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Prosecutor of George Zimmerman Loses Bid for Re-Election

Prosecutor of George Zimmerman Loses Bid for Re-Election

Angela Corey’s controversial decisions as prosecutor angered many voters

Yesterday Angela Corey, the prosecutor who dragged George Zimmerman into a hapless politically-motivated trial for second degree murder for the lawful killing of Trayvon Martin, has soundly lost the GOP primary race for her re-election as 4th Judicial State Attorney in the Jacksonville area of Florida, reports the Florida-Times Union newspaper.  Corey was defeated by a relatively late entrant into the primary, former corporate lawyer and prosecutor Melissa Nelson.

Melissa Nelson

Technically, Nelson must now go on to win the general election in order to secure Corey’s seat, but there seems little question that she will be successful in this effort according to the Florida-Times Union:

Nelson must still defeat write-in candidate Kenny Leigh in the general election before she officially becomes the state-attorney elect, but no write-in candidate has ever been elected to a state attorney position in Florida and Leigh has not raised any money or made any campaign appearances.

Corey had proven an extremely polarizing figure as prosecutor.  Her decisions, while not always legally inappropriate, too often managed to anger sizable and powerful portions of her constituents.

To readers of this blog Corey will be most infamous for her role in bringing George Zimmerman up on second degree murder charges in what would ultimately prove to be, in this writer’s humble opinion, perhaps the cleanest self-defense shooting ever brought to trial.  While Zimmerman’s trial always reeked of political motivations, private conversations I had after the trial with attorneys familiar with the case confirmed this to almost certainly have been the case.

When Corey made the decision to prosecute Zimmerman she was also then facing a tough fight for re-election.  Of particular concern to political aspirations was the extent to which Corey had angered the black community in the Jacksonville area.  Two cases in particular had raised the ire of this demographic among her constituency:  the prosecution of Marissa Alexander under Florida’s “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentencing statute for firing a “warning shot” at Alexander’s husband, and the 2011 prosecution of 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez as an adult on murder charges.  Both Alexander and Fernandez are black.

For what it’s worth, I believe Corey was appropriate in her approach to the Alexander case.  Alexander was first offered a three-year plea deal after she fired a shot past her husband’s head, while he stood beside his two young children (they would testify in court that they thought they were going to die).  Other than Alexander’s later self-serving testimony there was no evidence whatever that her husband had presented a deadly force threat to Alexander, and her narrative was not helped when Alexander fled the scene and it was her husband who called the police to report the incident.  As for the Fernandez case I have no particular opinion, having not followed the case closely.  There appears to have been little question, however, that Fernandez had in fact murdered his victim–the only question was whether as a 12-year-old he should have been tried as an adult.

Regardless of the merits of either the Alexander or Fernandez cases, much of the black community in Corey’s electorate was outraged by these decisions, leading to protest marches led by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.  The danger to Corey’s re-election was clear and present. What to do, what to do, what to do?

That’s when George Zimmerman popped up on Corey’s radar screen, appearing to her eye as the perfect lever by which she could regain favor with the black community.  A “white hispanic” named “Zimmerman” shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a black teenager?  Corey grabbed the case with both hands and ran as if her (political) life depended on it, charging Zimmerman with second-degree depraved heart murder in what local prosecutors and police had already correctly concluded was an open-and-shut case of lawful self-defense.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than Corey when the local, national, and even international media decided to come fully on board to help advance her false narrative of second-degree murder.  The result was an organized tsunami of false narratives and outright lies intended to railroad George Zimmerman into a wrongful life sentence in prison.

As one example, Trayvon Martin was widely portrayed as a 12-year-old child, instead of the 17-year-old muscular budding young criminal that the evidence (much of it excluded from the trial, in no small part to it being concealed by prosecutors) suggested he was at the time of his death.

Zimmerman was portrayed as having chased down a Martin desperately fleeing for safety, when in fact the evidence overwhelmingly suggested that Martin viciously ambushed Zimmerman the moment that Zimmerman hung up the phone with police, with whom Zimmerman had been in constant communication until the moment of Martin’s attack.

Even such notable legal “experts” as then-CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin were taken in by these false narratives, to the point at which she would wager $100 with this correspondent on their truth, only to be proven wrong.  (No, she’s never made good on her debt.  I have no idea whether that has anything to do with the fact that she no longer appears to be employed by CNN.)

Perhaps most egregious, exculpatory evidence was discovered by prosecutors and then effectively hidden from Zimmerman’s defense counsel until the trial was already underway, a point at which it was too late for the defense team to evaluate and apply that exculpatory evidence in Zimmerman’s defense.

Indeed, so many and varied were the false narratives built around the Zimmerman trial that I’ve been compelled to aggregate them for purposes of efficiency:  Zimmerman Trial Redux: Busting the Myths Again.

The change in Corey’s electoral prospects following her decision to prosecute Zimmerman was dramatic.  Where before there had been protest marches by black activists demanding that Corey be removed from office, now Corey found herself at the head of these marches, demanding that Zimmerman be convicted, actual facts be damned, and sentenced to life imprisonment for having defended himself from a vicious and life-threatening attack.  Some protest marches even involved activists from the New Black Panthers distributing “wanted: dead or alive” bounty posters for the murder of George Zimmerman.

As an interested party who watched every moment of the Zimmerman trial, I was astonished each day that not only were prosecutors not able to build a compelling narrative of guilt within the bounds of the actual law within the court room (as opposed to within the media narrative outside), each day their narrative of guilt actually became weaker.  At the end, Prosecutor John Guy (now a Florida judge) was left with nothing to argue to the jury but an emotion-laden plea to find Zimmerman guilty because emotion.  We documented both the prosecutors’ and defense closing arguments here:  Zimmerman Defense Gives Evidence-Rich Closing, State Appeals to “Heart”.

To their great credit, the jury declined to do so. Over 14 months were expended on George Zimmerman’s prosecution and trial.  In the end, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict of not guilty in a matter of mere hours.  (Incidentally, you can view all of our day-to-day coverage of the Zimmerman trial here:  The Zimmerman Files: Aggregated day-by-day live coverage & analysis.)

This outcome presented with Corey with several substantive dangers to the security of her political position.  Whereas she had regained the support of the black community for prosecuting Zimmerman, now some in that community angrily argued that she had deliberately lost the trial, that it had all been a ruse.  After all, Corey had been arguing for more than a year that Zimmerman was clearly guilty of second degree murder–so what other than deliberate malfeasance had prevented her from obtaining a conviction?  In the meantime the Marissa Alexander case re-emerged as Alexander won a re-trial, further angering the black community in the Jacksonville area.

Meanwhile, Corey’s support by white conservative voters in the area took an enormous blow as a direct result of her efforts to portray Zimmerman’s clear act of self-defense as depraved-heart second-degree murder.  For the lawful gun owner fearful that they, too, might someday have to defend themselves against a vicious, life-threatening attack it suddenly seemed not at all unlikely that Prosecutor Angela Corey might try to get them railroaded into a life sentence if doing so would advance her personal political ambitions.

In the light of all this it is perhaps not surprising that in yesterday’s GOP primary election Melissa Nelson defeated Corey in Nassau County by 32 points (57% to 25%), in Duval County by 38 points (65% to 27%), in Clay County by a full 41 points (64% to 23%), according to Jacksonville news station WOKV.    As the saying goes, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer gal.

Those of us who comment on legal matters often bemoan the state of the judiciary, remarking on the odd decisions of this or another crazy judge somewhere.  And it’s true that judges wield great discretionary power within their courtrooms.

Outside the courtroom, however, it is largely the prosecutor who wields the greatest degree of arbitrary power concentrated in a single position.  Prosecutors are granted enormous discretion (and legal immunity!) for the decisions they make in the course of their duties.  Such power can, and generally is, used to pursue genuine justice, both in seeking and in deferring to seek prosecution in particular cases.

Unfortunately, such power is also subject to outright and vicious abuse, and often for personal political advantage.  In the case of Angela Corey prosecuting George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin we were presented with precisely such an instance of abuse.

I, at least, shall not miss her.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

P.S.  Many of you may have heard that I’ve re-located from Boston to Denver, the move being one reason for my lack of posts here in the last month or so.  In celebration of that successful escape from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (and my newly acquired ability to lawfully install a collapsible stock on my AR “modern sporting rifle”), as well as to offset some of our moving expenses, we are running a 20% discount on our world-class “Law of Self Defense Instructor Program.”  This program is the equivalent of a full semester law school seminar on self-defense law, if any law school taught such a thing, which to my knowledge they do not.  The sale runs only through this Sunday, so don’t delay. (If you are Military/LEO, you can also apply our 15% MIL/LEO discount.)  You can learn more details about the program here.

Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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Welcome to the free world Andrew. Colorado is what your GS was made for.

UnCivilServant | August 31, 2016 at 1:56 pm

No offense, but I spotted a typo

Corey had proven an extremely polarizing figure as prosecutor. Here decisions, while not always legally inappropriate, too often managed to anger sizable and powerful portions of her constituents.

I think you meant “Her decisions”.

Corey is the gift that keeps on giving… She lost her election, but Hillary is using Sabrina Fulton in her campaign… because Corey put the there there.

Real justice for Corey would be for her & the corrupt slimeball who appointed her, Pam Bondi, to get the Full Nifong, but this is a start.

Being a good prosecutor is hard. It’s work I would not do, largely out of fear of becoming a demi-tyrant as I see some of the prosecutors I’ve known do.

If you have some good ones in your local area, let them know you appreciate them, and why you appreciate them.

Work hard to get rid of the other kind.

    Arminius in reply to Ragspierre. | September 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Being a good prosecutor is hard work. Clearly Corey has an aversion to hard work. Especially when it’s not work she ever had an interest in from the start.

      Ragspierre in reply to Arminius. | September 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I have to disagree with your premise.

      Being a prosecutor is actually pretty easy work, as trial advocacy goes. A prosecutor has support many of us would love to have, and have not. They also usually start from a strong advantage in the minds of the jury.

      My point was not about the relative difficulty of the work they do, but the difficulty that many of them have, being human beings, of not letting their power go where it never should.

        Arminius in reply to Ragspierre. | September 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

        That’s what I meant. As I said in a later comment about one of her partners in crime, a prosecutor has an ethical duty to do justice, not just try to get convictions. Corey clearly didn’t care about her ethical duties.

AmericaBeautiful | August 31, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Why wasn’t she disbarred for her atrocious conduct???

Humphrey's Executor | August 31, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Off Topic: Anyone know whatever happened to the case of the retired LEO who shot the guy who threw popcorn on him in the movie theater?

    Curtis Reeves is confined to his home by ankle bracelet monitoring awaiting trial, which is not expected to occur until at least next year.

      Reeves’ SYG hearing isn’t even scheduled until Feb. ’17., I believe, so the trial (if it ever happens) won’t be until some weeks or months after that, I would imagine.

      Almost seems as if the State doesn’t really want to prosecute the case. Or as if the defense is skillfully dragging things out. If things drag out long enough, Reeves will have died of natural causes before he goes to trial.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Hallelujah! You made my day. The people of Florida win.

Great look at this case and hopefully it closed for good.

During the trial I was in a blog debate with a teacher from Denver. I pointed out the how the grand jury had not indicted Zimmerman and it’s unusual for a DA to get a felony charge without it. The teacher thought some friends of mine and I were “nuts” because we did not see White-Hispanic (serious question, have you heard that term since this trial, or in reference to any other person) George Zimmerman was a racist murderer and needed to be put away for 10, 000 years, etc. I pointed out I was not making a judgement on the man’s guilt or innocence, but that the defense was saying this was a legal use of deadly force, i.e. Zimmerman had reasonable fear for his life or serious bodily injury. And the prosecution’s witnesses were backing up the defense with every statement. I can’t remember who said “Martin was on Zimmer WWF style…” And the disaster of the Rachel Jeantel “testimony,” where she couldn’t read the note she supposedly wrote to herself. Haven’t seen such a “colossal blunder” since Sandy Stern nailed “Painless” Kumagai in Presumed Innocent.

    Char Char Binks in reply to MikeAT. | August 31, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    That teacher’s attitude is very common. The Zimmerman case seemed to cause a lot of otherwise reasonable people to completely lose their bearings. That has repeated with Darren Wilson, Eric Garner, etc., and every well-known #blacklivesmatter case so far, and even with Ryan Lochte.

    VaGentleman in reply to MikeAT. | August 31, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    I doubt you will get your wish. The case is foundational for Black Lives Matter, so the lies will continue. More appalling is that I know 4 liberal lawyers who all believe that Zimmerman was guilty and was only spared by the prejudices of the ‘white cracker’ justice system in FL. The divide and the lies will continue so long as the progressives profit from them.

People weren’t mad at Corey because she chose to prosecute, they were mad because she chose to prosecute without any Grand Jury input and because some of her actions were – questionable – to say the least. Down right scummy, actually.

” I was astonished each day that not only were prosecutors not able to build a compelling narrative of guilt within the bounds of the actual law within the court room”

This was especially so since they seemed to have the Judge helping them out, lol.

P.S. Congratulations on the Great Escape! I know you have been waiting patiently for it to be possible.

smalltownoklahoman | August 31, 2016 at 6:43 pm

This story brought a big ol’ smile to my face today! Good to see the people of Florida stand up and rid themselves of her!

It looks like Corey has packed on about 50 lbs. More Karma!

So, John Guy is now a judge !?

If it was up to me, Angela Corey, Bernie de la Rionda, John Guy and Richard Mantei would all be disbarred.
They cannot, in my opinion, hide behind the “I was doing my job” bull. It was their ethical duty to seek justice according to the law, and according to the law this was a clear cut case of self defense. The entire prosecution team is, in my opinion, ethically at fault. Big time.

That said, if I ever had to be in court accused of anything, I would fear to be treated unfairly if the judge was John Guy.

    Arminius in reply to Exiliado. | September 1, 2016 at 11:48 am


    “For the lawful gun owner fearful that they, too, might someday have to defend themselves against a vicious, life-threatening attack it suddenly seemed not at all unlikely that Prosecutor Angela Corey might try to get them railroaded into a life sentence if doing so would advance her personal political ambitions.”

    Now it’s not at all unreasonable to fear this judge will railroad you regardless of the law. But simply because he feels like it. That was the only appeal he had to make to the jury. Now he gets to make that same emotional appeal, regardless of the law, when he issues jury instructions.

    I would hope, if I ever had to resort to deadly force in lawful self-defense and drew this character as the judge, that simply showing the video of his despicable conduct as a prosecutor would be enough to get the case transferred to another court room.

    Prosecutors have an ethical duty to not only get convictions but to do justice. Since he already demonstrated he couldn’t do the latter as a prosecutor there’s no reason to believe he’ll miraculously gain the ability to do so now that he’s wearing a black robe.

Interestingly enough, many black Democrat voters switched to Republican, just so they could vote against Corey. This, in turn, led to the defeat of indicted Congresswoman Corrine Brown. It’s been a wonderful primary here in Jacksonville!

What happened to the unlawful discharge suit of her employee, who was fired for doing the right thing and supplying the defense with information from Trayvon’s phone?

Corey is the Lois Lerner of the State of Florida. Ordered, and willingly complying, by Bondi and Scott, to “make this go away” by prosecuting a man innocent of any crime.

Now the man is ruined, a shell of what he could have been, unable to function in this society. If he were a black rapper it would be all good- and probably a good record in it.

But no. Ruined because every election cycle Obama was ginning up the black vote by creating a crisis. Wait till November when we will see BLM and New Black Panthers at key voting locations intimidating voters. With Obama’s approval (and HRC and Soros and….)

I’m glad she’s gone. Expect her to pop up in federal employ soon.

Went to your web site and couldn’t find any mention of your move. So, I will take this opportunity as a Colorado native to welcome you to the Mile High state.

Let me caution you just to be careful in the City and County of Denver itself. It is, of course, one of the places where being armed is the most important, but is also a (somewhat) big city with all of the problems going with such, including liberal politicians running it for their personal profit. One of the reasons for Shall Issue was how rediculous Denver had gotten about guns. Only friends of the mayor (who apparently appoints the sheriff who issues CCW permits) got CCW permits, and the police arrested anyone carrying without one. If the butt of the gun was visible, it was considered brandishing, and if not, concealed (being carried w/o the license the city wouldn’t issue you). Then Denver residents started driving to C. Springs, where the Republican sheriff there was issuing permits to most everyone who applied.

One thing to keep in mind is that Denver is a Home Rule city. I don’t know all that means, and they are, by far, the biggest one. But, importantly, it is the one lace in the state where some of the state wide gun laws do not apply. They tried, in court, to exempt themselves from Shall Issue, and failed, but did succeed in exempting themselves from state preemption of gun laws, or something like that.

That was, of course, before the state seemed to shift sharply to the left a couple years ago, and the Dems in the legislature started enacting anti-gun laws, one of which is the 15 round magazine limit, which results in magazine and gun purchasing issues. Some companies won’t sell any magazines to Coloradoans, and some stores don’t carry some guns as a result (e.g. Mudoch’s in Silverthorne wasn’t selling any Glocks that came with 17 round magazines – including notably their most popular G17 and G19). This sort of nonsense may seem benign for someone from the People’s Republic of MA, but is galling when you walk into any sporting goods store in any adjoining state, and 30 round AR-15 magazines are dirt cheap and ubiquitous, and CO compliant 15 (or fewer) round magazines are non-existent. Esp gallng, of course, is that the biggest vendor of the 30 round mags in a lot of these stores is former CO resident MagPul (which now produces cheap Glock magazines too).

Still, again, welcome, and please let us (or at least me) know if you are going to be speaking around the state.

    Thanks for the welcome, Bruce. We just moved into our new place in south of Denver a week or so ago, so we’re just finishing up the unpacking now. The office is mostly set up at this point, so I expect we’ll be back posting regularly on our own site shortly.

    I did educate myself on the CO gun laws, and the vagaries of Denver in particular, but nevertheless thanks for the heads up. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense