Stand Your Ground and the Initial Aggressor Issue.
Today for the Huffington Post, Stanford law alum/Hofstra law professor Alafair Burke covers why Stand Your Ground in Florida made convicting George Zimmerman basically impossible. While Professor Burke and Professor Mannheimer (PrawfsBlawg and NKU Law) have discussed the use of the initial aggressor argument, I question, with the “evidence” provided, a jury’s ability to determine the facts of the unseen altercation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
While we know that George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin and questioned him, those actions don’t make him an initial aggressor. We don’t know if George Zimmerman brandished his gun, put up his fists while following and yelling questions, attacked Trayvon Martin first, etc. actions that would/could lead to Trayvon Martin defending himself as opposed to George Zimmerman’s claim that he was defending himself.
The jury is assigned to determine the facts of the case. I think both sides presented so little actual evidence to argue whether who was an initial aggressor that if the judge allowed them to make that determination then the judge allowed them to create facts without any evidence.
George Zimmerman received a not guilty verdict because it was reasonable to believe that he acted in self defense. To convict him, the jury would have far bypassed a reasonable (possible) explanation but determined for fact that Trayvon Martin defended himself and George Zimmerman was the aggressor.
Is George Zimmerman a profiling, out of shape, wannabe cop who created a situation for someone to get hurt? Yes. Was the “not guilty” verdict unavoidable in a Stand Your Ground state? I think so.