Thursday, April 12, 2012


My prognosis of voluntary manslaughter was inaccurate. Nonetheless, that lesser included charge will be on the verdict slip at a conclusion of trial. The special prosecutor was privy to all available evidence and her call should be respected.

There was, from some quarters, rejoicing at the news and even a claim that public pressure had played a hand in the severity of the crime charged. I hope not and don't think so. There has been, however, a discomforting tone in the reaction of those who, from the beginning, in publicly clamoring for Zimmerman's arrest, have blurred the line between a criminal charge and the necessity of proving that charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Celebrating the charging of a man can be explained and even justified by the effects of deep emotion running high. But, dare I suggest that those reins be pulled in a bit.

The case is now officially in the embrace of the Florida legal justice system. The stage has been set for the most effective way of determining guilt to play out on what surely will be before a national audience. A trial by jury, with the Judge and the attorneys doing their best to insure the impartiality and fairness of its members.

I've been involved in the criminal justice system since 1957, when I was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and enjoyed the privilege of defending criminal defendants as well as presiding over such trials as a  Massachusetts District Court (First) Justice. I came to respect the positions of both sides and their adversarial skills in attempting to persuade the jury to accept their respective, and diametrically opposed points of view.

But never--not once--as either attorney or judge, did I ever, in any way, even attempt to minimize the presumption of innocence, which embraces every person criminally charged and stays with him unless he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to the satisfaction of twelve unanimous jurors.

And so must it be, and so shall it be for George Zimmerman.

So let the fingers be taken off the triggers, and let this case play out in accordance with due process of law, which is a fancy definition of plain talk "fairness."

Let the trial ferret out the facts and let the jury decide whether Mr. Zimmerman's presumption of innocence has been rebutted by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let justice be achieved the old fashioned way.

Let the clamor from the pulpits recede for a while.

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