If Trayvon Was On Trial, Would the Outcome Have Been the Same?

TrayvonMartinHoodedWhen news of the Zimmerman verdict first came out I was torn, and truth be told I still am. On one hand, as a criminal defense attorney I have an automatic bias, and tendency to side with defense in their self defense claim — and in the fact the prosecution was overzealous in pursuing a Murder Two charge. On the other hand, from what I know about the facts of the case, it seems clear to me that Mr. Zimmerman was in the wrong the moment he got out of his car after he was told by the 911 operator to stay put.

But honestly, my real thoughts on the verdict are multilayered.  Innocent, guilty, not guilty… the system is so broken that after a while they all just blend together… Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was fixing it, but some of us are trying. And by system, I mean both the justice system and the legislative system.

Moreover, although I am a criminal defense attorney (which gives me an automatic bias – as I mentioned previously), I am also a progressive who believes in justice in the face of race relations gone wrong and a broken system. All of these factors make my opinion on the subject a whole lot more complicated than just a simple “black and white, I think the verdict was right or wrong” answer. For me it goes deeper than that, hence my decision not to attempt to explain it in a few sentences online.

Anyways, the question I find the most interesting is whether the outcome of the trial would have been the same if roles were reversed, and Trayvon was on trial for killing Zimmerman. Same defense, the same lawyers, etc. I predict the answer would be no. Trayvon would have been found guilty and probably would have spent the rest of his life in jail. Nonetheless, my opinion aside, I was curious what other people thought — so I posed the question on my page, Politically Preposterous. The response? Almost everyone that responded tended to agree with me. My followers, just like me, believe the outcome would have been vastly different, and that the same people who are celebrating Zimmerman’s acquittal would be comparing a Martin acquittal to Casey Anthony.

Moreover, given the case of Marissa Alexander, the Florida mom that got convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots in the air, it seems almost obvious that the outcome would be different. I’ll leave it at that, since I prefer not to speculate any further than I already have. The question is open ended so it’s up to you to decide for yourself.

In the end however, although Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted yesterday (and many people have mixed feelings on the topic) it is important to remember that despite his acquittal he will still have to carry both the weight and personal guilt of killing a 17 year old kid — and the reputation that will follow him for the rest of his life. And although many people feel and will continue to feel that justice was not done, in the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr., in the long run, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Look at O.J. Simpson. Although acquitted back in 1994 for Nicole Simpson’s murder, he was convicted of robbery in 2008 and sentenced to 33 years in prison.  In the minds of many, justice may not have been done today, but in the long run, people usually get what they deserve.

Ilyssa Fuchs

Ilyssa Fuchs is an attorney, freelance writer, and activist from New York City, who holds both a juris doctor and a political science degree. She is the founder of the popular Facebook page Politically Preposterous and a blog of the same name. Follow Ilyssa on Twitter @IlyssaFuchs, and be sure to check out her archives on Forward Progressives as well!


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