The late-night talk shows have all poked fun at the now-viral knock-knock joke which defence attorney Don West delivered to the jury presiding over the murder trial of George Zimmerman in Florida. If you have not yet heard the joke, you can watch the video below.
Yes, that is real, unedited footage from inside the courtroom. I will give you a moment to proceed with a facepalm…
George Zimmerman is on trial for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, which sparked nationwide outrage and renewed debate about race in America. If found guilty, Zimmerman could possibly face life in prison.
While Don West may be ridiculed for this limp attempt at humour, he may end up with the last laugh if Zimmerman beats the murder charges. This legal strategy, while unconventional, may perhaps be the very statement that keeps Zimmerman out of jail.
What is clear is that, should Zimmerman be found guilty of murder, an appeal would most certainly be filed on the basis of incompetent counsel, thanks solely on this poorly-time, incoherent statement. The media coverage this has generated could even lead to a compelling argument that the criticism sparked by the failed knock-knock joke could impede Zimmerman’s right to a fair trial. The whole knock-knock joke is essentially a fail-safe legal strategy that keeps his client away from a maximum-security prison cell, which is surely a death sentence for the guy considering he’d be joining an American prison population over-represented by African-Americans.
While an acquittal would be ideal for Zimmerman and his legal team, the definition of legal success for them may be simply to avoid serving the hard time in prison. This knock-knock joke may be part of a broader legal strategy us simple bloggers cannot (and dare not) comprehend that may lead to a life in a mental institution.
It is a shame that the legal definition of insanity cannot be extended to those people (facing death if found guilty) who retain the services of lawyers who amalgamate their legal expertise with a sub-standard sense of humour. If that were the case, Zimmerman would, at worst, spend the rest of his life in the comfort of a mental institution instead of facing the lethal injection.
It’s actually a good thing for the viewing public that Zimmerman is not facing the death penalty. Otherwise, we may have been subject to another ill-timed joke by attorney Don West. We may have had to suffer through his best rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” while his client was being prepped for the lethal injection.
Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error suggesting that George Zimmerman could potentially face the death penalty if convicted. In actuality, Mr. Zimmerman is facing a 2nd degree murder charge, which carries at most life imprisonment if convicted. I apologize for this error.