Skip to comments.Defense: Zimmerman made a “mistake” in not disclosing money at bond hearing
Posted on 06/05/2012 4:34:09 AM PDT by marktwain
Defense lawyers for George Zimmerman admitted Monday that their client made a mistake when he failed to mention some $135,000 he raised through a website before his April bond hearing, but the lawyers say this should not prevent Zimmerman from being released again on bail.
Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin of Miami Gardens, returned to jail in Seminole County on Sunday after a judge revoked his $150,000 bond. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said Zimmerman sat silently like a potted plant while his attorney argued in April that he didnt have the money to pay a higher bail.
In fact, Zimmerman and his wife controlled at the time at least $135,000 in donations Zimmerman solicited over a website in the days before his arrest in the high-profile case, prosecutors said. Zimmerman first mentioned the account to his attorney five days after the bail hearing.
Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, encountered Trayvon on a rainy February evening behind rows of townhouses in a Sanford community and shot him after a scuffle. Prosecutors say Zimmerman tracked down Trayvon whose father was staying in the neighborhood because he suspected the teen was a burglar; Zimmerman, however, told police that Trayvon attacked him first and he shot the teen in self-defense.
In a statement on their blog Monday, defense attorneys Mark OMara and Donald West said Zimmermans failure to disclose the money to the judge was a mistake caused by fear, mistrust and confusion. At the time of the bail hearing, the lawyers said, Zimmerman had been driven from his home by threats and an oppressive climate, as had his parents.
He had been thrust into the national spotlight as a racist murderer by factions acting with their own agendas, the lawyers wrote on their website.
Mr. Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair, the lawyers added.
But OMara and West maintained that Zimmerman should still be allowed to be released on bail, because he is not a danger to the community nor a flight risk. The lawyers planned to file a renewed bail request on Monday.
The lawyers noted that Zimmerman has frequently cooperated with authorities investigating the shooting. Zimmerman gave voluntary statements to police, re-enacted the shooting for investigators, and gave voice exemplars so police could compare his voice to the screams for help heard on 911 calls at the time of the shooting.
Zimmerman raised a total of $204,000 through his website PayPal account before most of the money was transferred to a legal defense fund out of his control, the lawyers said. About $30,000 of that was spent on expenses to move Zimmerman from Sanford to an undisclosed location outside Florida for his safety, the attorneys said.
Zimmerman and his wife controlled at the time at least $135,000 in donations Zimmerman solicited...
I take issue with every verb in the above excerpt.
he should have been called in to re-asses his financial worth and then sent back home(wherever he is living these days) till the trial.
this is a non issue that the left jumped on, just to be dicks...
I don’t get it. I specifically remember them addresssing the issue of funds collected during the bail hearing. I remember them asking the lawyer and George’s father about how much was collected, but nobody knew because they didn’t have control of the account. I don’t remember for sure, but thought his lawyer said he would try to get that information in the coming days. So how is it that they can claim he kept quiet about the money?
If George is not freed from jail this would hurt his chance at a fair trial. When you are in prison during trial, jury can have a more negative view of you, not to mention that he does not deserve to be in jail.
A person that saw himself being railroaded in the future, might just want to have a exit strategy, I can understand that! Sure it`s not the case here, but something I might have considered
but the judge is also being a dick, not small potatoes
The defense sees that Z has accumulated funds with which to fight them, and wants to prevent that by getting the judge to steal it.
I understand what you meant, and I think it is that the prosecution sees that Z has accumulated funds with which to fight them.
It is much harder to strong arm a plea bargain if your victim has money and public support.
The state and the judge aren't upset with Sr. Zimmerman or O'Mara, rather with George and Shellie Zimmerman. The basis for being upset is that Shellie and George talked about the funds in the "PayPal" account, and moving them to their Credit Union account, using them to pay bail, etc. At the time of the conversations, April 12-17 or so, both Shellie and George knew they had accumulated upward of a hundred thousand dollars.
Shellie testified at the bond hearing in a technically truthful, but misleading way. She didn't know how much was there, but she knew it was more than a hundred thousand dollars.
Everybody knew about the fund raising effort and account, it was discussed openly in court during the bail hearing. What wasn't known until about a week later was that the account had upwards of a hundred thousand dollars in it. O'Mara apprised the court promptly, an also took control of the funds. So, actions after April 26 or so are above board (as far as we know).
The judge didn't learn, until June 1, that Shellie and George were aware of a hundred thousand dollar stash before and at the bail hearing. While claiming unemployed, no source of income, in hiding, etc., to omit disclosing that you have access to an uncertain amount, but over a hundred thousand dollars, is a significant omission.
If Zimmerman had told the judge he had $135,000 dollars the Judge would have made the bail $200,000.
The idea is to keep the rioters quiet.
You're right, but it's not because the jury has a more negative view--in fact, most times, jurors won't know if a defendant is being held without bail. He'll show up in court in a suit and he'll look like he would if he were out.
The real problem is that when he's in prison, he can't help prepare his defense like he otherwise would. His lawyers are going to be working a lot of hours in the days leading up to the trial, and he would be with them a lot of that time if he were out. In jail, it makes things a lot more difficult.
He'll obtain bail. He's entitled to it unless the court finds one of three things - the state's case is airtight; Zimmerman is a dnager to society; or Zimmerman is a flight risk. If the judge does not make one of those findings, then he must grant bail that defendant can afford.
I take issue with every verb in the above excerpt.
Mr. Zimmerman had created a website and Paypal account as an avenue to collect donations. On the website he stated he would personally maintain accountability of all funds received.
That action IN ITSELF is a crime, and Zimmerman and/or his wife may suffer a penalty beyond having the bail revoked for having done so.
Florida Statutes, CHAPTER 496, SOLICITATION OF FUNDS
496.413 Contributions solicited for or accepted on behalf of a named individual.
(1) Contributions solicited for, or accepted by or on behalf of, a named individual must be deposited in a trust account opened by a trustee named in a properly established trust document or must be deposited in a depository established in accordance with s. 69.031. The circuit court has jurisdiction over the contributed funds placed in such depository accounts.
(2) Disbursements of contributions may be properly made from a trust account only upon written verification from the trustee that the disbursement is in furtherance of the purpose for which the funds were solicited, with documentation reflecting the identity of the proposed payee and the justification for the proposed payment. Disbursements of contributed funds from a depository account may be made only as allowed by the court. When a trust account is to be closed and a balance remains in that account in excess of the amount needed for the benefit of the named individual, such excess funds may be transferred to another trust account for the benefit of another named individual who is in the same or similar circumstances.
(3) Any person or organization that violates the provisions of subsection (1) or subsection (2) is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. History.ss. 12, 26, ch. 91-208; ss. 15, 19, ch. 94-287.
Mr. Zimmerman and his wife had four recorded conversations about the money. During two of the conversations Mrs. Zimmerman was at their Credit Union and George spoke directly with bank officials.
They transferred money from the Paypal account into multiple Credit Union accounts. Credit Union statements dated 4/19, the day before the bond hearing, show they had access to over $135,000.00 in cash.
Those funds were put in a trust account a few days after the bond hearing. GZ reported them at his first meeting with O’mara.
GZ’s new bond should be the same, as he’s in the same financial status he claimed to be at the hearing.
“It must be noted that, when attempting to interpret George’s actions regarding the funds, that he did disclose the existence of the funds five days after the bond hearing, during his first conversation with the defense about the fund. When the defense team learned of the funds, we disclosed this to the court and to the State Attorney’s Office, and the money was transferred to the Legal Defense Fund which is now independently managed.
Of the original $204,000 raised by Mr. Zimmerman’s fund, approximately $150,000 was transferred to the Legal Defense Fund. $30,000 was used to make the complicated transition from private life in Sanford, FL to a life in hiding as a defendant in a high-profile court case. The balance of approximately $20,000 was kept liquid to provide living expenses for the first several months as the legal process unfolds.”
The key words . . . after the bond hearing
'Ignorance of the law is no excuse' is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content.
The article is very fair and accurate and quite sympathetic to GZ’s situation. I hope Judge Lester reads it and realizes that the state, after a month of trying to find the evidence it claimed to have in its charging document and witness tampering, still has no case.
In other words, these two democrats were trying to be truthful but not helpful. I imagine they learned that from a politician they admired - and learned that it was legal.
Yes, and the court and the prosecution knew about the funds as of 5 days after the bond hearing, long before this second hearing.
They had plenty of time to call in GZ and ask him to explain and allow him to be present at any new proceedings concerning the funds and his bail.
Yet they didn’t.
Nice, Judge... real professional of ya! What about your "credibility"?
Exactly. A judge shouldn’t be running his mouth.
We'll all try to remember that the next time we enter a law library and see how many books of federal, state, and local statutes there are on the shelves, especially the ones that are selectively enforced -- like perjury.
Why didn't Judge Lester ask Shelly Z the name of the Paypal account's Trustee when he had her on the phone??? Was he ignorant of the law or did he know from her answer to his question that they were already over their head in this matter and had no trustee??? And if he suspected that they had no trustee as yet, then why didn't he instruct GZ's counsel accordingly??? Isn't that what a judge is for or is he just a "potted plant"???
It would have saved him a hissy fit later on.
But wouldn’t the funds have to be used for his legal defense, which means he couldn’t use the funds for other purposes?
But she did admit having access to an uncertain amount. She just failed to assign a number to a rapidly changing sum, a portion of which, they would not have access to. Imagine if she approximates, 'we have 135k', then the prosecution uncovers another 20,30 or 50. This was a damned if you do/damned if you don't.
The fault is not with the witness, the fault is with the prosecution for not framing the question better, which leads me to believe it was a set-up.
We can second guess Q&A till the cows come home. At some amount of money, nobody cares. At 100 grand, it matters. The court understands uncertainty, and the state's arguments are mostly bull. She could say "We had 135K last week, I don't know how much we have now. The funds are to pay our living and legal defense for George, and right now we don't think they will cover that."
-- The fault is not with the witness, the fault is with the prosecution for not framing the question better, which leads me to believe it was a set-up. --
O'Mara and Lester have voices too, FWIW.
I do agree that the state is framing Zimmerman with bogus witnesses, and that the state will use every dirty underhanded trick it can think of. But I think the state was surprised (and pissed) that Zimmerman is more popular than Martin. I don't think they had a clue Zimmerman had that much public support, before O'Mara made the amount of money public during a CNN broadcast on April 26th.
Stop trying to make Zimmerman some political leftwing operative because he registered as a dem. BIG DEAL..this is about the politics of the race hustlers and gun grabbers, dummy.
I’m sure the Duke Lacross player’s parents where nice upper middle class liberals considering where they lived and worked, yet it didn’t make being railroaded for rape okay.
Same goes here with Zimmerman.
Yes that’s my point as well. A defense fund is for the defense not bail or living expenses. Legally it could be trouble if they’re used for something else. I guess...who knows..there are a gazillion laws out there ready to make any citizen a criminal. Yet real crime is not punished properly.
The amount is completely subjective. The prosecution's knickers might twist at $10k "undisclosed". I agree the funds should have been better addressed, and by O'Mara. Rather than forcing the prosecution to look petty, he served up some red meat.
My point was that as some level, everyone will agree it matters. I'm not sure if 100 grand is across that threshhold, but it sort of feels like it to me.
You are right also, however I find it hard to believe that any juror would not know that a defendant was in jail, and particularly in this case.
But here`s praying he gets out. If this judge acts badly we can appeal his decision
I believe you are correct!