Racism

With the media scrutiny, not charging George Zimmerman would have been the bigger surprise.

The Washington Post is reporting that special prosecutor Angela Corey will hold a press conference this afternoon charging Zimmerman with something arising out of the death of Trayvon Martin.

Just what he’ll be charged with is anyone’s guess, is he getting hit with murder, manslaughter, or the simple “hunting black teens without a license,” which I think is just a misdemeanor in Florida. Check back for updates as we learn more.

Of course, charging the man and finding him are two completely different things…

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Last Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School’s inadvertent release of personal academic information for its entire admitted class — names, addresses, GPAs, LSAT scores, and scholarship offers. Last Friday, my colleague Elie Mystal used this data to argue in defense of affirmative action.

We believe in offering a wide range of perspectives here at Above the Law. That’s one thing that’s nice about having four full-time writer/editors — myself, Elie, Staci Zaretsky, Chris Danzig — and about a dozen outside columnists.

Today we bring you a different viewpoint on the Baylor law admissions data. Prominent lawyer and blogger Ted Frank, previously profiled in these pages for his work in the class-action area, uses the same data to argue against affirmative action.

Let’s hear what he has to say, shall we?

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On Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School accidentally releasing personal academic information for its entire admitted class. It was a massive screw-up, and on Wednesday, we showed you the GPA and LSAT scores for Baylor’s admitted students (with the students’ names redacted, of course).

But there were other fields available in the accidentally released spreadsheet, including racial categorizations for each student and scholarship information. I didn’t include the race field earlier this week because, frankly, I didn’t want the entire news story (of the screw-up) to be overrun by a discussion about race and affirmative action.

But, look, I ain’t afraid of you people. Getting a complete racial breakdown of the class to go along with their grades and LSAT scores is a look inside the law school admissions process that we don’t often get to see.

So, let’s play our game. Looking at the Baylor numbers, you can see the affirmative action “bump” in LSAT scores, and to my eyes, it really shows how foolish the opponents of affirmative action really are….

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* “We can’t engage the public in a seminar about health law.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor informed the public at Penn Law that she would not be taking up a post as a Wise Latina civics instructor. [Wall Street Journal]

* Next on Meltdown with Keith Olbermann: this liberal commentator has sued Current TV over getting fired. It is clearly the most irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, tea-bagging network ever. [Businessweek]

* George Zimmerman has added another lawyer to his soon-to-be defense team — a “veteran criminal defense” lawyer. Why did he need to hire such a hot shot if what he did to Trayvon Martin was legal? [Reuters]

* Step aside TSA: what kinds of rights do cruise passengers have at sea? How about the right not to be interrogated, strip searched, and then forced to pee in front of security guards? [Overhead Bin / MSNBC]

* Jordan Wallick has been convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of James Wallmuth III, a University of Pittsburgh law student. Wallick is now looking at life behind bars for his crime. [CBS 21 News]

Which one looks more suspicious to you?

We live in a world where George Zimmerman is still walking around free, still carrying his gun, and thus still available to shoot other black teens that he might find “suspicious.”

But I bet if Zimmerman had shot somebody’s dog he’d have already been sued.

Last summer, I wrote about Thomas and Darren Russell, brothers who had their Labrador retriever shot dead by the police who came to search their house. An Illinois jury awarded them $333,000 for their loss.

Well, the price for shooting a dog is going up, while the consequence for shooting an unarmed black teen remains the same as it ever was…

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There are data breaches, and then there are data dummies. The people at Baylor Law seem to be in the latter category.

Nobody was trying to steal the personal information of the admitted students at Baylor Law. But a screw-up by someone at the school resulted in all of the personal information of the admitted class getting transmitted to everybody else in the admitted class.

All of it. Names, addresses, grades, and LSAT scores. Pretty much everything besides social security numbers.

And, we have it….

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On Monday, we posted pictures of law students protesting the Trayvon Martin killing. We had pictures from Yale and Harvard and a few other top-14 law schools.

But these protests aren’t just going on at elite law schools. Since our post on Monday we’ve been inundated with photos from other law schools. There have been so many scary looking people wearing hoodies around me that I’m almost out of bullets.

Seriously though, I can’t remember another protest where students from so many different law schools stood in solidarity with each other. Let’s look at some of the protests…

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Danzig here. Over the last few days, I have tried to stay out of the Trayvon Martin story. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teenager, was shot and killed by one George Zimmerman. Whether or not Martin’s death was a murder or a justifiable homicide has been a matter of some debate.

The shooting has picked up national attention, and it’s shedding yet another ugly spotlight on race relations in America. I’m on the same page as Elie regarding most of his frustration. But earlier this week we learned that the slain teen’s mother had filed a trademark application for “I am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon.”

Elie thinks, in a nutshell, that this is a good and proper strategy to preserve Trayvon’s memory and prevent random people from profiting off of his death. But I have to disagree. I think his family members are wasting their time and energy.

Keep reading for details on the trademark applications. Grab a Coke and a bag of chips, and watch the two of us digitally duke it out in today’s ATL debate….

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Last week, Geraldo Rivera said something stupid even by Geraldo Rivera standards. I don’t want to be accused of “mischaracterizing” his words, so here’s what he said:

Speaking on Friday’s “Fox and Friends,” Rivera said, “”I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”…

Rivera argued that avoiding certain types of attire was a necessary deterrent against racial profiling. “It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie,” Rivera said. “You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangster, you’re gonna be a gangster wannabe? Well, people are gonna perceive you as a menace.”

So, white kids get to wear hoodies without being racially profiled while black kids are stylizing themselves as gangsters if they wear one? Great. That’s fair. I have a Harvard hoodie — am I asking to be racially profiled as a 7-11 stick-up boy when I go out with Harvard emblazoned across my chest?

Sorry, you know what I’m doing? I’m getting into an argument with Geraldo Rivera. Arguing with Geraldo is like trying to convince your dog to stop licking its butt; it hears you, but it doesn’t understand your concerns about propriety.

Students at Harvard Law and Yale Law had a more effective response to all the people who think wearing a hoodie makes you look like a criminal. Tell me if these kids would scare you into gunning them down in the middle of the street….

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Florida’s “stand your ground” law has received a lot of attention this week as people struggle to understand how a teenager named Trayvon Martin, armed with Skittles, was gunned down in the street. The FBI, the Justice Department, and a Florida grand jury are now all investigating the incident where Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, claims he was acting in self-defense.

I don’t want to get into the racial aspect of the instant situation — mainly because it’s too obvious. Don’t get me started on what the police would have done if a black man shot a white teenager to death and claimed he was standing his ground. It’s not even worth debating.

But even if race played a role here, it doesn’t mean a prosecutable crime took place. As many now know, that’s because Florida’s “stand your ground” law does not require people to retreat, even if they can do so safely.

Sure, “real men” don’t run. You can’t find a culture on Earth where running away is “honorable.” But in light of what’s happened with these laws on the books, do they really make sense? Is the enforcement of these laws racially prejudiced? Do “stand your ground” laws really just make it open season on black youths who might “scare” prejudiced people who incorrectly think they’re in danger of their lives?

I think so, but at least that’s a position where reasonable people will disagree….

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