Open Discussion about the Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, CT

December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

This incomprehensible event today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School (K-4) in Newtown, CT, and the issues it raises merit a separate discussion thread.

28 dead (20 children and 8 adults, including the shooter)

My God, I don’t know what to say.


A Word to the Wise

December 8, 2012

I write today to express concern and remind everyone that we must remain on the high road.

There is a natural human tendency to retaliate in kind when attacked.

Yes, I am dismayed by the reprehensible disregard for the truth and below-the-belt tactics that the defendant, his defense team, and their supporters use on a daily basis to misrepresent the evidence, promote the defendant’s false narrative, and demonize Trayvon, his parents, Benjamin Crump, Natalie Jackson, Dee Dee and anyone who supports justice for Trayvon.

We are better than that and we have truth and justice on our side.

We are mature adults.

We are responsible for the choices we make and the acts we commit.

We should never demonize or taunt anyone and that includes the pathetic defendant.

They will know us by what we do.

Remember that before you publish your comment.

Frederick Leatherman


Soliciting Your Thoughts and Recommendations to Grow this Blog and Improve It

December 2, 2012

I write today to solicit your views regarding where we should take this blog in the future.

I started it a little over a year ago with the idea that I would use it as a virtual classroom to teach about the law by discussing the legal issues of the day. Interest in the blog literally exploded after I started writing about the Trayvon Martin murder and advocating Justice for Trayvon. Now we are getting between 2,500 to 3,000 visits per day and 100-300 comments per day.

I have added a column that I call “Featuring” in which I main-page someone’s comment or video and that idea seems to have worked out pretty well.

I would like to add some regular contributors and figure out a way to generate income for myself, the regular contributors and to fund some scholarships and contribute to progressive causes.

I also would like the blog to be an important instrument for progressive change.

What do you all think and recommend?

Fred


Friday Night Open Thread

November 30, 2012

Due to some unexpected complications (nothing serious), I was unable to complete the article that I had planned to post today.

Therefore, I have created this open thread instead.

Thank you,

Fred


Trayvon Martin’s Killer Trolls for More Dollars by Offering to Sell his Signed Autograph

November 29, 2012

I thought I had lost my capacity to be shocked when the man accused of shooting to death Trayvon Martin appeared on the Sean Hannity Show and told the nation that the shooting was “part of God’s plan” and he had “no regrets.” I could not and still cannot understand such a disdainful, casual and dismissive remark about killing any human being, no matter the justification. I have never killed anyone and I hope that I never do, but if I were to do so to save my life or the life of another person, I have no doubt that I would be emotionally devastated and sick with regret. I would expect to suffer post-traumatic stress in the form of flashbacks and nightmares for the rest of my life. I do not believe that my probable emotional and psychological reaction would be unlike yours and most everyone else on the planet, even if there were no doubt that we did what we had to do to survive or save another.

For all of my adult life, I have known that there are some people among us who can kill another human being as casually as we smack a mosquito that landed on our skin or a cockroach crawling across a counter top. They simply do not care and that does not change, even if it turns out that they killed an innocent person by mistake.

They do not care if a law or principle prohibits killing another person. At some point during their lives, if they conclude that they will benefit from killing another person, assuming they can get away with it, there is nothing to prevent them from killing except fear of failure or suffering an injury. I have known and represented people like that. I do not know why they are like that and they have told me that they do not know either. Fortunately, most people are not like that.

I believe it is important to know that these people, whom we call sociopaths, are not confined to any economic class, race, intellect, gender or religion. In fact, I believe they are more likely to be found among the predatory rich who regard the rest of us as a resource to be exploited for fun and profit. Suffice to warn that one must endeavor to identify them and I have found that the best way to do that is to know them by their deeds and their lies. They invariably leave a signature trail of using and exploiting others for personal gain without guilt or remorse.

You will know them by what they say and do.

In retrospect, I should not have been as surprised as I was by what he said on the Sean Hannity Show because all of his vital signs, including pulse and blood pressure, were normal and he exhibited no symptoms of shock or emotional distress when he was examined by an EMT within 15 minutes after the shooting. And this was not just any killing, assuming there is such a thing. This killing was not necessary and the person whom he murdered was an unarmed innocent.

I believe the evidence will convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he profiled, stalked and killed Trayvon Martin. He was the self-annointed Neighborhood Watch Captain searching for an opportunity to commit an heroic act that would draw attention and establish his bonafides as a reliable and effective protector of neighborhood residents and their property from Black law breakers. His opportunity to accomplish that objective and prove to the police that they should hire him appeared in the form of Trayvon Martin, a Black male teenager wearing a hoodie in his neighborhood whom he did not recognize.

That was all of the information he needed to take action. Without a shred of evidence or making any effort to identify himself and engage Trayvon in polite conversation to find out who he was and if he needed any assistance, he concluded that he was a criminal “up to no good.” Acting as judge, jury and executioner, he menaced and stalked Trayvon first in his vehicle and then on foot after Trayvon attempted to elude him by running into a grassy and unlit area between two buildings composed of town houses. Despite being warned and agreeing not to follow Trayvon by a police dispatcher who had already dispatched an officer to the scene, he pursued Trayvon into the dark area with a loaded gun and shot him to death mere seconds before the police arrived.

Although he admitted that he got out of his vehicle and went in the same direction as Trayvon, he denied following him. He said he was merely complying with the dispatcher’s request to provide an address where the suspect was so that he could relay it to the officer en route. There are several problems with this explanation.

First, he admitted to the dispatcher that he got out of his vehicle and followed Trayvon until the dispatcher warned him not to do that.

Second, he specifically agreed not to follow Trayvon after the dispatcher warned him not to do that.

Third, the dispatcher did not ask him to provide an address where Trayvon was.

Fourth, he told the police that he went to a location where Trayvon wasn’t to find an address to give the dispatcher.

Fifth, he never provided an address to the dispatcher.

Sixth, even though Trayvon’s body was discovered more than 40 feet away in the unlit area that he vehemently denied entering, he told the police that Trayvon emerged from the unlit area between the two buildings and knocked him to the ground as he was walking back to his vehicle. Therefore, Trayvon’s body was not where it should have been, if he had been telling the truth.

Seventh, he did not tell the dispatcher where his vehicle was parked or describe it so that the officer en route would know what vehicle to look for and where to find it.

Eighth, he terminated the call with the dispatcher after asking him to tell the officer to call his cell phone when he arrived in the neighborhood.

By now, it should be apparent to everyone that he followed Trayvon into the unlit area where he shot him to death and he intentionally lied when he denied following him because he wanted to conceal that he was the aggressor by conjuring up a lie in which Trayvon followed and attacked him. The 40 foot difference between where he says Trayvon attacked him and where he shot Trayvon to death is an enormously inconvenient fact that exposes him for the liar and murderer that he is.

You shall know them by their lies and by their acts.

But there is more.

He would have us believe that Trayvon inexplicably emerged from the unlit area, jumped him and attempted to beat him to death with his bare hands as he was returning to his vehicle after abandoning the chase. He told the police that he killed Trayvon in self-defense as he was on the verge of losing consciousness from having been decked by a punch to the nose, straddled and pummeled about the face repeatedly and gripped by the side of the head and the back of his head slammed against a concrete sidewalk multiple times until he thought his head would explode. Yet, Trayvon had no reason to attack him since he had no weapon of any kind and he had successfully eluded him. The menacing stranger also outweighed him by more than 40 pounds and had never identified himself.

In addition, he sustained only two minor capillary-type cuts to the back of his head and, despite a claimed broken nose, he declined multiple offers to be transported to a hospital for a more complete medical evaluation.

He appeared cool, calm and collected throughout the interview at the police station with no sign of emotional or psychological stress. High resolution photographs of his claimed injuries show only two minor cuts to the upper back part of his head that did not require any stitches or even a bandage. This is inconsistent with his claim that the back of his head was repeatedly slammed into the concrete sidewalk until he thought his head would explode. His nose, which he claims was broken, shows only minor discoloration and barely detectable swelling. This evidence also is inconsistent with his story.

No blood or his DNA was detected on the cuffs and lower sleeves of the two sweatshirts that Trayvon was wearing or on his fingernail clippings which is inconsistent with his story.

Apparently, he was not dismayed or the least bit troubled to find out later that Trayvon was a peaceful and innocent Black teenager walking home in the rain on an early Sunday evening around 7 pm and talking to his girlfriend on his cellular phone while armed with only a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.

We know this because he told Sean Hannity that he had no regrets and would not do anything different because everything happened according to God’s plan.

You shall know them by their acts and their lies.

And now this unrepentant human being without a conscience has announced that he will be selling his autographed signature.

Words fail.


Trayvon Martin Case: Banishing Zimmerman’s Name

November 28, 2012

Today I am featuring our good friend Tzar and his recommendation that I stop using Zimmerman’s name in the titles to my posts and instead to refer to this case as the Trayvon Martin case.

Upon reflection, I have agreed to follow his recommendation.

Here is his comment and my response.

Hello Professor

I wanted to comment on your choice to title your articles with Zimmerman’s name vs Trayvon’s. In light of Friday’s gas station shooting of a teen over the loudness of the music in his car and how attention seeking The Zimmerman clan has been of late, I thought I would raise the question: Do we give people who want attention like Zimmerman has received incentive to behave like him by mentioning Zimmerman too much. It’s complicated but essentially I wonder if we would we be better served if we referred to the “Trayvon Martin case” instead of the “Zimmerman case”

Here is the excerpt that prompted this post

How the media shouldn’t cover a mass murder

Every time there’s a mass shooting, I remember this piece of footage from Charlie Brooker’s BBC series Newswipe. In it, a forensic psychiatrist outlines the guidelines for news reporting of such a tragedy, assuming that your aim is to prevent further ones.

He says:

If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.

Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/staggers/2012/07/how-media-shouldnt-cover-mass-murder

Just some musings
great article as usual

My response:

Hi, Tzar.

You make a good point that had not occurred to me. I am used to thinking about a criminal case as the defendant’s case, rather than the victim’s case. I’ve always done it that way and so has everyone else I know.

Of course, just because it’s a common practice does not make it right.

I’m going to have to think about this

Thanks, for mentioning it.

Tzar’s response to me:

It is my intimation that the persistent hammering of one name vs another, chisels out monoliths in the consciousness representing not only our better or worser angels, but possibly inspirations to the our better or worser angels.

At the least it would be a fascinating social experiment; to essentially drown out the Zimmerman name and do things such as strictly refer to him as the defendant or the killer and put forth Trayvon’s name repeatedly enough that it can enter into proper martyrdom and social lore. A child’s defamation-notice I said defamation and not simply death-should mean something, it should stay in the society’s psyche. I believe that this kind of approach may help do that, I also believe that this is the kindest and worse thing we could do to vulgarians who openly support Zimmerman’s vulgarity.

One may even want to consider this propagandist approach as sort of a modus operandi or prevention play book whenever these horrible things happen.

Sorry for the flowery language, Just thinking out loud right after my morning coffee. :)

Finally, my conclusion.

People say it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. My answer is that a person should always be willing to review and question old beliefs and ways of doing things. We become old dogs, if we don’t.

I also believe that the path to making a better world begins at home with the self. Often it’s the seemingly small change, the minor adjustment or adaptation, that others notice. In this way the ripple becomes a wave and the wave a tsunami.

Thank you, my friend.

I like your idea and I’m not only going to give it a try, I’m going to feature it and credit you on the front page.


Zimmerman: The Difference Between a Hate Crime and a Civil Rights Violation

November 27, 2012

I have written this article to eliminate some confusion regarding federal statutes that criminalize civil rights violations. Zimmerman might potentially be prosecuted for committing a hate crime, if a federal grand jury concludes that there is probable cause to believe that he profiled and killed Trayvon Martin because he was Black.

Since Zimmerman is a private citizen, rather than a state official, and he was acting as a private citizen, rather than acting as a state official under color of state law, he cannot be charged with violating Martin’s civil rights. However, Chris Serino and other state officials potentially could be prosecuted for civil rights violations for the way they conducted their investigation of the Martin homicide, as well as other investigations that resulted in controversial conclusions.

The reason for this distinction in the federal criminal laws is that the Bill of Rights protect private citizens from actions committed by federal and state officials that violate one or more of a person’s constitutional rights that are set forth in the Bill of Rights. Those rights do not apply to actions committed by a private citizen against another private citizen.

For example, each of us has a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures committed by state or federal law enforcement officials, but the Fourth Amendment does not protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures committed by private citizens.

Therefore, our petition should be asking for a federal investigation of George Zimmerman for committing a hate crime and a federal investigation of the Sanford Police Department and several of its officials for committing civil rights violations.

I hope this eliminates confusion.


Zimmerman: LLMPapa and Marinade Dave Are Back in the House with Part II

November 10, 2012

Here is Part 2.

Gentlemen:

You are doing a fine job.

Mighty fine.

Pins and needles waiting for Part III.

Enjoy everyone.


Zimmerman: View the David Knechel Video

November 8, 2012

Here is the David Knechel video that Xena published in a comment last night.

I believe it’s an important video for all to see, so I posted it here.

The first part is a walk-through from where Zimmerman claimed to have parked his vehicle to Retreat View Circle and back to the T-intersection.

The second part is a drive-through starting from the same location and driving south on Twin Trees Lane around to the south end of the sidewalk that runs between the two rows of buildings with the T-intersection at the far end. Then it continues to Retreat View Circle, turns left, and proceeds up to where the T-intersection and cut-through meets Retreat View Circle.

Curious coincidence: Both routes take the same amount of time.

Knechel produced this video without charge but has asked people to go to his site and click on advertisers there to get to Amazon and other listed vendors when you want to make a purchase. The price you pay is the same, but he gets a credit if you log on to the vendor’s site from his site.

His Website: http://marinadedave.blogspot.com/


Time to End the Failed War on Drugs and Replace it with a Sane and Humanistic Policy

November 7, 2012

Congratulations to President Barack Obama for decisively winning reelection.

The Republican War Against Women and their right to reproductive freedom was an insult to women and the men who love and care about them. Let this be a warning to the Republicans: Abandon all hope if you continue to consort with the right wing fringe that cannot abide the idea of an unshackled female free to make her own decisions without male approval.

And now let’s take a look at Washington and Colorado where voters passed laws legalizing and taxing the sale of marijuana. I fully support those voter decisions, but I want to go several steps farther to once and for all end the failed War on Drugs and legalize and tax the sale of all drugs.

The results in Washington and Colorado raise an important legal issue; namely, what will happen given the federal prohibition on the sale and distribution of marijuana?

We have seen the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) close down medical marijuana dispensaries in California ignoring state law that legalized the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Can we expect the same reaction by the DEA in Washington and Colorado?

Regrettably, the answer appears to be “Yes.” The federal government and the individual state governments are separate sovereigns under out constitutional form of government. Due to the Supremacy Clause, the federal government’s sovereign authority over matters concerning drugs reigns supreme over and preempts state sovereign authority. Thus, state laws that conflict with federal laws concerning drugs must yield to federal law.

The Supremacy Clause is set forth in Article VI of the United States Constitution:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

As the Chief Executive of the United States who no longer has to worry about running for reelection in the future, President Obama has the authority to order the DEA without fear of political reprisal to cease and desist from enforcing federal laws regarding marijuana.

Our nation faces many problems today and one of the biggest is the failed War on Drugs. We have the highest rate of incarceration per 100,000 people in the world (730) and more than half of the people incarcerated today are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, particularly offenses involving the possession and distribution of marijuana.

Laws criminalizing the possession or distribution of marijuana and other drugs have not reduced drug use. Instead, they have created a lucrative black market, armed gangs engaging in narco-terrorism and vast criminal financial empires. Colombia, Mexico and Honduras are awash in blood from warfare between rival drug gangs and the federal police endangering the health and safety of the people and destabilizing their governments. Forty years of unremitting failure is enough.

President Obama’s reelection presents him with an opportunity to end the drug war and replace it with a first step toward a sane and humanistic policy as Portugal has done.

The drug policy of Portugal was put in place in 2000, to be legally effective from July 2001. The new law maintained the status of illegality for using or possessing any drug for personal use without authorization. However, the offense was changed from a criminal one, with prison a possible punishment, to an administrative one if the amount possessed was no more than ten days’ supply of that substance.

The present piecemeal state-by-state approach keeps turning up the heat on the federal government to end the war and replace it with a sane policy, and now it’s time for President Obama to take a strong stand for legalization.


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