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Can Cops Arrest George Zimmerman for Murder in Trayvon Martin Case?
Opposingviews ^ | 24 March, 2012 | Eugene Volokh

Posted on 03/26/2012 5:27:56 AM PDT by marktwain

To arrest someone for a crime, the police need probable cause to believe that he committed the crime. But what if it’s clear that the person committed the act (e.g., intentionally killed someone), but it seems likely that he has a good affirmative defense (e.g., self-defense)? My view is that probable cause should be probable cause to believe that the conduct was indeed criminal, and if the self-defense case is strong enough, that negates probable cause to believe that a crime (as opposed to a justifiable homicide) was committed. But when I looked into this several years ago, I saw that the few courts that had discussed the matter were split.

Florida law, though, clearly resolves this: “A law enforcement agency … may not arrest [a] person for using force [in a self-defense situation] unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.”

So in Florida, the police must have probable cause to believe that the defendant wasn’t acting in lawful self-defense in order to arrest the defendant. It’s not enough to say, “we have probable cause to believe that you killed the victim, so we’ll arrest you and then sort out later how strong your self-defense case is.”

I can’t speak with confidence to whether in the Martin/Zimmerman case the police indeed have such probable cause (which, as you may recall, is a not very clearly defined standard that is well below proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and probably somewhat below preponderance of the evidence).


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: banglist; fl; georgezimmerman; trayvonmartin
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This is the crux of the question, and goes to the philosophical heart of our legal system. A person is innocent until proved guilty.

No facts have been shown that contradict George Zimmerman's self defense claims.

1 posted on 03/26/2012 5:27:59 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

the seriousness of the charge is sufficient....


2 posted on 03/26/2012 5:33:20 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: marktwain

So....an Hispanic American kills a ‘Brother’, who was bashing hispanic/german American Zimmermans head against the sidewalk( and ultimately broke Zimmermans nose), dies when the shooter manages to pull his licensed pistol which the dead guy was trying to take from him. it goes off killing the hoodie wearing, pants on the ground, thug....and the media pulls out picures of the dead ‘brother’ from 10 years earlier like he was a sweet baby. and Sharpton and the left make THIS a cause celeb to ban guns?

EFFF U Rev. Al, and your media lackies too....


3 posted on 03/26/2012 5:36:05 AM PDT by Vaquero (Molon Labe)
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To: marktwain

Here’s a hypothetical for you.

I’m walking in an alley way and 5 guys jump out and start beating the crap out of me.

I happen to have a gun, so I pull it out and blow all 5 of them away.

I’m a bit battered up and the 5 are dead.

No witnesses to the beating and no witnesses to the shooting.

When the cops show up, do they have ‘probable cause’ to arrest me?


4 posted on 03/26/2012 5:37:59 AM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: marktwain
Poor Trayvon.

All he did was punch Zimmerman to the ground, climb on top of him and beat him some more while screaming "I'm going to kill you Mother F****r!!!" when Zimmerman shot him for no reason.

He had a perfect right to beat Zimmerman to death because he is one of Eric Holder's people.

5 posted on 03/26/2012 5:39:00 AM PDT by Joe the Pimpernel (Islam is a religion of peace, and Moslems reserve the right to slaughter anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: marktwain

My understanding is that law enforcement must sign an affidavit stating that believe there is probable cause to make the charge of murder and if the outcome is justifiable homicide then law enforcement becomes liable to the defendant. This is another aspect of the 2005 stand your ground law designed to ensure that police don’t automatically arrest people for defending themselves.


6 posted on 03/26/2012 5:43:37 AM PDT by mac_truck ( Aide toi et dieu t aidera)
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To: marktwain

There’s so much to sort out in this case and it’s really hard to know who was in the right at this point. Two things:

1. Obama had no business weighing in on this with his ridiculous and racially inferred comments.

2. Why exactly did Zimmerman continue to follow this guy after reporting him to 911 and they had dispatched police to the area? Also, the 911 operator wisely told him not to follow the guy. I don’t know if he’s guilty or not. But I do know that if he had wisely heeded that advice and not followed Martin, none of this would have happened. You don’t go looking for trouble.


7 posted on 03/26/2012 5:43:47 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: marktwain

We know that a 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin. To this, Zimmerman said “okay” and later told police he had broken off following Martin and that Martin then became the persuer.

Whether this is true or not, we know that Martin had Zimmerman on his back and was pummeling him. We know Zimmerman had a head leaceration, facial injuries and possibly a broken nose.... and grass stains on his back.

The facts of this case may not corroborate the narrative created by the popular media, activists, pundits and even Rick Santorum.


8 posted on 03/26/2012 5:48:10 AM PDT by umgud (No Rats, No Rino's)
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To: Bigh4u2

Well, Duuuhhh!

From what I have heard there are witnesses.


9 posted on 03/26/2012 5:50:15 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: umgud

Bump


10 posted on 03/26/2012 5:52:05 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: Bigh4u2

In today’s politically correct USA, if YOU are black and you have successfully defended yourself against 5 predatory white haters, you are applauded and a fund is started to enable you to purchase (obtain) more ammunition.
However, if you are a blond, blue eyes white guy, who has just “offed” 5 men of color, expect the end of the world to be your lot. The footsteps you hear approaching belong to Al Sharpton, coming to preach against your striving to live.


11 posted on 03/26/2012 5:53:03 AM PDT by CaptainAmiigaf ( NY Times: We print the news as it fits our views.)
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To: Texas Fossil

I know there are witnesses.

My hypothetical was in response to the ‘probable cause’ statement.


12 posted on 03/26/2012 5:53:38 AM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: umgud

To: marktwain
There’s so much to sort out in this case and it’s really hard to know who was in the right at this point. Two things:

1. Obama had no business weighing in on this with his ridiculous and racially inferred comments..........

While I agree with your statement, one must remember it is election time and there are many black votes in this country that may not have voted for Obummer the first time. He’s looking for more.


13 posted on 03/26/2012 5:55:13 AM PDT by Progov
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

Both of those items are my questions too.

The issue I have is with the politicals ‘getting involved.’ They have no say in this matter, it needs to be handled locally as a matter of legel investigation, prosecution if substantiated etc. The only thing politicals should be saying about the case is the justice system must prevail.

As far as Zimmerman not following the dispatchers advice/instructions, only Zimmerman can answer for that. Ufortunately there are no witnesses to what took place between Zimmerman deciding not to heed those instructions knowing police had been dispatched and how he ended up on the ground yelling for help.

Two things could have happened in my thinking:

Martin circled back and jumped Zimmerman

or

Zimmerman attempted an apprehension/detainment that went bad after locating Martin

And why were these two out at 3am in the morning?


14 posted on 03/26/2012 5:57:20 AM PDT by EBH (God Humbles Nations, Leaders, and Peoples before He uses them for His Purpose)
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To: Bigh4u2

I am confident that the police would have initially arrested Zimmerman if there had been “probable cause”. If not, they could not, without danger of being sued.


15 posted on 03/26/2012 5:59:32 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: Joe the Pimpernel
...while screaming "I'm going to kill you Mother F****r!!!"...

Source/link, please.

16 posted on 03/26/2012 5:59:59 AM PDT by Alice in Wonderland
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To: Progov

I think you were replying to me.

I’m sure that Obama’s response has to do with politics. It’s the only thing he knows. My question is, is there any doubt he has the black vote locked up? He got 95% of it last time. Is he looking to bump it up to 96%? Imagine if a large majority of white America voted for a guy simply because he was white. I wonder what word we might be called. I think it starts with an ‘R’...


17 posted on 03/26/2012 6:01:54 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Progov

“... it is election time and there are many black votes in this country...”

That is one of the reason I have felt this case has gotten so much air time. Create race issues and then paint the GOP candidate as a mean cracker. The Democratic Party has to create some sort of fury in order to get certain masses out to vote. IMHO.


18 posted on 03/26/2012 6:05:36 AM PDT by momtothree
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To: umgud

bookmark


19 posted on 03/26/2012 6:06:58 AM PDT by corlorde (Drone strikes: the preferred method of killing by Nobel peace prize winners since 2009)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
But I do know that if he had wisely heeded that advice and not followed Martin, none of this would have happened.

I keep hearing this but how do we know that Zimmerman was not headed back toward his (car?) and was jumped by Martin? I think that if the police believed Zimmerman drew down on Martin Zimmerman would be in jail right now.

20 posted on 03/26/2012 6:08:25 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Romney just makes me tired all over.)
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To: Bigh4u2

Two hypothetical situations for you (or anyone).

You have a gun. You start a fight with someone. During the fight, he gets the upper hand and is beating you up. You take out your gun, shoot and kill him. Self Defense or not?

Or

You have a gun. You ask a guy a question and he turns on you and starts a fight. During the fight, he gets the upper hand and is beating you up. You take out your gun, shoot and kill him. Self Defense or not?

If who started the fight is a determining factor, then that is the problem here with this case. The only witness to the start of the fight is Zimmerman. There are witnesses to the fact that Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating him up at the time of the shooting, but does it matter who started the fight?


21 posted on 03/26/2012 6:08:45 AM PDT by Tatze (I reject your reality and substitute my own!)
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To: EBH

I did not realize it was 3AM when this took place. That makes the excuse that I heard as to why Martin was out bogus. That it was halftime from watching a basketball game and he was going out to get skittles for his little brother. I suppose that he could have been watching re-runs of a previously played game, but it seems highly unlikely and could be easily checked as to what games were being re-run on the TV that night and whether it was halftime at those games during that time. If they had TVR, I suppose it could be checked for the game, etc..

I will say one thing, if I’m out for some reason at 3 AM and someone is following me, I might double back and jump them also. I can see Martin being justified in attacking Zimmerman. Needless to say, there’s a lot to sort out in this case and if I was any politician, I would stay away from any judgement of this case in either direction. Of course, it seems that Obama hasn’t learned his lesson from the beer summit.


22 posted on 03/26/2012 6:10:22 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Bigh4u2
When the cops show up, do they have ‘probable cause’ to arrest me?

Depends in which state the shooting occurred.

In my state, PA, you have a good chance of not being charged {unless it's in Philly and they are black and you are white}.

If you are in MD, you are going to jail for having a gun, and maybe five counts of 2nd degree murder. Same with IL, and I'm not sure about the rest of the states.

23 posted on 03/26/2012 6:13:27 AM PDT by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorists savages.)
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To: EBH

I think I heard somewhere that Zimmerman had lost site of Martin when last talking to the operator. I suspect that Martin was hiding nearby at that point and jumped out and attacked Zimmerman.

Not that it really matters. Even if Zimmerman started the fight, he would still have the right to defend himself if during the fight he felt that his life was in danger.

example:

I start a fight with someone.. he gets me on the ground and starts to choke me to death... I don’t have to let him kill me just because I started the fight, I have the right to defend my life even if I started the fight.


24 posted on 03/26/2012 6:13:37 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Go Newt!)
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To: EBH; Old Teufel Hunden

It was a bit after 7:00pm and it was dark out.


25 posted on 03/26/2012 6:14:33 AM PDT by Alice in Wonderland
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To: Old Teufel Hunden; EBH

Where are you two getting 3:00AM? Everybody else is saying early evening.


26 posted on 03/26/2012 6:14:41 AM PDT by PeteB570 ( Islam is the sea in which the Terrorist Shark swims. The deeper the sea the larger the shark.)
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To: marktwain
http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/docs/Zimmerman_Martin_shooting.pdf

No facts have been shown that contradict George Zimmerman's self defense claims

Enough said. Please refer all posting on this case to the City Manager's Report and updates. They outline all that is known at this time about the case.

Above all, do not yield to Left-Wing Provocation by arguing this case in public. The City Manager's concise reports are models of calmness and rationality. No amount of shouting will convince those who need to believe otherwise, or others like Mr. Obama and his election team who wish to use this case as a political tool.

27 posted on 03/26/2012 6:17:34 AM PDT by Kenny Bunk (So, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts can't figure out if Obama is a Natural Born Citizen?)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

It happened between 7 and 7:30.
3AM was the time the investigation at the scene completed.


28 posted on 03/26/2012 6:17:46 AM PDT by kanawa
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To: EBH
And why were these two out at 3am in the morning?

The shooting did not occur at 3am. According to the police report, the police were first dispatched at 7:17pm.

29 posted on 03/26/2012 6:18:56 AM PDT by Tatze (I reject your reality and substitute my own!)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
In a neighborhood that has suffered a string of burglaries, which in the Sanford Police Dept reports have the suspects all being reported as black, then if I'm in the neighborhood watch and at 3am I see a young black man in a hoodie walking in the rain, I'm going to be suspicious.
30 posted on 03/26/2012 6:18:56 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell)
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To: Alice in Wonderland; Joe the Pimpernel
...while screaming "I'm going to kill you Mother F****r!!!"...

Source/link, please.

Joe, you didn't invent that quotation, did you?

Say it ain't so, Joe.


31 posted on 03/26/2012 6:24:36 AM PDT by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorists savages.)
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To: umgud
Then how did the kids girl friend hear zimmerman, just before the kids phone went dead, and it was a full five minutes later when the kid was shot?? And the charges against zimmerman will be manslaughter, 1 or 2.
32 posted on 03/26/2012 6:24:36 AM PDT by org.whodat
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To: momtothree
"Create race issues and then paint the GOP candidate as a mean cracker."

This is one thing that is really pissing the Dems off. Zimmerman is not a cracker!! His name certainly sounds like a cracker. I guess he's an honorary cracker for the purposes of this killing.
33 posted on 03/26/2012 6:25:52 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Mike Darancette
"I keep hearing this but how do we know that Zimmerman was not headed back toward his (car?) and was jumped by Martin? I think that if the police believed Zimmerman drew down on Martin Zimmerman would be in jail right now."

Well, this part is certainly murky right now. I would think an investigation would prove or disprove whether he was following Martin, fairly easily. If his cell phone has a gps in it, we'll probably be able to figure it out.
34 posted on 03/26/2012 6:29:11 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: marktwain

Is it true that Martin was shot in the back?


35 posted on 03/26/2012 6:30:40 AM PDT by Candor7 (Obama fascist info.. http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden; EBH

This took place around 7:15 p.m., not three on the morning.


36 posted on 03/26/2012 6:31:13 AM PDT by kristinn (Dump the Chump in 2012)
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To: PeteB570
"Where are you two getting 3:00AM? Everybody else is saying early evening."

EBH mentioned that and I took him at his word. I had not heard that previously.
37 posted on 03/26/2012 6:31:24 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: TexasFreeper2009
-- I start a fight with someone.. he gets me on the ground and starts to choke me to death... I don't have to let him kill me just because I started the fight, I have the right to defend my life even if I started the fight. --

Just to complete the picture, in your hypothetical, you might be found justified in defense of your life (it'll be a fact-specific inquiry, up to the jury), but you will still have committed a tort or a crime, that of starting a physical altercation.

38 posted on 03/26/2012 6:32:14 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: marktwain
Photobucket It was the Skittles man! It was the Skittles!
39 posted on 03/26/2012 6:32:46 AM PDT by baddog 219
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To: TexasFreeper2009
Once again, in the police report, the kid is talking on the phone to his girl friend, he tells her someone is following him, she says she heard zimmerman and the phone went dead, it was five minutes later before he was killed. I find it hard to believe that a 140 pound kid beat the crap out of zimmerman, who was 80 lbs heaver for five minutes. Actually I would be surprised if he was on top any longer than it took for the guy to see him.
40 posted on 03/26/2012 6:32:58 AM PDT by org.whodat
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To: umgud

—We know that a 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.—

Actually, no. The dispatcher told Z that they didn’t need him to follow Tray. Huge difference. Most men still would have followed.


41 posted on 03/26/2012 6:33:38 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: mac_truck
"My understanding is that law enforcement must sign an affidavit stating that believe there is probable cause to make the charge of murder and if the outcome is justifiable homicide then law enforcement becomes liable to the defendant. This is another aspect of the 2005 stand your ground law designed to ensure that police don’t automatically arrest people for defending themselves."

Exactly correct!!

Stand your ground, Castle Laws, etc. exist to protect people from THE POLICE, AND PROSECUTORS who have a record of arresting the victim in cases like these.

I find it disturbing that we even need these laws but many states and communities have found them necessary to protect innocent people from unjustified arrest and prosecution. To put it bluntly we as a society are trying to balance out big government police state powers that have spun out of control.

42 posted on 03/26/2012 6:36:24 AM PDT by precisionshootist
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To: cuban leaf
"Most men still would have followed."

I disagree. I would not have followed. I would not need the 911 operator to tell me not to follow. It's not worth it. You call the cops and let them handle it. When you get into a confrontation, you risk both of your lives. You don't know what kind of weapons he has on him. It doesn't matter who's stronger or knows karate or whatever. In a fight, anything can happen.
43 posted on 03/26/2012 6:37:50 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: cuban leaf

Not to mention that a 911 operator has no legal authority to order anyone to do anything. Zimmerman was under no legal obligation to follow the operator’s suggestion.


44 posted on 03/26/2012 6:37:50 AM PDT by Tatze (I reject your reality and substitute my own!)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

I heard it happened around 7pm


45 posted on 03/26/2012 6:38:09 AM PDT by Java4Jay (The evils of government are directly proportional to the tolerance of the people.)
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To: org.whodat
-- Once again, in the police report, the kid is talking on the phone to his girl friend, he tells her someone is following him, she says she heard zimmerman and the phone went dead --

I don't see that in the 4 pages of police report that I have (Twin-Lakes-Shooting-Initial-Report.pdf). I did see a report (clickable link to www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2863797/posts?page=149#149; not an official report, and I don't know the origin of it - might be a fabrication, for all I know) where the GF states facts that justify Zimmerman's actions and make Trayvon the aggressor.

46 posted on 03/26/2012 6:39:14 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman kept following Martin after the dispatcher told him not to (he is a free citizen and can walk down the street if he so chooses)

It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman asked Martin what he was doing(he is a free citizen and can talk to whomever he so chooses, it’s called free speech)

It doesn’t even matter if Zimmerman started the fight.

All that matters is if at some point during the fight Zimmerman felt that his life was in danger, at that point had the right to use deadly force to save his life (it’s called self defense)


47 posted on 03/26/2012 6:39:34 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Go Newt!)
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To: Cboldt

yep battery, the same as you would get for a bar fight. A ticket basically and a small fine.


48 posted on 03/26/2012 6:41:07 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Go Newt!)
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To: Tatze

You are right, the 911 operator has no authority over Zimmerman. But that was wise advice and indeed turned out to be would you not agree? All he saw was Martin acting suspiciously, not even committing a crime. It’s worth calling the cops on, but not worth getting in a confrontation over. I’ll bet he agrees with me about right now.


49 posted on 03/26/2012 6:41:29 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: kristinn
Some people here are posting bs for some hidden purpose, the time, the adding sixty pounds to the kids weight, saying the kid was on top of zimmerman, but no one knows it that was more than a second. And then all the BS pictures of the kid, which no one knows are real or photoshoped crap. Then some clown said the kid had gold teeth and tats. All of which can be added and taken away with the computer. Then they start the crap about the kid may have done this or that. None of which would make it into a court, since what happened to the kid up until he had his run in with zimmerman has anything to do with the case.
50 posted on 03/26/2012 6:41:53 AM PDT by org.whodat
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