June 13, 2012

"Perjury charge against Shellie Zimmerman raises more questions of prosecutorial overreaching."

Says Professor Jacobson, combing the transcript for the statement that's supposed to be "a specific material false statement which the person believes not to be true at the time of testimony."

39 comments:

Christy said...

I thought perjury arrests were uncommon? As soon as I read this yesterday I took a mental shortcut and declared the prosecutor a malicious daughter of Mike Nifong.

edutcher said...

You get the feeling Ms Corey wants to be the next Nancy Grace, but without the charm and compassion.

Synova said...

Nancy Grace has charm and compassion?

paul a'barge said...

Ms Corey is going down, huge. By the time the legal bar gets through with her, she'll be changing sheets at the Days Inn for the rest of her life.

Watch in wonder.

EDH said...

Am I the only one uncomfortable with the notion that it's within the court's prerogative to check a defendant's pockets in order to set bail?

Is that done irrespective of dangerousness and flight risk?

Hagar said...

It looks to me like Angela Corey wants to get Shellie Zimmerman back into the court room so that she can try to trip her up and contradict herself, and Corey really will have someting on her, and Dershowitz and Jacobsen are saying that Corey could not even do that right, i.e. she is incompetent as well as malicious.

Synova said...

"The deleted transcript language certainly gives a very different context to the issue of whether Shellie knew how much was available or had an “estimate.” She offered to get the person who knew on the phone, but the prosecution didn’t take her up on that.

Note that in the Affidavit of Probable Cause the prosecution did not use an ellipsis or any other indication to show that words were omitted.
"

But wait!

We have to find out if Zimmerman is guilty or not, we need to know what the jury says, before we can call Corey a duplicitous hag.

Maybe when she's out of a job she can get one with television news editing 911 calls.

tamsf said...

It is proper for a court to look at a person's ability to pay. A millionaire might not think twice about jumping bail set at $5000 dollars. But a typical schmo might have trouble raising that amount.

Hagar said...

Have the Zimmermans at any time shown any indication they are contemplating leaving the State of Florida?

Revenant said...

Is it legal for a prosecutor to edit transcripts like that?

If so, I think we need a new law to fix that problem.

Michael K said...

The Florida prosecutor has the unenviable problem of information that will support Zimmerman's version of events that has not yet come out to most of the country who is aware of the case and an angry mob of hundreds demanding that Zimmerman be lynched. That is not an easy circle to square.

The similarity to the Duke lacrosse case is interesting and the patience of the public with such shenanigans is much reduced from the situation with Rodney King or the Duke case.

The Rodney King case was another miscarriage of justice at the hands of the feds. That may be the fate of the Zimmerman case but it will not go down well if all the material about Trayvon comes out. The witnesses, and there are quite a few, are intimidated but the facts about Trayvon and his drug use come actually from his Facebook page, which has now disappeared but too late to hide as screen shots were taken.

There is going to be an explosion if they try to take this case to trial but there will also be one if it is dismissed. Jesse and Al have done their work well.

David said...

Prosecutors are out of control pretty much everywhere. I am glad John Edwards beat the rap. I'm hoping Roger Clemens does too. Of course these guys can afford the high class legal counsel needed to have a chance. The average schmo is pretty much screwed, one way or another, when the career advancing prosecutors come to get them.

As to Corey, she is going to be sorry she ever heard the name Dershowitz. And he's not even her lawyer.

Bertram Wooster said...

The problem of over reaching prosecutors is chronic nation wide. They are political creatures, which is a huge flaw in the system and one that desperately needs correcting. They are nearly untouchable. Their incentives all favor over charging and conviction, lying and concealment.

The DNA exonerations in murder and rape cases that have been ongoing since the nineties are just the tip of a very rotten iceberg. Most victims of prosecutorial misconduct have no DNA evidence to reexamine. People in the hands of ambitious or frightened prosecutors can only pray for the attention Zimmerman has on his case. Nearly all of them will be left to rot.

Hagar said...

As far as the second degree murder charge goes, the only thing that matters is who started the physical altercation that led to the shooting. For the charge to stick, the prosecution has to prove Zimmerman did, but all the evidence (and ignoring Zimmerman's statement, which necessarily must be considered self-serving and so suspect)indicate that it most likely was not.

A. Shmendrik said...

@tamsf:

Who are you calling a typical schmo?

traditionalguy said...

For what it's worth to this crowd, the gist of the accusation against Mrs. Z is her willing participation in a deliberate hiding of a fund of cash belonging to George. If she had not done what George told her to do, then she would not be at risk for aiding his plan to trick the Court.

LarsPorsena said...

Two words for Angela Corey to think about,"Mike Nifong".

Synova said...

"...her willing participation in a deliberate hiding of a fund of cash belonging to George."

And that nicely explains the malicious way that the testimony was edited, doesn't it. Because she offered a contact person who would be able to answer their questions, which is a really weird way of hiding the donated cash fund.

That this was not followed up on by anyone hardly makes it her fault. What was she supposed to do?

Honeslty, what would satisfy you?

Even with the edited part gone she didn't conceal the existence of the fund or obviously lie about it. Suppose she went ahead and provided the nice people her "estimate" and it turned out to be low because donations were ongoing?

How screwed would she be then?

Synova said...

Her hesitance to be forthcoming is easily explained with, "She was terrified that she'd say something that turned out not to be true."

So she said, I don't know but my BIL can get that information for you. The people questioning her said, okay, and clearly they understood what she said.

HOW is that concealing the existence or the worth of the fund?

And really! "Is there anything else, any thing at all, that can be liquidated" is clearly and explicitly NOT talking about money. You don't *liquidate* money.

Revenant said...

That is not an easy circle to square.

According to the state website, as of 2008 she was making $150,000 a year plus the usual generous government employee benefits package.

If she wants an easy job, they're hiring at Starbucks.

Revenant said...

And that nicely explains the malicious way that the testimony was edited, doesn't it.

That has been t-guy's MO on this case. I hope his own clients see a more ethical side of him.

Synova said...

Tradguy, did you actually read Prof. Jacobson's explanation of what needs to be proven for a charge of perjury?

And that was before he was made aware of the excised part of the testimony.

Yeah, probably she's "at risk" because the prosecutor's office got butt-burned and they're cranky and want to take it out on someone just because they can.

Synova said...

Heck, maybe Corey has an intern or legal secretary who types everything up with parts missing because they hate her guts.

They just skipped typing the parts about Zimmerman's injuries in whatever documents are required to charge him.

Skipped typing the bit about the legal defense fund into her notes so she forgot to remind someone to follow up on that.

Skipped including that bit of testimony in the papers to charge Zimmerman's wife.

What did she do, that her intern/secretary is trying to destroy her?

Michael K said...

The only explanation for this behavior of Corey, et al is that they are trying to beat a plea out of Zimmerman and his wife.

I can't see another excuse. Nifong was running for re-election in a black dominated city. That was his.

How many times will Derrbyshire be proven right before the election ?

Revenant said...

Right about what?

Shanna said...

Her hesitance to be forthcoming is easily explained with, "She was terrified that she'd say something that turned out not to be true."

Indeed, Synova. 'I'm not sure what is in the account at this second but we can call my BIL, here is his number' doesn't exactly scream perjury.

She's getting railroaded, just like her husband.

bagoh20 said...

What country is Florida in?

Do they have laws or do they just ask The Magic 8 Ball? Maybe it's broken.

Hagar said...

What I get from the legal explanations is that in order to prove perjury against Shellie Zimmerman, the prosecutor has to show that she knew she was perjuring herself and still went ahead and did it.

This seems to be a variation of what the DoJ went through with John Edwards, and the jury would not buy it.

JorgXMcKie said...

Doesn't it all depend on what the meaning of "is" is?

MadisonMan said...

Like others, I get the feeling she's over-reaching for a plea deal. I hope the defense attorneys are halfway good.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that what makes this charging egregious is that if you read the questions closely, Mrs. Zimmerman likely did not lie under oath. Thus:

Q. And you mentioned also, in terms of the ability of your husband to make a
bond amount, that you all had no money, is that correct?
A. To my knowledge, that is correct.


At first glance, this would seem to be asking whether she had no money for bond. But, that wasn't the question. Rather, the question was whether she had mentioned that she had no money.

Q: Were you aware of the website that Mr. Zimmerman or somebody on his
behalf created?
A: I’m aware of that website.
Q: How much money is in that website right now? How much money as a result
of that website was —
A: Currently, I do not know.


Donations were flowing in. Likely the amount was different at the time the question was asked from when the hearing started. Of course she didn't know. Of curse, this is the place where the actual questioning included the revelation that her brother-in-law was running the site, and would know. The prosecution failed to follow up on that information, and, instead just excised that from the transcript included with her charging.

Q: Do you have any estimate as to how much money has already been obtained
or collected?
A: I do not.


As Prof. Jacobson points out, this Q/A looks a lot less damaging when you realize that it comes immediately after Mrs. Zimmerman has pointed out that her brother-in-law runs the site, and suggested that he be contacted by phone. Thus, while she may actually have had an estimate (making her statement false), it is unlikely material, since it was not realistic for the court to rely on it, immediately after being offered an opportunity to get the accurate amount from the brother-in-law.

Bruce Hayden said...

What I get from the legal explanations is that in order to prove perjury against Shellie Zimmerman, the prosecutor has to show that she knew she was perjuring herself and still went ahead and did it.

Essentially yes - 1) under oath, 2) statement made under oath made to person administering oath, 3) statement was made under oath, 4) statement was false, and 5) statement was known to be false at the time it was made.

In other words, as you suggest, perjury is knowingly making a false statement after having taken an oath to tell the truth.

However, interestingly, the thing that is missing from the jury instructions, but is required by the statute, is materiality. The statute requires that the matter be material. Thus, fudging your weight by 5 lbs would normally not be material.

JAL said...

When I saw the headline somewhere The First Thought in my mind was the crazy prosecutor.

She knows she hasn't got what she needs to prosecute what she charged and when it hits that hot Florida sun ... it's toast.

So she tries a some diversionary tactics to muddy the public's perception and the jury pool by making the Zimmermans look like disreputable liars.

She will make these people pay one way or the other. If she can't do it in court she will do it in harassment.

She "owes" it to Trayvon's family.

I've gone some reading up on her. A piece of work.

gadfly said...

From LI, Lina Inverse comments on testimony omitted from the prosecutor's brief on the testimony.

During the bail hearing Shellie testified that she did not know how much money had been collected at the website. What follows is actual testimony omitted:

Q: Who would know that?
A: That would be my brother-in-law.
Q: And is he — I know he’s not in the same room as you, but is he available so we can speak to him, too, or the Court can inquire through the State or the Defense?
A: I’m sure that we could probably get him on the phone.
Q: Okay. So he’s not there now.
A: No, he is not, sir.


Corey did the same thing in the initial charges hearing by omitting testimony that would have been favorable toward GZ's defense. Jaralyn Merritt says that this is not Kosher under Florida law.

Tank said...

As I said yesterday, Corey has humiliated herself (she threatened to sue Dershowitz for having a negative opinion for Christ's sake), and she is now going to punish the Zimmermans for her own idiocy. She should be subjected to a mental exam.

As someone said above, this is also a way of coersing the Zimmermans to plead to "something" so Corey can say she "got" them.

Hagar said...

Did Shellie Zimmerman believe the money collected by the website was "their" money, or that it had to be used for the purpose it was collected for?
Would uncertainty about what it was all about be enough?
What was in her mind?

In any case, squabbles over the initial bail amounts seem to be fairly routine in the local courts here, and the lawyers and the judge adjust them up or down as indicated by further information received without going to the trouble of indicting more people and further clogging the "system."

virgil xenophon said...

I've said it here before and I'll say it again: There is A REASON an award-winning book by Carl Haasen about bizarre, dark comedy Florida politics and culture is entitled "Sick Puppy."

Philip Ngai said...

Donors had two purposes in mind.

First, for legal defense.

For a judge to take legal defense funds and say they should be used for bail should be unconstitutional as depriving a defendant of due process (right to representation)

Second for the family's living expenses.
Shouldn't the judge be required to take into account the special circumstances of the entire family being unable to work while at the same time having extraordinary living expenses due to the numerous and documented threats on their lives?

city said...

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