Objection: Babying the Witness
Many fools were suffered yesterday. I like to think it was a verbal manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect in the midst of a case that invites opinion rather than just an indication that there are more stupid people in the world than we thought.
Go to Legal Insurrection to see the videos of Jeantel’s testimony
It’s hard to know where to start. Rachel Jeantel rolled her eyes, goaded, talked shit to, copped an attitude with, and exclaimed “What!?” when told by Zimmerman attorney Don West yesterday that he’d probably need her to testify for another couple of hours into today in order to complete her obligation as an important witness in the trial. She was incredulous, holding her head in her hands and moping as if she was in detention. Except this wasn’t school; it was the day she should have been eagerly awaiting if she was to Trayvon Martin what she said she was. If she was his friend she’d welcome an opportunity to explain to the jury and the nation that her friend was being followed by George Zimmerman. But she didn’t want to spend her time that way. She told the jury that her interview with Benjamin Crump “wasn’t nothin’” to her.
But according to a large number of commentators, Jeantel, in her stupidity and crudity, was “real”. A good number of people on TV and Twitter actually used that word. Since we’re in the age of dog-whistles, by the way, that’s another way of saying she’s ghetto.
On Martin Bashir, Jonathan Capehart of WaPo took it one step further by suggesting that Don West was being “cold” and “culturally unaware” towards Jeantel. Oh how the goalposts have shifted. The attorney for the guy who might go to prison for a really long time wasn’t nice enough to a belligerent witness? A witness who, despite what Capehart cherry-picks from his own ass, began hostilities towards West who if nothing was overly kind to Jeantel. This is an example of the tyranny of low expectations where an unintelligent person who also happens to be black can’t be treated the same way as everyone else. If we treat her with kid gloves then perhaps we should also weigh her testimony as if it came from a child.
I enjoy punishment so I watched HLN which airs SuperTrial Porn in primetime. There, one of the panel attorneys pushed back against the others who kept invoking Jeantel and Martin’s “realness” which was supposedly on display by their casual use of “creepy ass cracka”. The simps on the panel wanted to focus on Zimmerman’s “creepiness” which indicates that the commenters aren’t all that familiar with the parlance of youth where “bad” means “good” and “bet” means “OK” and “hella” means “very”. “Creepy” is tossed around like an exhausted gym towel, and not only among teenagers. In any case, as the reasonable attorney on HLN pointed out, whenever he’d ever been called a cracker as a cop or attorney it was usually paired with aggression. It’s like “motherfucker”; it’s not a passive term. You don’t say “this motherfucker’s following me” if you’re scared; you say it if you’re angry. I don’t know that a female jury will understand how males speak to each other.
Nevertheless, a couple of other issues came up besides West crossing Jeantel up on her prior sworn statements about whether or not Martin’s voice was the one screaming on the 911 call. Jeantel said that she didn’t know that she was being recorded in her initial interview by anyone other than Ben Crump and Martin’s mother. She did not know that Matt Gutman from ABC would be in on the call, though he definitely was.
Another report was that Jeantel’s mother (when Jeantel was merely DeeDee) had tried soon after the shooting to tell Sanford PD that her daughter had spoken to Martin. That leak came from a source close to the Martin family. There are only a few guesses as to who that source might be. That nugget of narrative didn’t get spread all over, but it was part of a narrative that indicated that all stops were pulled out from Martin’s side to get Sanford PD to arrest Zimmerman.
This is important.
If, as the State and Crump et al claims, Jeantel’s earwitness testimony is so important to Zimmerman’s guilt then why would anyone expect Sanford PD to think the same way without that very important piece of information which could only provided by Jeantel? I think most people thought that attempts were made to bring all sorts of information to Sanford PD but that they just ignored it all. No, there were many moving parts, fears, agendas, biases, etc. which prevented Sanford PD from getting all of the information they needed to fully weigh Zimmerman’s actions. On March 5, 2012, Sanford PD’s Sgt. Santiago asked Tracy Martin for his son’s cell phone PIN. Martin never got back to Santiago and cracked the phone himself and took its contents up from South Beach to Crump up in Tallahassee.
But as it stood at the time, a self-defense claim is granted if the self-defender has cause to have protected themselves. Zimmerman was all bloodied up; the initial assumption or bias there is that, yes, he had a reason to defend himself. Now, *if* Jeantel had come forward at that time to tell what she heard that night, the timeline might have changed. Zimmerman may or may not have been arrested after that, but Jeantel didn’t help the wheels of justice which are now being forced to work in overdrive. She may or may not have cried during her testimony yesterday claiming that she felt some guilt at being the last person Martin talked to, but what she should feel guilt about, if she is telling some semblance of the truth, is that she disregarded Martin altogether.
This isn’t to say that even if she is telling the truth and fully remembers what was said on the phone and was able to somehow know exactly what did happen that night that Zimmerman is guilty of the charges against him. Jeantel has absolutely no way of knowing who hit whom first, and that sends us to the scoreboard in terms of whose face and head was all busted up.