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Zimmerman Trial Day 2 – Analysis of State’s Witnesses

Zimmerman Trial Day 2 – Analysis of State’s Witnesses

Today can only be characterized as an utter debacle for the prosecution in Florida v. Zimmerman. Besides the testimony of a couple of highly professional law enforcement witnesses, the testimony of the the other State witnesses ranged from signing George Zimmerman’s praises, to acknowledging the utility of following a suspicious person from a distance, to being utterly discredited by razor sharp cross-examination of the defense.

Before we even get to the disaster that was the State’s witnesses, however, we first have to discuss this morning’s hearing and the extent to which it evanescent is the State’s case against George Zimmerman.

State: Zimmerman Is So Good, He Must Be Bad

Following on a disagreement between the parties yesterday, before the jury was seated the Court held a hearing on whether to admit into evidence a half-dozen or so calls made by Zimmerman to the police in the six months leading up to the shooting. In each of the calls Zimmerman was playing the diligent Neighborhood Watch role, calling the non-emergency number (as trained) to report a suspicious person in the neighborhood. There is not the slightest suggestion of misconduct, ill will, hatred, etc. in any of the recordings.

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State Prosecutor Mantei

The defense objected to the admission of these recordings on the basis that they were either not relevant–having occurred so long prior to the event in questions–or were “prior acts” evidence of the defendant which is normally inadmissible.

The whole thing looked odd, however, because the rules of evidence prohibiting most prior acts is intended to keep out prior bad acts of a defendant, not prior good acts. Why would the State be looking to submit prior good acts?

The reason became clear in the State’s argument this morning for why they are demanding that the recordings be admitted. The recordings, they claim, will show that Zimmerman had a well-established pattern of properly following all the Neighborhood Watch Program guidelines on prior calls–but this time, with Trayvon Martin, he broke.

The State analogized to a situation in which a spouse is repeatedly cheated upon, and finally experiences the “straw that broke the camel’s back” (that’s the State’s phrase) and strikes out at their cheating partner.

Zimmerman, the State seeks to argue, was frustrated by the fact that so many of the suspicious persons observed and reported to the police by the Neighborhood Watch participants repeatedly managed to “get away.” Finally, he couldn’t take it an more, their theory runs, so he decided to “take the law into his own hands” with Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, the State seeks to argue, wasn’t truly calm on those prior calls, he only appeared to be calm. Inside he was a seething cauldron of hate just looking for the innocent young black boy against which he could release his righteous anger.

The fact that the State would launch this line of argument in the first day of substantive testimony suggests powerfully that they have an almost total lack of direct evidence of second degree murder in this case. The theory they seek to advance with the prior, entirely innocuous, calls to police is entirely circumstantial–and it’s on that circumstantial evidence that they seek to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, both that George Zimmerman committed murder with a “depraved mind” and that his actions were not in lawful self defense.

At the time the Court recessed at the close of today Judge Nelson had not yet decided whether to admit the prior recordings or not. Either way, however, it hardly seems that a half-dozen recordings of Zimmerman calmly phoning the police precisely as he had been instructed by them can much advance their charges of second degree murder.

A Human Train Wreck: The State’s Witnesses

State witness Rumph made a brief re-appearance from yesterday, but until the Court rules on the prior police calls she won’t have much impact one way or the other, so we’ll pass her by.

Wendy Dorival, Sanford Police Department, Neighborhood Watch Program

Ms. Dorival works for the Sanford Police Department and played a major role in coordinating with George Zimmerman to establish the Neighborhood Watch Program at the Retreat at Twin Lakes community. Her role is to instruct the residents on how the NWP works, and provide guide lines on its operation.

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State witness, Ms. Dorival, NWP coordinator

Recall that one of the key elements of the State’s theory of the case is that Zimmerman is a “wannabe cop” who “took the law into his own hands.” The expectation was that this witness would define the limited scope of the NWP, and the State could then illustrate how Zimmerman had aggressively over-stepped these limitations in “profiling” and “following” Martin.

Accordingly, the State started asking Dorival about whether NWP participants are advised to “follow” and “confront” suspicious persons, and she affirmed that the participants were merely supposed to be the “eyes and ears” of the community and that actual enforcement should be left to the police. If they saw a crime they should call 911, if they saw merely suspicious behavior they should call the provided non-emergency number.

West managed the cross-examination for the defense.

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Defense Attorney West

He asked if she had any personal knowledge of the drivers behind Twin Lakes starting a NWP,. Dorival confirmed that she had checked with the Sanford Police Department’s crime statistics and confirmed that there had been a spike in robberies and that the neighborhood’s concerns about crime were genuine. She was also aware of the recent home invasion.

He then explored her experience interacting with George Zimmerman. Was he polite, courteous, respectful, he asked?

Oh, yes, Dorival answered. Every time.

That was the first indication that this witness might spin against the State’s interests–and an eruption of confirmatory testimony was about to emerge.

Dorival naturally thought it was great that Zimmerman wanted to start a NWP. Indeed, so committed was she herself to the NWP initiative that she took the lead at the Sanford PD even though it wasn’t really her “day job” there.

Further, she thought it was great that Zimmerman was pursuing a degree in criminal justice. In fact, she had been so impressed with him that she had tried to recruit him for the Sanford PD’s “Citizen on Patrol” program.

“Citizens on Patrol?” asked West. “What’s that?”

It turns out that it’s a program in which the Sanford Police Department would provide Zimmerman with a civilianized patrol car and a uniform of sorts, and provide additional training that would allow him to effectively conduct patrols of his neighborhood. In contrast, the NWP program was far less pro-active, involving only observation and reporting.

Surely the Zimmerman described by the State as a “wannabe cop” seeking to “take the law into his own hands” and “profile” and “chase” unfamiliar black boys would fairly leap at such an opportunity. It was as close to being a police officer as Zimmerman was ever likely to get, the chance of a life time.

Zimmerman declined the opportunity.

This did not, however, spoil Dorival’s respect for Zimmerman. When asked by West if there was anything about Zimmerman’s demeanor that “raised any red flags” for her, she answered in the negative. George, she said, struck her as very professional, perhaps a little meek, but a man who was really committed to making his community better.

It bears reminding that this is the State’s witness, intended to help convict Zimmerman of second degree murder and a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

When asked by West if the NWP gave lessons in the law to participants, Dorival said they did not, they mostly told people not to confront anyone or follow anyone.

West focused in on that comment, asking, “when you say the shouldn’t follow someone, you’re not saying that if you see someone suspicious that you can’t follow at a distance to gather information, are you? You don’t tell people that they can’t follow someone from a distance, do you?”

“That’s right,” Dorival agreed, she was not saying that, but rather that it was not a good idea to engage someone.

West continued, asking, “and when you say on your slide that the NWP participants are not intended to be some kind of vigilante police, you’re not saying that if they are attacked they’re not allowed to defend themselves, are you?”

Of course not, Dorival replied.

Do you talk with them about firearms specifically, West asked?

No, it’s not my place to tell participants not to carry a gun, that’s their right.

West then explored some hypothetical situations and asked her if they were the types of scenarios in which she would advise a NWP participant to report suspicious behavior to the police. He then went on to describe precisely the behavior in which Trayvon Martin had been engaged–wandering aimlessly in the rain, looking into buildings, walking outside of normal paths in areas one would not normally expect a person to walk. Oh, definitely, answered Dorival, that’s exactly the kind of behavior we encourage NWP participants to report to the police.

(As an aside, the fact that the State did not immediately object to this line of questioning is nothing short of shocking. It is unimaginable that they could not have seen how terribly destructive this would be to their theory of the case.)

There was more, but I think the above communicates the point. It was almost as if the court clerk had accidentally placed a defense witness on the State’s witness roster.

Donald O’Brien, President Twin Lakes Home Owners Association

The next up of the State’s witnesses was Donald O’Brien, then and still the President of the Twin Lakes HOA. It is worth keeping in mind that the HOA has already settled a reputed 7-figure-plus law suit with the Martin family and advisors. It would hard to blame O’Brien if he felt that, all in all, it would have been a lot cheaper to let Martin rob someone’s house.

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State witness, Donald O’Brien, Twin Lakes HOA President

It was pretty clear from O’Brien’s tone and manner that Zimmerman did not rank high among his most favorite people. He emphasized that Zimmerman had taken the lead on starting the NWP program without much, if any, involvement by the HOA (although the HOA did not prohibit the program, and did become involved in its implementation). The State’s line of questions sought to emphasize Zimmerman as a kind of “loose cannon” who had launched the NWP program on his own, with little neighborhood involvement, almost as a kind of private police force.

Then this witness started off the rails of the State’s theory of the case.

When the community was having problems with people disobeying the HOA’s parking rules, he’d asked for help in setting up a parking committee for enforcement. Who stepped up and volunteered to help on this when few others did? George Zimmerman.

He also recounted an interesting story about a particular robbery in the community. What made this burglary memorable to O’Brien was that he had actually gotten into a conversation with the soon-to-be-burglar only a short time before the crime occurred. The burglar–whom O’Brien described as a 17-year-old black man–chatted with O’Brien a while, and later was seen by some nearby construction workers leaving a townhouse later discovered to have been burgled.

A few days later, these same workers observed the same 17-year-old black man wandering through Twin Lakes again. They contacted the police, and the burglar was successfully arrested.

Then he made an astonishing statement, given that he was a State witness and given the State’s theory of the case.

The arrest was made possible, he said, because the construction workers followed the suspicious person from a distance. O’Brien was, he said, so pleased with the successful arrest that he had sent the workers a letter of commendation from the HOA.

O’Mara managed cross-examination for the defense, and took to O’Brien in a friendly but incisive manner. He knew what he wanted from this witness.

You’re aware, he asked, that Zimmerman helped with the NWP, and even with you on your parking committee. Did it seem strange to you that Zimmerman would help you? No, answered O’Brien.

Did you have any concern that Zimmerman had helped set up the NWP? I didn’t think we needed that program, answered O’Brien. But you acknowledge that there had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, and even a home invasion? “Yes, said O’Brien.

Again, there’s more, but you get the point.

Thankfully for the State, that brought us to the lunch recess. Following lunch, the State began to bring some law enforcement officers to the stand. Although their testimony was interesting, it was not nearly as interesting as some other witnesses, so I’ll defer on the LEOs until later in this post. As a quick note, however, the LEOs in question were Sergeant Anthony E. Raimondo, Jr., a Marine, police sergeant on the Sanford PD, and a sniper on the Seminole County SWAT Team, and Diane Smith, a Crime Scene Technician.

Selene Bahadoor, “Ear”-Witness for the State

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State witness, Selene Bahadoor

 

The next, shall we say, interesting witness called by the State, and the last witness of the day, was Selene Bahadoor. She was one of the residents of Twin Lakes whose townhouse bordered on the scene of the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin, and who took note of the event as it happened. As such, she was really the first substantive witness to date who would, purportedly, be able to share some direct knowledge of the events as they unfolded.

Bernie de la Rionda led the direct on Bahadoor. As they talked she described how she had been in her kitchen on the first floor, cooking, when she heard a noise that sounded like “no” or “uhhh” from outside. She also heard some movement, like people running. Importantly, it sounded as if the running was some kind of pursuit, rather than say children playing a game of tag, because the sound progressed “from left to right”.

This was really the first testimony that could begin to solidify the State’s case. Recall that it is the State’s theory of the case that Zimmerman first “profiled” and then “chased” Martin before murdering him. There had been until now no direct evidence of any “chase”, and it seemed that Bahadoor was about to provide that essential link.

There was much discussion then about how much, if anything she was able to see of the events, but the key piece of her testimony was this matter of her hearing the sound of motion moving “from left to right,” as if in pursuit.

O’Mara handled the cross-examination of Bahadoor, and it was very quickly apparent that this person who had promised to be the State’s star witness of the day–and perhaps of the entire trial–was about to be have her testimony and credibility utterly, indeed humiliatingly, crushed before the jury.

“Who,” asked O’Mara, “was the last person with whom you discussed your testimony before today?”

Bahadoor replied that it had been with one of the State’s investigators the prior Thursday.

“And you went over your prior statements in this case?” “Yes,” she answered, “to be ready for trial.”

“And one of those statements was the first one taken very shortly after the shooting?” “Yes.”

“And in that statement did you mention this motion that you heard moving from left-to-right?”

And overcoming a lot of rather pathetic dancing on Bahadoor’s part about whether a “transcript” is a “written statement”, she was soon obliged to admit that she had not mentioned the left-to-right motion in that first statement, when O’Mara handed her the document and asked her to locate any reference.

He followed by handing her another transcript, based on an interview a few weeks later between Bahadoor and then lead Investigator Chris Serino. “Where in that transcript do you mention this “left to right” motion?” Again, after a lengthy and painful to watch period of silence Bahadoor was obliged to admit that she had’t mentioned the left-to-right motion in that interview, either.

O’Mara then pulled out the transcript of the defense’s deposition of Bahadoor. And again she was obliged to admit that she hadn’t mentioned the critical “left-to-right” motion there, either.

Finally O’Mara asked her, “When was the first time that you told anyone about this “left-to-right” motion you’ve described to us today. Is it in fact today, here in court, the first time you’ve ever told anyone about it.”

“It could be,” answered Bahadoor quietly.

O’Mara then asked if it would be fair to say that Bahadoor had sympathy for the Martin family. “I have sympathy for both families,” she answered, somewhat aloof.

“But,” noted O’Mara, “you “liked” the Facebook page for the Martin family, but not the Facebook page for the Zimmerman family.” The opportunity never presented itself for the Zimmerman family page, answered Bahadoor.

The defense soon rested, and Bernie de la Rionda returned for re-direct. In essence, his re-direct consisted mostly of asking Bahadoor if any of the questioners in the prior interviews had thought to ask about any left-to-right motion. Bahadoor said they had not.

Then de la Rionda asked if it wasn’t true that Bahadoor didn’t even want to be here, that she wasn’t looking to be famous, to be on television, that she hadn’t even come forward to the police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Bahadoor agreed that was all true.

O’Mara, in turn, returned for re-cross, and he was tough as ever.

“Mr. de la Rionda,” he noted, “suggests that you didn’t want to run out and be a witness on national TV. But isn’t it true that you’ve actually been on national TV about this case?”

“No,” Bahadoor objected, “I did a video, but they never aired it.”

“But you wanted to be on TV. A television journalist interviewed you on camera for half-an-hour, you talked all about the case with them.”

Bahadoor replied that in the end she had decided against letting it be aired, that she had only even considered it in order to bring attention to what had happened.

“Because you thought that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin improperly, and should be prosecuted,” O’Mara suggested.

“I never said that,” replied Bahadoor.

“But you signed this petition, did you not, calling for the “prosecution of the killer of our son Trayvon Martin.”

And, indeed, Bahadoor was obliged to identify her signature on the copy of the petition held out to her by O’Mara.

O’Mara closed by remarking, “I’m just curious. Having never before mentioned this business of the left-to-right motion, I’m wondering how it is that you knew that today of all days was the right day to first mention it.”

Bahadoor had no coherent reply, and was dismissed.

Sergeant Anthony E. Raimondo, Jr., Sanford Police Department

Sergeant Raimondo testified immediately after lunch and was a consummate professional law enforcement officer. For the State’s purposes his testimony was rather procedural, as he was the senior officer n the scene of the shooting until the investigators arrived. He also was used by the State to play up the “suffering of Trayvon” angel, because it was Raimondo who attempted to provide life-saving CPR to Martin. The State had Raimondo recount his efforts to save Martins’ life in detail.

More interesting, however, was how the the defense made use of Raimondo’s testimony, in a quite subtle way. Most of the O’Mara’s cross-examination was not particularly substantive, but at one point he asked Raimondo about how he liked being a police officer. Raimondo replied that he found the work extremely satisfying, to play a role in helping to better the community. Just like Zimmerman with his NWP, I couldn’t help but think. When asked about his training to be a police officer, it turned out that Raimondo had majored in criminal justice. Again just like Zimmerman.

O’Mara’s low-key questioning on these points was a very successful and compelling means of highlighting how many of Raimondo’s admirable and positive qualities were, if only on a lesser scale, also possessed by Zimmerman.

Many a lawyer would have missed that opportunity, but the defense scored a solid hit here, again.

Diane Smith, Crime Scene Technician, Sanford Police Department

Ms. Smith played a key role in documenting and gathering the evidence at the scene of the crime. The State made use of her testimony to undercut the notion that Martin may have been reaching for Zimmerman’s gun–there was no “touch DNA” of Martin’s detected on the weapon–and to minimize the apparent severity of Zimmerman’s injuries by showing photos taken by Smith only after Zimmerman had been cleaned up by paramedics on scene and then again washed himself clean at the Sanford police station rest room.

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It was during Ms. Smith’s testimony that a great many pieces of evidence were admitted into the trial, along with a great many crime scene photos.  A few of each are included here to give a sense of the questioning of this witness.

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Zimmerman face police station

Zimmerman Trial State's Exhibit 56 - back of Zimmerman head

West handled the cross-examination of Smith, and was once again very solid, indeed. He went back through each of the “clean” photos of Zimmerman’s injuries that the State had sped through, and noted in his usual steady manner each and every bump, bruise, abrasion, and bit of blood. It was a very effective demonstration.

He also clarified the limitations of many of the claims the State seemed to be seeking with regard to the forensic evidence. West noted that the rain that night could have washed away any blood and that in any case no blood-detecting chemicals were used that night. He got Smith to agree that the fact that no touch DNA of Martin’s was found on the gun did not necessarily mean he hadn’t touched the gun–the contact might not have left enough DNA to detect, or it might have been wiped off. He also noted some missteps in the collection and preservation of evidence, particularly clothing, that would seem to further limit the utility to the State of the forensics evidence.

OK, that’s about it for tonight. We’re doing it all again tomorrow, of course, be sure to join us.


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,” now available in its just released 2nd Edition, which shows you how to successfully fight the 20-to-life legal battle everyone faces after defending themselves. UPDATE: July 5, 2013 is the LAST DAY to take advantage of the 30% pre-order discount, only $35, plus free shipping. To do so simply visit the Law of Self Defense blog.

BREAKING: “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition” is now also being carried by Amazon.com, at list price but with a commitment for 2-day delivery.  A Kindle version to come within a week or so (I hope).

Many thanks to Professor Jacobson for the invitation to guest-blog on the Zimmerman trial here on Legal Insurrection!

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense (or @LawSelfDefense2 if I’m in Twitmo, follow both!)on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.

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Comments

I think we can stop the trial now. Piers Morgan and his guests, Gloria Allred and Tom Mesereau, have convicted him.

What I saw was not razor-sharp cross-examination of the eyewitness. Rather, watching O’Mara flail away is his cross was embarrassing. Like yesterday, defense counsel showed himself to be completely unprepared. Impeaching the witness should have been as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. How could he not have at his fingertips the prior statements of the witness? How could he not know how to lay a proper foundation to impeach? For a competent lawyer this would have been child’s play. For gosh sakes the man does not know how to ask a question. He does not grasp when a leading question must be asked. What can possibly have been going through his to ask if she ever told “anyone” about the left to right running sound, opening the door to the “I told my sister” response. Cripes, he does not even know that when you are at the witness stand you do not block the jury’s view. His final question to the witness was mind-boggling stupid and the witness’ answer was perfectly coherent: “I was just saying what I remembered”. This disaster could be picked apart for hours. I really wonder what kind of training and how many trials O’Mara has had. The videotape of the cross should be played and analyzed in every law school trial practice course to show how it is not done. I fear for G. Zimmerman.

    Ragspierre in reply to rhorton1. | June 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Where do you practice trial law?

    the short bus is missing a rider

      Sanddog in reply to dmacleo. | June 26, 2013 at 12:50 am

      I haven’t been following this as closely as others but it seems to me there are two types of observers. Those who are emotionally invested in a specific outcome and those who are watching to see if the state can prove their case.

    Well, that’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion. Should I ever need solid self-defense counsel I’d be damned happy to get either O’Mara or West, and would consider myself blessed to have the combination.

    But that’s just me.

    –Andrew

      Mansizedtarget in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      I agree with this. I think Mark has been much better in Court than I expected based on his earlier press appearances. As for the leading/non-leading thing, there’s a time and place to allow some open ended questions in a cross, and there’s lots of times not to object to leading questions on direct where the answers are not harmful. The prosecutors seem pretty murky on all this and are constantly leading everyone. It’s obvious they don’t trust most of their witnesses. I think overall defense is doing well and raising lots of doubt across the board.

      I also wonder if a dynamic in this trial is that Sanford PD is a) pretty sympathetic to George because he is someone basically like them and b) are annoyed at the out of town prosecutors who have criticized their PD.

      I do think a good question missed was when officer carries gun if he has a round in the chamber. They all do, and that’s standard operating procedure.

        Indeed, I had hoped for the “Do you load your duty weapon to capacity?” question to the LEOs, but that’s the gun guy in me talking. The State’s not going to get a conviction on that point alone, and I’m not sure the defense needs to wade into what most people (not me, of course, or you) would consider “gun esoterica”.

        –Andrew

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 2:26 am

          I also wonder if such a question might not play right into the “wannabe” cop meme the State is pushing as part of their case. To somebody knowledgeable about guns, it would be no big deal – meaningless. But to an all-female jury, most of whom are probably personally inexperienced with guns (except the one who used to have a carry permit) or are afraid of them, the round-in-the-chamber point may have played to the State’s “GZ is a wannabe a cop” claim.

          IANAL, but in my judgment the value of illustrating that the round in the chamber was proper would be minimal compared to the possible damage of supporting the “wannabe” aspect by elicitng the point from a sworn, experienced police officer.

          What might be more effective would be to have a rangemaster or self-defense/concealed carry handgun instructor make the point (as well as other points about concealed carry). Then it’s clear that this is the proper chambering for concealed carry by private citizens, among other aspects of concealed carry.

          Lina Inverse in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

          I had hoped for the “Do you load your duty weapon to capacity?” question to the LEOs, but that’s the gun guy in me talking.

          The gun guy in me says never ask that question since plenty of people for various reasons load magazines with 1 or so fewer rounds than max capacity, especially the higher capacity double stack ones the LEOs are more likely to be carrying. This tends to be less true for single stack magazines like Zimmerman’s PF-9 with its 7 round capacity, but….

          Echoing JackRussellTerrierist, better would be to focus on, if this is the real point the prosecution is making, that having a round in the chamber is what everyone who can does for a handgun they’re carrying (the military didn’t like that for M1911s and still doesn’t like that for their rifles and carbines, but commanding officers’ somewhat justified paranoia about negligent discharges is another problem).

          This may not be the way to say it, but I like “There is nothing more useless than an unloaded gun” … and/or point out Zimmerman might well be dead if he’d had to have chambered a round one handed before shooting Martin.

        VetHusbandFather in reply to Mansizedtarget. | June 26, 2013 at 1:30 am

        In my totally non-lawyerly opinion I agree with you about letting the prosecution to direct when the questions aren’t harmful. I think if the defense is constantly objecting it gives undue credit tot he prosecutions arguments. For example the jury might think that the prosecution was making an argument that was harmful and the defense wanted to prevent that direction of thinking. By objecting very little the defense can give the impression that they ‘have nothing to hide’.

    Trialdog in reply to rhorton1. | June 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Actually the cross was brilliant. I do a lot of it and it doesn’t get any better. Videos of these cross examinations should be shown to students and at CLE programs. The lawyers turned each witness for the defense, soliciting testimony that supported the defense themes.
    I’m not sure you try cases. Your comment touches on some theory and makes a categorical assumption about trial preparation, but if you don’t recognize the effectiveness of what you witnessed today you don’t have enough experience. If I were your client and you thought that cross was bad I would fire you on the spot.

      Why don’t you just tell him what you REALLY think. 🙂

      –Andrew

      myiq2xu in reply to Trialdog. | June 25, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      I saw some first-class cross examinations today. Getting the answers you want out of uncooperative witnesses isn’t easy.

      Except on television.

      Ouch!

      Joe-dallas in reply to Trialdog. | June 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      With the caveat that I am speaking from civil case experience, The defense is playing to the jury and to what the defense perceives will be most receptive to that specific jury.

      I have seen many “meek and feeble” approaches by attorneys be significantly more effective, than the powerful, hard charging approaches used by some attorneys.

    ThomasD in reply to rhorton1. | June 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    “I told my sister”

    Nothing like inviting a sibling to join you on the witness stand and participate in your ongoing humiliation.

    He got her to admit she signed the petition to prosecute Zimmerman, at which point her credibility irrevocably evaporated.

      Ragspierre in reply to ThomasD. | June 25, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      That is also a tacit admission that she didn’t tell ANY of the several people who questioned her who MATTERED.

      Under oath…WHEN it mattered.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to ThomasD. | June 26, 2013 at 2:53 am

      What I think is the most valuable outcome of the cross on Bahadoor is the State looking like it coached the witness into saying something she had never mentioned at all during THREE extensive examinations UNDER OATH. Magically, after being interviewed by a State’s investigator a week before trial, she now remembers this. This smacks of Duke lacrosse to a ‘T’! If their case is so great and they really believe they can prove GZ is guilty, why would they need to do this? Add to that her self-demonstrated bias, and her value switches to the defense.

      That petition she signed was ginned up Trademark’s parents, a wholly owned subsidiary of Benjamin Crump’s. What I would have loved to ask her is if she has ever spoken to him. Even if she said “No”, it’s still a win because then it’s obvious the investigator coached her/put the left-right thing into her newest testimony. But if she answered “Yes”, oh lawdy – the sheiss would hit the fan.

        Bahadoor’s use of the word “erect” to describe what she saw also seemed coached to me. It isn’t a word that seemed to fit with the rest of her testimony, was lawyer-ish. That she immediately backed down on further questioning didn’t help my perception.

        If that was the state’s big witness for their opening argument claim that someone would testify that they were fighting standing up, the prosecution has another epic opening argument over-promise on its hands.

    Ragspierre in reply to rhorton1. | June 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Coupla thangs…

    1. I have NEVER tried a case where I didn’t go home and kick myself for numerous errors.

    2. My theory is that, in cross, I AM THE STAR. In direct, my client is the star. I want the jury paying attention to me when I cross. I will stand for cross if the court lets me get away with it. I want the jury to ignore me and watch my client on direct. I sit and get as small and boring as possible.

    3. Some courts are laid out in a way that makes it impossible to show a witness a document WITHOUT obscuring the witness.

    4. It is a mistake to ask an open-ended question on cross. Sometimes. It CAN open a door they will drive a truck through. Or it can lead to “I told my sister”. By the time O’Mara asked, “Did you tell anyone?”, he’d already drawn the net. It is also sometimes a question you ask because the jury REALLY wants to hear that question.

      Good points, especially (1) and (4). Personally, I always like to stand, but maybe that’s just because I’m self-indulgent. I don’t really feel like I’m working if I’m sitting down. 🙂

If the Prosecution were to rank all of their days in court, I don’t think today would make the top ten…

Awesome coverage, Mr. Branca. Thank you so much for providing it.

    My pleasure. You might like some of my stuff on http://www.lawofselfdefense.com, too. (Hint, hint.) 🙂

    –Andrew

      legacyrepublican in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      Your Tweets aren’t bad either. I was rolling over on the floor laughing over the “alleged rumor” that they were going to take away the sheets, belts, and shoelaces of the prosecution team tonight. Simply delicious humor and tweet too! :-]

      Sanddog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Well, I finally visited your site. And ordered your book. I’m running a CHL class for a couple of ADAs next month and I’m looking forward to getting their take on the “law” portion of the class.

        Maybe this should be an offline discussion, but it’s important to distinguish between claims of “self-defense” from folks who are obviously criminals (I don’t mean in terms of legal guilt, I mean in terms of common sense) who raises self-defense as a “hail Mary” legal defense, as contrasted with the genuine law-abiding citizen who claims self-defense for the use of force.

        99.9% of self-defense claims at trial are the former. So, for both prosecutors and defense attorneys, they have almost no experience whatever in dealing with a “genuine” self-defense claim. that 99.9% invariably gets thrown out early, because the person claiming it clearly violated one or more of the conditions of self-defense–they were committing a crime, they failed to retreat, they used excessive force, they were the aggressor–and so blatantly so that their self-defense argument is tossed before the jury ever hears it.

        The genuine self-defense case, in contrast, is a rare creature. Indeed, it’s rarity is why the State is running into so much trouble in this Zimmerman case. Where’s his “racial profiling”, his “stalking”, his “excessive force”?

        So, I certainly thank you for ordering the book, and I certainly encourage you to discuss it with the ADAs. But I would also encourage you to discus this additional dimension with them. Because really, I expect they’ll say that if they have a case report come across their desk and it looks like a good citizen was defending themselves, they don’t bring it to trial–in which case they really have no experience doing so (thankfully).

        –Andrew

          myiq2xu in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 1:57 am

          The genuine self-defense case, in contrast, is a rare creature.

          It’s not that they are rare so much as that they generally don’t make it into court.

          If it doesn’t make it to court, it’s not “a case” yes? Genuine self-defense is quite common. A genuine self-defense “case” is quite rare (except in certain blue states, where they prosecute EVERYTHING.).

          –Andrew

          In my view most righteous self defense cases are recognized to be such by most responding agencies and handled as such. Just as was this case until politics reared it’s ugly head. Most prosecutors with whom I’ve worked remain open minded in that regard. As have most judges. Of course this was before it was discovered everything cops do is racist.

          The blue states provide a rich environment for crime by initiating bad faith prosecutions. On the other hand, cops can do no wrong until they find fecal matter on the broom stick….

      profshadow in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Are you planning on a Kindle version of the book?

Thanks for the summary, for those of us who can’t watch the trial, Mr. Branca.

It’s interesting to get your perspective.

Excellent summary article. Compare this balanced article to the inflammatory rhetoric on HLN where the chopped and edited court video is used to hype the process and give some of the most unattractive people on television a platform to shout ridiculous opinions. A reasoned evaluation of the facts will hopefully provide a fair verdict. It won’t be easy.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to commonword. | June 26, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Don’t even punch the numbers for that station into your remote control. It is utter trash and the people who host those shows are vile. Only really stupid, easily led (and misled) people watch it. Then they act like they’re all in the know and the big cheese, etc.. It’s truly heart-breaking how deeply the left’s dumbing-down of Americans through their hammer and sickle control of our education system has damaged this country. HLN could not exist without grossly ignorant viewers.

Great, great coverage as always. Your summaries flesh out the fact that this level of legal practice is more art than science.

It’s not about what Piers Morgan thinks about the day, it’s not about how smug Lawrence O’Donnell is about mocking the defense’s performance.

It’s about every word going into the ears of the jury. They learn things and make associations about things that an average viewer would not notice.

THAT’S what makes this case a fantastic learning opportunity and your blog is the only way to get the most out of it.

As a caucasian woman living in Seminole County, I resemble the Jury. Of course, I am a lawyer, so… probably would not have made the cut. At any rate, if the Jury members are like me, Mr. Z will get his life back… assuming some nut doesn’t murder him. You mentioned prosecution over-charging. They did. Intentionally. If you recall, Mr. Z had a different lawyer at the very beginning, and disappeared for a day the day the charges came out. The lawyer was unsure the status, but at the time Mr. Z was meeting with O’Mara. At any rate, a friend who is a prosecuter with the AGO’s statewide prosecution unit ran in to the first attorney a few weeks after the charges. And (hearsay here) my friend indicates the first lawyer was called by the prosecuter’s office to inform him of the charges and the prosecutor (Ms. Corey) stated: 2nd degree murder. We know it’s over charging, but this is political. So not only is this case famous because the media didn’t bother to notice Mr. Z is a hispanic, democrat, gun owner, but the prosecution is intentionally over-charging due to the politics of the situation. Welcome to Obama’s world.

    gasper in reply to mom2ads. | June 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you for a good post outlining what many of us suspected already. And after this political circus is over and Zimmerman is acquitted, who will be responsible for the deaths, injuries or destruction of property? The media will report it like they had nothing to do with it, in fact, will justify it. All to appease the race-baiters, led by the man who would have a son who looked like Martin. And the state is showing very clearly they have no case, and never had a case. Beyond shameful.

      While this case should have never been charged, should have been dismissed already, and Zimmerman should be acquitted, there is not guarantee of that. Juries screw up. They are imperfect. Sometimes jurors lie and cheat. The most brilliant defense in the world can’t change that.

    profshadow in reply to mom2ads. | June 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Not being a lawyer, I wonder if
    A)that first lawyer would be allowed to testify to what he was told by the prosecutor
    and
    B) if that would be a good or bad thing for the defense.

    Just curious.

Great write-up and I have a few questions.

Is the state trying to sabotage their own case? Why didn’t de la Rionda preempt O’Mara with the Facebook and Petition evidence?

Wasn’t prosecutorial misconduct demonstrated today? If a lawyer never asks a question he doesn’t know the answer to then de la Rionda knew that Bahadoor would newly testify that movement was left to right. How did he know?

Has O’mara made some mistakes a good lawyer shouldn’t? Why hadn’t he already challenged the previous police calls by Zimmerman before trial?

Thanks.

    A lot of questions, and this interface doesn’t allow quoting, so I’ll do my best.

    (1) The state is not trying to sabotage their own case–if they were, there would have been no need to hide and slow-roll discovery, they simply could have followed the well-established rules and lost.

    (2) In my opinion the level of prosecutorial misconduct in this case is of Mt. Everest proportions. Today may have contributed another half-foot or so to the pile, but who would notice?

    (3) O’Mara is a very clever guy, so it can be hard to tell whether something is a mistake or just a clever strategy designed to look like a mistake. Having said that, it is impossible to imagine the kind of pressure and time constraints O’Mara and West are under. They received their last discovery from the State, including thousands of pictures, just days before the start of trial. They had to spend days, maybe weeks, fighting off the State’s idiotic “experts” on speech recognition and speaker identification. The State has stuck their thumb into the defense’s eye at every opportunity, making the defense’s job even more brutally difficult. The trial judge, after being told that the defense simply wasn’t ready to try a murder 2 case, in large part due to the State’s slow-roll of discovery, simply told them to go pound sand–a classica abuse of a trial judge’s discretion.

    Under those circumstances I think one might expect a mistake or two.

    Overall I think they are doing an absolutely phenomenal job. As I’ve said above, I’d be honored to have them as my counsel, either of them or both, should I ever be in the unfortunate position to have been compelled to put a 200g JHP .45ACP round into some miscreant trying to kill me.

    –Andrew

      myiq2xu in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      I was taught to avoid making petty objections in front of the jury. They start thinking you’re trying to hide something.

      By asking questions the wrong way and drawing objections you get to ask the question 2-3 times before you get an answer. It draws attention to your question and the answer.

      Giving an unfriendly witness the chance to be evasive helps destroy their credibility and exposes bias. It was obvious that Backdoor was trying to help the prosecution and avoid giving straight answers to the defense.

        By your paragraphs:

        (1) I expect that’s exactly why we so rarely hear the defense objecting, even with the State’s very frequent leading, hearsay, etc.

        (2) West has demonstrated this brilliantly on numerous occasions. He’s just a befuddled little country bumpkin, don’t you know? Can’t imagine how he passed the bar. But in the meantime the jury gets to hear a half-dozen variations of the same question–and the point is often the QUESTION, not the answer, which may never be heard, and likely an answer isn’t actually desired anyway. Remember, the job of the defense is to raise a reasonable doubt. Unanswered questions are a great way to get to a reasonable doubt.

        (3) What the heck was (3)? Oh, yeah, O’Mara did a great job of this today. Might he be a fumbling idiot who can’t pin down a State witness on cross? Sure, I guess so. But I’d need damn long odds to make that bet. Sometimes, if you sense your opponent is going to try to take foolish advantage of it, you let them see your guard drop a little, and you go with an open question. Sometimes that costs you. But I don’t think Selene Bahadoor is anything like in O’Mara’s league–as events demonstrated. If anyone thinks that Bahadoor got the better of that exchange, I’m going to recommend they get their meds upped.

        –Andrew

        Ragspierre in reply to myiq2xu. | June 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

        Also, there is the carefully cultivated “wicked smile” you use on evasive witnesses.

        During cross, I try not to look at the witness. I watch the jury.

        When the witness evades, the jurors get the “wicked smile”. “We know…don’t we…???”

        Works rather well. There is also the “cocked head”. Oh, and the “absolute disgust”, but that has to be used very carefully.

    I’ve been wondering that myself. Perhaps they know that they never had a case to begin with, but not to bring it to trial would have been more costly in the politics of political correctness. When the State loses, they can blame the people selected to take it trial; I do imagine people are going to lose their jobs, their careers, over this case.

    It’ll be a reverse O.J. case. To half the country, Zimmerman will always be guilty, even though he is innocent.

      DennisD in reply to McCoy2k. | June 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      Yeah. I mean isn’t it trial law 101 to get out the bad stuff before your opponent decimates you with it. It’s hard to believe that if O’Mara had the goods the state didn’t, especially when it was so easy to discover. Strange.

        The State certainly seems to be leading with their chin (or worse).

        This is a political case, and some of the prosecutors will therefore be political (not true trial) lawyers. There certainly seems to be a certain cognitive dissonance for them between what’s worked so well in the media and how those same techniques have failed so catastrophically in court.

        Ah, well, some folks feel half these prosecutors should be in jail themselves, so there’s always that to look forward to. They’re not merely trying to give Zimmerman an unearned speeding ticket, after all. They are seeking to advance their careers and political prospects balanced against 20 to the rest of his life.

        It’s the big leagues, and the State is falling woefully short of the burden our social contract places upon them–proving that Zimmerman committed murder in the second degree beyond a reasonable doubt, and proving that his use of force was NOT self-defense, beyond a reasonable doubt.

        The State knew that was the job when they took it. Their performance so far, at the cost of close to $1MM of Zimmerman’s money and surely some multiple of that from the public treasury, is simply despicable.

        –Andrew

      I am hoping that both BDLR and Corey do in fact lose their jobs. At the same time I am hoping that Debbie gets to spend time in traffic court and not anywhere that she can do more harm.

      rokiloki in reply to McCoy2k. | June 26, 2013 at 12:06 am

      McCoy2k – I agree with you except that “they can blame the people selected to take it trial.” Rather, I think they will blame the jury.

      The State has shown it is perfectly willing to throw George Zimmerman under the politically correct bus. I doubt they would hesitate to throw a few jurors there too.

        The fate of George Zimmerman is completely inconsequential to the forces driving this prosecution.

        We, as normal people, think this trial is about George Zimmerman, or perhaps about Trayvon Martin. Neither has any substantive connection to why this trial is taking place.

        Does Crump lose his Twin Lakes settlement money if George is acquitted? I doubt it. Does he get more of that money if George is acquitted? Probably not (at least, not ethically).

        The prosecutors may face a downside, given how catastrophically the case has gone for them, but I can assure you that they though it was a win-win when they overcharged Zimmerman with murder 2. Professional advancement, political opportunities, maybe a judgeship down the line.

        This is how it’s done, a high-profile case that gets your name known. Little did they know they were stepping on a land mine.

        Am I the only person wondering why the politically hyper-aggressive Angela Corey has become completely hands-off on this case, barely bothers showing up in court? Does that suggest this case is a “winner” for the State, by any measure?

        Frankly, some people may go, and should go, to jail, and I’m not talking about George Zimmerman.

        –Andrew

          Sorry, that should have read, “Does he get more of that money if George is CONVICTED” (not ACQUITTED).

          I’m not familiar with the kind of suit the homeowners assoc. got suckered into before the trial, but when they were rolled in court and forced to cough up $X, would that be one giant lump, or $x a year over a period of years? (Afaik) The only way the insurance company stands a chance of getting any of their money back would be if they could somehow show fraud and be able to stop the payments(if any). Any lump sum would have mysteriously vanished in the event they were countersued and lost.

          I noticed that about Angela Corey as well. Of all the people involved on the State’s prosecution team, she is probably the most politically astute.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 3:26 am

          I also have noticed the dearth of talk about Corey recently as well as her appearances in this case.

          Odd, isn’t it, to see that somebody who was once lovin’ on Trademark’s parents like they were long-lost family and appearing like a star or royalty in front of the media that breathlessly awaited and hung on any drivel she spouted to now be almost completely MIA and out of the public chatter?

          Catherine in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 3:30 am

          No, you are not the only one wondering why Angela Corey isn’t taking a more active role in the case. Perhaps she knows the state is more likely not to get a conviction and she wants to disassociate herself as much as possible from this loser case. I had wondered why Bernie de la Rionda wasn’t questioning the witnesses until he questioned Ms Bahadoor today. But now I’m thinking he saved this “important” witness for himself. Good grief, isn’t the state of Florida even trying to win this case at all? Shouldn’t BDLR have known about Ms Bahadoor’s activities online with regard to Trayvon Martin? Trayvon Martin’s parents can’t be too impressed with this prosecution since it is likely they won’t get the justice for Trayvon that they want.

          My prediction is George Zimmerman will be acquitted or there will be a hung jury.

          If he is acquitted can he sue the state for attorney’s fees and pain & suffering?

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 4:25 am

          Catherine, Trayvon already received his justice.

          It’s time for some justice for George, the real vicitm….over and over and over again.

          Andrew, I’ve had the feeling this goes a bit outside of qualified immunity for the prosecution.

          Am I wrong?

          Crawford in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

          I suspect Crump won’t get more money either way, but he WILL get more POWER. He’ll either be the one who successfully lynched a “white” man, or he’ll be leading the angry mob after the acquittal.

          Lina Inverse in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm

          One constitutional amendment which I think would do a lot of net good would be one that absolutely forbids anyone who has been a prosecutor from ever holding any other public office, including dog catcher.

        WilliamJD in reply to rokiloki. | June 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        It would be nice to see the judge direct a verdict and spare the jury the political backlash. But that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

my wife an i echo everyones ‘ Thank You.’ We watched all day and held our breath for your summary post . YA ! Great day for the Defense . Again TY Mr.Branca

Mr. Branca, you are performing a truly wonderful service, and, Mr. Jacobson, I hope you find some way to include Mr Branca as a contributor to Legal Insurrection.

    I’m grateful to the Profesor for this opportunity. In truth, there aren’t all that many self-defense cases of this high profile, and my expertise is rather narrow in scope (unless you want to talk drug discovery and development, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish). 🙂

    –Andrew

great unknown | June 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm

a) Possibly, the defense team should have had a female member to avoid the impression of a white man embarrassing a poor minority female. Especially given the composition of the jury. Could have been seen as pandering, but I know several firms who follow that policy.

b) If the theory of the prosecution is that Z was only superficially calm in previous encounters, and then exploded during this episode, one could argue the same about the prosecution.

They were only superficially ethical and apolitical in previous cases, and now exploded in this situation into dishonest, amoral, politically-driven persecutors. It only follows.

Except that it might be difficult to prove that they actually acted ethically and apolitically in previous cases, so there goes that line of attack. Oh well…

On the matter of the State’s use of the tapes, and the abso-flucking-looootly loopy theory that Andrew reports…

JUST DAMN.

Understand, you get to make whatever case you wish, and argue any facts to fit. Courts will not generally intercede if you get something to trial that is simply foolish, so long as there is SOME factual basis behind your contentions.

But there is a “straight face” test, at least in civil law, that says there are stinkers you simply will not bring before a jury.

THAT theory fails.

Midwest Rhino | June 25, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I didn’t hear it all, but if I was on the jury, I’d suspect the “left to right sound” thing was either suggested by the (already probably guilty of misconduct) state on their recent visit, (having such a weak case, and this biased witness). Otherwise, more detail wouldn’t come to her at this high pressure moment.

Unless she just though “Justice for Trayvon”, and looked at the building layout graphic and spontaneously thought that extra tidbit would help. Seemed more premeditated though.

I’d also doubt if she could tell much direction from her kitchen, through glass doors (I guess). But O’Mara may not have wanted to ask that since she could make a claim that he couldn’t reject. (?)

    I would think that one would need to know the layout of her house to even prove that she could possibly hear what she claimed.

    Sometimes sounds seem to come from one direction but they in fact come from a different direction. I can give a concrete example (and if you ever hear that I have disappeared and been charged with choking someone with his alarm system you will understand my meaning).

    Noises can in fact be very deceptive.

rabid wombat | June 25, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Mr Branca,

An absolute pleasure to read what you have done so far. Thank you for providing such wonderful insight into such a travesty. I used to live in Pennsylvania, I would have been honored to buy you a beer. If you make it to Houston – I will buy you a beer after we have gone shooting.

Ragpierre,

I live in Houston (better than a native Texan, as being born in Tenn.). I hope that I never need your service, but I want you on my side if the need arises. How do I retain you? Beer and shooting on me, also.

Professor,

All of the above. Thanks, and please do not lose sight of E Warren.

Best,
Rabid

    Well, rabid wombat,I travel the country pretty widely on my GS Adventure, I imagine I’ll be riding through Houston one of these days. I’ll try to remember to ping you when I do.

    –Andrew

    Ragspierre in reply to rabid wombat. | June 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    In the Spring, a group of my “brothers of the leaf” (cigar smokers) hold a “Powder and Smoke Crawl”, which begins in the morning at the pistol range, and proceeds to eat and smoke…and drink…the day away.

    I would be delighted if you could join us. I will try to post particulars when I have them.

      That sounds awesome–although I’m afraid I gave up the tobacco some years ago, after a very lengthy pack-a-day habit picked up as a 15-year-old diesel mechanic. I don’t mind others smoking cigars, by any means, and I certainly like “smoking” firearms a great deal. Done a few hundred thousand rounds of those myself, hope to do a few hundred thousand more in the future.

      –Andrew

      legacyrepublican in reply to Ragspierre. | June 26, 2013 at 12:07 am

      A new “band of brothers” has taken leaf here! 😉

I just watched Wendy’s testimony. All I can say is wow. She was worth more than all of the three experts they used to deep six the prosecution voice identification testimony. GZ followed her instructions almost to the letter, even calling the non-emergency number.Big time evidence of GZ’s depraved heart, huh?

    Ragspierre in reply to Jim. | June 26, 2013 at 12:15 am

    She was golden. Essentially gutted the State theory like a carp.

    Interesting, though…I scanned an AP story on the day, and they had her saying, “When asked by prosecutor John Guy if neighborhood watch participants should either follow or engage with suspicious people, she answered “no.”

    “They are the eyes and ears of law enforcement,” said Dorival. “They’re not supposed to take matters into their own hands.”

    And that was probably pretty neutral, as press coverage goes.

      VetHusbandFather in reply to Ragspierre. | June 26, 2013 at 2:11 am

      The press is leading the public in such a way that everyone will be ‘shocked’ when Zimmerman is acquitted. They know that the majority of their viewers don’t actually care about the trial but will be enthralled by the angry riots/mobs that the press helped create.

        News people don’t sell “truth”, they sell “news”. Otherwise they’d be called “truth people”.

        And they sell more news when it’s shocking (even if false) than they do when it’s boring (even if true).

        This was all true for our founding fathers, by the way. Except in those days, THEY had co-opted the news, rather than a bunch of . . . well, people I wouldn’t invite to dinner (this isn’t my blog, must hold my tongue).

        –Andrew

          VetHusbandFather in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 2:29 am

          I think what we are seeing lately from the press goes beyond just selling the news. They are ‘making’ the news they sell, or at the very least adding value to their product. Drumming up more controversy today, means more news to sell when things explode tomorrow.

        Matt in FL in reply to VetHusbandFather. | June 26, 2013 at 2:36 am

        It occurred to me today that the people who are getting their trial info from the mainstream media literally have no idea what’s going on. (I’m thinking of my folks.) They have no idea what these witnesses are saying and how that’s undermining the State’s case. All they’re getting is the sensationalism that has no actual value.

        As someone said here yesterday about the first day’s proceedings, all they talked about was the knock-knock joke:

        “They teased the knock-knock joke, showed the knock-knock joke, commented on the knock-knock joke, interviewed others about the knock-knock joke, reviewed the knock-knock joke, shook their head at the knock-knock joke, and then congratulated themselves on educating America on the Zimmerman trial. They didn’t discuss the witnesses, they didn’t critique the prosecution (one said: “they knew to keep it to a half hour which is smart for those with limited attention spans”)”

It is obvious, thus far, that the state has nothing. They have no case. They roll out some 15 year old friend of Trayvon for what purpose? To portray Zimmerman as a child slayer? They were playing PS3 on the date in question. So what? What does that have to do with anything? He didn’t witness anything. He can’t add anything to the matter except that he looks like a little boy. What is genuinely cruel is that, in their hearts, the prosecution must know that they have no case. So why are they pursuing this? Why try to ruin Zimmerman’s life.

    Allyn in reply to el segundo. | June 26, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Chad was called “Trayvon’s little brother” early on by Crump. I think his purpose was to claim that Trayvon was so considerate that he asked if he could get anything for him at the store. It also provided cover for the Skittles, should the subject of “lean” (purple drank) be raised later. Interestingly, TM was gone so long that Chad called to find out what was taking so long. This is consistent with the question we all have about what was TM doing for 30 minutes coming back from the store.

Andrew, thanks for the summary. I listened to the proffered tapes and just shook my head. I think they were great for the defense. MOM West could make great hay with those. Besides, if the tapes of his prior (good) acts were necessary for us to understand Zim’s state of mind, wouldn’t the same be true for TM’s acts?

On the barring of the Zims from the courtroom, I think I would argue that this case is, and always has been, a question of “who was the victim”? Accordingly George’s parents should be allowed in the courtroom!

Keep up the good work.

Great coverage, Mr. Branca, thank you for it (I cannot bear to watch, to me it is a Stalinist show trial – how is it Zimmerman managed to slip a defense team in there? Last I heard they were ready to prosecute him for raising money for lawyers).

In defense of the HOA “settlement,” they may have had no choice. I was involved peripherally in a case with a national non-profit being sued a few years ago, it was a baseless suit, but when the plaintiff was ready to settle it for less than their own legal fees over the several years of its course, the insurance company forced our hand.

It seems in the fine print of these policies it says if the insurer wants to settle, you can refuse BUT they assume no liability beyond the settlement offer if you proceed. So like us the HOA may have had no practical choice but to go along.

    Allyn in reply to Estragon. | June 26, 2013 at 12:48 am

    The opposite can be true as well. Plaintiffs will sue for 10 times your insurance coverage. At a settlement meeting, the plaintiff will offer a today only deal: 100% of your insurance coverage. The person being sued wants to settle, because it will cost them nothing, just the insurance. If the insurance company says no, THEY are now liable for any judgement without limit.

    Indeed, I presume the HO made a rational business decision in settling the suit, for whatever amount of money. Ih ave no inside knowledge of that. Ip resume they behaved as any reasonable business with stakeholders would have. But I don’t KNOW.

    Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the civil end of things. It’s just money. A person can always make more money.

    Nobody, however, can make more time. Any time Zimmerman loses in prison is time he cannot recover no matter how clever or industrious he may be. It’s life, lost, quite literally.

    Those are the takes that concern me.

    –Andrew

      hoglaw in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Andrew, as an aside, I disagree with your comparison of civil vs criminal law. Most criminal defendants are guilty and have survived countless previous arrests, diversions, probation and incarcerations.

      I began my legal career as an Asst State Attorney, but soon learned it was “money” that really mattered. I spent the next 24 years practicing civil law and never ventured in to criminal defense. (As a former police sergeant I am not inlined towards criminal defense.) Of course, this trial is different.

      The difference is the politics. GZ is obvously not guilty. These charges were brought only as the result of politcs. GZ deserves the best defense he can get. (I know MOM and he doing a bang-up job here).

      The main issue I have with these charges is that the prosecution abandoned any ethical consideration, and they are ethically bound not to bring charges where there is no case.

      Thanks for the great job you’re doing here. I eagerly look forward to your posts (especially where I’ve missed something during my nap). If you’re in the Sanford area during the ensuing riots following a not guilty verdict I’ll get you a Harley and we’ll take a ride and watch the smoke settle over Lake Monroe from the deck of The Black Hammock bar.

I can’t believe all the people elsewhere who think (quite emotionally) that the defense is losing this case. These people like to hear the state argue their preconceived case, but the acid test is what the jury takes away.

And unless the jury is poisoned, what they’re learning is that Zimmerman is practically a boy scout — one who took a beating for over a minute, all the while getting no help whatsoever from the very community he served voluntarily, before finally deciding it was all just getting Too Damned Real.

And the jury is learning most of this from the *state’s* own witnesses! Master stroke on the defense’s part to get the State’s CSI tech to confirm Zimmerman’s injuries, and the way Neighborhood Watch coordinator Dorival described him declining a wannabe-cop opportunity.

Part of me wants to see Zimmerman testify, but considering the lineup we’ve seen I know he almost certainly won’t. I don’t think Zimmerman has anything of consequence to hide, but remembering the Richelieu quote, a good cross examination could get you to perjure yourself describing what you had for breakfast: “Omelet? I thought you said ‘eggs’? What’s that you say? Beaten? Why did you beat those innocent eggs???…”

Thank you for the wonderful blog and analysis, Counselor. It’s wonderfully refreshing compared to the virtual lynch mob out there commenting on this poor guy’s trial.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen this “clean” a self-defense case brought to trial, certainly not on a murder charge, in the 20+ years I’ve specialized in this area. Usually the defendant has made SOME kind of tactical or legal error, or has SOME kind of dirt in their background that can be exploited by an aggressive, amoral, and politically motivated prosecutor. If the defendant didn’t they wouldn’t be at trial.

    I think that’s where this State prosecution screwed up, the confused cause and effect. Where a defendant has screwed up, and failed to jump through all the hoops, they typically end up charged and at trial.

    That DOESN’T mean that just because you charge someone and bring them to trial that you’re going to magically find out that they are a giant racist, a seething, hate-filled monster, who only started a Neighborhood Watch Program so they could “profile”, “follow” and “murder” black children.

    There are a lot of dumb criminals out there, and a lot of prosecutors can achieve considerable success putting the dummies, defended only by young and inexperienced pubic defenders, behind bars. It’s quite a different matter to put an innocent man, well defended by a professionally competent legal team, in the klink.

    As Corey and de la Rionda and Mantei and Guy are finding out.

    Surprise, surprise, it’s a little harder for the abusive partner to beat up the little woman when she’s armed.

    And Zimmerman is well-armed, indeed, for this particular legal confrontation. Someday I’d love to hear the detailed story of how he came to rest in the arms of O’Mara and West. Certainly his first couple of lawyers were–well, losers would be too kind.

    –Andrew

It’s very good of you to provide this analysis for those of us who aren’t able to watch the trial. But I have to say your take comes across as very biased on the side of the defense. I don’t doubt the defense is doing a better job. However, the tone of your writing and the descriptions of the prosecutors performance are pretty harsh, while your description of the defense attorney’s performance is glowing in general. For this reason it’s difficult to give your reviews as much credibility as I would like. Just some feedback, as I do really appreciate what you are doing. Thank you.

    Thanks for the kind words, Raider44.

    As for the rest, I neither ask nor expect that you give my reviews any credibility whatever–that’s why I am careful to provide the raw video.

    Please, apply your own judgment to the facts. I am no authority here, I neither claim that title nor want it. I’m merely an observer and communicator.

    I am, of course, applying my own perspective and judgment and life experience and professional knowledge to the situation as I see it–I can hardly help doing so. Please feel free to ignore it all. I won’t take it personally.

    If you and I look at the same data and come to a differing conclusion, it merely means we are two different people–and we knew that already, didn’t we?

    –Andrew

      legacyrepublican in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 1:17 am

      I was taught in 8th grade by my history teacher to ignore bias and look for facts in a news article and come to my own conclusions.

      So much of what we call news today is nothing but opinion with no facts to substantiate the opinion. It is news written for a chorus of sycophants with no facts to support that opinion.

      What I have loved about your reporting Andrew is that while we are the choir you are preaching to with your opinion, you take the time to cite facts and/or link your opinion to documents, articles, and raw facts which are stunningly complete and informative and which also back up your insightful opinion.

      So, I don’t care about your bias even if I do agree with you. What is most important to the readers here is that we are getting a real education in law from you for free which is totally unfair to you but it is making law understandable for us.

      You have no idea how much that means to us.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

        I don’t claim to be “unbiased”. I am very much biased against those who would do harm to innocents. I spent the bulk of my firearms instruction years teaching, for free, women how to protect themselves against violent ex-partners. Are the women I trained and the men I trained them to defend against morally equivalent?

        Of course not.

        I DO however, claim to be fair. I go where the evidence leads me. In this case, the overwhelming majority–really, ALL–the evidence points to Zimmerman being a good neighbor exercising his Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, who was attacked by a foolish and brutally violent young man who thought he could use deadly force against an innocent with impunity, and whose attack was relentless an unceasing until a desperately-fired 115g 9mm tore open his heart.

        If the State has actual evidence to the contrary, they’ve kept it well hidden through more than a year of mandatory mutual discovery.

        In any case, I don’t see the the two people in that above described encounter as being any more morally equivalent than I would a rapist and his victim.

        So, yes, in that sense I am biased, indeed.

        –Andrew

          Mr Branca, I am an outsider, a foreigner, an Australian citizen who just happens to have cousins in the USA. My relatives just happen to be of Hispanic and Australian heritage. (declaration of my interest).

          I am not a lawyer, but I am a person who can understand some legal things, and in this case there is a very clear line that was crossed. It is a clear cut case of self-defense and it should never have ended up coming to trial.

          I have a couple of other declarations to make: (1) One of my cousins was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a gun-owner. No need to go into details about what took place. The perpetrator did in fact threaten my cousin’s daughter – and that is keeping the story very short. (2) just prior to Easter this year my sister was punched in the face by a male attacker. I saw her injuries after a few days had passed and she looked terrible.

          I note those two things for some simple reasons. First in Australia most of us do not own guns and I belong to that group. It does not mean that I am against gun ownership. It is just a fact of life that I have never owned a gun. On the other hand, I accept the reason why so many Americans belief in the right to bear arms and I respect that right.

          This case against Zimmerman is very political. It is not just about the BGI, but some want to turn it into an anti-gun thing. For those who are attempting the anti-gun thing, I suggest looking at the murder statistics again, because a lot of murders are via knives and implements other than guns. A lot of gun deaths are criminal and gun related.

          What would have happened to George Zimmerman if he did not have the firearm that was used that night? I would suggest that he came very close to some very permanent head injuries (thus my mention of my sister’s injuries because she was king hit and was lucky to have not had severe head injuries as well – on top of injuries that she had sustained as a child). George’s injuries were probably worse than the photographs indicated. The clearest that I have seen of the back of his head looked like he had a giant egg, and there was evidence of bruising at the back of the head. There was also evidence of bruising around his eyes.

          George Zimmerman had a right to defend himself that night.

      Raider44 in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you for responding, Mr. Branca. I do appreciate it, along with the information you are providing. I haven’t been watching the videos, it sounds like a good way to supplement your reports. Thanks, again.

    Concern Troll Alert.

Instead of preparing for tomorrow’s witnesses, O’Mara decided his time would be better spent being interviewed by Anderson Cooper, so that’s what he did. Jeez.
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/zimmerman-attorney-to-anderson-cooper-we-do-things-that-are-somewhat-insensitive-to-martin-family/

Regarding this Selene Bahadoor woman, it’s a shame you can’t ask someone who by her own testimony admits that she saw next to nothing how exactly she’s come to be so sure that Zimmerman did what is alleged.

Then again, think of all the people out there, with absolutely no relation to this case, who’ve already convicted him in their minds with even less evidence.

As a bias check, I try to imagine things the other way around between Trayvon and Zimmerman. I was a little surprised to realize that it never works for me when I imagine Trayvon shooting Zimmerman under the same circumstances. But then I realized that’s because I’m not inclined to believe a 17 year old who shoots anybody.

On the other hand, simply swap the skin color on the two people we have here, and I’m going with the black self-defender over the white/Hispanic would-be thug everytime.

But if you really want your mind blown, imagine all the people who go straight to the racial explanation. Swap anything you want, and they’re just gonna side with the black every time, no matter what. You know these people — they’re the first ones in any situation to call everyone else “racist”.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to cpurick. | June 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

    I’d like to ask her point-blank if she signed that petition and lied in court because she’s a racist. Both she and Trademark are black, GZ is “white” – sort of.

I agree that the defense had a good second day, but if Bahadoor had been so extensively “coached” by the prosecution why would she have looked so naive/unprepared under the cross-examination? In some ways she seemed very human and natural in her stumbling responses when pressed about the “left to right movement” issue and how she had never mentioned it before. If coached to any substantial degree it seems unlikely she would have reacted the way she did. And it seemed that the Defense took a bit too much glee in watching here squirm. The all-woman jury might well have found this disturbing, and felt sympathy for her.

All that said, 2nd Degree Murder puts a heavy burden on the State and they have an uphill climb…

    Was it not the very experienced special prosecutor who chose to charge second degree murder? Hmmm, I wonder if she though that charge would get her out of trying the case at all–plea bargain, anyone?–and Zimmerman’s fortitude called her bluff? Curious how rarely she is in the court room, and certainly not active in the prosecution, no? Almost like she didn’t believe in the case. Hmmm . . .

    No inside knowledge here. Just speculating.

    –Andrew

      DennisD in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 2:23 am

      I don’t think the state believes for a second that they can obtain a 2nd conviction. If Z didn’t have injuries (to say nothing of the closest witness who says T was on top) maybe they would. The state’s hoping that the jury settles for manslaughter. I can’t tell you how many people say again and again that Z confronted T and by so doing provoked the altercation that led to the fatal shooting.

      As to self defense, my understanding is that it becomes unjustified if you’re the aggressor. In this case specifically, would any type of following or confronting T verbally qualify? This is obviously a crucial part of this case.

      Thanks.

        You are mistaken.

        If I launch a non-deadly force attack against you (e.g., simple battery), and you respond with non-deadly force, I cannot justify my use of non-deadly force as self-defense, because I was the aggressor (unless i retreat, communicate intention to retreat, etc.).

        If I launch a deadly force attack against you, and you respond with deadly force, I cannot justify my use of deadly force as self defense, because I was the aggressor.

        But if I launch a non-deadly attack, and you respond with DEADLY force, I am entirely entitled to use deadly force in self-defense. I may later be held accountable for my initial use of non-deadly force (e.g., prosecuted for simple battery), but I do not lose my right to save my life from your gun shot simply because I chest-bumped you.

        –Andrew

          DennisD in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 4:32 am

          I can’t imagine that that would work in this case. Maybe if T had a gun, knife, or Z had greater injuries, but this particular fight if Z had started it, under the known circumstances, I don’t see a jury acquitting.

          Thanks for setting me straight on the law.

        @DennisD Trayvon Martin was in fact armed with his fists.

        Those fists were a deadly weapon and should be considered in that way.

        In my view, it is very untrue to claim that Trayvon Martin was unarmed when he used his fists to pummel George Zimmerman.

          Aussie has it right.

          –Andrew

          DennisD in reply to Aussie. | June 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

          “Should be considered that way” is not would be. My feeling is that if Z started the fight with an innocent T then a jury would need more than the fight that ensued, and Z’s claim of T going for the gun, to acquit. Perhaps I’m underestimating juries or defense lawyers but I tend to think not.

Mr. Branca, I just found your blog late on Day 2, and I have to say it’s fascinating reading. This is not my first exposure to this case (by a long shot), but your analysis is interesting and fun to read.

If you happen to swing back through this thread, I’m curious about your opinion on something. I have seen it theorized that MOM possibly didn’t have the petition information until very late, possibly even during Ms. Bahadoor’s testimony. He had asked about the Facebook stuff during cross, but if BDLR hadn’t taken the redirect, MOM would never have gotten the recross that got the credibility destroying petition in. Do you think the “late discovery” theory has any credibility, or do you think it more likely MOM had the petition all along, but held it as an ace in the hole?

I look forward to reading your analysis throughout the duration of this trial.

    Well, the “late discovery” theory is all very “grassy knoll”, isn’t it? Of course, I have no inside knowledge, so I could only speculate. Further, I wouldn’t put myself in the same class as O’Mara and West, so i’ll decline to speculate.

    If it did happen the way you describe, it’s a lucky break, indeed, and will make the movie all the more exciting. 🙂 (Perhaps I can get a cameo.)

    –Andrew

    Jack Long in reply to Matt in FL. | June 26, 2013 at 5:07 am

    This site:

    The Last Refuge AKA Conservative Tree house

    is a group of George Zimmerman activists who appear to be crowdsourcing information about witnesses in real time.

    Their live thread posters had the FB and petition info on Ms. Bahadoor before Mr. Omara brought it up in cross. They were hoping he would bring it up and were pleased as punch when he did.

    I don’t know if there is a relation to these events, that is, if defense team employees are monitoring (if they are legally allowed to monitor) web traffic and supplying vetted information they find there to the defense in court. In this case, the petiton page signature would have vetted itself.

    Mr. Omara using his laptop to display the petition site rather than a print out causes me to believe he may have received the information in real time.

      Elliott in reply to Jack Long. | June 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Since social media was used early in pressuring for an arrest by the Martin family and counsel, and the O’Mara group has used it extensively to put out information and raise defense funds, I would guess that research into the social media of all of the witnesses as well as the potential jurors has been extensive. And since social media can be deleted I would also guess that it was screen captured for possible use last summer or at least when they became aware of someone as a potential witness. Crowd-sourcing is possible but probably not needed. I would add that Beasley is also collecting evidence for lawsuits since being brought in last summer. They already have evidence collected most certainly.

Here’s a question for you, Andrew: Do you suppose Corey and BDLR actually believe this one-man conspiracy theory they’re trying to build?

I’m having a hard time imagining, regardless of how they might have met up, why George Zimmerman would have done anything other than ask stranger Trayvon Martin why he was walking through the neighborhood.

It’s as if the prosecution’s taking the tragic outcome we have and ascribing the worst possible motives instead of taking the simplest explanation that’s been offered from the very first moments after the shooting.

The prosecution’s explanation sounds contrived. I find it hard to believe they even accept it themselves.

On the other hand, the defense’s account sounds like something we all fear could happen to ourselves one day.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to cpurick. | June 26, 2013 at 4:06 am

    The State effectively shut its eyes, stuck its thumbs in its ears calling “nanny nanny nanny nanny” for political reasons when Occam’s Razor reared its elegant head.

It’s fairly obvious from your question that you’re not a lawyer. (That’s a good thing–with luck, you’re designing my next motorcycle or figuring out how I can home-print a 1911.)

It matters not a whit whether Corey and BLDR believe anything in particular.

Their algorithm, so to speak, is “Can we build a compelling narrative of guilt around the facts in evidence that are admissible to the jury (or, if necessary, via mere speculation, innuendo, and table pounding).”

Their personal beliefs are inconsequential and have nothing to do with the matter whatever.

–Andrew

    cpurick in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Actually, there is still an ethical side to this. It’s one thing to try a case if a plausible alternative explanation exists. But it’s ethically quite another if you know going in that your case is a complete fabrication. At some point it’s got to intersect the same moral plane as suborning perjury.

    Isn’t there an ethical difference between seeing that Trayvon Martin’s shooter is lawfully tried and attempting to crucify someone as service to a racially charged political agenda?

    I guess my question is whether Corey (who is even less lovable in person, btw) and BDLR think they’ve solved The Mystery of What Really Happened to Trayvon or if they’re actually attempting to railroad an innocent man in their minds.

    I’m not sure I ever want to reach the point where I can do that with people’s lives, no matter what it pays.

Great read Mr. Branca. I watched this on the net today and you covered it perfectly. I almost fell out of my chair laughing when O’Mara nailed Bahadoor with the petition.

Perhaps I missed this as I just started reading this blog yesterday. What are the pedigrees of the defense counsel (age, education and practice experience)? Are they law partners or only associates for this case?

Excellent summary and analysis done with an acute judgment.

And, the comments are intelligent – mostly.

Keep-on keepin’-on

I’ve peeked in on LI now and again when linked from elsewhere (particularly the Baen’s Bar forum, run by Baen Books), but never really followed it regularly… until now (even going as far as to register with WP, in stead of lurking anonymously as I had been doing previously).

I work third shift, so that means that for the most part I’m sleeping during the day and thus it’s not really convenient to watch things as they happen. Reading this and going back to your previous posts on the case, I want to thank you for your efforts in documenting this case more thoroughly than the mainstream press, going into the details that they gloss over (if not ignore completely) because it doesn’t match Pravda.

The links and video clips you provide are much more useful than the factoids (you know, kind of like a fact, but not) that most of the press is reporting in short “sound bite” sized clips, and help this non-lawyerly layman understand some of the finer details (I don’t even have TV “law” knowledge to back me up; I rarely watch TV any more and even when I was I almost never watched lawyer or cop shows, with CBS’s “The District” [2000-2004] being the only exception that I can recall).

In short, thank you for your efforts.

We have the Senator Marco Rubio interview posted now on CC:

http://commoncts.blogspot.com/2013/06/audio-rubio-senate-bill-does-what.html

can someone please edit the post and add spoiler tags around the media?
the reason is so many embeded media items is making this one page take minutes to load due to wait time from the sources.

perspicacity | June 26, 2013 at 7:04 am

A portion of the re-cap states that the government’s evidence, thus far, is only “circumstantial”. In my (midwestern) state, the jury is instructed to give equal weight to circumstantial and direct evidence. A conviction can be obtained on only circumstantial evidence. Is this not the case in Mass? Also, are the cross-examination references quotes? If so, why wouldn’t they use leading questions to avoid letting the government witnesses take a ride while injecting prejudicial information? My less than complete knowledge of this case leads me to believe that the government wants to get a conviction by virtue of jury nullification. A sad, but often repeated, situation.

    Ragspierre in reply to perspicacity. | June 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Just a couple of notes here; leading questions are not going to prevent a witness from “running”. O’Mara could have asked, “You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”, and STILL gotten, “My sister”. Leading questions have their primary power in building a narrative in small chunks that TEND to keep a witness in a chute of your building. Some witnesses REALLY resist that, and judges will often indulge that. You have to be skillful enough to telegraph to the jury that the witness is hiding something when the judge won’t instruct the witness to answer responsively.

    Second, juries tend to take their job very seriously. We all know of cases where that has not been so (OJ is one). But as a general rule, juries are quite good. I’ve had a trial or two that returned results I was surprised at, but realized in retrospect the jury saw stuff in my client I had not at the time. I’ve also had a case where the jury simply went bawls-up. I still believe in juries, just like I believe in democracy.

Did anyone else notice how the defense, during cross, made it a point to stop referring to the scene tech as Officer Smith, and point out she isn’t actually an officer?

Seemed subtle, but purposeful.

perspicacity | June 26, 2013 at 8:19 am

I should have said Florida, not Mass. (my apologies). Also, thanks to the posters above for the puns (“Jury of one’s Piers” and “All-red”).

    legacyrepublican in reply to perspicacity. | June 26, 2013 at 9:06 am

    If you need more puns, go to punpunpun.com.

    In fact, I would love to challenge Ragspierre ( and Andrew too ) to a pun off at the next O’Henry Pun Off in Austin. Groans at 50 paces. Much more pun than paintball because self defense here is classified as verBALL PUNishment.

legacyrepublican | June 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

Just read up on Witness #8 and her possible testimony. Yeah, she has a boatload of problems. But, the dialogue she quotes is consistent with self-defense.

Read it this way.

TM tells girlfriend, witness #8, that a “white guy is following him.” That is a racist statement. GZ was the one in fact profiled.

TM, hiding around the corner, comes up behind GZ who is looking down the street for the man in a hoodie and says “Why are you following me?”

GZ turns around is startled to find that someone is right behind him and says “Why are you here?”

TM, a angry racist 17 year old, then launches into a vicious attack to to this white boy a lesson.

Seems to me that the defense could prove that Zimmerman was attacked from behind and thereby put a stake in the heart of the prosecution case.

Zimmerman was punched in the face, knocked down, and ended up with Martin on top bashing his head into the pavement. This wouldn’t have happened if Zimmerman had been facing Martin. Zimmerman would have pulled his gun before Martin got that close. He would have shot him after being punched in the face.

The only explanation that makes sense is that Zimmerman was walking back to his car with his back to Martin when he was attacked. Which is what he said in his statement to the police.

I am a Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps and (for a short while) was a prosecutor. However, it was early in my career and to say that I was inexperienced would be an understatement. The reason I tell you all of this is two highlight two points:

First, your coverage has been excellent, substantive, detailed, and intriguing. Thank you for your hard work on this.

Second, your commentary could/should be read by all criminal trial attorneys as an instruction manual on dos and don’ts. It has truly been fascinating.

[…] Zimmerman Trial | Live video | Prosecution Witnesses […]

Thank you, Mr. Branca. I hope you are right and that George Zimmerman will be found not guilty. However, I shudder to think about the very real possibility of lives lost from the riots surly to come after the not guilty verdict.
I have no legal background.
Having lost my own son from a drunk driver two years ago my heart at first went out to Trayvon Martin’s parents. However, after watching the parents participate in turning this case into a political media circus, I no longer feel the same way.
My concern is about George Zimmerman’s life.
I am appalled by the lynch mob mentality from what seems to be the majority of our country. Al Sharpton coming out of the woodwork didn’t surprise me, but since when does the president of the United States involve himself in a local city law enforcement matter?
I was relieved to come across this website. Thank you for making this website available to the public!

Lina Inverse | June 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

but since when does the president of the United States involve himself in a local city law enforcement matter?

The answer of course is “when it will materially help his next election in 8 months” … and he’s unprincipled enough to use it.

I hope the Defense presents a strong forensic case.
I have read online that the gun was found with a round fired, but an empty chamber, likely the result of something preventing the slide from normal operation.

I also read that Trayvon had either powder residue or burns on his hands, which could be indicia of his attempt to gain control of the gun.

I would think that even the introduction of the cleaned up photo’s of GZ’s head trauma would be fatal to the State’s case- but this is America, and you never know… After all, we bought the pet rock and elected Obama twice… (Bush too!:)

[…] summary of the second day of testimony is very enlightening.  He […]

regarding the cries for help. It seems to me that the cries came from Zimmerman while receiving trauma to his face and head. I don’t believe that kind of cry would come from someone with a gun pointed at him. Would Zimmerman be silent while receiving his injuries? I doubt it.

[…] Zimmerman Trial Day 2 –Analysis of State’s Witnesses […]

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