George Zimmerman made his first appearance in court Thursday to face charges that he murdered Trayvon Martin in the Sanford, Fla., gated community where Martin was staying and Zimmerman was a volunteer neighborhood watchman. Zimmerman will plead not guilty at his May 29 arraignment, on grounds that he acted in self-defense, says his lawyer, Mark O'Mara. Of course, it would be a massive understatement to say that the national media and the public have merely taken an interest in the case in the nearly seven weeks between the killing and Zimmerman's arrest. O'Mara says he trusts that Zimmerman will get "a fair and impartial jury to hear the case," but others are less certain. After weeks of protests, opining, and leaks of purported evidence, can Zimmerman really get a fair trial?
Trayvon supporters have already convicted Zimmerman: Let's face it, "Zimmerman cannot possibly get a fair trial," says Michael Filozof in American Thinker. Everyone from the New Black Panthers to "professional race-baiter" Al Sharpton to boxer Mike Tyson has called for Zimmerman's head, and even President Obama has weighed in. Clearly, America is not past the age of "racially charged prosecutions," except now the target is "a half-white, half-Hispanic" man, not a black one.
"Can George Zimmerman get a fair trial?"
Zimmerman will get a fair trial: The "court of public opinion has been working overtime" on this one, but the real "judicial system prosecutes high-profile, high publicity cases regularly," says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. It will be "arduous" finding people who've not formed an opinion on Zimmerman's guilt or innocence, and the "case seems ripe for a change of venue," but the system will work. The question is, will the verdict be accepted if "the jury doesn't do the public's bidding" and convict Zimmerman?
"In Zimmerman case, let the justice system work its will"
At least there finally is a trial: Those of us infuriated "that an armed man could follow an unarmed teenager walking on the street, shoot and kill him, and not be arrested" are just happy this is going to court, says E.J. Graff at The American Prospect. "Criminal law isn't perfect," especially in Florida, and Zimmerman could be found legally not guilty, "but at least the evidence will be presented, according to rules, in a public forum," and "serious people" will decide if this was murder or just a tragedy.
"Zimmerman's fair trial"
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