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With all of the disappointment in the jury's verdict, it is important to keep in mind what the jury did not find.  They did not find that George Zimmerman was innocent of killing Trayvon Martin.  

In our system of justice, the State cannot get a conviction unless it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of a crime.  This means that even if the jury believes that the Defendant is probably guilty, they must find him not guilty if they have a reasonable doubt.    In other words, if the jury believed that it was 75% or even 99% likely that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, they must find George Zimmerman not guilty as long as they have a reasonable doubt that he might not be guilty.  

As much as we don't like the result in this particular case, we should keep in mind that the legal principle articulated by English jurist William Blackstone is important.  He stated:

"It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his seminal work, Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

We need to remember that if a lesser standard was used than beyond a reasonable doubt, we as a society would face it being a common occurrence where innocent people are deprived of their liberty, and in cases where there is the death penalty, their life.

And no matter how much the NRA and the right wing tries to portray tonight's verdict as a victory for George Zimmerman, we need to make it clear that tonight our system of justice was followed in that the State merely failed to meet its burden of proof.  The verdict tonight in no way shape or form should be viewed as an exoneration of George Zimmerman's actions.

And one more thing to keep in mind is that there is still a way to hold George Zimmerman responsible for his actions.  The burden in a civil case is much lower.  Although I am not familiar with Florida law, in a civil case in Maryland (and many other areas) the person bringing the action will prevail if they can show by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is the amount of evidence to tip a scale ever so slightly in favor of that side.  This means that there may yet be an opportunity for the family of Trayvon Martin to prevail.  

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