George Zimmerman, free man (Joe Burbank/Pool/Orlando Sentinel)
George Zimmerman, free man. (Joe Burbank/Pool/Orlando Sentinel)

A Florida jury reached a verdict over the weekend that George Zimmerman was not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. The rest of us reached our own verdicts long ago, and nobody is quite satisfied with the outcome of the trial, since it was so different from the trial in our heads. And that, Ruth Marcus argues today, means a perfectly correct legal outcome can be personally, socially and morally wrong. The same way a confessed killer might go free if he or she was not offered a free lawyer, we all have bought into a system — and we all basically agree to have a system — in which justice doesn’t always quite get served.

In the comments, readers demonstrate that the trials in their heads — what they know, believe and conclude about the case — are much different from that trial that happened in Florida.

DOps adds up a lot of maybes to support the jury’s decision:

No one really knows what went down that night. What was in Martin’s mind or Zimmerman’s. No one. We have what evidence we have — no racial slurs by Zimmerman, an apparent assault by Martin on Zimmerman: defensive, offensive, peremptory, we don’t know. Was he high on pot? Maybe, maybe not. Did he have some kind of adolescent hormone surge? Maybe, maybe not. But, framing him as the kid who went out for Skittles and a Slurpee is as unfairly speculative as anything. Building him up to be some sort of martyred legend accomplishes nothing but to fuel hatred.

We do know that Zimmerman was under attack, defended himself, and survived. And the law found his actions justifiable under the law. Tragic. But, that’s the law. Move on to change the law if you like. Leave Zimmerman out of it. It is a different fight.

stevec3 adds up a lot of maybes to attack the jury’s decision:

Mr. Zimmerman was clearly in an emotionally agitated state through his comments. He left his car, a 4000 pound safe zone. He was in possession of deadly force. He had already called the police. His behavior in approaching Trayvon Martin was the proximate cause of the confrontation, even as it is clear that Mr. Martin was in a physical confrontation with him. Had George Zimmerman stayed in his car, none of this would have occurred.

whetstonept is perturbed that the law doesn’t really have an explanation for Martin and Zimmerman’s confrontation.

Not to mention that it is more than a little strange that a young man walking home and another man on a neighborhood watch–both of them innocent, as far as it goes, can come together and in a couple of minutes one of them is dead, and the law is so arranged that, legally speaking, it’s almost as if it never happened.

devin3 says what precluded justice was the particular charge Zimmerman faced:

If the prosecutor hadn’t been fueled by self-aggrandizement and political pressure she would have filed the reasonable charge of reckless endangerment or criminal negligence or something of the sort and Zimmerman would be serving 5-10 years right now. Even Zimmerman’s idiot lawyer could beat the murder charge with ease given the facts of the case.

BobCinGA disagrees:

How the hell was Zimmerman’s behavior negligent and irresponsible? Did he not have a right to walk about in his own neighborhood because Martin was there and might be offended? What kind of twisted reasoning are you people using?

And sharedgum reminds us that what began the media circus is that Zimmerman at first hadn’t been charged at all:

These are interesting questions, and I agree that if both men had been black, this would have ended up being a statistic. But, in regards to “If Trayvon had beaten Zimmerman to death and claimed self defense, would the black community have protested his arrest?” – I don’t think that there is any chance that a black teen does not get arrested immediately. If Zimmerman had simply been arrested right away, I think that much of this would have been averted.

sfc_ret91 ably summarizes much of the post-verdict reaction with one indisputable fact and one WTF:

Two main points come to mind after this trial. 1) Another reason NOT to go near Florida. 2) Another reason women do NOT belong in a position of authority.

Because the jurors were all women, PostScript guesses? But she wouldn’t want to assert that with any authority.