- Greenpeace video warns that climate change is wrecking Santa’s home
- Herman Cain profiled in ‘Political Power’ comic book
- Hagel renews Qatar defense pact despite differences over Iran, Syria
- Fire departments fear Obamacare will gut volunteer ranks
- Rep. Alan Grayson loses $18M in stock scheme
- Christmas secularists get 6-foot beer-can Festivus pole at Florida Statehouse
- George Zimmerman’s girlfriend flips on assault: Let ‘my boyfriend’ go
- Lululemon Athletica chairman quits after firestorm over his fat-thighs comment
- CBS’ beleaguered Lara Logan gets a cheerleader — Dan Rather
- Jesus tops list as most significant figure in history; Mohammed at 4th
SHAPIRO: Why Justice has no case against Zimmerman
Proof of a racist motive is missing
Under federal law, the Justice Department has the power to prosecute criminal acts of violence motivated by racial hatred, but considering the “elements” that the U.S. government must prove to have federal jurisdiction or secure a conviction, it is highly unlikely they will ever have a viable case, even under civil rights statutes.
Federal criminal civil rights prosecution of private citizens such as George Zimmerman is extremely rare and federal jurisdiction in a state case is very hard to prove. In cases where a defendant has already been prosecuted by a state law enforcement agency, successive federal prosecution is almost unheard of, but it has happened.
Here are the Justice Department’s options:
Federal murder and manslaughter statutes exist under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1111 and Section 1112, respectively, and despite Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal in the state of Florida, the “separate sovereign” doctrine would not necessarily prevent the United States from re-prosecuting someone already convicted of a state crime even under the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.
However, the Justice Department would probably lack federal jurisdiction for those substantive crimes since the killing occurred within a state territory, not a federal property. It did not occur within U.S. maritime waters or on an Indian reservation and did not involve an enemy combatant. In short, there was no federal territorial jurisdiction.
In the past, officials have used Section 242 to prosecute individuals acting under color of law, meaning someone with government authority such as a police officer. Mr. Zimmerman did not work for the government, so this statute would not apply.
The Justice Department has also previously utilized Section 241 to prosecute private citizens who are not acting under color of law. However, this particular statute applies to “two or more persons who conspire to injure, threaten, oppress or intimidate any person of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution.”
Since Mr. Zimmerman acted alone, there is no conspiracy.
The only viable option the Justice Department may have is to prosecute Mr. Zimmerman under Section 249 — the recent hate crime legislation, which applies to individual private citizens, not just government officials acting under “color of law,” and no conspiracy with other individuals is required. The government can probably get federal jurisdiction under this statute because it permits such jurisdiction when “the defendant employs a firearm or other weapon that has traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.”
Let’s re-examine the facts:
There was not a single piece of evidence introduced in the original state trial that demonstrated racial motivations on Mr. Zimmerman’s part, and the state of Florida did everything possible to prove the accused guilty.
There is, however, actual contrary evidence that Mr. Zimmerman was not acting out of racial prejudice. When Mr. Zimmerman first called the police dispatcher and was asked to describe Trayvon’s appearance, Mr. Zimmerman did not volunteer any information about Trayvon’s race; he simply described Trayvon’s clothing.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
Get Breaking Alerts
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Oregon fails to sign up single person on health care website as states struggle
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- George Zimmermans girlfriend flips on assault: Let my boyfriend go
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service