WASHINGTON, July 14, 2013 — George Zimmerman was acquitted late last night by a jury that did the job the prosecutors did not do: It examined the evidence and found it woefully wanting.
George Zimmerman should never have charged with murder.
There was one person who could have stopped the Zimmerman trial. She is State’s Attorney Angela Corey. She is unfit to be a prosecutor, unfit to be a lawyer and unfit for a job anymore significant that asking, “Would you like fries with that?”
The prosecutor is the most powerful official in any jurisdiction. Prosecutors can bring charges against someone for almost no cause, and they can just as capriciously decide not to prosecute. If you happen to be Jon Corzine, formerly of MF Financial, you can appreciate the fact that your friends in the Obama Administration have decided not to prosecute you for the same things Bernie Madoff was prosecuted for.
Every state has ethical rules for lawyers, and there is always a special section for prosecutors. Why? Because the prosecutor has so much power, and in our system of justice has almost totally unfettered discretion.
In Florida, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys is explicit in the duties it imposes on prosecutors. From the Florida Bar:
RULE 4-3.8 SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROSECUTOR .
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall: (a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause; (b) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pre-trial rights such as a right to a preliminary hearing; (c) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal.
It is painfully obvious to any fair observer that Angela Corey played to the mob and forgot her duties as a prosecutor. The Sanford Police Department and Seminole-Brevard County State’s Attorney Norm Wolfinger originally determined Zimmerman had acted in self-defense. That was not good enough for the racist mob, and Governor Rick Scott appointed Corey as a special prosecutor.
She immediately said her job was to “seek justice for Trayvon.” No, her job was to seek justice, period, and that meant not prosecuting a man when the evidence did not support the prosecution.
Once Corey had played to the mob by having Zimmerman charged, that was not enough. She had to get him convicted. Corey’s office hid evidence, refusing to release photographs showing Zimmerman’s injuries, which were consistent with the claim of self-defense.
Making the case even worse, Corey’s office hid other evidence. The former technology director for Corey’s office was fired as the case went to the jury.
What was his crime?
He recovered images from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone. These images were in addition to other information that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had recovered. Ben Kruidbos sought the advice of an attorney after he became concerned that prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had not turned those images over to the defense, and he was concerned he might have legal liability for that.
That attorney turned the images over to the defense. On June 6, Kruidbos testified at a hearing where defense lawyers sought sanctions against Corey and her office for refusing to turn over exculpatory materials. The judge has not yet ruled on that motion.
The Supreme Court in the case of Brady v. Maryland made it explicit that a prosecutor must turn over any evidence that might exculpate or mitigate the defendant’s guilt. Many prosecutors’ offices and many individual prosecutors offer what is called “open file” discovery where the defense can come in, examine everything in the file and copy anything and everything.
Most prosecutors are very good lawyers and very good prosecutors.
Then there are a few bad apples like Angela Corey.
Because of the way our American system of justice is set up, a prosecuting attorney must be fair, impartial, honest and above reproach. The prosecutor cannot allow a political agenda to get ahead of their duty to be fair.
Angela Corey is singularly unfit to be a prosecutor or a lawyer. In most states, the State Supreme Court can summarily suspend the law license of a lawyer who poses an imminent threat to the public safety or welfare. Corey is the textbook definition of a lawyer who is a threat to the public.
The Florida Bar should take immediate disciplinary action against her and the Florida Supreme Court should immediately suspend her law license before they disbar her.
Late last night, a Florida jury delivered some justice to George Zimmerman.
It is time for more justice in Florida.
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