Monday News and Open Thread

The media joins forces to request the unsealing of all records in the George Zimmerman case. The motion is here. My view: Keep it sealed. The time to release it is after the case ends, whether by pre-trial dismissal or verdict. The public can then decide if they believe the judge or jury's actions were justified. There's no need for them to "play along" as the case progresses. The media's motion makes the best case for keeping it sealed. It says:

"Defendant's confession has already been disseminated in various news articles."

Zimmerman has not confessed to any crime. He hasn't publicly said anything yet. No statement signed by Zimmerman or police recording of any of his statements has been released. A police report and statements by his lawyers and family that he acknowledged shooting Martin is not a confession of wrong-doing or confession to a crime. By all reports, he is denying he committed a crime.

Since the media cannot be trusted to report fairly, the motion should be denied. Update below, with a change in my position: [More...]

Update and Amendment: My objection is to the discovery being released, investigative reports and the like. I agree all pleadings should not be automatically filed under seal. There should be a motion for seal with grounds for any motion the parties want sealed. A blanket seal order is not appropriate. The judge that granted that request is the same judge that approved the arrest warrant and affidavit. Both were done on a moment's notice without time for adequate reflection. He had just received the arrest warrant affiavit moments before and the same for the motion to seal. So my position is the pleadings should be presumptively open, absent a showing of good cause, made on individual basis. And arrest warrants and affidavits shouldn't be rubber-stamped in approval, but examined to see if there is probable cause contained within the four corners of the affidavit for the specific crimes the state seeks to arrest on.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

The judge has excused 48 potential jurors in the John Edwards trial. Trial begins Monday.

Jury selection is underway in the Roger Clemens perjury retrial.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    I agree 100% (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Addison on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:16:30 PM EST
    I agree. My hope was that this incident would go before a jury, and now it will (barring a plea). As you say, there's no real purpose for the release of this information except to provide the media with grist for it's 24/7 coverage mill and so folks at home (like me, I enjoy it!) can "play along" more effectively. That isn't in the interest of justice, especially when the jury pool is still "in the wild".

    Just don't hope that (none / 0) (#9)
    by Towanda on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:06:08 PM EST
    lack of actual information will abate the rumors, as it's lack of information that fuels rumors.

    The only way around it, then, is to give media need a distraction from the story.  Any white, blond, young women going on cruises and willing to go overboard for the good of the order?  We'll rescue you after a news cycle or two.  That oughta do it.


    Tupac... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:38:44 PM EST
    ...performs a duet with Snoop at Coachella 2012 via hologram.

    I love it when technology catches me off guard and totally blows my mind... I had no idea we were this far along with holograms.

    More please.

    or... (none / 0) (#3)
    by CST on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:47:04 PM EST
    he's really still alive and they just made him look like a hologram...

    Too Funny.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:08:40 PM EST
    I have seen every Chapelle show a million times, but never that skit.  Hilarious.

    it's from the third (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:11:16 PM EST
    non-season season.

    It That Anything Like... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 04:07:40 PM EST
    ...Turkish ham ?

    Thanks, that literally had me laughing out loud and you didn't even do it on purpose.

    Well, I kind of (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Zorba on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:07:22 PM EST
    did do it on purpose.  See, spam is fake ham, and Turks aren't really into ham (or spam) because it's pork, and the vast majority of Turks are Muslim and don't eat pork, so.......Oh never mind.  I'm glad you got a laugh out of it.   ;-)

    Donald... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by fishcamp on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:59:57 PM EST
    don't they serve a lotta' spam in Hawaii?

    They do. In fact, I believe that Spam was ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:23:19 PM EST
    ... designated the official processed meat product of the State of Hawaii.

    But in all seriousness, people in Hawaii first developed a serious taste for Spam during the Second World War, when the islands were under martial law and the military government requistioned most of the food produced over here for the troops. (Hawaii is actually a pretty big cattle ranching state.) Spam was practically the only meat that residents could obtain outside of the black market. That taste for Spam has since been passed down from generation to generation.


    Even Better... (5.00 / 0) (#51)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:38:37 AM EST
    the spam has been deleted (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:00:11 PM EST
    One doesn't "delete" Spam, Jeralyn. (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:32:29 PM EST
    Rather, one fries it with two eggs over medium, which are then served over two generous scoops of rice and seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce).

    Besides, there are too many preservatives contained in Spam for it to be deleted effectively. Left alone in its can, it'll outlive us all.



    Why am I reminded... (5.00 / 0) (#42)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:06:01 PM EST
    of this?

    Spam, spam, spam wonderful spam.


    Yum! (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:24:10 PM EST
    I grew up on Spam, too, and love it to this day.  But the key is you have to fry it up in slices in a pan and have it hot.  Cold out of a can is a whole different deal and it's no wonder people hate it.

    I LOVE Spam! (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by indy in sc on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:27:45 AM EST
    But it seems like only those who grew up on it (like I did) love it.  More spam for me!

    Let's understand one thing here. (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:00:03 PM EST
    cpinva: "mr. zimmerman has confessed, to the police, of committing the crime of homocide." (Sic.)

    While the term "homicide" has frequently been conflated with the commission of criminal acts in popular culture -- i.e., the television series, "Homicide: Life on the Streets," et al. -- the legal definition of homicide is the taking of one human being's life by another. That's all.

    It does not necessarily follow, therefore, that all homicides can be classified legally as a crime.

    While all murders are homicides by definition, not all homicides are murder. We have also have legal findings of manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and negligent homicide. A determination of justifiable homicide means that legally speaking, no crime occurred at all. And a few states also have a little thing called capital punishment, which is a state-sanctioned homicide.

    In statements to the police, George Zimmerman admitted to the committing of a homicide. However, he has not confessed to committing a crime.

    Please understand the very real difference between the two, and save yourself a lot of grief in discussions here, because Jeralyn won't long tolerate the conflating of opinion with fact.


    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:09:09 PM EST
    for absurdly false statements.

    Well, he can't say he wasn't warned. (none / 0) (#36)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:26:00 PM EST
    The is ... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:09:56 PM EST
    Wait a minute! My mother's in Turkey! (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:11:58 PM EST
    Mom -- is that you?

    Not unless (none / 0) (#39)
    by Zorba on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:43:23 PM EST
    She can write in Turkish.  
    I hope she's having a great time, BTW.

    And now, for your listening pleasure, a (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by caseyOR on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:21:09 PM EST
    musical interlude brought to you by those crazy kids in the Occupy movement.

    Occupy West Side Story.

    h/t Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla.

    Full disclosure: When my sister and I were kids, long long ago, we often acted out the various musical scenes in West Side Story. I still know the lyrics to most of the songs.

    Sheila Bair: $10 mil. for everybody. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by caseyOR on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 09:59:45 PM EST
    In an op-ed in WaPO, former FDIC chair Sheila Bair proposes the most sensible solution to the financial crisis yet. Have the Fed loan every U.S. household, all 120 million of them, $10 million.

    As Bair points out, each of us can then invest in any of a number of financial instruments: Treasuries, Greek debt, Portuguese debt. Just figure out your risk tolerance and invest accordingly. Just like the hedge funds and all those Wall Streeters who have been bailed out and continue to receive financial presents  from the Fed.

    Yes, I know, Bair was using a bit of humor to make a point. Still, it is a point that needs to be made louder and more forcefully. And why shouldn't the 99% be the recipient of some of Ben Bernanke's largesse?

    h/t Naked Capitalism.

    Sigh. (none / 0) (#44)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:33:52 PM EST
    Wouldn't it be wonderful?

    It's kinda funny (none / 0) (#49)
    by Rojas on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:00:29 AM EST
    I was in Canada visiting a customer when these bailouts were first proposed. My Canadian counterpart was pretty adamant that the cash should be distributed to each individual household.  

    I've touted... (none / 0) (#54)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 10:57:20 AM EST
    the ten grand a head stimulus plan before as a more effective alternative to the blank checks for banksters solution to the financial crisis.

    10 million?  All the better, I'd even donate half to Greece or back to Uncle Sam or whoever the Treasury wants me to donate it to, keep the junk bonds.  9/10ths even! ;)


    I've finally reached the conclusion that ... (5.00 / 4) (#41)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:00:50 PM EST
    ... Willard & Ann Romney are a couple of sociopaths who can never bring themselves to publicly acknowledge personal mistakes in judgment, and who'll go to great lengths to convince you that black is white and down is up. They just can't help themselves. I mean, talk about doubling down on stupid!

    How hard is it, really, to admit after 25-plus years that strapping your Irish setter to the roof of a car for an extended road trip wasn't exactly the brightest thing in the world to do? Again, this points us directly to Mittens' character, or more specifically, his lack thereof. Doesn't say much for Ann, either. What a couple of all-American phonies.

    They're both utter horrors, IMO (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:36:24 PM EST
    And cruelty is not a "mistake," it's just cruelty.  These are the kind of people who want an animated doll, not to share their lives with a living creature with thoughts and feelings of its own, however different from ours.

    I just find this whole story unspeakable.


    And as for their excuses (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:37:40 PM EST
    families go on vacation all the time with the luggage on the roof and the dog in the car.

    Sociopaths (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by shoephone on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:39:54 PM EST
    is the most accurate word to describe those two. I hope they get asked about Seamus again and again and again. But not by that obseqious little GOP shill Diane Sawyer.

    When it rains it pours (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by CST on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 03:37:03 PM EST
    My cat just died.  16 years old, got her for my 11th birthday.  RIP Cookie (that's what happens when 11 year olds name cats), I hope you catch many mice and birds in kitty heaven.  I am glad you didn't suffer long, and that the end was relatively swift, even if it means we didn't really see it coming.

    The MSM are entertainment, not news (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:50:56 PM EST
    It seems as if in cases like this they exist SOLELY to intellectually poison any potential jury pool.

    That said, I'm still trying to understand, stand your ground law or no, rash of previous burglaries in the complex or no, how you can follow and engage an unarmed person (kid or adult), say clearly on the emergency call that you have prejudged this person as a danger and as someone deserving of confrontation, be instructed NOT to confront by authorities, then ignore that instruction and initiate the entire episode, turn out to be wrong, and your Dragnet profiling mistake results in a shooting death via your use of your own firearm...to have the police simply say, sorry, nothing to see here, doesn't make any sense but the wrong kind.  

    If you kill a completely innocent person simply because your superhero instincts turn out to be, oops, not as comic-book accurate as you thought, sorry, getting a pass doesn't seem the logical outcome.  No matter your noble neighborhood-watch motives.  

    Alright, that's it for me on this topic until it is tried or dismissed.

    Now bring on the NBA playoffs.  Long live the Forum Blue & Gold.  

    And I agree it should stay sealed (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:57:33 PM EST
    I've learned too much from you, J, to have anything more to say.  Always a joy to read you in full defense attorney mode, not that you aren't when discussing, say, The Bachelor, but, well, you know.  Makes me wanna put a few more bucks in the TL kitty.

    it's been all downhill since Elgin Baylor (none / 0) (#7)
    by jondee on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:02:38 PM EST
    retired, imo..:)

    How right you are: 90% tittilation, and, if we're extremely lucky, 10% thought-stimulating information..

    The sponsors are too concerned that that critical intelligence will be directed at them and all that frou-frou they're hawking..

    The first bit of frou-frou to be dispensed with - that Zimmerman fell afoul of - is that heroes always carry guns..


    Magic & Kareem & Co. wasn't bad (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:14:34 PM EST
    For kids today, after they traded Shaq it all started going to hell.

    I hate the march of time, I just can't wear them damn boots every day.


    then put on them dancin' shoes.. (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by jondee on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:22:39 PM EST
    Damn straight Dadler (none / 0) (#30)
    by fishcamp on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:56:27 PM EST
    I just can't get into the Lakers anymore. (none / 0) (#38)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:38:00 PM EST
    But hey, how about those Dodgers, huh? It's like throwing off the yoke of the McCourts took a big weight off their shoulders. The last time they started the season at 9-1, they went on to win the World Series (1981).

    Go Dodger Blue! (none / 0) (#48)
    by shoephone on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:43:27 PM EST
    Best record in the NL West so far, and may it continue. I haven't lived in LA in almost 30 years, but I'm excited about them this season. Mariners...not so much...

    Who's Going to Watch the 24hr News Cycle... (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:59:35 PM EST
    ...if we can't play along and speculate ?  The entire reason these media frenzies occur is because we have the insider scoop, or rather we think we do.

    The problem is it comes at a cost, fair trials.  But when principles are put against dollars, rarely do they win.


    I would add 911 calls to the information we don't need to see/hear.  I never got how those calls, often very personal, are public information.

    I could have done without hearing M Jackson's or W Houston's 911 calls, ditto for the screams in this case.  People who are in the process of dying or being murdered aren't giving consent, they are either in the background, or seeking help.  We don't need to hear it, we don't.

    Morbid curiosity doesn't justify any of it.

    I have refused to listen to the 911 tapes other (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Angel on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:17:00 PM EST
    than the ones of Zimmerman precisely because I didn't want to hear the screams of a dying kid.  

    Florida has this incredible (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:43:51 PM EST
    "sunshine" law in which absolutely everything gets released to the public unless a court order specifically prohibits it.  That's why we get so many, many of these tabloid crime stories coming out of Florida.

    To me, the absolute worst offense, worse even than the 911 calls (which I agree we don't need to hear, but which I think in most states are considered public records that have to be released), are the jailhouse visits, not just phone calls, between even just accused people and anybody other than their lawyers.

    There were HOURS of them between Casey Anthony and various family members until they realized they needed to shut up and literally couldn't talk to each other without Nancy Grace and her ilk poring over every word.


    The 'News'... (none / 0) (#52)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:43:47 AM EST
    ...just stated that in Florida the press is privy everything the defense is.  Wow.

    The jailhouse visits... well as much as I agree with you, unlike other bits of evidence, they are totally voluntary.


    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 09:58:36 AM EST
    Visits with your family when you're jailed are totally voluntary?  Seems pretty cruel to me.

    I have no objection to the visits being monitored closely and passed on to both sets of attorneys, but I don't know why the public needs to hear them.


    It seems counterintuitive to me to (none / 0) (#14)
    by Anne on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:20:42 PM EST
    close the barn door now, when all that's out there is mostly speculation, and have to deal with leaks, and unnamed sources and not-for-attribution tidbits that are only going to lead to even more speculation.  Unrelenting speculation, at that.

    As a defense attorney, it's understandable why you would focus on the "confession" aspect of the motion, but reading it in its entirety, I think some valid points are made; do you have any thoughts on the legal arguments made?  The "three-prong" test that does not seem to have been met?  With all due respect, isn't that where the answer is - in the law, and precedent?

    Overall, I don't think it serves the cause of truth to restrict access to the facts or the proceedings; it's true that the media can do a terrible job, but I don't know that those failings are sufficient to close the proceedings.

    Maybe I'm reacting to the growing trend for the government to ask for and receive, on an almost pro-forma basis that reeks of entitlement, opacity that closes off all citizen oversight, and efforts by the public to oversee what it's doing, but I don't read a compelling argument for sealing the proceedings and record in this case.

    Am happy to be educated to the contrary.

    My view: Unseal all the documents. (none / 0) (#17)
    by KeysDan on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:54:55 PM EST
    As for the value of sealing, that ship has sailed.  At this point, more, rather than less, information is the better of the choices. It would be naive not believe that there will be selective leaks, and misinformation and misinterpretations of what does become available not to mention manufactured information to be bruited about. Prior to arrest, there was much downright wrong information, such as SYG is a get out of jail free card, which was, at least, somewhat set straight by informed opinion.

    It is now a notorious case.  And, it seems, to me, more prudent  for those interested to "play along", learn about the process and be subjected to different takes during the hearings and  trial, rather than to have reporting seem like a slam dunk one way or another, only to cause chagrin, if not unrest after a verdict.  

    Of course, it is obvious that both sides want a cooling down period, but that has not been helped by a judge who does not know that she has a clear conflict of interest.  The cooling down should take the form of slowing down.  Justice may require a change of venue, maybe even a sequestered jury, if it comes to that.

    Boston Marathon today (none / 0) (#20)
    by CST on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 04:40:04 PM EST
    Congrats to everyone who managed to even finish the race today.  It was hot as hell and the temps almost hit 90, which around here also means humid.  Luckily the medical staff were on hand and well prepared for the record-breaking heat, lots of people have gone to the hospital but so far it seems like everyone will be ok.

    And of course a hearty congrats to the winners, Joshua R. Cassidy (men's wheelchair), Wesley Korir (men), Shirley Reilly (women's wheelchair), and Sharon Cherop (women).

    Not surprising, the Africans fared very well today overall in the heat.  Last year was the fastest year on record, this year was one of the slowest.

    Jeralyn: any thoughts on the procedural defects (none / 0) (#21)
    by jpe on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 05:06:03 PM EST
    alleged in the motion by the media group?  They say that the lack of a hearing and failure to expressly consider the three Lewis prongs should result in immediate vacating.

    The claims in the brief sounded hard to believe to me, but I was curious if you had any thoughts on them.

    An excellent motion (none / 0) (#28)
    by Michael Masinter on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:13:03 PM EST
    Florida law is clear; sealing public records in a criminal trial is a last resort.  A court can seal records to protect the defendant's right to a fair trial, but only after a hearing at which the proponents of sealing the records offer sufficient evidence to establish all three of the Lewis factors.  

    The U.S. is not the UK; we have a first amendment as well as a fifth and sixth amendment, and there is no official secrets act.  Florida has a particularly deep commitment to public access to public records.  Though in rare circumstances a  defendant's right to a fair trial can trump access to judicial records, there's simply no evidence in the record of this case (or that the court can judicially notice) to substantiate the claim that there is no other option to secure a fair trial for Zimmerman.  If the court doesn't hold an evidentiary hearing on the motion, it will have to grant it or suffer a quick reversal in the District Court of Appeal.