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The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:25 am

Ninja wrote: Seriously? Free legal dictionary dot com?

Seriously? You think this website is a worse source than just taking statements at face value from posters in a forum?

Ninja wrote: Whether you realize it or not, your internet lawyer agrees with me. Malice aforethought is the intent element that distinguishes murder from (voluntary) manslaughter.

What my lawyer said is that intent is what distinguishes voluntary from involuntary manslaughter.

I have no idea why "malice aforethought" is different from intent, but evidently there is some distinction.

I actually did not want to get into a dick-swinging contest over these legal details. My point is that the distinctions are subtle and tricky, which my lawyer makes perfectly unclear.

Ninja wrote: And because murder is a capital crime, the jury must be allowed to consider lesser included offenses (even though those are distinct violations of law) that contain all the elements of the capital crime, but carry a lesser penalty.

OK, so what you're saying is that in states that have the death penalty, the right to return a lesser offense is guaranteed by constitution. That makes sense. Although in my lonely journey of discovery, I never saw a statement to that effect, and it's not what you originally said.

You may know a lot about this topic, good, but you also are mistaken is some ways. I'm not trying to bust you, my interest is piqued as to what is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:32 am

Ninja wrote:
Huckleby wrote:
Ninja wrote: Manslaughter is usually a lesser included offense of murder so it has to be an option for the jury in every jurisdiction where it fits because of a Supreme Court decision.


Do you have a link that supports this? Everything I can find says it is a state-by-state issue, and even then it is done at the judge's discretion.
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/07/11/the ... explainer/


Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980).

The inquiry still has to take place, but its cursory in most cases because there isn't a whole lot of state-to-state variation in manslaughter statutes (or really any staute that's based on a common law crime).


Here's a link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beck_v._Alabama

Second degree murder is not a capital offense. The Supreme Court ruling doesn't apply to the Zimmerman case, we're seeing nuances of Florida law. Again, here's the best explanation of what is going on, even though it's a little fuzzy.
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/07/11/the-manslaughter-option-in-zimmermans-trial-an-explainer/
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Ninja » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:53 am

Huckleby wrote:Second degree murder is not a capital offense. The Supreme Court ruling doesn't apply to the Zimmerman case, we're seeing nuances of Florida law. Again, here's the best explanation of what is going on, even though it's a little fuzzy.
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/07/11/the-manslaughter-option-in-zimmermans-trial-an-explainer/


Jesus Christ. This arguing for sport is just bizarre.

The reasoning in Beck has been extened to any case involving life imprisonment by several federal decisions across several circuits, because the death penalty and life imprisonment are treated pretty similarly under other 5th amendment Supreme Court decisions. Those federal decisions aren't technically binding on state courts, but they invovle an interpretation of the US Constitution, which is binding on state courts, so states routinely go through the lesser included offenses inquiry and make it a jury instruction. Some states have made that inquiry statutory, the rest just do it on a case-by-case basis.

That's pretty much standard, but you can't fill a whole blog post with that information and it's boring and dry, so we get outfits like the Wall Street Journal complicating the situation and adding a bunch of irrelevant or misleading information as in your link. They're not interested in actually informing you, they're trying to make money off you.

Don't believe anything you read if it's not in a textbook or a government publication and you'll be much better off.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:01 am

Ninja wrote: Jesus Christ. This arguing for sport is just bizarre


You keep making statements that don't add-up, I try to make sense of them, challenge the holes in what you are saying, and you come back with a new, evolving explanation.

It may be that you understand exactly and completely what is going on here. But your explanations are not sound. It would help a lot if you could provide ANY link to an explanation that corroborates what you are saying. Or at least doesn't contradict it.

Or don't bother. But try to understand that it is normal for people to not to take confusing opinions offered by self-identified experts in forums at face value. I don't know who you are.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Ninja » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:24 am

Huckleby wrote:It may be that you understand exactly and completely what is going on here. But your explanations are not sound. It would help a lot if you could provide ANY link to an explanation that corroborates what you are saying. Or at least doesn't contradict it.


Sorry I'm getting a little snippy, but this cuts to a major problem that I have with our culture and the way we use the internet (or what we think the internet is useful for).

There is no single, unified link that I can provide that will replace years of legal education and experience, and I guess that's my point. This is why people who know what they're talking about rarely weigh in on the internet. These are complicated issues with a lot of nuance and a lot of details. You're right that I'm not doing a good job of explaining the precedent, but that's because I don't have an overhead projector and a week to sit down with you.

You have no idea what you're talking about. And you have no reason to suspect that I'm incorrect or dishonest. But you read a blog post, in a decidedly biased, for-profit publication, and now you want to pop off and start an argument.

I think it's an example of what's called "The Daily Show effect," and its a serious crisis in this country. Somehow people feel adequately informed by entertainment media to the degree that they form strong opinions (which they share like gospel) and argue tooth and nail with consumers of different entertainment media and its just an absolute mess because nobody invovled has a clue.

That kind of uninformed demagoguery is fine when it comes to discussions of sports or American Idol contestants, but it's extremely inappropriate when we're talking about public policy or the law. And I'm not going to contribute to it anymore.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby rabble » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:30 am

My experience with lawyers, albeit a bit limited, has been that they can cite precedents.

We don't need a single, unified link that replaces all your years of legal education and experience. How about one link that supports one claim?
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby snoqueen » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:45 am

Maybe not a link to the Wall St Journal.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:19 am

what does The Daily Caller say?
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:28 am

Ninja wrote: That kind of uninformed demagoguery is fine when it comes to discussions of sports or American Idol contestants, but it's extremely inappropriate when we're talking about public policy or the law. And I'm not going to contribute to it anymore.


OK, well, this discussion started when you claimed in a very authoritative manner that manslaughter was completely inappropriate charge for Zimmerman. But then I hear several former prosecutors on TV say that the evidence is well-matched to a manslaughter charge.

I try and get more information. You say difference between manslaughter and murder is intent. But that is incorrect, "malice aforethought" is NOT the same as intent. You were WRONG.

You cite a Supreme Court ruling that applies only to capital cases, should not be relevant to Zimmerman. But then you say, well it does, and I'm just supposed to accept that in the absence of any supporting information?

You've said enough demonstrably wrong and fishy stuff, that you have a lot of nerve getting angry that you aren't just accepted as an all-knowing expert. There is no way for me to evaluate your expertise.

I may be a dummy, but I'm not stupid. Or maybe the other way around.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Ninja » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:40 am

rabble wrote:My experience with lawyers, albeit a bit limited, has been that they can cite precedents.

We don't need a single, unified link that replaces all your years of legal education and experience. How about one link that supports one claim?


I could spend an hour digging up an example of an appellate decision that points to Beck as the basis for requiring a lesser included offense instruction, but that's not what I get paid to do, that wouldn't really help your understanding of the law, and you'd just find some other little detail to quibble over, because this is the internet.

Understand that I'm not contradicting Huck's blog post. It's just making a relatively mundane situation out to be a lot more dramatic and interesting than it actually is, which is how the media works these days.

There's no harm to the defense when the prosecution makes a case that includes all the elements of a serious crime, and then argues in the alternative that a lesser crime should also be considered, because that doesn't require any additional evidence. In this case, if the prosecution is trying to prove that a voluntary act led to an intentional death, then it's not a big deal to also argue that a voluntary act led to an unintentional death.

It makes no difference to the evidence or the arguments if Mr. Zimmerman pointed his gun at Mr. Martin and pulled the trigger intending to cause his death, or Mr. Zimmerman pointed his gun at Mr. Martin and pulled the trigger without caring about the outcome. Makes sense, right? The law almost always does.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Ninja » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:52 am

Huckleby wrote:
Ninja wrote: That kind of uninformed demagoguery is fine when it comes to discussions of sports or American Idol contestants, but it's extremely inappropriate when we're talking about public policy or the law. And I'm not going to contribute to it anymore.


OK, well, this discussion started when you claimed in a very authoritative manner that manslaughter was completely inappropriate charge for Zimmerman. But then I hear several former prosecutors on TV say that the evidence is well-matched to a manslaughter charge.

I try and get more information. You say difference between manslaughter and murder is intent. But that is incorrect, "malice aforethought" is NOT the same as intent. You were WRONG.

You cite a Supreme Court ruling that applies only to capital cases, should not be relevant to Zimmerman. But then you say, well it does, and I'm just supposed to accept that in the absence of any supporting information?

You've said enough demonstrably wrong and fishy stuff, that you have a lot of nerve getting angry that you aren't just accepted as an all-knowing expert. There is no way for me to evaluate your expertise.

I may be a dummy, but I'm not stupid. Or maybe the other way around.


I didn't say that a manslaughter charge was legally inappropriate, I said it would be an inappropriate finding by the jury given the circumstances. When you fire a gun into the sky and bullet comes down and hits somebody, that's voluntary manslaughter. The action was deliberate, but the outcome was totally unintentional. That's not the same thing as firing your gun into another human's body. That we call murder, and the jury should find it so, if they find that he pulled that trigger without a self-defense defense.

Malice aforethought is a mens rea element. Mens rea is used interchangably with intent because that's what it means - state of mind (or, technically, guilty mind). So, sorry, I was not wrong about malice aforethought being the intent element. That's first year law school stuff.

Believe me or don't. It won't hurt my feelings either way. But it's very annoying to constantly have to fend off nitpicky little points from people who don't know what they're talking about and seem to just want to bicker. I guess that's the internet, and I'm starting to remember why I stopped participating in it until the Sherman Avenue redevelopment popped up and got me posting here agin.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:26 pm

Ninja wrote: Malice aforethought is a mens rea element. Mens rea is used interchangably with intent because that's what it means - state of mind (or, technically, guilty mind). So, sorry, I was not wrong about malice aforethought being the intent element. That's first year law school stuff.

"mens rea" is not used interchangable with intent, intent is one of several possible states of mens rea.

"malice aforethought" is not the same as intent. "malice aforethought" could mean intent, but it could also mean "a general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives of others"
example: if a person uses a gun to hold up a bank and an innocent bystander is killed in a shoot-out with police, there is malice aforethought. Apropos of the Zimmerman case, Z can be charged with 2nd degree murder in the absence of intent.

Maybe this is picky stuff, but it is crucial and you were wrong. It is correct to say that intent differentiates voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Malice aforethought is necessary for murder.

First year law school stuff, first year law school stuff.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby jman111 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:02 pm

Ninja wrote:It's just making a relatively mundane situation out to be a lot more dramatic and interesting than it actually is, which is how the media works these days.

I agree. I once read that a simple road reconfiguration would, most assuredly, lead to the demise of the local businesses. It was very dramatic.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby O.J. » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:09 pm

Huckleby wrote:First year law school stuff, first year law school stuff.


Give the guy a break, he probably had Althouse as a teacher.
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Re: The Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman Story

Postby Ninja » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:15 pm

Huckleby wrote:"malice aforethought" is not the same as intent. "malice aforethought" could mean intent, but it could also mean "a general evil and depraved state of mind in which the person is unconcerned for the lives of others"
example: if a person uses a gun to hold up a bank and an innocent bystander is killed in a shoot-out with police, there is malice aforethought. Apropos of the Zimmerman case, Z can be charged with 2nd degree murder in the absence of intent.

Maybe this is picky stuff, but it is crucial and you were wrong. It is correct to say that intent differentiates voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Malice aforethought is necessary for murder.

First year law school stuff, first year law school stuff.


Every crime has two components, the act (actus reus) and the intent (mens rea). Most jurisdictions moved away from the archaic language of the common law for mens rea when the Model Penal Code was created, which standardized the array of archaic and confusing phrases used in various states into a specific set of terms (purposely, intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently) that states were encouraged to adopt.

Some codes retain language like "malice aforethought," or "indifferent heart," or "depraived mind," but everybody knows that they're still applied in the same way as the MPC intent standards. Malice aforethought just means that a killing is intentional or reckless. Acting with an indifferent heart just means acting recklessly. Doing something with a depraived mind just means doing it knowingly.

These things are called the intent components of crimes. That doesn't mean that they all describe acts that are literally intentional, which may be where your confusion is coming from. In this context, intent is a term of art, and it explains the mental process of a criminal defendant, even when that mental process is negligent, reckless, et cetera, and not literally intentional.

I don't even remember how we started on this weird little history lesson so I think this conversation has run its course.
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