Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey claims immunity from lawsuit

She says that being a politician exempts her from civil liability in the lawsuit over whistleblower Ben Kruidbos's firing. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., October 11, 2013 — Angela Corey, the controversial special prosecutor appointed to try George Zimmerman, claims that she is immune to prosecution.

This comes after being charged with the illegal firing of her office’s information technology director, Ben Kruidbos, in Florida civil court.


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Last Friday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that “(i)n court papers filed this week, Corey’s attorneys say the state attorney cannot be sued because she has sovereign immunity as an elected official.

“According to Black’s Law Dictionary, sovereign immunity is the legal doctrine that says the government cannot be sued without its consent.

“The motion says Corey, a government official, does not consent.”

A judge has not yet ruled on Corey’s request.


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In a formal complaint filed with the Florida Human Relations Commission late this summer, Kruidbos’s attorney, Wesley White, claimed that “Mr. Kruidbos was terminated for having testified (pursuant to a subpoena) before the circuit court in and for Seminole County … on June 6, 2013. 

“The nature of his testimony related to the possible knowing violation, by the State of Florida (the SAO), of its reciprocal discovery obligations … in a criminal prosecution. Such a violation falls within the inherent authority of the circuit court to sanction the conduct and actions of parties and attorneys before the court.

“The letter terminating Mr. Kruidbos makes explicit reference to his testimony of June 6th … Prior to his testimony, he was a well-regarded employee, recently received a raise, and was considered a ‘friend’ by the State Attorney. But for his testimony he would still be employed.”

The State Attorney’s Office located data on the cellular phone of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed seventeen-year-old who Zimmerman fatally shot in early 2012. If said data — which was of an unsavory nature — had been delivered to Zimmerman’s defense team, it could have altered the course of his trial. 


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Kruidbos’s lawsuit is a hefty one. He demands roughly $5 million in compensation.

Aside from being sued, Corey is now the subject of a state investigation regarding her treatment of Kruidbos.

“Kruidbos received a letter from the Florida Commission on Ethics earlier this week saying the investigation was occurring,” the Jacksonville Times-Union’s Larry Hannan wrote in September. “Investigator Specialist Kathleen Mann, who sent the letter, declined to comment on the investigation when contacted by the Times-Union.”

Corey’s career and serious controversy have often crossed paths. Until last December, White served under her as the lead prosecutor in suburban Jacksonville’s Nassau County. He resigned his post in protest of her tactics and entered private practice. 

Nonetheless, after Zimmerman was found not guilty, White told The Washington Times Communities that his “focus is on Ben … My present concern is her posting of Ben’s termination letter on the SAO’s website which is a fairly definitive display of unbridled rage. 

“Sadly and unfortunately her spite is merely racking up more damages. Not surprisingly, Corey’s family and friends have been blogging anonymously, attacking Ben, and trying to push her narrative without risking the probing questions of [journalists].”

One year prior to being elected the Jacksonville area’s chief prosecutor, Corey was fired by her then-boss, State Attorney Harry Shorstein.

“We have law school interns in the office,” Shorstein explained to The Washington Times Communities in August. “When they leave we critique them and when they return to law school, they are critiqued by the professor who oversees their end. One of the interns reported Corey was abusive, profane, unprofessional, etc. The school called us, I reprimanded Corey.

“Then, Corey called the school and told the Dean the professor should be disciplined for reporting her misconduct, the school called me, I told Corey that was unacceptable and she must apologize to the Dean and the professor. 

“Corey refused my direct order. Then she was given another chance, she refused and was fired.”

Robert Zimmerman is George’s older brother and has served as his de facto spokesman throughout the Martin shooting’s aftermath. During July, he told TWTC that “any state attorney can select the members of their staff, and that includes firing people who they think may have acted inappropriately.

“I do question the circumstances in this situation. I think Mr. Kruidbos was diligent in hiring an attorney. The way I understand it, he was afraid that he might face criminal liability if he was an unwilling accomplice in a discovery violation. 

“It’s my understanding now that Mr. Kruidbos has filed suit. Obviously, that means he disagrees with Mrs. Corey’s decision. I’m concerned that other people like him, now or in the future, who are doing what they believe is ethical, might incur the wrath of vengeance.”


Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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