Prosecution Motions

On Friday, May 10th the prosecution in the case of State of Florida vs. 
George Zimmerman, filed 9 motions in court, in an attempt to shore up 
its case and prevent some evidence from being brought forth at trial.  
 
In a peremptory move the State filed the following “In limine”, which 
is Latin for “from the start” or in other words before the trial 
testimony in presented to the jury. I will be breaking them down; 
provide my analysis of what the purpose or the goal of each motion is, 
and what effects they will have at trial. 
These are my own opinions which will be based on my research and 
that of some people who are far more knowledgeable than I am. As we 
will see later, some of the motions the State filed are very common, 
with one caveat, it is usually the defense that would be the one to 
file them. The nine motions are as follows,click on links,for filings:
 
Regarding Trayvon Martin
Here the State is trying to suppress from the beginning any evidence or 
opinions about TM in particularly:
·         Had ever been suspended from school
·         Had ever used marijuana or talked about the use of marijuana
·         Had ever been in a fight(s)
·         Had posted anything on Social Media sites or his screen name(s)
·         Had a set of gold teeth
·         Any mention of his schools or his grades
·         Any texts he might have sent before Feb 26th
·         Any texts he sent on Feb 26th unless they can be tied to the 
          incident and they are ruled admissible by the court

The State is trying to hide any reference of TM’s actions prior to the 
incident. They want the jury to only consider their version of TM or 
in the abstract to hide TM personality.  We know that TM is 
guilty of those offenses but the law does not allow prior bad acts 
unless they are felonies. In this case GZ is claiming self-defense as 
such; the Judge may allow some testimony that is relevant.  Any 
history of violence, may be relevant, as well as drug use, since GZ 
is claiming that this was part of the reason for his calling the police, 
he thought TM was high. The issue of his suspension may be relevant 
as well as this was the reason TM was staying in Sanford, because of 
the suspension.

Prediction; The law seems clear on prior bad acts, but it does give 
some lee-way in self-defense cases, I believe the Judge will rule on 
it as the issues come up.
Prediction Denied
 
 State’s motion in limine regarding calling of witnesses

The State has listed some witnesses that it may not call, and it 
wants to prevent the defense from stating that the reason for not 
calling in the witnesses is because the testimony is adverse to the 
prosecution. 

Some think this is in reference to Serino who was the lead 
investigator from the Sanford Police Department or other cops. 
It is also a possibility that this refers to the testimony of the FBI 
sound expert or one of the other sound experts whose reports are 
contrary to the findings on the third sound expert. The FBI 
determined that due to the quality and interference it could not 
determine who was screaming on the 911 tapes, the second sound expert, 
though admitting the problems and the marginality of the recording 
could only make a partial determination, but it determined that the 
lasts screams on the tape were more likely from GZ but definitely not 
from TM. 

To me this scenario seems likely as the defense is unlikely to call 
them to testify if the prosecution fails to have them appear. I 
believe the Judge will tell the defense that if there is a witness, 
they can call them to the stand themselves.

Prediction- Granted

Motion in limine regarding opinion as to appropriate penalty or 
disregard of law

This motion is interesting as the State is concerned that the jurors 
would disregard the law and acquit if they find the sentence too 
harsh or just decide to nullify the verdict. 

The US 2nd Court of Appeals in 1997 has decided that jury 
nullification in “just cause” to return a verdict of not guilty. 
There is also a movement currently present in Florida that aims to 
instruct jurors on their right to nullify a law if they feel the 
State was abusing its power, for instance. What the State is 
concerned is that jurors could find GZ guilty as charged or some
lesser included charge but that the sentence he would receive 
would be harsher punishment than what the jury feels that GZ 
deserves.  

Last year in April, 2012 a person was arrested for trying to impart 
pamphlets informing jurors of their rights to nullify a verdict. 
The Federal District Court in Southern Florida dismissed the 
indictment as the judge saw informing a juror was not jury tampering
in any stretch of the meaning. 

Sentencing guidelines are not part of the normal jury instructions, 
and neither is anything related to jury nullification. I believe that 
if MOM wants special instructions that he must file a motion
requesting the judge to add any other instruction. 
Standard Jury Instructions for Florida, 
(click for link)

Prediction-Granted

Motion for protective order/motion in limine regarding toxicology

The State wants a protective order to suppress any mention of the 
marijuana traces found on TM on that night as the State says:

“No witness has suggested that the level of marijuana reflected 
in the victim’s blood sample has any bearing 
whatsoever on the cause of his death. Nor is there any evidence 
to suggest the victim ingested the marijuana 
at or even near the time of death; that he was under the influence; 
or that being under the influence would 
in any way be relevant to the actions of either vict.”

This is not entirely true, as GZ mentioned that he thought that 
TM was under the influence which might have been causing his unusual 
actions. This argument also fails to mention that as there are no 
witnesses on record, besides the ear-witness, that had observed TM, 
to say his actions were not impaired is not established it is only 
alleged by the prosecution.

Prediction- Denied  

Motion in limine regarding self-serving hearsay statements of defendant

The State wants to exclude self-serving statements; it is unclear 
to what the State is referring to. The thought is that the State 
considers the statement that GZ made such as “I was screaming for help, 
and no one came” as self-serving. That particular statement was an 
“excited utterance” which is a covered exemption to the Hearsay Rule. 
I believe that the State is referring to statements made on the 
Hannity Show, or any such comments made to family and friends.

Prediction- Granted

Motion to limit/exclude improper opinion evidence

The State seeks to prevent the police or the previous State Attorney 
from providing their opinions as to why GZ was not charged, 
immediately after the event. They cite that in Florida “witnesses 
opinions” as to the guilt or innocence of the accused are not admissible. 

This motion again seems to be aimed at the law enforcement personnel 
and SA Wolfinger, to limit testimony for the lack of charges following 
the incident. Not sure what is the State trying to limit here, the 
release of GZ without charges are well-known, as are the reasons for 
that. The State might be trying to prevent or limit the scope of the 
testimony of SPD officers that there was not enough evidence for a 
charge, and that this was the consensus within the department and the 
local State’s Attorney office.  Thereby preventing any testimony as 
to why they felt that way, and undermine the State’s case. The 
State might also be trying to prevent testimony that implies that there 
was undue pressure on the police to make an arrest against their 
determination from outside parties.

The police only have the power to arrest, which they did, at which time 
the evidence gathered that night did not prove sufficient to hold GZ at 
which time he was released.  Only the State’s Attorney can charge a 
person with a crime, which they could have done if they felt that the 
police was wrong in their assessment. That neither felt the evidence 
warranted an arrest should be admissible. I think the State knows this 
but wants to limit the discussion. The SPD and SA are not just ordinary 
witnesses, it is their duty to opine how the law applies and to make 
determinations based on that, personal opinions aside, testimony should 
be allowed.

Prediction-Denied

Motion in limine regarding prior criminal history

The State seeks to suppress GZ lack of criminal history, as mentioning 
this is an improper way to introduce character or reputation evidence. 
This is a change from the prosecution which for many hearings would 
bring up GZ’s prior arrest, as proof of both criminal past and violent 
nature. Introducing this at trial could open the window for testimony 
about TM’s own criminal activities.  It could also open the door for GZ 
to introduce further rebuttal testimony about his general character and 
reputation, to contrast that of TM.

Not mentioning GZ past arrest is a minor concession but it has big 
dividends for the State as it keeps the Defense from introducing both 
evidence damaging to TM regarding his general character, but it also 
prevents good character references from being introduced this way by 
the Defense. 

Prediction-Granted

Motion to Compel Discovery

The State wants the Defense discovery turned in. This motion is very 
broad and non-specific, the State would need something more specific 
for the Judge to rule on.

Prediction-Denied

State’s Response to Evidentiary Hearing Request

The State does not want a Frye Hearing conducted regarding the voice 
experts. The State contends that a Frye hearing is not needed as the 
experts used accepted methodology to come their conclusions. The 
techniques are not new or novel; as such no hearing is needed. 
This is not accurate as Frye hearings are sometimes used in cases 
where accepted techniques are used in unusual circumstances.  The 
911 recording with the screams is one of those special circumstances, 
as the voices trying to be identified are from a low quality 
recording from a cell phone conversation, interspersed by ambient 
noise, the 911 caller, the 911 operator and a TV on the background. 

In addition the results the 3 State’s experts, the FBI, 
Harnsberger/Hollien, and Alan R. Reich are contradictory, and 
inconclusive.

Prediction-Denied

Final tally 5 granted, 4 denied.

In conclusion, the motions make clear that the State is well aware of

Trayvon Martin’s past drug use, criminal activity, school issues, lack of

violent history from George Zimmerman, and most important of all, that

the events as described by GZ are more that probable.  In order to

counter these facts, the State is trying to paint a completely different

picture of Trayvon Martin, hiding his activities during that day and in

his past. The State is doing this, while at the same time denying the

defense’s ability to put up a defense. The State is trying to prevent the

Defense from rectifying the record, regarding both GZ and TM, giving

the jury an inaccurate picture on which to determine the guilt or

innocence of GZ. This is a shameful abuse of state power, it is my

earnest hope that they fail.  Trial is set to begin June 10th.

Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. I agree. The motions by the State make clear they do know why this young man may have attacked George Zimmerman and they don’t care. The games with discovery is by design. Designed to ensure George doesn’t get a fair trial.

    Thankfully the truth is on George Zimmerman’s side. The defense has got something. Robert tweets that June will not disappoint and our support will be confirmed. I believe him.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s