George Zimmerman (L) appears in court,
along with his attorney Mark O'Mara.George Zimmerman's defense team announced today on a website that his client will seek a "stand your ground" hearing because "there is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense" in the case. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February after a confrontation he claims was initiated by Martin after he followed him into a gated community in the central Florida city of Sanford.
Such hearings amount to mini-trials in which a portion, often a large portion, of evidence that would have been presented at a jury trial is presented before a judge. But the burden of proof, unlike in a trial, is on the defense. If the judge were to rule in Zimmerman's favor, he would not have to stand trial and could not be sued in a civil action under Florida law.
On the website, defense attorney Mark O'Mara wrote:
The primary focus of a 'stand your ground' hearing is whether George Zimmerman reasonably believed that his use of his weapon was necessary to prevent great bodily harm to himself at the hands of Trayvon Martin.How soon the hearing would occur is unknown. It might not be until next year, which is when the trial is expected to begin. The announcement stated:
Preparing for the ?Stand Your Ground? hearing will require the same time and resources that would be necessary to prepare for a trial. It will take time to collect and submit reciprocal discovery, depose witnesses and experts, and identify evidence to be submitted during the hearing. We anticipate this will still take several months. Mr. O?Mara, again, urges everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the ?Stand Your Ground? hearing.Benjamin Crump, the attorney that represents Martin's family, said in a statement:
"A grown man cannot profile and pursue an unarmed child, shoot him in the heart, and then claim stand your ground. [...] We believe that the killer's motion will be denied during the stand your ground hearing, and as justice requires a jury will ultimately decide the fate of a man that killed an innocent child."The Tampa Bay Times examined the outcome of some 200 "stand your ground" cases in Florida and discovered that some killers with highly questionable claims were freed. Seventy percent of the defendants in "stand your ground" cases the paper reviewed won dismissals.
Crump said Trayvon's parents "do not feel that this is a man that feared for his life the night he shot and killed their child, this is a man whose only fear is spending his life in prison."
? Defendants who claimed "stand your ground" were more likely to see their cases dismissed when the victim was black.
? The number of cases has risen, in part, because defense attorneys have chosen to use the law in bizarre ways. One person used "stand your ground" after shooting a bear, another when he beat a dog.
? "People often go free under 'stand your ground' in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim ? and still went free."
Zimmerman remains free on a $1 million bond and cannot leave Seminole County. He is monitored with an electronic bracelet.
(Talking Points Memo)Congress' most infamous no-longer-a-deadbeat-dad Joe Walsh (R-IL) says he knows how America is feeling about our current president. See if you can spot the?you know what, never mind. Here ya go:
?There?s something different on the ground, and I think it?s going to overtake us all again, think it?s going to overtake the political class. I think it?s going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works.?Discuss.
Goldman Sachs announced in a regulatory filing that the Securities and Exchange Commission has closed their investigation into the firm misleading investors on a $1.3 billion subprime mortgage-backed security deal.[...]
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The Obama campaign continues its focus on Mitt Romney's tax returns in a new ad juxtaposing his tax return secrecy with his role as head of the Marriott board of directors audit committee during the 1990s "Son of Boss" tax scandal, during which Romney approved $70 million of fictional losses as tax write-offs:
The ad's narrator then asks whether Romney has paid 10 percent, 5 percent, or even 0 percent in taxes. "We don't know," he says. "But we do know that Romney personally approved over $70 million in fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious Son of Boss tax scandal. One of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history. Isn't it time for Romney to come clean?"
In February, Bloomberg News reported on Romney's role as head of Marriott's audit board, including his approval of the "Son of Boss" transactions.
During Romney?s tenure as a Marriott director, the company repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers, prompting at least two tangles with the Internal Revenue Service, records show. In 1994, while he headed the audit committee, Marriott used a tax shelter known to attorneys by its nickname: ?Son of BOSS.?The campaign didn't say where the ad would be running in its announcement.
A federal appeals court invalidated the maneuver in a 2009 ruling, siding with the U.S. Department of Justice, which called Marriott?s transaction and attempted tax benefits ?fictitious,? ?artificial,? ?spectral,? an ?illusion? and a ?scheme.? Marriott had argued the plan predated government efforts to close such shelters.
Employing another strategy, Marriott legally avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in income taxes thanks to a federal tax-credit program criticized and allowed to expire by Congress. Marriott has also shifted profits to a Luxembourg shell company. During Romney?s years on the board, Marriott?s effective tax rate dipped as low as 6.8 percent, compared with the federal corporate statutory rate of 35 percent.
?You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,? Romney said on the radio. ?They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they?re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.?I'm not sure Mitt is actually paying attention to his own campaign at this point. Do they only let him out of his box for these speeches?
Here is the old Chicago Stock Exchange room that has been moved to the Art institute of Chicago. I took this picture yesterday. There were a few minutes I was in the room by myself. It was great to have the chance to look around without anybody bugging me. Some folks would walk in the [...]
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Picture of the day. [...]
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Rep. Joe Walsh would never say something controversial. [...]
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CAN YOU miss hitting the frog?
It ends at midnight!
Amy Goodman interviews Daryl Johnson, former Dept of Homeland Security analyst who authored a key report on domestic terrorism in 2009 - a report that the Republicans went nuts over, and effectively shut down the report and the office that was studying the domestic terror threat. Apparently, Republicans in Congress were congress that a few too many of their supporters might be classified as...