Click here to go to the Home Page The Trial Before the Trial - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - BC Columnist

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I find it funny that every week over the past three months since the fatal shooting of Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, evidence is drip, drip, dripping into the troughs of the press. These so-called pieces of evidence are the seeds for tainting a potential jury. This is not coincidental; this is the strategy of conservative forces backing a killer.

In the ongoing saga of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, facts have morphed and evidence tainted in favor of the single person who is left able to tell the story of an avoidable murder. Newly-released evidence is showing Zimmerman�s injuries - his swollen nose, his gashed and bloody head - alongside the autopsy report for Martin that reveals abrasions and contusions to his knuckles. Many right-wing commentators are inferring that Martin�s hand injuries support Zimmerman�s story: He was attacked by Martin and shot the teenager in self-defense.

Really? I�ll argue that just the opposite scenario occurred. As a Black male, since the day media began mainstream coverage of this tragedy, my theory has been - and will forever remain, I�m sure - that Martin was the victim in this travesty. Martin�s injuries were consistent with those of domestic violence victims who meet a similar fate. When someone is fighting for their life, their human instincts take over: fight or flight. When I am pursued (and have been by bullies), there are times when you can�t outrun them and have to face them; such is life. Even if they cowardly brandish a gun, you can�t outrun a bullet�I don�t know of any dead person who has. Martin stood his ground and paid the ultimate price for that stand.

In the �trial before the trial,� that is, in the press, Zimmerman is repeatedly identified now as Hispanic. I�m not a betting man, but if anyone had asked Zimmerman (a non-Hispanic name) on February 25 (the day before he shot Martin) to identify his race, he would not have answered Hispanic...because, in America, most Hispanics self-identify with whites - if they can get away with it. America wants it that way. And, to that end, one can mark Hispanic as a racial sub-category of white on a US Census form. What better way to get the public behind your side of the story�when whites are the majority population.

I also bet that Zimmerman gets acquitted by a jury of his �peers� if he�s not offered a sweet plea deal first. I applaud the Martin family for doggedly pursing justice. Whether Zimmerman �stood his ground� is a secondary question to the fact that he stalked a teenager - for no justifiable reason!

It appears that all the material matters of fact are lost when exposing the strength of the government�s case against the shooter. Funny, but can you recall a time when material facts morphed in favor of a Black defendant, let alone tainting evidence to favor tens of thousands of Black defendants that stand accused every year in this country?

What I know is that there is no conceivable way to seat an unbiased jury, if Zimmerman elects to proceed to trial. What potential juror has not heard or seen news coverage or commentary in some shape or form? How could any trial in this case be considered fair - that is, in a light favorable toward Martin, the victim? I�ve read numerous cases in the Federal and Supreme Court Reporters in which appellate courts �view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government.� Yes, that�s actual court language! So much for �evidence in the light most favorable to the facts.�

I may sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it is what it is. Groups like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the NRA (National Rifle Association) partner to write laws containing language so vague that the guilty becomes the victim. This �technique� of crafting implicit language, such as in the US Constitution, essentially ensures no one will be held accountable. That�s the real crime�ALEC and the NRA wrote a law that effectively licenses a person to kill another person - without threat of prosecution.

A recent report shows the failure of the Sanford police department in its investigation of Martin�s killing (Zimmerman�s shooting). Of course, no one in the department will be prosecuted - because police have �qualified immunity,� which exempts them from accountability. Why aren�t you mad about that?

In a legal system that touts due process and rule of law, how can we continue to condone a trial before the actual legalities unfold? In this Information Age, what we are witnessing is �the public�s right to know� outweighing the rule of law. Critical evidence as the basis for one�s conviction, or exoneration, should not be exposed to the potential arbiters of fate prior to the completion of due process. Critical evidence should not be fodder for a 24-hour circus of talking heads. Keep circuses under the big top, and critical evidence in the courtroom. Though we�ve grown accustomed to these circuses of �trials before the trials� (think Nancy Grace), it�s time to condemn and abolish this unethical practice. We should never allow the trial before the trial. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, �The Other Side of the Tracks.� He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.

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May 31, 2012 - Issue 474
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