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George Zimmerman's lawyers: 'Cavalier' actions by prosecutors

October 15, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • George Zimmerman at an April 20 bond hearing.
George Zimmerman at an April 20 bond hearing. (Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel…)

Attorneys for George Zimmerman alleged in court papers that state prosecutors have failed to provide complete and timely information they need to prepare for their client's murder case and are seeking greater court supervision of pre-trial issues.

In court papers dated Friday, the defense team is seeking monthly meetings of at least two hours before a judge or the appointment of a retired judge to manage the discovery phase of the proceedings against Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder. 

Zimmerman, 29, has argued that he acted in self-defense when he shot an unarmed African American teenager, Trayvon Martin, on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.

 “The state’s approach to discovery has been to require the defense to figure out what the state has failed to provide and then ask for it rather than fulfilling the state’s legal obligation to provide complete and timely discovery,” defense attorney Donald R. West said in his motion, announced on the defense website on Monday. “This haphazard and cavalier approach by the state and the failure of the state to timely respond to reasonable defense requests has frustrated and delayed the discovery phase of the case.”

PHOTOS: Tense moments from Trayvon Martin case

The prosecution has yet to file its response to the motion.

Wrangling over the quality of discovery material – witnesses statements, photo and other evidence – is common in criminal cases.  Zimmerman was not originally charged in the shooting, but after weeks of protests led by civil rights leaders, a special prosecutor filed second-degree murder charges. Zimmerman is free on bail.

In its paper, the defense says it was initially denied material including a report by an analyst who examined Martin’s cellphone and a witness drawing that defense attorneys said showed Martin on top of Zimmerman “right where George Zimmerman said he was when Trayvon Martin bashed his head into the concrete.”  The cellphone report was given to the defense by the analyst rather than the state.

Among the outstanding issues, the defense said, was expected litigation involving records from social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter as well as the traditional, mainstream media. The defense is also seeking to depose the attorneys representing the Martin family on the ground that the lawyers inserted themselves in the case by interviewing state witnesses.

“We anticipate objections being lodged before and during these depositions which will require extensive Court involvement due to work product and privilege issues,” West wrote. “It is likely the court may need to be actively involved in the deposition process and available on short notice.”

In a separate motion, the defense is also seeking the original recording made by Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney, of his interview with a 16-year-old girl. The girl said she was on a cellphone with Martin when he first spoke with Zimmerman. The girl, who has not been officially named, said that Zimmerman was the aggressor.

Defense attorney West also asked for the names of everyone in the room during that interview and information about how ABC News got a copy of the recording.

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