The George Zimmerman case, which was one of the most publicized court decisions in the last decade, has been met with great opposition and protest. This protest has been calling for a potential change in the self-defense laws in Florida and possibly re-trying the defendant in federal court. Furthermore, some have questioned the beyond a reasonable standard that must be met in order to convict a defendant. However, these ideas seem to go against the very ideas of the judicial system and the protection that is granted to those convicted of a crime.
One of the issues in this case originally was the stand your ground law that is in Florida. The stand your ground law states that one who is defending themselves does not have to retreat before using deadly force. In most states, one will have to attempt to escape the confrontation before resorting to deadly force. Many have been calling for a change to this law suggesting that it can lead to deadly confrontations when there is an easy means for escape. However, this law although talked about a lot in the early going, this law did not play much into this decision. It seems unlikely that Zimmerman would have been unable to flee from the altercation as all evidence tends to lead to the conclusion he was pinned to the ground. Furthermore, changing of this law would lead to more arrests as people who were in fear of their life and used force could be arrested for not first trying to escape.
Others are calling for Zimmerman to be charged with federal crimes in connection with the killing of Trayvon Martin. In criminal cases, the double jeopardy rule protects defendants from being on trial for the same actions multiple times. This is the reason why the prosecution cannot appeal the decision to a higher court. However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1959 in the case Bartkus v. Illinois that prosecution in state followed by prosecution in federal court does not violate double jeopardy. It traditionally is not used as people feel this gives the government too much power. The double jeopardy law protects defendants and this should not be ignored just because of the emotion of this case.
Finally, some are stating that the beyond a reasonable doubt standard should be lowered. Many are saying that due to the laws and this standard, these cases allow people to get away with murder. However, if these protesters have their way, it will lead to more people being found guilty and brought to jail. The judicial system in this country gives everybody a fair trial. Again, this standard is important to the judicial system and protect many people and the American people cannot allow one case to change the
view of the country.
The real problem in this case came down to the prosecution. It was clear to any criminal defense attorney, that Zimmerman would not be found guilty of murder, but they chose to pursue it anyways. Manslaughter could have been a stronger argument stating that Zimmerman used too much force and did not have to resort to deadly force. Instead they chose to make a statement and try for murder, maybe out of pressure from the citizens. However, they did a poor job and were highly unethical in doing it as they did not disclose all evidence throughout the trial. Overall, this was a case that got a lot of media attention but the longstanding rules of America should not be changed because of this one case.