The Corner

NYT Argues Stand Your Ground Was Key to Zimmerman Defense, Contra Its Own Reporting

The New York Times editorial board apparently believes that the trial of George Zimmerman revolved around Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, while the reporting side of the Times tells a different story.

In a staff editorial published yesterday, the Times editorial board wrote that the jury in the Zimmerman trial “reached its verdict after having been asked to consider Mr. Zimmerman’s actions in light of the now-notorious Stand Your Ground provision in Florida’s self-defense law.” The Times went on to say that the law’s threshold for legitimizing Zimmerman’s deadly force proved to be “a low bar that the prosecutors in this case fought in vain to overcome.”

There’s only one problem: The law was never cited in Zimmerman’s defense. Indeed, the only time Stand Your Ground came up during the trial proper was when a prosecution witness stated that he’d taught a class Zimmerman had attended that covered Stand Your Ground. The Times reported that on July 3, and conceded that Zimmerman had not invoked the law. (The law, however, was mentioned during instructions to the jury.)

In an analysis of the case today, the paper is at pains to point out that Stand Your Ground was not part of the defense’s strategy. (As Jacob Sullum points out over at Reason, not even the prosecutors thought they were trying a Stand Your Ground case.)

That wasn’t the first time that the Grey Lady reported Zimmerman had not used the defense. The Times reported on March 5 that Zimmerman was likely to waive his right to a pretrial immunity hearing that could’ve dismissed the case. A little under two months later, the Times covered Zimmerman forgoing that hearing. When jury duty wrapped up on June 20, the Times reported that the law hadn’t been invoked. The paper’s official timeline also makes note of Zimmerman waiving the hearing. Strange, then, that the editorial board was absolutely convinced the entire case hinged on it — but then again, though the Times’ editorial pages have been banging on about the law for some time now

UPDATE: This post has been amended since its original publication.

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