Mark Walters’ nationally syndicated radio show and podcast, Armed American Radio, is one of my favorites. I’m a regular listener and an occasional guest. This past Sunday night, after Mark had completed one of my two-day, twenty-hour MAG-20 Armed Citizens Rules of Engagement courses, I joined him on the show along with Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor, who hosted the class in Atlanta. Other scheduled guests included Gail Pepin, Amber Kunau, Beth Alcazar, and famed instructor Rob Pincus.
During the second hour, listeners got an unexpected surprise guest: George Zimmerman called in.
If you’ve ever heard the Internet BS of “a good shoot is a good shoot” or “if you’re acquitted, nothing else matters,” you’ll appreciate the reality of what Mr. Zimmerman had to say. He spoke in detail about how profoundly the massive media campaign against him, and of course the ordeal of the court proceeding itself, impacted him and his family. That impact is still huge, still cruel, and yes, still ongoing.
This is, to my knowledge, the first time George Zimmerman has discussed this side of things publicly.
The entire three hour show (mostly self-defense issues in the first hour, and mostly women’s gun selection and self-defense issues in the third hour with the three famous female authorities), are available if you download the entire podcast at: http://armedamericanradio.org/show-archives
Thanks to Mark Walters and his sponsors for making this much needed dose of reality available to a nation which was widely lied to in regard to this matter.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed that a recurring theme is, “Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.” It’s a sad thing that it has to be a recurring theme.
As I said here most recently (http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2014/11/26/ferguson-part-iii-the-fire-this-time/) , “Back in 1972, when they first pinned a badge on me, I was told that we were the keepers of the secrets of the community. We owed the suspect/defendant and the victim alike their rights to privacy. We learned to say, ‘No comment’ to reporters. ‘It will all come out in court.’ What I realized early on and have preached to brother and sister cops in the decades since is that this doesn’t work when the cops themselves become the accused. An accusation of wrongdoing that goes unanswered is seen as a silent plea of nolo contendere, which translates roughly from the Latin as ‘we do not contest the charge against us.’ The general public doesn’t see much difference between that and a plea of Guilty…and ‘pleading nolo’ generally results in a penalty remarkably similar to what would accompany an actual Guilty verdict.”
Now comes Brian Willis to explain that better than I did. Brian is a fellow member of the Advisory Board of ILEETA, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. For many years, all of us at ILEETA have admired Brian’s ability to not only inspire the professional in the field, but to “train the trainers” of those professionals. If you ever teach anyone anything, you can learn from him. As you watch the following, you’ll first be mesmerized by his ability to capture your emotion and make you think…and they you’ll realize that the strongest element of his ability to do so is the certainty that what he is teaching is absolutely right and true. That is what gets Brian’s message – and the truth – across.
Share this, please, with others who need to learn from it, on many levels.
Let me publicly thank here not only Brian, but the young woman who brought this video to my attention. She is a Charge Nurse in the Emergency Room at a very busy hospital. She, like Brian, knows what it’s like to have blood on your hands and human life in your hands, with only a very few seconds in which to decide and act, in a world where clueless or agenda-driven critics will have literally millions of times longer to condemn you at their leisure if the outcome displeases them.
The grand jury concept has been much in the news of late. People with axes to grind (including multiple talking heads on CNN) decry the fact that grand juries in Missouri and New York exonerated the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson and the one who grabbed Eric Garner and pulled him to the sidewalk in NYC. Benjamin Crump, the plaintiffs’ attorney for the families in the Brown case, the Garner case, and the Trayvon Martin death before that, has called for a prosecutor to indict without sending the case to the grand jury in yet another racially –charged case.
I know many defense lawyers – and many citizens from the far left to the far right – who hate the grand jury system and believe it should be abolished. Having worked within the American criminal justice system in one way or another for more than four decades – as arresting officer, as police department prosecutor, as expert witness for both sides – I have to profoundly disagree.
When people hear the word “jury,” they think of the regular, “petit” jury: normally six to twelve people with some alternates as “spares” who determine guilt or innocence in a full-blown criminal trial, or apportion responsibility between plaintiff and defendant in the trial of a civil lawsuit. The grand jury is exclusive to the criminal side of the justice house, and is called by the prosecutor to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, or at least, enough question thereof that the matter should be sorted out in a full-blown trial. The grand jury will return either a “true bill,” which means that the person in question is now a defendant, stands indicted, and is fully inserted into the gullet of the criminal justice machine, or “no true bill,” which essentially exonerates the potential defendant, though that’s not exactly 100% because the prosecutor can usually re-file the case.
The grand jury is the province of the prosecutor. Often, a defense lawyer for the “person of interest” won’t even be allowed in the room, and if he is, he won’t be allowed to advocate for his client. This is what led to the famous saying that “a prosecutor can convince a jury to indict a ham sandwich.” The members of the grand jury hear what the prosecutor allows them to hear. This is what ticks off absolutists on both far left and far right.
And of course, if you are the one who wants to lead the lynch mob that hangs the defendant, you’ll be ROYALLY pissed off if the prosecutor actually allows exculpatory evidence which convinces his or her fellow citizens to return “no true bill.” This is apparently why Benjamin Crump does not want people he hopes to pillory to go in front of grand juries, and it is why CNN’s Sunny Hostin, a former prosecutor herself, was outraged that exculpatory evidence was presented to the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri.
Having been on both sides of this two-way street, I support the grand jury concept, and I applaud prosecutors who perform their duty as ministers of justice to allow exculpatory evidence (indicative of innocence) to go before the grand jurors as well as inculpatory evidence (indicative of guilt). Their job is as much to exonerate the innocent as it is to prosecute the guilty.
Some say, “But if the prosecutor is the sole arbiter of the evidence, he can get anyone he wants indicted!” To which I say, “SO WHAT?”
Please understand: IN MOST JURISDICTIONS, THE PROSECUTOR CAN INDICT ON HIS OR HER OWN WITHOUT A GRAND JURY ANYWAY, under what is generally called an “offer of information.”
In the cases currently under media scrutiny, the grand juries heard both sides of the story, while the public and the talking heads only heard one side’s narrative. Before anyone joins in the howl of the lynch mob, they should ask themselves one question: “If I was the one accused, would I want my side of the story and the evidence supporting me to be heard, before I was sent to trial in a case that would likely cost me six figures worth of dollars and incalculable suffering for myself and my family, before the decision was made to put me through that ordeal?”
The grand juries in the Brown death in Ferguson and the Garner death in New York did hear both sides. Having heard that, they each issued no true bill.
I for one respect that, and the prosecutorial authorities who allowed those grand juries to hear both sides.
December 7, 1941, the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt correctly predicted would live in infamy. What followed reshaped the world, and very much shaped my generation, the boomers, because our parents and our culture had been so marked by World War II.
The lessons remain, even on the level of individual daily life.
Be prepared for crisis. If it doesn’t happen, fine. If it does, you won’t have to start behind the curve when you have to deal with it, as a largely unprepared United States had to in the early part of that war.
Don’t ignore a blip on the radar screen. Awareness and preparedness are two sides of the same coin. Preparedness isn’t enough if your guard is down and you’re totally blindsided; if you see danger coming but don’t have the wherewithal to stop in, you just get to watch in horror for a little longer as you are destroyed.
True then, true now. True in macrocosm and true in microcosm.
An attorney friend wrote me this morning to say, “… been following your blog, great stuff. Forgive my crass, sniveling, pond-scum lawyer attitude BUT, you ought to be plugging Deadly Force in the blog to boost sales …”
Which does, frankly, make sense. My new book “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense,” just came out. So far, according to Amazon, it’s doing well, and listed as their best-seller in its category.
I grovel in gratitude to my beautiful and long-suffering editor, Corrina Peterson, who managed to get it out in time for Christmas.
It’s actually my third book this year, all from the same publisher (FW Media, the Gun Digest folks). The earlier two are “Gun Safety in the Home” and “Gun Digest Book of SIG-Sauer,” second edition.
One more class to finish this week and another mid-month, and the old guy here is gonna kick back for Christmas.
And if anyone says, “OMG, you self-promoting SOB,” well, I guess I can honestly reply, “I did it on the advice of a lawyer.”