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Fri Jul 12, 2013, 06:58 PM

Jury instructions in the George Zimmerman trial

http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/7/12/zimmerman_jury_instructions.html

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:14 PM

1. after reading this, I don't see how anybody is ever found guilty. It seems to imply that

killing somebody in the heat of passion is ok.

George is guilty.
George will be acquitted.

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Response to patricia92243 (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:27 PM

4. When the judge read these instructions to the jury today that was my gut reaction too.

I'm hoping upon deeper reflection we are wrong.

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Response to patricia92243 (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:48 PM

9. It seems to me that

the 'heat of passion' bit requires 'sufficient provocation' and 'accident and misfortune', as I read it.

I have no idea what that legally means. I guess sufficient provocation might be something like finding your SO in bed with someone else. However, what is 'accident or misfortune'?

Seems to me that it would be something where the intent was not to kill but death occurred. You run out of the room in a rage and trip on a cord and the chandelier falls on the bed? Possibly something ridiculous like that.

The law gets weird sometimes.

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Response to patricia92243 (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 08:31 PM

11. Yes and realizing this doesn't make you a racist.

 

It never did.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:22 PM

2. The instructions re: Stand Your Ground are completely wrong.

 

This was never a SYG case, and the judge seems to be deliberately misleading the jury.

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Response to GiaGiovanni (Reply #2)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:24 PM

3. Those instructions are from the

FL statutes for justifiable use of force. Sections 776.012 and 776.013. Why do you think they're wrong?

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Response to ctaylors6 (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:29 PM

5. Because the case is about self defense and not SYG, or at least

that is what most of us were led to believe.

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Response to Rex (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:35 PM

6. But part of the SYG legislation FL

passed several years ago was to remove the duty to retreat. That became part of the self-defense law. If you are lawfully in a place, then you have no duty to retreat when you defending yourself (or others). Another significant part of SYG legislation did not apply - the pre-trial immunity hearing that Zimmerman waived.

Whether or not there is a duty to retreat (outside of your home) is part of self-defense law. I think at least half the states have removed the duty to retreat (haven't checked the other states recently).

I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean by what most were led to believe. I think the court should have consistently been applying the FL statutory law re justifiable use of force since the beginning of the trial.

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Response to ctaylors6 (Reply #6)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:42 PM

7. The judge said this was not a SYG case in the beginning.

nt.

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Response to Rex (Reply #7)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 08:19 PM

10. When did the judge say that?

People are misunderstanding the situation here.
Zimmerman did not waive the stand your ground defense. What he waived was his right to have a hearing on that issue before the jury was impaneled. If he had opted for that hearing, he could have theoretically had the case against him dismissed without ever going to trial. But he chose not to follow that strategy, probably because the risk would be that he would have to show his evidentiary hand to the prosecution and might not prevail and would then have to go trial.

I don't believe that his defense team argued the elements of stand your ground during the trial (although I didn't watch that much of the trial as it occurred). But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be part of the jury instructions. Zimmerman isn't disputing that he shot and killed Martin, but the judge still included in the instructions a direction to the jury that in order to convict they must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Martin is dead and that his death was caused by Zimmerman.

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Response to ctaylors6 (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:45 PM

8. They don't apply here.

 

This was not a SYG situation. It was about self defense only.

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Response to GiaGiovanni (Reply #8)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 09:21 PM

13. SYG is part of self defense

under FL law. Under the justifiable use of force statutory provisions (justifiable use of force is self-defense), there is no duty to retreat. In other words, the person claiming self-defense does not have a duty to retreat, he can stay where he is ("stand his ground") if he's somewhere he's lawfully allowed to be.

The statutory provisions on justifiable use of force absolutely apply here. Nobody has alleged that Zimmerman was in a place he was not legally allowed to be. (When I say the provisions apply, I mean the jury was appropriately instructed on them based on what was raised during the trial; I'm not making any kind of conclusion about whether Zimmerman actually met the requirements of justifiable use of force.)

I think maybe you got confused when Zimmerman waived the immunity pre-trial hearing that was part of the SYG legislation? Maybe you read or heard that SYG didn't apply for that reason.

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Response to GiaGiovanni (Reply #2)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 08:36 PM

12. These are form jury instructions, and were also approved by both sides' attorneys.

Or at least the attorneys had a chance to object to particular instructions.

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #12)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 10:07 PM

14. Exactly.

Jury instructions are generally not exercises in creative writing. They use a lot of standard instructions. The arguments between the parties are usually about whether a provision should be included or excluded. The judge can't just willy nilly put statutory language in her own words.

The instructions, after all, are THE LAW for the jury to follow. The jury can use common sense and inferences in deciding facts, but they are clearly instructed to apply the law as instructed by the judge to the facts as they decide them.

Btw, I thought what was particularly interesting about the arguments between the parties about the instructions was that the judge excluded any instruction on the initial aggressor provision of the self-defense law. The state asked for it, the defense argued against it, and the judge sided with the defense. Before the trial began, I thought that would be a key issue.

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Response to ctaylors6 (Reply #14)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 10:04 AM

15. I missed that argument--why did the judge rule against initial aggressor?

I think that is key to the prosecutor's case.

Dang.

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Response to Evergreen Emerald (Reply #15)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 10:30 AM

16. Here's the youtube link

to the relevant arguments during the charging conference:
&feature=youtu.be

The defense stated the law that legal provocation requires physical force or threat of physical force (that is from Gibbs and other cases) and then argued that Zimmerman's actions (following, calling police to report something suspicious, legally carrying concealed) were all legal and did not qualify as any kind of force or threat of force and therefore could not be legal provocation. The state had argued their position first (that's the beginning of the linked video). The judge ruled in favor of the defense without any explanation. Her ruling is at the end of the linked video.

So the instructions include the general self defense law (776.012 and 776.13) but not 776.041 (initial provocation exception).

Edited to try to fix link. could get link to work so pasted website address

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