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Zimmerman Acquitted on All Charges

The WSJ has the story.  I expected this, as I said here.  I was far from the only one, of course.  There was no way the jury could find beyond a  reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had no objectively reasonable belief that he was  in imminent danger of grave bodily harm or death.  By themselves, the photographs of his swollen and bloody face, and the bloody marks on the back of his head, made it very, very difficult for the jury not to doubt the prosecution's version that Zimmerman was the officious aggressor throughout, and shot the physically superior Martin simply out of racial bigotry or spite.

It will be interesting to see how the usual defense mouthpieces react to this.  When Casey Anthony got a scandalous acquittal for murdering her two year-old, the liberal line was, hey, that's how the system works.  Better that 100 guilty defendants go free, etcetera.  We'll soon see if they have the same accepting attitude in this case, where the evidence of legal innocence was far stronger than in the Casey Anthony fiasco.


Some people in the media are claiming that Zimmerman might face federal criminal charges. Can you please explain how this is possible?

Also, wouldn't a civil suit be foreclosed by collateral estoppel?

1. The feds could file charges under federal civil rights laws. Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, the same underlying set of facts can be prosecuted by different sovereigns.

2. A civil suit here is not foreclosed by estoppel any more than the successful civil suit against OJ Simpson was foreclosed by his criminal acquittal. An acquittal shows only that the defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of every juror. It doesn't mean he didn't do it, nor that a civil jury couldn't find him responsible by a preponderance of the evidence (which is the standard in civil cases).

I think, however, that there would be significant legal and political barriers to the feds continuing to go after Zimmerman. The case against him was much weaker than the case against OJ Simpson. It was sufficiently dicey that the cops and the original prosecutor didn't want to bring it.

But I thought that the police power was reserved to the states? How can this case, which didn't occur on federal land, become a federal case? Doesn't the civil rights law require Zimmerman to be a state actor?

Take a look at a federal civil rights case from about 30 years ago, Ebens and Nitz. Nether was ultimately convicted, but the charges did not require state action, and neither defendant was a state actor.

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