Dispute regarding publication of settlement amount is a tempest in a teapot

April 19, 2013

Friday, April 18, 2013

Good morning.

The dispute regarding whether the settlement amount should be publicized is a tempest in a teapot.

A defendant in a criminal case has the right to cross examine a witness against him regarding any bias or prejudice the witness might have that might influence their testimony in the case.

To facilitate discussion, let us assume that the case settled for $1.75 million.

Mark O’Mara wants to know that amount so that he can argue to the jury that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton were not credible witnesses when they identified Trayvon as the person who uttered the death shriek.

For example, he could argue that they had 1.75 million reasons to lie.

As distasteful as such an argument would be, I believe the defense has a right to make it.

Whether it would make any sense to cross examine them about the settlement and to argue that they lied when they identified Trayvon as the source of the death shriek is another matter.

I do not believe there will be any doubt that Trayvon uttered that shriek because he was unarmed and the shriek abruptly ended as though silenced by the gunshot.

There is no credible argument that the defendant uttered that shriek as he pulled his gun out of the holster, extended his arm, aimed while making certain that he would not shoot his left hand by mistake, and pulled the trigger simultaneously stopping his scream.

To argue to the jury that Trayvon’s parents lied for financial reasons would be to invite scorn, if not hatred, and prejudice the defendant.

Nevertheless, if O’Mara wants to be stupid and venture into an area where no one with an ounce of sense would dare to go, the law erects no barrier and permits him to make a fool out of himself.

I doubt he is that stupid. I suspect he is merely posturing and would not dare go down that road.

Judge Nelson could dispose of this motion by ordering that the amount of the settlement remain confidential for now, subject to reconsideration if Trayvon’s parents testify.

Let him dare to bring it up.

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Settlement agreement is dreadful news for George Zimmerman

April 8, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

I asked a question yesterday and did not get an answer.

The question was, Did Mark O’Mara advise the HOA to settle the Fulton-Martin lawsuit?

Rene Stutzman at the Orlando Sentinel provided some additional information today.

That secret homeowners association settlement with Trayvon Martin’s family may not remain secret much longer.

Seminole County Clerk of Courts Maryanne Morse has written a letter to Trayvon’s family attorney, Benjamin Crump, telling him that she doesn’t think it meets the standard of a confidential filing so she intends to make it public in 10 days.

Even so, the total dollar figure paid out by the association will likely remain a secret. That’s because Crump edited it out before he put the 12-page document in the court file Thursday.

It’s believed to be more than $1 million.

Stutzman also revealed that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton settled their claim against the HOA without filing a lawsuit. Therefore, the settlement agreement has not been reviewed by a judge.

We know that the Traveler’s Insurance Co., was not a party to the agreement because the HOA did not purchase the insurance until March 30, 2012, a little over a month after the defendant shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Why did Benjamin Crump file the settlement agreement in the GZ criminal case?

Here’s Stutzman again,

Why Crump had it placed in the file in the first place remains a mystery. He did not return phone calls from the Orlando Sentinel. But his clients, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, were deposed last month by Zimmerman’s attorneys and were likely asked about the settlement.

In an interview last month, when asked if the settlement was a specific figure between $1 million and $2 million, Crump would not say.

“I have no comment on the subject,” he said. “I know you didn’t get that from me.”

There is an unconfirmed rumor that the New York Times reported in February that Mark O’Mara said Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton had rejected a $1 million settlement offer.

Stutzman said today about the settlement amount, “It’s believed to be more than $1 million.”

Sundance Cracker at the treehouse, which is Mark O’Mara’s internet site of choice, reported yesterday that the settlement is closer to $2 million.

Difficult to draw any conclusions without more information, but I sincerely doubt the claim was settled for nuisance value because, given the defendant’s waiver of an immunity hearing and a substantial likelihood that a jury will reject his claim of self-defense, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton would have no incentive to settle the case for peanuts. Better to wait and sue him and the HOA together after he is convicted when, basically, the sky would be the limit.

I figure they were in the driver’s seat and could afford to demand a substantial sum of money to cut HOA loose before trial.

This settlement agreement is dreadful news for the defendant.

BTW, Dee Dee definitely is not the prosecution’s star witness.

The prosecution’s star witness is the defendant and that is why a jury will convict him of murder in the second degree.

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Did Mark O’Mara advise the HOA to settle the Fulton-Martin lawsuit

April 7, 2013

I am hoping to find out today if Mark O’Mara played any role in advising the HOA to settle the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

Sundance Cracker at The Conservative Treehouse claims that he did. This is the website O’Mara has publicly referenced with approval as a source of ideas.

Since Benjamin Crump represents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton that would certainly qualify him as opposing counsel for purposes of the silly deposition issue.

More importantly, he would have a conflict of interest because he would be in possession of inside information obtained from his client, plus all of the discovery that has not been released to the public, and advising the HOA to settle before the criminal trial.

That’s the equivalent of saying:

GZ’s self-defense claim isn’t going to fly. He’s going to be convicted of murder 2, so you better cut your losses to a minimum by settling now.

If true, that’s a conflict of interest and a major violation of a lawyer’s obligation to maintain client confidentiality.

Imagine how you would feel, if you were George Zimmerman.

O’Mara should be kicked off the case and disbarred, if he did that.

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Trayvon Martin’s parents settle lawsuit against HOA for more than $1 million

April 5, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting today that Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, have settled their wrongful death case against the Homeowner’s Association for more than $1 million.

The parties are settling the matter to avoid litigation without admitting responsibility and the terms of the settlement agreement are subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

Trayvon’s parents still intend to sue George Zimmerman separately.

The settlement agreement should not have any effect on the criminal case but it does indicate that the HOA has little confidence in the viability of the GZ’s claim of self-defense.

Of course, we already knew that from our review of the evidence and the defense team’s decision to abandon an immunity hearing.

Congratulations to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin!

This will not bring back Trayvon, but it’s an important achievement and milestone in the long road seeking justice for Trayvon.

H/T to Benjamin Crump: Well done, sir.

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