Justice Opinion

My thoughts about the justice stories that are hitting the headlines -- with a focus on stories about race, guns, and self-defense. Find out where I stand.

Justice Outreach

This is the platform for our justice advocacy efforts, currently focused on the Talking Race Project, The Hurt Words Project, and Juvenile Outreach. Find out what we’re up to.

Justice Education

I frequently conduct CLEs and seminars for Bar Associations, Criminal Defense Associations, the National Trial Lawyers, and law schools. Find out what I’m talking about.

Ferguson and the lessons from Trayvon Martin

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I believed we had learned lessons from the George Zimmerman case in how to better handle cases like the Michael Brown shooting. Zimmerman, you'll recall, was charged with shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Sanford, Florida, in 2012. I was Zimmereman's lawyer. That case caught national attention for the shooting itself, but almost more for the way law enforcement was perceived to have mishandled it and for the racial animus it exposed over how young blacks are treated in the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that all of the right people have learned all of the right lessons from that case. Now, as the days drag on in Ferguson, Missouri, it seems that some involved, particularly in the law enforcement hierarchy, are not handling the Michael Brown case better than the Zimmerman case. In fact, this time it's being handled worse.

Eye Witnesses are Horrible Witnesses

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Media

Here is some commentary I did for CNN on the Michael Brown shooting. I explain that eye witnesses to traumatic events are notoriously unreliable. For a witness testimony to have credibility in a trial, it must be corroborated by other witnesses, or by forensic evidence.

Poisoned relationship between police and minorities

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I recently met a woman, the mother of three black teenagers. She told me that after the Trayvon Martin shooting, she forbade her boys to wear hoodies. She warned them never to walk around with their hands in their pockets. She was terrified that someone would find her boys acting suspiciously and one of them would end up being killed.

This is one hell of a thing to be afraid of. I don't think parents of white kids ever really feel this terror -- not in this way.

I defended the man who shot Trayvon Martin, and I believe that the verdict the jury returned was correct and just. But based on my experience defending young black men in the criminal justice system for 30 years, I know her fears are not without foundation. The shooting of Michael Brown -- an unarmed 18-year-old African-American in Ferguson, Missouri -- reinforces her fears, and it gives me a dull, empty feeling in my gut.

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