State's Attorney to Make George Zimmerman Announcement Within 72 Hours

Update: The state's attorney handling the George Zimmerman investigation said today she will make a statement within 72 hours. She said she is "preparing to release new information regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting death investigation.". It doesn't explicitly say the announcement will be her decision on whether to file charges.

In another bizarre turn in the Trayvon Martin shooting. George Zimmerman's lawyers have withdrawn from representing him, saying he hasn't returned calls since Sunday and called the prosecutor and Sean Hannity to talk to them. The prosecutor refused to talk to him without counsel.

The website he set up was done on his own. His lawyers, at his request, had been in the process of setting one up, when he decided to do his own. [More..]

His lawyers say his mental state is questionable, and he has been erratic. They say others have told them he's lost a lot of weight. (They haven't met him in person yet.) They still believe in his innocence -- they think he is just suffering from PTSD.

The lawyers say if he asks them to, they'll get back on the case.

Zimmerman may not have called his lawyers in the past few days, but he did call his neighbor Frank Taafe yesterday afternoon after the state's grand jury announcement. Taafe says the two spoke for 30 minutes and George's lawyers are wrong about his mental state. He said George continues to be "lucid, concise and clear."

Please keep your comments to the topic, Zimmerman's legal representation, his decision to reach out to the media and prosecutor, the legal case and Zimmerman's lawyers' comments about his mental health. Race is not the topic of the this post. Thanks.

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    Why was no one watching him? (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by polizeros on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:08:41 PM EST
    Why didn't the police department tell him to stay in town?

    Whether or not the Sanford PD is biased is almost besides the point as they seem to be more like the Keystone Cops than anything else.

    Anyone know if it would be routine in a case like this for the PD to tell the guy to stay put?

    "Don't leave town" only works on tv. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Mitch Guthman on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:32:23 PM EST
    He isn't on bail and there's no case or even a grand jury investigation pending.  I believe he's free to go wherever he wants and is under no obligation to keep anyone informed of his whereabouts.

    It can be offered as friendly advice. (none / 0) (#25)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:59:36 PM EST
    After all, leaving a jurisdiction where you're presently under suspicion for a possible crime could easily be construed as indicative of your own personal preception of your guilt, should you be subsequently indicted and then fail to return for your arraignment.

    Friendly Advise (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:21:00 AM EST
    "Friendly Advise", is that a statute in Florida ?  I am pretty sure Zimmerman was already released from suspicion and if he is charged, the presumption is innocent still holds true, even if he flees.  Which of course would make proving the guilt an easy task.

    I only mention this because if it were me, I would be as far away as my bank account allows and to hear someone say that somehow is indicative of anything would be infuriating.  Especially when it's clear his safety in at least Florida, would be an issue.

    And I don't believe he can be indicted if there is no grand jury, he would be charged, no ?


    Stay put (none / 0) (#50)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:02:56 AM EST

    Telling someone to stay put that has reportedly been getting death threats and has a $10,000 capture bounty on his head seems highly irresponsible to say the least.



    Besides... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:18:41 AM EST
    he's not the "stay put" type...he didn't stay put that tragic night.

    Though I don't know why a bounty or death threats would scare him, he's strapped and he "stands his ground".


    That's What I Can't Get Past (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:32:26 AM EST
    On his website he speaks of how his life has been turned upside-down and it just really ticks me off.

    Whether what he did is legal or not, the fact is he left his house with a loaded weapon and ignored 911 request he stay put.

    His actions landed him in this mess and now he is all up in arms about it.  Most of us can say without a doubt, we will never be in a mess like this.  There are consequences for actions, and even if it was 100% legal, that doesn't mean he gets to walk away from killing someone scot-free, which seems to be what he thinks or thought at the time.

    What I wonder is there a GZ in my neighborhood, patrolling my streets with a loaded weapon who doesn't give much weight to police advise ?  Not only does that scare me, it seems like a violation of my privacy.  Some idiot sitting around from the comfort of their vehicle watching the comings and goings of the neighbors.  All without my knowledge.


    Seriously... (none / 0) (#70)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:43:14 PM EST
    all I did was shoot somebody and they just won't leave me alone! Donations accepted by check, credit card, or paypal;)

    I thank the neighborhood gods I've got none of that type by me...your house would get egged or worse if ya tried to play that shit, the only neighborhood watch we got is letting each other know when the block is hot.  


    Maybe they told him (none / 0) (#79)
    by ruffian on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:19:34 PM EST
    'we don't need you to leave town'

    That was exactly my contention ... (4.50 / 2) (#5)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:53:29 PM EST
    ... about Sonner and Uhrig in an earlier thread. And it looks like we're not the only ones questioning their ethics.

    Mittch's comments were deleted for (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:33:03 PM EST
    name-calling and personal attacks on Zimmerman's attorneys. We do not allow personal attacks and insults.

    For future commenting purposes, if in Mitch's opinion, the lawyers did something inappropriate, he's free to make that point, but it must be stated as his opinion, not fact. And no name-calling.


    I thought I was quite restrained. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Mitch Guthman on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:33:04 PM EST
    The original draft of my comment was much more colorful.    So here is my opinion: My opinion is that lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig acted unethically and brought the legal profession into disrepute by improperly betraying client confidences in a highly inappropriate act of naked self-aggrandizement for which the client may pay with his life or at least a substantial prison term.  I believe it was unethical for them to hold this press conference without the client's approval.  I believe it was unethical for them to reveal their client's confidences, including the fact that he's apparently on the run, emotionally unstable and ignoring the advise of his lawyers.  

    Also, my opinion is that the gratuitous disclosure of the identity of potentially damaging witnesses whose identities were almost certainly unknown to the prosecution and who the prosecution would never otherwise have interviewed is a flagrant ethical violation and a despicable betrayal of Zimmerman's confidences.  This betrayal of their client's confidence alone demonstrates that they are either incompetent or unethical (and probably both).  Giving these witnesses to the prosecution just so they could have a press conference and get their smiling faces on television may well have done severe, irremediable damage to their client (especially if what Zimmerman said to Hannity or the neighbor is inconsistent with prior statements to the police or leads the prosecution to evidence or witnesses they would not otherwise have been able to find).

    I have therefore formed the opinion that lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig are probably bad people and highly unethical lawyers who should be disbarred by every bar association that is unfortunate enough to have them as members.  It is my opinion that a member of the Florida Bar might seek to restore some of the reputation of our profession by filing a complaint against these lawyers.  It is my hope that these lawyers will be held to account for they way in which they, in my opinion, have disgraced themselves and brought dishonor on the legal profession.

    If you will click on the link supplied by Donald from Hawaii, you will find an excellent discussion and you will see that others are in substantial agreement with the points Donald and I have made.  Some have gone even further. For example, Natalie Jackson, the lawyer for Treyvon Martin's family, has expressed the same point, but in more colorful terms:

    Not only have they [Zimmerman's lawyers] spoken recklessly about racial issues, inflaming passions and reinforcing stereotypes, but now they have thrown their own client, George Zimmerman, under the bus by alluding to his possible flight from justice.

    When the lawyer for the family of the boy Zimmerman killed is criticizing Sonner and Uhrig for "throwing [Zimmerman] under the bus" then you know that the only question is whether the anybody at the Florida Bar  has the balls to toss these "lawyers" out of the profession---which, in my opinion, is the least that should be done to them considering that they may quite possibly have gotten their client convicted.


    thank you Mitch (none / 0) (#35)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:13:16 AM EST
    for re-posting your comment without the name-calling.

    I am not going to keep warning commenters that the topic under discussion is not racism -- the Martin family's lawyers allegations are not evidence or part of the factual record.  There are a million sites on the internet discussing this case, and you are free to discuss it there.

    I'm interested in fostering discussion on the legal aspects of the case, and on media distortion -- and this post is about the legal developments.

    On topic, you might consider whether there was a method to the lawyers' seeming madness -- such as taking a pre-emptive strike against anything Hannity might air about his conversation with Zimmerman. By casting him as suffering from PTSD and erratic since the shooting, people may be inclined to put less stock in any comments he may have made that are unhelpful to his defense. Also, they didn't say he was this way before the shooting, and said nothing to imply he wasn't just fine then. So they didn't say anything that could change the facts of what happened, which are what matter.

    You don't have all the facts, and either do I. In my view, lawyers who castigate other lawyers for their actions on behalf of a client, without having all the facts available to those lawyers, are unprofessional and reckless. Now that you've made your point, and characterized it as your opinion, you've made your point, you've been heard. Please don't keep repeating it.


    Hannity isn't talking (none / 0) (#38)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:19:02 AM EST
    Video of his segment tonight confirming he spoke to Z. but it was off the record.

    The PTSD claims actually (none / 0) (#39)
    by rjarnold on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:21:37 AM EST
    started a couple of weeks ago when his brother Robert and his friend Joe Oliver said that he was being treated for PTSD, so it's not like they came completely out of nowhere, as it seemed to many who watched the press conference today.



    I'm starting to feel sorry for Zimmerman. (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:23:46 AM EST

    This is totally insane! Can't any of this poor man's friends, family and lawyers keep their big mouths shut?  Nobody knows the state of the evidence yet so nobody can possibly know or even make a good guess whether all this loose talk is going to help Zimmerman or sink him.  My guess is the most likely consequence of having every possible witness giving prior statements to every reporter in the world is that a goodly number of them will end up getting mashed on cross-examination.  

    You'll notice that the new, apparently smart and capable prosecutor is keeping her mouth shut and seems to be riding herd on the cops to do likewise.  She strikes me as real smart and real dangerous.  She hasn't shown any cards, hasn't locked herself into anything and none of her witnesses (from after she took over) has said anything that's likely to come back and bite them in the ass.  If I were Zimmerman's lawyer, that woman would scare the hell out of me.


    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:59:51 AM EST
    For a man who who hasn't whispered a word, we have a never ending account of what happened via friends, family, and attorneys.  Even his website, composed by him, supposedly, doesn't say anything beyond the most basic self defense claim.

    As far as his attorneys, I thought the first one, the younger looking one, was a friendly neighbor who was an attorney, but not defense attorney.

    I only mention this because if that is the case a little slack should be given.  But the second guy, there is no excuse, he got on board after this went viral, so he understood what he was getting into.  

    I also think the attorney the family has is doing them a great disservice by continuously stoking the fires and giving his clients unrealistic expectations.  He's not asking for a day in court, he's demanding Zimmerman get locked up.  He is front of the cameras, even cutting the family off almost every time, to add his two cents.  He doesn't seem to have his clients best interest, only his own IMO.

    And as far as Zimmerman goes, these are consequences of leaving you home with a loaded gun and ignoring police advise to stay put.  I am in Houston and could easily get a permit to carry, but I don't.  Few do, but even if what he did was 100% legal, most of us realize that killing someone has consequences, and the odds of that happening are greatly increased when you leave the house with a loaded weapon.

    And the great majority of people understand this before hand, it seems that GZ didn't, and while no one can anticipate a mess like this, surely we understand the concept that bad stuff can happen if you carry a loaded gun and/or follow a 'suspicious' person in the dark.

    So while he is getting screwed in the press and by his attorneys, GZ need look no further than a mirror to find the source of all his anguish.


    Agree but I don't feel sorry for him (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by ks on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:00:05 AM EST
    It's not just the "poor man's friends" who can't keep their mouths shut. It's the "poor man" himself as well.  The strange website and call to Hannity isn't exactly keeping quiet.    

    disclosure of witnesses? (none / 0) (#64)
    by markw on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:18:58 AM EST
    Also, my opinion is that the gratuitous disclosure of the identity of potentially damaging witnesses whose identities were almost certainly unknown to the prosecution and who the prosecution would never otherwise have interviewed is a flagrant ethical violation and a despicable betrayal of Zimmerman's confidences.

    What is this referring to?


    Hannity and the neighbor. (none / 0) (#65)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:54:31 AM EST
    It was apparently the lawyers who disclosed the fact that Zimmerman has spoken with Hannity about the case and also that he was speaking with a neighbor about his case and the events of the night when he killed Martin.  That means the prosecutor now knows to talk with them and compare what Zimmerman told them with what he told the police.  Maybe not the end of the world but obviously not good either.

    And Anne's comment (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:43:39 PM EST
    was deleted for its first sentence tying Zimmerman to something racially inappropriate as indicative of his unbalanced mental state.

    Well, here's the thing, Jeralyn... (5.00 / 0) (#45)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:29:25 AM EST
    I do think that under the circumstances, what George Zimmerman puts on his website could absolutely be an indication of his mental state - I frankly don't see why it wouldn't.

    You simply cannot get away from the underlying tensions that have been present in this matter since it came to the attention of the media and a much larger national audience.  If his lawyers felt that his best argument was that Stand Your Ground was justified, anything he puts up on that website that could be perceived as providing possible other motivations for his actions is both contrary to the legal advice he'd been given and an indication that he might not be thinking clearly.


    This is interesting (none / 0) (#18)
    by observed on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:52:59 PM EST
    Do you mean that racism does not per se indicate an unbalanced mental state?
    Alternatively, are we to conclude you agree that the evidence suggests quite strongly that Zimmerman and his family are quite racist; therefore, and additional evidence of racism does not by itself indicate a problem with Zimmerman's current mental state?

    I'm saying this post is about (none / 0) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:42:52 PM EST
    the case and the events today. A discussion of whether Zimmerman or anyone else is racist is off-topic.

    With all due respect (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:23:50 AM EST
    as I break my promise to not comment on this, it is very relevant to the federal investigation.

    yes but this post is about (none / 0) (#60)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:44:59 AM EST
    the state investigation and charges.

    Speaking only for me, my comment (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:28:19 AM EST
    was not a discussion about whether Zimmerman is or isn't a racist, but about the attorneys' perception that the content of his website was both contrary to their advice, possibly adverse to Zimmerman's own interests and, taken with the other things Zimmerman had done in the last couple days, possibly an indication of his mental state.

    That seemed entirely on-topic, to me.


    Perhaps, Jeralyn, you should amend ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:08:22 PM EST
    ... the last paragraph of your post, in which you imply that George Zimmerman's mental state is a suitable topic for discussion.

    Given that nobody's heard from Zimmerman at all -- save for what's on the 9-1-1 tapes -- and that Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig admitted to never having actually met the guy, I'd think it would be inappropriate for any one of us to to be engaging in public speculation regarding his former or present state of mind.

    Yes, Zimmerman's alleged behavior appears to be quite erratic, even irrational, were we to take the word of his former attorneys at face value. But frankly, given their own conduct today, I'd offer that a few grains of salt are needed here, before we accept their particular version of events.

    After all, for all we know, there may well be a method to George Zimmerman's madness -- right?



    I donlt know why you keep (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:53:26 AM EST
    harping on the fact that Zimmerman had never met in person with his attorneys; you write about it as if there is something unusual or underhanded or unprofessional about that, and I have to tell you that I think you are way off base.

    I retained an attorney to assist me in matters pertaining to my aunt's deceased husband's estate - all of our extensive communication was over the phone or by e-mail, and I did not actually meet him in person until some 10 months later.  

    I work with clients all the time that I've never met; granted, we're not talking criminal matters, but I still think that it doesn't take long to become familiar with and have a grasp of someone's basic emotions and mental state.

    As to his attorneys' actions today, I don't see what you see, at all.  It wasn't just that the attorneys couldn't reach their client, or that they didn't know where he was - it was that he was acting contrary to their advice and possibly contrary to his own interests.  The attorneys have every right to both terminate the relationship on that basis and to use whatever means they have to make it clear to both the client and the media that is all over this case that Zimmerman is acting on his own.  As I stated in the comment that was deleted, I feel certain that the public comments were buttressed with a formal, certifed letter to Zimmerman, and handled completely by the book.

    I also don't think you should read so much into the pro bono nature of their representation; Zimmerman does not appear to be a person of means, he did need representation, and if the attorneys do manage to obtain other work because of the media attention, that doesn't mean they were not providing competent, professional representation to Zimmerman - while we are all familar with "you get what you pay for," I know because of the pro bono matters my firm take on that there is no difference in the quality of the representation provided to pro bono clients.  Doing a bad job for a pro bono client is a pretty bad - and dumb - marketing tool.

    And life is not always as it happens on Law and Order, you know?


    With all due respect, Anne, ... (none / 0) (#61)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:08:31 AM EST
    Anne: "I retained an attorney to assist me in matters pertaining to my aunt's deceased husband's estate - all of our extensive communication was over the phone or by e-mail, and I did not actually meet him in person until some 10 months later."

    ... George Zimmerman is the current focal point of an active homicide investigation, and is hardly in the current market for estate planning.

    In that regard, yes, I consider it very relevant indeed that his now-former attorneys have never even met him. And given that point, at the very least, they had absolutely no business speculating publicly to the media as to their client's possible present mental and physical state, because they have no real baseline upon which to judge his current statements and actions.

    If you as an attorney have issues with your client's behavior, which are such that you honestly feel that you can no longer in good faith represent his best interests, you inform him privately and in writing of your intent to withdraw as counsel, and that he needs to find another attorney.

    If and when contacted by the media, you tersely inform them that as you are no longer representing said client, you can offer no further public comment regarding his case, and you leave it at that.

    What you DON'T do is call a press conference with the national media for the obvious purpose of airing your differences with and concerns about said client in public to said media on national television, particularly when said client is presently in the crosshairs of a publicly notorious homicide investigation.

    I consider that sort of behavior to be an egregious breach of confidence, and one which is very unprofessional, quite unethical and highly prejudicial to their now-former client. They did him no favors yesterday by making him appear to be both in a mentally deteriorative state and increasingly incapable of rational judgment. In fact, I think they did a rather remarkable job of further confirming the public's already unflattering portrait of him.

    Whether or not that may actually be the case regarding George Zimmerman, is completely beside the point. With their press conference yesterday, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig cemented my opinion of them as a couple of self-serving legal hacks, nearly as flaky as the public caricature of the client they just threw under the bus.

    Now, honestly, what's so hard to understand about that?



    Actually (none / 0) (#62)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:16:05 AM EST
    If they feel that the stand your ground claim may not hold, mightn't it starts to possibly set up mental deterioration or insanity claims?

    Only his mental state on that night is relevant. (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:03:00 PM EST
    I am pretty sure that his current mental state wouldn't be relevant to a NGI plea since I believe that Florida law would test his state of mind at the time when he shot Martin.

    It might be relevant to his current capacity to aid in his own defense (i.e., his competence to stand trial) but that's a long way off and, if there is a decision to go down that path, the outcome will be determined by a battle of the shrinks---not public opinion as "swayed" by the statements of lawyers in a press conference.


    Donald, I was quite clear that my (none / 0) (#66)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:02:32 PM EST
    retaining an attorney I didn't meet face-to-face for some 10 months was not related to a criminal matter - but it wasn't "estate-planning;" it involved claims against the decedent's estate on my aunt's behelf, and came extremely close to being litigated.

    I work for a large law firm, as well, so am fairly familiar with what is and isn't ethical, what pro bono representation means in terms of quality, and so on.  Unless you are acquainted with the perils and minefields of legal malpractice claims, I would refrain from deciding just from the little we've been allowed to see and hear exactly what these attorneys have been dealing with before judging them.  I do not believe you have this experience or have seen things from the inside, and yet...your increasingly strident screeds on this subject would have people believing you are some kind of expert.

    I feel quite certain that these attorneys have in their files copies of written communication informing George Zimmerman that they can no longer represent him under these circumstances, sent by certified mail to their last known address for him, and detailing what those circumstances are.  They no doubt have detailed time records of their attempts to contact him by telephone.  I am also quite certain that the public comments were not anything close to being their sole means of notifying Zimmerman of their withdrawal.

    Was there another way to handle this?  Sure, but you have no idea what's been going on with the parts you can't see, or haven't been allowed to see, so you might want to withhold judgment.

    Finally, I believe your description of these attorneys as "self-serving legal hacks, flaky as the public caricature of the client" is no less than insulting name-calling, completely unnecessary to the discussion.


    And criminal defense attorneys (none / 0) (#68)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:26:01 PM EST
    In high profile cases always get on TV and give details about their clients.

    How is this different?


    They had no such agreement (none / 0) (#69)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:31:05 PM EST
    One of the lawyers gave a statement to a reporter last night that they'd started their representation of Zimmerman without a written agreement.  He said they'd sent Zimmerman an engagement letter of some kind and he had promised to sign it and sent it back.  But they hadn't received it yet.  I have no idea what Florida law says about this but I think they've been appearing on television and talking to reporter for maybe a couple of weeks so you'd think they could get an actual retainer agreement signed by the client by now.

    You're right that I don't know whether it was necessary to have a press conference to announce their withdrawal and you're also right that neither of us knows all the facts but then I personally can't conceive of any facts which would have justified this clown show as opposed to just sending Zimmerman a letter.  Can you?

    Also, they aren't really "withdrawing" from representation because there isn't a case to withdraw from, they weren't formally retained by the putative defendant and they acknowledged that Zimmerman told the prosecutor that they weren't his lawyers anyway.  So what's the benefit to Zimmerman of having these two guys talking to reporters about how their "client" is an out of control "loose cannon" (which isn't necessary an image I would want to have indelibly in the mind of potential jurors if Zimmerman ends up wanting to prove that he's a normal, reasonable, non-racist guy caught up in a situation that just spiraled out of control).


    So? (none / 0) (#74)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:03:56 PM EST
    Lots of cases, especially criminal ones, start without a written agreement between the lawyers and the defendant.

    No matter what he did or didn't do (none / 0) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:04:48 PM EST
    anybody in his position in the center of a gigantic firestorm would be under a degree of stress and fear none of us can really imagine.

    Donald, thanks (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:52:22 PM EST
    for the suggestion. To make it clearer, I edited that sentence to read "and Zimmerman's lawyers' comments about his mental health."

    I was even wondering if Zimmerman ever really (4.50 / 2) (#6)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:56:30 PM EST
     had an agreement with them. All we have is their word for it, true?

    You are so right- he needs a real lawyer, pronto. Regardless of my other opinions, he deserves fair representation.

    If he never paid them, they have a much (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by scribe on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:23:05 AM EST
    stronger argument that they can be allowed to withdraw from representing him.

    In fact, in many jurisdictions, you will see lawyers showing up at the first appearance to say they anticipate representing a defendant but their formal appearance is waiting on their fee being paid.  In the jurisdictions I've practiced in, it was referred to as "Waiting for Mr. Green" or something along the lines of "I'm considering accepting the representation, your honor, but I have to get some feedback from my investigator.  He's looking for someone who we think is an essential witness - Mr. Green - and once we get in contact with him and see what he has to say I can make a decision as to the representation."  As a rule, this flies with the cops, prosecutors and judges and no one goes after the defendant, they treat him like he's being represented and, in a week or so when the money shows up, the lawyer enters a formal appearance.

    In this case, I would argue his lawyers did him a favor by the press conference.  It was broadcast widely so, if he's near a TV, he's heard he needs to get in contact with his lawyers.  It also shows him his lawyers are, in fact, concerned with him - enough to go on national TV and tell him to snap out of it.  The prosecutor will not talk to him without a lawyer, which will prevent all sorts of admissibility problems later on as to any statements he might make (or might have made) because there won't be any such statements.  All the cops out there know that, yes, he is currently not "represented", but there are lawyers just waiting to come in, so they will (be told to) treat him as though he was represented.  And it protects the lawyers against a later claim of malpractice if he should do or say something inculpatory:  we told the world we weren't representing him and that he was acting contrary to our advice, so don't blame us, George, for inculpating yourself.

    More to the point, they didn't reveal a bit of confidential information.  Not knowing where your client is, is not privileged.  Knowing where he is and refusing to reveal it is (or was) considered a valid exercise of privilege (at least enough to require a court order compelling you to talk before you, as lawyer, gave it up).

    I think his lawyers did exactly the right thing in the situation.


    These are all "client confidences". (none / 0) (#73)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:00:23 PM EST
    "Client confidences" encompasses far more than just what the client tells the lawyer.  It's bound up with the lawyer's duty of loyalty to the client. The claimed knowledge that Zimmerman has fled the jurisdiction, is possibly mentally unstable, is refusing to communicate with his purported lawyers or heed their advice and has generally gone rogue is information learned by Sonner and Uhrig during their representation of Zimmerman.  All of these facts are client confidences that cannot be disclosed without the client's permission.  

    In my opinion, these lawyers said way too much when they were withdrawing, particularly since they weren't required to say anything at all to the media.   Now, my guess is that the Florida Bar's switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree this morning.  So I would also guess that pretty soon we'll know whether my opinion is shared by the ethics committee.


    Is she bringing charges or issuing a warrant? (none / 0) (#1)
    by mike in dc on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:31:03 PM EST
    Zimmerman attempting contact and being unreachable by counsel, from a prosecutorial viewpoint, does suggest erratic behavior.  Since he's already in hiding, she'd have to assume he's a real flight risk.  I don't think it's coincidental she's making this announcement after those two events.  I expect an arrest on probable cause, followed by a bill of particulars a while later, once the evidence has been fully gathered and analyzed.  
    Of course, I could be mistaken.

    His attorneys and friends all say (none / 0) (#4)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:50:55 PM EST
    he's left the state.  If he keeps "authorities" informed of where he is, I guess that's not flight per se.

    I should think that ... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:57:38 PM EST
    ... Zimmerman wouldn't be considered "in flight" until he's actually indicted and then can't be located.

    Maybe he's just a stone's throw from cognito.


    Why are Sonner and Uhrig ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 08:34:11 PM EST
    ... speculating publicly about their former client's mental and physical condition, given that by their own admission, (a) neither of them have apparently laid eyes on George Zimmerman for weeks, and (b) Zimmerman's currently incommunicado.

    Donald the Bartender (Brian Dennehy), on the phone: "I'm sorry, but Mr. Webber is currently incommunicado."

    Hotel switchboard operator: "Communicado? Where's that?"

    George Webber (Dudley Moore): "I believe it's a stone's throw from cognito."

    -- From Blake Edwards' film "10" (1978)

    According to these two bozos, they were working pro bono, so Zimmerman apparently owes them nothing.

    And in my cobnsidered estimation, their client got exactly what he paid for.

    I've already spoken my peace earlier on this subject in today's Open Thread, so nuf ced, already.


    which, if you think about for oh, 2 seconds, (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:24:57 PM EST
    is kind of weird in and of itself:

    According to these two bozos, they were working pro bono

    mr. zimmerman is a nobody, aside from shooting an unarmed kid. not as though that's the first time that ever happened. his father, a retired va supreme court magistrate, may have friends, but not the kind willing to spend hours, pro bono, on a (so far) non case, that only nets them really negative publicity. so, you must ask yourself, "what's their agenda, really?"


    Given their behavior, it looks ... (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:48:32 PM EST
    ... to me like their agenda centered more on professional self-interest, rather than the legal interests of their client.

    Like I said earlier, that press conference struck me as an Andy Warhol moment for Sonner and Uhrig. Their conduct appeared to be unprofessional, irresponsible and prejudicial.

    I have my own opinions about George Zimmerman, but I've always contended from the very beginning that he needed to retain a serious criminal defense attorney, and that he was being ill-served by Craig Sonner's public statements. All today's press conference did for me was confirm the painfully obvious.

    You don't throw a client under the bus, even if you are severing ties. He's better off without them.



    All good points (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:08:55 PM EST
    I wonder if we will ever know what is really going on.

    And why was I not smart enough to snap up the georgezimmerman.com URL on day 1 of this mess.

    What do you reckon (none / 0) (#11)
    by Rojas on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:23:04 PM EST
    a real lawyer would cost in this case? Thirty, perhaps fifty grand down? Or do you think 10 or 20k would retain someone of sufficient caliber?
    Do you think he could pay the retainer?

    These guys won't be disbarred or disciplined.

    $10-20K should be a sufficient ... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:35:14 PM EST
    ... initial retainer for a quality criminal defense attorney during the investigatory phase, since he or she would be essentially managing your expectations and keeping you from being your own biggest problem. But if you're subsequently charged, then it goes without saying that the legal work and accompanying cost will increase considerably.

    I don't know George Zimmerman, so I can't and won't speculate regarding his financial circumstances.


    it would be way more than that (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:46:12 PM EST
    even in the investigatory phase of a case like this in my view. If you aren't a practicing defense attorney, you probably should have made it clear you have no particular knowledge on this.

    You're right, and ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:36:25 AM EST
    ... I defer to your experience in standing corrected.

    Which I believe is the key point (none / 0) (#49)
    by Rojas on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:17:59 AM EST
    of the Stand your ground legislation.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#63)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:17:00 AM EST
    What's that supposed to mean?

    The law provides immunity (none / 0) (#94)
    by Rojas on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:29:06 AM EST
    from prosecution. I suspect the law would also provide some civil immunity as well.
    It takes a huge amount of financial resources to go toe to toe with the state. Even if one is successful there is a potential for civil damages. Raising the bar to prosecution makes it less likely one will face financial ruin for invoking self defense.

    I read in the NY Times that the SYG law (none / 0) (#95)
    by Angel on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:32:12 AM EST
    precludes anyone from filing a civil suit.  

    I am eager to know what the new information is. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Angel on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 10:35:48 PM EST
    I wonder if there is another witness or if perhaps a video or audio of part of the event that was discovered after the initial frenzy.  

    And what happens (none / 0) (#72)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 12:59:58 PM EST
    If it confirms Zimmerman's story?

    If it confirms what many people believe happened, and that Zimmerman is lying, the prosecutor will probably go ahead and bring charges.  Hopefully, that will bring Zimmerman peacefully out of the woodwork and the judicial process can begin.

    But again - what if it confirms Zimmerman's story?


    The new info is a game changer - I expect there will be a decision on Fri to either indict him or not, and that the new info will weigh in that decision.

    I know - so was mine (none / 0) (#76)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:06:20 PM EST
    My question is to everyone really.  What happens?  

    and cry foul, or hurrah, based on their agenda, and a small group will simply let the facts and evidence be their guide.

    Zimmerman may be chargeable anyway. (none / 0) (#78)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:13:02 PM EST
    I don't think there's any new information that would outright preclude prosecuting Zimmerman for murder, maybe even for 2nd degree murder.   Even if you assume that Zimmerman is telling the truth, that doesn't make the issues about his actions or his state of mind go away. There are still theories under which he can be prosecuted for murder even if his version of events is accepted.  

    For example, even if Martin turned on Zimmerman and struck the first blow, you still have the question of who was the initial aggressor and the subsidiary question of whether Zimmerman was required under Florida law to withdraw before using deadly force.  

    My point is that generally even if Zimmerman's version of events is accepted, it doesn't necessarily get him off the hook.  The prosecutor might see it as an opportunity to kick the case and get out from under a difficult situation but I can't see any new pro-Zimmerman information that would make prosecution impossible under any theory.


    There is a difference between (none / 0) (#80)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:24:07 PM EST
    chargeable and convictable, though, considering all the brouhaha, I don't imagine we would see a decision not to indict based on expecting it to be (too) difficult to convict.

    Also, I read somewhere that in FL self defense cases that if the special prosecutor does indict, that then requires a judge to rule whether or not the defendant is immune from prosecution.

    I imagine it'd have to be a pretty courageous judge to rule Zimm's immune if the spec pros decides to indict him...


    He's been charged with 2nd degree murder. (none / 0) (#93)
    by Angel on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:13:32 PM EST
    Things getting tense in Sanford... (none / 0) (#28)
    by magster on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:05:38 PM EST
    6 shots fired into empty police car in Sanford tonight.

    Not sure the prosecutor should have given a 72 hour notice, regardless of what the decision will be. She's really in a tough spot as far as minimizing the reaction to her decision.

    Amend: happened Monday... (none / 0) (#29)
    by magster on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:13:32 PM EST
    Diarist a little loose with the term "breaking". Sorry.

    Behavior that is not in one's legal interest... (none / 0) (#30)
    by magster on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 11:17:04 PM EST
    ... when under a prosecutor's microscope and consistent with what a prosecutor would ascribe as motive to the original incident under investigation would be indicative of mental instability, IMO.

    Hannity isn't talking about (none / 0) (#37)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:18:03 AM EST
    what Zimmerman told him. Video here.

    Will the prosecutor be contacting Hannity? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:08:58 AM EST
    I am really curious to see whether the prosecutor calls Hannity or whether she decides to respect the emerging "bloviator-suspect privilege" and honors Hannity's promise to keep the conversation strictly confidential.

    At the risk of having another comment deleted, I can't help thinking how depressing it is that Sean Hannity is the only person on the defense side who has enough common sense to keep his mouth shut.

    This business with Hannity is more proof--if any was needed--that if Zimmerman had one true friend in this world with even half a brain, the day after the shooting that person would have found Zimmerman a little cabin in the Glades with no phone, no television reception and with no cell phone tower for fifty miles in any direction.


    Wondering if FL has a shield law re press and, if (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 03:47:15 AM EST
    so, might it shield Mr.Hannity re the substance of his communications w/ Mr. Zimmerman.

    Also, why isn't former magistrate  Zimmerman advising his son to keep silent?  But maybe he has.


    Florida does indeed have such a law. (none / 0) (#43)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 04:18:05 AM EST
    The State of Florida has helpfully published it on the Internet here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=00 00-0099/0090/Sections/0090.5015.html

    Whether it applies to the likes of Sean Hannity or would protect a statement by a criminal defendant isn't clear from reading the law and I don't have Westlaw anymore so I can't tell you whether similar issues have already been decided.

    I really don't have a clue about what the defense is doing.  I saw some friend of Zimmerman's that they were putting out as a "witness" and Nancy Grace (of all people) just ripped him to shreds.  I have no more experience in this sort of case/media circus than anybody else but it still seems very dangerous and unwise to be getting so far out in front of what the wittinesses and the physical evidence might show and getting locked into things so early.


    No favors (none / 0) (#48)
    by kdm251 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:35:36 AM EST
    It doesn't seem like the people around George Zimmerman are doing him any favors by speaking on his behalf, and his website seems a bit unhinged.  it seems like Zimmerman can't decide whether he wants to be joe the plumber, or try to get out of this mess.  Seems like he needs much better advice than he is getting.

    The one thing that seems clear is that if zimmeman hadn't had a gun, trayvon Martin would probably still be alive and Zimmerman would still have a normal life.

    72 hours? (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:53:35 AM EST
     Does anyone really think that the prosecutor would schedule a Friday afternoon/evening announcement that no charges would be brought? Considering the charged atmosphere, one can only surmise the inevitability of Zimmerman being charged. Manslaughter?  

    Manslaughter... (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by kdog on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:07:18 AM EST
    seems like a no-brainer to me.

    They're gonna have to hold this trial on Mars to find an impartial jury at this point...the authorities definitely did nobody no favors in this clusterf8ck.  A chance at justice delayed for the victim's family, pre-trial infamy for the accused mostly due to the delay.  No winners.


    Seems Like (5.00 / 0) (#59)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:10:57 AM EST
    They have made the decision and the 72 hours are to get everything in place for the announcement.  Like tracking down Zimmerman and getting him in if they charge him or setting up security if they don't.

    I don't think is one of those late Friday announcements that gets little attention, more like, "We will have an answer by Friday."


    CNN is now saying that George Zimmerman (none / 0) (#81)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:25:44 PM EST
    is going to be arrested and charged.

    MSNBC and Washington Post too. (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by magster on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:42:50 PM EST
    Charged with what though? Disorderly conduct or Murder 2nd degree?

    My husband thinks manslaughter (none / 0) (#89)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:45:42 PM EST
    And I have no clue, because I'm still kind of dumbfounded that it took all this to get an actual investigation.

    my thoroughly (none / 0) (#92)
    by CST on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:51:42 PM EST
    unintelligent opinion is also manslaughter.

    And possibly by this afternoon... (none / 0) (#82)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:31:32 PM EST
    I don't even think they know where (none / 0) (#83)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:33:55 PM EST
    he is do they?  I'm no lawyer, but he wasn't formally charged with anything so he didn't have to let anyone know his whereabouts did he?

    His lawyers said at one point (none / 0) (#84)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:36:31 PM EST
    He would turn himself in.

    Does he have lawyers? (none / 0) (#85)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:42:03 PM EST
    There seems to be a splitting of the sheets there. It's just me.  It's just an opinion.  But my cracked crystal ball says that Zimmerman has no intention of turning himself in.

    His lawyers as of yesterday (none / 0) (#88)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:43:56 PM EST
    Said it last week sometime.

    He does have family in Peru, I expect. (none / 0) (#90)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:46:11 PM EST
    Things that make ya go hmmmmmmm (none / 0) (#91)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:49:42 PM EST
    Announcement (none / 0) (#86)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 01:42:07 PM EST
    At 6 pm today, according to ABC