Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Sue Carlton: In court, at least, it appears Zimmerman is being treated like anyone else

Are prosecutors, a judge and a justice system picking on George Zimmerman? And now his wife?

Even before his trial, is one of the most famous defendants in America getting a fair shake?

The neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed teenager and ignited a national debate about race, self-defense and the law finds himself back in jail. And his wife is charged with perjury for lying about family finances at his bail hearing — all before we're anywhere near a trial in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

By now, there's plenty of opinion as to what happened between two strangers in a gated neighborhood on a rainy night in Sanford.

There's this: A teenager just walking home from a convenience store was targeted by Zimmerman because he was black and ended up dead.

Or: Zimmerman was within his rights — and the law — when he fired his gun because Martin confronted Zimmerman about following him and was beating him.

With all that out there and all this case has become, is it being handled by the justice system like any other?

Can it be?

Having witnessed many judges over the years (including one with a tendency to snap pencils in half when he was not happy) I can tell you they really, really do not like to be lied to. They take that whole-truth-and-nothing-but business very seriously, particularly when a ruling they make is based on the information provided.

Like thousands of defendants similarly awaiting trial, Zimmerman was granted a bail amount based in part on how much money he can reasonably come up with. That question is what landed both him and his wife in pretrial trouble.

At her husband's bail hearing, Shellie Zimmerman said under oath she wasn't "aware of" any money she and her husband had. But prosecutors later said recorded jailhouse phone calls between them showed she was quite aware of more than $100,000 raised for his defense. They also accuse her of moving nearly $75,000 from his account to hers in small amounts.

Enter the judge with the colorful: "Does (Zimmerman) get to sit there like a potted plant and lead the court down the primrose path?"

Apparently not. Bail revoked, and Mrs. Zimmerman later charged with perjury.

I don't love the idea of recording jailhouse calls between inmates and their friends and families, but it is done, and not just to George Zimmerman. (At the Hillsborough Jail they put up signs that essentially say: Hey, we're listening in, so you might not want to incriminate yourself.)

So no, not a big surprise to see a perjury charge and bail revoked — nor to see another bail hearing set for June 29. And no surprise if he gets out, if at a higher amount. That's how it works.

So far, at least, it looks like Zimmerman is being treated as much like an ordinary defendant as possible.

Given the intense interest, probably no detail of this case will be overlooked, and no move by any of the players left unscrutinized. Hopefully, that also means no corners cut, and everything by the book all the way to trial.

Because if we've learned anything from what happened that night, and afterward, and what it says about where we are in the world when it comes to race and the law, it's that we really need to get this one right.

Comments
Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Column: How the U.S. cornered the market for skilled immigrants

Countries are constantly competing for the most talented workers and, according to the best available immigration statistics, the United States has been winning.The United States is home to just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but in 2010, it ...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

For once, scientists found good news about West Antarctica

At least since 2014, the news has been dire: The West Antarctic ice sheet is losing ice, and its retreat may be unstoppable. It may be only a matter of time (granted, maybe a very long time) before it adds as much as 10 feet to global sea-level rise....
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyrhills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At about 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

First lady’s ‘I don’t care’ jacket causes a stir

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — First lady Melania Trump boarded a flight to a facility housing migrant children separated from their parents wearing a jacket that read "I really don’t care, do u?"The green hooded spring military jacket has the words written g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

DALLAS — The New York Islanders have hired Barry Trotz as their new head coach. President of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello announced the move Thursday at the NHL draft, two weeks after Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals and thr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. But the Tampa Police Department says he’s also the man they found dead in Hil...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wedne...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

There’s a definitive answer every year to the question of who is No. 1 in the NBA draft. But who is the No. 1 pick of all No. 1 draft picks ever? Or No. 1 among the list of No. 2 draft picks? Those are questions that have no definitive answer, except...
Updated: 3 hours ago