Zimmerman: Do the Feds Have a Case?

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 (The Root) -- If the state of Florida's prosecution of George Zimmerman was an uphill battle, any Department of Justice effort to prove that he violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights would face the legal equivalent of Mount Everest.

The federal government faces intensifying pressure to indict the former neighborhood-watch volunteer on civil rights charges that he shot and killed Trayvon because the unarmed boy was black. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he is "concerned" and promised that the Justice Department would "consider all available information" before deciding whether to prosecute.

The 1 million people who signed an NAACP petition urging Holder to take action shouldn't hold their breath.

In federal court, there may be no case more difficult to prove than a racially motivated crime. The government must meet the highest standards of proof that exist in American law. No wonder federal prosecutors indict criminal civil rights cases only if the evidence is a slam dunk. The killing of Trayvon, despite the justified outrage, is anything but.


The Justice Department has resumed an investigation it halted last year to allow for the state trial. The agency has long used federal civil rights law to try defendants acquitted in state courts, one of the most memorable examples being the Rodney King case.

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