I will grant the Martin family enormous deference in the way they interact with the media. They lost a child. Whatever the facts of this case end up being, they lost a child. Whatever the legal outcome ends ups being, they lost a child. They are doing what parents are supposed to do, fighting for their child.
I will not grant such deference to the Martin family attorneys.
Early on, the focus was on obtaining an independent state investigation because of lack of faith in the local police and the state attorney assigned to the case. Whether such lack of confidence was justified or not is not currently known, because neither the public nor the Martin family attorneys have access to all the evidence.
Regardless, given the failure to charge in a potential homicide, it was reasonable to request a special prosecutor. That request was granted, and a very experienced special prosecutor, who specializes in cases involving alleged justifiable use of force, was appointed.
There is nothing to suggest that the special prosecutor is not committed to an unbiased investigation, and the Martin family attorneys admitted as much in television interviews.
At some point after the appointment of a special prosecutor, the Martin family attorneys passed a line from seeking justice through an independent state investigation to inflammatory rhetoric on the guilt or innocence of the accused which runs the risk of obstructing justice.
There are many examples, but I’ll focus on two.
When ABC News released the original grainy video of Zimmerman at a police station, the Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump called it the “icing on the cake” proving that Zimmerman (and the police report that Zimmerman was bleeding) was untruthful:
Police surveillance video that appears to conflict with a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer’s account of a confrontation with the teenager he eventually gunned down, Trayvon Martin, was called “the icing on the cake” by the Martin family’s attorney on “CBS This Morning” Thursday.
Attorney Ben Crump told Erica Hill and Charlie Rose that the video refutes George Zimmerman’s claims of shooting Martin in self-defense. The video, obtained by ABC News, shows Zimmerman, without any obvious injuries, being led into police headquarters in Sanford, Fla., after the shooting. Zimmerman’s father and lawyer have said Martin attacked Zimmerman in his gated community, breaking his nose with a punch to the face and slamming the back of his head against the sidewalk.
It turns out, of course, that the video does appear to show injuries.
Another good example is the release a few days ago of 911 ambulance dispatch recordings indicating that a second ambulance for Zimmerman was called back. The audio says nothing about Zimmerman’s condition, other than that he was not a gun shot victim. Yet the attorneys opined that such tape contradicted Zimmerman’s claim to have been attacked:
A spokesman for the attorneys working for the Martin family told Local 6 that if Zimmerman really had his head repeatedly smashed into the sidewalk during a life and death struggle with Martin, there’s “not a chance” the ambulance would have been cancelled.
The spokesman said this, along with other new information coming out, keeps confirming that the Martin family is justified in demanding Zimmerman’s arrest.
“Now it’s embarrassing,” the spokesperson said, that Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested.
It is bad enough when various bloggers, pundits and the media reach conclusions based on incomplete or misleading evidence. There is no reason for the Martin family attorneys to be doing the same thing, as their words take on special meaning in a heated case like this as they represent the family.
The Martin family attorneys also are creating a distraction which could interfere with the state investigation by demanding that the U.S. Justice Department investigate the original state attorney assigned to the case based on allegations of some sort of improper interference by him.
For what purpose is such a federal investigation warranted at a time when a special prosecutor is handling the case? The state attorney is pushing back:
An “outraged” Florida prosecutor fired back on Monday at the family of Trayvon Martin, describing as “outright lies” their account that he and a local police chief met and decided not to follow a detective’s advice and arrest the teenager’s killer.
Earlier in the day, the Martin family delivered a letter to the U.S. Justice Department through attorney Benjamin Crump’s office requesting a federal investigation of the decision not to arrest George Zimmerman after the fatal February 26 shooting.
At a critical time in the investigation the Martin family attorneys have created a distraction. If the original prosecutor did something wrong (and there is no public evidence of that) there will be plenty of time to deal with that. But now state time and resources should be devoted to investigating the fact, not dealing with a federal investigation of a side issue.
The Martin family attorneys did a very good job of putting the case on a track that there would be a credible, detailed, and trustworthy investigation of the shooting.
But the victim’s family are not the only ones entitled to a credible, detailed, and trustworthy investigation, so is Zimmerman or any other person accused of or under investigation for a crime.
Seeking justice does not mean making baseless inflammatory statements prejudging the evidence and tainting the jury pool.