This week, Justin Leto and Andy Dean discussed several interesting legal topics, including the following:
1. Trayvon Martin–one year later. It has already been one year since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Initially, there was a great deal of public outrage over the shooting and there were many allegations that George Zimmerman is a racist shot and killed Trayvon Martin because of the color of his skin. Certainly, there is evidence which could suggest that Zimmerman profiled Martin and that the shooting was racially motivated, but there is also evidence that Zimmerman’s actions amount to self defense. At the heart of the case is Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law. The law allows a person to use lethal and deadly force if the person subjectively believes that their life is in danger. So, if Zimmerman can prove that Trayvon Martin was attacking him in such a way that he feared for his life, the shooting will be considered justified.
One of the biggest problems that Zimmerman has is the recorded 9-1-1 calls which specifically direct him to stand down and wait for the police. His decision to be vigilant and ignore the directives of the 9-1-1 operator could prove problematic for his defense.
It will be a very interesting case to watch. No matter which way the jury decides, the most important thing to remember is that the jury’s decisions should be respected.
2. The trial of cannibal cop in New York. This case presents an interesting question of what is criminal and what is purely fantasy. A former NYC police officer is accused of plotting to murder, cook, and then eat his wife. His wife discovered this alleged plan when she was going through his computer. The legal question becomes whether this former cop was actually plotting to commit these heinous and unthinkable crimes, or whether he was on the Internet fantasizing. He had no history of violence, has never harmed his wife and there appears to be no evidence that he even threatened her. The prosecution is equating his Internet ramblings to that of a “threat.” The problem is that he never directed these alleged threats to her. She only learned about them when she went and looked on his computer.
Because the facts are so disgusting, i predict the jury will convict this man. However, i also predict that on appeal, the appellate court will throw out the conviction because there is insufficient evidence to charge this man with an actual crime.
3. Surveillance case from the Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) improperly permits the U.S. government to listen in on people’s telephone and electronic conversations in their attempts to thwart terrorist attacks. Instead of deciding the merits of whether the statute, itself, is unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court threw the case out for lack of “standing.”
In order to bring a case in front of any court, you must be an injured or aggrieved party. You are not permitted to bring a case on behalf of someone else (unless you are their parent or legal guardian). This is referred to as legal standing to bring a lawsuit. In this case, the Supreme Court held that the journalists that fear that their privacy will be unjustly invaded by FISA lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. The reason the Court decided this was because the journalists could only speculate that they would be monitored and could not prove that they were actually being monitored by the government.
In my opinion, this is a wholly unfair opinion. The reason is that FISA is specifically designed to be a secret. In order to conduct the secret surveillance, the government gets authority from a secret court. So, there is no one that will ever be able to prove that they have standing because the very essence of the law is to prevent those under surveillance from knowing they are under surveillance. My biggest issue with this case is that all laws should be susceptible to checks and balances. In this case, FISA will never be subject to a check from the courts as to whether it is a constitutional exercise of power. The fact that the Court has deemed this law to be essentially unchallengeable creates a major constitutional problem which i hope will be addressed.
The Leto Law Firm is a Miami medical malpractice and Miami personal injury law firm that represents victims of negligence. We specialize is traumatic brain injury, products liability, wrongful death and appeals.