Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Watch the Zimmerman bail hearing live via live stream and comment below.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm EST.
For those who missed the hearing, you can watch it here on youtube.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Watch the Zimmerman bail hearing live via live stream and comment below.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm EST.
For those who missed the hearing, you can watch it here on youtube.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Good morning, everyone!
I bow down in absolute awe of Bernie de la Rionda’s epic Shakespear-style smackdown late yesterday of the defense team, their internet troll advisers, and the reporters at the Orlando Sentinel who labor so diligently to spread the defense message. I have never read anything like it and it’s so perfect that I think I would only diminish its impact were I to cut and paste bits and pieces of it into a new post.
It’s as close to perfection as I think is humanly possible and Bernie de la Rionda deserves all of the credit for producing this gem.
Make no mistake. Bernie de la Rionda’s masterpiece is so superior to any other formal written legal argument that I have read or heard about that I believe it will achieve immortality as an example of the elegant smackdown.
In other news yesterday, on Monday Judge Nelson issued without a hearing a terse three sentence order denying the defendant’s motion for reconsideration and clarification of her previous order denying the defendant’s motion to depose Benjamin Crump. The defendant’s supporters are in an uproar because Judge Nelson did not conduct a hearing or provide an explanation or justification for the order.
I held my breath and performed a quick survey of comments posted at right-wing websites to get an idea of what they are saying. I saw comments asserting the existence of a conspiracy against the defendant and his lawyers to rig the outcome of the trial so that the innocent defendant is convicted. President Obama is supposedly telling Judge Nelson what to do and she is in cahoots with Bernie de la Rionda to achieve the desired outcome. The lack of a hearing and the absence of a written opinion supporting her order are cited as proof that this conspiracy exists.
They apparently do not realize that judges are not required to hold a hearing before deciding whether to grant a motion to reconsider a previous order. They also appear not to know that the standard practice nationwide in state and federal courts is for judges to summarily decide motions to reconsider by granting or denying them without further explanation.
Needless to say, evidence of judicial compliance with a standard practice is not evidence of a conspiracy to deny the defendant a fair trial.
Finally, did y’all notice BDLR’s comments about O’Mara’s behavior at the the first bail hearing. That was quite a dramatic and disquieting shot across O’Mara’s bow introducing the possibility that O’Mara might be prosecuted for his role in assisting his client to conceal assets and a second passport from Judge Lester at the hearing.
If I were O’Mara, I would take that threat seriously and consult with counsel before deciding whether to respond.
Of course, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew and acted with intent to deceive Judge Lester at the bail hearing about the second passport and the thousands of dollars that had been donated to his client via the Paypal account. I suspect BDLR decided not to pursue that matter last year because he realized that he would need solid and convincing evidence to independently confirm the defendant’s disclosures in the recorded jailhouse phone calls.
BDLR knows that the defendant is an habitual liar and no jury would convict O’Mara on his word alone. He is certainly smart enough to realize that his emotional response to O’Mara’s frivolous accusations is not a legitimate factor to consider in deciding whether to charge O’Mara with a crime. This leads me to ask what has changed since last summer that would independently confirm that O’Mara knew about the money and the second Passport at the time of the hearing?
Has Shellie Zimmerman flipped on George Zimmerman and provided the missing link?
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Before the beginning of today’s hearing in the Zimmerman case, the prosecution informed the defense that Dee Dee (the name given to Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend to protect her anonymity) did not go to a hospital instead of attending Trayvon’s funeral.
Judge Nelson dismissed the defense motion for Dee Dee’s medical records as moot.
The defense now claims that Dee Dee lied.
As the following partial transcript of her interview under oath by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda conclusively demonstrates, she not lie or commit perjury.
BDLR:_ OK._ I’m not saying that they did._ I’m just making sure the records’ clear on that….Um…you obviously found out about what happened to Trayvon, right?_ And at some point you ended up knowing that he was killed, right?
Dee Dee:_ Yeah.
BDLR:_ Were you able to go to the funeral or to the wake?
Dee Dee:__I was goin’ to go, but…
BDLR:_ OK, what happened?
Dee Dee:__I didn’ feel good.
BDLR:_ OK, did you end up going to the hospital or somewhere?
Dee Dee:_ Mmmm…Yeah, I had high blood pressure.”
The question is unclear because he asked if she went to a hospital or somewhere.
Therefore, her answer was not a lie and if it was not a lie, it certainly was not perjury.
Nevertheless, let us assume for the sake of argument that she did lie.
As I said in response to a comment by Unabogie,
I think you are being way too literal.
Lying is lying, by definition, but there is an unlimited number of reasons why people lie.
Intentionally lying to conceal the existence of more than a $100,000 in cash from the court during a bail hearing is, by any standard one might choose to apply, a far more serious matter than lying because you did not want to admit that you were too upset to attend a funeral.
I do not believe the prosecution is the least bit worried about this turn of events.
Proof of perjury requires proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant unambiguously lied under oath about a material matter.
BDLR’s question was ambiguous and DD’s response was not about a material matter, as is the case regarding Shellie Zimmerman’s denial under oath during a bail hearing that she did not know about the money she had transferred into her account.
Therefore, even if we assume for the sake of argument that Dee Dee lied, she did not commit and will not be charged with perjury.
Anyone who says she lied and committed perjury is mistaken and anyone who claims that Dee Dee is as guilty of perjury as Shellie Zimmerman is wrong and guilty of asserting false equivalencies.
As I said in an earlier comment this morning before I saw the transcript, I do not believe this development today changes anything.
I predict DD will be one of the last witnesses called by the State after all of the evidence about the shooting and the events that led up to it have been admitted into evidence.
She will simply be confirming what the evidence has already proven. BDLR will ask her about the false statement and she will probably break down and cry as she admits that she lied about that because she was too embarrassed to admit that she was too upset to attend the funeral.
I think the jury and everyone in the courtroom, except the defendant, will understand that and forgive her for lying.
I believe Sybrina will be the last witness because she is Trayvon’s mom and the emotional impact of her testimony will be extremely powerful.
After all is said and done, I do not think anyone will remember, much less care, that DD lied. It’s just not very important.
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Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester set bail today at $1 million in the George Zimmerman case.
This means that unless Zimmerman has $1 million to post with the Clerk of the Seminole County Circuit Court to secure his release, he will have to pay a bail bondsman $100,000 (the 10% non-refundable fee charged by the bail bondsman to post the company’s bond or promise to pay $1 million to the court if Zimmerman rabbits on the bond). The bail bondsman also will require Zimmerman to secure the bonding company with cash and/or property worth $1 million.
Real estate is typically used to secure a bond this high and, unless Mark O’Mara already has a person or persons lined up with equitable interests in their real estate greater than $1 million, it may take awhile to put a deal together that satisfies the bonding company. A current appraisal of the properties reliably indicating their fair market value, reports on the financial status of any loans secured by those properties and a title report are normally required.
As y’all know, I would have issued an order denying bail based on Zimmerman’s role in misrepresenting to the court that he was indigent while at the same time he conceived and directed the efforts of at least two family members (his wife and sister) to carry out a scheme to conceal his possession of $155,000 donated to him over the internet by transferring the money into their accounts before his bail hearing and transferring it back into his account after he bonded out.
Although Judge Lester characterized Zimmerman’s misconduct in substantially similar language, including a reference to Zimmerman’s failure to surrender the second passport such that it would not have been unreasonable for the court to have concluded that Zimmerman carried out this fraudulent scheme with the intent of fleeing the country, he decided to increase the bail substantially rather than deny bail because the State of Florida had not charged Zimmerman with any crime.
I interpret his decision as sending a message to the prosecution basically telling them that he does not believe he should deny bail to Zimmerman unless they charge Zimmerman with a crime. He even mentions a charge of criminal contempt as one possibility.
I have written about the possibility of charging Zimmerman with perjury based on his conduct directing his wife’s efforts to hide the money from the court. Her perjured denial under oath of any knowledge regarding how much money had been received from donors via the internet is but a natural and reasonably foreseeable consequence of Zimmerman’s scheme to conceal the money from the court. Nevertheless, convicting him of perjury on an accomplice theory may be difficult without his wife’s assistance and willingness to testify that he told her to lie to the court, if the judge or the lawyers asked her if she knew how much money had been donated.
If the prosecutors want George Zimmerman to be in jail for the duration of this case, they should not have any doubt as to what they must do to secure that outcome.
Meanwhile I do not believe Judge Lester’s order can reasonably be interpreted as an expression of doubt regarding the strength of the prosecution’s case against Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. He explained that he initially found that the prosecution’s case was “strong” because the defendant did not testify at the first bail hearing and the defense did not present any evidence of self-defense. He also specifically characterized the evidence presented by the defense at the recently concluded bail hearing in support of Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense as having “little relevance” to the issue of bail.
Therefore, I caution against assuming that Judge Lester has formed an opinion or reached any conclusions regarding the viability of Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
We have a bond hearing coming up on Friday, but I do not believe Zimmerman has a realistic chance to get bail. The recorded jailhouse telephone calls leave no doubt that he and his wife conspired to conceal the $155,000 that they had at their disposal when they were claiming indigency. She actually lied under oath in court and there is little doubt her husband put her up to it.
Then there is the troubling matter of the passport . . .
She cannot testify because she is charged with perjury and her lawyer will advise her not to testify because anything she might say can and most assuredly will be used against her.
He is in the same position, even though he is not charged with perjury, yet.
That’s right, folks.
Just because he has not been charged with perjury, does not mean that he won’t be charged.
So let’s take a look at the subject of accomplice liability for criminal behavior.
Section 2.06(3) of the Model Penal Code defines an accomplice:
A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of a crime if:
(a) with the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense, he
(i) solicits such other person to commit it; or
(ii) aids or agrees or attempts to aid such other person in planning or committing it; or
(iii) having a legal duty to prevent the commission of the offense, fails to make proper effort so to do; or
(b) his conduct is expressly declared by law to establish his complicity.
By now, I think most of us have listened to the recorded jailhouse conversations between GZ and SZ. Although I do not recall a conversation in which GZ and SZ specifically discussed a strategy to use in court to conceal the $155,000 he had received in donations to his PayPal account, there is no question that, pursuant to his instructions, she moved all of that money around in amounts less than $10,000 each time between three accounts (theirs and his sister’s) during the four-day period before the bond hearing.
When she was questioned at the bond hearing regarding whether she could estimate how much money was in the PayPal account, she responded that she had no idea. That response is the basis for the perjury charge.
The issue is whether GZ acted as her accomplice. If he did, he also committed perjury and is just as responsible as his wife under the law, even though he is not the one who lied in court.
To successfully prosecute GZ for perjury, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, for the purpose of concealing the $155,000 asset from the court in order to be found indigent at the bond hearing, he solicited or aided SZ to deny the existence of that asset while testifying as a witness under oath at the bond hearing.
The unusual machinations with the money by themselves demonstrate an effort to conceal the money, albeit an unsophisticated one. For example, bank to bank transfers do not meet the definition of currency. Therefore, there is no legal requirement imposed on a bank or credit union to report transactions exceeding $10,000 to the IRS. If SZ had transferred the entire $155,000 in one transaction, the credit union would not have generated a Currency Transaction Report to the IRS.
By structuring the transaction in amounts less than $10,000 however, the credit union would have generated a Suspicious Activity Report to the IRS, which likely will investigate what happened.
The final ironic twist is that the $155,000 is a non-taxable gift to GZ.
They went to all of that trouble to conceal the money and only succeeded in drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.
The question is, did they go to all that trouble to conceal the money from the IRS or did they do it to conceal the money from the court, or both?
Moving the money around coupled with the lie in court indicates both.
I think the prosecution needs SZ’s cooperation to prosecute GZ for perjury, so I believe it will be willing to play let’s make a deal with her to nail him by providing the evidence that proves the shared intent element of accomplice liability.
That brings me back to the two passports.
Were they planning a quick trip out of the country with the money, if the case started to go sideways? For example, were they planning to to wait and see how the SYG hearing went and if GZ lost, were they going split?
Then again, maybe they were just attempting to conceal the money from the lawyer, who was being an incredibly nice guy for taking the case on a pro bono basis because he liked GZ and believed they did not have any money.
Do you think SZ decided on her own to lie to the court?
Will she snitch to avoid a felony conviction and a likely prison sentence?
If she flips, do you think the deal might come together before the bond hearing?
I imagine the prosecution certainly would love to flip her before the hearing this Friday because it would guarantee that Judge Lester would deny GZ’s motion for bond and enormously complicate his already shaky defense against the murder charge.
I am having trouble embedding the CBS courtroom video of George Zimmerman’s apology to Trayvon Martin’s parents and his cross examination by prosecutor Bernie de la Rosa, so here is a link.
If that does not work, copy and paste this youtube link into your browser:
As I predicted two days ago, the court set bail in the amount of $150,000 (I actually predicted at least $100,000). The other conditions of release are almost identical to the conditions that I predicted.
Brian Bracker of the Guardian reports the conditions are:
1. Home confinement with electronic and GPS monitoring — he is going to be staying at a secret (to us) location;
2. No possession of firearms;
3. No contact with any member of Martin’s family;
4. Attend regular meetings with pretrial release officers.
He testified at the bail hearing, which is unusual, and apologized to Trayvon Martin’s family.
Zimmerman’s mother testified at the hearing. His father and wife testified by telephone.
Dale Gilbreath, the detective who signed off on the affidavit of probable cause, also testified at the hearing. When cross-examined by defense counsel, Mark O’Mara, he admitted that, instead of saying “Zimmerman confronted Martin,” he should have used a different word.
When prosecuting attorney, Bernie de la Rionda, asked him whether there is any evidence that suggests Zimmerman’s statement to the police is not true, Gilbreath answered, “Yes.”
He did not elaborate and neither counsel pressed him further.
I think we can reasonably infer that the prosecution’s evidence for Zimmerman confronting Martin is circumstantial and Mark O’Mara knew what Gilbreath’s answer would be before he asked it.
The first rule of cross examination is: Never ask a question unless you know what the answer will be.
That was an extremely dangerous question to ask, unless he knew how Gilbreath would answer it. Therefore, he interviewed him before the hearing.
Mark O’Mara continues to impress. Putting your client on the stand at a bail hearing in a murder case and having him apologize to the victim’s family is thinking way outside the box. I don’t know of any lawyer who has done that before or even thought of doing that before.
Bernie de la Rionda’s question eliciting Gilbreath’s statement that they have evidence that Zimmerman lied in his statement to police is the equivalent of asking your detective if we have the trump card.
Yet he did not ask what it was and neither did O’Mara.
This is a bail hearing and de la Rionda is not going to show his cards now. He does not want to do anything that might stir up more pretrial publicity and then be accused of poisoning the pool of potential jurors. That would be prosecutorial misconduct. He did not have to play that card, so he did not.
O’Mara has reviewed the discovery and likely knows what Gilbreath’s answer would have been. He knew it could not possibly help Zimmerman, so he did not ask.
Smart moves by both lawyers.
The hearing provided a few glimpses of the strengths — and weaknesses — in the case being built by prosecutors.
Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for the prosecution, testified that he does not know whether Martin or Zimmerman threw the first punch and that there is no evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s contention he was walking back to his vehicle when confronted by Martin.
But Gilbreath also said Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was slamming his head against the sidewalk just before he shot the teenager was “not consistent with the evidence we found.” He gave no details.
In taking the stand, Zimmerman opened himself up to questions from a prosecutor, who grilled him on whether he made an apology to police on the night of the shooting, and why he waited so long to express remorse to Martin’s parents.
Zimmerman said he told police he felt sorry for the parents. He also said he didn’t say anything to them sooner because his former attorneys told him not to.
NOTE: By testifying that he did not apologize earlier because his previous lawyers told him not to do so, he has arguably waived his attorney–client privilege as to that communication, which means that his previous attorneys may have to state whether they told him that.
What would you do if you were one of his lawyers, you were approached by investigators who asked you if you gave that advice, and you never told him that because he never asked?
There is another conflict. He testified that he thought Trayvon was about the same age as he is, which is 28-years-old, but he told the dispatcher when he called to report the “suspicious” person that he was an older teen (h/t to Tuezday at Firedoglake).