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OPINION - Second bite at the apple

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   You didn't think George Zimmerman's legal problems were over.

Just ten minutes after the jury's verdict, Rev. Al Sharpton had a news release out calling for the Justice Department to reopen its civil rights investigation into Trayvon Martin's death. The NAACP talked up the possibility of new, federal charges on the Sunday talk shows.

Actually the DOJ's investigation was never closed. Ultimately President Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder will have to decide if new federal charges will be filed. The President has already telegraphed his feelings about the case, infamously noting that the son he doesn't have would look like Trayvon Martin.

There are a few problems with the civil rights case. For starters, the local police and the FBI each determined that race wasn't a factor in the case. The feds will have a more difficult problem in prosecuting a Hispanic-on-black crime. And there are still the problems from the original trial, where a jury found that Trayvon Martin was likely the aggressor and that George Zimmerman likely acted in self-defense.

There's also a problem with the optics. Objective observers saw this case for what it was - unprovable beyond a reasonable doubt. A federal case looks like a second bite at the apple. After all, this isn't a white-on-black crime decided by a 1950s Alabama jury. And now the feds would have to attempt to prove what was in George Zimmerman's head and heart. Are we going to be satisfied with a thought-crime trial? Let's hope they don't even try.

Chris Conley