George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin. The Martin family is now considering other legal options including a civil lawsuit. Unfortunately for the family, a civil lawsuit would not bring them the sense of justice they desire.
The Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Martin. The jury had the option to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. In the end, their decision was that Zimmerman acted in self defense when he shot Martin. The acquittal has led to protests across the nation.
During an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump stated that the family was in disbelief about their son’s death and the verdict. He added that the family was considering additional legal options, including a civil lawsuit. While a criminal lawsuit requires the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil lawsuit requires the plaintiff to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. Unfortunately for the Martins, the evidence provided during the criminal trial did not invalidate Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
If the Martin family does pursue a civil lawsuit, they may accuse Zimmerman of wrongful death. The Martins would have to prove that Zimmerman’s wrongful conduct led to the death of their son. This would require convincing a court that Zimmerman did not act in self defense when he was allegedly attacked. The jury in the criminal trial did not believe that claim. It would be difficult for a civil trial jury not to reach the same conclusion.
The prosecution’s witnesses from the criminal trial would not help in a civil trial. Rachel Jeantel lied to prosecutors and during her testimony at the trial. Jonathan Good contradicted another prosecution witness by stating that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and punching him. These witnesses may not help the Martins but could help the defense.
A civil lawsuit would also remind people of Trayvon Martin’s past. This would hurt the image his parents want to promote. This would include Martin’s marijuana use the day of the shooting and his use of the racial slur “cracker” to describe Zimmerman. There were also multiple problems at school that led to Martin receiving suspensions.
While a civil lawsuit may give the Martin family another opportunity for “a sense of justice” for the death of their son, it would also add to their suffering. The evidence, the prosecution’s witnesses, and Trayvon Martin’s past would not lead to a different decision by a different jury. Another not guilty verdict would add to their sorrow and still not give them the closure that they desire.