Conviction by Internet – George Zimmerman and Due Process and Justice

Posted: March 24, 2012 in My Whirled
Tags: , , , ,

After watching and participating in the uproar about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, a discussion with a friend made me think a bit. Most of us realize that the “News” doesn’t report everything that is newsworthy, and that there is a political bias to much of what we see on TV. This case is no exception. Without social media, it is unlikely there would be an investigation by the Department of  Justice and the fact that Zimmerman is a free man and Martin is dead would not be much more than a police blotter report. After I saw the not-reported-on-the-news details about it, I joined the fight for justice for Trayvon and wrote this piece – “Walking While Black“.  Some of you have read it.

But we need to be careful. Kony 2012 went viral, millions joined in, but we have since learned the company responsible isn’t as much of a champion for justice as it is a PR / advertising company that while not-for-profit only paid 30 something percent of the money it brought in to the causes it supports, and that there are many other more current issues going on in Uganda and other places. Kony could well be dead- I first heard about him six years ago,  and the people who this video was supposed to help, well, they don’t think they need it.  They say he hasn’t been in there in years.  But damn, it makes for a powerful video.

George Zimmerman is, in my opinion, a racist vigilante who killed an innocent black teenage boy.  But he is also an American citizen, and as Americans we are entitled to something called “Due Process”. If he is arrested and charged (update : has been charged at the time I make this public) he will have his rights read to him, and he will have a lawyer, and investigators will examine the evidence, talk to witnesses if any can be found, and try him in a court of law. But will he get  a FAIR trial?  I hope so.  But it will be hard to find jurors who have not already formed an opinion either for or against him. I hope no one takes the law into their own hands as he did and stalks and murders him out of outrage.

After the internet furor, the whole country, indeed the world knows what we have decided is the truth.  People scream “murder” – did it myself – but “murder” is a legal term, something decided by a judge and a jury, in a court of law.

We should not be that judge and jury.  Demand an arrest, demand a trial, call him a killer – he admitted that himself.   But do not forget that  The Sword of Justice by Internet is two edged.  Just as the News chooses what we see, we choose what we “like” and “share” and Retweet and Reblog. Uncomfortable truth disappears.

Think about it.


  1. Hi Matthew,

    This is very well said and written. Some good thoughts posted here. The internet in general is a double edged sword for pretty much everything. It also has to be taken wiith a grain of salt in some instances and at some times as well.

    The hardest thing about the Trayvon Martin case now is going to be finding impartial jurors. Having just finished a round of jury duty myself, I can tell you that one of the first questions they ask their prospective jurors is if they have any prior knowledge of the case at hand.

    There are going to be only a very precious few who can honestly answer “no” to that question. Which means it is going to be damn near impossible to find a properly impartial jury for this case. The course of due process on this one has probably been first disrupted by the news of the case, then the internet going viral on it, and it continues to be the case. Such widespread coverage of things like this make it very, VERY hard to find impartial jury candidates.

    My guess is that aside from that, when they finally do pick their jurors, they are probably going to sequester the jury if only because of that very same widespread coverage and internet coverage of the case.

    The internet is a double edged sword in MANY cases, in my experience. On the one hand yes, it helps us disseminate information that NEEDS to be gotten out there. On the other hand though, it can also be manipulated and used for less than genuine purposes. That’s why we all really do need to be careful, and why we really shouldn’t be taking everything we read, view, or see online as ‘written in stone.’

  2. Peter Linder says:

    Did you know that the right to a fair and impartial jury was never intended to mean that the jury can’t be aware of the details or publicity surrounding a crime. It meant that those sitting on the jury should not have a vested interest in the decision going one way or the other. That the government should not be allowed to stock the jury with individuals employed or influenced by the state. That friends and family of the accused nor the victim should sit on the jury. That jurors should not be tampered with. That the jurors should not be subject to the threat of imprisonment or persecution or prosecution should they NOT find in favor of the government. How that got twisted into not allowing citizens to sit on a jury who had been exposed to information about the case, i don’t know and honestly don’t care to do the research to find out. During the course of the trial, each side has a chance to make their case and sway the jury with facts, supposition, and various forms of evidence. We all have our own views on everything we are exposed to but we have the capacity to take in new information and then process it and end up with a completely different view.

    That being said, I agree with Matthew that Zimmerman was a trigger happy vigilante with a violent streak (from his own police record and statements from those in the neighborhood that he was supposed to be watching). And, being Florida and Martin being a black youth, the police never even bothered to investigate and resisted releasing the 911 tapes to the victim’s family until social media broke this story so wide open that they had no choice.

  3. Peter Linder says:

    And pardon my lack of separating that first chunk into proper paragraphs.

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