This is from the “you’ve got to be kidding me” files. George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC came up recently, and the same judge that appeared to be so biased against him during his criminal trial proved it by throwing out what is really a slam-dunk case.
In the audio played repeatedly by NBC on the air to a national audience, the dispatcher’s inquiry was spliced out, as was Zimmerman’s explanatory text of why it appeared that Martin’s behavior was notable:
Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good . . . He looks black.”
The doctored audio obviously suggests that Zimmerman purportedly believed Martin was “up to no good” solely on the basis of being black–prima facie racism. Utterly fabricated, of course.
Despite this, Judge Nelson has dismissed Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC on the basis that he had become a “limited public figure” in the controversy. How so? Judge Nelson writes:
[Zimmerman]e voluntarily injected his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford and pursued a course of conduct that ultimately led to the death of Martin and the specific controversy surrounding it. Moreover, Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin rendered him a public figure in the ensuing controversy.
Yep, according to Judge Nelson, Zimmerman became a limited public figure unable to pursue a clear case of libel because, while doing nothing whatever unlawful himself, and conducting himself precisely as instructed by the police who managed the Neighborhood Watch Program in which he participated, became the victim of a vicious, life-threatening attack by Trayvon Martin.
More simply, if you are the utterly innocent victim of a violent criminal attack by someone of another race, and defend yourself, that makes you a limited public figure subject without recourse to deliberate libel by the news media.
Of course, even as a limited public figure Zimmerman could still sue for libel if he could demonstrate malice. Judge Nelson deals with that by simply concluding that he cannot demonstrate malice:
Zimmerman cannot carry his burden of proving that the single, allegedly [?!?!–AFB] defamatory statement he challenges in the March 20 TODAY show broadcast was disseminated with actual malice.
She similarly dismisses other disseminations of essentially the same libelous content.
Go read the whole post. And yes, this is the exact same judge that ignored the law and threw out perfectly valid cellphone evidence, without actually telling anyone why (which would have made the judgement appeal-able).
Frankly I’m amazed that she, or the prosecution the Zimmerman case, are allowed in a courtroom at all.