The Government Lost the Trayvon Martin Case. Now the Government Should Accept the Verdict.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that American citizens may not be put on trial repeatedly for the same crime.

If a jury finds you innocent, the government can not turn around and re-try you again and again for the same crime.

Do you see the reason behind this? If the government can just keep putting a person on trial over and over until they finally get a jury who will convict, then they will eventually win every case. Under circumstances like that, there is no reason to have a trial at all.

It does not matter if lots of people watched a trial on tv and are angry about the outcome. It does not matter if the federal government meddled in what should should have been a state case in the first place. The verdict is the verdict is the verdict.

In recent decades, the Federal government has taken to meddling in cases where the jury chose not to convict by charging the defendant with some other crime that is related to the first charge but is federal, rather than local. Every time they have done this that I’ve seen what they are actually attempting is to overturn the first jury decision by putting the defendant on trial over and over until they finally convict him or her.

The Constitution protects us from being tried repeatedly for the same crime. What they are doing is using statutes that address different aspects of the same crime to try people and void our Constitutional rights to freedom from double jeopardy in court.

Let’s say someone robs a convenience store and you are put on trial for the robbery. Let’s further say that the jury find you not guilty. You are free to go.

Unless the federal government steps in and says that the theft of a bag of chips that was also taken during the commission of the robbery makes it a federal crime. After all, the chips were manufactured in one state and shipped to the store that was robbed in another state. Ergo, the crime is interstate, and federal. The feds then put on you trial in a federal court on the chip charge.

Is this putting you in double jeopardy? I think so. Does it violate your Constitutional rights? I believe it does.

I’ve read that the Justice Department of the United States Government is considering taking up the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case by charging Mr Zimmerman with federal aspects of this same crime for which he was found not guilty. I think this is because they don’t like the verdict the jury in Florida gave and want to, as a friend of mine said about an entirely different case, “try him until they fry him” on the Federal level.

Mr Zimmerman was tried in open court by a jury of his peers and found not guilty. The government had the opportunity to use all of its massive powers to formulate a presentation in court that would convince the jury to convict. They did not convince this jury. The jury has spoken, and their verdict is not guilty.

I think the Justice Department should accept the verdict.

From Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it is looking into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case.

The department opened an investigation into Martin’s death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.

In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal probe, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial.

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  • Dale

    The status of “double jeopardy” in US law is murky. The US Supreme Court first ruled in 1922 (United States v. Lanza) that the federal government could file charges against someone even after that person had been convicted in a state court. In the ruling was the contention that two sovereignties could each file charges for essentially the same act, if different crimes were cited. The two sovereignties could be two different states in which the act occurred or could be a state and the federal government. During the past forty years, despite a large number of cases in which the concept was debated, the federal courts have been far from clear about what constitutes double jeopardy.

  • Brutus

    How would you propose to resolve the jurisdictional issues when the same act was both a state and federal offense, and both the state and federal prosecutors intend to exclusively prosecute?

    On the constitutional side: Suppose that the same act was covered under two different state laws. Should being found not guilty (or guilty) of one of those two crimes prevent prosecution for the other?

  • AnneG

    I believe you are right. Lawyers have made right and wrong increasingly confused. Also, having political leaders making comments on cases and using the power of their offices to pursue the outcomes they want is just wrong.
    To top it off, the media has been manipulating and lying. Horrible that a young man died at the hands of another. Why is this any worse than the 12 murders in Chicago last weekend?

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Isn’t the civil rights charge a different law?

    • Bill S

      It would seem to me that he did violate Martin’s civil rights in that he was the one who provoked the confrontation and race seemed to be what influenced him to assume that Martin was up to no good. But this does not make him guilty of murder or manslaughter, just discrimination. It was not a hate crime because it was ruled not to be a crime. Being found guilty of discrimination is about as serious as refusing to rent an apartment to him. What could his punishment be for that?

    • TheodoreSeeber

      The question came up, what would be the punishment. A fine, imprisonment for a year, or both.

      If I was GZ, I’d be arguing for imprisonment.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Britain recently passed a reform that allowed for a second trial IF MATERIAL NEW EVIDENCE was discovered that had not been examined in the first trial. This seems to me a sensible compromise, because one has to accept that if we take an absolute prohibition on double jeopardy, we make it certain that sooner or later guilty people will go free; and, what is more, when the whole concept of double jeopardy was formulated, the very notion of investigating crime was practically unknown, and nobody thought that new facts could emerge about a crime that were not known at the time of arrest and trial. The courts in Britain have been very conservative in their definition of new evidence. But Britain does not have the problem of overlapping jurisdictions.