Makes a person think perjury laws should be applied to lawyers — especially prosecutors, who control whether a criminal case goes forward or not.
This week’s Case of the Week is inspired by the so-called “documentary,” Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, produced by Jay Z and Trayvon Martin’s parents.
The first two episodes focus enormous attention on the fact that George Zimmerman was not arrested until April 11, 2012, 44 days after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin on February 26.
It’s all presented as if there is no possible rational and lawful reason for not arresting George Zimmerman. As if his guilt is the most obvious thing in the world, and only a racist police department and a racist State Attorney would refuse to make the arrest of a racist killer.
Never addressed, naturally, are the due process and civil rights that protect law-abiding citizens. Lawful arrests require the police to find probable cause of a crime.
It is, of course, undisputed that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Not all killings, however, are crimes. A killing committed in lawful self-defense is legally justified and completely legal.
In evaluating whether probable cause exists, then, the authorities must conclude Zimmerman’s actions were probably unlawful based on the evidence they collect.
In Zimmerman’s case, there was literally zero evidence inconsistent with self-defense, a claim he made from the very start. There was also considerable evidence consistent with self-defense. As a result, the entirety of the evidence overwhelmingly favored the view that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in lawful self-defense.
Ultimately, of course, imported State Attorney Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder anyway. How was she able to build a foundation of probable cause in a few days when Sanford Police Chief Lee and local State Attorney Wolfinger had not done so for weeks?
Simple: her legal team fabricated the “facts” to create probable cause where none existed. Their affidavit pointed to “evidence” that did not exist, and that they knew did not exist. Note that this false affidavit is a sworn document, signed by two of Corey’s investigators under the pains and penalties of perjury. (That affidavit is embedded below.)
For example, the affidavit states “Martin attempted to run home …” and later “…Martin who was trying to return to his home.” Nobody familiar with the facts, the timing of events, and the layout of the apartment complex can believe this to be true. Martin was a healthy 17-year-old football player. He had a full two minutes to cover 400 feet from his starting position to his apartment. Even an old, desk-bound attorney like me can cover three times that distance at a modest jog, much less in fearful flight.
The affidavit also says, “When the police dispatcher realized Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that, and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher, and continued to follow Martin …”
There are two claims here, one an outright lie, and the other a fabrication.
The outright lie is that Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher’s suggestion. As clearly captured on the recorded conversation, Zimmerman was immediately compliant when told by the dispatcher “We don’t need you to do that.” He said, “OK.”
The fabrication is that Zimmerman “continued to follow Martin.” The only reason Zimmerman got out of his car at all was that he informed the dispatcher that Trayvon had run out of sight behind a building, and the dispatcher asked Zimmerman to identify where Trayvon had run to. Unable to see through a building, Zimmerman exited his vehicle and went to peer around the corner of the relevant building. It was at this point the dispatcher made his suggestion, and Zimmerman complied. There is literally zero evidence—none—that Zimmerman “continued to follow Martin.”
The affidavit also states that “Zimmerman confronted Martin, and a struggle ensued.” This is a very serious claim of fact to make, but if true it guts Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. If Zimmerman started the conflict, he lost the innocence legally required for a valid self-defense claim.
As you might expect by this point, however, Zimmerman’s confrontation of Martin is utter fabrication. There is literally zero evidence—none—that Zimmerman confronted Martin. To the contrary, all available evidence supports Zimmerman’s claim that he was ambushed by Martin.
So did the prosecutor not study the evidence? Was the prosecutor just stupid, or was she lying through her teeth?
Although the laws may not demand it, I think a prosecutor who pursues a case with this little supporting evidence should be required to justify, in court, under oath, the decision to bring the case to court.