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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. ” 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Wav, yes. The evidence bit includes both Trayvon’s phone records and gz’s

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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