Skip to comments.Judge Revokes Zimmerman's Bond
Posted on 06/01/2012 11:50:10 AM PDT by Lurker
ORLANDO, Fla. (WLS) - Prosecutors asked a judge Friday to revoke the bond of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Prosecutors said in a motion that 28-year-old George Zimmerman and his family misled them about his finances when testifying during a bail hearing that allowed him to be released from jail on a $150,000 bond. Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda asked for the revocation during a hearing to help determine if prosecutors and the defense can stop the public release of certain documents in the case.
During the bond hearing in April, Zimmerman's relatives testified they had limited funds. Zimmerman's attorney said several days later that he had discovered his client had raised more than $200,000 from a website. At the time of the hearing, about $135,000 had been raised, and that money wasn't disclosed at the bond hearing.
"This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny," said Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda. "It was misleading and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie."
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said it was an innocent misunderstanding and that Zimmerman wasn't using that money for his expenses and wasn't sure what he could use the money for. He said Zimmerman used the houses of his parents and grandmother as collateral for the bond.
Prosecutors also said in the motion that Zimmerman didn't disclose he had a second passport. Zimmerman turned his passport over to the court at the bond hearing as a measure that would prevent him from fleeing the country.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin last February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhouses in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where Martin was visiting his father's fiancee.
The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford's police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.
At Friday's hearing, De la Rionda and O'Mara also asked a judge to stop the public release of witness names and statements made by Zimmerman to police officers. Those documents normally are part of the public record under Florida law.
"What's occurring, unfortunately, are cases are being tried in the public sector as opposed to in the courtroom," De La Rionda told Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester. "We are in a new age with Twitter, Facebook, and all these things I've never heard of before in my career.
Everybody gets to find out intimate details about witnesses that never occurred before. Witnesses are going to be reluctant to get involved."
A consortium of more than a dozen media groups, including The Associated Press, asked the judge to ignore the request, saying such records are presumed to be publicly available under Florida law.
Rachel Fugate, an attorney for the Orlando Sentinel, cited the Casey Anthony trial as an example of a highly publicized case in which a jury was able to be seated despite intense media coverage. The Florida mother was acquitted last year of killing her 2-year-old daughter.
"Discovery in Florida has traditionally been open ... and Florida hasn't encountered problems seating juries and giving defendants fair trials," Fugate said.
O'Mara said Friday on a website that he doesn't expect the case to be ready for trial until next year.
O'Mara said he expects to call on 50 witnesses who need to be deposed before he decides whether to file a "stand your ground" motion which would ask for a hearing before a judge without a jury. At the hearing, Zimmerman would argue self-defense under the Florida law which gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.
The Associated Press Contributed To This Report
Again, when did they do all this talking?? He was in jail only briefly several weeks. Why didn’t the pros have these tapes the first bond hearing because we all know they were listening and watching every thing he was saying and doing in there under protective custody.
Well now they got their big perp walk. When big daddy government comes for you you will pay.....some how. That’s fine with you though right FloriDUH??
Sorry but you’re kind of dumb ass to be cheering this. MOST people are not politically active and are only a member of whatever party they were raised to be a part of, and I seriously doubt GZ is a flaming liberal.
The prosecution Motion To Revoke states that at the Media Hearing on 4/27 O’Mara “mentioned” the family had access to the funds at the Bond Hearing on 4/20. The Court then requested an accounting of all funds obtained through the website and the Paypal account, which O’Mara provided on 5/18.
From the 4/20 transcript there’s a bit of wiggle left from O’Mara’s questions. But de la Rionda specifically asks about the website funds. And the Mrs. plays dumb....
I suppose the Zimmermans could say that they had assigned the funds for attorney/trial costs, and not for bail/bond. So technically they were honest. But, oh man. It still stinks.
Thanks for that audio link.
Anyway, that's totally off the subject we were discussing, just found it interesting.
I'd like to hear the totality of the jailhouse calls. I suspect de la Rionda cherry-picked, context-free, in a way to make his case.
-- I suppose the Zimmermans could say that they had assigned the funds for attorney/trial costs, and not for bail/bond. So technically they were honest. --
They don't get to set the technicalities, but I understand your point - if they consider the funds unavailable, then they figure they have no need to mention them. E.g., why not hang them for failing to mention any vested Social Security rights, or pensions?
-- But, oh man. It still stinks. --
It makes a real bad first impression, indeed. I don't blame them for not trusting the state, and it's probably a leap of faith for them to put any trust in the judge. But, that's the jam they are in, and Corey and de la Rionda are not ethical - probably not so far over the line that anything can be done about it, but they are demonstrably mean spirited and dishonest.
I 'm sure you are correct. Maybe I am missing something there, but I don't see anything particularly damning in what's been released.
In my mind, it boils down to whether or not the Court feels lied to. The cookie is the Zimmerman's possibly misrepresenting their financial status at the Bond Hearing. Now, since defense counsel had alerted the Court as to when, and how much, they had available, it seems like the Court has just been sitting around waiting for the prosecution to make an issue of it. I mean, if the Judge felt the need, couldn't he revoke the bond on O'Mara's information alone?
CONTRIVED justice IMPOSED by the POLITICALLY CORRECT.
Yes, but (as I surmise you know) law is [generally] a lawyer driven process, not a judge driven process.
Too, Lester learned something on June 1, I think. Until he got de la Rionda's motion, Lester didn't know the contents of the prison calls, so didn't have any evidence about Shelly Zimmerman's awareness of funds. As her awareness preceded the bail hearing by days, and George was the other party to the conversation, he feels he should have been told about the money on April 20th.
Interesting argument about whether revocation is an appropriate remedy in this situation, at all. MJW Comment at TalkLeft, Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 04:12:54 PM EST. Being caught with so little notice, O'Mara couldn't mount a "as a matter of law" type of defense.
If he read O'Mara's letter on 5/18 he would have had a full accounting of funds. However, it would be sans "jailhouse code speak".
"......he feels he should have been told about the money on April 20th."
A perfectly reasonable emotion.
Apparently Lester has said he was going to schedule a hearing so he could explain himself after George was back in custody.
Exactly how whether George turns himself in or not effects Lester's previous rulings remains to be seen.
I think MJW (who posts mostly at JustOneMinute) raised a good point about Lester's power to revoke bail. Under FL law, a defendant is entitled to reasonable bail unless they are a flight risk or danger. Under capital and life sentence cases, the law also provides for denial of bail if the state's case is strong.
Assuming defendant has a case, the first issue at bail hearing is danger to society or flight risk, and as far as the judge is concerned, Zimmerman is neither of those. Calling Zimmerman back to jail is further evidence that Zimmerman is not a flight risk, but I think there is a good legal question about whether or not the judge has the power to revoke bail, under the law, under this charge.
Once defendant has been found not a risk of flight nor danger to society, the judge sets the amount of bail. He may change the amount under the same pretrial release rule [Crim Pro 3.131(b)(5)] that empowers him to revoke the bail. But, goes the argument, he may not revoke the bail unless defendant has committed a crime while on release, or the judge otherwise finds flight risk or danger to society.
With that as foundation, and I don't expect O'Mara to argue that the judge improvidently revoked bail (although I think there is a good argument that is the case), what happens? I doubt Lester now finds Zimmerman to be a flight risk or danger to society, so he is obliged to grant bail. With the money out of Zimmerman's direct reach, Lester must order the trustee to make funds available to Zimmerman, in order to justify increasing Zimmerman's bail based on money donated to his legal defense. Bit of a mess there. If Zimmerman doesn't have resources for additional bail, Lester can't impose it, as doing so deprives Zimmerman of his right to be free pending trial. Maybe a token increase in bail of $50,000.
-- If he read O'Mara's letter on 5/18 he would have had a full accounting of funds. --
Yes, and he may have been suspicious that Shelly was not as forthcoming as she was supposed to have been, on April 20th. But without the state's accusations that she and George were discussing moving the money between accounts, etc., before April 20th, he lacked formal evidence, on the record, that "the information to be used in connection with an application for bail, [was not] accurate, truthful, and complete, without omissions, to the best knowledge of the defendant."
I figure the hearing will be this coming Friday, June 8th, and that Zimmerman will be released directly from the hearing. A downside to the family is that Shelly will have to appear in person, and the press will be sure to publish her appearance far and wide.
Sounds kind of like a tactic being used by another Administration tool in the Aaron Walker/BTK case...
Interesting discussion regarding the Paypal/Trust funds at that link you provided. It now appears that the Paypal account is shut down and all monies have been deposited into the " George Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund" trust. Looks like it's being independently administered so there is no ready access to the funds. I think it takes a little of the stink off that 135 since it was clearly destined for the Trust.
Assuming he was suspicious and "angry" since April 26th, Lester waiting is explained by the lack of evidence on the record that Shellie knew there was substantial funds coming to George/Shellie Zimmerman via the website, if not immediately available.
Lacking the legal authority to revoke bail, absent a finding that justifies revocation, isn't changed by the state asserting otherwise. O'Mara didn't have time to research the law on this point; and neither did the judge. Lester seems to be well disciplined in following what law he is aware of, so I don't think this is an example of deliberate over-reaching.
-- It now appears that the Paypal account is shut down and all monies have been deposited into the " George Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund" trust. --
Yes, and now that Zimmerman has been jailed, the fund is experiencing an uptick in donation rate.
-- ... there is no ready access to the funds. I think it takes a little of the stink off that 135 since it was clearly destined for the Trust. --
It doesn't take any stink off the events of April 20th, because at that time, O'Mara was unaware of just how much money had come in. He probably assumed a few hundred or a few thousand bucks, not one or two hundred thousand. So, "clearly destined for the trust" is probably not on his mind or on Zimmerman's mind in April 20th. On April 26th, both are wondering how to handle a couple hundred thousand dollars - but neither seems inclined to be hiding it, and in fact, O'Mara disclosed the money on the 27th, and gave a full accounting of timing of receipts, expenditures, etc. in May.
What wasn't disclosed to the court until June 1 is the jailhouse conversations between Zimmerman and his wife. That's what has Lester in a snit; that Shellie Zimmerman and George Zimmerman didn't make any effort on April 20th to inform the court of a hundred thousand dollars that was either in their hands or coming to them, and the jailhouse conversation is evidence that both of them knew of approximately that amount of money.
Fast forward to now, the effect of the money being out of Zimmerman's reach is that the court, in order to get its hands on the loot, has to order the trustee to relinquish control.
That wouldn't and doesn't prevent Zimmerman from starting another fund raising effort, outside of the court's reach. But, I think he's better off playing along, provided the court permits him to maintain the ability to pay bills and maintain security for himself and his wife, out of those funds.
Sorry in advance for being a grammar cop. La Crosse is a town in Wisconsin. The sport is lacrosse.
Other than that picky detail, I agree with you completely.
” I’m done...This is all concocted shit, knowing they have zip against zim.. So bring in all the big gov attacks...He didnt do this and that...Get his ass back in jail....Maybe something will happen...He’s dead...Whooops...no trial... “
Everyone in the free world knew that Zimmerman was raising money on the net to defend himself.....but the judge & prosecution didn’t know this ?
I say BS, and you are correct.
"What wasn't disclosed to the court until June 1 is.........the jailhouse conversation is evidence that both of them knew of approximately that amount of money."
Yes, and what is also shown is that they knew they were being recorded. That removes any notion they were trying to hide anything discussed.
The funds they are accusing him of hiding were donations sent for a defense fund. Zimmerman may have no control over those funds. Besides, the prosecution, court and, definitely, Trayvon’s family knew about that money and it was discussed either on TV, in some newspaper or on the net.
If I remember correctly, Trayvons family decided to sue Zimmerman after they learned about the defense fund!
‘According to Rush, some BS excuse for not telling his wife about some extra money in his paypal account and having an extra passport.’
AS USUAL RUSH IS RIGHT.......judges are charged to see that JUSTICE is done....JUSTICE in this case called for this judge to pick of the phone, call MR O’mera and ask him to explain the defendent’s confusion over the bond money question....hasn’t this man already been dealt enough injustice? He’s sufferd a broken nose, and head injuries for only trying to protect aged and unsuspecting residents in their living area? Where is the justice in herassing this man further? Good God!
It MAY have been Zimmerman’s latest member of his defense team who came forward w/the info about the money. Zimmerman added a new attorney to his team right before all this bond stuff came out. The attorneys don’t want to be villified or get in trouble either.
Hey, we have a lesbian police force. You have no idea the facists they happen to be. I know all about the big, bad Fla LE. Zimmerman is a bad decision maker. Now does it rise to the level of a crime? We shall have to wait and find out. Casey Anthony murdered her daughter and was acquitted by a Pinellas County jury. If G gets a Pinellas jury, he’ll be acquitted too.