Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Special Prosecutor Buys a Ticket!

Don’t tell me Angela Corey is unethical too! Hey…I told you not to tell me!

Here, almost in its entirety, is noted legal ethicist Monroe Freedman’s post on the The Legal Ethics Forum, regarding Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s outrageously unethical press conference. I was going to post on this myself, but I could not improve on Prof. Freedman, which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his career and contributions to legal ethics theory. His title was “Trayvon Martin, Angela Corey, and Prosecutors’ Ethics.”  When I read it, the only thing I could say was “Bingo!”  From here on, it is all Monroe:

“Special Prosecutor Angela Corey used her press conference to establish three things.

“First, her investigative team… “worked tirelessly” in a “never-ending search for the truth and a quest to always do the right thing for the right reason.”  We are “not only ministers of justice,” we are “seekers of the truth,” and we “stay true to that mission.”

“Second, Ms. Corey and her team…were able to establish “the facts” and “the truth” through an “extensive” and “full investigation”  has “the search for justice for Trayvon … brought us to this night” (i.e., the press conference announcing the filing of charges).

“Third, Ms. Corey would not have filed charges until her team had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman is guilty, and they had eliminated all affirmative defenses, including excusable or justifiably homicide.

Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, comment: “Florida has adopted the American Bar Association Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function. This is the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in criminal prosecution and defense and should be consulted for further guidance.”

ABA Standards. 3-1.4(a): “A prosecutor should not make … an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication, if the prosecutor … reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding.”  Comment to 3.1: “the opinion of the lawyer on the guilt of the defendant, the merits of the case, or the merits of the evidence in the case” is “ordinarily likely to have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding.”

“Corey:  ‘We know only one category as prosecutors, and that is a ‘V.’  It’s not a ‘B,’ it’s not a ‘W,’ it’s not an ‘H.’  It’s ‘V,’ for victim.  That’s who we work tirelessly for.  And that’s all we know, is justice for our victims.’  Corey also referred to “our precious victims.”

ABA Standard 3-2.1, comment:  “The idea that the criminal law … is designed to vindicate public rather than private interests is now firmly established.”

ABA Standard. 3-3.2, comment: “The prosecutor’s client is not the victim.”

“Corey:  ‘The first thing my team and I did upon being appointed was to meet with Trayvon’s family and pray with them…We opened our meeting with prayer.”  Also, Ms. Corey thanked “all those people across this country who have sent positive energy and prayers our way,” and she asked them to continue to pray for Trayvon’s family and for her team.  “Remember, it is Trayvon’s family that are our constitutional victims….”

Prof Freedman then asks why we need to bother with a trial at all, given the prosecutor’s announced certainty of  Zimmerman’s guilt, and her solidarity with the deceased and his parents.

Good question.

8 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Update: The Special Prosecutor Buys a Ticket!

  1. Zimmerman got out of his SUV to chase after Trayvon. Zimmerman lost site of Trayvon for 93 seconds. Zimmerman was told not to follow…and he said “Okay” so he was walking back to his SUV to wait for the COPS.

    Zimmerman— hot head—wants to be cop, with a anger management issue.

    Trayvon, a 6’2 150lbs cocky kid that had suspensions and accusations of possession of stolen property.

    Trayvon, mad, scared and a tuff/cocky kid came back to Zimmerman. Zimmerman pumped up trying to catch Trayvon but lost him.

    “Why are you following me?”
    “What are you doing here?”
    “What do you mean what am I doing here?”
    “Don’t move; I called the cops!”
    “FUCK YOU!”

    Trayvon tries to get away…Zimmerman tries to detain Trayvon. (wannabe cop).


    Trayvon punches Zimmerman in the face. (cocky kid)

    A fight breaks out. If Zimmerman had his gun drawn they would never have fought. Trayvon gets the upper hand. Zimmerman starts screaming for help. Zimmerman is on bottom, Trayvon sees the gun. Zimmerman gets the gun while screaming, and he shoots Trayvon. Trayvon stops moving and Zimmerman not knowing he killed Trayvon, he mounts his back to hold him down.

    This is all speculation, but makes sense to me….What does Zimmerman get? 2nd degree or manslaughter. Or Zimmerman gets let go for SYG or self-defense.

  2. How can Zimmerman get a fair hearing with so many people and the press after him. Any judge that at the first hearing believes there is probable cause for self defense is not getting re-elected and is putting his life in danger due to all the hot heads.
    The evidence seems unimportant to the pro Trayvon side. The are not interested in how Zimmerman got on his back with a bloody nose, a bloody head and Trayvon on top. Hitting concrete with your head is very easily fatal. If not on the first hit then on the next hit. Nothing I have read disputes then scene, yet it is ignored.
    Whatever happened before does not eliminate the right of self defense in such a situation. Even if whatever. This is old fashioned self defense.
    The media that still show a picture of 12 y/o Trayvon are showing their bias, would they show a picture of a 12 y/o Zimmerman?
    Legal ethics has become in this case an oxymoron phrase. How could Zimmerman’s first two lawyers go on TV and reveal privileged lawyer-client information, trash talk their client and set him up?
    The lynch mob marches on and there are none honest and brave enough to stand in the way.
    Zimmerman remains bloodied, on his back, with the Martin family, Sharpton, Jackson, half the country and the media beating him down. Self defense is not an option When truth, justice and ethics do not matter.

  3. Zimmerman is at least guilty if incivility. If he would have introduced himself as a concerned neighbor because of a record of robberies in the neighborhood, and given Trevon a chance to explain himself, none of this would have happened. Instead, he treated him without the respect and civility we all should give to our fellow human beings. And nothing ever, ever justifies this kind of violence.

    Plus the police in this case completely botched every detail of proper procedure – they should all be fired at least, and I believe they should exhume Trevon and do a proper autopsy – that would answer many questions about what really happened.

    But I go back to the example of any woman dressing in a sexy fashion – that doesn’t give anyone the right to subject that woman abuse or rape, Period.

    On the Colbert report last night, they had a clip about a school in Tennessee where they are banning the kids from doing any action between the sexes that may lead to sexual activity. Why not just outlaw eye contact like Colbert suggests, or just make the girls wear full length Burqas? C’mon man! We’re being sucked down the vortex of giving up to freely express ourselves, and this goes against everything this country stands for.

    To summarize, I cannot rape or abuse a woman for dressing like a “tart” because I have self control, and it is not only unethical, but wrong, and I take responsibility for my own actions and conscience. That being said, I cannot abuse or shoot to kill a man for walking thru my neighborhood for dressing like a “black” or being “black” because I have self control, and it is not only unethical, but wrong, and I take responsibility for my own actions and conscience.

    Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it ethical or the right thing to do.

    • I agree with 99.9% of this, BBA, and well-stated it is. Not this, in context, though: “I cannot abuse or shoot to kill a man for walking thru my neighborhood for dressing like a “black” or being “black” because I have self control, and it is not only unethical, but wrong, and I take responsibility for my own actions and conscience.” There is not sufficient evidence at all that Zimmerman 1) shot Martin for walking through his neighborhood; clearly he didn’t 2) Shot him to kill him. This is the self-defense question. 3) Did either of these because Martin was black or because of how he was dressed. There is, in fact, no good evidence (that I have seen) of this at all.

      Zimmerman was suspicious. That’s what started everything. And we have every right to be suspicious, whether we are wrong or not and whether anyone else would be suspicious in the same circumstances. I don’t see how anyone can conclude that Martin was profiled, unless they can show that other kids in an Abercrombie and Fitch logo hoodie and looking Norwegian as they wandered in the rain didn’t arouse Zimmerman’s suspicions. From what I have read, I’d guess that Trayvon could have looked like MY son and still aroused his concern.

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