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Whistleblowing IT Director Fired By FL State Attorney

timothy posted 1 year,17 days | from the also-he-was-probably-using-a-computer dept.

The Courts 569

An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kruidbos, the IT director for the Florida State Attorney's Office who'd spoken up when important cellphone evidence he'd extracted from Trayvon Martin's cellphone was withheld by the state from the defense, was fired by messenger at 7:30 PM Friday, after closing arguments in the Zimmerman case. He was told that he could not be 'trusted to set foot in this office,' and that he was being fired for incompetence. Kruidbos had received a merit pay raise earlier this year. The firing letter also blames him for consulting a lawyer, an obvious sign of evil."

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Do good ... (5, Insightful)

fewnorms (630720) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272179)

... get fired. I see a trend here.

Sounds like a good whisteblolowing lawsuit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272239)

Get 'em

Re:Sounds like a good whisteblolowing lawsuit. (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272739)

Get 'em

Maybe - he'd have to find a lawyer that will do it on a contingency basis, and it would have to have some potential for a really big cash settlement/judgement before one will touch it. OTOH, maybe there's a lawyer who figures it'd be good for a little publicity - who knows?

Either way, it would take months, if not years, before the guy saw any justice/money/compensation/etc. Unfortunately, no CxO in his/her right mind would even think of hiring the guy in the interim, given the toxicity of the events and who is backing the potential defendants (seriously, would you want to catch the attention of the AG's office, potentially exposing your company to "extra scrutiny" if they felt like playing dirty pool against the guy? Didn't think so.)

Chilling effects all around, truth be told - he'll ahve to move out of the reach of that office before he could even hope to find a job, let alone pursue a lawsuit. Unless the state governor gets involved and (IMHO rightfully) fucks over the AG execs who did this to him, the dude is kinda fucked.

IMHO, it stands as a very good reason why you'll never get me to work for any law firm, government (let alone prosecutor's) office, or suchlike. Unless you find a lot of good juicy skeletons in their closets early on (and keep the evidence secure), the boss(es) there would pretty much own your ass, ethics be damned.

Re: Do good ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272249)

Abraham Lincoln wanted to send all the blacks back to Africa.

That would have been better for BOTH the blacks AND the whites! Too late to undo slavery and that sucks but its a nice second best solution. Then there'd be no Jim Crow and no KKK and no Jesse Jackson and the inner cities would be a breeze to live in.

Re: Do good ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272317)

Re: Do good ... (0, Troll)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272407)

After WW2 everybody was working hard, rebuilding the world. There was a respect for those who worked harder and for those who simply achieved more.
Then we had the cold war. There was the red team and the blue team. Things where pretty simple. Skills was an important factor. But a lot more politics.
Today it's politics and corruption all over. Networking is more important than actual skills. There is no common goal, everybody is fighting everybody.
I think the trend is called socialism. It's about how to fuck your neighbour over for scraps.
Now that is why we need homeland security, right?
"To secure the nation from the many threats we face"

Re: Do good ... (4, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272459)

Actually socialism is pretty close to what you had during cold war in US because you had to care for your people to win it. High taxes on the rich, fairly solid safety net for the poor. It was there in the 60s and 70s. And it was dismantled in 90s after cold war ended.

It's funny when propaganda says the exact opposite of what actually ends up happening, and people swallow it. And then think they're "thinking against what government wants us to think".

You may also want to note that least corrupt countries in the world are socialist, while most corrupt are capitalist.

Re: Do good ... (5, Insightful)

mc6809e (214243) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272547)

Actually socialism is pretty close to what you had during cold war in US because you had to care for your people to win it. High taxes on the rich, fairly solid safety net for the poor. It was there in the 60s and 70s. And it was dismantled in 90s after cold war ended.

Hardly.

The safety net is bigger and more expensive than ever.

Significant parts of it came into existence only in the 60s and 70s, not coincidentally followed by inflation in the early 80s as demand for services put pressure on supply constrained by high marginal tax rates and regulations. We risked an Argentine-style economic collapse. Reagan was only able to get reforms passed with Democrats in control of congress because there was no other way to save the welfare state. Democrats knew something had to be done.

But anyway, what won the cold war was self-confidence in the West and self-doubt in the East. The Soviet Union voluntarily gave up on communism. I think that means they won, too.

Re: Do good ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272627)

The safety net is bigger and more expensive than ever. Significant parts of it came into existence only in the 60s and 70s,

You mean, right at the height of the Cold War? Yeah I think that's what he said.

Re: Do good ... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272561)

You may also want to note that least corrupt countries in the world are socialist, while most corrupt are capitalist

Not even close. And you may want to note that communist and socialist countries in the 20th century mass murdered many people.

Re: Do good ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272653)

Unlike the Freedom Land in Vietnam or Korea, where they distributed cute kitteys.

And the redskins where more than readily to go away in peace as soon as they saw the awesome true owners of Freedom Land. They were so fascinated by the awesomeness that rainbow unicorns took almost all of them away.

Freedom Land has never committed a genocide, no. It's Freedom Land. FREEDOM! All they do is intended by the only true flavour of God.

tl;dr : You are an idiot. Capitalistic countries committed as much atrocities as socialistic states (there has NEVER been a communistic state. Thanks for showing that you don't know what it means.)

Re: Do good ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272681)

I'm afraid your socialist education is incomplete. You will find some of the gaps filled in here. [youtube.com]

Re: Do good ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272725)

I am sorry. What socialist nation murdered ppl? Russia and China were far left totalitarian states, while Germany was a far right fascist state.
So, what socialist nation did you have in mind?

Re: Do good ... (5, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272491)

Actually the 99% are fighting scraps because the 1% have gotten most of everything. And not, that's not socialism. I think the US have reached the level of a kleptocracy.

Re: Do good ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272663)

Thank you, we needed some input from a typewriter owner.

Re: Do good ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272535)

So that means people who get fired a lot must be good people!

Let me call human resources...

Re: Do good ... (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272713)

Pretty much. Employers generally do not trust people who question them doing something illegal or unethical. Loyalty is prised over all, at least going up. Loyalty going down is communism.

So sue 'em. (5, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272189)

Hope he does. it's obviously not incompetence and blaming for seeking legal advice is just stupid to use as reasoning for incompetence.

"that if they feel like there is wrongdoing,” they should not disclose it or seek legal guidance from a private attorney.
“If they do speak to an attorney, then they are dead,” he said. “The State Attorney’s Office will do whatever is necessary to not only terminate them, but destroy their reputations in the process.”

coming from state attorneys office that's actually pretty funny. saying it like that covers also seeking advice on illegal working conditions and what have you..

He won't. His firing is legitimate. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272337)

Didn't you notice, "Peek’s letter contends that on May 24, Kruidbos wiped clean the information on a computer assigned to him, thereby violating public records law."

You can't do that.

"Kruidbos said he does not know what computer is referred to by the letter."

BULL SHIT.

Re:He won't. His firing is legitimate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272439)

Considering most, if not all documents are usually stored in network shares, why does it matter if he wiped his computer?

Re:He won't. His firing is legitimate. (4, Interesting)

tdelaney (458893) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272445)

Was the computer assigned to him to be wiped clean as part of his duties as IT Director? The letter doesn't say.

Re:He won't. His firing is legitimate. (2)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272497)

Umm, where does it say that? Working for a public university in IT I regularly wipe my machine clean to install latest version of software and for testing. The public records laws require that I keep records of emails (which we have servers designed specifically to do that.

Re:He won't. His firing is legitimate. (1)

theoriginalturtle (248717) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272673)

Was it Windows Vista? My guess is the need to wipe that crap off there was entirely legitimate.

If Microsoft built houses, a blown light bulb would require you to bulldoze the house and rebuild it. Sure hope you were able to back up your furniture and appliances.

And EVERY SINGLE AGENCY at every level of government that's covered by a public records law is also covered by provisions of that law that recognize that they aren't about to keep every damn thing that has ever been stored on it. Go read up on NARA and federal records-retention regulations... every agency of every government that is covered by a public records law has some means to account for legitimate needs to wipe computers. Every single one.

Re:So sue 'em. (5, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272419)

I hope he does sue, and that he wins. It may be an uphill battle though. Prosecutors have tremendous discretion in how they conduct cases, and enormous protection under the law, although it looks to me like this is well over the line. Besides suing, he should consider bringing a complaint before the Bar. Not turning over possible exculpatory evidence would seem to be an ethics violation.

I can't say this is surprising though since the prosecution appears to be motivated more my politics than the actual legal situation.

In Audio Recording, Department of Justice Official Urges Protesters to Seek ‘Justice’ for Trayvon Martin [pjmedia.com]
Branco Cartoon – Fanning the Flames [legalinsurrection.com]
Racial politics supported by State power come down on George Zimmerman [legalinsurrection.com]

Re:So sue 'em. (5, Insightful)

Frobnicator (565869) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272511)

Besides suing, he should consider bringing a complaint before the Bar. Not turning over possible exculpatory evidence would seem to be an ethics violation.

Close. The ethics violation is a relatively minor issue.

Yes it is an ethics violation, but more importantly it is also a violation of both the US Constitution and the Florida State Constitution.

It is an unfortunate trend, but prosecutors and police across the country have been facing ever-increasing claims of withholding evidence. Really, the defense should be given access to all information.

Even in this case there was a tussle about the evidence being actually withheld, and the judge agreed that they withheld it and demanded everything be handed over ... but no penalty was given to the state for their violation.

Sadly violations are usually discounted as being accidental oversights and punishments against prosecutors are non-existent. It ought to result in immediate disbarment of the lawyers involved since the violation fundamentally destroys justice, but there is no incentive for the "good old boys" club to change.

Re:So sue 'em. (3, Interesting)

fast turtle (1118037) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272617)

The main issue is that the Prosecution withheld material information from the defense, denying the accused a "Fair Trial" which means they now have legitimate grounds to apeal and overturn any conviction made. In fact, if the evidence that the prosecution failed to provide to the defense shows a clear case of innocence, the prosecution can be sanctioned by the court for failing to abide. Keep in mind that judges do not like their time wasted by some witch hunt and if that is the case, the prosecution is going to get their asses reamed by the judge.

Re:So sue 'em. (5, Informative)

Chewbacon (797801) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272473)

Florida is a Right to Fire... erm, Hire state. I always confuse the two words because whenever I hear the phrase, it's always used in the context of firing people. Anyway, incompetence is a Florida-based employer's way of firing you simply because they don't like you. If you don't cross enough T's and dot enough I's it is grounds for incompetence.

Re:So sue 'em. (5, Insightful)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272517)

part of the problem with these types of states is that they can fire you for any reason, as long as they dont give a reason. If they give a reason than it has to be a valid one. Incompetence is a good one as it is typically hard to disprove, except when you just got a pay raise specifically for doing such a good job.

Re:So sue 'em. (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272603)

The solution is simple then: never, ever give raises.

Re:So sue 'em. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272623)

The terms you are looking for is "right to work" and "at will" and it is both as they are separate.

Re:So sue 'em. (2)

gabereiser (1662967) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272569)

He can't sue. Florida is a "At Will Employment" state. The only thing you can sue for here is Discrimination. In Florida, you can be fired for anything, with or without reason, and you can quit, with or without reason.

Loud and clear (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272195)

The US government is sending a message: "We don't like whistle-blowers".

Re:Loud and clear (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272219)

The US government is sending a message: "We don't like whistle-blowers".

The Florida government is sending a message: "We don't like whistle-blowers".

Re:Loud and clear (2)

lightknight (213164) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272723)

Any chance they'll get this one branded a traitor by the end of next week?

Re:Loud and clear (5, Informative)

Penguinshit (591885) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272225)

actually it's the Florida State government. And with Rick Scott's record of corruption, you can bet he doesn't want anyone with a shred of integrity having root access to the state's computers...

Re:Loud and clear (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272333)

Your Rick Scott comment is irrelevant and, I suspect, bepeaks of a particular political bias so prevalent on /. In fact, the Florida Attorney General is an ELECTED cabinet official.

Re:Loud and clear (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272595)

Your Rick Scott comment is irrelevant and, I suspect, bepeaks of a particular political bias

In fact, considering Rick Scott's approval rating among the citizens of Florida, negative comments about the governor do not really "bepeaks" of any particular political bias.

It appears that he's pretty much hated across the political spectrum.

Re:Loud and clear (5, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272265)

In Florida, transparency is not up to the whim or grace of public officials. Instead, it is an enforceable right.

From the website of the Office of the Attorney General of Florida titled Open Government [myfloridalegal.com] . The irony is strong in this one.

Re:Loud and clear (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272293)

Correction: The US gov LOVES corporate whistle-blowers (for the violation income) but hate government whistle-blowers.

Re: Loud and clear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272397)

Actually the message is more like, "We don't like White people. Or White Hispanics."

Re: Loud and clear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272427)

Actually the message is more like, "We don't like White people. Or White Hispanics."

Mod parent up!!!

Until the discrimination that has been allowed to flourish against whites is recognized it will only get worse!

Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272201)

It sounds like the Florida State Attorney's Office has some s'plainin' to do. Withholding evidence from the defense is really, super unethical; I wouldn't be surprised if you could be disbarred for it. This is a highly politicized case, and it's not surprising that the state really wants to win it to save face, but really guys? Doing that kind of shit under the color of public authority is fucked up. Like Nifong (see Duke lacrosse) fucked up..

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272233)

Also firing someone for whistleblowing is against whistleblowing laws.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (5, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272323)

A Brady violation is a big, big deal. And it's usually NOT a good idea to piss off the guy who has proof of wrongdoing - they just ensured that he will be a quite eager witness at their disbarrment proceedings.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (5, Interesting)

tmorehen (2731547) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272369)

There was no evidence withheld from the defence: The raw data file had already been given to the defence. The IT fellow's analysis was prosecution work product, nothing more. As well, the pictures and text he found were irrelevant to the case: the girl and the gun were not at the scene nor did Martin have any marijuana on him. As well, Kruidbos had an obligation to keep information about the cases he works on confidential, particularly since he didn't raise any concerns with anyone else in the office. Consulting with a lawyer is probably ok, but not when that lawyer is a disgruntled former employee who breaks privilege by running off to the defence.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272481)

As well, the pictures and text he found were irrelevant to the case: the girl and the gun were not at the scene nor did Martin have any marijuana on him.

But the existence of these images suggests something about the character of Martin. By themselves, they don't mean much. But when you consider that Martin continued to beat Zimmerman even after Zimmerman started screaming, and you combine this with the images found on the phone, you get the possibility that Martin was doing more to Zimmerman than simply fighting him.

Trayvon Martin had completely dominated Zimmerman, yet continued to beat him even as Zimmerman was screaming. What sort of person takes pleasure in beating someone that's screaming and already overwhelmed?

The pictures plus the actions tell us that Martin was more than just someone that got involved in a fist fight. He was seriously trying to inflict damage and pain on Zimmerman.

 

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272591)

But the existence of these images suggests something about the character of Martin.

Ah, so we're judging the victim here!

By themselves, they don't mean much. But when you consider that Martin continued to beat Zimmerman even after Zimmerman started screaming, and you combine this with the images found on the phone, you get the possibility that Martin was doing more to Zimmerman than simply fighting him. Trayvon Martin had completely dominated Zimmerman, yet continued to beat him even as Zimmerman was screaming. What sort of person takes pleasure in beating someone that's screaming and already overwhelmed?

The pictures plus the actions tell us that Martin was more than just someone that got involved in a fist fight. He was seriously trying to inflict damage and pain on Zimmerman.

And thank you for demonstrating why that should be excluded, because absent any actual physical evidence of that occurring, you are speculating, which means the victim is being judged by you, with no ability to defend himself from your accusations.

Because he's dead.

Now you want Zimmerman to be able to fabricate a story about Martin using such prejudicial material?

Huh.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (2)

Le Marteau (206396) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272701)

Zackly. It's fine for the prosecution to portray Zimmerman as a "wanna be cop" but when the defense wants to portray sweet, angelic Trayvon as a wanna be (if not actual) gangsta, all of a sudden, the judge has a case of the vapours.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272493)

the pictures and text he found were irrelevant to the case: the girl and the gun

I notice you didn't mention the texts where Trayvon's discusses his organized street fighting and his acquaintances telling him to stop getting into fights. Prosecutors don't get to decide what is and is not relevant.

And it's defense, not defence.

Re:Someone's got some s'plainin' to do... (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272635)

It's worth knowing that the "evidence" is comprised of the personal photographs of the victim of the crime:

described some contents of his report such as a photo of an African-American hand holding a gun, a photo of a plant resembling marijuana and a text message referring to a gun transaction.

Are you saying that someone holding a gun is "evidence" even though there was no gun belonging to Trayvon Martin found at the scene? Or is the fact that he's a young black man holding a gun prima facie evidence that Trayvon must have really been a thug so he deserved to be killed for walking down the street with an iced tea and pack of Skittles? And, "a text message referring to a gun transaction"? Again, what would any of this have to do with the fact that George Zimmerman shot an unarmed person?

What exactly is any of this "evidence" of? What are you trying to say, son?

Mozilla is hiring (-1, Offtopic)

Animats (122034) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272215)

Mozila is looking for a "Information Technology Enterprise Architect" [mozilla.org] . They need one, too; their online services are flaky.

>"Work for mankind, not for the man" - Mozilla job billboard, San Francisco.

Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272223)

Seriously, I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman, but with all the antics they've been pulling, they are just asking to get an acquittal or an overturn on appeal. You can't go and give a guy a good performance eval and a raise, and then suddenly fire him and claim that he's a bad employee when he reveals that you may have been messing with evidence.

The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.

I hope this guys successfully sues these idiots.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272289)

they are just asking to get an acquittal or an overturn on appeal

What would be really disconcerting: What if they're trying to screw up the case? I mean, they weren't exactly enthusiastic about even arresting or trying Zimmerman in the first place.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272413)

Hanlon's (or Heinlein's [wikipedia.org] ) Razor:

"You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272425)

IIRC the Police made the initial call not to prosecute and the prosecutor revisited the decision.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272489)

Only after the thugs went ape shit. Can you imagine how hard it is for thugs in this country when people stand up for their rights and defend themselves.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272305)

Seriously, I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman

Unless the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not acting in self defense, they've got no case against him, manslaughter or otherwise.

And the state couldn't explain what Martin was doing for four minutes, when he had 300 feet to go to get home if he was scared. Most guys that age can run half a mile in four minutes. And the state couldn't explain how Zimmerman had blood on his head, while Martin had cuts on his knuckles.

It is entirely plausible that Martin stalked and attacked Zimmerman, and that's enough doubt that the claim of self-defense is iron clad. The state had no case and the charges should have been dismissed.

Re: Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck u (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272343)

Given that Travon was black, I think we can explain the cuts on the knuckles....

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272383)

What are you talking about? Self defense is an affirmative defense which means Zimmerman has to prove that it was self defense. Remember, the burden of proof is on the claimant. The state just has to show there is reasonable doubt to his defense. If Zimmerman had said he didn't do it then the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did. In this case he admits he did it.

From findlaw:

"To see how one of these defenses works, let's look at the pending Trayvon Martin trial. George Zimmerman will undoubtedly argue that he acted in self-defense as defined by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. There's absolutely no question that he killed Martin. If he can successfully prove he acted in self-defense, the law says he cannot be convicted of murder. He will go free." (emphasis added).

http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2012/04/what-is-an-affirmative-defense.html [findlaw.com]

Zimmerman has to prove it. The state just has to show doubt.

Martin didn't have to go home. If he felt threatened then Stand Your Ground says he has no duty to retreat and can confront the person. There are some states where one has to retreat, but Florida is not one of those states.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272377)

Seriously, I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman

While I think Zimmerman should have stopped following Martin once the police were contacted, following someone on a public street is not actually illegal in any way in Florida. Legally Zimmerman didn't do anything wrong there. Then he was promptly jumped and attacked by Martin. Had Martin used his fists alone I would absolutely want to see Zimmerman punished, but Martin didn't stop there. Martin was slamming Zimmerman's head into the pavement, something that can cause death or permanent disabling injury. He was, in effect, using the concrete as a deadly bludgeoning weapon. Zimmerman wouldn't have had a chance to try to flee considering he was on the ground getting pounded. That lead to Martin being shot. Correct me if I have any of that wrong (not liking it doesn't make it false...).

I think it's a damned shame that Martin got himself killed at such a young age. If it were up to me there would have been no conflict, or the mere sight of a gun would have scared him off and it would have ended there, but let's be clear about this: if you want to violently attack a stranger who has not initiated violence against you, you are taking a risk. It's a poor choice to make and all the sadness in the world about what happened doesn't suddenly make this a wise move.

Punishing Zimmerman doesn't change this reality, but it might make others who get attacked choose victimhood because they are afraid of the legal consequences of defending themselves. We already have states where homeowners hesitate to shoot a home invader because they might get in serious trouble, and all this does is lower the risk of burglarizing the law-abiding which in turn can only make burglers more bold. If being a violent criminal is a great way to remove oneself from the gene pool, I am absolutely fine with that. I have no sympathy for those who initiate violence. They live by the sword and sometimes they die by the sword. That's their choice. They are not victims. I reserve my sympathy for victims.

The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.

What is the value of refusing to let the jury hear this evidence? If it is truly irrelevant then it shouldn't influence their decision anyway. What damage could be done that the judge was trying to prevent by disallowing it?

Incidentally it certainly can't be worse than the photos shown of Martin when he was twelve years old, an obvious attempt to make him look as helpless and childish as possible to further demonize Zimmerman rather than showing him as he actually was, big enough and strong enough to do some damage to another man and old enough to know better. When people have to resort to these kinds of emotional appeals and outright distortion and propaganda tactics to make their case, I have to assume it is because the facts are against them.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272543)

Well having not kept up on all the evidence in the trial I can't say anything for certain, but in general it seems like they could make manslaughter charges stick. Doesn't matter is Martin was an asshole a punk, etc. What matters is that it seems Zimmerman followed him, confronted him, and was probably not realistically in fear of his life when he shot him. The whole "slamming on the pavement" thing has been contested. There really isn't hard evidence of what happened.

I'm not saying I'm sure, just saying I think they probably could make the case. Murder no way, but Manslaughter I think is a realistic possibility.

In terms of why not let juries hear evidence? Well because it may not be relevant and it may bias them. Just because someone did X that people do not like it does not also follow that they did Y. That is why you can't generally mention a defendant's prior bad acts unless they somehow relate to the particular case. So if someone was convicted of robbery in the past, you can't bring it up in an unrelated murder case just to try and make them look like a bad guy.

Same for victims. That someone was a bad guy or a thug or whatever doesn't deny them due process of law. As such you can't try and introduce evidence they were bad people for untreated shit.

So that Zimmerman did drugs is not relevant unless he was on drugs at the time of the attack (apparently he was and that did come in). That he liked weapons was not relevant unless he had one at the time (which he didn't). That kind of thing.

For example suppose you are a firearms enthusiast and own many guns. Also you are a computer security professional and know plenty about securing computers and circumventing said security. So some asshole you know gets his phone hacked and embarrassing pictures posted online. He thinks you did it, confronts you, and beats you with a bat and puts you in the hospital.

At his trial, would you want his defense team to be able to bring up these things. Would you want them to try and say "Well using a weapon was justified because he thought causality might have a gun, after all causality is a well known gun nut and owns a ton of weapons!" and "It is likely casualty did in fact hack my client's phone, look at all the training and experience he has in this area, it would be easy for him to do!" They try to make you look bad because of something totally unrelated to the case.

I don't care enough to go and review the evidence but the judge, who does, decided it wasn't relevant in this case and she probably had a reason. Martin may well have been a thug, but that doesn't have any bearing on the legality of this incident.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272643)

Playing devils advocate here

What about the state that proved he lied over 40 times! He has used the N word before too.

The state also proved Zimmerman was on top while martin was on the bottom when the shot was fired. That does not sound like self defense but an act of aggresion. While it is not illegal to get out of a car it is an act of aggression to get out and attack someone and with Martin on the ground here in a defensive position when he was killed it shows aggressive intent with no threat towards Zimmerman when he was killed.

Zimmerman has no serious medical injuries and no concussion too proved by the state.

With that said I was leaning towards Zimmerman and still am in voting not guilty as it is hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt from the small tidbits I heard and there were no witnesses. However, I do have my doubts Zimmerman is really so innocent here? I have not heard the whole trial but the manicans and experts do show have a reasonable doubt he was acting in self defense. But, in the US we assume innocense otherwise I would vote guilty.

I need to hear more but from what I heard the defensive has a strong point. Now if Zimmerman was on the ground when he was shot that would be different. The shot fired was at least 4 to 12 inches away and no blood on Zimmerman is more proof. Hardly any of Zimmermans blood on martin showed the fight was not super serious.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272661)

While I think Zimmerman should have stopped following Martin once the police were contacted, following someone on a public street is not actually illegal in any way in Florida.

Wait until you get a girlfriend and ask her how she feels when some guy starts following her on the street. It may not be illegal. But that is not the same as being innocent.

Then he was promptly jumped and attacked by Martin.

That is Zimmerman's story. Whether that is factual or not cannot be determined any more because the other person is dead.

Zimmerman wouldn't have had a chance to try to flee considering he was on the ground getting pounded.

That would be after Zimmerman decided to follow Martin and got out of his car and kept following Martin. Even if the events happened in that way it is a bit strange to talk of fleeing AFTER the confrontation that Zimmerman apparently wanted had happened.

That lead to Martin being shot.

No. Zimmerman could have NOT carried a gun which is what the neighborhood watches recommend. Zimmerman could have stayed in his car which is what the neighborhood watches recommend. Zimmerman could have NOT followed Martin which is what the neighborhood watches recommend. Only after breaking each of those rules was Zimmerman armed and in a fist fight.

Since he was losing the fight, he shot the other guy.

If it were up to me there would have been no conflict, or the mere sight of a gun would have scared him off and it would have ended there, but let's be clear about this: if you want to violently attack a stranger who has not initiated violence against you, you are taking a risk

Except that it was Zimmerman who initiated the conflict by following Martin. Again, when you get a girlfriend, ask her about a stranger who starts following her.

We already have states where homeowners hesitate to shoot a home invader because they might get in serious trouble, and all this does is lower the risk of burglarizing the law-abiding which in turn can only make burglers more bold.

So a burglar is more bold because the homeowner might NOT shoot him? I don't think so.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (5, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272393)

[i]The worst part? Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.[/i]

I watched the coverage gavel to gavel of the Zimmerman trial. What was on Trayvon Martin's phone is maybe the most damaging information of all to the State's case. It is incredibly damaging to Trayvon Martin and his family and introduces criminal findings against them.

The State withheld evidence that Trayvon Martin was dealing and using drugs, dealing illegal firearms, and was in possession of an illegal firearm. And that Trayvon Martin was into fighting and beating people up and had punched someone in the nose earlier that month. And that he had assaulted a public bus driver and the police showed up but the driver was told to continue his route and not press charges.

There is also significantly strong evidence that Trayvon Martin's father was working with his son to acquire illegal weapons and that his father's nickname 'Fruit' was used amongst organized gang circles. There are texts that mention buying and selling pistols. And even a photo of Trayvon holding an illegal pistol. The photo is all over the internet and is not hard to find. The State withheld all of this and forced the defending attorneys to run around in circles to obtain the phone data.

The judge also ruled that none of the phone data on Trayvon Martin's phone was admissible. Why? Because there was no hard proof that Trayvon was actually the one operating the phone when those messages were sent and received. And that "anyone could have been operating Trayvon's phone at any time". The phone was DOUBLE password protected and took the State an entire year to crack. But the State said in court that even a "seven-year-old child could have cracked the phone and sent those messages". The judge agreed.

This case is disgusting. It is clear from top to bottom that it was rigged. When you have even the President of the United States deliberately poisoning the jury pool by commenting on the situation without knowing any discovery evidence years before a trial begins it is unreal. The State of Florida is out of control. This entire affair was a political theater event designed to win some elections.

Re: Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck u (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272467)

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (4, Funny)

obarthelemy (160321) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272521)

But, wasn't, like, ...an unarmed kid shot and killed ?

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272703)

Trayvon was thug life with a propensity to do exactly what he did that night; attack whomever he didn't like. The phone evidence makes this clear.

The non-blacks on that jury have been imbued with guilt through a lifetime of training. The only question left is how long will it take to get them to cave to the rabidly pro-Trayvon part of the jury and send Zimmerman up the river.

Nasty little world we have here.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272401)

Sounds like the evidence wasn't really relevant.

Trayvon was a thug life street fighter. His phone was filled with gun dealing, back and forth about fights, people telling him he needed to quit getting into fights, etc. He knew he was doing wrong too; he tried to hide the texts about certain matters and with certain people.

Somehow, in a case where one must evaluate Trayvon's fighting ability and propensity toward violence, none of this is "relevant."

What fucked up world.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272429)

I think the state had a pretty good manslaughter case against Zimmerman

I got the impression they didn't want one.

Didn't it take a wave of protests and petitions before they even pulled the rentacop in for questioning?

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

csumpi (2258986) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272437)

What was on the phone, that was not disclosed to defense included:

- text messages Trayvon discussing that he wanted to buy a gun
- text messages about Trayvon fighting, losing the first round because he was on the bottom while the other guy was sitting on him, but then in the next rounds coming back by punching the other guy in the face, breaking his nose, but not seeing enough blood
- photo or photos of a gun
- Trayvon's little brother asking him when he's going to teach him how to fight
- photos of Trayvon showing off his muscles
- photos of marijuana plants and Trayvon blowing some smoke

These text messages and photos were hidden and password protected.

Only the jury could've decided their relevance, but I think some of those items will be a clear path to appeal, if it gets to that.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272567)

No, the judge gets to decide their relevance. Attorneys can't just enter whatever they want into evidence. The judge has to decide it is relevant to the case at hand. None of the gun stuff would be admissible. Nobody contends Martin had a gun, so it is of no relevance at all. Saying "Well he wanted to get a gun," is silly, particularly since there was no way Zimmerman knew this.

The stuff on fighting, maybe, kinda depends on the context. It might hinge on the claims the state made, like if they claimed Martin wasn't strong enough to have done any harm then it might be admitted in as counterevidence.

The stuff on marijuana, well that did come in, but only because there was evidence he had it in his system. Drug use in general is not relevant, you don't get to try and make the victim (or the defendant) look like a bad guy. Drug use would only be relevant if the person in question was on drugs at the time. It seems the ME's report says Martin had evidence of marijuana in his system, hence that is admissible.

But no, you don't just get to introduce anything you want to attack a witness/defendant/victim and say "Well the jury gets to decide!" That is not what the law says. The judge gets to decide what evidence is presented to the jury to consider.

Re:Man the FL state attornies just want to fuck up (1)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272487)

I agree with you that he should sue, and win.

The charges filed against Zimmerman, and that the trial went forward on, was 2nd degree murder. The prosecutor only added manslaughter at the last minute after the judge wouldn't let him add 3rd degree murder (due to "child abuse") as a change, just days before the case wen to the jury.

The case against Zimmerman is weak at best, and certainly appears to be politically motivated. That doesn't mean he won't be convicted though. The site Legal Insurrection [legalinsurrection.com] has some interesting and informed commentary, by actual lawyers!

Racial politics supported by State power come down on George Zimmerman [legalinsurrection.com]
In Audio Recording, Department of Justice Official Urges Protesters to Seek ‘Justice’ for Trayvon Martin [pjmedia.com]
Branco Cartoon – Fanning the Flames [legalinsurrection.com] ---> example ---> George Zimmerman Sues NBC Over Edited 911 Tape [huffingtonpost.com]

They've blown the case against the defendant (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272231)

And now they're lashing out in spite at whoever's nearest. No coincidence that this only happened after the jury retired.

Re:They've blown the case against the defendant (1)

causality (777677) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272417)

And now they're lashing out in spite at whoever's nearest. No coincidence that this only happened after the jury retired.

How pathetic they are for dealing with it that way. They could instead be glad that a man received a fair trial that wasn't some kangaroo court where guilt was already assumed. You know, the way the system is supposed to work?

Bonus! (2)

arthurh3535 (447288) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272243)

Oh, look. They want to pay him and his attorneys a lot of money! Great 'retirement' option!

Idiots.

Florida (0)

benjfowler (239527) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272253)

Isn't Florida run by Republicans (who are Real Americans), not the reviled, freedom-hating hippie Democrats?

Don't think about this too hard, Slashdot cyber-utopians. Your heads might explode.

Re:Florida (2)

ttucker (2884057) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272299)

Trying to fit the debate between freedom and tyranny into a debate about Republicans and Democrats, is like comparing apples and oranges to illustrate the difference between fruit and rocks. Nice try though.

Re: Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272359)

Time for an alternative, ya think? [american3rdposition.com]

The truth of the case (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272315)

Obama hired Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon so he wouldn't have to pay child support.

Trayvon didn't just "look like" his son...

If I had a son... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272331)

He'd look like Trayvon with a big splif!
  Choom on and keep calm!

Why woundn't the state want that evidence shown?

Lets lol @ 'murica... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272339)

LOL...

More proof the entire trial (5, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272353)

Is nothing more than a dog and pony show to convict Zimmerman. I don't care either way what the verdict is - but lets call a spade a spade. The political push to prosecute him from the President down doesn't surprise me that the state was hiding evidence to support their case.

Re:More proof the entire trial (1, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272395)

I don't care either way what the verdict is - but lets call a spade a spade.

Isn't that what started all this?

Re:More proof the entire trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272541)

Fine. Call a shovel a shovel and a hoe a hoe.
You can continue to be as thick as two short planks.

Re: More proof the entire trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272555)

Uh-oh. Time to call out theanti-racist [youtube.com] .

Re:More proof the entire trial (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272691)

Exactly, and the mass of misinformation flying around is just rationalized racism. Zimmerman ignored countless opportunities to the diffuse the situation -- a situation he instigated -- with no harm done. Instead he pushed on, caused the death of an innocent man and the gave the police a bunch of calculated (if nonsensical) responses to try to justify what he did. I started out thinking manslaughter would be a good fit for the crime, but after hearing Zimmerman lie through his teeth in the police interview and reenactment, Murder 2 may be deserved.

If you follow someone in the middle of the night, a reasonable person should expect a fight or flight response at some point from the person being followed. He may not have broken a specific law by following him, but he did set into motion events which were likely to result in harm or death, and which did result in Martin's death. Zimmerman was irresponsible and that ultimately led to Martin's death. That's why I suspect the ultimate verdict will be manslaughter.

As to the contents of Martin's cell phone, there was no way to know the circumstances behind those images, who or what they actually depicted, and none of it had anything to do with the case being tried. How many stories could one come up with by looking through the contents of the average cell phone? Their prejudicial effect (what the defense was hoping for) would far outweigh any probative value. The judge made the right call. It was nothing more than an attempt at character assassination on a victim who cannot speak for himself, and to continue what Zimmerman was doing when he assumed that a young black man walking through the neighborhood in the evening must be a criminal.

I have absolutely no doubt that I could have walked through that same path at the same time and Zimmerman would never have given me a second look. I'm a WASP and I enjoy the presumption of innocence in most situations that a young black man does not -- particularly in the south. No matter what the verdict, this will happen again.

Re:More proof the entire trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272641)

Dude, if they were going to fabricate a circus-case, they could do a far better job. My feeling is that the state prosecutor is doing a terrible, barely competent job, that if done on the side of the defense, would probably warrant a mistrial.

The real problem is that the police department there had to be prodded into actually doing their jobs, because they obviously wanted to sweep this case under the rug, rather than make any effort to deal with it.

Maybe you should call that out.

No wait, then you'd have to admit there's a real problem in not treating a homicide as a potential crime that warrants a serious investigation, and that George Zimmerman should have to account for his actions in open court before a jury of his peers rather than be given the benefit of the doubt for killing somebody. This wasn't somebody in his home being confronted by a robber. This wasn't someone going about his business attacked by a mugger. This was somebody who went out looking for trouble, and got another person killed because of it.

What kind of Mickey Mouse country do I live in. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272373)

It seems the ever institution in this country is corrupted to the core. I have lost all confidence in my government, local, state, and federal. How the hell are we going to get out of this mess?

Re:What kind of Mickey Mouse country do I live in. (1)

SpockLogic (1256972) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272599)

What kind of Mickey Mouse country do I live in.

If you live in Florida you live in a Mickey Mouse State.

state attempted to tamper with evidence?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272431)

Wait - the state attempted to tamper with evidence pursuant to a criminal murder investigation
that could have weakened the state's position in the prosecution on a materially innocent man?

Re:state attempted to tamper with evidence?! (1)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272545)

Shocking, isn't it?

Wait, not shocking.... What's the word I was looking for?

Oh yeah: business as usual.

-jcr

Maybe they WANT to lose the case... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272483)

Think about it this way. If Zimmerman gets acquitted and all the blacks are rioting and chimping out in Florida, everyone will be distracted and won't be focusing on the massive corruption that is being exposed every day in every level of the government of the United States of America.

It's pretty obvious that this is just a trick played on the American people.

Does anyone remember the ineffectual Occupy protests? The government knows they can do whatever they want, and most Americans are too dumb and lazy to do anything about it. Our government needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Typo (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272501)

Instead of "firing by messenger" should had been "shooting the messenger"

Hey atleast he's qualified as a paper boy (1)

axonis (640949) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272537)

He can start work first thing Sunday morning to keep on blowing !

Re:Hey atleast he's qualified as a paper boy (1)

axonis (640949) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272575)

I'm sure he could get asylum to help push 'Snowski's' barrow on his round

And, there's another lawsuit. (1)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272539)

I expect this diligent, law-abiding citizen to make a couple hundred grand on a wrongful termination action, and hopefully there will be some consequences for his boss under whistleblower statutes as well.

-jcr

Well, what do you know? (2)

jcr (53032) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272571)

Looks like the little Nifong wannabe who fired him is looking at a trial of her own for lying to get a warrant. [sacbee.com]

-jcr

Just kill the fucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#44272573)

There's gotta be some way to start killing all the fuckers responsible for ruining our society.

Not everyone.. (1)

kervin (64171) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272583)

Not everyone that betrays a position of trust is a whistle-blower.

Good discussion of IT ethics threadjacked by GZ (2, Insightful)

theoriginalturtle (248717) | 1 year,17 days | (#44272699)

You knuckleheads couldn't resist, could you? Perfectly good discussion of "when do you, as an IT person, have a moral and possibly legal obligation to intercede when unethical shenanigans goes on with your area of expertise," and you turn it the Twitter feed on Nancy Grace about an unremarkable trial in some shithole in Florida.

I remember when /. wasn't /b/

They should have never let you AOLusers on the real internet, just kept you in the box pink dialup sandbox.

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