10 Reasons Lawyers Say Florida's Law Enforcement Threw Away George Zimmerman's Case
Florida law enforcement, from the local police to the special prosecutor overseeing the Trayvon Martin case, did not want to see George Zimmerman convicted of murder and deliberately threw away the case, allowing their prosecution to crumble. A growing chorus of attorneys and analysts who know jury trials and courtroom procedure say this is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the parade of otherwise incoherent missteps by George Zimmerman’s prosecutors.
“I find it personally difficult to believe it was not thrown,” said Warren Ingber, a New York-based attorney who has practiced law for decades. “I am far from alone in this assessment, and it reveals even harder truth why this case was a miscarriage of justice.”
Ingber detailed his reasons in a letter sent to a NPR’s "Left, Right and Center" program after its liberal analysts would not touch that possibility. But there’s been a growing chorus saying the Zimmerman prosecution was not merely incompetent, but going through the motions and intentionally losing. This includes Florida talk radio host Randi Rhodes, who covered the trial daily, to New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial writer Jarvis DeBerry whose source canvassed 20 local prosecutors, to celebrity lawyers like Alan Dershowitz and other legal analysts, and longtime lawyers like Ingber who was indignant at NPR’s commentators ceding too much ground to right-wingers.
Here are 10 key points the lawyers in these reports cite behind this conclusion.
1. There was enough evidence to convict, despite biased police work. That assessment “is itself a miracle,” Ingber wrote, citing how the Sanford, Florida police handled the killing. “Martin’s body lay in the morgue as a John Doe for three days while his mother was asking for his whereabouts. His cell phone records indicated he was on the phone as he was being killed. The person he was on with had no idea where he was. Meanwhile his admitted killer was on the loose and allowed to produce exculpatory evidence while crime scene evidence was deteriorating. It appears from videos of Zimmerman ‘strolling’ into custody that he was not that badly hurt. But in Florida the right of self-defense includes, for whites, the freedom to exculpate oneself. And when that wasn’t enough, the police stepped in, as when the lead detective Chris Serino told Zimmerman the screams for help were his, not Martin’s, over his objection.”
2. The governor’s handpicked prosecutor enters with an agenda. “No account of this trial is complete if it does not start with how the deck was stacked before the trial took place,” Ingber said. “But it continues in the identity of the person that Florida’s [Republican] Gov. Rick Scott selected to prosecute the case: Angela Corey, the prosecutor who sentenced Marissa Alexander [a black woman] to 20 years for firing a gun into the air in her own garage in defense against a convicted abuser of women. I’ll leave it to Alan Dershowitz, who knows the law of defamation, to describe her professional lapses that ‘bordered on criminal conduct.’”
3. No change of venue was demanded. There were a series of decisions made by the prosecutors that incrementally lowered their chances of obtaining a conviction. The first concerned not seeking a jury trial in another county. The Seminole County district attorney and multiple judges recused themselves, “proof that the case was a political hot potato and that there was a fear that there would be negative political ramifications following a Zimmerman verdict,” Times-Picayune editorial writer Jarvis DeBerry wrote. But the state did not want to move the trial.
4. The early mishandling of the jury. Prosecutors meekly tried to remove two jurors with very strong pro-Zimmerman biases, but did not use more forceful “preemptory challenges,” DeBerry noted. “Juror B-37… should never have been let onto the jury after she said there were ‘riots’ in Sanford over this case,” Ingber added. “How was that allowed to occur? B-37’s interview is worth a listen.” She called Martin a “boy of color” (at 10.41) and mentioned “rioting” twice (12.12 and 14.32), calling it “organized” by Martin supporters and adding that she didn’t trust mainstream media.