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July 9th, 2013
03:36 PM ET

"Piers Morgan Live, Rewind": Legal Eagles on the charges against George Zimmerman and Michael Higginbotham on the role of race

Whether you fell asleep early, stayed out too late, or simply want to watch it again, we realize it's not always possible to get your entire "Piers Morgan Live" fix from television. As an answer to this, we offer the below labor of love – "Piers Morgan Live, Rewind" – dedicated and designed to getting you caught up and connected to the conversation.

  • Legal Eagles on Zimmerman’s second-degree murder charge

Yesterday marked the first full day of the Defense’s case in the George Zimmerman trial, as new evidence and testimony from friends and family have aroused questions about the appropriateness of the charges being brought against the defendant. “Piers Morgan Live” invited a team of legal eagles to weigh in on the significance of the second-degree murder charge at hand, and the complicated issues of reasonable doubt and self-defense within the context of this case.

Civil liberties lawyer and Professor of Law at Harvard University Alan Dershowitz insisted that overcharging Zimmerman with second-degree murder for the homicide of Trayvon Martin may “create incredible complications” for the prosecution:

“If they had instead charged what would have been appropriate in this case, at most, manslaughter, they would have had a reasonable chance of prevailing.”

Defense Attorney Jayne Weintraub helped clarify why the inherently intention-based charge will be difficult to uphold.

“As a lawyer, analyzing the evidence that's before us, and understanding the legal instruction that the judge will give the jury, that a reasonable doubt can be proven by a conflict in the evidence, a lack of evidence, it goes to show that there's nothing but reasonable doubt in this case.”

That conflicting evidence doesn’t necessarily imply lies, Weintraub explains. “The mother of Trayvon Martin and the mother of George Zimmerman, both of them were put up by their respective lawyers, neither of those women were lying ... I believe that they were testifying about what they really wanted to hear ... But all that amounts to is reasonable doubt.”

Judge Alex Ferrer reminded us that though reasonable doubt lies within the highly contested details surrounding the events that led up to the altercation, they should play no role in the decision, which should ultimately be determined by a ruling over self-defense.

“When it comes down to self-defense,” says Ferrer, “what matters is what happens at the time of the confrontation. And by the way, this is by no means unique. Very often you have a crime where victim is dead and you're stuck with one side of the story. Sometimes the police can make something out of that, sometimes they cannot. Often they cannot. So this is not a unique case by any means at all.”

But by determining guilt based upon self-defense, Judge Alex maintains that the prosecution is left with very little room to argue second-degree murder:

“You look to see what the perception was of the person at the time they used deadly force. If the jury agrees that he was acting reasonably in his mind when he thought he was going to suffer serious bodily injury, and it was reasonable for him to use deadly force, they will find him not guilty because of self-defense. If they disagree, he will be convicted of manslaughter.

  • Higginbotham on race in the Zimmerman trial

“Piers Morgan Live” invited Michael Higginbotham, renowned Professor of Law and author of "Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America,” to weigh in on the role of race in the trial and the potential for a racially-driven backlash if Zimmerman is acquitted.

On the topic of race as a factor in the case, Higginbotham maintains that “It has been hanging there and it's been there since the beginning,” both in court and in public opinion.

Predictions have been made about reactions to a perceived lack of justice, should Zimmerman be acquitted. But Higginbotham called for a respect response to the trial’s outcome and our legal system.

“Many in the black community as well as throughout the country are very upset by what has transpired, particularly because this is a murder case. It's the ultimate human tragedy. But the most important thing is that justice be done. And so Americans of all the colors must respect the decision that the jurors come to and of course we have an appeal process that can take place.”

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. anthony montgomery

    If the bullet that killed trevon. Why has no one asked. Did the bullet exit Trevon heart. If it did and he was on the ground the bullet should be in the ground. if Trevon was on top and shot and bullet exited his body. It would prove he was on top.. What are lawyers thinking??? How come trevon does not have any scratches on his body. Where zimmeron face was beaten and you could tell his head was slammed into the sideways. Pray the juries eyes can see who tell the truth. Should should also have Zimmerman holler HELP! HELP! in court room and the they jury would see it is zimmermans voice. HELLO!!!! God give mercy to Zimmermane

    July 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ianta S. Allotey

      Irregardless of whether Trayvon was on top or not. George Zimmerman was told to stay in the vehicle by police. He pursued Trayvon a teenager on his way home from the store with skittles and ice tea, Zimmerman was blinded by his racist hatred and fear of black me. He store-typed Trayvon because he was black and had on a hoodie. If he came after you would you have just stood there??? What if he showed Trayvon the gun...what if we threaten him. We will never know the answers ot these questions. But one thing is for sure. What you do in the dark will come out in the light.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. arale norimaki

    Here's what happened", Zimmerman first approached Trayvon and asked him what he was doing there, Trayvon was scared and his first reaction was to run. Here's the thing Zimmerman grabbed Trayvon, and because of the pavement being wet, they both slipped. As a matter of fact,. Zimmerman hit his head on the pavement, and somehow,Right. But I happen to know Trayvon ended up on top of him. Trayvon hit him in the nose to try to get away. And How about this once he hit him in the nose and tried to get up, that`s when Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot him. if you look at the picture, the big picture, I mean, it's plain as day! He lied about his finances and the existence of a second passport there is no reason to believe anything else hey say. repeatedly stated he had never heard of FL's Stand Your Ground Law or had any knowledge of this law. Well, well, well; the record now reflects zimmerman professor taught this materials in his class, the same class he said zimmerman was "one of my better students he got a A" To the extent that he had some knowledge of self defense, he would have been able to put together a story that made some sense,”

    July 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ianta

      I agree...that poor child died like a dog in the street. OMG. I thank God every day for protecting my three sons. I feel so bad for his mom and dad. I can't even image.

      July 16, 2013 at 9:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. arale norimaki

    Zimmerman's medical records could shed more light on the medications he was taking at the time of the shooting.

    Zimmerman was on various prescription drugs with known, violent side effects while acting as the neighborhood watch captain and on the night Martin died.It does further explain why he refused medical care that night though.

    Temazepam is an immediate-acting drug used for the short-term treatment of sleeplessness and includes anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties. sleeping pills can also increase depression, which could lead to suicide. They impair your ability to function properly

    “Adderall it can make you manic and/or delusional if you're a young person.

    Treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms, e.g., hallucinations, delusional thinking, or mania in children and adolescents without prior history of psychotic illness or mania can be caused by stimulants at usual doses”

    this another reason the gun laws need some changing because people who are on these medication can and will harm others. They also can be so conniving around people that they want to keep on their side, just like men who abuse their other half and vice verse. They are okay right up to the minute they have harmed the innocent partner. Just like all the mass murders we have witness, some of these people didn't show signs of any mental issues but were.”

    July 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. juney07

    Let's assume Trayvon was on top of Zim. Zim stated in his video that Zim was able to reach into his holster, pull out his gun and shot Trayvon. Zim also says that after he shot Trayvon, Trayvon sat up while on top of Zim and said either you got me or I got it, fell off Zim at which time Zim spread out Trayvon's arms and called for someone to come to the scene. I think what really happened is that when Trayvon saw Zim get his gun from the holster, he sat up and did say either you got me or I got it and was trying to back off Zim, but that's the point when Zim shot him, as Trayvon was trying to get off. The shot came second as Trayvon was trying to get away from Zim, not first as Zim has said. Slight change of story but makes all the difference.

    July 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. kilikid

    Piers Morgan questions why there is none of Zimmerman's blood or DNA on Trayvon's hands or clothes after getting a beat down. Maybe Zimmerman's injuries were self inflicted after the shooting to justify his hair trigger. It wouldn't be difficult to bang your head on the concrete and give yourself a bloody nose knowing you just murdered someone.

    July 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JP

      maybe TV was a boy being a boy, and actually attacked GM. Maybe GZ was acting in self defense. Tragedy yes, but GZ shouldn't pay for all the bad behaviors of law in forcemeat in USA. Lets move past the racism, and see this for what it was...

      July 9, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • kilikid

        There is a good chance that Zimmerman's version is exactly the way it went down. Most of the evidence does seem to support it. Could be just an unfortunate turn of events on a rainy night. BUT....anything is possible.

        July 10, 2013 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jan

    It seems the media wants to make this a racial issue. Zimmerman is not white, despite the media trying to pretend he is. He is of mixed race, just as Barack Obama is. I don't hear the media telling us Obama is white.

    July 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JP

      Good point Jan, if TV was white, this would have never gone to trial...

      July 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JP

      the media created this circus... The police were correct in deeming this self defense. TV's family are the victims again, as they have been forced in the spotlight, rather then being allowed to mourn and move on in peace.

      July 9, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Red Bone

      Does Obama look white to you JP and if Obama was in Trevons situation yes he would have been shot to Zmmerman looks like a white man and that night he also acted as such. This is what you call racial profiling Zimmerman should have stayed his ass in his truck like the 911 operater instructed him to and let the police do thier job and he would not be on trial for murder right now . He took the law into his own hands by killing a young child in cold blood now he must pay the price.

      July 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. thanh

    Zimmermam have gun try to check Trayvon of begin .somehow get to the figth.
    if you wacth the video of Zimmerma with the police.
    if there fighting on the ground .Zimmermam can not shoot Trayvon in center of the heart,( maybe on the side)
    Zimmermam said after shoot Trayvon ,Trayvon give his hand up on the video
    after you got shot by a gun you can not give your hand up,only can hold your at the bullet hold
    I belive after Trayvon give his hand up then Zimmermam shoot him then Trayvon drop down two hand holding at his chess at th bullet hold
    Trayvon hand do not spare t his hand out like Zimmermam said on the video

    July 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Grandma

    If Trayvon was wearing a pink polo shirt & khakis he would be alive today.
    Lets get our facts right.

    July 10, 2013 at 12:12 am | Report abuse | Reply

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