Ken over at Popehat (an excellent blog that occasionally intersects the law) uses his professional experience as a trial lawyer to absolutely skewer the indictment of George Zimmerman:

An affidavit shows proper attribution when it explains how the affiant knows each piece of information in the affidavit. That doesn’t mean that a proper affidavit can’t be based on second-hand or even third-hand or fourth-hand information — it can. But a proper affidavit must explain how each link in the chain gained the information — how everyone knew what they knew — so that the judge can make an intelligent assessment of the sufficiency of the evidence.

For example, a properly attributed affidavit might say “On April 13, 2012, I spoke with Officer Smith, one of the other officers on the case. Officer Smith told me the following: a few hours before he spoke with me, he interviewed witness Jane Doe. Ms. Doe told Officer Smith that she was walking down Main Street when she saw a man she recognized from the neighborhood as Dastardly Dan running out of the bank.”

By contrast, a bad affidavit would say “Witnesses indicated that Dastardly Dan was seen running out of the bank.” An even worse one says “Dastardly Dan ran out of the bank,” and offers nothing to indicate the basis for knowledge.

And then gives examples on exactly how bad the Zimmerman indictment is. I have no particular interest in the Martin/Zimmerman case, but I always find it fascinating to get a glimpse in to the inner workings of something like our legal system.

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