How Do We Define a “Victim”?

My state, Connecticut, has a “Victim’s Rights Amendment” (Article XXIX) which was adopted in November, 1996. Section ‘b’ of the Article reads:

In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights: (1) the right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process; (2) the right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged; (3) the right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process; (4) the right to notification of court proceedings; (5) the right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony; (6) the right to communicate with the prosecution; (7) the right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused; (8) the right to make a statement to the court at sentencing; (9) the right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law; and (10) the right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused. The general assembly shall provide by law for the enforcement of this subsection. Nothing in this subsection or in any law enacted pursuant to this subsection shall be construed as creating a basis for vacating a conviction or ground for appellate relief in any criminal case.

Why was this Amendment written? The argument seems simple enough. The feeling was that those accused of a crime are given lots of protection. But that “victims” didn’t have any rights. The advantages and disadvantages of such an amendment were debated and eventually the Amendment was passed. I will note that it was clearly pointed out during those debates that the rights proposed in the Amendment were already in other places Connecticut law.

I actually do not have an objection to the protection of “victims”. However, I feel that the amendment is not well crafted in two basic areas. First, the wording and the definitions completely ignore the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”. Second, it does not protect all possible “victims” associated with a criminal proceeding. We’ll take each one in order.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

In all criminal proceedings, whether in Connecticut or any other state, or at the federal level, the accused has the right of making the government prove their guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means that when the accused goes to trial, the jury is specifically directed to assume innocence until such time as the government has proven their case. Yet the wording of the Amendment clearly states that a person is a victim once criminal proceedings are initiated against the accused. My question is this. How can a person be termed a victim before the government has obtained a conviction? The wording of the Amendment, in and of itself, prejudices the rights of the accused by granting “victim” status at the time of arrest. The definition of a victim in the Connecticut General Statutes is:

Sec. 1-1k. “Victim of crime”, “crime victim”, defined. Except as otherwise provided by the general statutes, “victim of crime” or “crime victim” means an individual who suffers direct or threatened physical, emotional or financial harm as a result of a crime and includes immediate family members of a minor, incompetent individual or homicide victim and a person designated by a homicide victim in accordance with section 1-56r.

Once again we see that there is no consideration given to the rights of the accused. It simply assumes that if someone is accused of a crime, the other person must be a victim. That concept, that the person is a victim, runs deep. It is echoed in police reports, arrest warrant affidavits, search warrant affidavits, statements by State’s Attorneys, and in the media. Each time the word “victim” is used to refer to a person who may or may not be one, the public is further prejudiced against the accused. And that basic undermining of the accused’s rights is brought on by the poor wording of the Amendment.

According to Don Noel of the Hartford Courant, this point was raised at the time the Amendment was being debated:

Professor Martin Margulies, a constitutional scholar at the Quinnipiac School of Law, points out that the purpose of a trial is to determine whether there is a perpetrator and a victim. Creating victims’ rights at the outset of the process, he warns, could jeopardize a basic tenet of American law, that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. (Vote Against an Unneeded Amendment, Hartford Courant, October 11, 1996)

Who Else Is Victimized?

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Are there other possible victims when an accusation is made? My contention is that there are – and maybe many. I am specifically speaking about cases where a person accused of a crime is not guilty of that crime. The fact of the matter is that this happens. And it seems to be happening more and more all the time.

When a person is accused of a crime, especially one that the public has been trained to believe is horrific, the person is identified almost immediately in the media. Their name, address, and sometimes even their photo and work place are published for the world to see. Interviews with police officers claiming “More charges are expected” are commonplace. And one of the major problems is that the news is not very balanced.

To gain market share, news of this type is presented in the most sensational format possible. And most times it is biased against the accused. Look at a typical article from a newspaper. In that media, the information the news editor deems most important is included in the first few paragraphs. Why? Because they know that most people don’t read entire articles, just the first few paragraphs. Take one of those articles at random (or take a dozen – it doesn’t matter). What you will find is that the information presented in the first few paragraph makes it sound certain that the police have found and charged the right person. The impression is that the person is guilty even though the writer intersperses the word “alleged” here and there in the article. Any information that points to the idea that the person might be innocent is usually buried deep in the article, often in the last few sentences.

From the moment such an article appears, general public opinion is turned against the accused. Do you think this isn’t true? Try reading one of those articles online and then look at the comments section at the end of it. Read what people write. You will see that the vast majority of the comments call for the immediate punishment of the accused. Rarely will you find a comment that says “We don’t know all the information. Let’s wait and see what happens at trial.”

So why is this important? Think about the person accused of such a crime that is innocent. Once their name is published, their life is ruined. Public opinion is turned against them. They may get threatening letters and telephone calls. They may have protestors outside their home generating even more news coverage. They will probably lose their job. Friends and family turn against them. There is the possibility of violence happening to them based on the misplaced belief that if someone is accused they are guilty. And all of this doesn’t even begin to address the prohibitive cost of defending oneself against criminal charges in today’s world. That cost, even if the accused wins his case, will bring most people to the edge of, or even over into, bankruptcy.

All of that is bad. But there is more. Think about a person in this predicament who has a family. How does all of this effect his/her spouse? What about the effect on any children in that family? You see, states will rush to help the defined “victims” of a crime, but they will not raise one finger to help the family of the accused even though they may be seriously effected by the accusation. In essence, once a person has been accused punishment begins for them and their family as well. And how is that fair? It is not.

Now you may be asking yourself how I know about all of these things? The answer is quite simple. I’ve been through it – all of it. Based on charges and proceedings published in the media people threatened to harm both me and my family. We lost support of friends. We were shunned in our community. All of us, me, my wife, and my children, had counseling help for the anxiety and depression that the public exposure to all of this caused. We had to live with that anxiety and fear for many years. And even now, after I have been exonerated and my name cleared, we are still facing the negative consequences of the publication of the charges. Most of our community only knows me for the charges I had against me. They do not know about the prolonged court battles and the exoneration. They do not know the details of how the prosecutor was severely chastised by the Connecticut Supreme Court for his unethical behavior in violating my civil rights and ensuring I could not get a fair trial. They may be aware that the charges were eventually dismissed but attribute it to some type of paperwork screw up on the part of the prosecution. More than that, even things as simple as job applications are jeopardized because background checks using outdated information have still shown the conviction which was completely reversed. None of that is fair.

So, what is the solution? As I said early on in this post, the state does not go far enough when considering protecting possible victims of an alleged crime. My family was victimized by the entire process: Victimized by the complete lack of investigation by police departments. Victimized by the turning of a blind eye to lying and biased wording on arrest and search warrant affidavits by sworn police officers. Victimized by the rubber stamping of those arrest and search warrants by the prosecution and the judge. Victimized by the media coverage of the alleged events. Victimized by the State Police computer forensics unit when they ignored the specifics of the search warrant, found and turned over attorney-client privileged information to the prosecution after being court ordered not to do so. Victimized by the prosecutor when he read and used my own trial strategy against me at trial. I could go on – there is even more.

As a country and a people we should begin by protecting the identity of an accused person as well as the accuser. Until such time that the government obtains a conviction at trial (or accepts a plea deal), we should at least follow the time honored tradition of presuming innocence rather than portraying guilt at the outset of proceedings. This may not prevent the civil rights abuses by officials within the system, but it would alleviate the entire public opinion problem inherent in our society. Is that too much to ask?

Why Call Things a Modern Day Witch Hunt?

I have titled this blog the way I have because our society is now engaged in a modern day witch hunt with regards to charges of criminal behavior in general, and even more specifically, to charges of sexual misconduct. To get an idea of what I am talking about we need to review a little history from our own past.

I am not a degreed historian. But, I can read, reason, learn, and use logic to understand things from an historical perspective. The historical foundation on which I am basing my argument is the series of events known as the Salem Witch Trials that occurred beginning in the year 1692, at Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There are many books, papers, web sites, and other types of media dedicated to the events that occurred back then and certainly they go into much more detail than I will be able to here. But, from my readings it is fairly easy to discover the basic facts surrounding those events.

THE PAST

It all began in January of that year with the mysterious “fits” of three young girls. The first two girls were Elizabeth Parris, age 9 and Abigail Williams, age 11. Both of these girls were related to Reverend Samuel Parris who was the first ordained minister in the village. Elizabeth was his daughter and Abigail was his niece, and both were a part of his extended household. When I try to imagine an overzealous Christian minister from that era I picture a pulpit pounding, finger pointing, going-to-hell accusing firebrand who uses his position to frighten his flock into line. According to Marion L. Starkey in her book, “The Devil in Massachusetts” (published in 1969), Reverend Parris fits that mold nicely. Quoting Starkey:

“…by deliberately seeking out “iniquitous behavior” in his congregation and making church members in good standing suffer public penance for small infractions, he made a significant contribution toward the tension within the village…”

The “fits” the girls exhibited included, among other behaviors, screaming, throwing things, uttering strange sounds, crawling under furniture, contorting themselves into “peculiar” positions, convulsive seizures, and displaying trance-like states. Another girl, Ann Putnam, experienced the same “fits”. Physicians called in to examine the girls couldn’t find any “natural” explanation for the behavior and so it was decided that whatever was affecting the girls must be “supernatural”. To the people of that time it meant that Satan was there, and that he was exerting power over the girls through his chosen instruments, witches! People were in a near state of panic over all of this.

The community responded first by doing what religious communities have done for eons – in February they began praying over the girls to drive the evil spirit out. When this didn’t work, they decided to get to the root cause of the situation. They decided to find out who the witches were that were hurting these girls in such an evil manner. To do so they could only question the girls. Each account I have read speaks of the parents and authorities (both secular and non-secular), and others “pressuring” the girls into naming the witches that were afflicting them. According to records, on February 29, under pressure from two magistrates (Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne), the girls named three women as witches: Tituba, a Caribbean slave in the Parris household; Sarah Good, a homeless woman; and Sarah Osborne, an older woman from the village. These women were brought before local magistrates and interrogated for several days. At some point Tibuta confessed to being a witch. The other two claimed innocence. All three women were jailed, two of them based solely on the accusations of the girls.

Over the next several months more and more people became “afflicted” with the same fits the girls were exhibiting. More and more accusations were made. One woman who was accused, Martha Corey, was an upstanding member of the community. In her “trial”, such as it was, there was no hard evidence. She was asked why she was afflicting her accusers in the way she was and responded by telling the court that she was not. She was then asked, “Well, who did?” She replied, “I do not know; how should I know?”. In the meantime her accusers were busy in the courtroom:

“Her trial was the scene of much agitation. In the courtroom Martha’s accusers writhed in agony as they were forced by an unseen power to mimic the witch’s every movement. When Martha shifted her feet the girls did also, when Martha bit her lip the girls were compelled to bit their own lips, crying out in pain. They saw the specter of a black man bending over the accused and heard the drum beat calling the witches to convene on the meetinghouse lawn.” (See this account here at “The Salem Witch Trials, 1692”)

Over time so many accusations were made that a special court was set up to hear all of the cases. In all, 18 people were executed by hanging, and a nineteenth was crushed to death beneath a pile of stones because he refused to enter a plea in front of the court. Nineteen people executed and, by some accounts, upwards of 200 people jailed. And all of that based on accusations with no evidence.

In her book, The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America (published in 2009), Gretchen Adams said:

“The episode is one of the most famous cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process.”

 

TODAY

This is a difficult subject to write about as it concerns criminal charges which drive people into mob hysteria. But it is a subject that needs to be addressed in our society. What am I talking about? Well, it could be almost any criminal charge because in our current society as soon as the news breaks about a person accused of a crime they are immediately considered to be guilty by the public at large. I believe that there are a lot of factors involved in that perception including popular television shows (prime time police dramas) and the sensationalizing of each and every story by news media to gain market exposure.

More specifically, I am talking about allegations of sexual assault. There is almost nothing that galvanizes the mob hysteria more than charges of this kind – even more so when the “victim” is a child. The accused’s name, face, and address are splashed across the media along with the charges against them. The news paints the person and the charges in the most sensational way to make it sound as bad as they possible can. All of that happens whether or not there is a basis to the charges.

Listen – there is no question that there are sexual predators out there. And some of them have committed horrible atrocities. Think of Megan Kanka and her rape and murder by a known sex offender. People who target and sexually assault others, especially children, need to face the consequences of their actions. However, it is stories such as these that have fanned the flames of the hysteria gripping our society over any type of allegation of sexual assault. One of the results is that our laws have been changed based on many unsubstantiated “facts” surrounding accusations of this type. And our justice system has been tainted by overzealous prosecution of those accused of such crimes.

Our country used to pride itself on being fair to those accused of a crime. One of our foundations was that a person is “innocent until proven guilty.” Benjamin Franklin posited “that it is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer.” This tenet was not his original thought – it goes back years and years. English Jurist William Blackstone said almost the same thing. In fact, many have tied the whole concept back to the Bible, specifically in the Book of Genesis when Abraham was pleading the fate of Sodom with God. Abraham asked God if he would spare the city if there were fifty righteous people in it; then forty; then thirty; then twenty; and finally ten. In each case God responded that if he found that number of righteous people in the city he would spare it (Genesis 18:23-33).

The paradigm has shifted over the years. Now it is more that we would rather put 100 innocent people in jail rather than let one guilty person go. That is an incredibly frightening shift in thought, and it should be of concern to any citizen of this great nation. If you need proof of this simply go to your local newspaper. Read a story of somebody accused of a crime, the more serious the better. Get a feel for how the news outlet is telling the story. Do they paint the picture in the worst light (especially in the first few paragraphs)? Do they include information that might make the person seem innocent of the charges? Pay close attention to the format and layout of the story. Typically the most sensational and negative information is within the first few paragraphs and any possible positive information towards the end (if any at all). This is because the writers know that most readers only read the first few paragraphs of a story and the writers want to get the most sensational stuff in first. In essence they typically shape the story to make it sound as bad as possible for the person accused. It does not matter if that person is innocent or guilty – they are portrayed as guilty from the start.

More telling, if the story is online, read the comments from other readers. What you’ll mostly find is that the comments are all about how terrible the accused is; how they must be punished. Rarely will you see a comment along the lines of, “We don’t know the facts here. We should wait until this goes to trial and we know more before passing judgment.” Taken together, the vast majority of the comments will be negative towards the accused person. And that is what I call mob-mentality. It is even worse if the person is charged with any type of sex crime. And the calls by the mob for severe punishment are before any evidence has been presented and based only on an accusation! The mob mentality mirrors that of Salem in 1692 – it is the Modern Day Witch Hunt.

But there is more to it than that. First, we have enacted a boat load of new laws specifically aimed at sex offenses. Did you know that in some places public urination is now considered a sex offense? Pity the poor alcoholic walking home at 2 am having to go to the bathroom with no place open. He can be charged with a sex offense and ordered to register on a Sex Offender Registry. And what about the cases of teen love – you know – where two teens, several years apart in age (ie., eighteen and fifteen) fall in “love” and have sex. The older can now be prosecuted on charges ranging upwards of Sexual Assault in the First Degree, which in my state carries a mandatory 25 year sentence followed by lifetime registry on the Sex Offender Registry. All that simply for making a teenage mistake. It can be even scarier than that. Take this scenario. You are living next door to a young couple who have a child. You’ve become very good friends with them and their child. You go over one day, and as you have done on other occasions, pick up their child – it could be for a quick hug, or the child may be used to be carried around by you and others, or maybe even a piggy back ride. In the course of that your hand ends up either on, or brushing the child’s behind (picture holding a youngster in your arms – most people support the child with either a forearm or hand on their behind). In many states this can be considered a sex offense. In my state it is Sexual Assault in the Fourth Degree and is considered a Class D Felony. A simple act, one which most would say is normal interaction, can land any person in deep trouble. All it takes is for another person to make the accusation. Want more? In my state, even if you are not convicted of a sex offense at trial, a judge can declare that they think the crime you are convicted of had a “sexual purpose” and order you to be placed on the Sex Offender Registry for 10 years. All of these are examples of the laws that have been written in response to the mob hysteria.

I wrote earlier about the concept of Probable Cause and how police officers and prosecutors twist and skew facts to generate arrest and search warrants. As it was explained to me by a seasoned attorney that I trust there are two distinct levels of Probable Cause. The first is for “regular” crimes. In those the Probable Cause threshold (where the prosecutor and judge believe there is enough “evidence” to issue arrest and search warrants) is based on a preponderance of the evidence. That is, it is more likely than not (or they are 51% convinced) that the person did commit the crime of which they have been accused. Obviously this can be quite subjective and can be based solely on their knowledge and experience. But generally there has to be something there to move forward. The other level is for those accused of sex crimes. In those cases the threshold is much lower. It lies somewhere in the area of the judge and prosecutor being only 25% sure the person committed a crime. Seriously, all there has to be is an accusation. There doesn’t have to be any evidence or witnesses. Simply an accusation and an arrest is made. More of the witch hunt.

I will note for the record that crimes of this type may be harder to prove. They are typically done in secret, away from prying eyes. Many times there is no evidence to be had. But the fact of the matter is, because of the political outcry over the last several decades, legal due process in the accusation, investigation, and arrest stages of an alleged incident has taken a back seat to the blood lust of the mob. And with the rising number of false allegation cases along with the rising number of exonerations due to new evidence, it is obvious that the justice system has gone off track.

I’ve made a lot of statements in this post that may anger people against me. That is OK. Over time I will present actual facts and evidence about the things I have written. And all that as I relate my personal story.

Twisting Words and Lying to Create Probable Cause

Almost nine years ago I was arrested and tried because of a false allegation. It has taken me that long to be exonerated. Along the way we used up the majority of our financial resources and certainly dipped to almost the bottom emotional reserves, leaving a deep scar on all of us. But in the end, after a ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court – and an appeal on that ruling by the state which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear – I had my felony conviction reversed and the charge behind that conviction dismissed. I’m here to tell you that a lot of the trouble was rooted in the ability of police officers to twist the truth in developing “probable cause” and the almost unchecked power of the prosecutor in getting charges and warrants approved. I am writing this post in two parts. The first will deal with a case currently in the public eye and the second will deal more specifically with my case.

Probable Cause is defined as:

The reasonable grounds for holding a belief, especially such as will justify bringing legal proceedings against a person or will constitute a defense to a charge of malicious prosecution.

I am not a lawyer, but this is how the probable cause criteria was explained to me. In most legal jurisdictions (federal or state) the general hurdle to be crossed in determining whether or not probable cause exists to issue an arrest warrant is based on the concept of “preponderance of the evidence”. In simple terms, that means if a prosecutor believes, based on facts and evidence presented, that it is more likely than not that a crime has been committed then an arrest warrant should be issued and an arrest made. Think of it like this. If the belief is that it is 51% likely that a crime has been committed then probable cause exists. If it is less than 50%, no probable cause exists. But, as was explained to me by one of my attorneys, the hurdle for allegations of sexual misconduct of any sort is much, much lower. It can be as low as 25% certainty that a crime has been committed. There does not have to be any evidence. All there has to be is an allegation. And once there is, and the almost unlimited power of the prosecuting authority comes into play.

With that type of definition in mind it becomes easy to understand that the person applying for an arrest warrant would want to portray the accused in the worst light possible even if it means “bending” or “slanting” the truth, or even downright lying about it. There are numerous examples of this. Take the recent arrest of George Zimmerman in Florida. We do no know exactly what happened in this tragedy. All we know for sure is that a young man was shot and killed. That in itself is a tragedy.

The arrest warrant affidavit was prepared by Investigators T.C. O’Steen and Dale Gilbreath, both members of the State Attorney Office in Florida (see the affidavit here). Great pains are taken to show that both of these individuals are experienced law enforcement officers with careers encompassing over 40 years combined in the investigation of murders. The wording is designed to lend credence to their ability to judge whether or not the crime they were investigating was just that – murder. But there is another side to that coin. It also means that both of these investigators are also skilled at wording an affidavit to build probable cause; wording it in such a way as to seem even more likely that probably cause exists. This, in my opinion, is an important reason as to why such wording is included in an affidavit.

The word “affidavit” is defined as “a written declaration upon oath made before an authorized official.” An Arrest Warrant Affidavit is supposed to provide evidence and facts that can be relied upon to make the decision as to whether or not a crime has been committed and whether or not an Arrest Warrant should be issued. These decisions should not be made on the basis of conjecture, speculation, or opinion.

With that in mind, let’s look more specifically at paragraph five of the affidavit asking for an arrest in the Zimmerman case:

Martin then walked back to and entered the gated community and was on his way back to the townhouse where he was living when he was profiled by George Zimmerman. Martin was unarmed and was not committing a crime.

A word-by-word breakdown of the sentences here demonstrates what I am talking about. The fact is that this “gated community” was not where Martin was “living”. Granted, he was staying there on a temporary basis, but it was not his regular home. According to the New York Times (see here):

He [Martin] was shot on the evening of Feb. 26 as he returned from buying Skittles and iced tea at a 7-Eleven, bound for the home in a gated community in Sanford, a small city just north of Orlando, where he and his father were guests. (emphasis added)

Also in the NYT (here):

For more than two years now, Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, a truck driver from Miami, had been dating Brandy Green, a juvenile detention officer in Orlando. She lived at the Retreat with her 14-year-old son, Chad, and it was not uncommon for the Martins to drive up from Miami for overnight visits.

By wording it that he was “living” there it makes it sound like he was just one of the regulars around the neighborhood. It makes no mention of the fact that Zimmerman was involved with the Neighborhood Watch and did not recognize the young man on that fateful night. This in spite of the fact that Zimmerman was known to patrol the neighborhood regularly and would have been at least familiar with many of the residents. Nor does the affidavit mention that Martin had on “hoodie” making identification that much more difficult.

Next we read that Martin was “profiled” by Zimmerman. In today’s world the word “profile” has ugly connotations in that it has definite racist overtones. In this case it was used to paint Zimmerman in the light of being a racist and to raise the specter of a man out looking for trouble. If not that, why not simply say something like, “Zimmerman spotted Martin walking in the neighborhood and began following him while he called the police.”

Finally, the investigators state that Martin was not committing a crime. This is probably a true statement, but it is conjecture on the part of the investigators. There is no evidence that Martin was committing a crime. At the same time there is no evidence that he wasn’t committing a crime. Probable cause is supposed to be built on evidence, not conjecture and innuendo.

In the eighth paragraph of the affidavit the investigators say:

When the police dispatcher realized that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.

There are a lot of questionable “facts” here. First off, the dispatcher did not “instruct” Zimmerman not to follow Martin. It is worded here as if it was an order from the dispatcher (and we haven’t even scratched the surface of whether or not a police dispatcher can “order” someone to do anything). But it wasn’t an order – again from the NYT (here):

 Mr. Zimmerman told the dispatcher that the hooded figure was now running. He jumped out of his car to follow him, the beep-beep of his car, as recorded on the 911 call, announcing the instant that he moved beyond his understood mandate as neighborhood watch coordinator.

The wind could be heard whooshing through Mr. Zimmerman’s cellphone as he tried to keep the visitor in view. Also heard is a garbled epithet that some have interpreted to be a racial slur, though his father insisted that his son would never say anything like that. Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”

Mr. Zimmerman: “Yeah.”

Dispatcher: “O.K., we don’t need you to do that.”

Mr. Zimmerman: “O.K.”

He and the dispatcher arranged for Mr. Zimmerman to meet a police officer near the mailboxes at the development’s clubhouse, and the call ended with a “thank you” and a “you’re welcome.”

“We don’t need you to do that” is not a command or an order. It is more like a “please cooperate and don’t do that”. And from the tenor of the article it sure sounds like Zimmerman agreed and headed back to his car. It certainly does not sound like he “disregarded” the police dispatcher. And even more than that, the information in the article seems to comport with Zimmerman’s account of being approached and subsequently struck by Martin while he was on his way back to his vehicle. Yet we hear nothing of this account in the affidavit.

We return to the affidavit (paragraph nine):

Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued. Witnesses heard people arguing and what sounded like a struggle. During this time period witnesses heard numerous calls for help and some of these were recorded in 911 calls to police. Trayvon Martin’s mother has reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin’s voice.

Again we find absolutely no mention of Zimmerman’s account that Martin attacked him as he was returning to his vehicle, punched him in the face and knocked him down, and the got on top of Zimmerman and was slamming his head into the sidewalk. One eye witness to the struggle has confirmed that Martin was on top. In a fair and balanced affidavit, one based on facts, you’d think that all of the evidence would be presented. But, not here. Instead we have been spoon fed a one-sided account from the “investigators” – an account that doesn’t even begin to cover all the known information. It obviously was worded to make Zimmerman look guilty.

Want more? What about the statement from Martin’s mother that she recognized his voice on the tapes of the 911 calls. It is not mentioned that Zimmerman’s father claims he recognizes the voice as that of his son. It is also not mentioned that the FBI has so far been unable to determine whose voice it is. Play fair? Be honest? Present all the known information? Not in this case.

I am not using the Zimmerman case because I necessarily support Zimmerman. I am using it because the Arrest Warrant Affidavit is so transparently contrived. Beware. Any one of you can be charged with a crime at any time. Any one of you can face charges wrought out of thin air and based on bogus claims by a police officer, investigator, or prosecutor. I know. I’ve been there. More to come on that.

UPDATE:

Yesterday George Zimmerman was granted a bail of $150,000 – lowered from $1 Million the prosecution wanted. Why? His lawyer was able to poke big holes in the prosecution’s case. And the star witness for the defense? None other than Investigator Dale Gilbreath! While on the stand he actually admitted that he did not know who threw the first punch. So much for the wording that made it sound like Zimmerman was the one who started the confrontation. There was much more. You can read about it at JustOneMinute or see the article in the Orlando Sentinel here.

Rush To Judgement – Modern Day Witch Hunt

This blog is primarily dedicated to people who have been wrongly caught up in the American Legal System.Over time I will relate my story to you – a nightmare that has consumed my and my family’s life for almost nine years. Along the way I hope to touch on the issues of misconduct on the part of police officers, apparent civil rights violations by prosecutors, and judges that are not qualified to sit on a bench.

Just so you know, I am also a fairly opinionated political animal so I will also blog on current events in that arena.