap in Gehenna and she will be driven forth from among the People.” :mrgreen:

        And Jyn said, “I have seen the works of Zim and they are great. His kingdom was assailed by the forces of Tray but he spoke with a mighty tongue and he reached out his hand and he protected the Kingdom. Who is like Zim?” 😕

        And Jyn prepared the sacrifice and the faithful among the People brought all manner of sweet meats and roasted them at the foot of Zim’s mountain and Zim and Shei were well pleased.” 🙂

        But the People who stood with Korr continued to refuse to make the sacrifice, and they said, “We stand with the people of Tray who would not make the sacrifice for what Zim has said is not the true Word,” and they clammored and made a great noise. 💡
        =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

        OK, that helped. Now I’m not worried about Jeralyn Merritt’s motivations any more. There are always Jeralyn Merritts out there, and some of them are smart, and others not. I don’t have to figure out their behavior. Those who want to offer their sacrifices will do so and will find reasons that they think everyone else should do so too. And it’s always been that way and it will always be that way.

    • grahase says:

      I have never gone to her blog. So what I write may be off-base. It is something that I would do if I were a defense attorney. Here goes: I have read the papers, listened to the news, and analyzed the discovery. Now, if I were OMara, how would I ever be able to defend this guy successfully. Well, I have a blog and will presume innocence until proven guilty, of course. This is my job in real life. Knowing this, the people who will respond to my stance are on the same page as I am. They will come up with some defence ideas that I could use – if I were OMara. I will attract people who do not believe GZs story. I will find out the areas to focus on from them. After all is said and done, I have found a way to defend someone who is clearly guilty and the evidence proves it. Could this be why she has gone this far. Could it be a learning experience for her since this case is so out there and the court of public opinion is so vocal. I don’t know – but maybe.

    • Lonnie Starr says:

      GZ supporters don’t seem to note that the “head bashing” never happened and that; even if it did happen, it is not even claimed to be the proximal reason the fatal shot had to be fired.

      In fact, GZ states no reason at all for having to fire the fatal shot, save that he HAD PREVIOUSLY been under assault.

      Anyone who doesn’t believe that the head pounding never took place, needs only to find someone 40 lbs heavier than themselves, and then sit on them in the high mount position, needed to wage such an attack. The first thing they’ll note is, when they grab that persons head and pull up, that person will reflexively tighten their neck muscles. The resistance will force them to try to pull harder, and they will instead pull themselves forward. In this position, if the person on the bottom simply bucks their chest upwards, the person on top loses balance and falls forward.

      If the person on the bottom does not buck upwards, the person on top can only throw blows. They cannot move the head either up or down, because they have a bad position to do this, they either lose balance or pull themselves down.

      Anyway, there is no life and death threat cited, proximal to the gunshot, that gives GZ the needed indication that his life would end, or that he would be seriously injured, if he had not fired his weapon. He says that both of his hand were free and engaged and that his unarmed young adversary was doing nothing but waiting to be killed. While GZ aimed his gun and fired while screaming for help? Then, thinking his shot to the center of the chest, had somehow missed, he stops screaming while his victim falls face down in wet grass? No living person falls face down and lays still in wet grass, not even at gunpoint. Yet GZ did not find this odd?

      His problem will be to convince a jury that he risked fatal injury or death when he fired the shot, when he says his only worry was not to hit his other hand. That doesn’t sound like a worry that one would have, while facing death. If they were in real fear for their life, they’d shoot straight through their own hand, rather than waste a fraction of a second that might mean their own death.

      I think at this point, O’Mara’s “presumption of GZ innocence” is a mere formality, to be held until a jury says otherwise, because that’s his job. While the public’s concern should be that the truth should prevail in as many situations as possible, since it’s failure to prevail is a precursor to the loss of all liberty.

      • MichelleO says:

        WELL, the zimbots through their leader Robert Zimmerman Jr., have now all fine tuned this to being all about the blacks. This case for them is now all about bad black people (all of them) using their civil rights to lynch the entire Zimmerman family.

    • shannoninmiami says:

      @Malisha, i like your style! 🙂
      And as i’ve read what you’ve written these past days, about a week, i’ve learned a lot from you, about the psychology of children, of consequences, etc.. Whether i agree or not, i’ll just trust you. Because either way, i would’ve never been able to organise all those thoughts comprehensively without you!

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    I agree that it is sexist to characterize her opinions as psychosexual.

    But I will say, having read her blog a few times, she comes off, to me, as more of a “fan girl” than a legal analyst.

    At one point, she was actually trying to help GZ raise money.

    I mean, what kind of person would choose GZ’s cause to champion?

    • racerrodig says:

      “I mean, what kind of person would choose GZ’s cause to champion?”

      3 words………………. “Racist Gun NutZZ”

      • MichelleO says:

        MANY people did not like it when Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson joined the fray. Many people did not like it when crowds of people, predominately black, began to march and hold rallies.

        What people like Robert Zimmerman Jr. and Jerralyn would like to forget is that many of the rallies held here and abroad (Yes! even in Europe) were well attended by whites. And that even prominent white politicians such as Jeb Bush, Mayor Bloomberg, and the creators of SYG voiced strong opinions against George Zimmerman.

        There are people who seem completely sensible until the names of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are mentioned, and then all bets are off. I believe people like Robert Zimmerman Jr. and Jerralyn are so steeped in their dislike of civil rights leaders, that they would rather slander Trayvon Martin, and upset the balance of justice in this case.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        She is on record as having a concealed weapons permit. She doesn’t appear to be a racist type.

      • Jun says:

        I noticed team Zimmerman have been pushing the “black angry mob on with hunt” image (big laugh)…

        They fail to realize that this case is worldwide and people from a diverse range of backgrounds support to fix this injustice. It is not about black or white, it is about a kid who was walking home with candy, was targeted, stalked, harassed, attacked, and murdered, with no mercy shown. Whether Trayvon was white, black, Chinese, whatever, people would still just be as shocked at the behaviour and stand to fix this injustice. Yes there is a possibility that Zimmerman is a racist considering his actions and motivations.

  15. 2dogsonly says:

    Denial is a very protective defense when the ego is facing too much anxiety but there is so much evidence that she has to deny (DNA, timeline, camera vids, lack of informing of NW, witness’s statements questionable but still …,and GZ’s own story variations). As she’s not a friend of George’s,her anxiety doesn’t require Denial so what could be her motivation? Behavior is always self serving for the person so what would be her gain in defending someone with so much devastating evidance? She does show an attorney that will withstand VERY critical media scrutany should a future client need this. Unwavering and relentless media support!

    If this sounds critical, it’s not. I just really think she is a very smart attorney & I would hire her in a second ( JB also).

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      I would never hire her unless there were not other choices. I’d want a logical defense from an attorney whose sanity I wouldn’t have to question.

    • SearchingMind says:

      It is very, very easy to become a ‘famous lawyer’. All you need to do is take your JD (and if possible LL.M) degree, go on CNN etc. and very eloquently talk some legal abracadabra, which the ordinary citizen does not understand and mistakenly thinks that the reason why he/she does not understand the said abracadabra is because it is too abstract for him/her to understand. The good attorney is he who can AT THE SAME TIME act as (a) the prosecution (b) the judge and (c) the jury. He does this by “thorough” analysis of the evidence – especially the incriminatory ones. In this way he not only knows what the prosecutor, the judge and jury are/will be thinking, he can see far beyond them, ascertain where the possible weak-points of the cases are and find a very strong “sleghammer” to smash the case apart at the last moment. He determines what is best defense for you – almost entirely independent of you and what you claim. Contrary to your suggestion, the good attorney is definitely NOT the one that unwaveringly believes your claims and presents your claims in the media as ‘articles of faith’, while at the same time either not being able to read- and/or unable to understand and/or ignores “the signatures of forensic evidence”, etc. If you are in trouble and you have that kind of lawyer, you are definitely heading towards disaster. Indeed, Ms. Merritt, Esq. was a central figure in the Timothy McVeigh case. I think it is undisputed that McVeigh has long gone to meet his creator. I also heard Ms. Merritt Esq. state on CNN ‘that perjury is not a serious crime and that based on that, ‘Shellie Zimmerman’ should not have been prosecuted for perjury’! It couldn’t get more bizarre. Mark Garagos also tried the media-thing with Scott Peterson. And we know today that Scott is still torturously waiting to be sent to his creator.

      • jm says:

        SearchingMind says: “I also heard Ms. Merritt Esq. state on CNN ‘that perjury is not a serious crime and that based on that, ‘Shellie Zimmerman’ should not have been prosecuted for perjury’! It couldn’t get more bizarre.”

        That is strange. Why shouldn’t Shellie get prosecuted for any crime she commits? I was under the impression perjury was a serious crime So bottom line does she mean people who do not commit serious crimes should not be prosecuted across the board?

        I also have wondered when certain attorneys make comments in the media supporting the defense team if they may have friends on that defense team or maybe want to be a paid consultant on the case if there is such a thing.

        I can’t believe after the evidence dumps anyone would not have at least doubts about GZ’s story, especially a legal professional. Maybe she could think the prosecution may have a hard time proving the 2nd degree murder case, but not that GZ is completely innocent after he profiled, stalked and killed Trayvon.

  16. jm says:

    Not a law professional, but it has to be hard to presume innocence in light of the facts that come out in this particular case during evidence dumps.

    I don’t read Jeralynn Merritt’s blog so I have no idea who she is or what she is saying about Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman.

    Having said that, do you feel once a person takes a stand, it is hard to admit you were wrong at some point when you may have been proven wrong, not necessarily by a jury finding GZ guilty, but rather with forensic facts and timelines that dispute his story, especially if you are a law professional and have taken a side early on?

    Do you feel O’Mara thinks GZ is innocent in light of evidence dumps? If a defense attorney starts to doubt his client’s innocence does he have any obligation to quit the case?

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      I doubt O’Mara believes Zimmerman is innocent. Undoutedly O’Mara is much more aware of what a sick puppy Zimmerman is than the public at large.

    • rachael says:

      @jm – they have a job to do. Do you really think defense attorneys believe all their clients are innocent? They defend clients even if they KNOW they are guilty. Knowing and thinking are emotion. They don’t work on emotion. They work with law and evidence. Their job is to provide the best defense there is to offer and how they feel about it has nothing to do with it.

      Now if for some reason he did not feel he could give GZ the defense he deserves (by law – not by me), then I guess he would be obligated to quit the case.

      But rather than quit, he would possibly try for a plea.

      • jm says:

        “Now if for some reason he did not feel he could give GZ the defense he deserves (by law – not by me), then I guess he would be obligated to quit the case.”

        I don’t think I could ever defend someone who I did not like and believed they should be institutionalized – like GZ.

        Of course if I was paid $400 an hour, I would go through the motions and secretly hope the jury saw through GZ’s story. Would that be unethical of me?

        Do lawyers who lose high-profile cases command as much money as say for instance, Jose Baez, who won his client a not guilty verdict vs O’Mara if his client were to get a guilty verdict?

      • rachael says:

        @jm –

        “I don’t think I could ever defend someone who I did not like and believed they should be institutionalized – like GZ.”

        You don’t have to take a case just because it comes knocking on your door. But by the same token, maybe you should rather not be a defense attorney. I mean they have a job to do.

        Again, it doesn’t have to do with emotions or like or believe – it is about due process as guaranteed in the14th Amendment of the US constitution and following the law. If you can’t look at it from that standpoint.

        It does NOT mean that you believe your client is innocent, it means you believe in the law and will not allow him to not be afforded his due process. You might think the guy is guilty as sin – you might know he is, but he still has a right to due process by the law and if you are a defense attorney, it is your job to see that he gets it. That is not the same as saying you believe him or that he is innocent. That is what justice is – that the law will be applied correctly, even if it is not the application you want.

      • O’Mara was very involved in the Anthony case and figured he could produce a miracle like Baez did. He is playing the game of law and expects to come out on top as well. No emotions are at play here. The act of demonizing the victim, playing the rapist defense is appalling, however.

    • You said,

      “Having said that, do you feel once a person takes a stand, it is hard to admit you were wrong at some point when you may have been proven wrong, not necessarily by a jury finding GZ guilty, but rather with forensic facts and timelines that dispute his story, especially if you are a law professional and have taken a side early on?

      Do you feel O’Mara thinks GZ is innocent in light of evidence dumps? If a defense attorney starts to doubt his client’s innocence does he have any obligation to quit the case?”

      I believe it’s always difficult to admit we are wrong when our ego is invested in being right.

      I have no idea what O’Mara believes.

      As a former death penalty lawyer with enough knowledge of the forensic sciences to spot issues and ask the right questions, I am concerned regarding whether he realizes the significance of the forensic evidence. He cannot provide sound advice to his client or adequately prepare for the immunity hearing and the trial if he does not understand its significance. I don’t believe he has tried a murder case before and I don’t believe he knows anything about blood spatter and DNA evidence. I think he is used to thinking that the regular civilian witnesses are the most important part of any trial and that is not true in this case. I think he is out of his league and I fear that he will not provide Zimmerman with adequate representation.

      Even though I believe Zimmerman murdered Martin, I still want to see him get a fair trial.

      A defense lawyer is not obligated to withdraw, if he believes his client is guilty. I have won trials where my client had admitted to me before trial that he was guilty. Of course, the client did not testify, and I argued for an acquittal based on the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There is nothing wrong with doing that. In fact, the lawyer’s duty to the client requires doing that.

      • rachael says:

        My fear is that he (O’Mara) is between a rock and a hard place. He may realize he is in over his head, but if he removes himself now, it would appear very bad for GZ, no matter what he uses for a reason. Therefor, as you say, he may not get adequate representation.

        But all of that is speculation on my part, because unlike you, Professor, I don’t know about his previous trial history or experience, so I am just taking your word for it.

      • jm says:

        Professor thank you for your response.

        I have one more question regarding the law profession. I have worked with doctors in medical environment and they are loathe to call out another doctor as incompetent even though it appears from history they are. It seems kind of like an unspoken loyalty to the profession. Does this hold true in the legal profession? Is there some allegiance between defense attorneys?

      • Prof. Leatherman..Re: Jeralyn’s unwavering support for George Zimmerman………belief in the presumption of innocence. Where does she stand on the presumption of innocence in regard to the accusations against Trayvon Martin? Does an unwavering support for George mean that one feels that Martin did something to bring about this situation? What are a defense lawyer’s feelings regarding the “victim” of the crime that their client has been accused of?

  17. Lonnie Starr says:

    This is going to be good, following for sure!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: