Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Argument from ignorance

The fascinating train wreck that is the George Zimmerman murder trial continued to be an embarrassment for the prosecutors today.  In the morning, after an elaborate argument the judge ruled that testimony about Zimmerman's scholastic record--from years before he ever encountered Trayvon Martin--was admissible. The only mystery after it was admitted, is why Zimmerman's attorneys ever resisted allowing it.

First, a former instructor at Seminole Community College, then a Public Defender teaching a class on criminal procedure (which included George Zimmerman as student) an affable black man who is today a Captain and JAG in the Army, testified that if a person has a reasonable fear of his life being threatened, he has a right to use deadly force against his assailant.  AKA, what George Zimmerman is asserting happened.

Further, the prosecution has a burden of proving their assertion that Zimmerman had malice, ill-will and spite toward black people generally.  Which argument their witness undermined by his friendly, 'Hi, George.', to Zimmerman during his testimony. IOW, another prosecution witness ended up testifying for the defense.

Then the prosecution attempted to introduce testimony from another former Community College instructor, who taught an online class on criminal procedure that Zimmerman had taken, who was located in Colorado.  That was to be done over SKYPE. Until the phone number on which the instructor was attempting to talk was seen on national television by several people who took the opportunity to call in to become part of the party.  A Comedy of Errors (though the prosecution may have thought it tragedy). Eventually, via cell phone, the defense got the instructor to admit that he had no evidence that Zimmerman had even read the material in question that supposedly showed Zimmerman was trained in giving testimony--and thus so cagey as to fool train police investigators.

Even worse, the prosecution had argued that Zimmerman wanted to be a badly, he even rode along with a patrolman once.  But the de-SKYPEd testimony also established that Zimmerman's stated reason to that professor for taking the class was that he'd like to become an attorney!

Worse than not proving Zimmerman committed a crime, the prosecutors had committed more blunders.

Now, as this post is being written, the prosecution is having a laboratory biologist testify that he had found no DNA of Trayvon Martin on George Zimmerman's gun. Which, as the world has known since John Locke coined the term argumentum ad ignorantiam, in the 17th century, the absence of evidence is not proof of anything. And the scientists particularly know this with regards to DNA;
Just because the defendant’s DNA wasn’t found on crucial evidence doesn’t mean he or she wasn’t involved in the commission of the crime; a sexual assault can still occur without a male ejaculating. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” as the old forensic chestnut goes. 
As another old chestnut has it, if this was a boxing match the ref would have stopped it long ago.

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