Thursday, February 21, 2013
Searching Mind inspired me to write this post when he mentioned Nogues v. State, 762 So.2d 967 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) in a comment and asked what effect it might have on the State’s perjury case against Shellie Zimmerman.
This is my answer to his comment.
Great catch coming up with the Nogues case where the Court reversed the defendant police officer’s conviction for perjury because the prosecution based its case on the testimony of only one witness. The Court said,
This testimony was not legally sufficient to establish the crime of perjury. It is a well-established principle of law that “a verdict of conviction in a perjury case must have for its support something more than the testimony of one witness.” Yarbrough v. State, 79 Fla. 256, 83 So. 873, 874 (1920). “To convict of the crime of perjury, the offense must be proved by the oaths of two witnesses, or by the oath of one witness, and by other independent and corroborating circumstances, which is deemed of equal weight with another witness.” Id. (citations omitted). See also Rader v. State, 52 So.2d 105, 108 (Fla. 1951) (“The falsity of the material matter sworn to must be proved by the oaths of two witnesses, or by the oath of one witness and other independent and corroborating circumstances which are of equal weight with the testimony of another witness.”); Wells v. State, 270 So.2d 399 (Fla. 3d DCA 1972) (same), cert. denied, 277 So.2d 533 (Fla.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1024, 94 S.Ct. 449, 38 L.Ed.2d 316 (1973).
Nogues was a former Miami police officer who was charged with making a false statement under oath “during a formal investigation of an extortion scheme directed at other officers and related to the “Miami River Cops” scandal. In that statement, Nogues denied that he was present at a meeting between George Fonte, Charles Orrett, Armando Garcia, and Dagoberto Garcia at the defendant’s house, held to discuss extorting money from one of them. Nogues asserted that such a meeting had “never occurred,” and that he was “never present in any of that stuff.”
The only witness who testified against him was Charles Orrett, “a Metro-Dade police officer who had agreed to cooperate with State and federal authorities. Orrett testified at trial that Nogues had indeed met with other police officers at his house to plan an extortion scheme.”
I believe Shellie Zimmerman’s case is covered by the other-independent-and-corroborating-evidence exception mentioned in Nogues because the State will be relying on Paypal records and the defendant’s and her own bank statements to corroborate what she said regarding their scheme to hide the Paypal donations from the Court by transferring the money into her account and his sister’s account structuring the transfer into a series of multiple transactions in amounts less than $10,000. I expect the evidence will show that she transferred $67,000 into her account and that money was in her account when she testified at the bond hearing.