Following his second bail hearing last week, George Zimmerman is back in jail, waiting to see if his request for bail will be granted by Judge Kenneth R. Lester. There are indications to suggest that Zimmerman will remain in jail until his trial in the Trayvon Martin case. Bail hearings are for the sole purpose to determine if the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to society. Another key element is the strength of the prosecution’s case. Zimmerman is charged with 2nd degree murder which also bears on the bail. Yet, another issue is the defendant abiding by the court’s orders, if released on bail.
At Zimmerman’s first hearing, based on what we now know to be lies, he was granted a $150,000 bail. And ironically, Zimmerman’s lawyers now request that he be freed again on the same amount of bail–$150,000. He can’t possibly expect to be released on the same amount of bail after having found out to be a liar. To be released on the same low bail, would make a mockery of the judicial system. And if I were Zimmerman’s attorney, I would not have argued that nonsense. And remember his wife was charged with perjury for her alleged lies under oath about their finances.
The judge indicated that he needs to think over the case and will file a written decision. Undoubtedly, if the judge rules against Zimmerman and remands him to remain in jail pending trial, the defense will file an appeal of the ruling. And that’s the very reason why the judge is writing a written opinion rather than an oral ruling from the bench. If an appeal is filed, the judge wants to make sure that the sound legal reasoning for denying Zimmerman’s bail is in writing.
The defense did a good job of playing up the Stand Your Ground defense at the bail hearing to show weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. That was more for the benefit of the potential jurors in the case who will read about the case in the media. The defense did a poor job of explaining to the judge why Zimmerman should be released on the same bail amount, when the Court was convinced the first time that the family had little finances. This time around is different. Even Zimmerman’s own accounting witnesses testified that moving the money around looked like he was hiding money.
George Zimmerman conspired with his wife to hide funds available to him in a recorded jail house phone call. And he allowed his wife to testify falsely at his first bail hearing, without attempting to correct her false statements. We know he does not follow the instructions of the authorities. Additionally, when Zimmerman’s wife found a second passport, he told her to keep it, instead of turning over to the authorities. The judge previously ordered him to surrender his passport. He had a second one because he thought it had been previously stolen.
Florida statute 903.035 states:
903.035 Applications for bail; information provided; hearing on application for modification; penalty for providing false or misleading information or omitting material information.—(1)(a) All information provided by a defendant, in connection with any application for or attempt to secure bail, to any court, court personnel, or individual soliciting or recording such information for the purpose of evaluating eligibility for, or securing, bail for the defendant, under circumstances such that the defendant knew or should have known that the information was to be used in connection with an application for bail, shall be accurate, truthful, and complete without omissions to the best knowledge of the defendant.
(b) The failure to comply with the provisions of paragraph (a) may result in the revocation or modification of bail.
Judge Lester is still deciding on whether to release Zimmerman on bail after he has been proven to be a liar, manipulator and unable to follow instructions of authorities, including the judge. Does that mean he should remain in jail? Looking at the totality of the evidence and law, it is highly unlikely that Zimmerman will be released on bail. Yes, he could remain in jail until the trial–expected to start in 2013.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.