State Wants Zimmerman’s Lawyer Silenced
Judge Debra Nelson – the fourth and hopefully final trial judge in the criminal case against George Zimmerman, who is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin – has been busy lately.
In addition to setting a trial date for June 10, she’s had to handle a gaggle of tit-for-tat motions by both the defense and the state.
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, filed a motion on Oct. 15 to ask the court to address problems the defense has had in getting the right documents and evidence in a timely way from the prosecution. The state responded with a motion for a gag order, filed just before an Oct. 19 hearing over the release of Zimmerman’s medical records and Martin’s school and social media records.
At the hearing on Oct. 19, according to local news reports, the judge ruled that the defense will get access to Martin’s school records as well as his social media accounts. O’Mara was quoted as saying that those records would show the victim’s character and might uncover previous violent behavior.
“There are videos out there suggesting that he involved himself in MMA fighting,” O’Mara said, referring to mixed martial arts, a full-contact, sometimes violent sport that combines boxing, wrestling, judo and karate.
Prosecutors had resisted handing over the school records of Martin, who had been suspended from school for having an empty bag with marijuana residue in it.
Judge Nelson also ruled that the prosecution gets access to Zimmerman’s medical records, at least those for the month before and after the night he shot and killed Martin. “Zimmerman’s medical records could shed more light on the medications he was taking at the time of the shooting,” according to Reuters.
More Tit for Tat
In the defense’s Oct. 12 motion (which remains unaddressed at this point), O’Mara seeks to “schedule standing hearings to address discovery and other case management issues,” complaining that the documents and other discovery materials released by the state have been too difficult to piece together and useless for review by expert witnesses.
O’Mara claims that reports by state experts were missing or incomplete, sketches made by witnesses were not provided with their statements, witness interviews were missing, recordings were unplayable, among other problems alleged by the defense in the motion.
“Discovery requests may become more contentious as the defense moves forward with the discovery process,” according to O’Mara’s Web posting about the motion, which seeks regularly scheduled hearings as a an antidote, as well as the option of assigning another judge solely to manage discovery.
While it is unclear whether the state responded to that motion specifically, it did request a gag order on Oct. 18. This is the state’s second attempt to silence O’Mara.
Since the denial of the first gag order back in April, “this case has continued to have an inordinate amount of media coverage,” says the state in its motion. Zimmerman and O’Mara “have appeared on national television and talked about the case.”
Pointing to O’Mara’s website, his commentary on the case in and to the media and his encouragement of comments through social media, the state says, “Unless Defense Counsel stops talking to the media about the case … it will be more difficult to find jurors who have not been influenced by media accounts of the case.”
“We’re not going to be making any comments between now and Friday when we defend against the state’s motion for a gag order,” says a spokesperson for O’Mara when asked about the pending motions.
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