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April 02, 2012



Proprietary - Last refguge of the scoundrel.

Steven W.

The most rediculous assumptions I've heard so far about the screaming is that "when the shot was heard the screaming stopped" and thus it must have been trayvonn because he was dead ... while, of course, it could have been because gz gasping a sigh of relief after it was over (no need to yell help in vain any longer)

Greg Q

"Jacob Sullum wonders whether the dubious audio evidence, presumably in a larger context, would be allowed to help establish probable cause for arrest even if it had little chance of being admissible at trial."

Only if the prosecutor is unethical. You don't charge someone with a crime unless you think you can convict them, that's basic prosecutorial ethics. If the evidence isn't good enough to use at the trial, it's not good enough to use to arrest.

Amazing how "liberty loving people" lose all concern for a defendant's rights when that defendant isn't part of the permanent criminal class.


These people should read up on Daubert at the SC.


Yup and yup again!


I just vaguely remembered that screaming is often taught as a self defense tactic, and confirmed it with cursory google check

so another question is, was the screaming due to pain, or was it a self defense tactic?


I just looked it up, Florida is one of the states that uses Frye not Daubert. Either way, this guy probably wouldn't pass as an expert.

Jack is Back!

I just bought the new product and so far Daffy Duck sounds just like John McCain.


A HA!!! I just found out that OWEN actually stayed at a HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS last night!!

Gregory Koster

Dear Mr. Maguire: The background of Mr. Owen shouldn't be absolutely conclusive about his notions. Would you tell me that Donald Verrelli's recent argument about the swellness of Obamacare is great because after all, DV is the Solicitor General, who by statute must be learned in the law? Or that all The One's legislation must be soundly written because it has been drafted and vetted by masterminds, e.g. Elena "Don't Worry Mr. President I'll Fix All Your Parking Tickets When I'm On The Bench" Kagan, Timmy the Tax Cheat, et al.?

That Mr. Owens howls "Proprietary!" is a lot more damning in my view. But let's get past the notion that credentials (Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner because he could spit in Geo. W's eye at fifty paces) mean much one way or the other any more. That sort of thinking perpetuates the Ivy League quackery that ails the nation.

Nope, if Mr. Zimmerman has a stout heart, let the prosecutors charge him and put Spike Lee's case to the test. The memory hole of such a case would swallow the universe.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Rick Ballard

Query to JOMers:

In the normal course of the MFM beatification process neighbors, school or workmates, teachers or supervisors, friends or acquaintances are interviewed with the intent of eliciting a statement which lifts the subject of misadventure to the plane of tragedy by assertions of extraordinary accomplishment or pious behavior in order to induce the impression that the subject had always been surrounded by the odor of sanctity.

Aside from the parents' claims, has anyone noted examples of the foregoing wrt St. Trayvon™®©[pat pend]?

Could MFM 'research' have revealed an absence so definitive as to have caused the walk/runback?


Gus. Why are you screaming? Are you starved for attention or is Zimmerman at your door with a gun?


Good possibility, Rick. I think that's what the police found.

Tom Maguire
Amazing how "liberty loving people" lose all concern for a defendant's rights when that defendant isn't part of the permanent criminal class.

I assume that is not directed at Mr. Sullum, who is as liberty-loving as they come. I tried to paraphrase his kicking around of the legal issues.

Dear Mr. Maguire: The background of Mr. Owen shouldn't be absolutely conclusive about his notions.

OK, I made a mental note to deplore that credentialism but then, being non-Ivy, forgot about it. Tagged and bagged.


JUDGE""Mr Owen could you please tell this court what your qualifications are???""
OWEN"well your Honor, I wrote scaling tne FRET BOARD".

Winner winner chicken dinner.


I am back to asking [1] how in the hell did the Orlando Sentinel find out about this guy and [2] what kind of editorial judgment was utilized in deciding to run this *EXTREMELY* prejudicial story from such a dubious so-called expert ???

If there was such a thing as journalistic malpractice, surely this is it.


Daily Caller says a Zimmerman family member wrote the local NAACP chapter, telling them that George Z. was one of the few residents of Samford to speak out about the police beating of a black homeless man. Pretty ironic if true.

Danube of Thought

"If the evidence isn't good enough to use at the trial, it's not good enough to use to arrest."

Aren't polygraphs, which are universally inadmissible at trial, frequently weighed in considering whether there is probable cause to arrest?

Tom Maguire's delving into Owen's background--including his educational background, membership in professional associations and the like--is exactly what defense counsel would do, and the court would rightly consider it in determining whether his opinion testimony would be allowed. Similar vetting of Mr. Verrilli's credentials was almost certainly done before he was appointed SG. The fact that he was found qualified did not ensure that he would argue a bad case well. Being found unqualified would have ensured would not, and so he would not have been allowed to try.


I could be wrong but, isn't the American College of Forensic Examiners (listed on Mr. Owen's c.v) the same fly-by-night gang that awarded a PH.D to a housecat named Zoe?

Money quote below:

I next decided to go for the gold: Board Certification. Since Diplomate status is generally recognized as signifying the highest level of competence in a medical or clinical art, I decided to apply for Zoe’s Diplomate status in an organization with which (I must admit) I was once associated. The American Psychotherapy Association was founded several years ago by individuals associated with the American College of Forensic Examiners “to advance the profession of psychotherapy.” (The ACFE is itself struggling to achieve some degree of legitimacy and respect, and was the subject of at least one highly critical article in a national journal published by the American Bar Association.)


Nope, if Mr. Zimmerman has a stout heart, let the prosecutors charge him and put Spike Lee's case to the test. The memory hole of such a case would swallow the universe.

That is a pretty big gamble to prove a point. Anything other than a guilty verdict will not be accepted (by the protesters) as valid. Juries are not predictable.

Greg F

From what I can find it seems the science of forensic voice recognition is still in its infancy. Cell phones due to the signal processing to compress the voice signal add another layer of complexity. It is further complicated by the fact that the cell phone was some distance away from the person screaming. Here is a couple of interesting pages on forensic voice recognition:



Sara (Pal2Pal)

so another question is, was the screaming due to pain, or was it a self defense tactic?

The screaming I heard on the tape reminded me of the way a dog sounds that is being attacked or the one time I heard one when hit by a car. I didn't even sound human. I think it is pain that causes that kind of scream.


No experts required for this one:



if Mr. Zimmerman has a stout heart, let the prosecutors charge him and put Spike Lee's case to the test

A stout heart? What about a stout bank account?

Isn't there an aspect of prosecutorial ethics that considers the financial burden of making the defendant retain counsel just to make a point? The government has nearly unlimited resources. Is Zimmerman a rich man, able to afford $500/hr lawyers in order to put Spike Lee's case to the test? I'd be ok with it if Spike had to pay Zimmerman's lawyers, btw.

Bill Lake

you the man!


These folks have nothing on Abby Sciuto or Dr. Donald Mallard

Rick Ballard


Malpractice implies the the existence of standards and some organization empowered to maintain them. I'm afraid that we are left, as always, to contemplate an ideal and note its distance (in parsecs) from the sordid reality available at hand.

I thinks it's even worse than journalistic malpractice - it's a futile propaganda effort.


Tom Owen, remember, told the Orlando Sentinel that he requires a 90% match before he would conclude that the voice on the 911 call is Zimmerman's.

But we know this is a lie.

How do we know it's a lie?

Because when he was in court recently in a murder case, he told a jury that he could match a voice on a 911 call with the same software - but it only matched 68% (CT v Davalloo).



And that was pretty much an open and shut case, as I pointed out from excerpts in the wiki,


And now to stop the phone from ringing, I'm listening to Paul Ryan on a tele town hall as he argues for Romney. First two questions from doubters, one on Obamacare, the next a Gingritch fan asking why Romney is not as clear as Ryan on his plans.


"No, they just have a computer in the basement of their house in New Jersey right next to the railroad tracks."

What exit?


If Tom Owen was involved in any convictions they should be reviewed immediately.


That never gets old, steve.

Greg Q

"I assume that is not directed at Mr. Sullum, who is as liberty-loving as they come. I tried to paraphrase his kicking around of the legal issues."

Yes, it most certainly IS directed at Mr. Sullum. No, he didn't earn my ire because of your paraphrase, but because I had previous read his article. He came across as eager to find an excuse to put Zimmerman in jail, and on trial. The impression I got from his article was not "how can justice best be served", but "how can we nail this guy, and I don't care what the facts are." In his mind, Zimmerman is already convicted, and the only question is how to punish him.

Here's what Sullum said:

In the comments, David notes a Just One Minute post that delves into the question of how reliable these voice comparisons are—both in general and in a situation where the audio quality is poor and screams are compared to ordinary conversation. I am sure that, assuming Zimmerman is eventually tried, such evidence will be debated by dueling expert witnesses, and by itself it is surely not enough to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It nevertheless could help establish probable cause for arrest, assuming the government's experts reach similar conclusions.

That's not "let's evaluate the evidence, and see where it takes us", that's "I don't care if it's valid, can we use it to screw Zimmerman over?"


Neither here nor there, Tom Owens and Stuart Allen have a connection to unravelling the Kent State Massacre.


"If Tom Owen was involved in any convictions they should be reviewed immediately."

He was. Recently. A woman got life in prison for murder on his testimony that a 68% match on a 911 call was good enough for him to positively identify her.

CT v Sheila Davalloo


Danube of Thought

I disagree with Greg O's assessment of what Sullum said. It is indisputably true that the voice analysis would at least be considered in determining whether probable cause exists; based on what I have read thus far I wouldn't give it much weight.

I am at a bit of a loss--well, not really--to understand why these discussions proceed along these lines. A young man has been shot and killed under uncertain circumstances. A grand jury will hear evidence from a number of witnesses, and it's hard for me to grasp why that shouldn't happen. It will either indict or not. If it does we will have a trial, and all witnesses on both sides will be subjecct to cross.

Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?


That is how it is supposed to be unless there is no case at all or unless there are vultures trying to line their pockets and make a race war out of it.


The point, Danube is not whether or not Owen's testimony is even admitted, it's out there and mostly unchallenged, to poison the jury pool, to form a false 'narrative' so even if Corey chooses not to indict or is unable to convict, the casus belli for more
'direct action' is justified.


So, some more interesting details,



Danube of Thought, I've tried to make this point to y'all before and I'm going to insert it again.

Grand Juries, in my experience, are very rare in Florida. The State Attorney's in Florida (we don't call them District Attorney's) are constitutional officers. Very powerful, very independent. They make the call on prosecuting cases.

My brother recently left the Miami Public Defender's office where he had operated as a Felony Attorney. In his experience, grand juries are called by and large when the State Attorney is seeking the death penalty.

That's obviously not going to happen here.

But the case has been so egregiously politicized, it may be sent to a grand jury as a special exception. But I wouldn't bet on it.


excellent work.... now who can do the same on the concurring expert ed primeau who holds a certification from ACFEI (impressive) out of that same Springfield Missouri address...Seems quite self promoting any unlikely to ever be viewed as a true expert


That's interesting, rattler. I hadn't seen that before. Well, there have been so many threads.


who can do the same on the concurring expert ed primeau who holds a certification from ACFEI (impressive) out of that same Springfield Missouri address

He has no formal education in forensics either. He was as a Communications Major (think Katie Couric). But he never graduated and has no degree in forensics or communications. He was a probation officer.

He did earn a merit badge in 1993 from the Michigan chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for sound restoration on the NBC show “Peter and the Wolf." So, you know ... expert. Lots of show-tunes guys in this field, apparently.

Ed Primeau: "In the course of my career, I have completed dozens of forensics-focused assignments for attorneys throughout the United States."

Did you hear that, folks. Literally DOZENS.

We should remember that Primeau proclaimed that the voice on the tape was definitely Trayvon Martin, even though he had no KNOWN SAMPLE from which to compare the 911 call to Trayvon Martin.


Clarice, they've done a masterful job flooding the market -- so to speak -- with purposeful disinformation. Eventually, someone in our press corps is going to piece some of this together and start asking some very hard questions.

I'm pretty confident about that.

Especially given the death in November 2011 of the FAMU Marching 100 band member at the hands of his fellow students, and the relative lack of outrage in our black community, when most of Black America knows we have an incredible problem with black kids brutalizing and sometimes killing other black kids (and, oh by the way, *no one* has been arrested in that case; and properly so, the investigation and subsequent disentangling of what actually happened is difficult).

It (our out-of-control kids, and the thuggish hazing they insist upon) is a serious conversation that Black America is loathe to admit, much less discuss.


Total B.S. then someguy.


Crump s playing the Nader game of getting others to poison the jury pool with the help of a complaisant, lazy press.


Truth be told, many forensic techniques are empirically dubious. They've often evolved as ad hoc methodologies that rely on standards and practices that haven't undergone rigorous statistical testing, and often lack sufficient controls.

Here's a good summary of a report by the National Academies that describes the underlying problems.


Minimalist Poster

I started explaining the certifications to a friend. I didn't get very far before she said, "That's Robert O'Block."

2750 East Sunshine is a converted house on what is now a very busy commercial street. I'm not convinced there is actually a weight loss clinic at that address. It's very likely that O'Block helped Tom Owen set up and run the American Board of Recorded Evidence as well as determine the requirements for membership and certification and provide the education.




"And this is the man who now claims that a few seconds of background screaming can be matched to calmly spoken words."

Your characterization is utterly false, but is to be expected. He's claiming that it DOES NOT match, which is a huge difference.

Spin away, Tom. It's all you've got.


That the Orlando Sentinel did this, and that it has been parroted across the country, is utterly irresponsible.

If Owen is the charlatan described above, the fact that he would inject himself into life and death situations and court cases ... I can't express my contempt ...

Has anyone tried to communicate with the management of the Orlando Sentinel about this Owen, to vet his background?

mad jack

JZ: Really? Epic failure to understand the written word.


I saw the comment from someguy, and thought "but surely anyone who has looked at the Owen's website will know that the owner of the business is his daughter, not his wife. How much credibility can I give to someone who misses that pretty obvious point, and then gives an edited list of publications only the least relevant ones?"


Three words:
Frye standard v Daubert
Florida is a Frye state
Mr. Owen and his "expert" analysis do not likely meet Frye standard for admissibility.

Danube of Thought

I do not know wat happened. I trust that the procedures available to determine what did happen will function as best they can. Until those procedures move forward at their proper pace, I don't believe that anything I am reading or hearing in the press increases the chance that the outcome will be just.

I fell certain that everything that Al Sharpton says and does hurts the process, to the extent it affects it

M. Simon

FAMU case:



As to the ascendance of thug culture. When was the last time in American history that happened? Think hard.

Greg Q

Danube of Thought:

Prosecutors have an ethical duty not to bring charges when they don't think they can get a conviction. not "let the jury sort it out", but "do I believe I can honestly and ethically get a conviction with what I know?" One main reason for this is that going to trial is a serious punishment, even if you're found not guilty.

What Sullum was pushing was "here's hoping the prosecutor can use this to 'justify' charging Zimmerman." He clearly didn't care if the evidence was valid, all he cared about was finding an excuse to make Zimmerman's life a legal hell.

I'm probably just very biased, but it strikes me that the difference between "potential criminals" the left cares about v. the ones the right cares about can be characterized as "thugs v. citizens."

Got a guy with a rap sheet as long as your arm, accused of robbing, raping, or murdering? The left is ready to jump to his defense, the right wants him thrown away forever.

Got a more or less ordinary citizen in a tight situation? The right may have some sympathy, the left wants blood.

Would it be better if Trayvon wasn't dead? Yes.

Would Trayvon be alive if he hadn't attacked Zimmerman? That's the way it looks. And unless that changes, I'm not going to lose a second's sleep over what happened to Trayvon.

If Zimmerman hit, pushed, or grabbed Trayvon first, then he deserves to go to jail. But if he didn't? I perfectly happy living in a world where starting a fight gets you killed.

Cindy L

This rolling out of new equipment smacks of the same faux science as was seen in the Casey Anthony trial doesn't it? In her trial the forensic scientist experimented on canning the smell of death. That turned out to be inadmissible and plain junk science. Using an unproven scientific procedure is problematic. And absolutely should not be used in a Capital 1 murder case.

Good analysis in this article! Keep this up and let's find the truth in this situation.


I live in Springfield, I know that location, I just never knew someone was running a diploma mill from it. Neither Owen or Dr. O'Block rings a bell but yeah, it sounds like a case of using a tragedy to cash in on something.


As for the so-called "expert witness" audio technicians . . .

Check out this update from CNN, of all sources:


"'There's a huge chance that this is not Zimmerman's voice,' said Primeau...
Owen also said he does not believe the screams came from Zimmerman...
The experts, both of whom said they have testified in cases involving audio analysis, stressed they CANNOT say who was screaming."
(bolded words are my edits)

Maybe, just maybe, there is some semblance of hope that the media will begin to adhere to some standards of accurate, unbiased reportage - but I'm not holding MY breath for it to happen.

Holiday Rentals Saas Fee

I bet there is something behind that story, but they will never reveal what the truth is. We can just pray for no more stories of this kind.

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