Zimmerman Prosecutor Angela Corey Under Fire For Alleged Professional Breaches

AngelaCoreyI have previously stated that I believe that Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over charged the case as second degree murder and in my view contributed heavily to the defeat in the case. What many people described as the evidence for conviction is actually evidence of manslaughter. Had the case been framed as manslaughter or negligent homicide, it might have turned out differently. However, that was in my view an error in prosecutorial discretion. More serious questions have arisen over Corey’s ethics and that of her office. These allegations include her conduct following the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

Corey’s office stands accused of serious allegations of withholding evidence from the defense. I have previously said that I view those allegations as highly credible and worthy of sanctions. She is also facing a whistleblower lawsuit after she fired an IT specialist who revealed that her office was withholding evidence in the Zimmerman case.

However, Corey herself is facing allegations of unethical and unprofessional conduct. Prosecutors are supposed to be highly circumspect in their public comments. They are not supposed to attack acquitted defendants. Most refuse to do so and leave such matters to the public debate rather than join the public outcry. Corey surprised many by going on television and calling Zimmerman a “murderer” after his acquittal. Her trial counsel was slightly more circumspect and called him “lucky.” She also referred to Martin as Zimmerman’s “prey.” Clearly there are many who share these views, but it is a different matter when spoken by a prosecutor following an acquittal.

The model ABA rules state that prosecutors should:

except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

These rules are designed primarily to protect a fair trial but prosecutors continue to be bound by ethical rules following a conviction. I view such comments after an acquittal to be highly unprofessional and inimical to the legal system. It tells the public that the government considers a person to be guilty regardless of an acquittal. As an out of court statement, Corey could be sued by Zimmerman for per se defamation since she said he is a murderer. While he would likely be viewed as a public figure, the statement could be viewed as violating even the New York Times v. Sullivan standard of actual malice. It is her opinion but she is speaking as the lead prosecutor.

AlanDershowitz2She is also accused of threatening legal action against one of her critics. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has gone public with an extraordinary account that Corey personally called the Harvard Dean’s office to complain about his criticism of her work in the case. He says that she ended up being transferred to an employee of the Office of Communications and threatened to sue Harvard, seek Dershowitz’s disbarment, and sue him for defamation — all frivolous claims. I have not seen any denial or explanation from Corey about her call to Dershowitz.

At a minimum, Corey’s actions and comments strike me as highly unprofessional. If prosecutors lose cases and then take to the air to demonize defendants, it would allow for tremendous abuse. Nothing protects Zimmerman from criticism of course for his actions. However, prosecutors are given the unique power to seek imprisonment of defendants. They have an obligation to reinforce the legal system by publicly accepted verdict. Most prosecutors state they have believed in their case and disagreed with the decision. They refrain from calling acquitted individuals “murderers.” That type of pandering to the public can be dangerous in highly divisive case like Zimmerman’s or other controversial cases. It reminds some of us uncomfortably of the approach of disbarred former District Attorney Mike Nifong. After being widely criticized by experts for over-charging the case, it was a particularly unwise decision of Corey to take to the press and call Zimmerman a murderer. It was also unnecessary with a chorus of such comments already being made across the media front.

Do you feel prosecutors should participate in this type of public condemnation after a verdict?

83 thoughts on “Zimmerman Prosecutor Angela Corey Under Fire For Alleged Professional Breaches”

  1. GZ stalked TM, he caught TM and there was a fight, then GZ shot TM dead. GZ says that TM attacked him and was in the process of killing him so he drew his trusty Kel-tec 9mm and shot TM dead through the heart.

    According to GZ’s story TM attacked him and gave him a serious beating, TM cannot dispute this because he is DEAD. We might suspect that GZ’s story is made up largely of lies but we cannot prove that this is so beyond reasonable doubt and this leads inevitably and correctly to a not guilty verdict.

    However that does not mean that we cannot believe that more probably than not that GZ committed at least manslaughter and more probably murder, it may even have been murder 1.

    GZ’s story is that he was following TM and had lost track of him when suddenly TM jumped out and bashed him in the nose. Rachael Jeantel is of course a member of the N-word underclass and her previous lies and her infelicity with the English language means we cannot take her seriously, but she was an ear witness to the beginning of the fight. If she was telling the truth and I suspect that she was, then GZ’s story of how the fight started is bovine excrement.

    What RJ heard:-
    1/ TM “why are you following me”;
    2/ GZ “What are you doing here”;
    3/ TM “Get Off”;
    4/ Sound of phone falling and disconnecting signalling start of the fight.

    Note that this sounds more like GZ catching up to and surprising TM than TM jumping out at GZ. Also GZ does not mention any exchange of words before TM “punched him in the nose”. The “Get Off” by TM could indicate that GZ grabbed hold of him in an attempt to detain him. I ask some of the lawyers here whether this would constitute an assault and justify him “standing his ground”.

    There weren’t any good eye witnesses to the event since all were indoors ln the light looking out into the dark which leads to poor vision and in particular poor perception of colour so I treat their statements that TM was on top with skepticism. John Good initially said that the person on top was raining MMA blows on the underperson. Since only GM had MMA training this suggests GM on top. These eye witnesses all missed the start of the altercation and thus can give us no clu as to whether GZ or TM was the agressor.

    Finally there is the scream. We can safely discard the identifications by each set of parents of the screamer as their respective son. Parents hear their children screaming when they are young and their voices are high, they are unlikely to ever have heard a scream from an adult or late teenaged child. However that the scream ended with the gunshot
    indicates that TM was the screamer, a bullet through the heart being.very effective at stopping activity. This means that TM was aware of the gun for several seconds and was screaming because he knew that GZ was going to shoot him dead, perhaps “you are going to die homie” was said by GZ to TM and then GZ introduced it into his story as TM’s.

    1. Apparently you believe the “tree scenario” as well. Give me a break!

  2. This one of four case that I’m aware of that Angela has been way off, she’s certainly bringing attention to herself and Florida laws. Hope she not planning to run again. Term 2009–2013 can we say one and out!

    1. Deborah, here’s an interesting article with some of the dirt on Angela Corey:

      Angela Corey’s Checkered Past
      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/353633/angela-coreys-checkered-past-ian-tuttle

      “When Corey came in, she cleaned house. Corey fired half of the office’s investigators, two-fifths of its victim advocates, a quarter of its 35 paralegals, and 48 other support staff — more than one-fifth of the office. Then she sent a letter to Florida’s senators demanding that they oppose Shorstein’s pending nomination as a U.S. attorney. “I told them he should not hold a position of authority in his community again, because of his penchant for using the grand jury for personal vendettas,” she wrote.”

      “Not many people are willing to cross Corey.”

      “Corey filed an affidavit that, according to Dershowitz, “willfully and deliberately omitted” crucial exculpatory evidence: namely, that Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman bloody at the time of the fatal gunshot. So Corey avoided a grand jury, where her case likely would not have held water, and then withheld evidence in her affidavit to the judge. ”

      “But will Corey ever be disciplined for prosecutorial abuses? It’s unlikely. State attorneys cannot be brought before the bar while they remain in office. Complaints can be filed against Corey, but they will be deferred until she is no longer state attorney. The governor can remove her from office, but otherwise her position — and her license — are safe.”

      “Angela Corey seems to be less interested in making crime pay than in making her critics pay.”

  3. Gene

    Thanks for the info on the double jeopardy questions.

    As far as the Matthew Shepard act being applicable to George Zimmerman, I agree with you it is going to be difficult for the feds to prosecute. I read they just recently notified the evidence officer holding Zimmerman’s pistol they were going to take it into evidence for their federal investigation. (They would have to use it to prove interstate commerce on the firearm, so it would be “traced” to show it was manufactured or transported across state or national borders.)

    I might go a step further and say it is not only going to be difficult for them to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that GZ shot TM because of his race, I don’t believe there is even probable cause to support that contention. But, the feds are going to cast the biggest fishing net possible I suppose.

  4. Mr. Kauten,

    So you’ve decided to resort to making mockery of other’s English and their use of words to win your argument?

    Nice try…

    I don’t like you? Nah, it would be a waste of my energy to actually try to push any negative thoughts toward your way.

    Spewing? *laughs*

    You know what, I don’t make fun of your English, I don’t make fun of your long lettered words. I don’t make fun of your education background. I don’t make fun of your culture/religion/birthplace/race/age. Do you know why? Because I don’t resort to those kind of tactic just to win my argument.

    I simply assert the facts. Just the facts. You don’t have any to back up your assertions that GZ stalked and shot TM. That’s where your assertions simply fall apart.

    Next time, try to focus on just the facts at hand. Ok?

  5. ChaZ,

    “Shrill” is an adjective. I’m a shrill what?

    “Go parlay your presumptions and assumptions elsewhere.”

    Three-syllable words? Not bad, for someone who’s confused about the use of singular and plural verb forms.
    Sorry, I must have inadvertently given you the impression that I would take advice from a person of your intelligence.

    So…does that mean you don’t like me?

    Thanks for that. I must be doing something right.

    If you keep spewing long enough, you might actually convince yourself.

    That’d be a “no-brainer.”

  6. This ONE WOMAN side show needs to be totally dis-barred from EVER practicing as a lawyer, let alone, State Attorney!

    Such a disservice to the American people and the laws of our land.

  7. Self Defense

    You are on your back on the ground. There is a person straddling your torso, pummeling away at your head with his/her fists. You are starting to black out but you remember you have your trusty 9mm pistol in your belt holster and you’re able to use it to kill that person to protect your life.

    Does it matter if that person pummeling away at your face is 17 years old and armed? Does it matter if he/she is black/white/hispanic/green/plaid?

    Does it matter if he or she has been a good student? Honor student with Rhodes Scholarship? A devout Jehovah Witness? An Eagle Scout? Or a person with a history of assaults, robbery, carjacking?

    Does it matter if he’s from a broken house or a rich Hollywood family? Does it matter if he has no training in MMA or is an expert in Kung Fu?

    I’ll be honest with you. If it was a freaking Pope of Roman Catholic Church who happens to be pummeling my face with his fist, I would still pull the trigger. I don’t care if he happens to be white, black, or whatever. I don’t care if he was a very good person of good moral value with no bad mark in whatever monastery he’s from.

    I will still pull the freaking trigger to save my life. That’s all what matters. Taking action in my hand to save my life or to save others’ lives.

    I would still pull the trigger to save my life than to worry about being tried in the court. Or worry about what color his/her skin is. Or worry about his/her age and that he/she was unarmed to begin with.

    Self defense is for everyone. It is an inalienable human right. Heck, I don’t care who GZ is. A wanna-be cop? So what, he’s still entitled to his right to self defense. Heck, if it was Jeffrey Dahmer that was being pummeled to death by Reverend Billy Graham, I still say that Mr. Dahmer have every right to pull the trigger to save his life. It doesn’t matter who the victim is.

    Just because you guys decided to be armchair quarterback and argue about everyone’s bad past, possible racism, then throw in what ifs and buts about the scenario. I don’t care how this started or how it could have been avoided. Let’s leave that to GZ to ponder that. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for TM.

    There are no evidence that TM was assaulted by GZ except for a gunshot wound and a small scratch on left hand.

    There are evidence that support GZ’s testimony, physical evidences and DNA evidences, and gunshot wound experts’ testimonies that self defense occurred when TM was on top of GZ, and I have no reason to believe that it could not be self defense.

  8. LK

    agreed. just calling the same act something else and retrying under different rules doesn’t seem fair.

  9. Bob Kauten: “Zimmerman got away with stalking and murdering an unarmed man.”

    Where’s evidence of that? According to the court testimonies by experts and Police investigators, there was a period of four minutes between GZ losing sight of TM and altercation between them.

    Four long minutes. TM could have been home, telling the host that someone was following him and to call police. Instead, we have TM waiting outside in the dark, attacking GZ when GZ was returning to his vehicle.

    If GZ was stalking TM, the altercation would have happened near TM’s father fiancee’s house not near GZ’s vehicle. Four long minutes…

    Try walking for four minutes, you’d be amazed at how far you could go in those minutes.

    Mr. Kauten, you’re nothing but a shrill. Go parlay your presumptions and assumptions elsewhere.

  10. @ CHAZ AND WHERE EXACTLY DID YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE PICK UP ON TM INSTIGATED THE PHYSICAL ACTION? oh wait because thats what gz said. ok i understand…. a young black man is walking home from the store being followed by a unknown white man. for no reason other then the black guy is wearing a hoodie in the rain. and instead of going straight home like any good little black boy should have done he ducked around and came back. at this time gz who has already made his 51st call profiling black men. and states and i quote from his own words. ” these fing aholes they always get away. gz is then asked if he is following the black guy and responds yes and is told stop we dont need you to do that but continues on anyway… so now he loses sight of tm and then he sees him again. gz gets out of his car. and tm asks him why is he (gz) following him. then next thing is some scuffling then shouts for help. meanwhile the scared gz has a gun on him, during this scuffle. and tm ends up dead but i get it i really get it. i mean come on…

    LONE BLACK BOY WALKING THE BLOCKS OF A GATED COMMUNITY. BEING FOLLOWED AND HE SHOULD HAVE JUST GONE STRAIGHT HOME SHOWING THIS UNKNOWN WHITE MAN WHERE HIS FAMILY LIVES.

    its amazing how some like you have managed to turn things around and make gz the right one ON HIS WORD ALONE. the word of someone who is known for attacking a police officer, domestic violence, beating of patrons as a bouncer, among other things. there is no way in neversworry that a 9mm would have given a scared white man the gall to throw the first punch is there..? and then this said same scared white man with the 9mm at his side is the one yelling for help. this same white man who when the story first hit and we all saw him had no bruises i remember the picture of the officers walking him out of the station looking directly at the unblemished back of the head of gz but those pics disappeared and my pc crashed or i would be able to show said pics. but hey no matter one more young black man is killed and the white man is righteous in the killing. says not 12 but 6 jurors of his gz peers… and if my post sounds racist. ok. im posting it how i see it and how i well remember when the story first hit and how they crossed up a trayvon from georgia with the one from florida and how no one has bothered to correct those misconceptions yet. BUT HEY GZ IS RIGHT AS ALWAYS..

  11. ChaZ,

    Your “preliminary facts” are not facts, in several instances. You have a unique perception of reality. That’s probably why you’re confused.

    I agree that Zimmerman’s acquittal was a “no-brainer.” Zimmerman got away with stalking and murdering an unarmed man. Several “no-brainers,” including Zimmerman, had to converge to make this happen. It worked.

    You could look up the circumstances for convictions of manslaughter and second-degree murder, if you’re curious. It’s nowhere near as simplistic as you state it.

    1. “Zimmerman got away with stalking and murdering an unarmed man. Several “no-brainers,” including Zimmerman, had to converge to make this happen. It worked.”

      What a completely ignorant thing to say and think. This is precisely what has caused a self defense issue to turn into a race/civil rights issue. The only thing this man is guilty of is being an over zealous and perhaps bad judgment. The other premise that you spew was not even remotely shown in trial…ah, conspiracy theory, right?

  12. Darren, I’d like to think that the founders actually had your crafting in mind. I find the multiple jurisdictions and the use of, as Gene elaborates, multiple charges a work-around and not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the prohibition. Thanks guys for the feedback and the elaboration.

  13. Ok, let’s go over these preliminary facts…

    First of all, after their investigation, the Police Department decided not to bring charge against GZ due to insufficient evidence that may have proved that GZ committed 2nd degree murder.

    Then it was the Grand Jury who also decided not to bring charge against GZ for same reason above.

    Because of TM’s parents’ constant pushing and involving other famous celebrities who are also famous for drawing their race cards, the media also started to pick up on that perhaps GZ did probably pursue and kill TM on basis of racism (re: hate crime).

    After the court, it was plainly obvious to everyone that it was TM who first instigated physical provocation against GZ, we still have people constantly drawing their race cards and crying of “there is no justice in good old USA”, we have district attorney on warpath against GZ’s innocence, doing everything possible to try to put him in slammer.

    Now… I have a question for you guys. Do you seriously think he should be charged with manslaughter? Negligent homicide?

    I’m confused. I thought that if you use gun or any weapon for self defense to protect your life or others’ from danger, it was your 100% intention to kill a person to stop the threat? How can it be otherwise? Can your intention to kill for self defense NOT be second degree murder if there was no basis for self defense? Lowering it to manslaughter make it sounds like GZ didn’t mean to kill TM but he did anyways… or negligent homicide because he forgot to put his gun on safety? Give me a freaking break.

    Police did their job, they didn’t charge a wrong person. Grand Jury did their job, they didn’t charge a wrong person.

    Then because of an over-zealous district attorney who wanted to win popularity vote with people with emotional knee-jerk reactions, she decided to not to go along with common sense and charge GZ with murder.

    And because of Police investigation and Grand Jury who foresaw insufficient evidences, do you honestly think that the prosecutors had a chance in hell as a snowball to convict GZ of murder? You saw how they deliberately tried almost everything to win the court but they failed, despite with help from the Judge who was always in favor for their request, rebuttal, etc and totally not helping defense at all with theirs.

    Of course, GZ got acquitted. It was purely self-defense, and a slam-dunk victory for Defense because the jury deliberation only took two days. Definitely a no-brainer.

    You guys should be going after the district attorney for abuse of her power, making wrong decisions that would not benefit the people of her state, and wasting resources of needless court, not for what she was saying about GZ.

  14. Darren/LK,

    It’s not just a matter of different jurisdictions in this case, but different charges. There is no Federal murder statute that applies here. 18 USC § 1111 would only apply if the Federal government had original jurisdiction such as an interstate crime where diversity makes it a Federal matter, special circumstances like kidnapping, treason or espionage were involved or they have original jurisdiction as an operation of law like maritime jurisdiction. The DOJ is considering a civil rights violation case against Florida to determine if race was a factor in the proceedings and (maybe) directly against Zimmerman under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (a.k.a. the Matthew Shepard Act). And I say maybe because under the MSA, the DOJ would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that race was the motive for Martin’s shooting. It would not, however, be a murder charge under 18 USC § 1111 so double jeopardy wouldn’t apply. That’s not only within their jurisdiction, it’s a totally different charge.

    I hope that answers your questions.

  15. Lottakatz:

    I agree with you about the double jeopardy issue with putting a person in federal court because the federal government is not satisfied with a state court jury verdict. But, unfortunatelly a lot this stems from the Dual Sovereignty interpretation.

    I wonder if our founding fathers when crafting the fifth amendment had instead of writing:

    “..nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy..”

    wrote:

    “..nor shall any person be subject for the same act to be twice put in jeopardy..”

    Maybe some of our lawyer friends here could answer this for us.

    1. Darren Smith wrote: “I wonder if our founding fathers when crafting the fifth amendment had instead of writing:

      “..nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy..”

      wrote:

      “..nor shall any person be subject for the same act to be twice put in jeopardy..””

      Extremely enlightening, Darren. Thanks for this.

      Perhaps because of the huge size of the federal government, the Amendment needs to be amended. 🙂 The federal laws that exist now and could possibly be used to prosecute someone for the same action but with different charges did not exist at the time the Fifth Amendment was ratified.

      It would be interesting to research if there was debate about the wording of the Fifth Amendment and what that dialogue was and what the other drafts might have said. In all likelihood, their meaning of “offense” was act.

      You have given me some homework to do. Thanks.

  16. Nick and Mespo: I see GZ going the minor celeb route like the Octomom and Wayne Bobbet. In three or four years, he’ll be doing porn.

  17. re to: Justin F

    Corey is fortunately not the “state attorney general” but rather is a “State’s Attorney”.Here in Florida that is equivalent to a District Attorney in many other jurisdictions. So she is far more vulnerable to relevant sanctions et al we can hope.

  18. Absolutely not. They are raised to a higher standard and should always act professional. I work as. Court clerk and while Prosecutors lose cases they have always been professional in how they react after a verdict is given. She should be disbarred as an attorney, a disgraced attorney. Withholding evidence from the defense??? Despicable! She damn well knows the RULES of evidence and discovery. Shame on her. She should get fired and write a book just like that female Prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case. Only in America could you mess up so bad and get fame, not to mention becoming a millionaire. Messed up society.

  19. I always agree with Mike A.

    We almost disagreed once.

    It was very exciting.

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