Zimmerman’s Disaster

June 26, 2012 Criminal Defense

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, has made his first mistake, and it may be fatal to his client’s defense. George Zimmerman must defend the charges against him with self-defense. This means he must testify in his own defense. It is hard to mount a self-defense claim without the defendant testifying. But now his defense team has committed the worse possible offense– the self-inflicted wound.

In order to re-obtain bail, his lawyer filed a motion for bail. Here is the first sentence of paragraph 10 of the motion:

“Mr. Zimmerman’s failure to advise the Court of the existence of the donated funds at the initial bail hearing was wrong and Mr. Zimmerman accepts responsibility for his part in allowing the Court to be misled as to his true financial circumstances.” Here is the entire motion.

Imagine the cross-examination when he takes the stand:

You lied at your bail hearing?
You lied to the judge sitting right here?
You lied to the man judging whether you should be released?
You lied to get out of jail?
You lied to hide the amount of money you had?
You were under oath at the time?
You volunteered to testify?
Your wife lied as well?
The two of you conspired to lie?
You knew this was an important issue?
Yet you lied anyway?
You are facing a far more important decision today than just bail?
You could spend a lot of time in jail?
Your incentive to lie is far greater?
Now that you have been exposed as a liar no one should trust what you have to say?
Now that you have been exposed as a man who would lie under oath no one should believe you?

If he denies any of these questions he will be impeached with the admission in his motion. He accepts responsibility for misleading the court. Of course this is just a euphemism for lying. The fun with this will be unending. If I were the prosecutor, I would be working out about two hours of questions on this.

Unfortunately these types of choices come up in litigation. Lawyers can’t make short term decisions that destroy the long term decision. Every defendant wants bail and wants his lawyer to do almost anything to get it. But beware what you ask for and how you request it. I predict this motion will come back to haunt Mr. Zimmerman and his defense team. And it was all unnecessary.