Angela Corey Fires Whistleblower Who Revealed The Withholding Of Evidence From Zimmerman Defense

AngelaCorey12425930As I mentioned in today’s column, the prosecution team of Angela Corey in the Zimmerman case have been accused of repeated prosecutorial abuse in the withholding of evidence from the defense. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson seemed intent on the most recent charge of withholding text messages to want to avoid the issue, but she earlier held a sanctions hearing with the testimony of the man who brought the violation to the attention of the defense: IT director Ben Kruidbos. Corey has been widely criticized for over-charging the case by experts, including an article out today, and her team was widely criticized for putting on a weak case for prosecution. Now, before Nelson has ruled on her office’s withholding of evidence, Corey has fired Kruidbos. His termination before a ruling on the alleged prosecutorial abuse only strengthens his claims as a whistleblower and throws the ethics of Corey and her office in great question.

Kruidbos received a letter today telling him that he “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.” This obviously angry termination followed his extraction of photos from the cell phone of shooting victim Trayvon Martin that showed a gun, a marijuana plant and jewelry, as well as a text message referring to a gun transaction. Kruidbos was surprised that the evidence was not turned over to the defense — a common violation in criminal cases where prosecutors withhold evidence to prevent its use by the defense.

Corey’s office makes no bones about the primary complaint about Kruidbos, though it throws in a couple of other prior complaints: “Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent. You have proven to be completely untrustworthy. Because of your deliberate, willful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.” This is a curious objection from an office accused of violating core evidentiary rules in a push for conviction at all costs.

I have previously disagreed that the withholding of evidence in this case was minor or just a common practice. The prosecutor handed over the evidence with only days before the trial. That did not leave much time to authenticate the text messages and video which portray Martin as someone with a violent disposition or at least a fascination with violence. This included the filming of a homeless man fighting for a bike as a voice (the defense claimed was Martin) laughing at the disturbing scene. (Previously, the defense wrongly stated that the film showed Martin’s friends beating up a homeless man but they later apologized and said it was a video to two homeless men fighting). Other evidence included text messages talking about violence or showing a gun that the defense wanted to introduce.

The failure to turn over evidence or the delayed disclosure is the most common form of prosecutorial abuse. Handing over such evidence three or four days before a major trial leaves the defense with few options as attorneys are organizing their case and marshaling their witnesses. Corey’s decision to terminate the man who disclosed the withholding of evidence before a ruling on the alleged violations is highly questionable and speaks more to the anger of being called to account for sitting on such evidence. It is an unfortunate reality of high-profile cases that prosecutors will sometimes yield to the pressure to win at any cost as we saw in the Ted Stevens case, the Duke Lacrosse case and other examples of prosecutorial abuse.

Finally, the termination of Kruidbos reflects that same tone-deaf approach that Corey’s office showed at trial. While Nelson seems resistant to the claims of misconduct, most judges would find the timing of this termination of a witness highly problematic before they actually rule on the merits of the violations.

Source: Jacksonville

53 thoughts on “Angela Corey Fires Whistleblower Who Revealed The Withholding Of Evidence From Zimmerman Defense

  1. Aside from the basic unfairness to the defendant (who deserves to see all evidence), prosecutors and judges are undermining the perception that our courts are fair.

  2. Withholding evidence is very bad, even though I get the impression it is also common, even in nonpolitical cases. In a civil case, wouldn’t someone go to jail for this? In a criminal case, where it’s the representative of the state who obstructs justice this way, why don’t prosecutors ever go to jail for it? Am I wrong in thinking that they *never* do? (Well, I am— Nifong, the Duke lacrosse prosecutor served *one day* in jail). Why are judges so incredibly lenient?

    Or is is a selection issue— that is, the prosecutor knows his judge and acts accordingly. Maybe prosecutors in the 7th Circuit obey the law, because there’s a chance Judge Posner or Easterbrook might help a trial judge castrate them.

  3. Actually Prof he was canned on Friday if I recall correctly….the day before the decision….of the jury….like 11:48 am or something like that…l

  4. Prosecution misconduct has always been a part of the criminal justice system. In my 36 years I have seen and felt it in pretrial matters and in jury trial. Judges are hesitant to sanction a prosecutor even when relief is sought by a zealous criminal defense attorney.

    Shame on the prosecutor offices that allow this conduct and the judges who turn a blind eye to it! Defense attorney must remain strong and expose this conduct and seek judicial relief, knowing it will not be well received.

    The oft cited U.S. Supreme Court case that condemned this conduct is:

    Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the prosecution had withheld from the criminal defendant certain evidence. The defendant challenged his conviction, arguing it had been contrary to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    The Supreme Court held that withholding exculpatory evidence violates due process “where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment”; and the court determined that under Maryland state law the withheld evidence could not have exculpated the defendant but was material to the level of punishment he would be given. Hence the Maryland Court of Appeals’ ruling was affirmed.

    A defendant’s request for “Brady disclosure” refers to the holding of the Brady case, and the numerous state and federal cases that interpret its requirement that the prosecution disclose material exculpatory evidence to the defense. Exculpatory evidence is “material” if “there is a reasonable probability that his conviction or sentence would have been different had these materials been disclosed.” Brady evidence includes statements of witnesses or physical evidence that conflicts with the prosecution’s witnesses, and evidence that could allow the defense to impeach the credibility of a prosecution witness.

  5. It appears to me from what I’ve read over the years, that prosecutorial misconduct is rampant. I ask; who are going to prosecute the Prosecutors? Our society must once again acknowledge and accept criminal charges filed to Grand Juries by all Citizens. Even though such a system invites fraudulent or poorly derived causes of action, perhaps there is a method, some level of initiative petition, judges signature or legal co-sponsors for a pro-se plaintiff(s) claim to be heard. We’ve all seen the effects of granting the prosecutorial burden only on the State and it is clearly not acceptable.

  6. It might be a good idea for all to read the actual termination letter.

    http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2013/pdf/7/13/kruidbos.ltr.pdf

    It indicates that Kruidbos had already had his duties greatly curtailed for cause, that the defense received all the info from the cell phone so their own expert could analyze it (and he did and so testified).

    Apparently Kruidbos, without any authority whatsoever, including his job description as a tech, not an expert analyst, took it upon himself to do further analysis. He expected his non-expert report to be passed on to the defense and when it wasn’t, he hired another disgruntled ex-employee who decided to give the information to the defense.

  7. From personal experience, I have found that the DA’s office trains their prosecutors to ignore their oath and prey on the uninformed jurors emotions. Mark O’Mara and Don West are the first real attorneys that I was compelled to listen to every word. Unlike the prosecution dancing around the facts and dragging out the case for lack of evidence. This jury did their job and was well informed, thanks to Mark O’Mara. The crime in this case was an over zealous Angela Corey and heads should roll! She almost single handedly tried to incite a riot and good people doing their job were fired.

  8. If the defense had entered any of that into evidence, which had absolutely nothing to do with how gz profiled Trayvon, the prosecution could have entered in the information about gz’s assault of an undercover officer, his assault and the subsequent restraining order of his ex-fiance, his termination from a job as a bouncer b/c of his anger issues and his assault on a woman by throwing her across a room.

    Trayvon participated in organized 3 round fights. gz initiated violence against a number of people. Not sure if his years of sexual abuse of a younger cousin would have been used. Uncle Jorge remembers how George sounded when he yelled when playing with his kids (=> a young George). Uncle Miguel didn’t testify for his nephew. I suspect that Uncle Miguel is the father of gz’s sexually abused cousin.

  9. P.S. The rules and regulations are unfair to the people when an ineffective prosecutor does not have his evidence and uses the endless taxpayer money to make a name for himself. I do not want my money going to these causes. Months and months of prosecution that never end.

  10. Here is a draft of the Introduction I was asked to write for a book written by retired Judge Stan Billingsley in northern Kentucky in 2009 on the subject of Prosecutorial Accountability:

    BOOKS: Stan Billingsley’s book for sale: “PROSECUTORIAL …
    http://www.uslaw.com › … › Kentucky Blogs › Kentucky Law Blog

    THE CHALLENGE TO ALL CRIMINAL LAW DEFENDERS

    Practicing criminal law as a defender is not for the timid or weak of heart. Accepting a client’s case carries a tremendous responsibility. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. But we accept the challenge because we believe that our client is really entitled to a fair trial. And part of our duties require the calling out of the unethical prosecutor.

    FOR OF THOSE TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS REQUIRED.
    Bible (Luke 12:48)

    We believe the prosecutor should be held accountable and follow the case law, the constitutions, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Rules of Evidence and the Rules of Professional Responsibility. We have an obligation to make sure the prosecutor plays fair.

    I AM NOT AFRAID…I WAS BORN TO DO THIS.
    Joan of Arc

    We have a duty to bring the actions or omissions of the offending prosecutor to the Court’s attention, when the prosecutor is behaving badly. He/she doesn’t follow the court’s pretrial orders or deadlines? Ignores RCr 7.24 and & 7.26? Ignores FRCrP 16? Subpoenas records to their office or have them picked up unethically? Hides favorable evidence or discovery? Ignores Brady materials? Blames errors on the police/lab/witnesses? Fails
    to accept their legal/ethical duties to disclose? Tells their witnesses not to talk to us? Blames everyone else for their sins? You better bow up and go get them!

    THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO BEAT SOMEONE: OUT WORK THEM, OUT THINK THEM, INTIMIDATE THEM.
    Ben Hogan

    File a written motion, make a motion to dismiss, to exclude evidence, to prohibit the use of evidence, cite case law and the governing rules of professional conduct, ABA standards, ethical case law, etc.. Your loyalty is to your client on his/her case only. You can’t flinch or turn your head because you have other cases with that prosecutor or before that judge. You have to man/woman up. Your client is depending on you. You must act even when it will be uncomfortable and unwelcome. You must be aggressive and hold the prosecutor accountable. Write letters to the prosecutor, make motions to compel, ask for Giglio, Rovario, Brady materials, ask for sanctions, ask for a hearing, etc..

    THE ZEALOUS DEFENSE ATTORNEY IS THE LAST BASTION OF LIBERTY-THE FINAL BARRIER BETWEEN AN OVERREACHING GOVERNMENT AND ITS CITIZENS.
    Alan M. Dershowitz

    I’m old school- get up in their face type, if I see an offending conduct. I’ve been told that I’m politically incorrect. You can be civil and respectful and accomplish the same objectives by using your own style and your methods, probably more effectively than this this old, beat up, scarred trial warrior. The manner/method is unimportant- accepting the challenge and acting is all that counts.

    WE, AS CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS, ARE FORCED TO DEAL WITH SOME OF THE LOWEST PEOPLE ON EARTH, PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO SENSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG, PEOPLE WHO WILL LIE IN COURT TO GET WHAT THEY WANT, PEOPLE WHO DO NOT CARE WHO GETS HURT IN THE PROCESS. IT IS OUR JOB-OUR SWORN DUTY-AS CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS, TO PROTECT OUR CLIENTS FROM THOSE PEOPLE.
    Cynthia Roseberry

    This book provides a much needed and long overdue resource for every real criminal defense lawyer in Kentucky. Buy it, order extra copies for your fellow warriors at the defense bar, read it, cite it and use it in every case where you are called upon to act to defend your client from all sources, who would defeat his/her right to a fair trial, by being ready as a competent, zealous, informed, prepared ethical criminal defense litigator. Focus grasshopper and ready the fight.

  11. bettykath, This person would have been the fall guy if Zimmerman lost, there was an appeal, and the exculpatory evidence was then discovered. The prosecutor is an absolute and total disgrace to attorneys, not just prosecutors. You have now set yourself up to not be able to cry foul the next time Mr. Turley points out prosecutorial misconduct. And, it appears the reports of your leaving were greatly exaggerated.

  12. If the prosecutors DID overcharge, as some allege, then isn’t it unfair to complain about them “putting on a weak case”?

    Actually, I think the outcome had more to do with the problems that come from having the outcome depend on the “panel of six ignorant people” aka
    the jury.

  13. nick, I don’t know if there was prosecutorial misconduct or not. I just presented information that was otherwise lacking.

    As to my leaving, well, it was my intention to stop getting the email notifications of new threads and I would have unsubscribed on one of the emails I was to receive today. How many new threads today? and not one email.

    I do have a tendency to do the opposite of what some authority tries to decide for me when it should be my decision. I exercised my right to change my mind. Now I do recognize that JT has the right to exclude me but if that is his wish, he’ll have to do it by sending my emails to the spam folder. Or he can reinstate my emails and I’ll decide when/if I unsubscribe.

  14. Judge Nelson will have no problem ruling in favor of the prosecution. We have to find a way to stop whistleblowers and other annoying people from getting in the way of necessary prosecutorial misconduct that attorneys deem essential to winning their cases at all costs and also to ensure that businesses can continue to conceal their fraud and corruption that they feel are helpful to enhancing their profitability.

    Governments and businesses need a mechanism that will allow them to silence whistleblowers from ever revealing governmental or corporate misdeeds. I propose a national law banning all whistleblowing or disclosure of any information that governments or businesses deem necessary to conceal, carrying a manditory 20 year sentence for any violations, with no hope of pardon or a reduction in the sentence. That should silence those pesky whistleblowers but good.

  15. Prosecutors apparently don’t like the truth and they don’t like to follow the law. This prosecutor should be fired or sanctioned in sme way for with holding evidence. It sounds like prosecutorial misconduct but even if it its prosecutorial misconduct is the new normal all the way up to the AG of the US.

  16. nick, How is it prosecutorial misconduct if the all cell phone data was sent to the defense? Is it reasonable for the prosecutor to accept a report from a computer tech when the job belongs to an expert analyst? And I’m not sure that the prosecutor actually received the report. That said, given the cover given to SPD and the objections not made by the state and the lack of questions/witnesses from the state, I don’t trust the prosecutors much myself. I just don’t think we have enough information to make the call one way or the other. I sure as he!! don’t trust much of anything the defense lawyers have to say after their media blitz to taint the jury pool.

  17. wav, while the defense made all of Trayvon’s texts and pictures available to the public, they were successful in having all of gz’s phone records under seal. We never saw them.

  18. N.B.. nspinelli

    The old saying about the definition of a jury – which I quoted, says that I
    know that old saying and that imo it applies to the GZ case. You obviously aren’t familiar with the saying, or else you disagree with it…which, in either
    case, says a few things about you, nicky boy/

    IOW, Res Ipsa Loquitur.

  19. I don’t know if it is the case here but it is common for gov’t agencies when they want to get rid of an employee who is protected by civil service is to make mountains out of mole hills of anything that could be twisted to look bad, that way they show a pattern of misconduct which is enought to get them axed.

    Often times, the accusers are not so stellar in polishing their own halos.

  20. bettykath, Please understand I like you and hope you stay. I said that yesterday, and I’ll say it again now. I know this is emotional for you. I was just kind of busting your lady balls. Most of the time when I bust on someone it’s someone I like, that’s the case here.

    Regarding the exculpatory evidence. The rule is simple. That evidence is to be turned over to the defense as soon as it is found. Here’s what we do know. The prosecution received that phone information in January. It had exculpatory evidence. They did not turn it over, and the only way the defense got it, the day before the trial, was because of this whistleblower. That is flat ass wrong.

  21. I would bet my life that many many cases of exonerated convicts includes the “hidden” fact that prosecutors chose to withhold evidence from the defense. Until this dubious practice becomes a chargeable crime, it will continue nationwide.

  22. This court procedure was so biased against Zimmerman from the prosecution’s actions above to the wing bat Judge, I can’t believe it. I was convinced before it went to court Zimmerman would not get a fair jury, but he did. The jury was the only fair people in that courtroom. I doff my hat to them. The Judge did everything she could to hurt his chance of a fair verdict and the prosecution withheld evidence to make even doubly sure that happened. Zimmerman’s lawyers did a fantastic job of working around both of those elements and winning the case despite the legal bias on both sides–the bench and the crooked prosecution. I hope the DA goes before a judicial committee and gets her skirts ripped for this, as well she should. She didn’t have a case and she knew it so she tried to cheat her way to a win and she got caught thanks to an honest employee. She deserves to pay for it but putting the decision in the hands of that witchy Judge is really wrong because no honest decision will come out of her. She should have played the Witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz!

  23. The State of Florida continues to embarrass itself.

    While judges occasionally sanction prosecutors for withholding evidence in individual cases, these sanctions are intended to remedy violations in individual cases. Standing alone, they have proven ineffective in stopping this form of prosecutorial misconduct. State bars need to levy sanctions on individual prosecutors who intentionally withhold evidence.

  24. Facts versus melodrama in Zimmerman trial

    by Gene Lyons

    In my experience, whenever criminal cases turn into symbolic melodramas, reason goes out the door. Almost needless to say, I’m referring to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin murder trial currently dominating cable TV news channels. Starting last February, what began as a lamentable tragedy was promoted as a multi-media morality play on the theme of racist brute vs. innocent child.

    In consequence, millions of Americans gullible enough to believe what they see on TV developed passionate beliefs about the case shaped by tendentious and slipshod reporting. Even the most thoughtful citizens are vulnerable to the kind of disinformation promulgated by the Mighty MSNBC Art Players and others whose zeal for ratings-building melodrama trumps their commitment to facts.

    http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/facts-versus-melodrama-in-zimmerman-trial/Content?oid=2953598

  25. nick, then the defense got the data from the phone at the same time or shortly thereafter. The defense could have hired their own expert at that time to decode it. They didn’t. They were waiting for the state to do their work for them. I believe the state did turn over the reports from a tech firm that decoded a bunch of data. The defense found stuff on the phone that the FDLE expert or the tech company didn’t find.

    I’ve been trying to find all the references for this but much of it at my usual sources is no longer available. Lots of page not found message.

    I appreciate most of your posts. I’d say all but that’s too absolute.

  26. bettykath, That’s not my understanding, but I know you are much more informed than I. I did not start following this until the trial began. We’ve discussed my personal disdain for pretrial posturing. Since Zimmerman was acquitted I doubt his attorneys are going to push for any sanctions for withholding exculpatory evidence. That will be left up to the professional responsibility agency that oversees attorney violations in Florida. They tend to take care of their own. Again, you’re too valuable to leave. And, if you said you appreciate all my posts, I would know you were bullshitting me.

  27. One of the jurors has already signed on with a book agent for her upcoming book about her experiences on the jury. Juror B37; husband is an attorney; considered the protests as riots; doesn’t read newspapers; they’re for her parrot. She’s on with Anderson Cooper. She oozes bigotry and stupidity.

  28. nick, “And, if you said you appreciate all my posts, I would know you were bullshitting me.”

    yep. Don’t expect you or anyone else appreciates all of mine either.

  29. ” then the defense got the data from the phone at the same time or shortly thereafter”

    This doesn’t make sense. Looks like I deleted something.

    The state sent the phone to a company in CA to unlock it. I think they then sent the unlocked phone to a different tech company to dump the data. Maybe it was the same company that did the dump, idr. The defense was invited to go along when that happened. I don’t recall if they did or not, iirc, it was not. Anyway, once the state got the data dump they gave a copy to the defense who let it sit on a shelf until they finally hired an expert to see what was there. Their expert testified. Now if they had hired the expert in February or March, they would have had all the information available.

  30. Oh, yes, b37. Trayvon was “a boy of color”. De la Rionda tried to strike her but the defense objected to him striking 4 women in a row, as if there were any men to strike. Corey put her back. And they proceeded to fill the jury with 6 women anyway. There were 2 male alternates, one of whom was excused for reasons unrelated to the case.

  31. I’m disturbed that a juror is trying to sell a book already. Having said that, she acquitted herself quite well on Anderson Cooper’s show. She demonstrated a strong knowledge of the facts of the case and the law and showed that she and the others took their charge very seriously. I would hope that all jurors are as competent and dedicated as she appeared to be.

  32. The biggest problem with the Martin/Zimmerman case was that the liberal media made their decision on the case before any facts were considered. Then they drew a line in the sand and forced everyone to be on their side or against them.

    The problem with determining the outcome and doggedly staying with your decision, is that you ignore anything that doesn’t prove your outcome. You twist, pervert or minimalize any truths that aren’t consistent with your outcome. You must win, by any means, so your SIDE comes out victorious.

    Why did this have to become one side against another? What happened to tolerance and being open minded? The liberals drew a line in the sand, and if you are NOT on their side, then you are wrong, and probably a racists too by God!

    The Liberal media determined this was racially motivated and Zimmerman was guilty of a hate crime. They had the final chapter written the way they wanted it and were NOT going to change Truth, facts and logic be damned…after all, the end was already written and will not be changed.

    This was a white against black hate crime! What? Zimmerman is Hispanic? Okay, no problem, he is a WHITE Hispanic. Problem solved. What? The police investigators and FBI interviewed lots and lots of his friends and acquaintances and found no racism in his past? Okay, just don’t print any of that stuff. Problem solved. On and on the liberal media minimized or changed things to prove their outcome was correct. Heck, they even decided to fabricate and create illusions to steer people to believe their outcome was correct. “F..ing coon” was NEVER said, but even crazies like Nancy Grace are still using it as if it were fact. Trayvon was portrayed as an innocent 12 year old from day one to play on the emotional heartstrings of populace to bolster the numbers on ‘their side’ that believed ‘their outcome.’

    So after all the time of trying to influence everyone to believe their preconceived outcome as being the truth, facts and logic started to win out. The judge tried to step in and get Zimmerman to testify so they could still prove their outcome was correct. The judge gave the jury an out of considering a lesser crime so they could still get their outcome. And in the end it still came down to facts and logic winning.

    NOT SO FAST…the liberal media hates to lose and will persevere hoping to make their outcome correct. Damn the facts, logic and truth…full steam ahead.

  33. I know everyone thinks she’s a token, but does anyone see that she’s not a white guilter. I think she was raised by her grandparents for a reason and that her “cause” is painfully wedded to her upbringing. She, like Michael Skolnik, has some seriously unresolved issues that compel them to make fools of themselves for this misguided cause.

  34. Is it not possible that the prosecutor might have judged the material both irrelevant and unduly prejudicial? If he listened to gangsta rap, should that have been disclosed as well?

    Really, I am not impressed. With respect to your “Res ipsa loquitur”, I can only say that the thing itself speaks but you have clearly misheard it. I would suggest “civis romanus sum. Odi profanum vulgus”. And there is much that is profane and vulgar among these comments.

    If I had a dollar for every fool who describes the media businesses of Disney corp, GE or News International as “The Liberal Media” I would be able to give retire to South Florida. However I think I will pick a safer location.

  35. Corporate Media are conservative. To think they are “liberal” shows a gross misunderstanding of what liberal means. The news media, government and corporations are the triune oligarchy that is dedicated to enriching the wealthy and further impovershing the poor and middle class, all the while creating an internal civil war of ideals between people like Kevin Dougherty and the people he thinks he disagrees with, distracting all of us from the calculated deterioration of wealth, freedom and safety orchestrated by the true elites: the super rich who control all three heads of the oligarchy.

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