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General News    H2'ed 7/30/13

Was The Fix in For Zimmerman?

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His closing argument lasted more that two hours and slowly wound down with more than three-minutes of near silence, as de la Riondi had the jury look at slides that outlined the prosecution case in text, as he occasionally and unconnectedly commented.  Whatever energy his presentation might have built up was dissipated and he closed with a few sentences that were repetitions of things he'd said before.  He closed by saying the defendant was guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter, without even using his name -- a closing that ended not with a bang but a whimper. 


Many legal commentators have criticized the prosecution's handling of this case, but few have done so as sharply as Jarvis DeBerry in the New Orleans Time's Picayune (, where the headline on his July 16 column read:


"Did George Zimmerman's prosecutors try to get him off?" 


Based on his conversation with a former prosecutor who is a current defense attorney, who chose to remain anonymous, DeBerry wrote that this lawyer who's tried hundreds of cases said: "that he's never seen prosecutors who want to win make the series of missteps that the Florida prosecutors made. So he's convinced they lost on purpose. "  

The lawyer argued that the prosecutors should have sought a change of venue for the trial, since the potential conflicts it presented had already led to recusals of one county prosecutor and two judges, as well as a probably tainted jury pool. 


He faulted the prosecution for its jury selection, failing to get even one male juror or one black juror, and for failing to use their challenges to remove clearly unsympathetic jurors. Even the now-infamous juror B37 went unchallenged even though she revealed during jury draw that she remembered "riots in Sanford" that never happened. 


The lawyer was incredulous at the inept preparation of Rachel Jeantel, as the prosecution allowed her to take the stand and testify in a manner that was sometimes unclear and potentially alienating, especially to a jury of six non-black women. 


The lawyer was generally critical of the degree to which the prosecution went about making the case for the defense, in particular playing Zimmerman's interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.  If the prosecution had omitted  it, the defense would have been prevented from playing it by the rules of evidence.  "If it hurts your case, let the other guy do it," the lawyer said: "They didn't want to win this case."


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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
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