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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Massad Ayoob

THE ZIMMERMAN VERDICT, PART 1

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Minutes ago as I write this, justice has triumphed in a courtroom in Sanford, Florida. I wish to congratulate six brave, honest, intelligent jurors.  And two fine defense lawyers. And the honest cops and witnesses who testified, and the many who contributed to the defense fund for a wrongfully accused armed citizen.

Several blog followers have asked me why I haven’t written here (or spoken anywhere) on this, the most important armed citizen case of our time. The answer is this:

I did write on it once, on Friday, March 23, 2012.  The following day, I received a phone call from Craig Sonner, George Zimmerman’s original legal counsel, to retain me on the case as an expert witness for the defense.

The weeks wore on.  Attorney and client parted ways.  I was subsequently contacted by Mark O’Mara, the new defense lawyer. Late in May of 2012, I met with him in his office, along with his co-counsel Don West.  I also attended the bail hearing in which Zimmerman’s bond was revoked. During the hearing, TV cameras swept the courtroom. Some folks saw that, recognized me, and apparently assumed I was involved with the case.

In fact, I don’t take expert witness cases until I’ve seen all the evidence, and the prosecution was extremely slow in providing that.  I wound up not being involved. However, having been retained by one of the defendant’s lawyers and consulted with another, I felt bound by confidentiality and did not think it would be professional to comment directly on the matter from then on.

I’ve been biting my tongue ever since, because there was much that I wanted to say.

The verdict is now in, and I’m gonna smooth those teethmarks off my tongue, and in the next few entries here will discuss some elements of the Zimmerman case which have been widely and profoundly misunderstood.

In the meantime, to get the commentary and analysis of the case that most of the mainstream media denied you, go to the excellent day by day writing of Andrew Branca, an attorney who specializes in this sort of case, at www.legalinsurrection.com.

Your commentary is more than welcome here.

77 Responses to “THE ZIMMERMAN VERDICT, PART 1”

  1. paul brown Says:

    Well said Sir, glad to see your opinion on this, by the way, I work 1/2 mile from where the shooting took place…..I am wondering what the commotion on Monday will be heading to work, Best Regards,Paul ‘BrownBess’ Brown [Red Hat]

  2. Scott Parsons Says:

    Whether George should have gotten out of the car is debatable but whether he was justified in using deadly force was undeniable based on the evidence I carefully watched. It was absolutely fascinating to watch all the things I learned from you in LFI 1 2 & 3 play out in court. One valuable lesson you stressed was be polite and cooperative but SHUT UP until you have a lawyer.

  3. Mas Says:

    Marc: The “citizens’ grand jury” thing is unofficial, symbolic, and carries no weight.

    Unit 1069: The way GATE is set up on Glock Talk, any member can post a question, but only that member and the moderator can continue the thread. It’s geared for straight Q&A as opposed to general discussion.

    Mitch: The Sanford PD investigated the case swiftly and professionally, and did not find the necessary probable cause to arrest. While the public didn’t understand that, the cops did the right thing.

  4. The NUGUN Blog Says:

    “I feel nearly everything Mr. Zimmerman did that night, after his first call to the police from the community club house, was reckless and irresponsible.”

    – Williams

    ***

    Why …

    “Most of us that follow your philosophy know to do everything possible, especially when carrying a deadly weapon, to avoid potentially dangerous, escalation prone situations as happened that evening.”

    That is for most people. Especially when out and about. But let me add a few counters. Do you live in a neighborhood that is becoming rampant with crime? Do the police respond to your calls?

    I lived in New Haven, CT. And it was a nicer neighborhood on the border of one of the worst neighborhoods. The result, depending on who was the CO of the area in a given year. We would often find our calls went unresponded to.

    In fact, I once made a call after a man began making death threats to a cashier at a gas station and the response was “It’s New Haven, whad’ya want us to do about it.” (Nice,…)

    The problem, a nice neighborhood is prey/food for criminals. But the murders, and heavy crime happens blocks away. The cops focus on that area, and the good neighborhood starts to go downhill. And it’s shocking, when homes are being broken into, people robbed…in what was a nicer neighborhood.

    That’s fairly similar to what’s happening in many neighborhoods similar to Mr. Zimmerman’s. Especially with the housing crisis, foreclosures, empty homes, squatters, etc.

    In fact, Mr. Zimmerman’s neighborhood had a recent breakin into a house of a mother alone with her child. And if you think that’s not a big deal, watch the video circulating Facebook of the armed house robbery where the mother is repeatedly beaten by the home invader, seemingly for sport. This is becoming more common.

    And the truth is, citizens are going to start taking up the defense of their own homes and their own neighborhoods. Because the know, if their neighbors are terrorized and no one responds. They’ll move away and the neighbhorhood will become worse. And then it’ll be hard for those who didn’t move, to move away due to home values declining. Or worse, they might be the next victim.

    ***

    “Ok, we don’t need you to do that.”

    “that’s my truck” (past club house and past mailboxes)

    The 911 transcripts not that they ask if Mr. Zimmerman was following, and state they didn’t need him to do that. From the context, it seems like he was already out of his vehicle at that point. The incident took place a very short distance from Mr. Zimmerman’s vehicle – in other words, he quit pursuing and remained basically where he was. He probably did walk across to the other road expecting to see the man fleeing out the back exit. But that’s not following, that’s merely observing.

    Many talk about about Mr. Martin’s right to simply walk in the neighborhood. But doesn’t Mr. Zimmerman have that same right in his own neighborhood?

    The truth is, that if we ignore our neighbors in need, we do so to our own peril. The harder truth is, that our present society does not except such, and if an incident like the GZ/TM case occurs, it will be hell. And your life will likely be ruined.

    Every man needs to make a decision of when, and why they’re willing to act. And realize, there will be consequences. I’ll remind you of Spider-Man, the origin story where he ignores a petty criminal escaping. The result is that same criminal would bump into his uncle, and shoot him. Now it’s fictional. But it makes a point. In many ways, it is ALL of society’s responsibility to deal with criminal eliments.

    And no, that is not the accepted philosophy today, because we’re told to let the “State” handle everything for us.

    But what do you do when you call 911 a dozen times, and have zero responses? It’s why many choose to call S&W, and then only have 911 file the paperwork.

    Yes, this was a messy case. But the truth of the matter is that TM was a habitual user of mind-altering drugs, a thug, and one with a habit of starting fights.

    Perhaps he should have ignored him. And who’s to say it wouldn’t have been his own house broken into by TM, and his own family gunned down with the .380 that TM was attempting to acquire.

    We don’t know….and yes, ignoring has lesser immediate consequences.

  5. William Says:

    Mas, The police didn’t have probable cause for an immediate arrest the night of the incident or shortly there after.
    However, I have seen documents, appearing to be official, posted on various websites that state:
    On March 13, 2012, Sanford PD Lead Investigator Chris Serino wrote in his final report to the Florida State Attorney, “I believe there exists probable cause for issuance of a capias charging George Michael Zimmerman with manslaughter.”
    Am I being Hoaxed.

  6. John Says:

    Mas,
    It will be interesting to read your thoughts and whatever you can share with us. It has definitely seemed that a lot of improper things were, and perhaps still are, occurring in this case. Having the Federal Gov’t come after you is a scary thought, and a life changing event.

  7. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    Is Zimmerman Immune to a civil suit under FL law? Or does that only apply to Castle/SYG cases?

    “Florida law provides for immunity from criminal prosecution and from civil suit for someone who uses force in justified self defense. See 776.032:”

    http://www.corneredcat.com/article/legal-concerns/castle-doctrine-and-stand-your-ground-laws/

  8. Dennis Says:

    When A.G. Holder laments the high standards that must be met to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman, he is truthfully saying it’s next to impossible to make a case out of thin air as was attempted in the state case. By the way, stand your ground was never argued or mentioned in the trial. The defense was self defense pure and simple, the media were the only ones that mentioned stand your ground. The defense will now ask for a stand your ground hearing, which if won, will make Zimmerman exempt from all civil suits resulting from the shooting.

  9. Patrick Says:

    BREAKING: US AG Calls Trayvon Martin Shooting “Unnecessary”

    Posted on July 15, 2013 by Robert Farago

    “Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday called the death of Trayvon Martin ‘unnecessary’ and vowed to proceed with a civil rights inquiry following the acquittal of George Zimmerman,” usatoday.com reports. The US AG made no secret of his loyalties in the case. “We are committed to standing with the people of Sanford, with the individuals and families affected by this incident, and with our state and local partners in order to alleviate tensions, address community concerns, and promote healing… And we will never stop working to ensure that – in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community – justice must be done.” Implying the justice wasn’t done. Counterintuitively, Holder’s statement has pleased more than a few People of the Gun . . .

    Their thinking: if the Justice Department pursues Zimmerman in court the move will highlight the Obama administration’s Big Government bully boy gestalt. Add that to Obama’s forthcoming signature on the U.S. Arms Trade Treaty and the pro-gun voting base will come out in force in the 2014 elections—slowing if not stopping the progressives anti-gun agenda.

    I bet Dan a steak dinner the DOJ will rattle its sword but ultimately leave Zimmerman be. We shall see.

    You may also like –

  10. Mike Rentfrow Says:

    Mr. Ayoob
    Thank you for biting your tongue in such a professional manner. Unfortunately, you may be one of the few so wise. I am referring to the obviously politically motivated prosecutor and others. Your take on the legalities of this case are very interesting to me as a long time reader of your words and as one who had every word I had read of yours echo in my head one night as a SIG 220 came to bear on an intruder in my home. Well maybe it wavered in the direction of the intruder. I really do not know why I did not fire because somehow I just did not get comfortable with the shot prior to the man turning placing his hand on my second story patio railing and and vaulting over it to the ground 20 feet or so below. I had opened the sliding door to put out my dog as an expedient potty outing in the rain versus my carpet but came face to face with the intruder as he tried to enter through the same door. I reached behind me and brought the weapon to bear from the counter. In the next second or so which seemed longer than the “until death till you” part at the alter no further threat occurred so lethality did just not seem prudent. I have often wondered how many others that man burglarized and how many may have even had assaults as a result of my inaction. I am certain I did what was right at the moment but the man in a black hoodie on my patio brings me pause as I compare the possibility of what may have been if I were Zimmerman. I suspect that if there was a continued threat the outcome for me would have paralleled the Florida case.

  11. kelley in charlotte Says:

    A tragedy above all, but I am concerned with the volume of mis information that is being accepted as fact by both the press and the citizenry. I am not sure that Stand your ground even applied to this case but the press and the most of the country are blaming SYG as the reason that this event happend and the reason that GZ was not convicted. That is only one of the areas of misinformation among many. Mas, did SYG even play a part up to this point in this case? If I understand correctly there was not even a SYG hearing. Is this something that you will elaborate on further in this blog, or can you help me understand how SYG has had an affect on this case up to this point? If this had happened in , oh I don’t know Indiana, or Colorado would the case have been any different? Could SYG protect GZ from from civil lawsuits/wrongful death in the future? Lots of questions Mas, looking forward to a lot of enlightening review from you. This blog is great we can get your perspectives. Thanks Mas.

  12. William Says:

    Just read, juror B37, of the Zimmerman Trial told Anderson Cooper she was influenced by the fact that Lead Investigator Serino testified that he believed Zimmerman.
    Didn’t the judge order the jury to disregard Serino’s statement during cross That He Believed Zimmerman?
    Had Zimmerman been convicted, would this be grounds for appeal?

  13. Mas Says:

    Kelly, William, and Mad Saint Jack, I hope to be touching on those issues in these pages shortly.

  14. William Says:

    I want to thank the Ayoob Fan Community for their maturity and civility. I have made three posts on this topic with numerous spelling, punctuation and word usage mistakes, and not one poster on this site has posted anything to demean, or should I say, flame me. On most other websites, I would have been like a lamb who is lead to slaughter. I am proud to be among you.
    I guess it’s a good thing “I’m a lover, not a writer”.

  15. Roger Says:

    Of course, Martin could have been trying to “stand his ground” after a creepy person in a truck followed and harassed him. He may have felt threatened.

    I don’t see how Zimmerman could possibly feel threatened by a pedestrian from his vantage point of being in a truck with a gun and a phone.

    Shall we all go pick fights with people, then “defend myself” when they react?

  16. Vegas_Don Says:

    Mr Ayoob, I am compelled to strongly disagree with your opinion. Until now I considered you a literary mentor based on your knowledge and expertise. Perhaps the murder of young Trayvon Martin was unintentional, but to allow a moron like Zimmerman to keep his gun bearing privileges (not rights) is a mistake. In my opinion, Florida has the weakest gun laws in the nation. How is it possible to be involved in a domestic violence & assault a peace officer and continue to legally carry a firearm. In the state of Nevada that is not possible. So to all who feel that justice was fair in this case… We can agree to disagree. Guns belong in the hands of responsible citizens, unfortunately Mr. Zimmerman is not one of them. I am afraid he is going to make the headlines again, hopefully not at the cost of another life.

  17. Publius Says:

    There is so much wrong with whole thing it would take me a day or two to say it and point it all out. One they bypassed the Grand Jury thats constitutionally required with the imposed penalties. In a case like this the prosecutor is to present any and all evidence, but instead withheld it and even tried to destroyed some of it that could show innocents. Almost from the start Eric Holder payed a hand in promoting the protests that lead up to the arrest of Zimmerman and the firing of the chief of police that did the investigation and declared it self defense as it meet the requirements under the law and it also meet the same requirements for a police officer. I could really go into detail, but like I stated it will take to long.

  18. JFM Says:

    I have lightly followed this event with NPR as my primary source and since the verdict web articles and their comments. What strikes me, as hard as a baseball bat to the face, is the overwhelming lack of critical thinking on the part of the majority of people who comment. “Zimmerman shouldn’t have gotten out of his car”, “Zimmerman was a vigilante” “Zimmerman stalked Trayvon ” “See what Stand Your Ground Laws do”.

    How about this, “Trayvon Martin shouldn’t have starting hitting ANYBODY”. Because that’s what it comes down to, one man was beating another man to the point deadly force was used to stop the beating.

    What hasn’t been addressed anywhere I’ve seen is that parts of American culture thinks it’s right and proper to start pounding on people for whatever reason. The people who think that way are upset that the person who was being beaten killed his attacker. What if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun? What if he was able to hit Martin with a rock-once! and killed him? Martin was unlucky in that the un aimed shot fired by the man beneath him went into his heart. A few inches lower and Martin might have been the one in court.

  19. William Says:

    JFM, There has been zero evidence that Trayvon started the fight, other than George Zimmerman’s self-serving statements, although there is evidence that Trayvon landed at least one punch. As I understand the court’s instructions, when there is no direct evidence to support the fact of, for example, who initiated the physical altercation, the benefit of the doubt must go to the defendant.
    This by no means, however makes it as fact that Trayvon started the fight.
    On a different point, however, I was deeply disturbed when the Government,s case tried to make Zimmerman look so evil in that he carried a round in the chamber of his semiautomatic pistol, “ready to fire”, when that is the way they are designed to be used. Just ask any police officer in the country if they have one in the chamber.

  20. L1A1Rocker Says:

    I’ve said several times that Zimmerman should have two people in his corner. Massad Ayoob, and Alan Dershowitz. I was VERY upset to read this from Mas: “I don’t take expert witness cases until I’ve seen all the evidence, and the prosecution was extremely slow in providing that. I wound up not being involved.” So if the prosecution wants to insure that Mas is not a witness for the defense, slow walk the disclosure process. SHAME ON YOU MASSAD AYOOB, you should have been there for Zimmerman!

  21. chasseur160 Says:

    Concealed carry, a privilege exchanged for a right.

    The Bill of Rights states “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”

    Simple and plain language. All gun laws that infringe are Unconstitutional.

    We the People set that up in the beginning. Demand your rights

    See US v. John Bad Elk Time to get the grand jury started up again to prosecute a**hole prosecutors who major in professional misconduct.

  22. Cap'n Dave Says:

    As this story went national, I took the initiative and left a message with Sonner’s office to “please contact me.” As a long-time Ayoob reader, fan-boy and (Feb. 2013) grad of a Live Oak Mag-40, I just wanted to whisper in the Attorney’s ear that, “should he desire to slam-dunk-WIN this ultra-high-profile case; he should contact a feller named Massad Ayoob.” Never got a call back from him, but apparently those gears were already turning, and it’s nice –reading above– to see my instincts were on the right track. When we learned than O’mara was the new attorney, rinse, lather repeat. No doubt his office was unbelievably swamped with nutjobs and opinon weasels, but still we had to try; knowing that if ANYBODY could pull the legal chestnuts out of the fire before they over-roast…
    Mas, it was a pleasure and honor to learn from you, and I cannot recommend enough to the readers of this column: “Hock you car; attend a Mag-40!”
    Thank you for your tireless efforts against ignorance. I know you love scifi, so: “The two most common elements in the Universe; Hydrogen and Stupidity. (from Harlan Ellison.)
    dy

  23. Charla Says:

    Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel gave a lot of insight as to why Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. It was NOT racial. It was homophobia. She told Trayvon that Zimmerman could be a sexual predator. Then she went on to say that Trayvon what going to give Zimmerman some ‘whoop ass.’ This was on the Piers Margan whow where she was a guest. She indicated, from being on the phone with Martin up until the last minute, that it was MARTIN that attacked Zimmerman, and this is what the jury found. If there is a civil case against Zimmerman, these things will be brought out along with Trayvon’s use of drugs including Lean as shown on his Facebook page that someone was smart enough to save. Lean makes one paranoid and aggressive. Where is the extreme outrage when blacks kill each other every day in Chicago and other major cities? Or is that reserved when someone is made out to be white?

  24. Marrilynn Gaupel Says:

    I wasn’t there to witness anything. Supposedly Mr. Zimmerman was told not
    to follow Trayvon or approach him. He did just that. I don’t understand where
    are all the so called witnesses that could have possibly put a stop to this, but didn’t because they were afraid of altercations. A young boys life was wasted because once again, people are too afraid to care and to do something about it. I feel sorry for the parents because they have lost their son, and it should never have happened. My children never went out on the streets after dark, and didn’t go many places without someone with them, but things like this happen in a bat of an eye. Zimmerman is free, and found not guilty, but he did violate Trayvon’s civil rights. I could not live with myself if I ever took someone’s life whether it be in self defense or otherwise. I hope Mr. Zimmerman can live with himself. I truly feel this all could have been avoided.
    Whites and blacks alike are killed everyday by drive by shootings and other ways. Do people really think that things will get better? You don’t have to be on the streets, doing drugs, or being unlawful to get killed. Sometimes you are minding your own business and someone walks up and kills you because they didn’t like your face or some other crazy excuse they can use to kill.

  25. Steve S. Says:

    Martin’s life was “wasted” because he attacked someone and began pounding his head against concrete while atop him. How can someone claim Zimmerman violated a person’s civil rights by stopping such a vicious attack in self defense? It’s very likely that Zimmerman’s action saved his life or at least kept him from a serious concussion or brain damage — which would not have been the case had he not been armed.

  26. Martin Says:

    Massad Ayoob. I used to read your articles in the gun magazines but won’t anymore. For you to justify the shooting of an unarmed teen makes you just another vigilante racist like George Zimmerman. Guys like you are always looking for the smallest excuse to draw their weapon and take somebodies life. George Zimmerman was not a law enforcement officer or even a security guard for the property. If he felt something was not right then he should have used his cell phone to call the police and not intervene and escalate the situation resulting in a young mans death. For people like you black boys are not young men they are perps or gangstas or thugs because you don’t approve of the clothes they wear. I’m really disappointed in your assessment of the whole situation but I’m glad you have shown your true colors so I. No longer have to waste my time reading anymore of your articles. I wonder what you think of Zimmerman now that he has been accused of assaulting his girlfriend and brandishing a firearm at her. Is he still your poster boy for gun rights? Zimmerman is a headcase and was one when he shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin.

  27. Ron Sparks Says:

    Hello Mas: Once again your writings illuminate a muddied picture of misinformation and lack of the right to defend oneself from the physically violent attacker. No one is obligated to be a victim, irrespective of anyone, for any reason. (LFI I,II,III grad., 1990)

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