Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Exclusive – Prosecutor Angela Corey letter claiming libel by Florida Times Union

Exclusive – Prosecutor Angela Corey letter claiming libel by Florida Times Union

Angela Corey is the special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.

Yesterday, Alan Dershowitz alleged that Corey threatened to sue for libel based on Dershowitz’s criticisms of Corey’s handling of the Zimmerman case, particularly the decision to charge 2nd Degree murder and the alleged failure to disclose material facts in the Affidavit of Probable Cause submitted to the court.

Corey also is the lead prosecutor in the prosecution of a 12 year old, Cristian Fernandez, for murder under adult laws.  The Fernandez case has generated much controversy, and resulted in a column by Ron Littlepage of the Florida Times Union on December 7, 2011, Angela Corey plays a two-faced game.

In response, on December 15, 2011, Corey sent a letter on state letterhead as an e-mail attachment to Frank Denton, Editor, and several other people, claiming that Corey had been libeled and defending her actions in the Fernandez case.

The letter is embedded at the bottom of this post, here is the opening paragraph (emphasis mine):

It is truly appalling that you would allow the opinion writer to enlist your publication to further expose his lack of knowledge and objectivity about the workings of the criminal justice system. In this case, as in numerous prior instances, he has shown his usual bias and rendered a wholly uninformed opinion. However, this time he has crossed the journalistic line and in the minds of many, he has committed libel. How sad that you and editorial staff were completely complicit with these actions. It is one thing to criticize a public official…some even believe it is expected. It is nothing short of libelous to call me or any lawyer in my office “unethical” when we are doing our jobs within the bounds of the law on an extremely complicated case. It grants no pardon that you were repeating what ”those in the legal community” told you. In fact, those lawyers are bound by rules of ethics which strictly prohibit them from saying that very thing. Having their friend publish it for them does not absolve them of their ethical obligations; it merely makes them cowards who have violated the Professional Code of Ethics….

The letter goes on with a vigorous defense by Corey of her actions in the Fernandez case.  I’m not in a position to weigh the merits of whether Corey did anything wrong in the Fernandez case.

What is significant is that Corey reaches out with allegations of libel and the implied if not explicit threat of legal action towards critics.  Corey thereby interjects her personal interests in her reputation into her public role as prosecutor with all the power of the state behind her.

Littlepage, in a column today, suggests that Corey has tried to intimidate other critics as well.

Someone in a position of authority in Florida needs to look into this situation, and determine whether Corey’s actions in confronting critics with implied if not explicit threats of libel suits have crossed a line.

Angela Corey Letter to Frank Denton _Florida Times Union_ Alleging Libel

DONATE

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

Comments

great unknown | June 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

How dare you complain? Don’t you know that her third cousin’s great grand-uncle once talked to a Seminole Indian? Racist…

She keeps threatening to sue, yet fails to do so because she knows that if it ever went to trial, truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

C’mon Toots- bring it on!!!!

    Ragspierre in reply to persecutor. | June 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    You don’t threaten to sue. You tell people what will happen if certain behaviors don’t cease, which I NEVER consider a threat. (In a lot of civil matters, Texas law requires such a letter, prior to suit. The idea being, the courts kinda have enough to do already.)

    A promise, yes. Threats are stupid.

    Ragspierre in reply to persecutor. | June 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    One thing where I think she has a point…

    Lawyers have to be (certainly SHOULD be) careful about throwing around allegations in the media.

    8.02 Judicial and Legal Officials

    Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

    (a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory official or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

FWIW, she’s a Republican, lest anyone think partisan politics has anything to do with criticism of her performance.

The “Justice for Trayvon” movement continues to cause collateral damage. Although, in this case, it seems that Corey’s suffering may have been self-inflicted.

I wonder if she was pressured (e.g. Holder) to prosecute Zimmerman against her better judgment.

She has left herself vulnerable to further scrutiny.

    Estragon in reply to n.n. | June 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I saw her press conference about charging Zimmerman. She didn’t look pressured to me.

    Unless she reacts to pressure by giggling like a schoolgirl and high-fiving everyone as she dances an Irish jig.

Frank Scarn | June 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Really pathetic when a public official, esp. this one who has a college degree plus 3 more years in law school, doesn’t know the law on libel and public figures. That understanding of the First Am. has only been around for nearly 50 years.

I guess this is the reason we pay them exorbitant salaries for slipshod work and when they get qualified immunity (sometimes even absolute immunity) even when they screw up.

The Prof has put the spotlight on another self-rightous, self-serving, “public servant” who does not take well to criticism.

consumerrva | June 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I’m struck by the stereotypically feminine (emphasis on “stereotypically”) and almost adolescent tone of her letter. Plenty of argument-by-adjective and none-too-subtle pleas for sympathy. This is the letter of someone out of her depth.

“It is truly appalling…” Quite a legal argument.

“However, this time he has crossed the journalistic line and in the minds of many, he has committed libel.” My students regularly use refer to the uncited “many” in their papers.

“How sad that you and editorial staff were completely complicit with these actions.” Typical and ham-fisted attempt to convey scorn.

” It is one thing to criticize a public official…some even believe it is expected.” Why the ellipsis? Is this a legal letter or a Facebook post?

“It is nothing short of libelous to call me or any lawyer in my office ‘unethical’ when we are doing our jobs within the bounds of the law on an extremely complicated case.” She’s giving her best and it’s really hard!

“It grants no pardon that you were repeating what ”those in the legal community” told you.” “It grants no pardon”? Non-standard, awkward usage.

“Having their friend publish it for them does not absolve them of their ethical obligations…” Again, more appropriate to a Facebook post than to a legal letter.

she needs to slow down before she, in the lyrics of Hank Willaims Jr, threats herself to death.

bluster isn’t all that impressive to anyone but the uninformed.

9thDistrictNeighbor | June 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Quite the week for fireworks, Professor. First Tuesday night and now this exclusive. Keep it up.

I am seriously confused. Someone here said Corey was a Republican. These are classic liberal shut-em-down tactics.

She must want to win that election very badly.

To the attorneys here, a question: Is the judge who granted the indictment unaffected by any of this news coverage? I guess what I’m trying to ask is could he step in and reverse himself or at least tell this woman to get a grip on herself?
He can’t possibly be happy with the publicity she’s generating.

This prosecutor’s peccadillo is her puerile penchant to punish the non-palaverers who publish professional prose as a palladium of their civil rights.

[…] threatening to sue for libel appears to be Corey’s default position when criticized by people whose job it is to express an opinion in the media. (Maybe a basic […]

I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.
gotta go now, I am trying a race case in FL for the US AG personally.

that about sums this clusterf*** up.

I mean, aren’t matters about libel personal ?

So, why is Angela Corey conducting personal matters on state stationery ? This seems just a bit unprofessional.

[…] Scott is swilling scotch and trying to figure out how to separate himself from her.  Apparently, threatening libel suits when she gets her knickers in a twist isnt’ a new thing.  Think about this for a second.  […]

TrooperJohnSmith | June 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

From Corey’s letter:

…this time he has crossed the journalistic line and in the minds of many, he has committed libel.

Admittedly, it’s been close to forty years since I took my ‘Ethics and Law’ class for journalists. (Yes, ethics! Imagine that!) If I recall correctly, slander and libel do not apply to public figures. Isn’t that still the case?

Also, using state letterhead for this? At my private sector company, this would get one fired.

    Milhouse in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | June 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    If I recall correctly, slander and libel do not apply to public figures. Isn’t that still the case?

    Not true. Even under Sullivan malicious defamation is still actionable.

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Milhouse. | June 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Interesting… I didn’t know that. So, could Bush/Cheney have sued over some of the sh!t they were accused of?

        Milhouse in reply to TrooperJohnSmith. | June 10, 2012 at 2:55 am

        Absolutely. But it would have tied them up and been a huge distraction so it just wasn’t worth it. If they were looking for hobbies now, they could probably launch some such suits.

      Estragon in reply to Milhouse. | June 9, 2012 at 2:43 am

      It’s definitely actionable, but the standard is very high. Off the top of my head, Carol Burnette and other celebrities have won such cases, but I can’t recall a political figure ever winning one that held up on appeal.

      Malice is hard to prove. Certainly the tactic of over-charging is a known one, and not so rare, so it is hard to say how theorizing that a prosecutor with a reputation for toughness might have done so could possibly be libelous.

“Corey thereby interjects her personal interests in her reputation into her public role as prosecutor with all the power of the state behind her.”

And all the power of the state in front of her too, with the power of Grand Jury she refused to use because it would have most likely foiled her personal interest in prosecuting GZ.

Snarlin Arlin , now featured as the Cryptkeeper in E.C. comics “Tales from the Crypt !” Maybe she could sign on as his faithfull sidekick , ‘Biden’.

NC Mountain Girl | June 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm

In one term Corey has managed to get both the left and the right arguing she is out of control.

I’ve been looking at the Fernandez case, which has become an international cause illustrating the supposed barbarity of the US criminal justice system. It’s a fact pattern to give appellate judges nightmares: an abused 12 year old who mortally injured his infant half brother and may also have molested his toddler half brother and killed a pet. Corey seems to have made this can of worms worse with tone deaf statements, flip flops and a highly defensive attitude about her decision to charge Fernandez as an adult on charges that mandate life in prison if convicted.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | June 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Yes it has international attention but not as “OMG how barbaric are they” .

    There are issues many not least of all -that Florida is atourist destination. And it is looking pretty weird.

It is nothing short of libelous to call me or any lawyer in my office “unethical” […] In fact, those lawyers are bound by rules of ethics which strictly prohibit them from saying that very thing.

So let me get this straight. It’s unethical for lawyers to call you unethical. But it’s perfectly OK and in accord with the rules of legal ethics for you to call them unethical. I’m confused.

kbob_in_katy | June 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

There is politickin’ to do and she is bat guano crazy about her indignation. Put on your big girl panties Angela and prepare for a legal thrashing. I think you may be taken back to school. Maybe all the way back to grade school where you learn about bullying and making threats you can’t back up. As someone in a movie once said “Don’t let your mouth write a check your [bohiney] can’t cover.”

She’s just working to get her resume right to be the 3rd choice for AG in the 2016 Clinton administration.

Brett? Brett Kimberlin, umm, think your perfect mate has been found. Her name is Angela, she’s a three bagger, but then, YOU are a four..

Holder, Vaughey, Cory and Kimberlin… Now there’s an all-star lineup for a law firm.

Somewhere Johnny Cochran is looking up and smiling.

    creeper in reply to Voluble. | June 9, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Reminds me of the legal team for Click and Clack, the Car Talk brothers on PBS…Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.

      Estragon in reply to creeper. | June 9, 2012 at 2:44 am

      Which firm was founded for a Three Stooges short, btw. They might even have stolen it from the Marx Brothers.

[…] threatening to sue for libel appears to be Corey’s default position when criticized by people whose job it is to express an opinion in the media. (Maybe a basic […]

When I first saw this woman at the news conference she held to announce the charge against Zimmerman, I said to my wife that this prosecutor seems like a flake, or worse, a nutjob.

[…] Angela Corey's angry, threatening letter to the Times-Union from a source, only to see that Legal Insurrection got there first. The letter betrays anger management issues, entitlement problems, a weak grasp of pertinent First […]

[…] allegedly responded by threatening to sue Dershowitz and Harvard.  This appears to be part of a pattern when she is […]

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend