Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zimmerman and the Feds: Don’t make me laugh!

The pucks[1] in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice—carrying water for the misnomered National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other racists who can’t accept the jury verdict that in self-defense George Zimmerman killed a street thug—are apparently working overtime to find some federal criminal statute, any one at all, with which to charge the neighborhood watchman. The attempt, in effect, is to nullify the Florida jury’s acquittal. (Please don’t ask me about double jeopardy. There wouldn’t be any.)

I think the pucks are looking at the so-called hate crime addressed in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 , 18 U.S.C. § 249.  Here are the relevant parts of that lengthy and complex statute as it may be sought to be used against George Zimmerman[2]:

Effective: October 28, 2009
18 U.S.C.A. § 249
§ 249. Hate crime acts

(a)  In general.

(1) Offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.—Whoever . . . willfully causes bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived race [or] color . . . of any person—
 (B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life,  fined . . . or both, if--
(i) death results from the offense;

 (4) Guidelines.--All prosecutions conducted by the United States under this section shall be undertaken pursuant to guidelines issued by the Attorney General, or the designee of the Attorney General, to be included in the United States Attorneys' Manual that shall establish neutral and objective criteria for determining whether a crime was committed because of the actual or perceived status of any person.

(b) Certification requirement.

(1)  In general.--No prosecution of any offense described in this subsection may be undertaken by the United States, except under the certification in writing of the Attorney General, or a designee, that—
(B) the State has requested that the Federal Government assume jurisdiction;
(C) the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively un-vindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or
(D) a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.

(d) Statute of limitations.

(2) Death resulting offenses.--An indictment or information alleging that an offense under this section resulted in death may be found or instituted at any time without limitation.

Before I discuss the above, you must understand two important points.

First, no federal court has interpreted the meaning of any provision that I’m going to discuss. Not one! Talk about the Department of Justice being on thin ice.

Second, in my discussion, except for one section mentioned below, I am putting aside two glaring problems with the statute. Certain provisions may be unconstitutionally violative of the “void for vagueness” principle that a law, especially a criminal law, must be understandable by a person of normal intelligence (e.g. “neutral and objective criteria,” above). Another problem could arise under the Tenth Amendment. If the provisions of this relatively new statute are not ultra-strictly construed (criminal statutes are strictly construed) it could arguably be used to overturn every state criminal acquittal the federal government wasn’t pleased with.

Now down to business (references are to the sections above).

Section (a)(1). Note the word “because.” It is crucially important. You might as well substitute for it the word “intent.” The statute squarely places on the federal prosecutors the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman intended to kill Trayvon Martin for the sole reason that the thug was a Negro. The Florida trial settled that.

Section (a)(4). The establishing of guidelines is mandatory. Do they even exist, or will they be manufactured and/or tailored to fit Zimmerman? When there are guidelines, their neutral and objective criteria for prosecution must support the conclusion that Zimmerman, I repeat, intended to kill Trayvon Martin for the sole reason that the thug was a Negro. If the guidelines are not neutral and objective, a prosecution fails. If they are—at lot to expect from this DOJ—there can be no legitimate prosecution. At least not one that could survive honest judicial scrutiny.

Section (b)(1)(B). Taking this section at face value, it says there can be no federal case unless Florida (i.e. the current gutless governor) asks the federal government to assume jurisdiction. If the governor doesn’t, it would seem that the feds cannot.

Section (b)(1)(C). Putting aside the void for vagueness problems with this section, I read it as having two parts as to which the Attorney General must certify. He would have to certify (1) that, in effect, the Florida not guilty verdict was at odds (“demonstratively un-vindicated”) with (2) the federal interest in “eradicating bias-motivated violence.” In other words, whatever that federal interest really means, it can trump a not guilty self-defense verdict in a state case when the deceased is of any race, color, religion, or national origin. That covers everyone except Bugs Bunny.

Perhaps the scriveners of Section (b)(1)(C) realized they were in trouble, which is why they added Section (b)(1)(D). If the Attorney General of the United States doesn’t understand Section (b)(1)(C) or can’t certify for some other reason, he can certify under Section (b)(1)(D).[3] As to that Section, I cannot ignore the constitutional void for vagueness problem. The entire statute provides that if Zimmerman were convicted under it, he could be sentenced to life in prison in a prosecution allowed to go forward because the Attorney General certified that the trial was in the “public interest” (whatever that is) and “necessary to secure substantial justice” (even though he was acquitted in Florida).

If the prosecution of George Zimmerman in Florida was a politics-driven attempted lynching of an innocent man, as it was, a prosecution under the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would be a moral and judicial obscenity. If Eric Holder goes forward with such a prosecution he should be impeached, convicted, and disbarred—along with every other lawyer who soils his/her soul in league with the corrupt Attorney General of the United States.


[1] In English folklore a “puck” is a “mischievous or malevolent spirit.”
[2] I have added the bold face to facilitate emphasis.
[3] Another serious open question is whether the word “or” in (C) relates to (D), or whether the “or” is implied in the other sections, giving the Attorney General any of four sections under which he can certify. For now, I am assuming the former.