The charges brought against George Zimmerman sure look like prosecutorial misconduct. The case as put forward by the prosecutor in the â€śaffidavit of probable causeâ€ť is startlingly weak. As a former chief economist at the U.S. Sentencing Commission, I have read a number of such affidavits, and cannot recall one lacking so much relevant information. The prosecutor has most likely deliberately overcharged, hoping to intimidate Zimmerman into agreeing to a plea bargain. If this case goes to trial, Zimmerman will almost definitely be found â€śnot guiltyâ€ť on the charge of second-degree murder.
The prosecutor wasnâ€™t required to go to the grand jury for the indictment, but the fact that she didnâ€™t in such a high-profile case is troubling. Everyone knows how easy it is for a prosecutor to get a grand jury to indict, because only the prosecutor presents evidence. A grand-jury indictment would have provided political cover; that charges were brought without one means that the prosecutor was worried that a grand jury would not give her the indictment.
There is no mention of the grass and wetness found on the back of Zimmermanâ€™s shirt, the gashes on the back of his head, the bloody nose, or the other witnesses who saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, beating him, before the shot was fired. There is not even an attempt to say that the police report was in error; instead the affidavit just disregards it.
Even if everything in the affidavit is correct, it does not even begin to deal with the most crucial question: Who attacked whom? Even if it is true that â€śZimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued,â€ť there may have been no wrongdoing on Zimmermanâ€™s part. â€śConfrontedâ€ť does not mean â€śprovokedâ€ť or â€śassaulted.â€ť It could simply mean that Zimmerman followed Martin and asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood. Surely Zimmerman had the right to investigate a strange person in his neighborhood. The police operatorâ€™s advice that â€śwe donâ€™t need you to do thatâ€ť was merely suggestive, not an order to stop. Indeed, the police had no authority to give Zimmerman such an order.