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Making sense of the Zimmerman verdict

If you aren't too sick of reading or hearing about the Zimmerman trial and verdict, here is my take, from the perspective of a trial prosecutor with more than 40 jury trials.

Whether you agree with the jury's verdict or not, we must accept the verdict for what it was—an entirely reasonable and logical outcome, based on Florida law. After five weeks of inconclusive testimony from prosecution witnesses who seemed ill-prepared and, more often than not, supportive of the defense's theory of the case rather than the prosecution's, we cannot fault the six women who sat through it all and who deliberated for 16 hours before reaching a decision. They did not act hastily or without due consideration of all they saw and heard. They did their duty, as jurors and citizens, so let's stop, in the media and in our minds, chastising them.

At best, this was a manslaughter case to begin with, and it should have been investigated and charged as such. Second degree murder was a political charge, not one based on facts likely to produce a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, for me, the second degree murder charge was the most odious and dangerous aspect of this case, because it threatens our entire system of criminal justice, a system grounded in the rule of law, not emotional considerations or political pressure.  Read More 
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