What Happens if the Defendant Claims Indigence and his Lawyers Ask to Withdraw?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In yesterday’s post, Why Has the Defense Team Gone Silent in the Trayvon Martin Murder Case? I summarized the status of the defense case and warned,

Do not be surprised if the engine starts smoking and the wheels fall off forcing someone to announce that they have decided they need to spend more time with their family.

In today’s post, I will discuss the issues Judge Nelson would have to consider in determining whether to grant a motion to withdraw by defense counsel. I will also discuss what might happen if he were to claim indigence.

As you read the post, please keep in mind that this is a teaching exercise. I do not believe that Mark O’Mara or Don West has filed a motion to withdraw. I do not know them personally and have not had any contact with them or anyone else connected to defense team. The same applies to the possibility that the defendant might claim indigence.

The first rule is that a lawyer cannot withdraw from representing a client in a pending case without the court’s permission. This rule applies regardless whether the client retained the lawyer or the court appointed the lawyer to represent the client at public expense.

We have an unusual wrinkle in this case because the lawyers claim they are working pro bono (i.e., for free) and have not been paid for their work. I use the word “unusual” because lawyers occasionally offer to work for free as a public service or as a favor for someone they know. I did this throughout my career because my primary motivation was to be of service to others, rather than make a lot of money, and most of my clients were from the poor and marginalized groups of society.

Judges do not care about the fee arrangements between a client and a lawyer in criminal cases. They just want to make certain that every defendant charged with a felony is represented by a lawyer throughout the case.

A lawyer officially announces that she is representing a client by filing a Notice of Appearance in the case and serving opposing counsel with a copy. From that point forward, the lawyer cannot withdraw without the court’s permission.

As a general rule, judges will permit lawyers to withdraw, if another lawyer has agreed to take over the case and the substitution of counsel can be accomplished without continuing the trial date. As you might expect, the more complicated the case and/or closer the trial date, the less likely the court will grant a motion to withdraw.

Pursuant to the Right-to-Counsel Clause in the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Court must appoint counsel to represent an indigent defendant at public expense. Approximately 80% of the defendants in felony criminal cases are indigent and qualify for court appointed counsel. If a defendant qualifies to be represented by counsel at public expense, he also qualifies for the assistance of investigators and expert witnesses at public expense upon a showing by the lawyer that such services are reasonably necessary to prepare a defense and defend the client.

Parenthetically, the 80% figure is about all you need to know in order to conclude that the criminal justice system in this country is a war against the poor and the marginalized.

Public defender offices exclusively devoted to representing indigent defendants in criminal cases exist in most urban areas. They are staffed by lawyers, investigators, paralegals and other support staff. They contract with the courts to represent indigent defendants and they are paid an agreed amount per case regardless whether the case is contested and goes to trial or the defendant pleads guilty.

In rural and less populated counties where no public defender office exists, the courts use a competitive bidding process to select a private law firm to represent indigent defendants. The partners continue to handle their civil cases and usually hire lawyers to handle the criminal cases. This type of arrangement is problematic because the partners usually lack experience in criminal cases and the lawyers they hire to handle the cases have even less experience. The firm pockets the difference between the contract price and the salaries that it pays its inexperienced staff of lawyers. Needless to say that the quality of legal representation pursuant to these contracts is far from optimal.

Under both systems the courts occasionally have to appoint private counsel to represent indigent defendants. For example, when there are codefendants, each defendant must be represented by independent counsel (i.e., to avoid a potential conflict of interest, a public defender office or firm cannot represent more than one client in a case). Courts generally keep a list of lawyers in private practice who have agreed to accept appointments to represent indigent clients and they assign lawyers from that list.

Depending on the type of case, particularly if it requires special knowledge and expertise such as a death penalty cases, the courts create lists of private counsel with the requisite knowledge and experience to handle those cases. For example, the Washington State Supreme Court screened my application and listed me as qualified me to be appointed to serve as lead counsel in death penalty case.

When private counsel are appointed to represent indigent clients, they are compensated at a reduced hourly rate far below what a client would pay in a privately retained case. For example, I recall working for $50/hour in a death penalty case while charging a private client $350/hour.

Now, let us take a look at the fogen’s case. We do not know how much money has been contributed to his internet account, but Mark O’Mara has stated that contributions have slowed to a trickle and the balance in the account is down to approximately $15,000.

According to my own rough estimate, more than $200,000 has been spent on creditors, housing, food and security for the fogen and his wife. None of those expenses qualify as defense costs, in my opinion, even though the fogen solicited them to pay for his defense. I imagine that the donors are not happy about the way he spent their money, but I do not believe they are likely to sue him for fraud to get their money back.

Is he indigent? I believe he is, assuming donations have dried up. $15,000 is nowhere near enough money to pay counsel, investigators, experts and the costs of litigation. The court could appoint counsel at public expense and recoup a portion of what that might cost from the trust account.

Will the court permit O’Mara or West to withdraw? I believe Judge Nelson would be extremely reluctant to permit both to withdraw, but I think she would permit one to withdraw, if the other agreed to remain. I doubt she would appoint two lawyers.

The trial date is only five months away and I doubt any lawyer would agree to be appointed, unless the trial were continued. I suspect the prosecution would object to a continuance and Judge Nelson would be reluctant to grant one.

As I said at the beginning, it’s usually pretty easy to get out early in the case, but we are almost a year into this case. Therefore, Judge Nelson is going to require a showing of necessity before she will grant a motion to withdraw. She might let O’Mara or West out of the case upon a showing of financial necessity because she is not going to want to force either of them into bankruptcy. That would be tantamount to slavery.

Assuming one or both remain, would Judge Nelson appoint them and order that they be paid at public expense? I certainly would do that, if I were the judge. No one should have to work for free. They would, of course, be compensated at the standard reduced rate. It may not be much, but it would be better than nothing.

What would happen if the fogen were to attempt to fire them, declare indigency and seek new counsel. I think Judge Nelson would require him to show that the attorney-client relationship was irretrievably broken, as this is the legal test. Whether he could satisfy that test is unknown.

If he cannot, he would be stuck with them, unless he decided to go pro se and represent himself. He has a constitutional right to do that although he would be a fool to try it.

To summarize, I think we will see a defense request for an order declaring him indigent and appointing present counsel to represent him at public expense. I do not know if Judge Nelson would appoint both lawyers or only one. Her decision would depend on the court’s existing policies.

I would not be surprised to see one lawyer ask to withdraw while the other agrees to remain. I believe Judge Nelson would grant that request since it would not require a continuance.

102 Responses to What Happens if the Defendant Claims Indigence and his Lawyers Ask to Withdraw?

  1. TommysMom says:

    An amendment went into effect this month in Florida that bans judges from appointing attorneys where an indigent client has already retained and paid a lawyer. Experts said the idea is to prevent a private attorney from pulling out once a client’s money runs out.”

    This came from a comment on the other article,so now I’m really confused. At my age that’s sometimes a given.

    Can MOM withdraw? Do you think he would he stay if the court allowed one of Z’s lawyers to withdraw?

    Didn’t Z,from jail, tell Shellie they would have a great life?
    Wonder what they believe now?

  2. kindheart101 says:

    @Professor.

    I am very late in reading this blog as I just got home late this morning. Thank you very much for the information, it answered all of my questions.

    As the old saying goes: “With Knowledge, Comes Power”. You Empower us.

    Thank you.

    • You all have thoughtful comments says:

      Glad to see you back kindheart, my friend. Hope your tests went well and did not tire you out.

      • kindheart101 says:

        @You all have thoughtful comments………..

        Grrrrrrrrrrr………..LOL. Everything in the medical field is, “hurry up to get here and wait!” Wait to be called, then wait in a room to be seen. Wait for me to view your last test results. Wait, I think you need more. Go, wait to have them done, then come back and wait………hmmmmmmmmmm come back the beginning of the week and wait……….I’ll talk to you then.

        It’s great to see you my friend! As we speak, 2 of my 3 cats are snuggled in my lap, with the third keeping an eye for an opening. (They are spoiled rotten!)

        I look forward to reading your posts, and catching up with everything I’ve missed the past few days.

        Life is good……it has an expiration date, so I enjoy every day. 🙂

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        kindheart, that hurry-up-and-wait medical stuff can be so trying.

        Yes, it is beautiful to enjoy every day with its wonders of human love and of nature’s marvels.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        By the way, kindheart……. at timestamp 2:08 of the song “Today” you will see the back of someone’s head with hair just as long and the same color hair (auburn) as my hair was in college.

      • kindheart101 says:

        @You all have thoughtful comments.

        I love John Denver, and one of my all time favorites is his beautiful song, “Today”

        “A million tomorrows have all Passed Away………Dare I forget all The Joy that is Mine TODAY!”

        I believe, every single day holds something special for us, and it is up to us to acknowledge it. (A smile from a small child in the mall. A friend that calls to say “Hello”, for no reason, but is able to brighten the lonely moment you were having. The picture of your family, that draws you near, and reminds you of your childhood. Watching the last leaf fall from a tree, and not seeing it’s bareness, but merely preparing for it’s re-birth in the Spring. Holding your Grandchild, and feeling your heart will burst with love. Losing a loved one, and being able to find peace in all the wonderful memories, that can never be taken away from you.)

        I have woods around my home, and a lake out back, about 15 feet off my deck. Being pretty much home bound, my days are filled with watching all sorts of wildlife. (Everything from deer to raccoons, egret feeding from the shore, and a huge Horned Owl that perches 10 feet off my balcony.) I keep feeders and bird baths full, year round, and never get tired of watching what arrives to eat and drink.

        Just this morning, after filling the feeders out front with fresh seed and nut mix, I was in for a real treat! Almost immediately, a whole flock of American Goldfinch swarmed the feeders, and enjoyed drinking and taking a bath, one by one. I have had them come to the feeders a few times, but always only one or two at a time. This morning however, there were at least 20 of them, all more eager than the next to eat! And as if that isn’t enough, they were followed by the Eastern Bluebirds, who were picking at the fresh berries I put out on a plate. My windows were a maze of bright blue and vivid yellow. (So many, it scared the heck out of my cats. LOL)

        ………Dare I forget all The Joy that is Mine TODAY? 🙂

        • cielo62 says:

          WOW! Where do you live, kindheart? What awesome things to see outside your window!

          • kindheart101 says:

            I’m in southern South Carolina Cielo. Marsh land. Right on the coast. We get a lot of the birds that migrate south, and being near the woods, I have the joy of seeing the other wildlife also. 🙂

          • cielo62 says:

            DANG! I was hoping you lived closer as I would LOVE to visit!

          • kindheart101 says:

            If you ever head south, let me know. 🙂

            BTW………One of my cats, though all black, looks just like your avatar. LOL I am always putting his tongue back in his mouth.

          • cielo62 says:

            LOL! He’s just salivating at all the yummy birds flying past your window!

          • kindheart101 says:

            Heh heh heh……

            I have 3 indoor cats, all rescues. 13, 8 and 5. My 13 year old has no tail. 😦 She was found in a dumpster, with her 4 other siblings that had died from the cold, and her tail was removed because it was frost bitten, and infected. (Her name is “Nubs”) LOL

            My 8 year old cat is a trip! I have had her since she was about 8 weeks old also, and she eats me out of house and home! She is huge! Big boned, and STRONG! She is the ALPHA of the house. We all bow down to her.

            Then I have the little boy with the tongue problem. I adopted him 4 years ago. I was looking for a little female, so my 8 year old could have a playmate, and leave my older cat alone. When I walked into the center, and saw him, my heart broke. He had just been taken in off the street, the day before. He was skinny, shy, had fleas, parasites, an overbite, crossed eyes, and a tooth that hangs over his lower jaw……along with his tongue. I scooped him up, and adopted him, on the spot. 🙂 His personality shines! He is absolutely the best mannered, and sweetest of the three.

            They love watching the birds, but this morning was a bit much for them. LOL Last summer I had a family of opossum, 4 babies, that would come up on my deck, after dark, and eat cat food I would put out for them. I would sit outside nightly, with a friend, and we would watch them scurry around our feet and crunch on the cat food. (Cute as heck as babies………..but Mama needed a bit of cosmetic work?) My cats would sit at the patio door, and look like: Hey! That’s my food!

          • cielo62 says:

            kindheart~ I have discovered that cat food is natures most PERFECT all-species food! Racoons and possums love it! Mice and blue jays love it! Stray dogs and stray cats love it! Really, what’s not to love? BTW, THANK YOU for saving the little boy! Black cats have the lowest adoption rates,and it’s sad because black cats (especially the boys) have ALWAYS been the most loving cats I have ever owned! I had a rescue, I call him Quintus Arias. Originally it was just Quintus, as he was the 5th black cat I had ever rescued. BUT the Arias part comes from Ben Hur. He had SUCH a regal personality! He had the dogs scared of him (and I’m talking boxer dog, not some little poodle thing). I mourned for months when he passed away. One more thing; are you familiar with A Charlie Brown Christmas? Linus looks at the skinny little tree and wraps his blanket around it and says :It’s not such a bad little tree. All it needs is love.” I called that big bad boy “My little tree” for many years (he was badly wounded when I found him, scars and open sores all around his neck). Yep, all he needed was a little love and he was transformed. I’m joyful to read you have discovered the same thing!

          • kindheart101 says:

            cielo……

            “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Yes indeed. All they need is a little love. What a great way to put it.

            Speaking of trees……I just took mine down last week. I say mine, when actually it’s for my cats. LOL I always get them a tree at Christmas because I keep them indoors. I have a really big, weighted stand, (so they can’t tip it over) and I decorate it with all their toys, and spray it with cat nip. I know it sounds crazy as sin, but they rip up and down that thing like there’s no tomorrow! They hang from the branches, bat at their toys, and have the best time. The neighborhood children love to come over and watch them play in the tree, and think it’s quite funny that they have their own stockings hung on the fireplace too.

      • kindheart101 says:

        @Xena.

        That song really takes me back my friend. I was raised to love nature, and respect it. Though being raised in the city, (because of my father’s work) we would spend our summers, as a family, camping on the acreage my parents bought for their retirement. When they moved there, after I married, (eons ago, LOL) I would marvel at how they lived, and loved every single minute when I would visit them.

        They had a fresh water well……LOL All their pipes were wrapped with heat tape due to the brutal winters. Their home, heated by a wood stove only, sat right in the middle of the woods. You had to take a dirt road, (fire trail) for about 5 miles, and hang a right @ the 10th blue spruce, (hoping a black bear or pack of wolves didn’t cut you off) and then drive down a path my Father cleared to their home. ROFL!

        The closest little town store was 15 miles away. They had a huge bird feeder, 3 X 5 feet, that my Father made and attached to a 3″ steel pipe, sunk in concrete outside their living room window…………..and they watched a black bear walk up, stand up, and with one swat………threw it 10 feet into their wood pile. 🙂 They cleared about an acre out back, and would feed the deer, (dump truck loads of corn and potatoes) and had an enormous salt lick when food was scarce in the winter. Herds of deer, 40 – 50 would come in daily. He was funny as hell when I would visit. (Excuse my french) I loved it there, and wanted to be outside! I would walk out back, and my Father would open the window and put his shotgun on the sill. I would get a 10 minute lecture, (mind you, I was in my 50″s!) if I saw a bear…………do not run, hit the ground, stay still, play dead, and he would take him out before he could hurt me. LOL

        I do have to say though. I walked down to the stream, about 1/4 mile from their house, over the ravine, (much to my Fathers dislike) and was watching the frigid water race over the rocks, when I heard…….grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………and then almost like an owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Scared me half to death, and thought it was my Father playing a trick on me. I turned around to see a Bobcat, crouched, about 10 feet away from me, with another one behind it in the ferns. I picked up a dead branch, hit the ground and screamed. I think it was more afraid of me than I was of them. (I never told my Father. He would have never let me leave the house again.)

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        Reading the above conversation sure gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling!

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        🙂

        If you’re going to enjoy nature
        Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
        If you’re going to enjoy nature
        You’re gonna meet some gentle people there 🙂

    • Thanks. I did this work for many years and know the issues that are likely to come up from time to time because I had to deal with them in the cases that I handled. At one time or another I think I have dealt with every issue that is likely to come up in any criminal case. I also like teaching so this is a good fit for me.

      Hope your tests went well and you are feeling better.

      Fred

      • kindheart101 says:

        @Professor.

        You teach us well, and we begin,
        to understand, take it all in.
        You coach us, help us see the way,
        the courts work, each and every day.

        We learn, because we draw from you,
        your knowledge, and your kindness too.
        You teach us free, don’t charge a dime,
        for all your efforts, and your time.

        So this I speak for all of us,
        you give us faith, deserve our trust.
        We lean on you, we pick your brain……….
        on this, we never will refrain!

        Professor, please know this is true,
        we care, and wish the best for you.
        “YOU TEACH US WELL, AND WE BEGIN,
        TO UNDERSTAND, TAKE IT ALL IN!”

        Justice For Trayvon

  3. aussie says:

    Frederick, what happens to the files?

    If the lawyers quit and a new one is appointed, does the old one hand over the files? or does the new one have to start from scratch, investigating and deposing witnesses etc?

    And is it different if the client fires the lawyer and gets another?

  4. towerflower says:

    Hello everyone, first time posting on this site. Back around August 13, 2012 and right after the Hannity interview; MOM gave an interview in which he said he was going to declare GZ indigent so that he could start to collect state funding to enable a proper defense. The stories are still out there and he has been thinking about this for some time. I think that they keep trying to collect funding from the public by first the Hannity interview and restarting his donation web page and then his “donate and get an autograph” campaigns. When it becomes obvious that they are no longer working I bet you see MOM with the motion to declare him indigent.

  5. Jun says:

    Extra Extra read All About IT

    Junior is appointing the owner of Conservative Treefort as the defense for Fogenhats

    (I am kidding btw)

  6. Valerie says:

    following

  7. Jun says:

    I feel now most of Junior’s followers on twitter and on his petition for the “decent” American, are phonies

    Look at how many profiles one Zimmernut has

    I feel realistically, only 100 people actually signed the petition for Fogenhats

    • @Jun, there’s only a few thousand ( i thought i saw recently 5000) members of the kkk, out of MILLIONS and MILLIONS of americans! that’s pretty much the largest hate group around, and gz definitely ain’t invited to thier hoe downs.. so the number of zimmerlovers compared to a few thousand of those kind would only leave about 5 maybe 25 (excluding immediate family members) real zimmerlovers in the states! LOLO

  8. Jun says:

    I think it is a little unfair for him to be paid by the public, especially since he had over 300K that he asked for and he pointlessly spent it on stuff

    $300,000 is more than enough to pay for the defense, living expenses

    There are millionaires who dont even spend that much in a year

    • towerflower says:

      Part of that was from GZ’s stubbornness. The company that supplied security and investigations for him, AIS, told them that they were asking for too much in the way of security and it wasn’t needed. MOM replied to him that it was GZ himself that demanded 2 security personnel at all times. MOM lost control of his client some time ago.

      • Xena says:

        @towerflower.

        MOM replied to him that it was GZ himself that demanded 2 security personnel at all times. MOM lost control of his client some time ago.

        O’Mara made a huge mistake when he took over the funds and deposited them in his attorney’s trust account. Ultimately, it’s GZ’s money, but O’Mara has acted as a quasi-guardian by approving it for use of GZ’s living expenses. An attorney’s trust fund is suppose to pay for costs and legal fees. Disbursing money for living expenses of a client requires the establishment of another sort of Trust with a Trust instrument, an appointed Trustee and beneficiaries.

        O’Mara is between a rock and a harder place. IMO, GZ never had intentions of paying O’Mara a dime and his security demands was to make sure of that.

    • Dennis says:

      I don’t think much of that money even went to O’Mara. Most of it probably went to paying his ridiculous President style 24/7 bodyguards and also I think I heard he payed off some credit cards. He wanted to play the game of scared man in fear of his life from racist vigilantes and he has lost because he is now broke and being sued. He is such a failure that he can’t even pay his bills when he has thousands of dollars. Who the hell is managing his funds anyway? He isn’t supposed to have access to a bank account. Whoever is managing his money supply is completely stupid.

  9. bettykath says:

    thanks for the lesson.

  10. Well, well, Fogen. God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to behold.

  11. cielo62 says:

    >^..^< NOT withdrawing til the fat rat sings.

  12. Diane says:

    I think after deposing Mary Cutcher and others O’Mara regrets taking the case.

    • racerrodig says:

      Not to mention some of the police officers. Maybe he finally read some of the “Actual” evidence and stopped listen to the Zidiot Nation.

      • Jun says:

        LOL I do not know what voice in his head told him to take the Zidiot Nation advice for trial

        Omara would have just been as good, using excerpts from HG Wells novels

        • racerrodig says:

          Well…I think it’s “…undisputed…” that the Zidiot Nation has to call the shots since it is their money that Fogen received to pay my fees…………wait, I said it’s undisputed I haven’t been paid, this is all so confusing”

          • Xena says:

            BINGO! O’Mara played to the Zidiots in hope of getting an increase in donations. Now that they haven’t kept their part of the bargain, he’s no longer playing to them and maybe we will see him behave more professionally in court.

          • racerrodig says:

            I think he’s too far gone to change and show professionalism in any way shape or form.

      • Jun says:

        They have their own language

        “Undisputed” in Zidiot = They will cyber stalk and harass you, intimidate and threaten you, tell lies, until you bow down and accept whatever they say, even if it means stating gravity is not real

        “Reacted To a Vicious Assault & Broken Nose from Trayvon” = using animal blood to smear on his nose and head and wishing he had some drugs or guns to plant on Trayvon

        “I found Trayvon’s Twitter” = I found a picture of a random black guy and made a fake profile to proliferate

  13. parrot says:

    Hello Professor and posters. I’ve been lurking and learning for months, and appreciate this oasis of sanity. Professor, would you consider attending the hearing in April or the trial in June to blog in real time on the proceedings?

    • Yes, I have considered it, but I cannot afford it.

      I am expecting the immunity hearing and the trial will be televised, however, because trials in Florida state courts have been televised in the past. For example, the Casey Anthony trial was televised.

      • i think a FOT organization or group would gladly sponsor you!! well if you’d avail yourself of course and then helped them out with your expertise! but why go to just a hearing? wait for the trial!!
        As long as school is out i’d meet you there that’s for sure Professor!
        it’s probably not that expensive for a room there, but i bet the whole media world will book up every room within a 10 mile radius 3 months in advance! LOL

        what about a Winnebago??? omg! i’ve always wanted to do that!OLOL

      • Rachael says:

        It would be so cool if a bunch of us coukd meet up and go

      • Xena says:

        I won’t set foot in the State of Florida unless fully armed against the crazies there who think they can shoot first and claim self-defense later.

      • Xena, you are so right! i almost forgot to tell you. but today i saw a pack of wild teenagers in hoodies- with their pants hanging off their asses!! they were walking to school!!! OMG they scared me half to death!!! what did i do you say?
        well i slowwwwwwwwwlyyyy. drove past them!

        and guess what? i made it back home!! phew!
        these white kids were really acting like… you know, what they act like!!!

        LMAO!!!!

      • Cercando Luce says:

        I’m with Xena on boycotting Florida.

  14. colin black says:

    typo above
    should be

    After the attack on his person.

  15. colin black says:

    This is the delay delay delay an hope it goes away tactics of J Arias an her enableing family as she continues to attack her victim in court.
    After his attack on his person now its his memory an charecter being mutalated. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/jodi-arias_n_1174274.html?icid=hp_front_art

  16. colin black says:

    Dennis January 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Didn’t the judge want to give Keanu Reeves contempt in the Devil’s Advocate when he stood up and said that he could no longer represent his client? I don’t think he actually said he would give him contempt, but he did not sound happy. I believe it was because he did not notify the court and just had a sudden moment of clarity. The court would like a good reason for you to withdraw as council. The system moves very slowly, and the last thing they want is for someone to play games or waste their time.

    Reply
    @Dennis J Arias has been playing games
    Sacking council for nearly half a decade an her trial is on going with pleas multiple for miss trial an directed verdicts.
    Could be foggens way of delaying the inevitable if jails the only option he sees in his future.
    Sacking his lawers to pro long his freedom hopeing for a hail mary pass.
    Even contemplateing makeing a run for it he has neither the brains nor the skills to disapear an live under the radar.
    Only if he had a sponser would he consider fleeing i m o..

  17. Dennis says:

    I almost forgot about this. I was watching Walking Tall the other night starring The Rock and in an epic court battle he fires his attorney and decides to represent himself. The judge was extremely pissed when The Rock opened his shirt to show the huge scars to the jury and told the jury to ignore what they saw. He literally convinced the jury that what he did was the right thing to do, because the law refused to.

  18. Dennis says:

    Didn’t the judge want to give Keanu Reeves contempt in the Devil’s Advocate when he stood up and said that he could no longer represent his client? I don’t think he actually said he would give him contempt, but he did not sound happy. I believe it was because he did not notify the court and just had a sudden moment of clarity. The court would like a good reason for you to withdraw as council. The system moves very slowly, and the last thing they want is for someone to play games or waste their time.

  19. Louie says:

    Well Rachael I guess because they are running out of money.

  20. Rachael says:

    While I’m sure O’Mara wonders every day how he got himself into this mess and would love to get out of it, I just can’t see it happening and don’t understand where this “idea” has come from.

    • abbyj says:

      @Rachael, O’Mara’s had that “Get-Me-Outta-Here” look on his face for months and months. His body language during the Hannity showboating event revealed his disdain toward his client. He appeared quite shocked when fogen announced that killing Trayvon “was God’s plan.” O’Mara must be screaming himself to sleep every night. Because fogen takes advice from no one and believes he’s smarter than his own counsel, O’Mara knows that he’ll surely end up broke, disbarred, or a laughing stock–or all three–if he stays on. At this point, any way O’Mara can get out, I’d bet he’ll take it.

  21. Louie says:

    Why should the money that was donated be used as his living expenses?? Not many people need over 200.000 a year to live! I feel the people that donated that money thought it was for his legal bills, not to be living it up in some fancy apartment!
    I think he should be working some where, living with his parents and paying for his own legal mess that he got his self into. Why should we pay for his lawyers (no matter how small the amount would be)
    GZ got his self into this and is living better than most of us and now he is going to ask for more money?? I feel the judge should give him a public defender just like every one eles gets! He is no better than any one!!
    So with that Mr. O’Mara and his partner should drop him because he can not pay you what your worth and let him get the same kind of public defender that every one eles gets.
    GZ stop playing the system and Mr. O’Mara you too need to stop using the system as well.

  22. Trained Observer says:

    Insightful. Thanks so much professor.

    As for fogen repping himself: “He has a constitutional right to do that although he would be a fool to try it.”

    This teen stalker has shown himself to be a big enough fool with all his varying, inconsistent yarns on what happened the night Trayvon was shot to death. It would therefore, come as no surprise if he tried such a stupido move.

    • racerrodig says:

      Just like that Ted Bundy guy…..how did that turn out ?? And Bundy actually studied Law and was an A student as I recall.

      • abbyj says:

        @racerrodig, . . .and Bundy was not an altogether bumbling dolt like fogen, either. Hubris is a wondrous thing, and fogen just might be foolish enough to try. He has never once understood his own limitations. And, yes, he is a lazy bastard. Very good to see you, Racer.

        • racerrodig says:

          And good to see you as always !! Bundy was a legitimate Law Student with excellent grades and graduated from Washington in 1972 with a Law Degree and I believe one on Psychology.

          I can see Fogen operating as a Pro Se litigant……

          “……um, Your Honor, um I call my 1st witness…..um Cheorge Zimmerman, will you take the stand”
          “…Um Okay…”
          “I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”
          “…..um I’m sure I can”

          “So me, what happened on the night of Feb. 28th 2012?”
          “……………um, nothing at all, I wasn’t even out of Ostermans house that night”

          BDLR “….Objection your Honor, clearly the defendant named the wrong date intentionally to avoid describing the events of the night of the murder”

          Nelson “…Mr. Zimmerman, is there a reason for this”

          Fogen “…..um, it’s my only defense Your Honor……..can I go?”

          That’s about as good a defense as there is.

      • Cercando Luce says:

        He was executed for bludgeoning attractive Florida sorority girls in their beds.

  23. colin black says:

    Easy Peasy Lemmon Sqeezie..

    Logical Move …

    Down to last 15 grand faceing rest of life behind bars.
    Turn my self into prison clear up some funds for my defence,
    Problem of security solved.
    Could generate positive P R ..
    Equals donations funds.
    Nothing to lose at this point faceing life behind bars if he loses.
    May as well start now as few pointless weeks of freedom with a ankle moniter liveing in self imposed prison.

    Foggens move?

    • Xena says:

      @colin black

      Foggens move?

      I pity anyone in GZ’s situation. Even if acquitted, he and his wife are both unemployed. Since they moved out of the townhouse with just their clothes, and reside in extended stay hotels, it is reasonably presumed that they have no furniture, no linen, no pots and pans, dishes, etc., and will need to start from scratch.

      His parents have not allowed them to move under their roof, and they claim to live like vagabonds and need money from others also.

      Since his release on bail, non of his supporters have provided him nor ShelLIE with housing or employment, so it’s unlikely those things will be offered if he is acquitted.

      What’s the difference in how he is living now in hiding with a GPS ankle bracelet and being in jail awaiting trial? Access to the internet.

      • Trained Observer says:

        Zena, my understanding is that their rental unit at the Retreat was owned by her parents, so their stuff may be in storage or under some friend/family roof for safekeeping. While the defendant’s parents indeed have claimed to live like vagabounds since their son made the mistake of a lifetime by killing Trayvon, I think that’s just so much bunk. Pensions alone from the elder Zimmerman’s career should be comparatively hefty, and they can add Social Security onto that. They have assets. It’s just that they, too, apparently counted on becoming celebrity multi-millionaires on other peoples’ dough. Just my opinion.

        • Xena says:

          @Trained Observer.

          Zena, my understanding is that their rental unit at the Retreat was owned by her parents, so their stuff may be in storage or under some friend/family roof for safekeeping.

          I read that as a rumor. GZ and ShelLIE lived with ShelLIE’s mom until they moved to R@TL. According to their credit union statements, they made payments (2, IIRC) of about $945 to a woman who is into real estate and presumably, was their landlord. Her last name is not Dean, which is ShelLIE’s mom’s last name.

          And yes, Papa and Mama Zim joined the begging bandwagon after seeing how much money GZ was able to swindle from the public.

    • Jun says:

      I dont pity Fogenhats.

      There is a graffiti piece outside of Regent Park in Toronto Canada, where the artist painted a mural that says

      “The world is in your hands”

      “Life is about your choices. Choose the right path”

      “One Spirit, One Community”

      Fogenhats chose his own path. No one made him choose to do what he did.

      • racerrodig says:

        In all reality, you are correct….except Moron O’ Mara (sorry Professor I had to say it) Taaffe, Osterman, RZJ, Papa Z, Mama Z, and a handful of lying racists say it was all Trayvon’s doing, you know, with all that luring and all…..not to mention all that suspicious walking in the rain, which as we all know, nobody does on a Sunday evening in FL…….nobody. Unless Fogen can tell you are a fitness freak, then you get a pass, as long as you don’t skip.

        No sir…no skipping…..that’s a sure sign of illegal behavior.

      • racerrodig says:

        He deserves no pity with all due respect…..he deserves a long hard prison term.

      • Jun says:

        Oh yes, by quoting a recanted statement from W6 and claiming the sidewalk head bounces LOL

        Yes, according to them, it is Trayvon’s fault for defending himself non spectacularly, when Fogenhats targeted, stalked, harassed, terrorized, confronted, chased, threatened, and was even the first to attack

        Trayvon’s not even allowed to allegedly pin a perp and assailant on the ground and yell for help while trying to get away

        If Trayvon pleads for help, Fogenhats gets to claim it is his voice, even if it sounds absolutely nothing like him

        Can’t forget to blame Al Sharpton and Obama too LOL

  24. Xena says:

    @Professor.

    The court could appoint counsel at public expense and recoup a portion of what that might cost from the trust account.

    This raises a few questions. The trust account for the donations is O’Mara’s trust account. He is paying for GZ’s living expenses out of that fund. With the possible condition of your above quoted statement, would O’Mara have to stop paying for GZ’s living expenses?

    Could O’Mara turn the remaining funds over to GZ and if so, how would he do that since the court ordered that GZ cannot open a bank account?

    In the alternative, (since the defense fund is actually used to support GZ’s living expenses), could Judge Nelson order that the defense fund be dissolved in order to declare him indigent?

    • Something would have to be done about the account. The Court would expect the defendant to make reasonable efforts to obtain employment and to stop with the unnecessary security arrangements.

      He would not be given that money to do whatever he wanted to do with it.

      • Xena says:

        Thanks for the reply, professor. I seriously doubt that GZ wants employment, however.

        • racerrodig says:

          Lazy bastard. My guess is he thinks he’ll rake in millions from his NBC lawsuit and bask in the limelight of being a guest speaker on “The Thrill of the Kill”

          Needless to say, in a few months the alarm will go off and that dream will end !!

          • Xena says:

            @racerrodig.

            Needless to say, in a few months the alarm will go off and that dream will end !!

            I think that alarm went off a long time ago and that’s why the only defense he and his supporters have raised are personal attacks against Trayvon’s family, their attorneys, and the thugification of Trayvon.

          • racerrodig says:

            “…the only defense he and his supporters have raised are personal attacks against Trayvon’s family, their attorneys, and the thugification of Trayvon.”

            That part went without saying since that’s what lying racists do !!

      • Jun says:

        Their other tactic, is to make 2 zillion profiles each and spam the crap out of comments and chat sections of the case’s articles, until normal people can not have a chat or convo

        so it looks like on top of being liars, stalkers, and predators, they are just pissing people off

      • Cercando Luce says:

        Since the original account was turned over to O’Mara’s trust account, and this act was confirmed in court by O’Mara to Judge Lester, shouldn’t Judge Lester have specified that O’Mara (or an independent trustee) would have to account to the court? As in, prepare an accounting that conforms to judicial standards and submit it to the judge’s scrutiny?

        If not, then defendants CAN indeed profit from their crimes, and O’Mara with his beloved Fogen sets the precedent.

        • No, the Court had no reason or authority to involve itself in a financial matter between the lawyer and his client, except to the limited extent that the money was an asset that the Court should have been informed about relative to the issue of setting bail. It may become a relevant consideration in the near future, if the defense claims indigency and asks the Court to appoint counsel to be paid at public expense.

          O’Mara acted properly when he placed the internet contributions into a trust account segregated from other funds.

      • leander22 says:

        Since the original account was turned over to O’Mara’s trust account, and this act was confirmed in court by O’Mara to Judge Lester, shouldn’t Judge Lester have specified that O’Mara (or an independent trustee)

        O’Mara handled fund matters very professionally. Yes, Fogen initially transfered it to him. But O’Mara passed it on to an independent trustee. Remember the AIS, security firm lawsuit, O’Mara had to inform that trustee to transfer money to the firm.

        Wasn’t there something about the account being shifted into somebody else’s hand somewhere? Didn’t the trustee pull out anyway? i remember, I pondered, if the idea was to shift it into some type of family member trusteeship? Father, brother?

        In any case from the moment I listed to the prison calls and watched money matters, I had the impression the Fogen couple cannot really handle money well.

        Crazy, absolutely crazy.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      OM signed the account over to an independent trustee. Fogen probably has more control over it than anyone.

      • Xena says:

        @Two sides.

        OM signed the account over to an independent trustee. Fogen probably has more control over it than anyone.

        Okay — so O’Mara empties GZ’s donations from his attorney’s trustee account, and gives it to an independent trustee. No wonder he hasn’t motioned the court to find GZ indigent, because he really doesn’t know what is happening with GZ financially.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        Unless that independent trustee reports to him. I wouldn’t think that person would necessarily have any obligation to do so, unless Fogen consents. Just my guess though.

  25. Two sides to a story says:

    Thank you. Good summary and answers many questions I had about this issue.

  26. Cercando Luce says:

    After such an investment of time, effort and reputation, it would signal negatively about the defendant’s prospects of winning, if counsel were to withdraw. Would such a signal be good cause for an appeal, if defendant were to be found guilty?

    • The answer is “no” because a lawyer would have to assert a valid reason to withdraw and that is not a valid reason. The two most likely reasons that might be asserted in support of a motion to withdraw are financial hardship and/or a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.

      If ethical necessity is claimed as the reason, that would signal that the client told the lawyer he would testify and lie about what happened.

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