Welcome to day 2 of jury selection in Zimmerman case

June 11, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good morning:

Welcome to the second day of jury selection.

Judge Nelson has decided to let the lawyers conduct individual voir dire of the prospective jurors on the issue of pretrial publicity. The prosecution initiates the questioning with each juror and the defense goes second. Bernie de la Rionda is doing all of the questioning for the prosecution. O’Mara and West are alternating.

Using BDLR as an example, he questions the prospective juror regarding the effect of pretrial publicity on the juror’s ability to decide the case fairly and impartially. When he decides that he has sufficient information to decide whether to pass or challenge the juror for cause on the issue of pretrial publicity, he thanks the juror and sits down.

Then, either O’Mara or West questions the prospective juror until he concludes the questioning.

Challenges for cause are being asserted silently. A challenge for cause is a request to excuse the juror on the ground that the juror cannot be fair and impartial. The judge will grant or deny the challenge. At least one or two jurors were excused yesterday out of the four who were questioned.

Judge Nelson wants to follow this process until 21 prospective jurors have been passed for cause. The group of 21 will be ushered into the courtroom and questioned in the presence of each other regarding other matters.

Remember: each side may assert an unlimited number of challenges for cause. Each challenge must be supported by a reason.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.


Jury Selection starts today in Zimmerman case

June 10, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Good morning:

Jury selection has started.

Judge Nelson has divided the panel of 500 people into three groups. The first group reports this morning. The second group will report tomorrow morning, and the third group will report Wednesday morning. Each group will be instructed to fill out the questionnaire and then be excused for the day.

Administrative personnel will assemble three sets of the completed questionnaires. Judge Nelson, the prosecution, and the defense will each receive a copy and counsel will begin the process of reviewing and sorting their set in a manner that facilitates the judicious use of challenges.

The defense has requested a continuance and Judge Nelson denied it.

The Frye hearing has not been completed. The defense has one more witness. Judge Nelson told counsel on Saturday afternoon that she would schedule a time to complete the hearing, possibly this week.

Zimmerman liveblog: Frye Hearing

June 7, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

Good morning.

The case resumes this morning at 9 am EDT with the Frye Hearing.

Link to Livestream:


Zimmerman Pretrial Motions Hearing

May 28, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Good morning:

Are you ready to rock and roll?

Post your comments here

First up for us today is finding a source for livestream coverage.


Defense team is out of control

May 26, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good afternoon:

Countdown: Only 2 days until the May 28th hearing and the trial gets underway with jury selection 2 weeks from tomorrow.

In today’s post, I am going to follow-up on Friday’s post with some important new information that will more clearly reveal the defense strategy.

In tomorrow’s post, I will breakdown Tuesday’s hearing.

Now, let’s take another look at what happened last week.

Two important criminal defense attorneys in Florida, Eugene Nichols and Jeff Deen, criticized the Zimmerman defense team for publicizing private, irrelevant and inadmissible evidence about Trayvon Martin.

Eugene Nichols is the newly elected President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which is the Florida affiliate of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Jeff Deen is a former assistant state attorney and the present director of a state agency that represents criminal defendants.

I support and thank both of them for speaking out because, when a criminal defense lawyer deliberately commits a sleazy and indefensible error like this in a high visibility case, the misconduct can splash onto all criminal lawyers. Let’s face it, the public does not have a high regard for criminal defense lawyers. To many people an incident like this would merely confirm their low opinion of criminal defense lawyers in general.

That is one reason why I spoke out Friday and used the word “disgusting” to describe what they did. The other reason, of course, is that, as the blog owner, I have a duty to report what I observe without mincing words. After 48 hours to reflect on what I said in Friday’s post, my opinion has not changed. As I will proceed to explain, I am even more disgusted today than I was Friday.

I hope a lot more criminal defense lawyers will publicly condemn the defense team over the weekend. We need to remind the public that criminal defense lawyers are officers of the court who respect the law and abide by the rules of professional conduct even as they fight for their clients.

Mark O’Mara and Don West are violating those core principles by doing everything they can to obstruct due process of law and the fair administration of justice. For example, consider the following:

1. By waiving the pretrial immunity hearing, they have, in effect, conceded that they cannot prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

2. As lawyers admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Florida and authorized to represent themselves to the public as specialists in the practice of criminal law and trying cases, they can be presumed to know the rules that govern the admissibility of evidence in criminal trials conducted in the circuit courts. Therefore, they knew that the information that they publicized last week about Trayvon would not be admissible at trial for any purpose pursuant to rules 401, 402, 403 and 608 of the rules of evidence.

3. They waited to publicize the irrelevant and inadmissible information until after the 500 people in the jury pool were notified by summons to report to court for jury selection on June 10th, thereby increasing the likelihood that most of the prospective jurors will have heard or read about it before June 10th.

4. In an effort to avoid being held accountable for poisoning the jury panel with irrelevant and inadmissible information, Mark O’Mara blamed Bernie de la Rionda. He said BDLR withheld the information from the defense in violation of the discovery rules and the Brady rule, which requires the State to disclose exculpatory information well in advance of the trial.

5. That explanation is false because:

a. the Brady rule does not apply since the information is not exculpatory for the same reason that it is irrelevant and inadmissible;

b. even if the information were exculpatory, BDLR disclosed it in timely fashion in early January;

c. The information was in the form of raw data, which is the same format that it was in when BDLR received it;

d. The defense specifically asked to be provided with the raw data and that is what it received;

e. the defense waited until after the jury summmons were mailed out to retain an expert to interpret the raw data; and

f. the defense waited until the last possible moment before the May 28th motions hearing to publicize the irrelevant and inadmissible information and to file its motion asking Judge Nelson to impose sanctions against BDLR.

6. The timing and sequence of these events constitutes powerful circumstantial evidence that poisoning the jury pool with irrelevant and inadmissible evidence was the defense team’s real motive.

7. Lawyers are required to act in good faith and prohibited from intentionally deceiving the Court.

8. Thus, defense counsel appear to have intentionally created an unringing-the-bell problem.

9. Courtesy of Robert Zimmerman, Sr., and Jr., last week the jury panel also got to hear them say that the prosecution is the result of a conspiracy between the governor, the prosecution and the judiciary to convict an innocent man.

The apparent purpose of these efforts is to maximize the possibility of seating one or more pro-Zimmerman jurors in stealth-like fashion, who are determined to acquit the defendant, regardless of the evidence and the Court’s instructions.

With exception of a deadly mix of stupidity, ignorance and incompetence that I doubt to be the case, I cannot think of any other explanation for the strange tactical decisions and materially false statements by the defense.

We should soon see an effort by the defense through one of its proxies to inform the jury panel that jurors have a right to vote their conscience in disregard of the evidence and the instructions (i.e., jury nullification).

In conclusion I believe defense counsel are engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice which is unlawful and unethical.

If I am correct, they should be disbarred from the practice of law.

In the meantime, I think the best way to promote Justice for Trayvon (as well as George Zimmerman) is to communicate our concerns to others and hope that BDLR and Judge Nelson put some serious hurt on the defense strategy by granting the State’s motions in limine, including the motion for a gag order. The defense motions should be denied.


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The Honeybee Crisis

May 22, 2013

by Crane-Station

Hello everyone. Fred is going to post later today about the case in Florida. In the meantime, we have made a decision to try and merge our independent sites into this one. This is a post I first shared this morning at Firedoglake/MyFDL (Over Easy). My posts are on a variety of topics unrelated to Zimmerman. Many people are interested in the incarceration experience Frog Gravy, and I will attempt to put some of that here as well.

The Honeybee Crisis

According to statistics released by the US Department of Agriculture earlier this month, 31 percent of the managed honeybee colonies died in the winter. Since fruiting is dependent on fertilization, a result of pollination, honeybee decline can impact agriculture. We can directly link honeybees to one out of every three bites of food that we put on our table.

The Plight of the Honeybee
Billions of dollars—and a way of life—ride on saving pollinators.

Western nations rely heavily on managed honeybees—the “moveable force” of bees that ride in trucks from farm to farm—to keep commercial agriculture productive. About a third of our foods (some 100 key crops) rely on these insects, including apples, nuts, all the favorite summer fruits (like blueberries and strawberries), alfalfa (which cows eat), and guar bean (used in all kinds of products). In total, bees contribute more than $15 billion to U.S. crop production, hardly small potatoes.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a hive condition where “very low or no adult honey bees present in the hive but with a live queen and no dead honey bee bodies present.” According to interviews of beekeepers in the documentaries, this condition can occur within a matter of a few hours.

The USDA further suggests that possible causes of colony decline could be due to unusually warm winter, bee diet (ie: protein, in particular), or cyclic disease, but also states that scientific connections are lacking for the theories. While the European Commission (EU) has ” has banned the pesticides associated with colony collapse disorder in bees,” the US has not done so yet. Oddly, the report contains this statement:

A comprehensive and sensitive analytical survey was done for the presence of 200 pesticides in bee, comb, and pollen samples from 23 states. No specific pattern of pesticide residues emerged that correlates with honey bee deaths March 2010

To be precise, the study linked in the statement says this:


The 98 pesticides and metabolites detected in mixtures up to 214 ppm in bee pollen alone represents a remarkably high level for toxicants in the brood and adult food of this primary pollinator. This represents over half of the maximum individual pesticide incidences ever reported for apiaries. While exposure to many of these neurotoxicants elicits acute and sublethal reductions in honey bee fitness, the effects of these materials in combinations and their direct association with CCD or declining bee health remains to be determined.

Will we fund or ignore the “remains to be determined” part? Would it surprise you at all to learn that yesterday, three large agrichemical pesticide companies came forward with plans to fund research for bee decline?

Monsanto, Bayer, Sygenta Fund Bee Research

Bayer and Sygenta “produce neonicotinoids,” and Monsanto uses the pesticides to coat seeds. These pesticides have been banned in Europe, as mentioned above. From wiki: “Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. The development of this class of insecticides began with work in the 1980s by Shell and the 1990s by Bayer.[1]“

Leo Tolstoy said, “The closer we examine the honeybee, the more we realize the workings of a beehive encompass territories beyond our comprehension.” USDA bee laboratory scientist Dr. Jeffrey Pettis explains in Vanishing of the Bees that CCD is difficult to study because there are no bee corpses to examine when a colony literally vanishes. (video at 15:30). So far, scientists have investigated, and eliminated as possibilities, several microbial and viral suspects. Haunting how accurate Tolstoy’s quote really was. But what is maybe even more haunting is that the beehive workings will be studied with funds that have direct interest in the outcome of the research.

One of the scientists in the documentary reveals other suggestions for honeybee decline, that he has received in his email, including cell phones, the Rapture, Outer Space, and the ‘Russians-have-implanted-genes-and-they-are-beaming-them-from-satellite.’ While the scientist is confident that the persistent cell phone tower rumor is now known nonsense, he does say that the issue of genetically modified crops, while scientists have observed no direct evidence, deserves a bit more attention.

What saddens in the documentary is that we have exploited the honeybee, with factory farming practices such as feeding the bees empty sugar calories, killing the queens and replacing them with younger queens introduced in cages, and artificial insemination, with the likes of a scientist’s backward after-remark, “She looks a little rough, but she’ll come around.” There have been only too few, it seems, efforts at returning the bees to their natural state. When bees disappear, it’s wrong- surely some basic humanity instinct still exists in all of us.

Vanishing of the Bees full documentary:

BBC Documentary titled Who Killed the Honeybee?


One-Third of U.S. Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter, Threatening Food Supply

Bees and the European neonicotinoids pesticide ban: Q&A

The US rejects Europe’s banning of these chemicals:

US rejects EU claim of insecticide as prime reason for bee colony collapse
“Government study points to a combination of factors for decline in population, breaking away from singling out pesticides”

Beepocalypse Redux: Honeybees Are Still Dying — and We Still Don’t Know Why

Monsanto stung by drop in bee population

Monsanto, Bayer seek answers to bee losses

“This is a difficult, high stakes battle,” said Peter Jenkins, a lawyer with the Center for Food Safety, which sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March on behalf of a group of U.S. beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups over what they say is a lack of sound regulation of the pesticides in question.

“They may have a lot of money. But… we’re going to win,” Jenkins said.

More hogwash from the defense in Zimmerman case

May 17, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Good afternoon:

I have not been feeling very well today, so this post is going to be pretty short.

Here’s a link to Alan Reich’s report. He identifies Trayvon as the person who’s scream is cut-off by the gunshot.

Here’s a link to the other report by Hollien and Harnsberger. They identify both voices on the tape.

Mark O’Mara is going to request another continuance claiming that he needs additional time to find an expert to disagree with these prosecution experts, even though he has previously claimed that he has one.



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Clueless in Orlando

May 15, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good evening everyone.

Tonight I am going to follow-up on my post last week explaining the purpose of a Frye hearing, Zimmerman: Pssst hey buddy what’s a Frye hearing.

I said,

The issue Judge Nelson would have to decide, assuming she decides to hold a Frye hearing, is whether the methodologies used by the state’s experts are generally accepted by audiologists as capable of producing accurate and reliable results.

The Frye test has been described as a counting-heads test because it does not require the judge to understand the theory or methodology at issue. The judge need only count the heads of the experts in the particular field and decide whether they generally accept the methodology.

I concluded,

The glaring, and I believe fatal, omission in O’Mara’s motion for a Frye hearing is the absence of any supporting affidavits from experts in audiology that one or both of the methodologies used are not generally accepted by audiologists as capable of producing accurate and reliable results.

Nobody gives a damn about what the non-expert lawyer thinks. He is not qualified to express an opinion about general acceptance of these methodologies.

Therefore, I would deny his motion for a Frye hearing.

The State objected to a Frye hearing on the ground that the defense request lacked sufficient specificity to identify the basis for the defense request and, in any event, the Frye rule does not apply in this case because the technology/methodology used by its experts is not new. They correctly noted that the Frye rule only applies to new or novel scientific evidence. This is an additional valid reason for the court to deny the motion for a Frye hearing.

The defense has also filed a bizarre motion that would permit the defense experts to testify by video conferencing from remote locations. O’Mara basically pleads poverty in support of his request by complaining that the defense cannot afford to pay their round trip transportation, hotel and food expenses.

I call this request “bizarre” because the trial date is less than 30 days away and he has not identified his expert(s) or provided an offer of proof regarding what their testimony would be. He has not even identified the technology/methodology that he is attacking or set forth a basis for his attack.

He just wants a Frye hearing, just because.

Apparently, he recently told a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel that he was surprised by the claim of one of the State’s experts identifying Trayvon Martin as the source of the shriek. O’Mara reportedly said he would have to ask for a continuance to find an expert who will disagree with the State’s experts.

Judge Nelson is not going to grant a continuance so that he can shop around for an expert who will say what he wants the expert to say.

O’Mara does not appear to understand the Frye rule or whether it even applies in this case.

Is he clueless in Orlando?


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Zimmerman: The State’s motions in limine should be granted

May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good morning:

I have reviewed the State’s 9 motions in limine and listed them below for easy reference. They are consistent with existing law and contain nothing surprising or controversial. I expect Judge Nelson will grant all of them.

On multiple occasions during the past year, I have mentioned the issues raised by each motion, identified the correct legal rule to apply to resolve each motion, and predicted the outcome. Using this case as context, let’s briefly review each of the 9 motions to see how well we understand why and how lawyers use them to solve problems and gain a tactical advantage.


(This motion alerts the Court that the defense has not been complying with its reciprocal discovery obligations in timely fashion and asks for an order directing the defense to correct that situation as soon as possible).


(This motion seeks an order prohibiting the defense from mentioning any oral or written statements or conduct by Trayvon Martin regarding school suspensions, use of marijuana or fighting. The State also asks Judge Nelson to prohibit the defense from referring to Trayvon wearing a set of false gold teeth, his school and performance records, his use of social media, and his use of text messages that he sent or received before the murder. The State argues that none of this evidence is admissible.


(This motion refers to the important distinction between the admission-by-a-party-opponent rule, which permits the prosecution to introduce some or all of the defendant’s statements, but prohibits the defense from using them because they are hearsay)


(This is the defendant’s motion for a Frye Hearing regarding the admissibility of expert testimony about the methods used to clean-up the sound quality of the 911 call)


(This motion seeks to exclude improper opinion evidence regarding the defendant’s guilt or innocence elicited from SPD officials who investigated Trayvon Marin’s death.)


(This motion seeks to prevent the State defense from informing the jury that the defendant did not have a prior record because it’s irrelevant)


(This motion seeks to prohibit the defense from telling the jury about the possible length of sentence and arguing for jury nullification)


(This motion seeks to prevent the defense from arguing to the jury that, if the State fails to call a witness on its list, the jury should assume the witness’s testimony would have been different.)


(This motion seeks to prohibit the defense from mentioning that a trace of marijuana was detected in Trayvon’s blood. The evidence would be irrelevant because the trace amount was too low to impair functioning)

NOTICE OF HEARING – DATE: 05/28/2013 – TIME: 0900AM – CTRM: 5D

Shellie Zimmerman and her right to remain silent

May 10, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Good morning:

Lady 2 Soothe provided the inspiration for this article with the following comment about Shellie Zimmeerman and her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Does anyone know if this is true?

Legally, as GZ’s wife she could take the 5th.

However, if she takes that 5th she has to take the 5th for every single question they ask because if she even answers one question, just one, the protection of the 5th is gone. Which means, she would then have to answer every question she took the 5th on previously.

Here is my answer:

Pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, she can refuse to answer any question, if she believes that her answer might tend to incriminate her.

Since she is represented by counsel in a pending criminal case, her lawyer will probably be at her side to advise her whether to assert the 5th and refuse to answer.

She would not waive the 5th by answering just one question, or even several. She can assert it at any time, but if she were to assert it to avoid cross examination regarding a matter that she had testified about on direct examination, for example, the judge would remedy the situation upon request by striking her testimony and ordering the jury to disregard it.

Given the pending perjury charge and her potential criminal liability for aiding and abetting her husband to conceal the commission of the murder, we can reasonably expect her to refuse to answer any questions that delve into those matters. Therefore, I do not realistically see her being called to the stand. I will add parenthetically that it’s improper for a lawyer to call a witness to the stand to provoke the witness into taking the 5th in front of the jury. Where there is any reasonable likelihood that a witness will take the 5th, or should consult with a lawyer about taking the 5th before answering, a judge will not allow the examination to begin in the presence of the jury. Instead, she will excuse the jury and allow counsel to proceed with questions. If the witness asserts the 5th at some point, the judge will terminate the inquiry and prohibit the witness from testifying.

Shellie will no doubt appear with her lawyer who will likely advise Judge Nelson that he has advised Shellie to assert the 5th to all questions except her name and relationship to the defendant. Since she clearly has a valid reason to assert the 5th, I expect Judge Nelson will excuse her from testifying.

However, there is one legitimate way to prevent her from taking the 5th and Bernie de la Rionda has the power to do it. Since they both want something from each other, they can play let’s make a deal. For example, he could offer to dismiss the perjury charge, if she agrees to testify truthfully for the prosecution. The feds have written the playbook and all he needs to do is follow it. Here’s the way it works.

The agreement would have to be conditioned on her voluntarily submitting to an interview and polygraph test, if requested, to determine if she answered questions truthfully. He also would have to promise her use immunity for any information that she discloses in the interview and at trial, if he calls her to the stand. Use immunity means he could not use anything she said during the interview or the trial, so long as she tells the truth. Because of the use-immunity promise, Shellie would no longer be in danger of incriminating herself, if she cooperates and testifies. That means she could not assert the 5th and refuse to answer.

That still leaves the issue of the husband-wife privilege. Boar de Laze, Searching Mind and I have about beaten that issue to death without reaching agreement. BDL believes the defendant can prevent her from testifying against him by claiming the privilege. SM and I believe the privilege may not apply, if the testifying spouse (Shellie) is an uncharged coconspirator with her husband in a plot to conceal the commission of the murder and to evade prosecution by fleeing the jurisdiction.

It would make little sense for BDLR to play let’s make a deal with Shellie Zimmerman, if the defendant can prevent her from testifying against him. Therefore, he will not open the bidding unless he is certain that the privilege will not apply.

Finally, BDLR is an apex predator, not Santa Clause. He is not likely to seek Shellie’s cooperation or accept it, if offered, unless he believes that he needs it to convict the defendant. Allowing her to skate on a slam-dunk perjury charge without getting something that he needs in return is not going to happen. Keep in mind, however, that because they must prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors fear they must prove their cases beyond all doubt to be on the safe side. Having Shellie as a backup insurance policy to help disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt has to have some value even if she would be ab admitted perjurer.

I have give a lot of thought to this issue and as usual when I am in doubt, I come back to a fundamental rule, Keep It Simple, Stupid. The prosecution has the phone logs for the defendant’s calls as well as his text messages and emails. I’m pretty certain they contain devastating evidence. If that’s true, I would recommend not playing let’s make a deal with Shellie. Lying to the court while under oath at a bail hearing regarding a material matter is a serious matter. As a matter of principle, people who commit that crime should not be permitted to walk away without consequence because they frustrate and often defeat the truth finding process that is so essential to the due administration of justice and the legitimacy of our courts.


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