George Zimmerman has been found not guilty by a jury of six women. These jurors, according to all reports, gave nothing but their utmost attention and thoughtful consideration to the job they were given. They deliberated for sixteen hours, finally reaching a decision around ten o’clock this Saturday night. In my opinion, and from all that I saw and heard, I can’t help but think their verdict was the right one.
No one aside from George Zimmerman really knows what took place on that dark and rainy night eighteen months ago, and that lends itself to doubt for a jury. The State didn’t prove their case and that’s their burden. There were suggestions, innuendos, speculation and the suggestion to the jurors that they use their common sense. They did.
Many of you will disagree with me and the jury, and I can understand your frustration. I’ve read the tweets where some people are calling George Zimmerman a racist, that the State of Florida has become the place that just can’t seem to convict “killers”. Cries that this was not justice are missing the point. CNN legal analyst and Florida attorney, Mark Nejame said it best. “Justice is a process, not an outcome.” When the State fails to meet it’s burden, a jury really has no other choice but to acquit a defendant. They failed in the case of Casey Anthony and they failed in the case of George Zimmerman. There simply wasn’t enough evidence in either instance which could have given a jury the tools to reach a verdict of guilty.
There’s a difference between “not guilty” and “innocent”. George Zimmerman put something into motion that night, the extent of which only he knows. Somehow it escalated, maybe words or blows were exchanged, resulting in the shot that killed Trayvon Martin. Based on the evidence and testimony, I have my own theory of what happened, but that really doesn’t matter right now.
I’ve said this before, about other infamous trials – being on a jury is probably the most difficult thing that we’ll ever be asked to do. In my experience, members of juries take their charge very seriously and struggle with whatever decision they make. Justice – the process that we are so lucky to have in this country – worked exactly the way it was supposed to work. So, as you reflect on what occurred and the verdict that was rendered, take solace from the fact that we really do have an incredible system of justice, where we, everyday, average people, sit in judgment of our fellow human beings – and, more often than not, get it exactly right. Think about this with your heads and not your hearts, just as those six women did, and maybe it will make more sense to you. Just as George Zimmerman will have to live with the events of that night, the members of this jury will live with their decision. I think they can sleep well.
Peace to the people of Sanford and to the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.