In the latest scenario of the George Zimmerman defense, Zimmerman’s attorney has apologized for the outright false misrepresentations that he made about Trayvon Martin’s friends beating up a homeless man. It’s almost as if the defense is making it up as they go –at this point, with the trial scheduled to begin on June 10, 2013. Mark O’Mara, attorney for George Zimmerman falsely represented in court that a video showed two friends of Trayvon Martin beating up a homeless man. As it turned out, the video in question proved it was two homeless men in a fight—without any indication of Trayvon Martin or his friends present.
The client and now the defense lawyer have shot their credibility. The saying of like father, like son applies here to lawyer and client. In an attempt to clear his client by smearing the reputation of Trayvon Martin and in this instance, falsely accusing him, shows the defense is risking its own credibility to tamper the emotions of the potential jury. Social media has been used to maliciously ruin people’s lives in the past. Although Mark O’Mara quickly apologized for the remarks, the damage was done. Online via Twitter, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., the spokesperson for the Zimmerman family stated “mistakes happen” in reference to the misrepresentation. And so the question one has to wonder is whether this was really a mistake.
This case has been one of extreme polarization with those who support justice for Trayvon Martin and those who support justice for George Zimmerman. The family of Trayvon Martin believes that the killer of their teenage son almost got away with murder last year, when he was allowed to roam free for 44 days following the killing. And in all honesty, Zimmerman almost escaped murder charges. And the family and supporters of George Zimmerman believe that Zimmerman was only arrested due to public outcry and for no other reason.
It’s true that Zimmerman would probably not be standing trial if it were not for the vigilant efforts of Al Sharpton, attorney Ben Crump and others. They helped to expose the injustice of not arresting and charging George Zimmerman. That’s not the only reason that he was arrested. But I can understand how the family of George Zimmerman believes that he is being railroaded into a court room to defend himself. That is hardly the case. George Zimmerman was arrested because the prosecution’s subsequent and thorough investigation showed the events warranted that second degree murder charges be brought. And justice demanded that the Sanford police department did not become the prosecutor, judge and jury in deciding to allow George Zimmerman get away with a possible murder. The police’s investigation was minimal at best and a rush to judgment when they made the decision to decline charges against Mr. Zimmerman.
The outrage that was felt among many African Americans and those supporters of justice for Trayvon Martin is that if the tables were turned the other way and Trayvon killed George Zimmerman, the arrest would have, in all likelihood, occurred immediately. Trayvon would not have been given the benefit of the doubt that was given to Zimmerman. African American males are rarely given the benefit of the doubt in the criminal justice system. And the jails which disproportionately house 40% of black men in an overall U.S. population of 6% black men proves the point. And in this case, the Zimmerman defense is playing on people’s emotions by trying to paint Trayvon Martin as the one who belonged in the jail for past wrongs—not the other way around. Trayvon Martin is not on trial. And O’Mara’s ploys continue to fuel the emotions on both sides.
Zimmerman’s defense team has turned the case into an online and TV media frenzy. Attorney Mark O’Mara is running a media blitz campaign to assert his client’s defense, obtain more funds for his fees and try the case through social media. I would prefer that an attorney try the case in the court room instead of the world of public opinion. The prosecutor has mostly refrained from press conferences and has repeatedly sought gag orders against the defense attorneys. A gag order is in the discretion of the judge. And Judge Debra Nelson has repeatedly denied gag orders preventing the attorneys from publicly discussing the case. So apparently now it’s fair game for Zimmerman’s attorney to misrepresent the case to the public—as long as he half- heartedly apologizes.
The only facts that matter are those which will be presented as evidence in the court room. And it will be up to the jury to distinguish fact from fiction and truth versus lies. And Mark O’Mara is making it difficult by mudding the waters with misrepresentations. But luckily O’Mara and George Zimmerman will not have the final say.