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George Zimmerman: Court Sets $150,000 Bail: UPDATED With Courtroom Video

I am having trouble embedding the CBS courtroom video of George Zimmerman’s apology to Trayvon Martin’s parents and his cross examination by prosecutor Bernie de la Rosa, so here is a link.

[Ed. Note – that youtube had embedding disabled. We found another version, and have added it.]

As I predicted two days ago, the court set bail in the amount of $150,000 (I actually predicted at least $100,000). The other conditions of release are almost identical to the conditions that I predicted.

Brian Bracker of the Guardian reports the conditions are:

1. Home confinement with electronic and GPS monitoring — he is going to be staying at a secret (to us) location;

2. No possession of firearms;

3. No contact with any member of Martin’s family;

4. Attend regular meetings with pretrial release officers.

He testified at the bail hearing, which is unusual, and apologized to Trayvon Martin’s family.

Zimmerman’s mother testified at the hearing. His father and wife testified by telephone.

Dale Gilbreath, the detective who signed off on the affidavit of probable cause, also testified at the hearing. When cross-examined by defense counsel, Mark O’Mara, he admitted that, instead of saying “Zimmerman confronted Martin,” he should have used a different word.

When prosecuting attorney, Bernie de la Rionda, asked him whether there is any evidence that suggests Zimmerman’s statement to the police is not true, Gilbreath answered, “Yes.”

He did not elaborate and neither counsel pressed him further.

I think we can reasonably infer that the prosecution’s evidence for Zimmerman confronting Martin is circumstantial and Mark O’Mara knew what Gilbreath’s answer would be before he asked it.

The first rule of cross examination is: Never ask a question unless you know what the answer will be.

That was an extremely dangerous question to ask, unless he knew how Gilbreath would answer it. Therefore, he interviewed him before the hearing.

Mark O’Mara continues to impress. Putting your client on the stand at a bail hearing in a murder case and having him apologize to the victim’s family is thinking way outside the box. I don’t know of any lawyer who has done that before or even thought of doing that before.

Bernie de la Rionda’s question eliciting Gilbreath’s statement that they have evidence that Zimmerman lied in his statement to police is the equivalent of asking your detective if we have the trump card.

Yet he did not ask what it was and neither did O’Mara.

Why not?

This is a bail hearing and de la Rionda is not going to show his cards now. He does not want to do anything that might stir up more pretrial publicity and then be accused of poisoning the pool of potential jurors. That would be prosecutorial misconduct. He did not have to play that card, so he did not.

O’Mara has reviewed the discovery and likely knows what Gilbreath’s answer would have been. He knew it could not possibly help Zimmerman, so he did not ask.

Smart moves by both lawyers.


Here’s a somewhat different report on the bail hearing from the AP:

The hearing provided a few glimpses of the strengths — and weaknesses — in the case being built by prosecutors.

Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for the prosecution, testified that he does not know whether Martin or Zimmerman threw the first punch and that there is no evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s contention he was walking back to his vehicle when confronted by Martin.

But Gilbreath also said Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was slamming his head against the sidewalk just before he shot the teenager was “not consistent with the evidence we found.” He gave no details.

In taking the stand, Zimmerman opened himself up to questions from a prosecutor, who grilled him on whether he made an apology to police on the night of the shooting, and why he waited so long to express remorse to Martin’s parents.

Zimmerman said he told police he felt sorry for the parents. He also said he didn’t say anything to them sooner because his former attorneys told him not to.

NOTE: By testifying that he did not apologize earlier because his previous lawyers told him not to do so, he has arguably waived his attorney–client privilege as to that communication, which means that his previous attorneys may have to state whether they told him that.

What would you do if you were one of his lawyers, you were approached by investigators who asked you if you gave that advice, and you never told him that because he never asked?

There is another conflict. He testified that he thought Trayvon was about the same age as he is, which is 28-years-old, but he told the dispatcher when he called to report the “suspicious” person that he was an older teen (h/t to Tuezday at Firedoglake).

Cross posted from my law blog.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.