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Author Topic: The Case of Christopher Cervini  (Read 2166 times)

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Offline BlackRose

Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2013, 04:25:07 AM »
It would be nice at this juncture to get back to the topic at hand. That being the case that was settled in 2010 when Scott shot and killed Cervini, claimed self defense, and was found to be not guilty.

Offline meikle

Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2013, 04:49:57 AM »
The topic at hand is and has always been "What about this case that is only tangentially like the Trayvon Martin case, but in reality much less controversial because it is not fucking ridiculous," and pretending it has ever been anything else is...

mendacious!

Offline vtboy

Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2013, 06:50:03 AM »
Not really. It was clear enough who had the gun and who didn't and what reasonable force usually means in that situation. It was clear that Zimmerman wasn't outnumbered. For some juries those factors alone would have been decisive; just not this one. Meikle is right about this: it would be a hugely dangerous precedent to establish that all you need to do is be alone and unrecorded with your victim in order to murder him and credibly claim a "self-defense" that is functionally impossible to challenge. This in effect turns such isolated murder into the perfect crime, at least for those whom the justice system favours.

Only the decisions of judges on questions of law have precedential effect. Jury verdicts do not.

Yes, all else equal, those who commit unwitnessed crimes are more likely to be acquitted than those foolish enough to perform their misdeeds in front of an audience. Luck and good planning affect the outcome of a lot of human endeavors, including crime. The criminal justice system does not promise perfection in result, only fairness in process, and at least aspires to prefer the acquittal of the guilty to the conviction of the innocent. Are you suggesting the presumption of innocence should be reversed for those charged with committing unwitnessed crimes?

I don't disagree that a different jury might have returned a guilty verdict on the same evidence. So what? Zimmerman's acquittal reflected one rational view of the evidence -- that it failed to exclude beyond reasonable doubt the possibility that Zimmerman's confrontation with Martin unfolded essentially as he described it to the police, that Zimmerman rationally perceived mortal threat, and that he reasonably responded with deadly force. That a different verdict would also have been defensible on the evidence does not undermine the legitimacy of this one.   

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This is a distinction without a real difference. The posthumous reframing of Trayvon-as-dangerous-delinquent was done precisely to make the notion of Zimmerman having this "perception" non-ridiculous.

To the contrary, whatever stories may have been floated in the media about Trayvon Martin's alleged thuggishness, none of it made its way into the trial. In fact, Judge Nelson barred the defense from introducing just this sort of evidence. 

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No-one can predict the trajectory of the appeals process.

Lawyers predict the outcome of appeals all the time. The reliability of a prediction depends on how similar or dissimilar a given issue is to ones previously visited by the appellate court. Here, the law is quite well settled that evidence of a victim's good and pacific character is not admissible except to rebut admitted character evidence of his or her propensity for violence. The purpose of the rule is to reduce the risk a jury will convict a criminal defendant on otherwise weak evidence, out of sympathy or admiration for the alleged victim. Whatever passions the Zimmerman verdict may have stirred in you, I trust you see the wisdom of the rule.

Since the defense did not present character evidence showing Martin was inclined to violence, it would have been reversible error had the court permitted the prosecution to present proof of his good character.   

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And Trayvon Martin was entitled not to be put on unfair posthumous trial for his own murder.

The dead don't have legal rights. The living do. These include the right to defend criminal prosecutions vigorously, even at the expense of another's good name.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2013, 07:35:04 AM »
Quote from: vtboy
Only the decisions of judges on questions of law have precedential effect.

Such questions of law are of course often afforded by jury verdicts, but I was talking about precedent in the more general social sense.

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Are you suggesting the presumption of innocence should be reversed for those charged with committing unwitnessed crimes?

I supposed I'm suggesting that, when you have a case where either party could technically have claimed "self-defense" by dint of having successfully killed their opponent, what you have is a very glaring deficiency in the law. We agreed on that or something close to it at the outset, I think. [I really recommend the linked article, BTW.]

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I don't disagree that a different jury might have returned a guilty verdict on the same evidence. So what?

So the question of whether prejudice and/or poor prosecution led to this particular verdict is sort of a live one? So it is always cause for alarm if a legal system cannot or will not punish a crime where one has clearly been committed? I can't help feeling like you're playing a bit dumb here; even if you believe the outcome of the case represents a version of the "rational" black-letter law as it currently exists (Amy Dardashtian, linked above, would agree with you), you must surely be aware of this.

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To the contrary, whatever stories may have been floated in the media about Trayvon Martin's alleged thuggishness, none of it made its way into the trial.

... officially. Which doesn't unfortunately mean that none of the jurors was biased on this account. (And kindly don't offer me any further homilies about process. I know process was technically followed. What's at issue in the controversy is whether process failed despite having been technically followed.)

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Since the defense did not present character evidence showing Martin was inclined to violence, it would have been reversible error had the court permitted the prosecution to present proof of his good character. 

Fair point.

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The dead don't have legal rights.

I know. Which turns out to be a pretty good motive for murder.

Anyway, Zimmerman may not yet have quite gotten away with it. The questions of a civil suit -- I hope someone comes forward to support the Martins in order to help shelter them from penalty if they go this route -- and of federal prosecution under Civil Rights statutes are both still live AFAIK.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 07:52:35 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2013, 04:20:08 PM »
I honestly wish they would end this pursuit of civil suits to follow.  The civil court is not meant to be a witch hunt court so that people can circumvent the justice system and receive compensation inside a court system that requires less burden of proof.  I also despise them using the federal court system for this same purpose.  The general feel is, "We don't like this ruling so let's ruin this man's life another way."  The man was found not guilty, whether they approve or disapprove of the ruling does not mean they get to continue to pursue the destruction of this man's life.

Offline Trieste

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #55 on: July 23, 2013, 04:30:17 PM »
The two court systems have two different purposes, though. The criminal system cannot merely ruin your life - in some places, it can take it away either by jailing you for life or executing you. They answer two different questions: one answers whether someone's actions were criminal, one answers whether someone's actions caused injury that demands reparations. I... don't think anyone really would dispute the fact that Zimmerman injured Martin's family by killing their son, but because our justice system has a presumption of innocence, he gets a trial for that, too.

The family may not even bring a civil suit (haven't looked, don't care) against Zimmerman. If they did, though, it would by no means be circumventing the justice system. The criminal justice system's role is done unless there is an appeal - and you can't particularly circumvent the civil branch of the justice system by making use of it, I should think.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #56 on: July 23, 2013, 04:45:32 PM »
The man was found not guilty, whether they approve or disapprove of the ruling does not mean they get to continue to pursue the destruction of this man's life.

So long as those courts are available and part of the legal system, people have the right of recourse to them. I don't see why that should apply to Zimmerman and nobody else. As for "the destruction of this man's life," please allow me to locate my smallest violin.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2013, 05:00:38 PM »
With regard to the whole 'civil rights charges' thing:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/zimmerman.asp


Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2013, 05:03:16 PM »
Correct, there is no actual word yet on whether there will be a federal case, it is still under review. If there is one it definitely won't involve 'Obama filing charges,' since that's not how such cases work. (That was the urban myth giveaway right there.)

Offline Trieste

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #59 on: July 23, 2013, 05:06:31 PM »
With regard to the whole 'civil rights charges' thing:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/zimmerman.asp

So... much...stuff... wrong...

I think I lost brain cells reading that sample Facebook post. Thanks, Oniya.


Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #60 on: July 23, 2013, 05:07:10 PM »
The problem is that according to the law Zimmerman was within his legal rights and standing to shoot and killer Trayvon Martin.  He was found innocent of any wrong doing by a jury of his peers inside a court of law.  Pursuit of a civil action has been blatantly stated as being punitive against Zimmerman because he was found innocent.  Essentially making use of the civil court in order to pursue action when the criminal court’s ruling was found unsatisfactory for “justice.”  I understand that the purpose of the two courts is not the same, but making use of them to achieve a “similar” result of hurting someone found innocent is wrong.

Also I did not say this should only be applicable to Zimmerman.  I did not approve of this process when used with OJ Simpson either.  I do not think the purpose of the civil courts should be the pursuit of someone found innocent in a criminal trial so that some form of “justice” can be merited out.

I also know that charges are likely not to be filed and if they are there is really no ground.  Yet the federal charges are being swung around like some sort of threat and brandishing iron by the Administration in order to appease protesters and civil liberty leaders.  The law should not be used in this fashion.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #61 on: July 23, 2013, 05:09:15 PM »
*nods*  The article goes into more detail about the likelihood of federal charges being filed at all, regardless of 'who' files them.  (As I recall, those sorts of cases usually get titled as 'U.S. vs. ______' anyways, so the 'who' is unlikely to be a person.)

If I do a search on something (like 'federal charges Zimmerman') and there's a Snopes link, that's my first stop.  For srs.

Offline Trieste

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #62 on: July 23, 2013, 05:16:37 PM »
Certainly, except he was found innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. He doesn't go to jail for murder. There has been no determination as to whether he's still financially responsible. I understand that you don't approve of differentiating the two, but I do and this is why: the question of whether someone is responsible for someone's injuries should not be the same as determining whether they should go to jail for it. Someone can have done something that they should pay damages for without having broken a law to do it. It's a nuance of the law that very much does need to be there and quite solidly is worth supporting - not only because it gives victims possible monetary recourse but also because it makes the question of guilt or innocence easier on criminal juries. Can you imagine one jury having to make the decision about whether a person is responsible both criminally and civilly, forever? It would be awful. Furthermore, the rules of evidence are different in the various courts and they very much should be. Criminal court can take away someone's life and while bearing a heavy financial burden can make life very difficult, it's not the same as locking someone up in prison or executing them.

*nods*  The article goes into more detail about the likelihood of federal charges being filed at all, regardless of 'who' files them.  (As I recall, those sorts of cases usually get titled as 'U.S. vs. ______' anyways, so the 'who' is unlikely to be a person.)

If I do a search on something (like 'federal charges Zimmerman') and there's a Snopes link, that's my first stop.  For srs.

It's not only that but the legal idiocy ... combined with the ... and the... gah, I refuse to think about it more.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Christopher Cervini
« Reply #63 on: July 23, 2013, 05:24:01 PM »
The problem is that according to the law Zimmerman was within his legal rights and standing to shoot and killer Trayvon Martin.  He was found innocent of any wrong doing by a jury of his peers inside a court of law. 

Being found not guilty according to the current state of the law, and/or technically within one's legal rights to pursue, confront and murder "defend oneself from" a kid who was guilty of walking home with a bag of Skittles, is not the same as being found "innocent of any wrong doing." If someone is unnecessarily killed in circumstances like that by someone else, the fact is that a crime has been committed. It just may not happen to be a crime that Florida state law could effectively prosecute, which is often the case with race-motivated crimes at the state level and is precisely why Civil Rights law exists at the federal level. It's perverse to demand that nobody should even consider using such laws for the precise situations they were intended to address.

(Which is not to say a federal case against Zimmerman is inevitable or even likely. But it is certainly possible, and it's one of the possibilities he signed up for when he shot and killed somebody.)

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Also I did not say this should only be applicable to Zimmerman.  I did not approve of this process when used with OJ Simpson either.  I do not think the purpose of the civil courts should be the pursuit of someone found innocent in a criminal trial so that some form of “justice” can be merited out.

Like Trieste said, civil law is about whether injury has been committed by one party against another, not whether criminal liability could be proved beyond reasonable doubt. They're different questions, and also part of what Zimmerman signed up for when he decided to shoot somebody.

Don't mean to sound callous, but the guy still has his life. His victim doesn't. Only so much sympathy I can muster about whether he spends another few months or few years in court.

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I also know that charges are likely not to be filed and if they are there is really no ground.  Yet the federal charges are being swung around like some sort of threat and brandishing iron by the Administration in order to appease protesters and civil liberty leaders.

Though I know there are some who would like the Administration to use federal charges in this way, this is simply not true. Obama has distanced himself from the whole issue and the DOJ has noncommittally said it's "investigating." That's it. The next we'll actually hear from them is whether they decide to proceed or not proceed.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 05:35:03 PM by Cyrano Johnson »