Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • The perils and perks of speaking out as a juror

    Only two of the six jurors in the controversial George Zimmerman trial have spoken out so far about their experience, despite intense public interest in how and why they declared the neighborhood watchman not guilty in the death of unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But jury experts say the panelists' hesitance to step forward makes sense, given the intense emotions kicked up by the racially charged case and the risks associated with going public as a juror.

    On Friday, the Zimmerman trial's sole nonwhite juror, who identified herself only as "Maddie," told Good Morning America in an interview that she believes the neighborhood watchman "got away with murder," which is sure to anger the 32 percent of Americans who said in a recent poll that they strongly disagreed with the jury's not guilty verdict. Florida Judge Debra Nelson forbade the media from reporting the names of the all-female panel in part for their own protection, but the jurors are allowed to step forward on their own
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  • Unlikely snag for D.C. Circuit Court nominee: Abstinence sex ed

    Cornelia Pillard, a Georgetown law professor who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is facing a campaign to tank her nomination from a group that boosts abstinence-only sex education for young people.

    Pillard was questioned closely by Republicans during her first confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning about an article she wrote in 2007 that suggested that abstinence-only sex education may violate the equal protection rights of women.

    The federal government provides millions of dollars each year to fund abstinence-only sex education that tells young people not to have sex until marriage. The government also funds so-called comprehensive sex ed, which encourages the use of contraception.

    "You were arguing that if a state decides to teach abstinence-only, that that decision by state and local officials in your judgment may well be unconstitutional and it is an

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  • Steve King: Most young immigrants aren't valedictorians, have 'calves like cantaloupes' for drug smuggling

    House immigration Hawk Steve King, R-Iowa, argued in a colorful interview that the nation's unauthorized immigrants should not be legalized because some of them are drug mules.
    King said in an interview last week with Newsmax that he does not buy the argument that unauthorized immigrants are often stellar students who were brought to the country illegally through no fault of their own.
    "It's true in some cases," he said. "But for every one who is a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they have calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
    King added, "Those people would be legalized with the same act."
    The tea party conservative said he doesn't believe it's possible to distinguish between immigrants who are criminals and those who are not, so he will not accept an immigration reform bill that legalizes anyone. (Studies suggest that first generation immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are
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  • Dreamer groups reject Republican push to legalize them

    A Republican-led push to legalize young unauthorized immigrants has been met with stony resistance from groups representing the very "Dreamers" such a bill would help.

    Immigrant advocacy groups say the proposed Kids Act is a way to avoid a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, which would provide a pathway to citizenship to a much larger number of immigrants. The Kids Act, like earlier DREAM Act proposals, would legalize young people who were brought to the country by their parents and meet certain requirements.

    "We will not stand for anything that separates our families," said Greisa Martinez, an organizer with United We Dream, the largest group representing young unauthorized immigrants who have lived in America since they were children. Martinez's mother crossed over to Texas from Mexico illegally to seek work when Martinez was just 2 months old. "For someone to ask me to leave [my mother] behind, to say she's unworthy of citizenship, it's un-American," Martinez
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  • Catholic colleges to Catholic members of Congress: Pass immigration reform

    The presidents of 93 Catholic colleges and universities are calling on Catholic members of the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform that would put most of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country on a path to citizenship.

    “Catholic teaching values the human dignity and worth of all immigrants, regardless of legal status,” the Catholic leaders say in a letter sent to all 163 Catholic member of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner. “We remind you that no human being made in the image of God is illegal.”

    The Senate passed a comprehensive bill last month but, so far, the Republican-controlled House has not touched it.

    The presidents represent 290,000 students at Catholic colleges and universities. They noted that 10 percent of House and Senate members graduated from Jesuit colleges.

    “One thing immigrants do for the American Catholic Church is they enrich the church,” said John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of

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  • In response to Holder, NRA says 'stand your ground' laws are a 'fundamental human right'

    The National Rifle Association has responded to Attorney General Eric Holder's "stand your ground" law criticism, calling the self-defense laws "a fundamental human right."

    Holder devoted part of his speech at the NAACP's national convention on Tuesday to urging attendees to reconsider the laws, which remove the "duty to retreat" before using deadly force for people who are attacked in public places.

    Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman initially wasn't arrested after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012 because of the state's "stand your ground" statute. Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of any crime in the shooting on Saturday, with one juror citing "stand your ground" as part of her decision to find him not guilty.

    Holder said "stand your ground" laws "senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods." He added, "There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if—and the 'if' is important—no safe

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  • Eric Holder: 'Stand your ground' laws create 'dangerous conflict'

    Attorney General Eric Holder told the NAACP convention in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday that the Justice Department is still investigating whether to bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was declared not guilty only three days ago by a Florida jury. Holder also condemned "stand your ground" self defense laws that have passed in dozens of states, saying they "sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."

    The conference was held just a 30-minute drive from where Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted on self-defense grounds.

    Holder blasted the laws that remove the duty to retreat before using deadly force when attacked in public, saying they allow and perhaps encourage "violent situations to escalate in public" and "undermine public safety." The conference applauded when Holder told them to "stand our ground" and change the laws.

    Holder got personal in his speech, saying that Martin's

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  • MLK's niece on viral hoodie image: 'Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not wear a hoodie'

    The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says she is not a fan of the viral image of her uncle wearing a hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin. The image, created by artist Nikkolas Smith and spread widely by activist Van Jones on Twitter, shows a contemplative King wearing the garment, which has become a symbol of support for the slain 17-year-old.

    “I can almost promise you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would not wear a hoodie,” said Alveda King on the Andrea Tantaros radio show Tuesday when asked about the image. Alveda King is a former state representative in Georgia and a right-wing anti-abortion activist and minister.

    King said she and two of her cousins are calling on Americans not to “fight or debate” about the case, which she thinks did not raise any significant racial issues. The 29-year-old neighborhood watchman who shot the unarmed Martin, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of all charges against him on Saturday. Zimmerman is half Hispanic, Martin was black. “You've got two grieving

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  • Zimmerman juror to write book about trial, may not reveal identity

    Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was declared not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin just two days ago, but one of the six female jurors who made the controversial decision to acquit is already shopping a tell-all book.

    Literary agent Sharlene Martin said she signed the juror—known only as B-37 to the media and public—and her husband, who is an attorney, and the pair will soon try to sell a book about her experience during the three-week, televised trial.

    Martin told Yahoo News that the juror reached out to her on the advice of a producer from a morning show. The media has been prevented by a court order from reporting on the identities of any of the six jurors. The juror may publish the book anonymously, Martin said in a statement, “given the sensitivity of the verdict and the outpouring of mixed reactions by the American public.”

    Juror B37 was described by the Associated Press as “a white woman who volunteers rescuing animals” who has two grown children. She and her attorney

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  • Some Sanford residents struggle to cope with Zimmerman verdict

    SANFORD, Fla. — Under the hot Florida sun the morning after George Zimmerman was found not guilty, Kathy McGill stood next to a brick monument adorned with the names of 10 local young people who had been shot or stabbed to death. The name at the top of the monument, located in the center of Sanford’s historic black neighborhood of Goldsboro, was Trayvon Martin. Next to Martin’s name was the date of his death: February 26, 2012.

    McGill never knew Martin, a Miami boy who was visiting his father when he was shot by Zimmerman, but she did know two of the other people listed on the monument — Travares McGill and Corey Donaldson. Since the community put the plaque of names up nearly a year ago, at least two other Sanford kids have been killed.

    News of last night’s verdict was greeted with disappointment and some anger in this neighborhood, as residents said they believed police do not adequately respond to violence in their part of town and that justice is not meted out equally. A jury of

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