S E L F – D E F E N S E 101
The Zimmerman Case is the flashbulb that REVEALS more than the left intended…
A Not-Politically Correct Commentary
By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law
In a long delayed Florida jury trial, young Zimmerman has been acquitted and young Trayvon Martin is dead.
That result was unsurprising. Cutting through all the rhetoric, this was the state of the evidence:
A neighborhood watch volunteer in a high crime area (Zimmerman) got into a dispute with a suspected prowler (Martin). A physical struggle ensued (note that the jurors found that Martin was the aggressor); and Zimmerman found himself on the bottom, being pummeled against the concrete. In this position, Zimmerman managed to get control of his lawful firearm. He pulled the trigger once at contact range. He survived the encounter, while, tragically, Mr. Martin did not.
Now imagine this scenario with players changed. A middle aged woman is the neighborhood watch volunteer on that fateful night, and the suspected prowler is a large white man. After a confrontation, she finds herself on the bottom, being pummeled against the pavement. Miraculously, the neighborhood watch woman manages to pull out a self-defense handgun (let’s assume it was borrowed from a friend.) She manages to pull the trigger at contact range … the large white man dies. The local police refuse to prosecute. The DA, under political pressure from the gun control lobby, files murder charges against her.
Thank God that Lady Justice is still blind to race and gender.
Over my decades as a defense attorney I served in Alameda County, CA, a a high crime, mostly urban jurisdiction, that includes Oakland and nine other cities. I eventually came to notice that self-defense cases had better outcomes in the more conservative parts of my county (such as Fremont and Livermore) than in the more leftist jurisdictions (such as Berkeley and Oakland).
Why is this? I asked myself.
During those decades in court rooms and jail interview rooms, I observed accused persons fare differently in different cultural settings; and that one’s political predispositions matter in the jury room. I learned that a majority of the gentle souls of the humanitarian left tended to assume that criminal aggression was a “cry for help”, or the involuntary response to “bad economic conditions”. For these tender-hearted souls, aggressive self-defense was uncomfortably “selfish”; and passive resistance or flight was always preferable. Of course, that was never the law in California, but such biases do inform and distort how the evidence in given criminal case is weighed in the real world inhabited by criminal lawyers. Competent defense attorneys, whether liberal or conservative, need to avoid getting stuck with such jurors. And God help the defendant who has hurt a minority person (read oppressed victim) in any way…even in self-defense. Such cases were and still are a defense nightmare to try, because passions and biases easily trump justice under the law.
Things are changing. Our country is at a watershed moment. African Americans are now just one thread in the diverse tapestry of American culture, no longer enjoying the exalted status of “chief among the oppressed”. Racism persists, of course, in this county and all others. But we now face anti-white racism, anti-Jewish racism, anti-Hispanic, anti-Asian…and so on.
It is more important than ever before in our history that our institutions of justice simply follow the law. Lady Justice was depicted as blind for a reason.
The right to self-defense is at the core of all our other rights. It flows directly from the understanding in the American Declaration of Independence that we are all individually endowed with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, rights bestowed not to some abstract collective membership race or status, but to each of us as individual human beings.
The brand of “justice” currently being pursued post-verdict by the Trayvon Martin advocates is collective social retribution; this has nothing whatsoever legitimate to contribute to the question of individuated justice in a court of law.
Collective justice is the enemy of individual justice; it is at its worst, a version of the justice of the lynch mob.
A final thought: Why do some neighborhoods feel the need for neighborhood watch volunteers? Why is the suggestion that I recently read in a major media outlet that Mr. Zimmerman (and by extension all the other anti-crime volunteers) should have “just made a phone call?” not absurd on its face?
You can answer the foregoing questions for yourself by addressing these:
What is the 911 response time in your neighborhood?
…in the neighborhood of someone near and dear to you?
How long are you prepared to wait, cowering in your home, for outside help?
How long would you like your loved ones to wait?
How comfortable are you with local police staffing and availability?
This is not about Zimmerman or Martin. It is much more than that. It is a discussion in the Public Square about the Zimmerman trial instead of riots. Let’s talk about public safety resources and how we can have safer communities and neighborhoods.
Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill
The author served as the Chief Public Defender for Alameda County, CA.
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Visit The Policy Think Site – www.jaygaskill.com .