When I'm interested in a high-profile trial, one of my go-to sources for analysis is the liberal blogger Jeralyn Merritt, whose TalkLeft focuses on crimes with political implications. Merritt is a criminal defense attorney in Denver who has been running the blog for over a decade.

While reading her posts on the George Zimmerman murder trial, I was surprised by a comment she made to a user of her site:

I have repeatedly warned Ricky not to ask readers to help prove the prosecution case. ... He is sounding more and more like a stealth commenter. Commenters may not use this site to try and build a case for the prosecution in areas they fall short.

Despite being a TalkLeft reader, I wasn't aware that comments were treated differently based on what they express about a prosecution. This was such an unusual policy that I asked her about it in email: "Given the way you allow commenters who are sympathetic to the defense to talk, it appears to me that by design you impose more limits on a pro-prosecution commenter than on a pro-defense commenter. If this is true, why do you think that's necessary?"

Here's her response in full:

I have decided to take your question seriously and respond.

TalkLeft is not a neutral site. It's mission is to promote the rights of those accused of crime. Our "about page" clearly states our mission.

That said, I take great pride in the accuracy of TalkLeft's reporting. If I see something that is incorrect or that misstates the known facts or evidence, it is deleted regardless of the views of the person who posted it. If I make a mistake, I correct it as soon as someone makes me aware of it.

Personal attacks are not allowed on anyone. Nor are discussions about prejudicial information that neither side is seeking to introduce at trial. For example, this is one of the few sites where you will not see a discussion of Trayvon Martin's Twitter feed. I have been very strict in not allowing attacks on Martin or his parents. If the defense moves to introduce such evidence it will be discussed in the context of its applicability to issues in the case, not to denigrate him or them.

I am also adamant that TalkLeft will not be used to spread misinformation or to promote guilty verdicts. People can watch the mainstream media coverage if that is what they suppport. TalkLeft views the proceedings though the lens of the Constitution. The point is for George Zimmerman to get a fair trial. Unless the trial is fair, the verdict will lack integrity.

None of us have all the information available to the state and defense. But due to Florida's open records law, most of the discovery is available as is every filed pleading. All of the hearings have been televised and live-streamed. Most readers, reporters, commentators and bloggers have not read every single pleading, examined every piece of discovery that is not under seal (I have because I purchased it from the state), watched every moment of every pre-trial hearing, jury selection and the trial to date, or extensively researched Florida case law and jury instructions as have I and many of those participating in our forums.

Our rules for commenting are clearly stated. Because of the amount of misinformation being spread about this case, and the tendency of commenters to think their use of a pseudonym allows them to engage in gross speculation and personal attacks, I created special rules for commenting on this case. For example, if a witness' identity has been protected by the Court, you will not see it exposed on TalkLeft. Nor will you see them "doxed." If you have not read the rules, they are here.


Our coverage is about the legal aspects of the case, not race issues or larger social justice issues. Zimmerman is not charged with a hate crime and the state never alleged his actions were racially motivated. Unfortunately, because lawyers and a public relations firm with an agenda inserted themselves into the case early on, held press conferences accusing the police of not conducting a fair investigation less than a month after the shooting, announced they had found a witness who "blew the defense claims out of the water" and made unfounded and untested accusations against Zimmerman in their attempt to influence official action and have him arrested and beyond, and the media repeatedly falsely portrayed the facts (like the mis-editing of Zimmeran's call to police), debunking of those efforts has also been included in our coverage.

I have also set up forums where the rules are relaxed a bit and every facet of the case can be discussed.

A lesser factor for not wanting armchair prosecutors opining how they would prove the case: The state combs the internet coverage of sites focusing on the legal aspects of the case. Even if they haven't seen something here, if it's helpful to their case, one of their supporters will send it to them. I have no interest in tipping them off as to how they can improve their case or what they have overlooked.

This is not the only case TalkLeft has covered in depth. The Duke LaCrosse case is probably the most similar to this because of the huge interest in it, the extreme positions people took against the defendants and the prejudical (and demonstrably false) media spin. The only two cases I have had to set up separate forums for are the Duke La Crosse case and Zimmerman.

There are hundreds if not more internet sites covering this case. The information in my posts is accurate and informed. My conclusions and opinions are clearly stated as such. While I monitor comments as best I can, since I have a full-time law practice, I cannot read every comment. Stating the rules upfront, and disclosing we are not a neutral site, allows readers to know what to expect here. If they don't approve, they are free to visit one ot the many other sites covering the case.

I hope this answers your question.

-- Rogers Cadenhead


I never comment on Talk Left but I read it often and respect Jerylyns wisdom.
To this cowboy it looks like she provided the most honest kind of answer that you will ever find on the internets..
1.I tell you what the rules are
2.I will follow them myself.
3.I intend to honor the US Constitution.
4.Defendants need help from the constitution more often than you melon-heads can possibly imagine.


This release is really informative and shows a good example of a nature-friendly project we can all spend our time on. brain games online


I in addition to my pals happened to be reading the nice information found on your web site while suddenly I had a terrible suspicion I never thanked the web blog owner for them. All the men appeared to be passionate to read through all of them and have in actuality been having fun with those things. We appreciate you truly being considerably accommodating and also for having variety of brilliant things millions of individuals are really desperate to discover. My very own sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you earlier.
nike huarache www.nike-huarache.com<>


I and my buddies have already been checking the great helpful hints on your web site and quickly came up with a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the web site owner for those strategies. All the women were definitely for that reason stimulated to study all of them and have now simply been having fun with these things. Thanks for really being considerably helpful and also for finding these kinds of ideal ideas millions of individuals are really eager to understand about. My sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you earlier.
basketball shoes www.nikebasketballshoes.us.com<>


I must show my appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of this type of circumstance. Right after looking out throughout the search engines and obtaining solutions which are not beneficial, I thought my life was well over. Living without the presence of strategies to the issues you've solved by way of your entire review is a serious case, and the ones that could have badly affected my entire career if I hadn't encountered your blog post. Your actual training and kindness in playing with all areas was excellent. I am not sure what I would've done if I had not encountered such a step like this. I'm able to at this point relish my future. Thanks a lot so much for your professional and amazing help. I will not hesitate to refer your web sites to any person who should have guide about this subject.
adidas eqt www.adidaseqts.com<>


My husband and i felt absolutely glad John could finish off his preliminary research out of the ideas he was given out of the blog. It is now and again perplexing to simply possibly be giving for free guidance which usually some other people could have been selling. So we keep in mind we have got the writer to thank because of that. The type of illustrations you've made, the easy web site navigation, the relationships your site assist to instill - it is all overwhelming, and it's facilitating our son in addition to the family recognize that this issue is awesome, which is certainly extremely important. Many thanks for the whole thing!
yeezy boost 350 www.yeezy-boosts.us.com<>


I needed to draft you a little bit of remark to say thanks a lot again for the pleasant concepts you've contributed here. It's quite extremely open-handed of people like you to deliver freely precisely what a lot of people would've distributed for an ebook to help with making some money on their own, primarily considering the fact that you could have done it if you wanted. The tips in addition served to provide a fantastic way to fully grasp most people have similar eagerness like my very own to grasp a great deal more when considering this matter. I'm sure there are many more enjoyable occasions up front for those who looked over your site.
hermes belt www.hermes-belt.us.com<>


I have to show my affection for your kind-heartedness for those people who must have assistance with this concept. Your personal dedication to passing the message around had become certainly significant and has continually permitted regular people just like me to arrive at their dreams. Your entire invaluable instruction implies a whole lot to me and even further to my mates. With thanks; from everyone of us.


My spouse and i have been really peaceful Ervin managed to conclude his inquiry using the precious recommendations he was given when using the site. It is now and again perplexing to just continually be freely giving thoughts which often most people may have been making money from. Therefore we realize we have the writer to appreciate because of that. The specific explanations you have made, the straightforward blog menu, the friendships your site assist to instill - it's many sensational, and it is helping our son and the family imagine that the topic is enjoyable, which is quite mandatory. Many thanks for all the pieces!
golden goose www.goldengoose.us.com<>


Add a Comment

These HTML tags are permitted: p, b, i, a, and blockquote. A comment may not include more than three links. Participants in this discussion should note the site's moderation policy.