The highly publicized trial of George Zimmerman captured the attention of people everywhere. The jury’s decision to acquit sparked outrage among those who believe that the death of Trayvon Martin was a direct result of racial bias. When asked to comment on the case, New York attorney Joseph Tacopina said, “Based on the evidence at trial and the jury’s verdict, it appears former Sanford, Fla., police chief Bill Lee had been right: Zimmerman should not have been charged.”
- The trial is a prime example of due process at work. In a criminal trial, prosecutors have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal defendant is guilty of the crime as charged. “The system would break if defense attorneys made the decision of the judge and the jury. Everyone is entitled to representation,” says Tacopina. “No matter whether the client is innocent or guilty, the bottom line is the state has to prove their case.” Clearly, in this case, prosecutors failed to meet their burden: Jurors heard the facts of this a case but remained unconvinced that George Zimmerman acted in a way that violated Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
- Prosecutors failed to present irrefutable evidence demonstrating that Zimmerman committed second degree murder or manslaughter.
- A fair and impartial jury of six voted to acquit based primarily on a lack of evidence of Zimmerman’s guilt.
This is a simple example of due process at work.
Joseph Tacopina, a widely-respected New York criminal defense attorney, is no stranger to controversy in criminal trials, having represented clients such as Ken Moreno, Joran van der Sloot, Michael Jackson, Bernard Keric, Melanie McGuire, Lillo Brancato Jr., Cecille Villacorta and Hiram Monserrate in criminal cases throughout the United States.