Mark O’Mara engineers snipe hunt to avoid responsibility for publicizing irrelevant evidence

May 29, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Good afternoon:

NBC News reported late yesterday:

A Florida judge ruled Tuesday that George Zimmerman’s defense team cannot mention Trayvon Martin’s suspension from school, prior marijuana use, text messages or past fighting during opening statements at next month’s trial.

Judge Debra Nelson said that during the trial she will consider motions to admit details as evidence on a case-by-case basis, outside the presence of jurors who will decide if Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin.

Although this statement is technically correct, it also is misleading because Judge Nelson actually concluded that the evidence was irrelevant and inadmissible. That is why she granted the State’s motion in limine to prohibit the defense from mentioning any of those things during jury selection and opening statement.

The only reason she might change her mind is if the State were to open the door by introducing evidence of good character. That is not going to happen because Trayvon’s character, whether good or bad, is not an issue in this case. BDLR has no reason to introduce evidence of good character and I am certain that he was not planning on doing that because he knows that good character evidence is irrelevant. Since the defense cannot rebut something that does not happen, the jury will not hear any of this information.

That is not the end of the story, however, because the irrelevant information in question was obtained from Trayvon Martin’s phone and it is the subject of a defense motion for sanctions and request for a judicial inquiry that Judge Nelson has scheduled for June 6th, the same day as the Frye hearing regarding the admissibility of expert testimony identifying the person who uttered the terrified death shriek.

I do not believe Judge Nelson is going to find that BDLR withheld evidence from the defense. The evidence was recorded on Trayvon’s phone in binary code and a copy of that raw data was disclosed to the defense sometime in late January. O’Mara did not hire an expert or purchase a software program that can translate that code into plain English.

A few weeks ago, O’Mara was contacted by an attorney who represents Ben Kruibdos, the Director of Information Technology for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. The attorney is Wesley White.

The Miami Herald reports:

White led the Nassau County state attorney’s office before resigning in December, citing differences of opinion with Corey. He is now in private practice.

White said the photos Kruidbos retrieved were of a hand holding a gun and one depicted drugs. The content of the text messages wasn’t specified.

“I’m an officer of the court and I’m obliged to inform the court of any misconduct or any potential misconduct coming before the court. Whether it’s by the defense or prosecution,” White said.

Apparently, Kruibdos extracted the two photographs and possibly the text messages from the binary code and gave them to BDLR who did not pass them on to O’Mara.

Does that constitute a discovery violation or a tempest in a teapot?

I believe it is a tempest in a teapot, so long as BDLR turned over the raw data.

Judge Nelson has already ruled that the evidence is not relevant or admissible and it certainly is not exculpatory.

We will have to wait and see how the hearing turns out, but this looks like another snipe hunt instigated by O’Mara to distract everyone from holding him accountable for publicly disclosing information that should not have been disclosed.

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Defense mendacity in Zimmerman case is disgusting

May 24, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Good morning:

George Zimmerman’s attorneys, Mark O’Mara and Don West, have unintentionally confirmed this week that they have no defense to present on his behalf by knowingly and intentionally publishing false, irrelevant and inadmissible information about Trayvon Martin to incite white racists to denounce him as a pot smoking black thug who deserved to die.

I used the word “confirmed” because three weeks ago the defendant appeared in open court and waived his right to an immunity hearing. The mixture of false and misleading information released yesterday is not a defense to second degree murder. It’s deliberate character assassination by false statement and innuendo of an unarmed teenager who was stalked, restrained and shot through the heart while screaming for help.

Here’s LLMPapa:

Last I heard, skipping school, pot smoking and participating in refereed fights between equal combatants is not a death penalty offense.

In other news, the defense attorneys filed a flurry of forgettable motions and responses to prosecution motions which, like snowflakes in April, are destined to melt when they hit the ground.

I begin with Donald West’s frivolous, dishonest and intentionally misleading reefer-madness motion that he filed earlier this week arguing that a trace amount of marijuana in Trayvon Martin’s autopsy blood should be admissible to prove that he was the aggressor even though he was unarmed and the defendant stalked, restrained and shot him in the heart.

The defense motion to continue:

1. cites no authority,

2. claims he needs to investigate Dr. Reich (the State’s audio expert who identified Trayvon as the person screaming for help), which takes about an hour if you google him,

3. claims other unnamed experts told him Dr. Reich’s opinion is based on science that has fallen into “disrepute,”

4. fails to support this assertion with an affidavit from one or more of these experts, and

5. claims he needs time to find an expert to hire even though he is supposedly in touch with all of these experts.

This motion is ridiculous and will be denied because it fails to document a reason for a continuance.

O’Mara’s motion for sanctions against Bernie de la Rionda for not disclosing the evidence that the defense obtained from Trayvon’s phone and published in its 3rd evidence dump, is frivolous because the so-called exculpatory evidence that he claims BDLR withheld in violation of the Brady rule is not exculpatory.

Therefore, the Brady rule does not apply and this motion should be denied.

West’s reply to the State’s motion to exclude opinion evidence about the defendant’s guilt or innocence generally admits that witness opinions about the guilt or innocence of a defendant are inadmissible but warns that if the State attempts to attribute the delay in arresting and charging the defendant (which isn’t relevant either), then the State will have opened the door to allowing the defense to call SPD cops to justify what they did.

I don’t believe this issue will come up as it is irrelevant to whether the defendant murdered Trayvon.

Sideline mini-trials about marginally relevant or irrelevant issues are exactly what evidence rule 403 is designed to prevent.

West’s 2-page reply to the State’s motion to exclude the defendant’s self-serving hearsay statements, which does not cite a case, generally agrees that many of the defendant’s statements are hearsay, if offered by the defense, but disagrees with the State’s argument that none of the defendant’s statements are admissible under the res gestae exception or some other exception to the hearsay rule. West asks Judge Nelson to reserve ruling until the issue comes up in trial.

This is a sneaky response because West wants to be able to ask a leading question seeking agreement from a witness that the defendant said XYZ. For example, he might ask SPD Investigator Serino this question:

George told you that he killed Trayvon in self-defense, didn’t he?

Bernie de la Rionda (BDLR) would object to the question because it contains an inadmissible self-serving hearsay statement.

Judge Nelson would sustain the objection, but she cannot unring the bell, so to speak. The jury would have heard the defendant’s inadmissible statement.

He also would probably like to mention that self-serving hearsay statement during the defense opening statement to the jury or maybe during jury selection.

The purpose of the State’s motion in limine regarding the defendant’s self-serving hearsay statements is to prevent those events from happening, and I am reasonably certain Judge Nelson has seen this trick before and is savvy enough to see through West’s tactical deception.

Therefore, I expect she will grant the State’s motion.

BTW, the res gestae exception that West mentions is a limited exception to the hearsay rule similar to the present-sense-impression exception in which the hearsay statement about an event occurs as the event happens. Thus, the statement is part of the event itself or the res gestae and cannot be excised from it.

The State’s motion in limine seeking an order prohibiting the defense from mentioning the voice stress analysis test that the defendant took should be granted because that’s the legal rule in Florida and elsewhere. The rule is based on the lack of general agreement among scientists that this type of test can consistently produce accurate and reliable results.

In other words, the test violates the Frye Rule.

Judge Nelson should grant this motion.

The State’s 3rd motion for a gag order asks Judge Nelson to put an end to the defense effort to poison the jury pool by assassinating Trayvon Martin’s good character with false evidence and innuendo publicized after the jury pool of 500 people have received their notices to report for jury service on June 10, 2013.

It is no accident that the defense waited until after the 500 potential jurors were served with their notices, but before they report for jury service. Therefore, this was a deliberate tactic to create an unringing the bell problem regarding false, irrelevant, and inadmissible evidence.

A gag order will not unring the bell.

This is quite possibly the sleaziest tactic that I have ever seen. To intentionally poison a jury pool a couple of weeks before trial with false and misleading information about the victim of a homicide calculated to incite and unite White racists to approve of the execution of an unarmed Black teenager is astonishing.

These two lawyers are fortunate that I am not Judge Nelson because I would jail them for contempt of court and file complaints against the bar association requesting their disbarment from the practice of law.

_________________________________________________

I hate to hassle people for money, but contributions have been lagging this month.

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Fred


Zimmerman: Let there be thunder that makes the mountains tremble

May 4, 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good afternoon:

The defendant’s friend, Frank Taaffe, described the defendant’s state of mind the night that he stalked and killed Trayvon Martin.

He was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore.

Given that Taaffe uttered this statement after he found out about the shooting, I believe we can reasonably assume that he believed the defendant pursued and confronted Trayvon with murder in mind.

Why did he believe that?

Why was the defendant so angry?

What was it that the defendant was not going to take anymore?

I have puzzled over Taaffe’s statement ever since I heard him say it.

Despite a lack of objective evidence that would support a belief that the gated neighborhood was besieged by burglars and thieves, the defendant appears to have believed that was actually happening, or he pushed that false narrative in hopes of creating a justification for the Homeowner’s Association to hire him to provide security.

He also appears to have believed that the burglars and thieves were Black and they always got away.

Frank Taaffe told us that the defendant was mad as hell about that and he was going to put an end to it.

The defendant said during the NEN call, “fucking coons,” and “these assholes, they always get away.”

This explains why he got out of his vehicle and hunted for Trayvon, ignoring the dispatcher’s request not to follow him.

Indeed, we can see by his actions that he was “mad as hell.” Acting as police officer, prosecutor, jury, judge and executioner the defendant decided that Trayvon was one “fucking coon,” one “asshole” who wasn’t going to get away.

A little over two minutes after the defendant ended the NEN call, after telling the dispatcher to have the officer call his cell phone when he arrived in the neighborhood, he hunted Trayvon down and shot him to death as Trayvon was telling Dee Dee about the creepy man who stalked and frightened him.

Trayvon never found out who he was or why he stalked and attacked him.

He died in the dark and cold rain begging for his life and shrieking in terror and disbelief.

Although Trayvon was a good kid, it would not have mattered if he were the Devil incarnate.

He was unarmed and he did nothing except try to escape from a creepy man who stalked him, first in a vehicle and then on foot.

The defense effort to demonize him and his family disgusts and infuriates me.

Demonizing Trayvon, even if successful, is not a defense and evidence of bad acts or character, assuming such evidence exists, is not admissible.

Defense counsel deserve harsh criticism and universal condemnation for pursuing this incredibly depraved and unnecessary course of action.

By attempting to exploit racial stereotypes and race-driven fear of Black males in a high publicity case, Mark O’Mara, Don West and everyone who supports what they do give us all a bad name.

Let there be thunder across this land that makes the mountains tremble,

Justice for Trayvon

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Afro-Peruvian emperor wears no clothes

April 24, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BDLR has filed a motion asking Judge Nelson to order the defendant to appear at the April 30th hearing and state on the record that he is waiving his right to the immunity hearing.

H/T to Southern Girl 2 for providing the link to BDLR’s motion

He also asks Judge Nelson to issue an order that she will not permit the immunity hearing to take place during the trial or after it.

I support this motion. In fact I published three posts in early March warning that this needed to be done to avoid significant legal problems that might otherwise come up forcing a retrial of the case, if the jury convicted the defendant.

1. Combining the immunity hearing with the trial in the Zimmerman case is a terrible idea

2. Combining the immunity hearing with the trial in the Zimmerman case is a terrible idea (Part II)

3. Post trial immunity hearings are a terrible idea

This motion is an example of a prosecutor taking action to protect the record from a collateral attack by a new lawyer representing the defendant after he is convicted and sentenced to prison and arguing that the defendant is entitled to a new trial and a statutory immunity hearing because he never waived his right to that hearing and did not know or consent to Mark O’Mara waiving it for him.

BDLR also wants Judge Nelson to clarify the record regarding the possible merger of the statutory immunity hearing with the trial, which O’Mara had suggested as an alternative to holding the hearing during the last two weeks of April, so that the record shows that she considered and denied O’Mara’s request more than a month before trial. Such an order would foreclose an argument by O’Mara that he never waived the statutory immunity hearing and reasonably believed and relied to the defendant’s detriment on the two matters being combined.

Best to clarify that current ambiguity in the record so that it does not result in reversal and remand for an immunity hearing and a new trial, if the defendant loses the immunity hearing.

Therefore, I believe BDLR’s motion is timely and necessary to protect the record.

Although I believe O’Mara decided long ago that he had no chance to win the immunity hearing because the defendant could not withstand cross examination due to his many conflicting and inconsistent statements. I think he decided that he did not want to formally admit in open court on the record that he was waiving his client’s right to the statutory immunity hearing because he was concerned about the effect that his waiver would have on his efforts to substantially increase donations to his “innocent” client’s internet defense fund and win the trial in the court of public opinion. To use a poker analogy, folding your hand at the last minute by waiving the hearing establishes that you were bluffing when you kept insisting that you had a winning hand.

Not exactly the ideal position for the defense to be in on the eve of trial.

BDLR is going for the jugular with this motion to clarify for all the world to see that the Afro-Peruvian emperor wears no clothes.

_____________________________________________________

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Zimmerman defense team’s latest actions show fear and desperation

March 27, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

From the they-don’t-teach-you-this-in-law-school file, comes this bit of sage advice whispered to me late at night in a bar in some long forgotten city by a nationally respected criminal defense lawyer whose name I shall not disclose in this sacred house.

When all else fails and you know you have a loser case, abandon hope, jack-up the level of pain pissing off the judge and prosecutor, keep on swingin’ ’til you knock somebody down and keep on keepin’ on until they commit reversible error. You want to make them mad enough to spit nails so they go home at night and kick the fuckin’ dog

This is the desperate strategy that Mark O’Mara appears to be using with his latest flurry of specious motions that have no chance of being granted. He is personalizing the battle hoping to evoke anger sufficient to overwhelm reason and provoke an emotional retaliation that introduces reversible error into the record. He also has an eye on the rate of financial contributions to the internet fund. He needs to keep making news to loosen the purse strings of the dwindling number of racists still willing to contribute money to the defendant’s losing cause.

Why do I say losing?

Because he has, in effect, waived the immunity hearing without formally doing so on the record, and he is trying his case everywhere except a courtroom, which is the only place that it should be tried.

Hell, he is so desperate and scattered that he cannot even get it together to note up his specious motions for a hearing.

Take heart fellow Trayvon supporters because these are not the actions of a well prepared, confident and professional attorney.

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Lawyer Games and Trayvon Martin’s “Missing” GPS Data for February 26, 2012

February 1, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Good afternoon to all of you.

The topic today: Lawyer Games and Trayvon Martin’s “Missing” GPS Data for February 26, 2012.

I have played my fair share of lawyer games over the years and I must admit that the adrenaline rush from winning a round of Gotcha! can become quite intoxicating and addictive. We have what appears to be a splendid game afoot between Mark O’Mara and Bernie de la Rionda.

Allow me to briefly set the stage.

MOM kicked off to BDLR with a Motion to Continue (the trial date). He wrings his hands and whines incessantly for fifteen pages about how the prosecution has so inconvenienced the defense that it cannot possibly be ready to try this case on the scheduled trial date of June 10, 2013.

BDLR’s response paints a very different picture of the prosecution cooperating with the defense by waiving the subpoena requirement and producing its witnesses for deposition only to have MOM cancel entire days of scheduled depositions at the last minute.

Then he kicks him where the Sun don’t shine by asking rhetorically if the real reason MOM filed the defense motion was to get more time to replenish the internet fund.

I urge all of you to read MOM’s motion and BDLR’s response because they are instructive and entertaining.

I am going to focus on one small part of the motion. On page 8, MOM asserts that on January 8th, he was provided with “an enormous amount of additional information” obtained from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone by CelleBrite, a company in New Jersey that claims to be able to obtain logical and physical information from cell phones. The information Cellebrite obtained was in addition to information obtained by the FDLE and a California law enforcement agency.

So far so good. However, there may be a catch. MOM complains that, although he has been provided with GPS data for the month of February 2012, he was not provided with any GPS data for the date of February 26th, the date of the murder. Apparently, the GPS data that has been provided is more accurate than we knew.

Damn! What a teaser. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

If I were O’Mara, I would proceed very cautiously because it looks and feels like gossamer-thin ice, a trap set for the unwary in the Gotcha! game.

I noticed that BDLR did not respond to MOM’s claim that the GPS data for the only date that matters in this case is missing.

I commented earlier:

“We have no choice except to wait until the Tuesday court hearing, because neither BDLR nor the FDLE have responded in writing regarding O’Mara’s claim about the “missing” GPS phone data for 2/26.

My best guess now, given MOM’s characterization of the data that was retrieved by CelleBrite, the New Jersey company that specializes in retrieving information from cell phones, as “an enormous amount of additional information” (i.e., additional to the information obtained by FDLE and a California LE agency), is that that information annihilates the defendant’s narrative of what happened.

In other words, Game, Set, Match!

Assuming I am right, that would be a rather brilliant strategic move by BDLR to put MOM in a position where he publicly demands to know something that BDLR will now reveal in open court on Tuesday, thoroughly demolishing the defense.

The defense may need to have an ambulance standing by at the ready.”

It’s not as if the defense has not asked for such rude treatment. MOM’s behavior must be especially galling to BDLR, who is limited to responding in court to issues properly before the court. MOM’s incessant whining, added to his blatantly dishonest effort to try the case in the court of public opinion would try Job’s patience, and I do not get the feeling that BDLR is a patient man.

Wise man say:

If you keep drawing a target on your chin while daring your enemy to hit you, sooner or later he will break your jaw and put you in the hospital.

This thinly disguised effort to get more time to replenish the defense coffers by falsely blaming the prosecution for the need to continue the trial date may have been the last straw.

After all, as with all of his miseries, the defendant has only himself to blame.

Any complaint about lack of money should draw a comment about the $100 grand that went to a bail bondsman because the defendant and his wife lied to the Court about their funds.

Any complaint about being pressed for time and needing a continuance should draw a comment that the multiple month delay last summer was caused by the defendant and his wife lying to the Court about their funds.

Back in December we saw BDLR fire a couple of shots across the defense bow with his reference to two identifiable voices in the background of a 911 call and his reference to Chris Serino’s multiple capias drafts recommending that the defendant be charged with murder 2 and eventually manslaughter. That silenced MOM until last week when he moved for the continuance.

Whether or not this is a Gotcha! game, the prosecution has to turn over all exculpatory information that it has as well as all information obtained from the phone that it intends to introduce at trial. I seriously doubt that any information obtained from that phone is exculpatory. I believe the information from 2/26, assuming that it has been retrieved from the phone, will be introduced at trial. Therefore, the prosecution must provide it.

If they were unable to retrieve it, they are going to have to explain why.

I do know this: If the defendant had not squandered so much money and defense counsel had used it for its proper purpose and retained a phone technology expert, we might not be having this conversation.

Assuming I have called this one right, BDLR will have delivered a mighty fine birthday present to Trayvon and his family on his 18th birthday.


Trayvon Martin’s Murder Forces Us To Confront Racism

December 27, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I realized the defendant was lying when I first read his narrative about the shooting.

Why?

Because I believe it’s extremely unlikely that an unarmed person would flee from a menacing stranger following him and, after successfully getting away, voluntarily approach, engage and attempt to beat that stranger to death with his bare hands.

That story is ridiculous. It made no sense to me when I first read it and it makes no sense to me now.

With two exceptions, I never have understood why anyone would believe that ridiculous story.

As a former criminal defense attorney and law professor, I certainly understand, support and believe in the presumption of innocence. I trained myself to think that way and always searched for the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against my clients. I had no problem exploiting those vulnerabilities for the benefit of my clients. I suspect that most of the lawyers and law professors who have publicly supported the defendant did so from the perspective of presuming that he spoke the truth.

Since I no longer practice or teach law, I believe I can evaluate this case from a more objective perspective.

I cannot and will not presume that an obvious bullshit story is the truth.

I have reviewed all of the evidence released to the public to date and I have not found any evidence that supports the defendant’s story. Instead, his multiple inconsistent and contradictory statements conflict with the physical and forensic evidence. In fact, he has admitted that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin after he had him under control with a wrist lock. He said he pulled out his gun, extended his right arm, aimed to avoid shooting his left hand, and fired the single shot that killed Trayvon Martin. The terrified, prolonged and desperate shriek protesting the depraved execution that was about to occur finally and forever was silenced by the gunshot.

No one is going to believe that the defendant uttered that inhuman shriek with a loaded gun in his hand.

I feel obliged to remind my former colleagues that the presumption of innocence does not require them to blindly accept a liar’s story and actively defend that liar by supporting his effort to demonize an innocent victim and his parents. I am offended, horrified and disgusted by the unrelenting attacks on Trayvon, his family and their supporters. I have no respect for anyone who participates in or supports those attacks, including members of the mainstream media who publicize them, and by so doing, legitimize them.

Enough is enough.

We do not need or want to hear any more lying racist Zimmermans polluting the news.

The Trayvon Martin murder case is much more than a set of hypothetical facts to be discussed in a classroom. It is a real case involving real people and I think our responses to this tragedy reveal much about ourselves as individuals and as a society.

For example, in order to believe the defendant’s story, one would have to believe that Trayvon Martin acted like a stereotypical Black Gangsta thug in a Hollywood action movie. Would any Caucasian person believe the defendant’s story, if the person he killed were Caucasian?

Is it not easier for Caucasians to believe his story because the victim is Black?

I believe we would not have heard about this case, if Trayvon Martin had been a Caucasian kid. The defendant would have been arrested and jailed that first night. He would have been charged with second degree murder and prosecuted without any of the publicity and controversy that we have seen.

The most important lesson of this case is that racism is alive and well in our nation. The defendant’s characterization of Trayvon Martin presents each one of us with a litmus test. Those who accept and believe what he said are failing the litmus test and seriously need to ask themselves why they were so willing to believe such an obvious lie.

Those who continue to believe the defendant in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is a liar may be beyond help.

We live in a racist society and nothing will change unless we admit that we do and we commit to ending racism. As always, the self is the place to start changing society.

Trayvon Martin will not have died in vain if his death becomes the rallying point for a systematic, determined and prolonged effort to once and for all eliminate racism in our society.

Unless we succeed, we will remain a racist and failed society.


Zimmerman: O’Mara Adds Sanford Police Officials to Defense Witness List

October 25, 2012

Rene Stutzman reported late yesterday in the The Orlando Sentinel:

George Zimmerman’s lawyers Wednesday notified prosecutors that their witness list now includes a who’s who of the Sanford Police Department’s chain of command at the time of Trayvon Martin’s death, including the police chief, major crimes captain, sergeant and case detectives.

-Snip-

Wednesday’s defense witness list has on it a dozen names, including former chief Bill Lee; Bob O’Connor, the major crimes captain who oversaw the investigation; Lt. Randy Smith, the former sergeant who supervised the detectives investigating the case; and lead Investigator Chris Serino.

As I have written here and here, this hullabaloo is much ado about nothing, as far as the Zimmerman case is concerned.

The reason is that the opinions of the various individuals regarding the sufficiency of the evidence against Zimmerman are irrelevant and inadmissible at Zimmerman’s trial.

The scheduled depositions may have an impact, however, on the ongoing federal investigation into whether Zimmerman may have violated federal laws prohibiting hate crimes when he killed Trayvon Martin.

I said “may” because I suspect that the federal investigation may have widened to include investigating the identified individuals and others for conspiring to conceal Zimmerman’s commission of the murder by not charging Zimmerman with a crime.

I think they would be well advised to consult with counsel before their scheduled depositions to discuss whether they should assert the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer any questions pertaining to the investigation and their respective roles.

I believe there is much more to this story, so no one should be surprised if the depositions are suddenly cancelled without explanation.


Zimmerman: Judge Nelson Should Fine Mark O’Mara $1,500 for Publicizing his Motion for Prophylactic Sequestration

October 24, 2012

I believe Judge Nelson should fine Mark O’Mara $1,500 for posting his Motion for Prophylactic Sequestration of Witnesses in the Zimmerman case on his website.

I criticized this bizarre motion in Zimmerman: Defense Motion for Prophylactic Sequestration of Witnesses Reaches a New Low.

I said,

First, O’Mara is revealing the opinions of cops overseeing an investigation. Their opinions are irrelevant and inadmissible. The evidence is whatever it is and it alone constitutes probable cause to believe a crime was committed or it does not.

Second, revealing their opinions in a motion is an underhanded way of creating an excuse to publicize that they opposed charging Zimmerman with a crime.

Third, if they were genuinely concerned about a need to order witnesses to not collaborate with each other, they should have filed the motion under seal.

Fourth, it would have been in the best interest of the defense to have the witnesses collaborate with each other so that they all objected to filing criminal charges, but that sounds like what they were going to do anyway. Therefore, there was no need for the relief he sought in the order.

I concluded:

For all of these reasons, seems pretty obvious to me that the real purpose of the motion was to publicize what should have been kept private; namely, that the brass did not want to charge Zimmerman.

The more that I think about this motion the more irritated I become.

The scope of permissible discovery is very broad and not only includes the right to discover all information relevant to the lawsuit; it also includes the right to discover all information that might reasonably be expected to lead to the discovery of relevant information.

Because the scope of permissible discovery is so broad, there have to be some limitations on what the lawyers can do with the information they obtain through discovery. Keeping the information private is one such limitation.

Let us now take a look at depositions.

Lawyers depose (i.e., question) the opposing party’s witnesses under oath in the office of the lawyer who represents the opposing party. Other than the two lawyers and the witness, the only person present is a certified court reporter who administers the oath to the witness and records everything said by the lawyers and the witness during the deposition.

There is no judge to rule on objections. Instead, objections are noted for the record and the witness answers the question. Later on, if the trial court orders the deposition published and it is read in open court, the judge can consider the objection and rule on it. Depending on the ruling, the answer given by the witness during the deposition may or may not be read in open court.

In extraordinary circumstances during a deposition, the lawyers may suspend it to go to the courthouse to seek a ruling on an objection before resuming. The basic idea, however, is to allow the lawyers to conduct a deposition to create a thorough and private record of witness responses.

I emphasize the importance of privacy because the scope of a deposition may intrude into sensitive and private matters that might embarrass a witness, or protected matters such as trade secrets that might compromise a business, if publicized.

O’Mara’s very public revelation, in his motion for prophylactic sequestration of witnesses, of what the witness disclosed during the deposition about the opinions of the members of the group of Sanford Police Department officials regarding whether to charge Zimmerman with a crime is a major game misconduct because he revealed private information that most of the members of that group did not believe Zimmerman should be charged. Not coincidentally, that information could benefit Zimmerman by influencing prospective jurors to believe that Zimmerman should not have been charged with a crime, let alone second degree murder.

Why is that bad?

The answer is that a jury verdict must be based only on the evidence admitted in court. The opinions of the police officials are not evidence and have no evidentiary value. The rules of evidence do not permit that type of testimony to be presented at trial because it might influence jurors to base their verdict on opinions or speculation of the police officials rather than the evidence.

O’Mara knows this or should know it and this is why he never should have filed his motion for prophylactic sequestration of witnesses. BTW, this is an extraordinary and unusual request that I have never heard of and I do not believe there is any legal authority that supports it. Nevertheless, he was so eager to publicize the dissenting opinions of the police officials that he filed the motion without citing any legal authority authorizing Judge Nelson to grant the relief he requested, despite a rule that requires a lawyer to cite legal authority in support of any request to have the trial court do something.

Then he published his motion on his website for all the world to see.

This is why I am so offended by what he did.

I would be furious, if I were Judge Nelson and I would strike the motion, hold him in contempt, and fine him $1,500. I would do this in open court at Friday’s hearing for all the world to see. I also would warn him that if he does it again, I would put him in the slammer for a week.

Then I would ask him to give me a reason why I should not impose a gag order as requested by the prosecution.

I would, of course, give due consideration to the Florida Sunshine Law and the public’s right to know what is going on. I would probably end up denying the motion for the gag order without prejudice. That would allow the prosecution to refile it, if it should decide to do so.

BOTTOM LINE: O’Mara needs to stop trying his case in the Court of Public Opinion.


Zimmerman: Defense Motion for Prophylactic Sequestration of Witnesses Reaches a New Low

October 22, 2012

Brandi Kansas City posted this comment at 6:42 pm to my post titled, Zimmerman: Representing Him and the Inevitable Question: My God, What Have I Become?

She said,

“O’Mara filed this emergency motion can you tell me how it constitutes an emergency. If not would it be an example of him trying the case in the public?”

The motion is titled Emergency Motion for a Protective Order/Prophylactic Sequestration of Witnesses Prior to Defense Deposition.

My Answer

I believe this is an example of trying the case in the Court of Public Opinion because I have a problem with this motion and the way it was handled.

First, O’Mara is revealing the opinions of cops overseeing an investigation. Their opinions are irrelevant and inadmissible. The evidence is whatever it is and it alone constitutes probable cause to believe a crime was committed or it does not.

Second, revealing their opinions in a motion is an underhanded way of creating an excuse to publicize that they opposed charging Zimmerman with a crime.

Third, if they were genuinely concerned about a need to order witnesses to not collaborated with each other, they should have filed the motion under seal.

Fourth, it would have been in the best interest of the defense to have the witnesses collaborate with each other so that they all objected to filing criminal charges, but that sounds like what they were going to do anyway. Therefore, there was no need for the relief he sought in the order.

For all of these reasons, seems pretty obvious to me that the real purpose of the motion was to publicize what should have been kept private; namely, that the brass did not want to charge Zimmerman.

As so often happens with this case, however, the defense effort to publicize information backfires. It will backfire here because the evidence is so strong that it makes the brass look like a bunch of coconspirators plotting to let George Zimmerman get away with murder.

It becomes ever more clear to me with each passing day that the defense is desperately trying to publicize and thereby win this case in the Seminole County Court of Public Opinion, as opposed to the rest of the country or the world. The defense, in effect, appears to be trying to poison the well of prospective jurors, many of whom are extremely conservative, by publicizing irrelevant and inadmissible information that is calculated to appeal to White conservatives and their racist fear of Blacks.

In simple words, they want a jury with 6 KKK members determined to acquit George Zimmerman, regardless of the evidence and, if they can’t get 6 KKK members, they want 6 White conservatives with the same racist outlook and intention.

I do not want a gag order because I have a selfish desire to keep up with the case developments. A gag order would prevent that.

Nevertheless, I am increasingly concerned that the possibility for a fair and impartial jury is diminishing due to what the defense is doing. It needs to stop and the court needs to do something to make it stop. I think there are other things the court can do short of a gag order, possibly involving the use or threatened use of its contempt power, but enough is enough and the sooner the court acts, the better.

Finally, I was struck by the use of the term “prophylactic sequestration.” I am tempted to run with it and make fun of it, but I am going to resist the bait and simply condemn it as a theatrical trick to grab attention.

This is a really low class and undignified move that further lowers my opinion of the defense effort in this case.


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