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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