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Justice Dept: Looking into Civil Rights Charges Against Zimmerman

George Zimmerman may face civil rights charges by federal prosecutors and civil charges from Trayvon Martin's family. A jury in a criminal trial against Zimmerman found him not guilty of second degree murder.
George Zimmerman may face civil rights charges from federal law enforcement agencies, as well as a civil trial from Trayvon Martin's family

George Zimmerman may face civil rights charges from federal law enforcement agencies, as well as a civil trial from Trayvon Martin's family

On Monday, July 15, the U.S. Justice Department issued a statement confirming that it and two other federal agencies were investigating whether or not to bring federal civil rights claims against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Florida last year.

Zimmerman was found not guilty in a criminal trial which ended on Saturday, July 13.

In addition to the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, are evaluating evidence from the criminal state trial, as well as the evidence gathered in a federal investigation.

“Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial.”

The criminal trial ended on Saturday, July 12, with a finding by the Sanford, Florida jury that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second degree murder when he shot Trayvon Martin with a 9 mm handgun on February 26, 2012.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has gathered more than 800,000 names on an online petition asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Ben Crump, the lawyer who represented Martin’s divorced parents, called on the Justice department to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman, whom Crump claimed killed Martin because of his race.

In order for the government to succeed on civil rights charges against Zimmerman, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, shot Martin because he was black.

Martin’s family has already received a confidential settlement from the homeowners’ association in the gated community where the shooting took place, the Retreat at Twin Lakes.  The family is considering bringing a civil suit against Zimmerman.

 

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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16 Responses to “Justice Dept: Looking into Civil Rights Charges Against Zimmerman”

  1. George Kafantaris says:

    The prosecutors should have made better use of the 14 recorded screams loud enough to be captured on the neighbor’s call to 911. They should have played those screams at the outset of their rebuttal — a time when the defense was a sitting duck — and they should have played those screams again at the very end — so that the jurors would have retired to the jury room with those haunting screams ringing in their ears.
    Nor did the Court’s ruling disallowing expert testimony on the 911 call prevent the prosecutors from playing the call during final argument; or prevent them from drawing common-sense conclusions from what is heard.
    As for Zimmerman saying it was he doing the screaming — and just as Martin was prying his gun away — then why do we have none of Martin’s DNA on the gun? There should have been something there, even if Martin had merely touched the gun, let alone grabbed it, or struggled with it. Indeed, we might expect a struggle for control to leave a heavy DNA imprint on the gun. Yet, it left none.
    What about the silence, that dead silence we note after the gunshot? Does it tell us anything? If Zimmerman was the one crying for help the ensuing silence after the shot is revealing — unless he can plead for help and hold a gun to shoot at the same time.
    And remember, Zimmerman says he screamed during his struggle with Martin. If this is so, then we would expect the screams to have been interrupted. They were not. Rather, the cries for help are steady, though growing more desperate, but at the same tempo as they had started. This is not plausible from a man having his head pounded on the pavement; it is not plausible from a man struggling to keep his gun.
    No, those steady heart wrenching howls were from someone who was held at gunpoint; someone who had felt the cold steel of a gun in his side; a teenager untested with the dangers of life; a juvenile who suddenly realized he was way over his head, and firmly believed his life was about to come to an end.

  2. Gregg Thomas says:

    Wonder how much they settled this lawsuit4 fast with the cash they knew by zimmerman carrying a gun and following then killing martin all his actions gross neglect zimmerman violated all the neighborhood watch pro the call and contact zimmerman neglect costed them millions of dollars they won't even tell the public the true cast!!WOW LOL WONDER WILL GATED COMMUNITY HIRE ZIMMERMAN BACK LOL HELL NO!!!

  3. He was acquitted so get over it and move on!!!!

  4. Chaiya Eitan says:

    This whole thing is absurd. He was found not guilty in a fair trial even though the prosecution withheld important information and the media 'judged' him even before his trial started,

  5. Chaiya Eitan says:

    This whole thing is absurd. He was found not guilty in a fair trial even though the prosecution withheld important information and the media 'judged' him even before his trial started,

  6. Benjamin Fox says:

    Hate Crimes are just away to go after people who they disagree with. Homosexuals are immoral and I'm sure that statement alone will become a hate crime before long, then I'll go to jail as it is their choice to have sex the way they do.

  7. Pat Sears says:

    When are the authorities going to do a civil rights case for the late baseball historian MARCUS PENN martyred in hate crimes oh I get it HE's Jewish current administration doesn't recognize rights of Jews any more than Governor Martin O'Malley who promised before cameras to protect MARCUS PENN but then did nothing 5 days later we were both brutally attacked.

  8. George Kafantaris, I agree completely. It appears that there were major comprehension problems on the part of the jury, relative to understanding and having the requisite ability to formulate specific questions about the instructions and/or charges. B-37's comments clearly reveal that she was a zimmerman supporter from the outset; I found it disturbing that she rationalized the absence of zimmerman's DNA on the gun, hands, and under the fingernails of Trayvon Martin, by saying "they could have washed away…it was pouring rain"…and that the M.E.'s office "should have done a better job of bagging Trayvon's hands and protecting the evidence". You'll recall that his hands were under his body (shielded from the elements). She said she also believes zimmerman's account that Trayvon initiated the physical altercation, and that zimmerman was in fear of his life at the time he fired the gun. What troubles me most, is that she stated that she 'got tired of looking at the mountain of evidence on the table', and that it wasn't in any kind of order. Pardon me, B-37, but that is precisely why you were impaneled! According to B-37, the jury was having difficulty understanding the instructions, even after reading through them numerous, at least 5 times (AND), they apparently lacked the mental ability to articulate/formulate their specific questions back to the judge. We also need an overhaul of the jury system given this information. In my opinion, as a reasonable person, no one should be impaneled on a jury if they lack the ability or intelligence to critically analyze the facts, evidence before them, and the written jury instructions and written information provided about the verdicts available to them. From the outset B-37 and two others felt he was not guilty; 2 voted for manslaughter; and 1 for 2nd degree murder, but because they didn't understand the instructions and verdicts to be decided, they all ultimately voted Not Guilty. I contend that this is a miscarriage of justice. Incompetence and ignorance, at it's worst!

  9. Robbyn Bulla says:

    You need to keep your negative opinion to your darn self and whom ever else this applies too. He was a kid murdered first and far most. He wasn't your son. Be grateful your children are alive. If it applies. God bless his family and especially those who take great honored to support his family. Move on, on that.*;)

  10. Barbara Minich says:

    I heard that Juror B57's husband was friends with the Zimmerman's. If so, she should have been disqualified from the jury. I am thinking that, with evidence of her up front bias, it MIGHT be possible to legally set the verdict aside and have a new trial. HAS ANYONE ELSE HEARD OR SEEN THIS INFO?

  11. Dee Drew says:

    Being a NON-BLACK is a major crime. Any Non-black deserves to be treated differently before the law. That's why after the jury declared a verdict of "not guilty" we must revolt against that decision.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Being NON-BLACK is a major crime. Non-blacks do not deserve equal treatment by the law. We still must revolt against the jury's verdict of "Not guilty." This self defense reason should not be applied to a non-black. Thus "not guilty" should never be a verdict for a non-black. Because he is already guilty being a non-black.

  13. Anonymous says:

    But he is a non-black. Isn't that clear and simple? Being a non-black is a crime. We criminals must be extremely careful not to offend people with our speech.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Robbyn Bulla All you non-blacks should should shut your mouth and condemn the jurry.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What is "White and Hispanic?"
    Yes, bring civil suit. That may result in a large sum of cash income.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Who cares what the jury's verdict is. It doesn't worth a penny. Confidential settlement? Must not be enough.

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