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Zimmerman Attorney Mark O’Mara Named “National Criminal Trial Lawyer of 2013”

Zimmerman Attorney Mark O’Mara Named “National Criminal Trial Lawyer of 2013”

Attorney Mark O’Mara is, of course, the lawyer who last summer successfully represented George Zimmerman against second degree murder charges for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Throughout my coverage of the trial here at Legal Insurrection I frequently noted how O’Mara’s cool demeanor and outstanding legal skills — along with the somewhat less cool but still outstanding Don West — contrasted starkly with the often outlandish, loud, and unfocused efforts of the State prosecutors in their efforts to obtain a conviction.

Well, it seems I’m not the only one who noticed O’Mara’s outstanding work. The National Trial Lawyers professional association have named O’Mara the National Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year for 2013, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

Earlier this month the Orland-Sentinel interviewed O’Mara and explored such issues as how his law practice has changed following the Zimmerman trial, some of the behind-the-scenes efforts required to keep his law practice alive while defending a case that couldn’t cover its costs, and his expectations for ever getting fully paid by George Zimmerman:

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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A superb choice, I must say. . . .

    If only they had an award for crappiest prosecutorial team . . .

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 23, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      George Zimmerman has given Prosecutor Angela Corey an award of sorts. His second painting is titled ‘Angie’

      Great work, George.

      nomadic100 in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Andrew, I’m not a lawyer and have no standard for judging legal expertise but did the prosecution do that badly? I watched the case from beginning to end. And if they did “that badly,” could they have been semi-motivated to lose, recognizing that they had a bad case from the outset?

        Were I inclined to be gracious I’d say they did the best with an impossible prosecution that should never have been brought.

        Except they hid exculpatory evidence and lied in open court in order to convict an innocent man.

        So, I’m not inclined to be gracious.

        Still don’t understand why not one of them has been censored, disbarred, jailed.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        seeing_eye in reply to nomadic100. | January 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

        I am not a lawyer either, but I followed this case from the beginning when the media first began to instigate a lynch mob mentality throughout the entire nation. I also watched very closely the trial. It’s my opinion the Zimmerman prosecution team was extremely focused on getting a conviction and would have done anything, ethical or unethical, legal or illegal, to accomplish it. The only reason they failed, IMO, was due to their ineptness and the fact there was never any evidence of a crime having been committed by Zimmerman.

      platypus in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 24, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Whoa there, Andrew. Where’s your sense of brotherly affection for your fellow legal laborers? 🙂

Is the the same “National Trial Lawyers” which gave Gloria Allred a Life Achievement Award?

MouseTheLuckyDog | January 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm

In other news George has put his second painting on sale.
This one is called Angie.

Humphrey's Executor | January 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I assume that defendants in notorious can and do agree to give defense counsel a percentage of any book/movie rights to “their story” as part of a fee arrangement. Anything wrong with that, per se?

    I’ve never heard of such an arrangement. In my experience, any kind of contingency arrangement is not permitted in criminal cases, although of course very common in civil trials.

    But my experience in such matters is rather limited (as it would be for most lawyers).

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Bruce Hayden in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

      At least in my experience, contingency fees in criminal and ethics cases are unethical. Specifically barred by disciplinary rules. Not sure though if book sales would be considered a contingency fee, per se.

(The Zimmerman case seemed pretty open-and-shut to me from the standpoint of reasonable doubt. Nothing happened to change my attitude as the case progressed, so I didn’t follow it attentively on the merits. I viewed it more as an example of the country’s, especially the Left’s, worsening political pathology.)

That said, my reaction to the O’Mara clip: Here is the low-key combination of decency, competence, and grace under pressure which once was viewed as quintessentially American. Hopefully we will recover our soul and it will be viewed that way again.

Isn’t this called the Johnnie Cochran Award? “If da glove don’ fit, you mus acquit.”

“If you can keep you head when all about you
are losing theirs, and blaming it on you…..”
R. Kipling

I always thought that quote fit defense attorneys especially well.

    platypus in reply to Valerie. | January 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Especially since most of their clients are, in truth, guilty of the charges. Very few criminal defendants are innocent, though in many cases there is not enough evidence to convict.

Exceptional man, O’Mara.

Would that he weren’t, that all who practice law (and it’s evil companion, politics) had the same set of traits – principled honesty, common decency, dedication, humility and respect for others, thereby rendering him simply ‘average’.

OK, so it’s a pipe dream… at least let me fantasize.

    You and me both.

    Fact that world isn’t that way is why we have arms.

    In case the dummies get seriously silly, start building camps.

    Not that anything like THAT is possible. Oh, wait.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

I am a 70 something retired trial lawyer with over 200 criminal and civil trials under my now quire expanded belt, so I don’t come to this discussion empty handed.

I watched the Zimmerman trial from gavel to gavel (as only retired persons, specialty professors like our host Mr. Branco, or reporters could do). Those who did as I did IMO witnessed one of the very finest performances by a trial lawyer (and btw, by the entire defense team I have seen. Ane alll of this was under the intense scrutiny of live hour by hour national and international press coverage so that any gaffe would have been trumpeted from sea to shining sea.

I am convinced Clarence Darrow could have done no better.

What impressed me most was Mr. O’Meara’s quiet, professional demeanor throughout the proceedings, and the technical skill of the entire defense team.

Boxing in an overzealous prosecution team and a trial judge whose sympathies and rulings seemed to me to favor the prosecution unless forced to do otherwise, took overarching courage and skill.

Trial Advocacy teachers now have another classic example in O’Meara and West of what it takes to be a quality advocate.

Sorry I misspelled your last name, Andrew. You performed a great service allowing me and others like me to follow the trial with relative ease.

While I was in awe of O’Mara’s performance in every facet of the case and know of no greater effort by a defense attorney last year, it troubles me that the award goes to the lawyer for an obviously innocent person (given the undisputed facts) defending a political hit prosecution.

IMHO, any average lawyer should have been able to win that case without extraordinary effort. That it took a lawyer with the ability of O’Mara and performing at the top of his game speaks very ill of our criminal justice system.

    Exiliado in reply to Estragon. | January 24, 2014 at 6:38 am

    I would consider that an extra merit.
    The whole Zimmerman trial was a corrupt abomination conducted by corrupt politicians (are you listening, Eric holder?) and executed by their corrupt minions.
    (are you listening, Angie, Bernie, Richie ?)

    The defense team was not just defending George Zimmerman. They were defending each and every one of us who still believe in the separation of powers.
    And they accomplished that pro-bono, against the unlimited resources of the state of Florida and the US Department of Justice combined.

      rantbot in reply to Exiliado. | January 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      And they accomplished that pro-bono,

      That part seems to have grown a bit more complicated.

      seeing_eye in reply to Exiliado. | January 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      This is the reason I’ve been an advocate for Zimmerman in this case. It’s because of the political persecution of an American citizen. I intend to continue to support him in any way I can all over the Internet whenever the opportunity arises. I am still extremely upset about the political persecution against him and his family …. which continues to this day. The reason I am upset by this is not because I know any of the Zimmermans personally (I do not), but because I know, if this can happen to an innocent and responsible family as the Zimmermans, it can happen to any of us.

Let me add a bit about the business end of the practice of law. It’s commendable that O’Mara took this case over from George’s prior unimpressive attorneys, knowing that he would probably not get paid, and knowing that his practice would suffer in the short run financially. There are certain ‘intangibles’ one considers in taking on such a case, and I believe Mr. O’Mara has been properly rewarded with this award for his efforts.

With the entire weight of the dishonest state bearing down, Zim was exonerated.
Give Mark and the jury their due.

Even Atticus Finch couldn’t save Tom Robinson.

This honor is richly deserved. If you watched footage of the trial, you saw what a stellar job O’Mara and his co-counsel and support staff did, zealously advocating on behalf of their client in the face of this insane, farcical witch hunt, shredding charges which never should have been brought in the first place.

Zimmerman had his liberty, financial prospects and very safety threatened by the State in the most tyrannical and unjust manner possible, to say nothing of the stress inflicted on he and his family, and the destructive effect the entire sordid episode has had on his personal relationships.

Congratulations, counselor, on a job very well done.

And, I also express my thanks to Mr. Branca for his insightful and illuminating commentary during that trial, and which he continues to provide with respect to self-defense and other legal issues, on this website. It’s always instructive to read his thoughts on these issues.

    Haha, thanks for the kind words. And by now I’m sure you’re familiar with my canned rejoinder to a kind word:

    You know the best way to say thanks, right? 🙂, “Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition.”

    Now with the new & improved “specify how you’d like it autographed” feature. 🙂

    (Also available from Amazon, B&N, etc., but no autographs for those, I never see them.)

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense