Florida primary voters have ousted state’s attorney Angela Corey, whose unprofessional conduct as prosecutor in the Martin/Zimmerman case and elsewhere has been a regular target of ours at Overlawyered. “The election caps a dizzying rise for [unknown challenger Melissa] Nelson and an equally shocking fall for Corey, one of the most polarizing political figures in Jacksonville history who generated national attention and enormous criticism for her prosecutions of George Zimmerman, Marissa Alexander, 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez and many others. Corey will depart office in the first week of January as the first incumbent state attorney in modern history to lose a contested election.” [Jacksonville Times-Union, Scott Shackford]
- “When do awful thoughts, shared with complete strangers, become criminal actions?” [Robert Kolker, New York mag]
- Why grants to local police departments are among the federal government’s most pernicious spending [Radley Balko, whose new Washington Post blog/column is thriving]
- How bad did you think Florida prosecutor Angela Corey was? She might be worse [Balko, earlier]
- “The unintended consequences of compensating the exonerated” [Will Baude]
- Thousands of Americans are behind bars following shaken-baby convictions. How many are innocent? [Jerry Mitchell, Jackson Clarion-Ledger/USA Today, earlier here, here]
- Private probation as “judicially sanctioned extortion racket” [The Economist]
- “DOJ to Prohibit Profiling Based on Religion, National Origin, and Gender in Federal Investigations” [FedSoc Blog]
- Stop and bleed: Tennessee rolls out “no refusal” blood-draw DUI driver checkpoints, which already go on in Texas [WTVF, Reddit, Tom Hunter/Liberal America, Charles “Brad” Frye (Texas practice)]
- Issues raised by growing practice of placing government “monitors” inside businesses to police compliance [Veronica Root, Prawfs]
- “Faulty Justice: Italian Earthquake Scientist Speaks Out against His Conviction” [Scientific American]
- California: suit could probe patterns of harassment against Orange County officials who’ve resisted police union demands [Krayewski, earlier]
- Illinois “[makes] it a felony to flick cigarette butts onto streets for the third time” [Gideon’s Trumpet]
- Before making laws intended to benefit sex workers, take time to listen to them [Popehat via Maggie McNeill]
- Report: state of Florida investigating Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over sacking of alleged whistleblower [Washington Times, earlier] “A Visitor’s Guide to Florida’s Most Notorious Law Enforcement Agencies” [Mike Riggs, Atlantic Cities]
Cathy Young arraigns the press for “an ideology-based, media-driven false narrative that has distorted a tragedy into a racist outrage.” Bob Somerby at Daily Howler has been documenting chapter and verse for some time, including this reminder of how the New York Times early on, taking dictation from Martin family lawyers, popularized a super-inflammatory “two-shot, cold blood” narrative that influenced public perceptions. Much of this is already familiar to readers of Overlawyered coverage including posts discussing media handling of the case here, here, here, here, and here.
My own theory — admittedly shaped by my professional interests — is that if you dig beneath the failure of a credulous press here you find a failure in legal ethics. While the press did publish one untruth after another about what happened that night and about the principals, a large share of those untruths can ultimately be traced to the offices of Benjamin Crump & Co., with some later help from Angela Corey’s office.
What about ideological outlets like ThinkProgress, which disgracefully promoted one error after another in egging on the press frenzy? To quote what I wrote at the time Zimmerman was charged:
The thing is, “Stand Your Ground” hadn’t really been a pet issue one way or the other for many of those who now harp on it. I think the better answer is: because many people yearn for ways to blame their ideological opponents when something awful happens. It’s much more satisfying to do that than to wind up wasting one’s blame on some individual or local police department for actions or decisions that might not even turn out to be motivated by ideology.
Consider, for example, the efforts to set up the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council as somehow the ultimate villain in the Martin shooting. Left-wing groups, assisted by labor union and trial lawyer interests, had been pursuing a campaign against ALEC for months before the Martin case, in hopes of making the group radioactive among generally liberal donors like the Gates Family Foundation and the Coca-Cola Co. Nothing had worked — until the synthetic Stand Your Ground furor finally afforded an opening.
- “This is just stunning. DOJ is soliciting tips from the public in order to build a case against a single citizen.” [@radleybalko, William Jacobson, @andrewmgrossman] Apparently, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has the power to remove prosecutor Angela Corey from office, and her post-verdict description of Zimmerman as “murderer” is the sort of unprofessionalism that might advance that day [Ian Tuttle with much more about her career, earlier] Ken doesn’t hold back from telling us what he thinks of Nancy Grace [Popehat, earlier]
- Washington Post covers USDA mandate of disaster plan for magicians’ rabbits [Lowering the Bar, David Fahrenthold/WaPo, earlier]
- “Joel Tenenbaum’s $675,000 Music Downloading Fine Upheld” [AP]
- “Hey look, an actual Third Amendment case” may be premature regarding this Nevada dispute, especially if we’re not sure cops = soldiery [Ilya Somin]
- “Why The State Attorneys General’s Assault On Internet Immunity Is A Terrible Idea” [Eric Goldman, Forbes]
- Connecticut: “Supreme Court Upholds $2.9 Million Award For Injured Bicyclist” [Courant]
- The ABA’s annual Blawg 100 nominations are now open, in case, you know, (nudge)
State’s attorney Angela Corey fires the IT director who testified critically regarding the state’s non-sharing of evidence with George Zimmerman’s counsel. [Florida Times-Union] And Jacob Sullum’s latest: “Prosecutor Says George Zimmerman Is Guilty No Matter What Happened in His Fight With Trayvon Martin” [Reason]
Popehat’s Ken and Ron Littlepage of the Florida Times-Union on Angela Corey, the evidently thin-skinned Florida special prosecutor in the Martin-Zimmerman case. A letter Corey sent to the Florida Times-Union, in Ken’s view, “betrays anger management issues, entitlement problems, a weak grasp of pertinent First Amendment law governing statements of opinion, and a rather frightening attitude from a government official with such power.” Earlier here and here.
Monroe Freedman lines up Angela Corey’s press conference — in which she spoke of “our precious victims,” talked of having prayed with the Martin family, and suggested that her investigators had established “the facts” and “the truth” regarding the guilt of George Zimmerman — against the code of ethics. Earlier on the prosecution affidavit here [expanded and retitled 8:30 a.m. Apr. 16].
Dan Markel at Prawfsblawg is wondering whether second-degree murder amounts to overcharging the case given the state of the evidence and the prosecutor’s affidavit: “I have no special insight into [prosecutor Angela] Corey’s evidence files but I sure hope she knows more than we do. Otherwise, a murder charge seems like a terrific injustice.”
Relatedly, Tom Maguire at Just One Minute explains his reasons for doubting that Corey has developed breakthrough evidence in the investigation so far. David French and Andrew McCarthy at NRO take sharply different views of how well the prosecution affidavit supports its charge.
And Ken at Popehat isn’t impressed at all by the prosecution’s handiwork so far: “The affidavit is argumentative, it’s conclusory, and it lacks attribution. … This is not the worst affidavit I’ve ever seen — but it’s damn close, and the decision to proceed based on it in such a high-profile case is stunning. … There’s no way that a judge reading this affidavit can make an intelligent or informed decision about the sufficiency of the evidence — even for the low hurdle of probable cause.”
More: Jeralyn Merritt on the affidavit’s unsupported assertions [via Balko] And via Steele, Legal Ethics Forum: George Conk “sensed trouble when Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced she would not convene a grand jury, skipping the first means of testing one’s evidence and demonstrating recognition of the citizenry’s right to [gauge] the conduct of prosecutors.” “Zimmerman should not be charged, nor sitting in a county detention, based on this document; yet there he is.” [Empty Wheel] Yet more: Radley Balko on the unchecked charging power of prosecutor [HuffPo]