Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The Orlando Sentinel reported late yesterday:
George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin, plans to ask the state of Florida to cover $200,000 to $300,000 of his legal expenses, his attorney told the Orlando Sentinel Monday evening.
Because Zimmerman was acquitted, state law requires Florida to pay all his legal costs, minus the biggest one: the fee that goes to his lawyers.
That includes the cost of expert witnesses, travel, depositions, photocopies, even that animated 3-D video that defense attorneys showed jurors during closing argument that depicts Trayvon punching Zimmerman.
Florida Statute 939.06 provides:
Acquitted defendant not liable for costs.–No defendant in a criminal prosecution who is acquitted or discharged shall be liable for any costs or fees of the court or any ministerial office, or for any charge of subsistence while detained in custody. If the defendant shall have paid any taxable costs in the case, the clerk or judge shall give him or her a certificate of the payment of such costs, with the items thereof, which, when audited and approved according to law, shall be refunded to the defendant.
The Orlando Sentinel is correct. The statute does not authorize reimbursement for attorneys fees.
I do not doubt that the costs are substantial, but the statute limits them to “costs or fees of the court or any ministerial office.”
O’Mara will have to submit a cost bill itemizing the costs and fees that he has paid or owes to others and the Judicial Administrative Commission will decide how much it will pay.
In most states the cost bill is submitted to the trial judge for approval and then presented to a state judicial commission that decides how much it will pay.
I imagine that the JAC has well established rules and guidelines regarding what it will pay and how much it will pay.