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News Posted on April 16, 2012

Professor Chin Comments on Trayvon Martin Case for CNN, New York Times

Professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin has published an essay on the CNN website on the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen whose shooting at the hands of George Zimmerman has been the subject of intense media coverage and public debate.  He also commented on the case for an article in the New York Times.

In an interview conducted before charges were filed in the case, Professor Chin commented for the Times on the strategies employed by prosecutors in deciding how to charge such cases.  "There is a tradition of ‘charging high' and letting the jury decide," but that strategy has its risks, he said.  "You don't want to make an opening statement to the jury where you hurt your credibility. If you end up overreaching, you could wind up with nothing."

Responding to the news that Zimmerman had been charged with second-degree murder, Chin authored an essay stating that "This development shows several positive things about the criminal justice system. First, it makes clear that even under Florida's liberal self-defense laws, an implausible or unsubstantiated claim of self-defense does not constitute a ‘get out of jail free' card."  In addition, he praised the Florida special prosecutor's statement "that the charges were based on careful investigation and evaluation of the facts, not on ‘pressure or petition.' It is wonderful that the rallies, marches and protests brought attention to a case that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. But it would be disastrous for society if popular pressure alone could induce prosecutors to charge people with crimes." Chin's essay also explores different scenarios that may play out as the trial progresses.

Gabriel "Jack" Chin, who joined the King Hall faculty in 2011, is a prolific and much-cited criminal and immigration law scholar whose work has addressed many of the most pressing social issues of our time.

New York Times article

CNN essay: "Why Trayvon Martin case charges are a victory for legal system"