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Judge Rules Defense Can Use Trayvon Martin Tweets 848

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-cannot-or-will-not-afford-an-attorney dept.
theodp writes "The NY Times reports a judge in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman has ruled that Trayvon Martin's school and social media records should be provided to the defense. Judge Debra S. Nelson said Martin's Twitter, Facebook and school records were relevant in the self-defense case. In those instances, showing whether a victim 'had an alleged propensity to violence' or aggression is germane, the judge said. The defense also got permission for access to the social media postings of a Miami girl who said she was on the phone with Martin just before the shooting. Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?'"
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Judge Rules Defense Can Use Trayvon Martin Tweets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:41PM (#41715863)

    This case has always been much more about media bias than about a mexican shooting a black.

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @03:18PM (#41716123)

      I still don't recall a single story in the mainstream media that had a picture of the victim as anything other than a kid of 11 or so. They're obviously trying to generate outrage for attrcting clicks or purchases.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RocketRabbit (830691)

        Yeah when the recent photos of Treyvon became available the media ignored it.

        Let's face it - the reason this story even became national news was to push a gun control agenda, and to outrage blacks.

        • by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:57PM (#41716777) Journal
          you mean the one that wasn't even him? yea thet is why it only showed up in right wing rags and neo nazi blogs
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Zimmerman is a red herring. This would never have become a major news case if the police had done a proper investigation instead of questioning the killer for some hours and letting him go, like he'd been caught nabbing candy.

      The question is why a murder case, claimed self-defence or not, was given about as much diligence as your average shoplifting.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:43PM (#41715869)

    Tweeting, and posting on facebook or other social sites are forms of speech, speech is protected by the first amendment but that said it can also be used against you in any court of law. 'Anything you say can and will be used against you' so I think the current miranda rights cover that.

    So nothing really ground breaking here as far as I'm concerned.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yaur (1069446) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:44PM (#41715887)
    Zimmerman, not Martin, is the accused here so of course he should be entitled to what ever exculpatory evidence he can find. If the "Miami girl who said she was on the phone with Martin just before the shooting" wanted her social media postings protected on 5th amendment grounds and the court found that they weren't protected there might be a story here, but the summary at least doesn't hint at that.
  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#41715919)
    Consider: A protected twitter account, a twitter account that is public, a posting on Facebook that is restricted to certain friends, a posting that is open to friends of friends, your school records, your medical records. In each instance, there is a varying degree of privacy expected. That degree of privacy ought to be the measure of how a court accesses the information, rather than the medium the information is stored in.
    • by e3m4n (947977) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @03:33PM (#41716197)

      they wont see it that way... let me counter that with a different medium but similar concept..

      I am hanging around a campfire with 5 of my buddies, we are all drinking. I make the comment that I cant stand my boss and I'm probably going to kill him one day. A week later he is found murdered in his home. One of my buddies drops an anonymous tip about my drunken outburst to the cops. The cops go gather witness statements from a couple of these buddies and collect enough evidence for grand jury indictment. Later all 5 people are brought into court, sworn in under oath, and made to testify as to the accounts of that night.

      I cannot claim that just because I didnt get on live TV and make the announcement, I had some expectation of privacy. If these twitter and facebook posts as well as school records create a pattern of violence and other criminal activity, it garners support of the defendants claim:

        "during the physical altercation with Travon Martin, Travon found the gun lodged in the waistband of George's belt and grabbed for it while saying 'you're going to die tonight mother fucker!'. During the struggle for George's life, the gun discharged once into the chest of Travon at point-blank range".

      This is a statement of account that has no eye witness. The defense claims that the intent was just to detain one of the people that has been constantly breaking into the homes of the neighborhood and Travon jumped him, resulting in a struggle for life. Some of these breakins have even been home invasions while residents were home. For weeks cops have gotten there 30min too late to catch them. Many times even called in by George to come grab them. This again gives a story of a man simply trying to slow people down just enough for the cops to arrive. Its a good story. Nobody will ever know what really happened besides George and Travon. Dead people obviously cant testify.

      Meanwhile the media, and the victim's family, are painting Travon as this completely innocent angel, an honor roll student, that's only crime in life was being black. So if these records show:
      1. travon was a C and D student
      2. Travon had a poor attendance recorc
      3. Suspensions and records of disciplinary action for extreme violence
      4. tweets bragging about breaking into homes
      5. facebook posts bragging about, or pictures showing, stolen goods

      Then although they, by themselves, do not prove travon grabbed the gun and tried to murder George; still accomplish character assasination. "If they lied about these things, then they're probably lying about everything else too, just to avoid public record of their son being a criminal". Once that opinion gets formed with the jury it will be harder to get a conviction for sure. The evidence to decide on is not whether George shot and killed Travon, he clearly did. The question is whether George's life was actually in immanent danger, justifying self defense.

      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:17PM (#41716493)

        And evidence that Trayvon was in a fight club would give credence to the zimmermans statements that trayvon was winning a physical fight with him and travon beating the hell out of him.

        A fit 6'2 17 year old who fist fought for sport could credibly get an out of shape heavier man afraid for his life.

        If you look at the 911 calls and peg the locations to the maps- Travon- was last seen over a minute only 300' from his house. It takes about 20 seconds to cover that distance.
        Zimmerman continues talking to 911 for about a minute after last seeing Travon with no evidence he had seen Travon again yet.

        Travon didn't go home. It's possible he got pissed off and returned to the scene.

        The main scenario where Zimmerman could be guilty and culpable is if Travon had been hiding and zimmerman spots him and goes over and puts his hands on travon to attempt to detain him.

        If on the other hand Travon got pissed that Zimmerman was following him, they exchanged heated words and travon attacked first- then zimmer man killed in self defense. You don't hit other people. You don't key their cars. If there is a problem, you call the police. Travon could have called the police and said someone was following him.

        17 year olds are unfortunately adults in body but unwise children in temperament and logical thinking.

        This situation is tragic but if I were on the jury, based on the evidence I've seen so far, I'd have reasonable doubt. And in america, you have to prove people are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal trials.

      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @07:11AM (#41720769)

        My problem:

        You do not go on neighborhood watch with a gun. You do not attempt to apprehend people while on neighborhood watch. You are neighborhood WATCH, not a sworn and trained officer of the law.

        Everything about this sounds like Martin was a fucking idiot kid who liked to shoot off his mouth and Zimmerman imagined himself to be some kind of law dog who was going to bust this thing wide open.

        Zimmerman also is putting tons of words into Martins mouth, and many of those words sound to me like bullshit - like a very, very bad script writer tried to write a part for scary black thug #2 or something.

        I don't know what happened that night - I'm actually not even sure Zimmerman knows what happened that night at this point. I do know that Zimmerman is not helping himself and has not been helping himself this entire time.

        I also know that it's good that this has been investigated and is going to trial rather than just being waved off as it initially was. A man is dead at the hands of another man, under unclear circumstances, and that Deserves an investigation and trial. If Zimmerman really was acting in self-defense (or at least is found to have been acting so) then he'll be fine. If not, he will be punished according to the law. Isn't that what should happen?

        I am not a gun person, though I am somewhat realistic about guns and gun culture in the US. I don't think it is unreasonable for a man who used a gun to shoot another man to stand trial for that. I don't care about the racial noise, I don't care about the politics. I just want people who kill other people to be held accountable for their actions.

        I actually am somewhat surprised at the number of people who post here and seem to be pro-gun and simultaneously bothered that Zimmerman is being tried. You would think responsible gun owners would be glad that we live in a nation of laws and that a man who shot another man under incredibly unclear circumstances wouldn't just be left free to walk on his own say-so. I mean, what if things had gone differently and Martin shot Zimmerman with Zimmerman's gun? Wouldn't people want that to be investigated and tried also?

  • by Mr_DW (894313) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:50PM (#41715923) Homepage
    Okay so you say "Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?'"' And FTFH "Judge Debra S. Nelson said Martin's Twitter, Facebook and school records were relevant in the self-defense case." Miranda is for the accused. Basically your snide comment makes your headline look dumb.
  • by webbiedave (1631473) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#41715937)

    Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?

    Sorry but courts allow emails to be introduced as evidence so long as authenticity can be established. Why shouldn't this hold true for tweets and facebook posts? This has absolutely nothing to do with Miranda.

    • by sco08y (615665)

      Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?

      Sorry but courts allow emails to be introduced as evidence so long as authenticity can be established. Why shouldn't this hold true for tweets and facebook posts? This has absolutely nothing to do with Miranda.

      Someone must have a screenshot. That's incontrovertible evidence, right?

  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#41716099)

    Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?'"

    In 1912, instant messaging meant sending a telegram or mailing a postcard. "Ten words or less." In 2012, you tweet. That changes nothing. Evidence that is relevant to an issue in dispute is admissible unless there is a compelling legal reason to exclude it.

    A Miranda warning is required only when you are about to be interrogated by the police, with damn few exceptions, what you expose to others has always been fair game.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#41716131) Homepage

    Mr. Martin is not on trial. He's dead. Mr. Zimmerman is on trial. If the prosecution could find any "Tweets" or FaceBook postings of his that they could use against him the court would permit it.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @04:31PM (#41716579)
    On the internet everybody is a bigger mouth than in reality. I know quite a few people which have semi "violent" forums post, but are cowards in real life. Saying that facebook post shows a history of violence is utterly bullshit. A history of violence is when you bully others, steal, go into a lot of fight. Facebook post are for poseur. If this is used as defense than it is utter bullshit. I hope the prosecutor make sure to check trayvon in real life to show such "history of violence" from facebook psot for the bull it is.
  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Saturday October 20, 2012 @05:56PM (#41717165) Homepage

    Yes yes, we all know teenagers are EXACTLY who they pretend to be on Facebook. No one ever exaggerates or role-plays online.

    Just look at the posts on this thread: all the self-righteous self-defenders who talk so goddamn tough about how they've trained to Rambo their way out of any conflict. There was a reply post a few weeks ago about some kid who was bullied so badly that he now has an arsenal of guns and makes his own body armor, or rather that's what he claims because, y'know, internet.

    The defense should have access to this data, but any rational person knows it's a kid pretending to be bad ass. Now, getting thrown out of school for starting fights is more accurate, tangible info compared to web bragging from an overinflated sense of self-worth: aka, teenagers.

    This is a good example that anything you say online is fair game, and is eternal. Same goes for pictures and dumb youtube videos. I kinda feel bad for all the young girls who post risque vids of themselves the end up on porn aggregators, that shit's out there forever. Note: I said "kinda", I'd also like to thank them from the bottom of my .. uh .. heart.

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