A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

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The Consequences of Chutzpah?

By LASIS Staff

Yesterday, LASIS reporter Zach Edelman alerted to the story of hundreds of teens who trashed the home of ex-NFL lineman Brian Holloway…and were threatening to sue him.  (You read that right). See our story, here.

This probably got Mr. Holloway good and angry, and we don’t blame him.  It’s no more Mr. Nice Guy, as reports are that several of the  teens have now been arrested.

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The Definition of Chutzpah?

By Zachary Edelman

The prospect of having a second, third or fourth home is alien to many of us on tight budgets. But get this, there are gorgeous mansions sitting on acres upon acres of land all across the country that sit furnished, vacant and vulnerable for months of the year.

Some teenagers must have wondered what it would be like see life as Jay Gatsby, even if just for a few hours, because on August 31 former NFL Lineman Brian Holloway, who was at his home in Lutz, Florida, was alerted to a party going on at his rural vacation home in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. And what a party it was. Walls inside the house were spray-painted, the floor was peed on, furniture was broken and personal possessions were stolen, causing up to $40,000 in damages.

For a country outraged over revelations that the NSA tracks our every move, we sure don’t make it difficult for the government (or anyone else) to see exactly what we are up to; we broadcast to the world our every moment via one social media site or another. The teens who ransacked Mr. Holloway’s home were no different, taking and posting and tweeting and Instagram-ing dozens of photos of themselves cavorting and drinking and drugging inside Mr. Holloway’s (extra) house.

Mr. Holloway was angry, as any homeowner in his situation would be, and created a website aggregating all the evidence of revelry that evening adding the partiers names to the tweets and pictures. Mr. Holloway, who has worked with the substance abuse prevention program D.A.R.E., lists one main objective on his website– to turn the incident into a force for good by allowing the still impressionable youths to redeem themselves and reject the path of drinking, drugs, crime and violence.

Mr. Holloway must have suffered a concussion or two during his NFL career, because he is delusional if he thinks teenagers who break into a vacant house to party are going to change their ways as the result of a website. His invitation to the hellions to help him clean his house fell on mostly deaf ears; only five teens — of nearly 300 –showed up to help him clean the mess.

If you’re thinking the kids didn’t show up because they were grounded, think again. In fact, their parents are mad – even livid. But not at them. At Mr. Holloway. The indignant parents have threatened to hurt Mr. Holloway; at the very least, they are threatening to sue. (Some people might call this the very definition of “chutzpah”). Reposting the photos and identifying the culprits, they say, could “ruin their kids’ college plans.”

Lots of reports out there, but no analysis of the merits of the potential lawsuits against Mr. Holloway.  LASIS investigates.

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The Cost of Acquittal

By Zachary Edelman

On February 26, 2012, while visiting his dad’s girlfriend with his father at the Retreat at Twin Lakes community in Sanford, Florida, a 17-year old high school student was involved in a violent confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer.

What exactly happened on that rainy night is unclear. What is clear is that the fight ended when the older man fired his 9mm Kel-Tec pistol into the teenager’s chest, killing him in minutes. The shooter was not immediately charged with a crime.

There was general outrage, with people feeling that the lack of a charge was due to the respective races of the killer and his victim –George Zimmerman, the older male, was Hispanic (or “White Hispanic”); the teenager, Trayvon Martin, was black. There were vigils, national protests, and threats of violence, as Mr. Zimmerman became the most hated man in America. It wasn’t until 44 days after the shooting, certainly as a result of public pressure, that Mr. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

Mr. Zimmerman’s  trial began on June 24, 2013. His lawyers argued that Mr. Martin had been on top of their client bashing his head into the sidewalk; Mr. Zimmerman, they said, shot in self-defense, fearing for his life. The prosecution contended that the defendant acted with malice and premeditation, and that Mr. Zimmerman had racially profiled his victim. Following a 14-day trial, on July 13 a six-woman jury found Mr. Zimmerman not guilty.

Demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets (peacefully, despite dire warnings from Bill O’Reilly) to protest the verdict. Many feel that Mr. Zimmerman – literally — got away with murder.  Others believe the verdict was correct given the evidence presented – he was overcharged — but are morally uncomfortable with it.  All would probably agree that Mr. Zimmerman had caught a lucky break.

Since his acquittal, Mr. Zimmerman has mostly been in hiding. When he has emerged, his activities have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. And then there’s this:

He has directed his attorney, Mark O’Mara, to ask the state of Florida to reimburse him for his legal expenses from the trial totaling $200,000 to $300,000.

The chattering class is dismayed, astonished, and disgusted by his request, but is there precedent to support Mr. O’Mara’s request?

LASIS investigates.

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Troy Davis Remembered

By LASIS Staff

It’s been nearly two years since Troy Davis was executed.  See LASIS reporter Ryan Morrison’s take on Mr. Davis’s life and death.

On the eve of the two year anniversary, Mr. Davis’s family, activists, and authors will be speaking at a memorial service at St. Mary’s Church. Details can be found here.

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Court to Abercrombie: You Were Wrong

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