Zimmerman Judge: No Mention of Racial Profiling

At a short hearing today, the Judge in the George Zimmerman trial ruled on a defense motion to preclude the use of certain words at trial. Previously, she deferred ruling on the motion when both sides said they wouldn't mention the words in opening arguments. Diwataman has the video of the hearing. Today, the Judge ruled:

  • Racial profiling may not be mentioned by the state. Profiling without reference to race is allowable, such as profiling by clothing or age. (the state has previously claimed Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal.)
  • The state may not use the term "self-appointed" to describe his role in the Neighborhood Watch. The state agreed Zimmerman was appointed to to his position on the Watch. [More...]

  • The state can use other words the defense sought to preclude, including vigilante and wannabe cop. The judge said those words would be allowed in closing so she doesn't see any reason not to allow them in opening arguments.
  • The state agreed that GZ was already out of the car when the police call taker asked if he was following the suspicious person and said "We don't need you to do that." So there will be no reference to Zimmerman getting out of the car in disregard of what the call taker said.

Zimmerman never mentioned either Martin's race or clothing until asked by the call-taker Sean Noffke. From the Transcript of George Zimmerman's call to the non-emergency line of the Sanford Police Dept.

Noffke: Sanford police department. This line is being recorded, this is Sean.
GZ: Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. Uh, it’s Retreat View Circle. Um, the best address I can give you is one-eleven Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs, or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Noffke: Okay, and this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?
GZ: He looks black.
Noffke: Did you see what he was wearing?
GZ: Yeah, mm, a dark hoodie, like a gray hoodie and either jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes. (my emphasis.)

The judge also ruled that a former professor of Zimmerman's, Gordon Pleasants, can testify by video because he's out of town for the summer. The state said his testimony will be short. Pleasants is a former career law enforcement officer. While we don't know the subject the state wants to question him about, he has previously been critical of the Zimmerman case. Here is a comment Pleasants left on a site named Florida Voices, asking whether Florida should abolish the death penalty, that references Zimmerman:

Over the past decades we have seen hundreds of convicted persons, including those on death row, being freed based on newly discovered evidence or by misconduct by the police and/or prosecution. Part of the reason for this is the “win at all costs” attitude our judicial system has become. It isn’t always about the truth, as it is supposed to be, but in the politics (as in the Zimmerman case), the reputation and glory of getting a conviction or acquittal, and many times the honest quest to represent the victim and convict the person everyone “knows” is guilty of the crime he or she is accused of committing. (my emphasis.)

O'Mara will depose him, do his research on the professor, and later in the day the professor's trial testimony will be taken by video.

There will be 220 witnesses at trial.

There was an issue as to the admissibility of res gestae statements which the defense says are not covered by the judge's previous order banning self-serving hearsay. The court in its order didn't identify specific statements she deemed to be self-serving hearsay. The statements pertain to those Zimmerman made at the scene to others. Florida's hearsay rule divides "res gestae" into two parts:

90.803 Hearsay exceptions; availability of declarant immaterial.—The provision of s. 90.802 to the contrary notwithstanding, the following are not inadmissible as evidence, even though the declarant is available as a witness:

(1) SPONTANEOUS STATEMENT.—A spontaneous statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the declarant was perceiving the event or condition, or immediately thereafter, except when such statement is made under circumstances that indicate its lack of trustworthiness.

(2) EXCITED UTTERANCE.—A statement or excited utterance relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.

The state believes all of Zimmerman's statements at the scene are self-serving hearsay (except the ones they want to admit) while the defense says some are res gestae.

Given the number of things the court has said will be decided at trial when one of the parties seek to introduce something, it's likely there will be a lot of sidebars with argument during this trial during which jurors and TV viewers will be left twiddling their thumbs.

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  • Display: Sort:
    zimmerman (none / 0) (#1)
    by morphic on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 06:44:35 PM EST
      In the probable cause, you can also, IMO, drop the claim Zimmerman continued to follow Martin. If the fact that the dispatcher, and everyone else, can tell Zimmerman is following Martin by the wind noise, than the absence of wind noise has to mean he stopped following Martin when suggested he do so. You can't have it both ways. Did Zimmerman begin to follow Martin again several minutes later? (how could he, unless Martin was hiding and not long gone, and DD is lying)Since he claims he didn't know where Martin was in the dispatcher call, this is going to be problematic for the prosecutors.

    It Was Also Extremely Dark (none / 0) (#2)
    by RickyJim on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 07:21:05 PM EST
    There is evidence from several witnesses that it was extremely dark in the northern part of the dog path area between the two rows of houses.  The moon wasn't up yet, it was drizzling and only one patio light was on and the light didn't extend much into the lawn next too the patio.  Add that to the evidence that Zimmerman's main flashlight was not working and he was using a small keychain penlight that was found still turned on near the T.  It becomes hard to believe that Zimmerman would be able to recognize and follow Martin after the end of his NEN call.  It also seems unlikely for similar reasons that Martin was stalking Zimmerman.  They might have just accidentally met at the T.  Whatever crimes were committed had to most likely have happened after that meeting.  DeeDee's story that Zimmerman ran after and caught Martin is not credible.

    I disagree with... (none / 0) (#5)
    by firstfall on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 09:13:19 PM EST
    "It also seems unlikely for similar reasons that Martin was stalking Zimmerman."

    In the dark the small flashlight would be useless for searching, but even a small light would be easy for Trayvon to track.

    I also disagree with this:

    "They might have just accidentally met at the T."

    If Trayvon had continued to walk home after losing George there's no way he would have been at the T for the encounter to occur. The only way Trayvon was at the T is because he wanted to be at the T. Where George was.


    IMO, of course. (none / 0) (#6)
    by firstfall on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 09:17:44 PM EST
    There really doesn't seem (IMO) to be any rational explanation for the encounter starting at the T other than Trayvon didn't go home (hid) or went back to the T to confront George.

    Trayvon Was Dawdling (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by RickyJim on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 06:52:54 AM EST
    We know when Trayvon left the 711 and when Zimmerman saw him; it took about twice the time somebody walking normally would take.  Also O'Mara has mentioned that Cell Tower information shows he wandered off the direct path home.  After he had rounded the corner of the T, thinking he had ditched Zimmerman, there is no reason to think he wouldn't have continued on the phone with his honey, wandering up and down the dog path instead of going inside Brandi's place and having a brat overhear his phone conversation.  Thus my happenstance theory is just as believable as yours.  Anyway, how would he know the figure with the penlight was Zimmerman unless he was really close?  See also Dave Knechel's video, made on the one year anniversary, on his youtube page.

    Out Or Back? (none / 0) (#12)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:58:50 AM EST
    Also O'Mara has mentioned that Cell Tower information shows he wandered off the direct path home.

    I don't think O'Mara said if the deviation was going out or coming back.

    Remember, we only have W-8's word on when he left the house. For some reason, no one bothered to get Chad on the record on that point. SAO may have asked him, but it's not in their report (39/284). I don't know of any other evidence on that point.


    GZ Begs To Differ (none / 0) (#3)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 07:36:50 PM EST
    Zimmerman denied that the wind noise had anything to do with his movements. He said it was actual wind.


    2/29-3, 10:00-20.


    zimmerman (none / 0) (#7)
    by morphic on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 10:46:57 PM EST
       Go to youtube. Someone recreated the incident. Without running, just by walking, you can hear the wind noise past the cellphone. But when you stand still, there's no wind noise. Actually, have someone phone you up, and repeat the experiment yourself. If you can hear the wind noise even without running, just walking, there's no way to prove Zimmerman ran after Martin. There doesn't even have to be any actual wind, just the air moving past the cellphone speaker.

    Backyard Experiments (none / 0) (#13)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 09:05:50 AM EST
    Doesn't matter. Neither party offered anything on that to be vetted at the Frye hearing. It's not coming in.

    I'm not going to 'Go to youtube' to hunt for a video by 'someone'. If you want me to look at it, post a link, or at least some more specific information.


    But . . . (none / 0) (#4)
    by Mr Mark Martinson on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 07:43:54 PM EST
    can the prosecution still describe the NEN dispatcher's suggestion "we don't need you to do that" as an order?

    Well if thats an "order" ..... (none / 0) (#9)
    by CuriousInAz on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:42:32 AM EST
    Just let me know if he does anything, ok?

    and... (none / 0) (#10)
    by CuriousInAz on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:43:01 AM EST
    just let me know if this guy does anything else.

    This was followed by... (none / 0) (#15)
    by ackbarsays on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 09:59:44 AM EST
    "Which way is he running?"  

    That was immediately before George Zimmerman exited the vehicle.  A reasonable person might think that the dispatcher told me to keep him updated about the guy's activities, and then asked me to identify exactly where the guy was running.  Hence, the need to exit the vehicle to keep an eye on the guy.  


    That is Too Much Spin (none / 0) (#17)
    by RickyJim on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:25:36 AM EST
    You left out that while exiting his vehicle, Zimmerman said Martin was heading for the back entrance.  So what else did the dispatcher need to know?  Zimmerman could have easily driven to the back entrance in seconds to check. How much could he see while on foot in the darkness and rain?  Zimmerman's real reasons for getting out of the Ridgeline will probably be forever shrouded in mystery.  

    zimmerman (none / 0) (#18)
    by morphic on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 12:55:06 PM EST
      The problem with this is if Zimmerman was after Trayvon, why not drive south, jump out of his vehicle, go east,  than confront Trayvon. Certainly quicker.

    Yes (none / 0) (#14)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 09:11:54 AM EST
    Profiling (none / 0) (#8)
    by Blast Freezer on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 02:14:00 AM EST
    Saying that GZ "profiled" TM is just a handy way of bringing racism into the case without actually mentioning race.  In this culture saying that someone was "profiled" automatically brings to mind "racially profiled."  

    When a prosecutor says that Zimmermman "profiled" Martin, it is very unlikely that the jury will conclude that Zimmerman described Martin in a brief article, or that he drew a picture of Martin's face when viewed from the side.

    If a prosecutor is more specific, and says that Zimmerman "profiled Martin as a criminal," that's basically saying the same thing as "Zimmerman thought Martin was a criminal."  But using the word "profiled" is an odd way of expressing that.  Imagine someone saying "When I heard Obama's speech last night I profiled him as a Democrat."  Or "I profiled the pickup truck as a Toyota."

    I agree (none / 0) (#16)
    by ackbarsays on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:03:50 AM EST
    I think the judge's ruling to allow the use of the term "profiled" in this case is a good issue for appeal due to its clear prejudicial effect. I read news articles every day in various newspapers that say "prosecutors contend that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin." I have often written letters to the editor to try to correct the facts - and I usually say something to the effect of "Prosecutors have gone out of their way NOT to use the words "racially profiled" because the know that the word "profiled" already includes the racial connotation.  They are trying to appear to be even-handed while causing jurors to reach a hidden inference."