George Zimmerman Hearing: Aside From the Continuance
The video of the hour long hearing in the George Zimmerman case today is here. As multiple news agencies report, the judge denied the defense request for a continuance.
Additional matters that were addressed: Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump filed a 15 page affidavit about his telephone interview with Witness 8, Trayvon's phone friend who was on the phone with him before the shooting. Crump's lawyer addressed the court, asking that Crump's deposition be postponed until the Court had time to review the Affidavit. [More...]
Crump is concerned that he will be asked about matters other than the phone that would fall under the attorney-client or work product privileges. While the Court has previously ruled that matters to be addressed at hearings be filed 48 hours before the hearing, the Judge granted the motion to postpone. She made it clear that in her previous ruling ordering that Crump be made a witness for the purpose of taking his deposition, she only intended Crump to be deposed about the recording of the interview with Witness 8. Zimmerman's lawyer Don West directed her attention to Rule 3.220 (h)(1)(A) which provides:
After receipt by the defendant of the Discovery Exhibit, the defendant may, without leave of court, take the deposition of any unlisted witness who may have information relevant to the offense charged.
The Judge repeated she would read the affidavit and determine whether his deposition was still required under her previous order. She told the defense to file a motion if they think the affidavit is incomplete and they want to depose Crump further on the phone or on other matters, and she will schedule a hearing.
On the state's refusal to disclose what law enforcement agency it first sent Trayvon Martin's cell phone to for the purpose of accessing its stored content: The state today handed the defense a supplemental discovery exhibit identifying the Agency as the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office and providing the name of the agent who examined the phone. According to the prosecutor, the agent only obtained "the password" and did not examine the data on the phone. The phone was then returned to the state (or FDLE), and thereafter then sent to Cellebrite in New Jersey for analysis. The Court ordered the state to provide a chain of custody log for the phone, together with a disclosure of what analysis was done by the SBCSO by Friday.
On Witness 8's twitter handles and Trayvon Martin's social media accounts: The judge ordered the state to set up a conference call with Zimmerman's lawyers and Witness 8 for the sole purpose of asking her to provide her twitter handles and account information, so that the defense could include the information in its subpoena to Twitter. The information will not be made public at this time. Any further questions for Witness 8 must be asked at her as yet unscheduled deposition. The same procedure will be used for Trayvon's parent or parents, whichever has the information about his social media accounts.
As to the defense request to be informed by the state as to when it became aware of Witness 8, the Court would not direct the state to provide the defense with this information. The Court said the defense should ask Witness 8 directly about her contacts with the state at her deposition. The defense pointed out that Witness 8 would have no idea of when the state first learned of her existence (as opposed to her first contact with the state) but the ruling stood.
Mark O'Mara told the court that the defense had not yet retained experts and said it was not possible for them to comply with the court's current deadline for expert disclosure, which is in less than one month. He said without an extension/continuance, the defense would not be able to retain experts. The Court said the defense has had enough time to retain experts and refused to change her order.
Among those who have not yet been deposed according to statements at the hearing: Witness 8, the Martin family, and Sanford police investigator Chris Serino. I think prosecutor de la Rionda also included Steven Brenton in this group -- the FDLE analyst who examined Trayvon's cell phone and downloaded data from it, but I'd have to go listen again to be sure. Still not re-deposed: Sanford officer William Ervin, who told the prosecutor he was present when Serino interviewed Tracy Martin and heard Tracy say that the voice on Zimmerman's non-emergency call was not Trayvon's. His statement to the prosecutor is in conflict with Tracy Martin's later public statements in which he claimed he did not deny it was Trayvon's voice, but said he wasn't sure.
Other orders signed today which were ruled on previously: An order directing the FBI to disclose its case reports and communications with the state to the defense and an order directing the Department of Justice Community Relations Services to disclose communications with the FBI and the state's attorney's office to the defense. Among the items the FBI must disclose are documents showing whether the investigation has been completed or is closed.
Also granted: The defense request for a subpoena to 7/11 for credit card receipts for the time period surrounding Trayvon Martin's purchase of candy and a beverage on Feb. 26. This will assist the defense in identifying the young men who bought items with a credit card immediately after Trayvon left the store, so they can be interviewed about any interactions with Trayvon that night. Their names will not be made public.
Unless a hearing is requested concerning Benjamin Crump's deposition, the next hearing date is March 5.
I suspect George Zimmerman's defense fund will see another uptick in donations after today's hearing.
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