I’ve been frankly appalled by the partisanship and loose reasoning exhibited at the Zimmerman trial over the past couple of days.
- She directly questioned Mr. Zimmerman as to his intention whether or not to testify while the defense case was still in progress. This is unheard of in my experience of US jurisprudence. She overrode repeated objections from Mr. Zimmerman’s counsel to do so. You can see video of the exchange, and read a transcript of it, here. (I agree with the commenters at that link that the judge was ‘way out of line’ in acting as she did.)
- She’s disallowed evidence that was deliberately concealed by the prosecution until almost the start of the trial – evidence that clearly demonstrates criminal tendencies, attitudes and actions on the part of Trayvon Martin, and would therefore convincingly bolster Mr. Zimmerman’s claims about his actions that night. She even walked out of the court while the defense was still trying to make its case about the evidence. There’s video of the exchange at the link.
- She’s permitted the introduction of a third charge – manslaughter – for the jury to consider, despite that charge never before having been laid against Mr. Zimmerman. It appears clear to me – and to many other observers – that since the prosecution’s case has been so badly bungled from the beginning, they – and, by inference, the judge – are trying desperately to give the jury an opportunity to convict Mr. Zimmerman of something – anything! – so as to to avoid a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
These developments are not only ridiculous, but in my opinion they demonstrate at best, judicial incompetence; at worst, outright corruption and a miscarriage of justice. I question whether Mr. Zimmerman can possibly receive a fair trial and/or verdict under such conditions. I believe there are more than enough grounds for a higher court to declare a mistrial on appeal, and order that the case be re-tried – preferably before a more qualified and less partisan judge! (I’m not alone in that belief.)
If Mr. Zimmerman is found guilty under these circumstances, it’ll be a black day for the Florida legal system. He may, indeed, be guilty – I’m not in the courtroom, I haven’t heard all the evidence, and therefore I haven’t been able to form a qualified judgment – but his guilt (or innocence) must be established by open, impartial, unimpeachable standards of judicial fairness. On the basis of the points outlined above, right now, those standards appear to me to be conspicuous by their absence from his trial during recent events.