Lessons to Learn From Zimmerman and Martin

Honestly, I did not follow the George Zimmerman criminal trial. On the surface it appeared to be a tragic outcome but I refuse to follow the media when it attempts (successfully unfortunately) to focus public attention on situations that don’t warrant the focus. Personally, I was far more moved by the 19 young, elite firefighters who lost their lives attempting to save their fellow citizens’ property and preserve a section of America. In my opinion, those men and their families deserved the attention and I would have watched. Instead the public was focused on a single episode on a street in Florida.

For professional reasons, I read “neutral” accounts of the trial proceedings and one conclusion is inescapable – a good lawyer makes a huge difference. I NEVER defend my profession because, just like all professions, there are bad lawyers who do bad things and they give us all a bad name. My response to lawyer bashing has always been, wait until you need a lawyer and then your opinion might change. George Zimmerman can now be my spokesperson.

George Zimmerman’s team of lawyers were far superior to the prosecution team. The prosecution was beaten badly in every aspect of the case. If there was a mercy rule in courtrooms it would have been invoked the first week of trial. The defense used a strong opening statement to educate the jury on how the case would proceed, the facts they would hear, explained the law, and informed the jury of their obligations. The defense used artful cross examination to turn prosecution witnesses into star witnesses for the defense. In its own case, the defense called credible witnesses who dressed well, gave consistent testimony, and did not wilt under very weak cross examination. The defense pointed out critical facts that the media ignored because the facts did not fit into the creation of a media frenzy. The case closed with the prosecution making a desperate grab at the heartstrings of the jurors while the defense provided a logical and comprehensive summary of all of the evidence and explained why that evidence required an acquittal. The one juror who has spoken stated what every credible legal scholar already knew – the prosecution failed, and failed miserably, to meet its burden of proving that Mr. Zimmerman committed a crime.

Maybe Mr. Zimmerman did not commit a crime. Or maybe he did. Unquestionably, however, the result of this case was a product of the lawyering and good lawyers can usually make a difference. And no one, let me repeat, NO ONE, has the right to publicly protest the verdict. This case was tried in the greatest system of justice ever created. The system is not perfect but by comparison is far superior to any other on earth. Mr. Martin’s family had their days in court. Mr. Zimmerman enjoyed the protection of the United States Constitution and was innocent until proven guilty. He defended himself before a jury of his peers and that jury, after hearing all of the evidence, concluded that he had not committed a crime. I understand that individuals and certain groups do not like the outcome.

The protesters did not sit in the jury box, did not see the witnesses, did not evaluate the evidence pursuant to the Court’s instructions. Frightening is the thought that protesters even believe that they are competent to disagree with the legal decision rendered by the jury in the case. I don’t always like or agree with the outcomes of my cases either. Notwithstanding, I always thank my juries for giving my cases the reasoned time and attention the cases deserve. On those rare occasions when the jury does not do what I believe the evidence required them to do, I don’t run into the street and protest. I don’t conduct rallies in parks. I don’t take to the airwaves. Instead, I attempt to talk to the jury and understand how I missed the mark with them. I try to learn from the process and in the end, I thank God that I live in a country where I can trust fellow citizens to pass judgment on the activities of life. Shame on every citizen and all involved in media who have protested the outcome of this case.

Our system does not get every case right, every time, but I promise this system is far better than any other known to man. For those who disagree, visit a foreign country and innocently break the law and see how that foreign system treats you. If you ever make it back to this friendly soil, do let us know if your attitude has changed.