I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Monday Morning Various

  • “I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were going to be trying the case today.” said the prosecutor in the Zimmerman bail hearing.  The prosecution was startlingly unprepared for  that hearing on Friday, and defense counsel used it to their advantage.  Defense called the chief investigator for the state– who said, “I was not planning on testifying,” and worked through the evidence (or lack of it) behind statements made in the affidavit on which the prosecution was based.  If this and the affidavit itself are indications of how this prosecution is going to go, it will not go well for the state.  I was a little startled that this was not much covered in a couple of news accounts I read; you can get the details from the Guardian’s live blog of the hearing.
  • Paige Williams, a journalist who teaches at Harvard’s Neiman School, was at Ole Miss and a Chi Omega at the time of the accident on Highway 6 in which five of her sorority sisters died.  She has a very intense story about the accident in Oprah Magazine.
  • At the other end of the insight and self-reflection scale:  McSweeney’s magazine has an annual contest picking five columnists, and this year one is being written by an Ole Miss freshman from Alabama, Mary Marge Locker, who apparently arrived with two big ambitions, the main one being to get in the “right” sorority, which she thinks she accomplished.  The column consists of one sorority girl activity after another, and I kept reading wondering if anything would be said that would justify its existence.  If you’ve read it and are curious which one is “Sorority H”: it’s Tri Delta.  Oh, and her other big ambition was to take a class from Jack Pendarvis.
  • Headline of the day (well, Saturday):  “Two Late Touchdowns Lift Yankees To Surreal Victory in Boston.”  Waah?  Well, down 9-1 in the Seventh, the scored seven runs in that inning and seven more in the eighth to win.  Keep your gloating to a minimum, Chico.
  • This entertaining New York Times profile, revisited, reminds me of Joseph Mitchell’s discovery of the truth about Joe Gould.
  • Yesterday’s Times had a spectacular long story about corruption in Wal-Mart’s Mexico operations.



60 comments to Monday Morning Various

  • P.B. Pike

    My point is just that, to the extent Martin looked even more menacing to the suspicious Zimmerman with that hood up, it was up because Zimmerman was making the kid nervous.

    Just think how scared Zimmerman must’ve been the first time he saw the Emperor in Star Wars in his hoodie.

  • Ignatius

    I’m really late to the thread and have just a couple of thoughts. The statute at issue gave Trayvon rights, too. Here’s the language:

    “A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

    (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.”

    I would point out that Trayvon seems to be equally justified in using force against a man – not a uniformed cop – who is lurking about then follows him in the dark. Don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but there are a lot of creeps out there who like to prey on boys.

    I don’t like public policy that can be viewed as supporting or encouraging the escalation of force and violence. Stand your ground? How about run, asshole, before a kid kicks your ass and you end his life and ruin your own.

  • RazorRedux

    PBPike at 841. Nothing personal meant or implied, but I’m not the one in a hole. You are. But, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you do realize that there is a big ole world out there not connected to the internet and this particular blog. My comment was about the whole of the internet chat, news coverage,and real human conversation, in real life, about this terrible, tragic event. And my concern isn’t centered on you or this blog, (no matter how much I like to read it and really appreciate the effort put into it by Tom). That being said, and at the risk of being repetitive, and simply put THIS IS BULLSHIT ! ! !. Trayvon Martin wasn’t a bad kid from what I can read, but then again, neither was Zimmerman, at least not as you describe. I wish the real world was as absolute as you think it is, but it isn’t. You appear to think that your youthful vigor is to be conflated with wisdom. Well it isn’t. But bless your heart, you too will grow up one day and realize the world isn’t your tomato to carve and pass out like candy to the poor dumbasses of the world, like me. You make some good, thoughtful arguments, but please don’t read your own press releases all the while thinking you are all-knowing and omnipotent and minimize other’s perspective. In this case, you think yourself all knowing. Me, I think you are an asshole in this particular case. But, I’m not going to throw away your thoughtful comments on other topics, based upon a few, IMHO, visceral bullshit ones.

    People can disagree, agreeably. Try it more often, you’d be surprised at how much being less condescending and smart, can actually prove your points more worthy of being considered, actually even appealing.

  • P.B. Pike

    “People can disagree, agreeably.” Then something about not being condescending and being less smart (?). That’s the advice from the same person who employs the calling card of condescension, “Bless your heart,” and wrote “Intelligent discussion, real discussion, is hard to find, period.” And it appears in the same comment as — well, as the whole long, lecturing invective that proceeds it, the lecture that begins, with no apparent intention of irony, “Nothing personal meant or implied.” Indeed: the personal part is definitely not implied here. It’s explicit. The word “asshole” kind of gives it away.

    Ah well. I stand on my previous statements that none of us knows what happened in the key seconds of this case (but I know which way the known facts lean, in my opinion) and that I want Zimmerman to get every conceivable constitutional protection available, including a change of venue and the very best criminal defense attorney in Florida. And one thing I haven’t said yet is that, were I a betting man, I’d bet on an acquittal or, at worst, the least of the lesser included offenses, followed, I’m afraid, by a high probability of public violence a la the Rodney King verdict. All of which I would regret, since I think Zimmerman is culpable in the boy’s death. What the prosecution can prove against him beyond a reasonable doubt in a courtroom is a whole different story, and if they fail, he ought to walk — just like Casey Anthony ought to have walked, regrettably, even though she probably killed her little girl.

  • PostHoleDigger

    The justice system has nothing to do with the truth or the law, only with what you can get someone to believe.

  • Observer

    P.B. Pike
    April 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm
    Observer, anybody who has listened to the 911 tapes knows with absolute certainty that the 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman “We don’t need you to do that [i.e., follow Martin]” almost as soon as Zimmerman had begun doing so.

    As has been pointed out, NO ONE knows what happened. However, if Zimmerman DID follow Martin, Zimmerman was well within his own rights. If I see an unknown person roaming my street in the rain on a cold night (which is suspicious), I am going to see where they go. If that person turns on me and attacks me and tries to bash my head in, I then have the right to use deadly force to defend myself. That is not new Florida “stand your ground” law, but is as old as the Code of Hammurabi.

    Observer and his ilk look straight past the reckless vigilantism at the heart of the case and choose to be more offended by media grandstanding than by a homicide.

    Alan Dershowitz is one of my “ilk.” I am defending the Constitutional rights of a person who is being recklessly accused by people of your “ilk” of murder. I say recklessly, because the case was not submitted to the Grand Jury (and the deficiencies of the charging instrument have been discussed already in this thread). You called me “idiotic.” Dude, to see an idiot, go look in the mirror. Rational, unbiased people are the people of my “ilk” in this matter.

    You approach this case from an obvious bias. What you cannot seem to conceive is that people who disagree with you are actually being OBJECTIVE.

  • P.B. Pike


    Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

    911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?

    ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.

    At the end of the call, Zimmerman sounds like he does not want to meet back at his truck even though he initially said he would. He wants police to call him when they get to the neighborhood so Zimmerman can tell them where to come meet him even though he’s already said he’s by the mailboxes. My interpretation: he had no intention of staying in his truck.

    As for who is defending the defendant’s constitutional rights, see my comment immediately above and previous comments, i.e. “I want Zimmerman to get every conceivable constitutional protection available[.]” I have you no doubt you want the same. I also have no doubt that you desperately want to believe any version of events, no matter how implausible (such as Zimmerman repeatedly had his head bashed into concrete with no reported effect on his mental faculties at all) as long as that version exonerates Zimmerman. Why you want that I cannot say, but you do yourself no credit to pretend it’s objective.

    Finally, I did not call you “idiotic.” I said your theory was idiotic. Big difference. I’ve done idiotic and stupid things just like everybody else, but that does not make me or anybody else idiotic or stupid.

  • Floyd Pink

    I just wanted to stop by and say hello to my old buddy P.B. Pike. Looks like you have everything under control over here as usual, Friendo. I’ll come back when the talk returns to Romney and Obama so you can school me on the Comrade’s virtues.

    “Obama 2012: If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

  • a friend of the law

    I haven’t commented much in a while, and I am late to this discussion, but I do have a few thoughts to add to the conversation.

    The Martin case is one of unintended tragedy, with its causation, IMO, rooted in the wrongful and unwise actions of both parties involved.

    First of all, Zimmerman, while serving on a neighborhood watch patrol, should have never exited his vehicle. If he witnessed something suspicious, he should just simply call the police and let them investigate. While I don’t necessarily fault him for having a weapon with him in his vehicle, his having it on his person when he exited the vehicle only compounded his mistake. He essentially put himself in a dangerous situation, with an uncertain outcome.

    On the other hand, Martin, by most accounts, reacted wrongly to Zimmerman’s actions by fighting Zimmerman. Why not just go to the home where he was staying? There is no evidence that Zimmerman cut off his path to his destination. Instead, it appears that he reacted with violence to his perception of offensive behavior coming from Zimmerman. We all get offended at times, yet most of us manage to restrain ourselves from unnecessary violence.

    Once there is a physical altercation, with Martin at some point on top beating Zimmerman (per the eyewitness account), it appears that Zimmerman likely panicked and chose to use his weapon (or as someone else suggested, there was a struggle for the weapon between the two) with the end result, in either case, being the weapon discharging and killing Martin — a tragic result unlikely planned or expected by either.

    There is no doubt that Zimmerman should not have exited his vehicle to follow Martin. But, that alone does not make his actions a crime. While I have not read the Florida “stand your ground” law in question, it would stand to reason that one of the key questions for trial will be who started/initiated the physical altercation. And then the question becomes a matter of applying the “stand your ground” law to that finding by the jury.

    Based upon the facts revealed to date, I just don’t see a charge of second degree murder in this case. The crime, if there is one, clearly appears to be manslaughter (or the Florida equivalent thereof). Putting a jury in such an all or nothing situation with respect to the verdict will likely produce a not guilty verdict. Why not charge the defendant with the crime that makes the most logical sense based upon the facts known at the time the charges are made?

    Any expertise I have is in the civil arena. So, I admit that I am not as well versed in these criminal matters as the other lawyers here who have a criminal defense practice. From a legal, academic standpoint, this will be an interesting case to follow. And I will most certainly be asked about this case this coming fall by my students in my Business Law class.

    The MS “castle law” is fairly easy to understand. As long as you are in your home, vehicle, or place of business, you may presume that anyone trying to unlawfully break in and enter intends to do you harm, giving you the right to use deadly force in self defense, without the risk of being second guessed later. But, as can be seen in the Martin case, extending this type of law to the street does present some problems.

  • P.B. Pike


    A thoughtful synopsis, but I have to point out this inaccuracy: there is only one account (not “most accounts,” as you put it) that Trayvon Martin started the fight — Zimmerman’s, which is naturally a self-serving one. Martin’s girlfriend has a different account of how the confrontation occurred, although she can’t know for sure who threw the first punch. We do know who was acting aggressively and stupidly up until the confrontation — Zimmerman. And the fact that Martin was seen whipping Zimmerman’s ass at one point has no bearing on who started it.

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