While the media encourages Trayvon Martin’s family to launch a civil suit against George Zimmerman for the killing of Martin, the consequences to the Martin’s reputation could be disastrous. Thanks to discovery rules, which apply differently in civil court than they do in federal court, more information about Trayvon’s family background, prior criminal behavior including fighting, and drug use could meet the public eye.
The Martin family would have a better shot at a win in a civil trial than they did in a criminal proceeding, since the standard of proof is difference – preponderance of the evidence vs. beyond a reasonable doubt. Zimmerman would also have to testify. But by the same token, Zimmerman reportedly has little money on hand for a judgment, and Florida’s “stand your ground” law could become an issue in the civil suit. The Martin family would also risk having to pay attorneys fees should they lose. No doubt Zimmerman would also use his acquittal in his criminal trial as evidence of his innocence in a civil trial as well.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).