Meltdown: Judge Walks Out In Tense Exchange With Zimmerman Counsel

Last night saw an extraordinary confrontation between the defense and the court in the George Zimmerman trial.  The defense is seeking to use photos and material from the phone of Martin.  The most serious issue is that the defense claims that the government had this material since January and only recently gave it to the defense — another allegation of withholding evidence by the prosecution. The judge and the lawyers are clearly exhausted and I think the schedule is a bit too punishing. I realize that the jury is sequestered and want to go home. However, these days are diminishing the professional ability and clearly the personal restraint of the judge and lawyers alike. While I do not think that the defense should get a few days to rest, I do think that schedule has been unnecessarily demanding and even a few hours of more rest would be in order. I realize the jurors and courts have limited time but I have never agreed with the punishing schedule of many trials. However, I am more concerned with the delay in turning over this evidence until June.

The defense has a valid objection that they are being denied evidence due to the failure of the prosecution to turn over the evidence in a timely manner — to allow for authentication. Judge Debra Nelson clearly does not want to acknowledge the allegation of prosecutorial abuse and then refuses to deal with the objection that the attorneys are exhausted. I think the defense has a valid objection on both the misconduct and the schedule. However, Nelson just walks out on the defense and says that she will deal, not with the allegation of misconduct, but an alleged defense sequestration violation.

Defense attorney, Don West, objects that “I’m not physically able to keep up this pace much longer” as the judge walks out.

The judge has barred the use of a simulation of the scene. However, there are also those text messages on Martin’s phone where he refers to fighting. The prosecution has been able to introduce past comments from Zimmerman, but the court has barred the use of comments from Martin. In this case, she insisted that there was no authentication that it was Martin but the defense noted that they were denied the opportunity to authenticate by the prosecution.

I think most of the rulings in the case have been fair, though I have reservations about some of the excluded evidence and serious reservations about the failure to address the claims of withholding evidence. Judges regularly avoid dealing with such claims in trials, which only encourages prosecutors to game the system by holding on to evidence as long as possible before a trial.

143 thoughts on “Meltdown: Judge Walks Out In Tense Exchange With Zimmerman Counsel”

  1. Let me remind everyone that in Florida you get EXTRA time tacked on your sentence for murdering a minor. Trayvon was not a “man” but a “minor” or child.

    Regarding screaming out: There is eyewitness and DNA evidence that places a THIRD individual at the scene of the crime. The DNA evidence suggests that the 3rd person UNSUB (unidentified subject) handled the gun too. What if Trayvon was on his knees, execution style, facing the UNSUB aiming and firing the gun from a standing position at his chest? Wouldn’t that provoke a cry for help or mercy?

    Also how could the Vietnam vet, daddy Zimmerman, et al KNOW that George was screaming for help when they have NEVER heard George ever do that before? Trayvon’s mom and dad more than likely have heard Trayvon scream several times in the recent past like when he screams at his sibling(s) during rivalry, or when having a temper tantrum, or when hurt, or something.

    DAD SAY NO?:
    Now it turns out that Trayvon’s dad did not say “NO it’s not him!” He said under his breath “I don’t KNOW”. Detective Serrino only heard “NO” which sounds like “KNOW”. And where was the lady cop “ear-witness” hiding that dad didn’t know she was there?

    SATELLITE IMAGERY OF POTENTIAL UNSUB:
    I got a great idea from George Clooney’s recent use of satellite imagery to expose bad guys in Africa for war crimes and stuff. I logged onto the same satellite imagery archives he uses and pulled up imagery data on Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford for Feb 26 2012. I was amazed at how close I came to actually seeing the scene of the crime from space. However, the system could only supply dates close enough to Feb 26th and cloud cover was too heavy that day anyway. However, the imagery resolution was very clear for the days I could see. Too bad our DoD couldn’t ask NRO to supply the classified version. I mean a commercial “bird” saw the pre & post crime scene clearly so you know a government bird could do even better EVEN with clouds.

    CELLPHONE PICTURES ETC:
    What relevance does Trayvon’s cell phone records have to do with being shot by a wannabe neighborhood watchman? So what if he was texting about fighting others? So what if he had ever smoked any weed in the last 30 days? What’s that have to do with Zimmerman’s state of mind when pulling that trigger? The evidence clearly shows that Z was NOT supposed to be carrying a gun in the first place. He had no business requirement to do so. The Condo Association President had FIRED him on the volunteer watch because of his past use or bringing a gun on watch. I sure hope the prosecution brought out those other condo owners that remember Z’s racist-sounding bad-guy flyers and other stuff. Did the prosecution bring out the eye-witnesses that were standing outside in the dark watching the whole thing (two women in their backyard)? They saw the UNSUB in a white shirt (I think)!!!

  2. Lasserhaus,

    Dd the jury in the Convertino case return a non guilty verdict? I seem to recall….. It was a conspiracy trial….. But… I’ve been wrong before…..

  3. Mr. Erb,

    You miss a very important point. A person being assaulted as Zimmerman was does not have to wait until he suffers death or serious injury before defending himself. By then, it would be too late. If Zimmerman had not fired his gun when he did, likely he would be the dead one.

    A and B are both armed. A points his gun at B, fires and misses. Are you saying that B cannot fire back until he is struck? No. B does not have to wait until he suffers a life threatening injury. Neither did Zimmerman.

    BTW, where is the evidence that on the day of Martin’s death, Zimmerman outweighed him by 50 pounds?

    1. vincent I am having a hard time taking you seriously with the lack of sense of your posts. WE are NOT talking about ARMED men, only ONE ARMED fully grown attacking man. A better analogy is if two guys get into a fist fight in a bar which is a fairly common occurance among rednecks in FL. One guy knocks the other down, does the one who is down get to pull his gun and kill the other guy since he has fear for his life? Does the state have to prove in impossible, that the shooter did NOT have a fear for his life? The law requires a REASONABLE fear for ones life. Simply being down and having been hit and slightly injured does NOT make it a reasonable fear. Which is once again, my worry about the all female jury since they may well think that ANY hit is reasonable fear. Most guys who HAVE been in bar fights would have a FAR different view!

      I suggest you go to any web site about this trial and you can research the relative size and weights of both. Simply denying or not knowing the simple facts does NOT speak well for you or your opinions.

  4. Marv,
    Statistics mean nothing in an individual case. Statistics apply only to groups. Statistics are group data, and may or may not apply in a single case. Here is how it works in the real world of a courtroom:

    You can have 236 automobile accidents, most of which were your fault. You have another accident at an intersection. Can those other accidents be used to influence a jury or judge? Nope. Inadmissible. Only the facts of the single current accident apply. It may be your fault, or it may not. All previous accidents are not relevant to who ran the red light in this single instance.

  5. The larger issues like racial profiling and the structural inequality of bigotry that makes being black in this country concentrated and more dangerous is on trial in the court of public opinion but not in the Florida courtroom.

    That’s because Florida law allows an assailant — even the bigoted and mean spirited one — to use self-defense under certain circumstances. If, at the moment Zimmerman pulled the trigger, he reasonably believed he needed to do so to protect himself from death or imminent bodily harm, it matters not, under Florida law, how he found himself in that position. Under Florida’s self-defense statute, even the one who started the confrontation doesn’t have to let the other person kill him or cause him bodily harm. And one can use deadly force to stop it. For the jury it’s a narrow and a specific decision that doesn’t allow for the consideration of race.

    Now I think it’s a boneheaded law which basically gives all power to the bad guy … you start a fight, you start to lose that fight so you get to kill the guy because he’s beating you at the fight you started.

    As a member of the jury, I am constrained by that law but … I have to be convinced that Zimmerman’s word that he was in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm to the point that he felt deadly force was his only recourse can be trusted … in short, I have to believe George Zimmerman or rather, since he chose not to testify, I have to believe George Zimmerman’s attorneys and the evidence they put forth in support of Zimmerman’s claim that Martin caused such fear.

    In that consideration I have to look at the fear Zimmerman may have inspired in Martin, unless, of course, the Judge tells me I can’t.

  6. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv11.pdf

    The rate of violent victimization increased 17%,
    from 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or
    older in 2010 to 22.5 in 2011.

    Increases in the rates of violent victimizations for
    whites, Hispanics, younger persons, and males
    accounted for the majority of the increase in violent
    crime.

  7. Isnt it interesting how rarely the race of the attackers and victims are mentioned when the attackers are black and the victims are white? Which going by DoJ stats is easily the vast majority of the time in interracial crimes.

    We never fail to hear the race when it is the other way around.

    Progressives at work.

  8. http://www.thestate.com/2013/07/09/2854896/should-baker-murder-suspects-have.html

    Should suspects in baker’s death have been out on bond?

    COLUMBIA, SC — Prior arrest records on two of the three suspects now charged with murder in last week’s shooting death of bagel baker Kelly Hunnewell raise questions about whether the two should have been out of jail on bond.

    At the time Hunnewell was gunned down on July 1, both men – Lorenzo Young and Troy Stevenson – had been sprung from jail by local bonding companies and circuit judges who approved their release. Both suspects had criminal records involving arrests for serious crimes and were awaiting trial on those charges.

    It hadn’t taken much time in their young lives to compile those records. Both are 18.

    Young had a total of $240,000 in bonds for various charges, including first-degree burglary, according to records. He was also facing charges on offenses such as possession of a weapon during a violent crime, kidnapping, assault and armed robbery, before he was set free in January on a lower bond, according to records.

    Stevenson got out of jail in late 2011 on a $35,000 bond on a first-degree burglary charge, according to records. Stevenson also was facing assault and battery charges in connection with an incident in which he allegedly attacked an emergency services worker, records said.

    A third person, a 16-year-old juvenile whom police have not identified, also was charged in the Hunnewell shooting death. His criminal record, if any, could not be ascertained by The State.

    Hunnewell, a 33-year-old mother of four school-age children, was shot to death in the early morning hours of July 1 at the bakery where she prepared bagels. She was the only employee working in the small building at 13 Tommy Circle, off Beltline Boulevard near Covenant Road. The building contained an off-site bakery for Carolina Cafe, a popular bagel shop on Pendleton Street, near USC’s Horseshoe and the State House.

    When three would-be robbers entered her kitchen around 3 a.m., Hunnewell, who was alone, resisted. She was shot multiple times, police later said. The robbers, who police said had found the bar next door closed, attacked Hunnewell instead. They found no money and fled. Young, Stevenson and the juvenile were arrested a week later after police got a tip.

    Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/07/09/2854896/should-baker-murder-suspects-have.html#storylink=cpy

  9. Speaking of jurors, one cannot always tell from dry facts about them. Back about 1976 or so, a young black man lay in wait in the parking lot of the state capitol in Mississippi on a Monday morning. The first person to work that morning was the state librarian. She was a newly minted PhD, having received her terminal degree over the weekend. She came to work early that morning because she was preparing some sort of display in the law library of the Attorney General’s offices. Our young perp held her at gunpoint, made her get back into her car, and ordered her to drive out to a local state park. Sometime during the drive, he shot her in the head and killed her. He was caught within a matter of hours, and put on trial in Madison County, MS for capital murder. In Mississippi, when a murder occurs in the commission of another major felony (kidnapping in this case) it becomes a death penalty charge.

    His court appointed attorney was a very competent young black man named Fred Banks. Fred later became a Mississippi Supreme Court Justice. Being in Madison County, with a large African-American population, Fred told me ahead of time that he was going to try to get an all black jury.

    I had been appointed to examine the defendant so see if he was competent to stand trial, and try to establish criminal responsibility. The trial dragged on for a couple of days, but finally I was called to the stand. The Rule had not been waived for experts, so I knew nothing about the jury because I had been hanging out in a witness room.

    When I walked into the courtroom to be sworn in, I took one look at the jury and realized immediately Fred had made a major tactical error. He got his all-black jury all right. Church ladies. Two rows of little old ladies sitting in the jury box, their little pillbox hats on their little grey heads, their little purses clutched on laps in little wrinkled brown hands. And the grimmest twelve brown faces I can ever recall seeing, all glaring at the defendant. The next morning, Mr. Banks, the prosecutor and the Judge called me to the Judge’s chambers for a conference. They wanted to know if the defendant was mentally competent to plead to two life sentences running wild, in order to avoid the gas chamber. He was, so the defense took the plea bargain in order to keep him out of the gas chamber.

    Later, I had a chance to discuss jury selection tactics with Mr. Banks. I don’t think he ever made that mistake again.

    1. Great story OS! Glad to see that justice was done and a lawyer educated.

  10. Vincent:
    “Are you really saying that getting one’s head slammed into a sidewalk does not put one in fear of serious bodily injury? ”

    *********************
    I think he’s saying that getting your head slammed into a sidewalk even one time would raise a knot on your head. Where is the one on Zimmerman?

  11. mespo727272 1, July 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    RWL:

    I think there is one seated African American juror.
    ===================================
    Here is what one news outlet says about the jury:

    Juror B29:

    She is Hispanic and black
    She just moved to Florida four months ago from Chicago.
    She has eight children and works at a nursing home.

    Juror B76:

    She is white
    She has lived in Seminole County since 1975.
    She has called police about kids vandalizing signs.
    She has family members who own firearms.

    Juror B37:

    She is white
    She has lived in Seminole County for 18 years.
    She used to carry a concealed weapons permit.

    Juror B51:

    She is white
    She has been a resident of Seminole County for nine years.
    She moved to Florida from Atlanta, Georgia.
    She does not have any children.
    She retired from a career in real estate, and also worked as a director, supervising 1,200 employees.

    Juror E6:

    She is white
    She is married and has two children.
    She has lived in Seminole County for two years.
    Her husband and son own guns.
    She was involved in a domestic violence incident in her past.

    Juror E40:

    She is white
    She is married with one son.
    She moved to Seminole County from Iowa seven months ago.
    She served as a safety officer for 25 years.

    Alternates:

    Juror E54:

    He is white
    He has been married for five years.
    He has one daughter and two stepchildren.
    He said he was initially confused as to why Zimmerman was not arrested but now believes there was a thorough investigation.

    Juror B72:

    He is white
    He has been resident of Seminole County for nine years.
    He is originally from Chicago.
    He is not married and has no children.
    He was a teacher and is now a maintenance technician for a private school.
    He is a competitive arm wrestler.

    Juror E13

    She is white
    She has been a resident of Seminole County for 17 years.
    She is a surgical assistant.
    Her stepfather owns guns.

    Juror E28:

    She is white
    She has been married for almost 30 years and has two children.
    Her husband is a teacher.
    She has lived in Seminole County since 1975, but is originally from Texas.

    [Alternates will only be used if one of the six main jurors becomes incapacitated or excused for cause.]

    (HLN).

  12. Randyjet:

    My man, I understood exactly what you were saying. I just reject it totally. For a guy who has claimed to be in a few fights, you don’t seem to know much about the dynamics of one. You are 6’5″. I am 5’5″. If you and I are in a fight and you are slamming my head into the sidewalk and I have a firearm, I might just yell for help and, if that doesn’t bring assistance, I might decide that the only way to prevent you from spilling my brains onto the sidewalk is to use the only weapon I have. Are you really saying that getting one’s head slammed into a sidewalk does not put one in fear of serious bodily injury? Is Zimmerman supposed to wait until he has a skull fracture or an aneurysm before using force sufficient to end the assault?

    1. Vincent, I only used my experience vis a vis male on male of about even size. Of course a woman being assaulted by a larger male has only her voice to use against superior force, much like Martin did when he saw the gun and realized he was about to die. In this case, Zimmerman was bigger than Martin by about 50# and it would NOT be considered a fair fight in any sport because Zimmerman was so much bigger.

      Then we have the problem of the slight injuries to Zimmerman. I have had my head open up in a number of fights, and it bled profusely and I got all kinds of blood on my opponents, most of it mine. Then there is NO goose egg on his head. The only way Z got his injuries was when he fell backwards onto the concrete rather than having his head slammed into the ground by Martin. I have gotten worse injuries working around the house and at work. There are NO stitches required for Zimmerman either. Zimmerman was of sufficient size and strength to stop the fight without the use of deadly force. Indeed, all he had to do was to turn over and stand up.

  13. Mespo727272:

    When was the last time you saw a judge, especially an elected judge, especially in a high profile case, throw out a homicide case? Why should the judge take the heat? Pass the hot potato off to the jury.

  14. Michael Appleton;

    That is a lucid, thorough argument apropos and possibly spot on. You would have been the perfect prosecutor.

    Meanwhile – if you ever desire to tell a story equal (arguably more than); feel free to let me know. My battle’s versus Pitten’s might have been over already; had I the benefit of your vernacular and literary skills.

    Well Done!

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