10 years ago I posted my first blog on here. 1,322 posts later we’re still going strong. Not as strong as I used to- I post much less frequently nowadays between keeping busy with the job and growing kids that have gotten involved in all kinds of activity. Thanks to everyone that has sent me post ideas over the years, I wish I could have written a post for all of them. WordPress tells me I’ve had over 285,000 page views and over 180,000 unique visitors, which is kind of crazy.
I thought the anniversary might be a good time for a little trip down memory lane.
My all time most viewed post was a legal update: “”Important Changes to Florida’s DUI Laws: Legistlative Update 2013“
Some of the more popular subjects over the years were Zimmerman, Amanda Knox, NFL Cheerleaders, and Ashley Toye (of the Cash Feenz cases). Also, the Sievers case got a lot of attention, though it didn’t seem to have the national appeal that drove up numbers on the others.
One of my favorite subjects was the shark trial, where a man claimed self-defense for taking a shark: “The Shark Trial Recap“
Self-defense has been one of the more interesting repeat topics we’ve discussed on crimcourts, probably in part due to timing. I started writing this not too long after the Stand Your Ground Law has been enacted, and the Florida courts have been a trying ground for that policy. Also, being Florida, we’ve seen self-defense claimed for Bears, the aforementioned shark, and even an iguana.
Sometimes I like to think it would be fun to do videos, but I really don’t have the time. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend on the blog, as it has been fun, but I’ll keep posting whenever I can find time so follow me here and on Twitter.
Posted in Florida, Whimsy
Tagged alligators, amanda knox, crimcourts, dui, george zimmerman, iguana, new laws, sarah jones, shark, theresa sievers
Samantha Scheibe, who has accused George Zimmerman of pointing a shotgun at her, has sworn out an affidavit stating that she does not want for the State to go forward on the Aggravated Assault charge he is facing. Notably, she also contradicted her previous statement, saying that Zimmerman did not point the firearm at her. She says she was intimidated by investigators who interrogated her after the incident.
The state attorney’s office has the final decision on whether they proceed with charges, but the recantation of the primary allegation will make it hard to prove any case beyond a reasonable doubt. Only the two of them really know what happened that day, and without her cooperation, the state would have great difficulty proving the initial claim. I expect they will not proceed.
CBS is reporting Zimmerman has been arrested following a disturbance at his home: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57612824-504083/george-zimmerman-arrested-following-disturbance-at-fla-home/
George Zimmerman, 11/18/13
UPDATE: CNN is reporting that the arrest is for pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend. Aggravated Assault with a firearm carries a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence in Florida. The cases are notoriously hard to prove, as they are often he said/she said scenarios with little physical evidence. There is also a criminal mischief charge (destruction of property), but there are not any facts available yet.
The Sanford Police announced yesterday that after a review of the incident, no criminal charges were warranted. This was expected from the details available at the time of the dispute.
The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill today that would make a few minor changes to the Stand Your Ground Law. It’s nothing major, it won’t affect the Stand Your Ground provision that has had some controversy. It will, if passed into law, create guidelines for neighborhood watches and clarify liability for harming bystanders. It will also make it clear that law enforcement must fully investigate when there is a self-defense claim. That’s not a very meaningful provision, as the old law did not discourage investigation, merely prohibited arrest when stand your ground was found. This is presumably to address the law enforcement shortcomings in the Zimmerman case, but it should be noted there was extensive investigation by Sanford Police in that case; many people disagreed with the outcome of the investigation.
Police were called to a home in Lake Mary yesterday by George Zimmerman’s wife Shellie, in regards to a domestic dispute of some sort. Mrs. Zimmerman, who recently filed for divorce, made numerous allegations including violence by Mr. Zimmerman toward her father, and allegations that he was threatening both of them with a gun. She can be heard on the 911 call saying that he was putting his hand on the gun. Authorities responded, as did the lawyers, and after conducting an investigation, that included a temporary detention of Mr. Zimmerman, police declined to file any charges.
More details have emerged today. According to police, they did not recover a firearm. Apparently, Mrs. Zimmerman then backed off of that statement and changed her story about what happened. Mr. Zimmerman claimed that she and her father started the fight. Due to the conflict in evidence, law enforcement was unable to determine that a crime occurred. I am reluctantly including the USA Today link today for the updates, because the 911 recording posted there is defamatory to Mr. Zimmerman. Keep in mind that Mrs. Zimmerman is a convicted perjurer.
I encouraged people yesterday not to jump to conclusions. Social media blew up with cracks about Mr. Zimmerman, and firearms, when it turns out that there was no gun involved. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed at the incident, and nobody was hurt. I expect the case report will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for review, but would not expect charges to be picked up against Mr. Zimmerman. Frankly, in light of the statements made by Mrs. Zimmerman, she could be facing charges for giving false information to the police, which would also violate her probation. Mr. Zimmerman does not wish charges to be filed, and it’s unlikely the State will want to pick it up.
George Zimmerman in Court during his murder case
There’s not much detail available yet, so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, or start spouting “I told you so’s”. Zimmerman has not been charged with anything, at this stage, it is an investigative detention. Crimcourts will be following this as it develops…
UPDATE: No charges as of 5 p.m. ABC has the recording for the 911 call already.
UPDATE 2: Nancy Grace reports on Twitter that Shellie Zimmerman is not pressing charges. Perhaps her father will. The state has the ultimate filing decision, but they usually respect the wishes of a victim. Mark O’Mara confirms…
George Zimmerman in Court
George Zimmerman’s Attorney has indicated that he and his client may seek reimbursement for between $200,000 and $300,000 in costs expended during his defense. It must be noted, because multiple media outlets have been reporting it unclearly, or incorrectly, that this money is not for legal fees. Zimmerman cannot be reimbursed for the money that would go to his attorneys. The money is limited to money for taxable costs expended by any defendant who is found innocent, potentially including a great deal for witness fees. That’s a substantial amount to tack on to the nearly one million that has already been laid out by the State to prosecute the case.
As I said, the legal fees are not included in this request. Mr. O’Mara indicated that neither he, Don West, or the rest of the Defense team have received any money for their work on this case. That’s the best legal value in history, for superb representation from experienced attorneys.
If Zimmerman is sued in civil court, for instance, if the Martin family files a wrongful death claim, he could potentially be reimbursed attorney’s fees for defending that suit, if he can demonstrate that he should have been immune from prosecution. He did not file an immunity motion in the criminal case, but that wouldn’t rule out exercising that rule if he were to be sued. It serves as a deterrent to the filing of such lawsuits.
The estimation released yesterday by the Orlando Sun Sentinel puts the number at over $900,000, but that doesn’t include costs incurred by Special Prosecutor Angela’s Corey’s office. An advance to her office as already tallied $80,000. Nor does that number include pretrial costs, which must have been substantial. I anticipate the final tally of your tax dollars will come in north of a million dollars. Nor does this include money Zimmerman had to outlay in his defense, much of that raised by donations.
Angela Corey and assistant prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda
She’s being criticized all over for losing the prosecution of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, and problems continue to mount for prosecutor Angela Corey. We covered the news that she fired the whistleblower employee , Ben Kruibdos, who revealed that she was unlawfully suppressing evidence on this blog a few days ago when the news broke. As I predicted, a whistleblower lawsuit against Ms. Corey’s office has been announced by Mr. Kruibdos’ attorney. In a bit of delicious irony, the attorney Mr. Kruibdos has retained is himself a former employee of Ms. Corey, who resigned last year due to disagreements with the way she ran the office.
Mr. White was subpoenaed to testify at the hearing for sanctions, and it got pretty contentious when he was examined by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, his former boss at the SAO. So, basically Angela Corey’s State Attorney’s Office is kind of a shitshow. Defense attorney Don West was called to the stand during that hearing, alleging under oath that they had caught de la Rionda “hiding the information.” The judge reserved ruling on the discovery violations at that time, saying they would be better handled after the trial.
Now that the trial is concluded, the Defense team is pushing for the issue to be revisited. Mark O’Mara went so far as to tell Reuters, “This is not acceptable, and is not going to be tolerated in any case that I’m involved in.” He continued, “They are a disgrace to my profession.” That’s the kind of harsh rhetoric that is more likely to come from his co-counsel on the case. Mr. O’Mara’s demeanor has consistently been more low-key, but the alleged violations have really riled him up. And rightly so, if the allegations are true, that the State Attorney’s office deliberately suppressed Brady information, that is a serious breach of the public trust and the right of the Defendant to a fair trial. It will be interesting to continue watching the fireworks.
Posted in 6th Amendment - Fair Trial, Criminal Law, Florida, George Zimmerman
Tagged angela corey, ben kruibdos, bernie de la rionda, brady, discovery, don west, fair trial, george zimmerman, mark o'mara, wesley white