The Obama Justice Department is reviving its bogus civil-rights investigation of George Zimmerman, despite a Florida jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman yesterday on all charges. The trial demonstrated a dearth of evidence that he intended to kill Trayvon Martin, much less that he killed him with an intent to deny his civil rights. The New York Daily News reports on DOJ’s announcement:
“Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial,” the Department of Justice said.
The announcement came as welcome news to civil rights leaders, who began calling for the federal charges almost immediately after the verdict was read in Seminole County court in Sanford, Fla.
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,” NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement.
Holder’s minions, it is worth remembering, consulted with the NAACP before the Justice Department dropped the New Black Panthers voter intimidation case that the government had already won.
With due respect to Peggy Noonan, the Justice Department is already deeply involved in, and couldn’t have more disgracefully politicized, the George Zimmerman case. There would have been no Florida prosecution of Zimmerman absent the extortionate pressure brought to bear by Attorney General Eric Holder.
We knew that even before learning last week that Justice’s “Community Relations Division” (Alinsky-style rabble-rousing under the guise of “peacemaker”) colluded at taxpayer expense with the NAACP and other agitators to demand that charges be brought against Zimmerman — managing, in the process, to get Sanford police chief Bill Lee cashiered for daring to do his job faithfully, tune out the politics, and decline to arrest Zimmerman because the evidence didn’t support it.
Recall that contemporaneous with the spring-2012 demonstrations against Zimmerman that the Justice Department abetted — and with President Obama’s nod-and-wink incitement that, if he had a son, the son would “look like Trayvon” — Holder sped down to Florida. There, he sang the praises of race huckster extraordinaire Al Sharpton, joining Rev. No Justice, No Peace in calling for Zimmerman’s scalp. Holder’s M-O was to threaten a federal civil rights prosecution if Florida failed to act. I wrote a column about the Holder-Sharpton spectacle, the already patent deficiency of the murder case against Zimmerman, and the absurdity of a companion civil rights prosecution. I think it holds up pretty well:
. . . This week, our esteemed attorney general canoodled with Reverend Al at the annual convention of the “National Action Network,” home base for the infamous huckster (that would be Sharpton, not Holder — sorry for any confusion). It is difficult to imagine another attorney general in American history sucking up to such a race-mongering charlatan. The Sharpton record was succinctly catalogued on the Corner by Victor Davis Hanson: inciting murderous riots; slandering Jews, Mormons, and homosexuals; libeling a state prosecutor in the course of championing Tawana Brawley’s fabrication of a racial “hate crime.” Yet there was Holder, ladling cringe-making praise on Sharpton for “your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve and the promises we must fulfill.”
Holder is currently in “partnership” with his fast friend on the highly charged Trayvon Martin case. In the days before the nation’s chief federal law-enforcement official lionized the CEO of the nation’s racial-grievance industry, Sharpton had been in Florida, threatening that his “action network” — as in “direct action,” the community-organizer’s stock-in-trade — would “move to the next level” if authorities in Sanford, Fla., failed to arrest George Zimmerman, the man (or, if you prefer the New York Times Agitator’s Glossary, the “white Hispanic”) who shot Mr. Martin, a black 17-year-old.
With such notches on his belt as Crown Heights and Freddie’s Fashion Mart, there’s not a lot of mystery involved when the Reverend Al starts conjuring “the next level” of “action.” Still, never what you’d call a master of subtlety, Sharpton — between inciting mobs with demands to “arrest Zimmerman now!” — expressly threatened to “occupy” the city of Sanford.
The nation’s chief federal law enforcer reacted to these threats of lawlessness with paeans to Sharpton’s besotted history. Beyond that, Holder has been doing plenty of agitating on his own. He bragged to Sharpton’s crowd that he’d ordered his Justice Department to open an investigation into the Martin shooting three weeks ago. He stood ready, he vowed, to file “civil rights” charges if warranted by “the facts and the law.”
Just one problem: Nothing about the known facts comes close to triggering federal jurisdiction. Holder’s “civil rights” hooey is based on fiction: a tale manufactured by NBC News, the flimflam artists who doctored the audiotape of Zimmerman’s call to the police, stoking public outrage with a report that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin.
The case at hand involves the excruciating loss of a 17-year-old’s life. We do not know exactly what happened. We do know, however, that there is virtually no chance Martin’s race was the cause of his killing. Quite apart from Zimmerman’s lineage — which the Times would be reporting as “Hispanic,” not the newfangled “white Hispanic,” if he had been on the receiving end of fired shots — Zimmerman is of a mixed-race family. Not only does he have black relatives, he has reportedly donated his time to tutor black children…. In the context of the case, Martin’s race is sheer happenstance. Its principal relevance is the divisive opening it presents for opportunistic racialists such as Sharpton and Holder.
Race is a dubious constitutional basis for federal intrusion into state law enforcement. The framers saw policing as a state matter– that’s why there was no U.S. Justice Department for the first 83 years of constitutional governance. One needn’t be blind to slavery and structural racism to understand that 21st-century Florida has moved beyond these blights on the nation’s history. There is zero reason to believe that, without Eric Holder hovering, Florida’s police, prosecutors, and citizens could not be trusted to do justice.
There is, moreover, grave reason to believe Holder’s looming involvement will taint the case. In fact, it is already tainting the case….
[C]ontroversial cases that stir passions and bring out the rabble-rousers demand that high law-enforcement officials provide adult supervision. Not every wrong is a criminal wrong. Responsible prosecutors respect this premise as the Constitution’s safe harbor for the innocent; it is not a mere inconvenience to be maneuvered around. Doing justice means justice for everyone, including the suspect. While it may be news to Mr. Holder, that proposition holds even if the suspect’s name is not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If negligence, even lethal negligence, has occurred, its victims are not without a remedy — they can sue civilly. The criminal law, however, is not the solution to every legal problem, and its invocation where it has no place is monstrous.
The Justice Department’s conduct in the Martin case has been emblematic of Holder’s tenure: an exercise in hardball politics, not faithful law enforcement. In this case, a responsible attorney general would stay his hand. There appears to be no possibility of a federal crime. If such a possibility arises, the generous statute of limitations on civil-rights violations means there is no rush, and the “dual sovereignty” doctrine assures that there will be no double-jeopardy bar against a federal prosecution once the state’s work is done. The feds should just butt out for now: Let Florida’s system work.
And keep quiet in the meantime. We expect grand juries and petit juries to deliberate over cases in secret. The law requires that, because juries are supposed to decide without fear or favor, based on unvarnished evidence not outside agitators. In stark contrast, Holder has thrown the enormous weight of the Justice Department behind the mob. He is not seeking justice; he is pressing his thumb on the scale. And it’s working. When Trayvon Martin was first shot to death nearly two months ago, state authorities sensibly opted not to charge George Zimmerman with murder. It wasn’t that they were looking to excuse wrongdoing. It was that the evidence was insufficient to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
Plainly, there was a lack of criminal intent: There was obviously no premeditation; and, alternatively, the facts do not remotely suggest that Zimmerman acted with a “depraved mind regardless of human life” (e.g., the savage indifference of a man who fires into a crowd, heedless of the consequences). To the contrary, the known facts indicate (a) Zimmerman’s concern that Martin was acting suspiciously (the depraved do not call the police, as Zimmerman did, before shooting), and (b) a struggle in which Zimmerman may well have been severely beaten and, in any event, would have a strong basis to persuade a jury that he shot in self-defense….
A prosecutor cannot prove murder without being able to prove mens rea (the state-of-mind element of the offense). To file a murder charge without first establishing mens rea would be unethical and violate due process. So, initially, the Florida authorities did not. But there followed over six weeks of race-baiters fanning the flames of rage. If a U.S. attorney general has any role in such circumstances, it is to call for calm, assure people that the professionals are doing their duty diligently, and urge that the process be allowed to play out. Holder, instead, decided to go Sharpton — except he’s a Sharpton with subpoena power, as well as the raw power to threaten Florida with a civil-rights investigation that would portray its police and prosecutors as racially insensitive obstacles to social justice….