Florida prosecutors are attempting to use pressure to force George Zimmerman and his attorney Mark O’Mara to reveal their hand before they go into the courtroom in June based upon a motion presented to Judge Debra Nelson, according to a Yahoo! News report on April 29.
The motion pertains to the prosecutions desire to learn where Zimmerman and O’Mara stand in regards to the “stand your ground” law in Florida. Prosecutors want to know whether the Trayvon Martin shooting suspect plans to try the case in court and then use the law if it goes south for him during the court proceedings, or if his lawyer will seek to raise the issue before the June trial date.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, sees this as an obvious intent to learn his defense strategy, and he has made it clear he isn’t showing his hand in that way, despite the motion to pressure such a response.
I know the state would like to have that information, it seems. I don’t feel compelled to advise anybody of my strategy in this case,” he said.
The State can’t compel the information from the defendant or his attorney, but they are trying to force his hand by stating that the issue cannot be raised once the trial begins or after it has concluded.
O’Mara has stated it is his understanding of the law that it could be raised during the trial but that it would be hard to raise it post-conviction, if that were to happen.
Defense attorneys do not have to gain approval for their defense strategies in advance of court dates–or ever–from prosecutors or judges, especially when it comes to what they plan to do to defend someone accused of second-degree murder, as is the case with George Zimmerman.
Therefore, the Florida prosecution’s motion to Judge Nelson in this case is somewhat out of line in trying to push for this information, but it isn’t illegal. And 13 News says Zimmerman is being made to attend a hearing on Tuesday so prosecutors can try and get the information from him.
Prosecutors have the ability to attempt to find out that information through court motions, as it could make them tailor their case better if they know it. But they are walking a fine line if they try to force the information from the defendant or his attorney. And only a judge can rule on the matter, decisively.
Mistrials can occur when procedural errors are made just as quickly as they can when other things go wrong in a court of law. So Judge Nelson must weigh how firmly she supports the motion to force Zimmerman to state whether he will pursue a stand your ground immunity action during court proceedings, and whether she will raise the issue with the defendant’s attorney on Tuesday or not.
© 2013 Radell Smith
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Radell Smith holds a degree in criminal justice with a concentration in behavioral forensics. She has successful criminal profiling experience in homicide cases. You can reach her at TheRealRadellSmith@hotmail.com.