Attorneys Angela Corey, Mark O’Mara and George Zimmerman

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey

There has been a lot of negative piling going on regarding the 58 year old Florida State Attorney, Angela Corey who recently  lost the case in July, 2013 against George Zimmerman for the shooting of the17 year old teenager in Sanford, Florida on February, 26, 2012. While she may deserve all the harsh scrutiny, it’s a bit late in coming.

She has had a history of retaliating against anyone who says boo about her,  poor supervisory skills and overcharging to keep up her image of being a hard charging adversary against  crime and a strong advocate for the victim.  Over the years her exploits for all of the above have been legendary as a Florida prosecutor from 1981 by which she has tried everything from homicides to juvenile cases.  For over 20 years, she had been working for the Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit , as an Assistant State  Attorney.

Her last boss, four term State Attorney Harry Shorstein had her fired around 2006 citing  long time issues regarding her poor supervisory skills. This is also when she made it known that she would be running for Harry Shorstein’s job.  When , Harry Shorstein stepped down from his post, Ms. Corey ran against Mr. Shorstein’s choice for the job and she won this elected postion by 64% in 2008.  She then proceeded to clean house by firing half of the office’s investigators,  two-fifths of its victim advocates, a quarter of its paralegals, and 48 other  support staff.  Then she sent  a letter to Florida’s Senators stating that they  should oppose Harry Shorstein’s pending nomination as a U.S. attorney.  She wrote, ” I told them he should not hold a position of authority in this community again, because of his penchant for using the grand jury for personal vendettas.”   She was just getting started. This district got exactly what they voted for her image wise!!!

Soon after, she bolstered her hard charging crime image by more than  doubling the number of juvenile cases historically being tried in adult court,  the most famous of which within Florida is the 2011 case of 12 year old  Cristian Fernandez who was accused of killing his 2 year old brother.  The  office of Angela Corey prevailed on a grand jury indictment of charges of   homicide and aggravated  child abuse, and announced the decision to try  him as an adult.  There was a  huge public outcry against this move as this  action would have made Cristian Fernandez the youngest  person to ever to face a murder charge in adult court.  Angela Corey responded that she did  not intend to have Cristian attend trial or serve a life sentence, but would rather plan on a plea deal.  In, February, 2013, Cristian Fernandez pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to detention in a juvenile facility until his 19th birthday.  However, he was in solitary confinement in an adult prison for more than a year during this process.  As usual, Ms. Angela Corey threatened with the full force of her office her most vocal critic with libel suits during this time period.  He is Ron Littlepage of the Florida Times-Union.

Ms. Corey is an active member of the Duval County Republican Party and  the Republican Women’s Club of Duval Federated.  She did  serve on the   transition teams for both Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.  Pam Bondi endorsed Ms. Corey for State Attorney and she was influential in working with Governor Scott to appoint Ms. Corey as Special Prosecutor on the Trayvon Martin case.

Prior to the Trayvon Martin case,  Ms.  Angela Corey prosecuted two cases involving “stand your ground” issues:

(1) In 2009, Ronald Thompson of Keystone Heights, Florida was a 65 Year old army  veteran with 14 years of service and  who logged over 5,000 hours of  volunteer work at the Veterans Affairs Center In Lake City, Florida.  One  day, he noticed his neighbor having difficulty keeping  her grandson and  three of his friends away from her house. He made the mistake of coming  over and of firing two gunshots into the ground to scare them off.  The  Prosecutor, Angela Corey arrested him with charges of aggravated assault; prevailed at trial, and because of the Florida strict minimum sentencing   guidelines, Mr.  Thompson was about to be given a sentence of 20 years.  The judge decided to  reduce the sentence but then the reduced sentence was overturned on appeal by the office of 4th Circuit State Attorney, Angela Corey.  Mr. Thompson would still be behind bars for a 20 year sentence  except the Fourth Circuit Judge Don Lester came to the rescue  and granted   Mr. Thompson a new trial on June, 2012, on the basis that the jury instructions had been flawed in his original trial regarding the justifiable use of deadly or non deadly force given the circumstances of the case.  Mr.  Thompson was freed but he had to wait on a decision from Ms. Corey regarding  another trial. A plea deal has been accepted by Mr. Thompson for a greatly reduced sentence.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey and Marissa Alexander
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey and Marissa Alexander

(2.) (May, 2012) In a recent Florida case under the prosecution of Angela Corey and prior to the Trayvon Martin case a 31 year old Marissa Alexander was in her former home by appointment when she was confronted by her husband under the control of a restraining order due to ample records of prior physical abuse towards her. There were children in the area but not in danger of being shot.  Ms. Alexander wanted her husband to  leave.  So she went and found  her gun and shot a warning shot into the wall.  The husband retreated but Ms. Alexander was arrested.  Ms.  Alexander has a Masters Degree, a job and no prior criminal history of any kind.  She was offered a plea bargain of 3 years of prison time.  Ms. Alexander had  children to consider and believed she was protected by this “stand your ground statute.” Her defense attorney did argue before the court that Ms. Alexander should have immunity because of this statute.  The state argued at her trial that she could have escaped from her own home, left her husband alone in her home and not have gone for the gun.  It took the jury minutes to return a guilty against a Black defendant.  Because the crime involved a gun that was discharged, she was subject to a minimum of 20 years under Florida’s strict sentencing guidelines.

On September 26, 2013, CBS reported that the 1ST District Court of Appeals has ordered that Marissa Alexander be granted a new trial based on their ruling that the judge in the lower court did not properly instruct the jury in deciding her case.  However, the appeals court did agree with the lower court in the decision to block Ms. Alexander from being able use the “Stand Your Ground” defense.

Many prosecutors would not have charged period based on the facts of these cases. There is supposed to be prosecutorial discretion. In my mind, if this  statute is not going to be applied in a cases that seem to have the facts to support and test it, that it should not remain in effect.  Just in case, I wasn’t  clear, NO ONE in the above cases were injured in any way,  Of course, the children now suffer without their Mom, Ms.  Alexander.

These are both cases involving Ms. Corey not just over charging but her simply not using common sense prosecutorial discretion.  There is no way, the former State Attorney, Harry Shorestein would have gone forward on either one of these cases.  The people in Angela Cory’s district voted for her hard crime fighting ways and these type of case studies are the results.

The Trayvon Martin case has only shined a light on what has been going on in  this Florida district for years.  Ms. Corey has now met her match with folks who  are not intimidated by her vindictive habits. The defense attorney opposing her  in the Zimmerman case, Mark O’Mara is certainly up to the task and so is the famous Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz  in the battle of words stating that she should be disbarred for presenting to the court an affidavit which was misleading at best as the basis of the charge of “second degree murder” against George Zimmerman.

The Trayvon Martin case publicity also shined a light on another issue such as the ” brady rule” in which the prosecution is obligated to turn over to the defense any possible material they discover which is favorable to the defense in a timely manner.  The prosecution’s office when dealing with the public defender’s office sometimes gets into the habit of not being as diligent as they should be in this area.  When dealing with a competent defense team, they cannot afford NOT  to be scrupulous in this area as Ms. Corey is now discovering.  Again,  most of us perceive that in one of her not so brilliant retaliatory moves she fired Ben Kruidbos, her former director of information of technology after he testified at a pre-trial hearing on June 6, 2013 that prosecutors failed to turn over potentially embarrassing evidence extracted from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone to the defense. The defense team headed by Mark O’Mara has committed to filing sanctions against Angela Corey on this issue.

Ben Kruidos is in the process of undergoing a whistleblower action in Florida’s Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court.  He is represented by attorney, Wesley  White, himself a former prosecutor who was hired by Angela Corey but resigned  in December, 2012 because he disagreed with her prosecutorial priorities.

Another recent casualty of this case in conjunction with Angela Corey is the firing of the Associate Medical Examiner of Volusia County who performed the autopsy on Trayvon Martin, Dr. Shipping Bao.  The prosecution perceives that his testimony in the Trayvon Martin trial was more favorable to the defense than the state.  Dr. Bao is now represented by an attorney, Willie Gary who has announced plans for a suit against the state for “wrongful termination.”  The attorney, Mr. Gary has reported on Florida WFTV Channel 9 that his client was told to keep his mouth shut during the investigation process into the shooting of  Trayvon Martin.  Dr. Bao observed that the investigation by the examiner, the State Attorney’s Office and the Sanford police was biased against the victim, Trayvon Martin.

The most recent “hot news” within the office of Angela Corey is that her former assistant Chief Assistant State Attorney Dan McCarthy will lead the new Center for Smart Justice, which will look for ways “to improve the Florida criminal and justice systems.

The most ridiculous news is Attorney General’s Pam Bondi having requested and being granted by the Florida Governor Scott, the rescheduling of an execution of a Florida prisoner because it conflicted with her fund raising party.  Remember  she is also the person who recommended that Angela Corey be the Special Prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case.

Although, I am personally pleased that there was a public trial vs. Zimmerman and I’ll discuss my reasons for this in a later blog, the answer is YES, I am convinced Angela Corey filed “second degree murder” charges against George  Zimmerman in a very public setting for political reasons on April 12, 2012.  I believe this was a preemptive move to discourage the possibility of anyone signing up to oppose her in the up coming election.  The deadline for filing to run against her was only a week away and guess what, no one filed.  With this move she had another non contested four year position as State Attorney,  She had the Black vote who was very supportive of her decision.  If she lost this case , she would still be considered  brave for at least trying and she would not have unduly upset the White vote and those including the Governor who were supporting the “stand your ground” laws.

Mark O'Mara
Mark O’Mara

I would like to be so impressed with Mark O’Mara’s skill as a defense super attorney and I would be if he had faced a better opponent such as a Nancy Grace.  While the defense was present, doing a very competent job for his client , the prosecution was not.  Both are products of the Florida University system.  Mark O’Mara may not understand this now but when he stood outside on the  steps of courtroom declaring his client as innocent,  the public was understanding only  too well that the jury finding his client “not guilty” was not the same as finding him innocent.  Few people believe his client is an innocent and he’ll figure this out as time passes and after he doesn’t get compensated.  Angela Corey’s office in not sharing all possible exculpatory information with the defense just highlight’s her office’s  laziness in doing an adequate investigation and its lack of competency in preparing for trial.  There was a case to be made in favor of Trayvon Martin but you had to have a prosecutor who genuinely cared.  This time she was going to be in the spotlight pitted against a very competent attorney and the national media. How she prosecuted the Trayvon Martin case was to  represent her office at their fighting best on behalf of the victim.  What fight?  My major complaint against Angela Corey is that justice on behalf of Trayvon Martin was not served. He did not get his day in court and his voice was not heard. I do believe, Mr. Mark O’Mara is a competent, super Florida attorney who did an outstanding job in obtaining a “not guilty verdict” for his client, George Zimmerman in July, 2013 but I also believe that he was lucky in his opposition.

I do NOT believe he would have prevailed against a competent prosecutor.  Fortunately, he will be putting  most of this behind him as he goes forward with his new position as an Analyst for CNN and is no longer representing George Zimmerman. There is an instance in the case in which I found the ethics of the defense questionable.  Before trial, around  the end of May, 2013, the Attorney,  Mark O’Mara proffered before the Judge that he had a video showing  Trayvon referring a fight.  Also, in a text Trayvon mentions he was pummeled in a fight.  Mr. Mark O’Mara had wanted to include reference to these in his opening statement, demonstrating that Trayvon did have  a penchant or comfort level in fighting.  The judge ruled that Mr. O’Mara would not be allowed to include any reference to this fighting in his opening statement but, if he convinced her of it’s relevancy during trial, she would reconsider. A couple of days  later, the Orlando Sentinel web producer prematurely posted this particular video to but  quickly took it down when they discovered that the video had not yet been made public as planned.  After readers found a cached version of the story online Sunday, June 2, 2013, Mark O’Mara’s office released their statement of apology and decided against posting the video. The video simply shows Trayvon taking a video of two homeless men fighting over a bicycle. I am wanting to give Mark O’Mara the benefit of the doubt in my thinking that he may not have had first hand knowledge of the content of this video as I cannot understand why he would compromise his standing and integrity on something that could back fire in a big way as per his reputation, he is smarter than this.  I am guessing that he relied on someone’s investigative product and that someone was ordered to no longer have contact with his  office or Mr. George Zimmerman and I am guessing / HOPING / FANTAZING that this person is Mark Osterman.  I  would not want to learn that one more person enabled Mr. Zimmerman by compromising  their standards only to be left with the damage to clean up or fix.