George Zimmerman Team Begins Offense

To date, the public has only seen George Zimmerman's legal team playing defense - fighting for bond and against the negative perceptions of their client created by the selective discovery released and the Martin family and their media team of lawyers and consultants.

Yesterday, that began to change. Mark O'Mara filed a notice of hearing for subpoenas he wants issued for Trayvon Martin and his phone friend "DeeDee"'s cell phone accounts for the period of 1/1/12 to 6/1/12, and for their Facebook and Twitter accounts,.

In another motion, Mark O'Mara says he wants the original recordings of Witness 9, George's cousin, brought to court because despite repeated requests, the defense may not have received accurate and audible copies and they want to make sure what was submitted to the court at the bond hearing is the same as what they received. [More...]

In another motion, O'Mara asks to continue the October 17, docket sounding because discovery is not complete. The Defense will be taking 50 to 75 depositions.

O'Mara explains his filings in this interview.

Zimmerman's family has also stepped up their media presence. Zimmerman's brother Robert has been appearing on Fox News, and last night, Robert and their mother Gladys Zimmerman appeared on the Piers Morgan show.

Interestingly, last night Martin family lawyer Benjamin Trump issued a statement saying that on his advice, Trayvon Martin's parents "deactivated" his social media accounts to preserve his reputation. According to Twitter's privacy policy, it begins deleting information stored on deactivated Twitter accounts within 30 days. On April 2, 2012, Trayvon's mother told the State's Attorney that she was aware of Trayvon's Facebook account, but not his Twitter account (Page 37 of the 284 page discovery release.)

On March 26, copies of his Tweets from his Twitter account were obtained and released by The Daily Caller. Daily Caller obtained them through a search conducted by a subscriber to People Browser. Dave Weigel at Slate reported he was able to access the tweets on March 26.

Twitter's instructions on how to deactivate the account of a deceased person are here. Twitter's retention policy on Feb. 26 is here. In May, it changed to its current policy.

On the phones, since O'Mara didn't release the actual subpoenas he wants issued, it's unknown whether he is asking for specific phone numbers or making a general request. Does he not believe that this phone, found at the scene, is the phone that Trayvon was using that night? Since he already has records provided by the state for one phone purportedly used by Trayvon and one by Dee Dee (also see here) although for a shorter period of time, he may be after different phones either or both used. Or, he may just be trying to rule out that either had more than one phone.

"DeeDee" is still a juvenile and her identity has been ordered redacted from discovery. Thus speculation about her identity is not appropriate here.

I have said since the beginning of this case that references to Trayvon's social media accounts is off-limits unless and until either side makes it an issue. It is now an issue, but the content of the accounts has not been ruled admissible. Thus, any discussion in comments here or on our forums should be limited to O'Mara's request for the records and his assertion (which I agree with) that they could lead to relevant, admissible evidence. Discussion of the contents of the social media accounts of Trayvon and "DeeDee" are still off-limits here since even if the subpoenas are approved, the contents may or may not be admissible at future hearings or trial. In addition, even if the subpoenas are approved, given Twitter's limited retention policy on deactivated accounts, the records may no longer exist.

It seems to me that if the state intends to argue that Zimmerman was the aggressor, any history Trayvon may have had for violence is relevant. The state does not deny that Trayvon punched Zimmerman. Zimmerman has clear photographic evidence and medical records of his injuries. If the state is going to argue that Trayvon had just cause for punching Zimmerman, then Zimmerman must be allowed to investigate whether Trayvon had any history of unprovoked attacks. A review of Trayvon and his friends' Twitter accounts for such references seems appropriate. It could lead to admissible evidence. As to whether the actual tweeets of either Trayvon or his friends would be admissible at a trial, that's a different issue.

One issue that is bound to be discussed is whether it was appropriate for the Martins' to deactivate the account if they didn't retain a copy of the contents. Mr. Crump didn't say whether he advised the Martins to retain a copy or had someone in his office do so. I don't think the Martins were under any legal obligation to preserve the material, since they were not on notice the information contained within them might be evidence in the case. But deletion of unfavorable information by one side never looks good to the public or a jury, and if destroyed, while the actual records might not end up before a jury (even if deemed otherwise relevant and admissible), it's possible the intentional failure to preserve them might.

One other issue I hope to see addressed by O'Mara is the difference in audio quality between the interview between Crump and "Dee Dee" released by the state, and clips of the audio released by ABC, whose reporter Matt Gutman was on the call. The state's version, provided by Team Crump, is inaudible. ABC's version, published on its website, is not. Wouldn't the state or O'Mara subpoena ABC's version? If so, shouldn't ABC's version be made public?

Again, please keep your comments to the legal issues, and refrain from discussing the content of Trayvon's and DeeDee's social media accounts or speculation as to Dee Dee's identity. There are many sites where you can discuss the details. This just isn't one of them.

< Anonymous Associate Barrett Brown Indicted, Seeks Competency Evaluation | Tuesday Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    On the Tweets... (none / 0) (#1)
    by DebFrmHell on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 01:34:57 PM EST
    Can MOM subpoena the records from the Daily Caller?  I am not sure how much involvement the parents actually had in deactivating those accounts.  Couldn't they just give Crump POA to handle it as he saw fit?

    ETA (none / 0) (#2)
    by DebFrmHell on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 01:41:54 PM EST
    I thought that W9 was the start of the claims of racism towards Zimmerman.  W8 gave them the profiling but at a later date.  How much later is not determined.  There are conflicting times, IMO, within around the first interview in March (left blank) and the April 2nd interview with Bernie De La Rionda.

    Crump/Jackson unethical conduct? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Redbrow on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 04:00:21 PM EST
    I noticed the statement released by Crump explicitly labels Zimmerman a murderer. Of course, GZ has not been convicted yet and likely will not be convicted. Isn't this an actionable violation of ethics?

    Is this going to be a new legal standard we are setting- for a murderer to review the school records and Facebook page of his teenage victim to determine whether or not he should have killed him?"

    Natalie Jackson made a similar attack on twitter. Somebody called her on it and she tried to weasel out of it.

    Natalie Jackson ‏@NatJackEsq
    New legal standard? A Murderer can review school records & Facebook pages of a victim 2 determine whether or not he should have killed him?

    Todd Hannant ‏@JerryHannant
    @NatJackEsq @MichaelSkolnik no offense but calling him a murderer and not defendant undermines the great notions that make up our system

    Natalie Jackson ‏@NatJackEsq
    @JerryHannant @MichaelSkolnik No offense taken. That's why I used no names & asked HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION to pointing out a slippery slope.

    It seems obvious that Jackson realized she overstepped her bounds and it also appears that Crump is trying to distance himself by signing his statement 'staff.'

    Is a subpoena required if an account (none / 0) (#5)
    by Redbrow on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 05:49:42 PM EST
    is still active, available and open to the public?

    I am thinking of Trayvon's cousin Ronquavis, who has several tweets and photos from the weekend of the incident that were still available the last time I checked.

    there may be an authenticity issue (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 06:00:48 PM EST
    if not obtained from Twitter. I would think that as to any third party whose individual tweets or photos either side wants to introduce into evidence at trial, the tweets have to come in through a witness. The tweet writer could be called as a witness and shown the tweet or photo and asked if he sent it. If he or she denies it, having the records from Twitter could be essential to establishing the IP address and location of the person when tweeted.

    Even if one side obtains information from Twitter for purposes of discovery, admissibility at trial is another issue, and governed by the Rules of Evidence.

    Thank you for not referring to what was in the tweets or photos and lets keep it that way.


    comment linking to photo on (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 06:02:21 PM EST
    Travyon's social media account deleted. Please do not refer to the content.

    That account... (none / 0) (#9)
    by firstfall on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:53:58 PM EST
    was created on 12 June 2012. Most likely it was deleted after being deactivated for so long and someone recreated it. Google "when did you join twitter".

    Why do you think the link from Slate (none / 0) (#10)
    by Redbrow on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:23:17 AM EST
    posted Monday, March 26, 2012 still goes to the new account?

    It raises a lot of questions. Why would someone go to the trouble of creating a new account in June but not tweet even once?

    Why haven't these alleged hackers 'hacked' this account or Sybrina's, Tracy's, Crump's, or Jackson's accounts?

    Thanks for the info on how to find out when an account was created.


    They are linking... (none / 0) (#24)
    by firstfall on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 11:52:35 PM EST
    using a screen name. It will point to whatever account happens to be using that screen name at the time. The only way to uniquely identify an account is using a twitter ID which is a number. Google "what's my twitter id"

    What relevant evidence (none / 0) (#11)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 11:21:23 AM EST
    could possibly be in Martin's account given how irrelevant Jeralyn argued Zimmerman's social media accounts were.

    It's either one way or the other and the idea that there was nothing in Zimmerman's account that should weigh on this seemed to be a given at one point I thought.

    The Bottom Line (none / 0) (#12)
    by RickyJim on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 12:44:07 PM EST
    The relevance would be to the question of, "Was Trayvon Martin, a person who could have behaved on Feb. 26, 2012 in the manner that George Zimmerman ascribed to him?"  One would think it would be the prosecution who would want to introduce evidence of Trayvon's non violent nature.  I have no knowledge of them planning to introduce such evidence.  The defense might be trying to line up counter evidence in anticipation of such a prosecution move.  Maybe the prosecution will argue that the defense subpoenas for the social media evidence should be quashed since they don't plan to go into Trayvon's character.  I have always been mystified as to the prosecution's strategy in this case.

    I could be wrong and Jeralyn can speak for (none / 0) (#13)
    by leftwig on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 01:23:27 PM EST
    herself, but I thought her statements were that the released material showed no relevance to the case, not that there couldn't have been information in them that would have been relevant.  

    We won't know what might be relevant until they are known and as Jeralyn has pointed out, there could be relevant information that is not admissible.  I would think the most likely piece of information that the defense would seek to use would be rebuttals to testimony on TM's character should the prosecution make TM's character part of their case.  


    I'm not sure you understood his post (none / 0) (#16)
    by leftwig on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:02:58 PM EST
    His comment was that the state could introduce evidence of TM's good character and the defense could be looking to use the social media representations as a rebuttal to his character.  He never said the prosecution should have been looking into bad activity by TM.

    The rest of the post isn't worth commenting on and I imagine it will get your post deleted.

    the comment you are replying to was (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 04:14:20 PM EST
    deleted for misstating the writer's opinion as fact.

    IIT won't be known if its admissible until (none / 0) (#17)
    by leftwig on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:06:47 PM EST
    the contents are examined.  If the contents are automatically inadmissible, then why did the state look into GZ's school records and social media accounts?  

    IF you believe asking for more time to depose witnesses is indicative of guilt, then I'm not sure you understand how best to represent a client.

    No, that is a load of bull (none / 0) (#18)
    by bmaz on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:13:02 PM EST
    What Jeralyn said was that said information and evidence was of no moment until one party or the other put the germane issue into play. That has now been done via, but not necessarily limited to, the defense.  

    It is a defense attorney's job to full explore any and all avenues of defense. Bleating that by doing so O'Mara is "trying this case in the media and he is placating The Conservative Treehouse crowd by attemping to besmirch Trayvon's character" is to put it as mildly as I possibly can, hideously ill informed and scandalous.

    The new commenter (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 04:20:12 PM EST
    Roderick has been banned and his comments deleted. His comments violate our comment rules and he obviously didn't take the time to read them, but just wants to present his biased opinion as fact and throw insults at the defense.

    The State's Burden (none / 0) (#19)
    by RickyJim on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:30:14 PM EST
    To get at least a manslaughter conviction at trial, the state has the burden of showing that it is unreasonable to believe that Martin attacked Zimmerman and it is unreasonable to believe that Zimmerman felt he had no alternative but to fire his gun at Martin to prevent serious harm to himself.  

    In order to establish these, one method could be to present evidence of Trayvon's non confrontational nature.  I don't agree with you that the forensic evidence or Zimmerman's statements help very much in satisfying the prosecution's burden.

    Thanks for the chuckle.

    Ah, a noobie to TL's Zimmerman coverage. (none / 0) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 02:48:28 PM EST
    You might want to do a search on this site for Zimmerman, and bone up on some facts...