The one piece of advice that I always tell my clients is to tell the truth. It seems rather simple but a few clients, who are too smart for their own good, think they can outsmart the system, the opposing counsel, the court and even their own attorney. Often times, the George Zimmermans of the world think that they know their case better than anyone, when it comes down to how to handle the situation. And as we can see from George Zimmerman, lying never works out well. The one thing that I give credit to George Zimmerman is now I can use him as an example to my clients. I can now advise them that they don’t want to do a Zimmerman and get hit with the wrath of the judge.
On July 5, 2012, Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. wrote a scathing nine page opinion on Zimmerman’s bail hearing. In it, Judge Lester soundly told Zimmerman that he believed that Zimmerman and his wife intended to flee with the passport and money in the accounts, if he didn’t have the electronic monitoring device.. Does that sound like something an innocent person would do? I don’t think Judge Lester believes an innocent person would concoct a means to escape and flee. Judge Lester made it clear that Zimmerman made a mockery of the court. It’s not likely that the judge will forget and forgive this incident going forward in the case.
Judge Lester wrote that Zimmerman” flaunted” and “manipulated the system.” Judge Lester’s opinion states that he did not buy the defense’s argument that Zimmerman didn’t trust the system as an excuse for his lies. Yet, at the end of the day, Judge Lester felt that Zimmerman wasn’t a flight risk. That part of the opinion in granting Zimmerman a second bail seems inconsistent with the Judge’s statement that Zimmerman might have intentions to flee. It’s also inconsistent with ordering Zimmerman to stay away from the Orlando airport. The judge left open some other future options for Zimmerman eluding to possible other charges. So the court may not be finished with Zimmerman on his lying to the court issue.
Zimmerman has completely shot himself in the foot or worse. His credibility has now gone to the dogs. And his defense of what happened on the night that Trayvon Martin was killed rests on his credibility. Yes, there are other neighbors who heard screams. But only two people know what really happened on the night that Trayvon Martin was killed and one of them is dead. And if Zimmerman wants to assert his Stand Your Ground defense, he will need to testify before Judge Kenneth Lester.
Zimmerman will have a high hurdle to overcome to post the $1 million bail. He will need to post 10% or $100,000, of which he reportedly has $219,000 in the PayPal account, according o his attorney, Mark O’ Mara. But the higher hurdle is that he will need to come up with property valued at $1 million to secure the bond, in case he flees. According to several Florida lawyers, he must also have $1 million in collateral. His attorney, Mark O’Mara wasted no time in asking for more donations. The way his attorney sounded, one would think George Zimmerman was running for public office instead of charged with second degree murder.
As a condition of the bond, Zimmerman will have a 6 pm to 6 am curfew, a monitoring device and restrictions on leaving the state, among others. Even if Zimmerman gets out on bail a second time, it’s a long way until the trial starts in 2013. And with the loose cannon that Zimmerman is, we can bet he will lie again.
Shellie Zimmerman, the other half of the lying duo, has her arraignment set for July 31 on perjury charges.
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