Should Zimmerman be able to sue the State of FL?

Discussion in 'West Mall' started by Mr. Deez, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

    I'm engaged in a debate on Facebook with several people (mostly but not entirely lawyers) about whether George Zimmerman should be permitted to sue the State of Florida and/or the prosecutor for the costs associated with defending himself.

    The rationale in favor (advanced by civil lawyers and the non-lawyers in the discussion) was that the prosecution was frivolous on its face. The case was brought due to political pressure and for retribution rather than to enforce the laws based on actual evidence. Not only did the prosecutor not have sufficient evidence to disprove self-defense (a prerequisite to winning such a case), she had no evidence at all - nothing for the jury to even weigh on that issue. (Note - this was not a "loser pays" argument. Nobody argued that a simple acquittal should be enough to recover expenses from the state.)

    The rationale against (advanced by a couple of prosecutors - big shock) was that if you allow prosecutors to get sued, they're not going to prosecute criminals, and you'll have lax enforcement of the laws. Furthermore, they'll have to spend time defending themselves in lawsuits.

    I'm not entirely sure I'd be ready to deem the entire Zimmerman prosecution frivolous and start suing the State. (I'm not convinced otherwise either.) However, I will say two things. First, if the Zimmerman case was brought under the same evidentiary scrutiny that civil cases in Texas have to operate on everyday, it may not have been deemed a frivolous lawsuit, but it would NEVER have been allowed to see a jury. A civil jury would never be allowed to draw the inferences and make the assumptions that the Zimmerman jury was asked by prosecutors to make.

    Second, as a civil attorney every time I filed anything with a court, my mere signature was deemed my certification that 1.) what I was filing was not being presented for any improper purpose, including to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; 2.) was warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law; 3.) each allegation or other factual contention in the what I was filing had evidentiary support or, for a specifically identified allegation or factual contention, was likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and 4.) each denial in what I was filing was warranted on the evidence or, for a specifically identified denial, is reasonably based on a lack of information or belief. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 10.001.

    I was further certifying that what I was filing was to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry was not groundless and brought in bad faith or groundless and brought for the purpose of harassment. Tex. R. Civ. P. 13.

    If I violated any of those rules, I would have been subject to court discipline, fines, and having to pay my opponent's attorney's fees and court costs.

    I do not see any reason why a prosecutor should not operate under the same or more onerous provisions. After all, though it would be expensive to be sued for an improper reason, it's a cakewalk compared to getting charged with a crime for an improper purpose because of what's at stake. I'd rather lose a lot of money than get thrown in the slammer or get the death penalty.

    Anyway, since I'm getting mired in that discussion somewhere else, I figured I'd seek input here.
  2. Seattle Husker

    Seattle Husker 10,000+ Posts

    60 minutes did a piece prosecutor misconduct and how they are immune from the law.

    Personally, I don't think the Zimmerman case was frivolous. It appears to have had the right verdict but to say that it's frivolous is using the benefit of hindsight. Remember, the jury walked into deliberations according to juror B37 with 2 jurors favoring murder 2, 1 favoring manslaughter, 2 to acquit and 1 undecided. How can that be considered "frivolous"?

    I don't think any prosecutor should be immune from charges based on misconduct.
  3. Roger

    Roger 1,000+ Posts

  4. Uninformed

    Uninformed 5,000+ Posts

    I think the phrase is "You can't fight city hall". As the urban dictionary states, "it is useless to clash with a politician or establishment, it is foolish to fight a battle that you can't win".
  5. Mr. Deez

    Mr. Deez 10,000+ Posts

  6. Clean

    Clean 5,000+ Posts

    While he's at it, he should sue the President. BO pressured the DOJ who, in turn, pressured Florida. BO tried and found Zimmerman guilty of a hate crime in the court of public opinion.

    I hear that the defense in one of the current Lackland AFB Sex Crimes cases is saying the accused can't get a fair trial because of BO's statemensts about how awful sex abuse in the military is and about how severly the perpetrators should be punished.

    Hard to believe BO was President of the Harvard Law Review. He doesn't seem to understand much about the legal process.
  7. texas_ex2000

    texas_ex2000 2,500+ Posts

  8. Bronco

    Bronco 500+ Posts

    Not a lawyer but I always kind of assumed that the grand jury requirement gave the state exemption from lawsuits. Along the lines of " a bunch of non biased citizens saw enough evidence that a trial was prudent".

    If I read correctly, there was a sitting grand jury at the time when the GZ case was being evaluated but it was not used and the decision to try GZ was solely determined by the special judge. If so, that should open it up to a lawsuit, imo. Be very, very difficult to prove political coercion but maybe.
  9. theiioftx

    theiioftx 2,500+ Posts

    I agree with Bronco. I think a grand jury should have examined the case to decide. In general, I believe a defendant should be responsible for their own defense as long as their was no misconduct by the prosecution.
  10. Namewithheld

    Namewithheld 2,500+ Posts

  11. Roger

    Roger 1,000+ Posts

  12. Uninformed

    Uninformed 5,000+ Posts

    ^^^ She has been all over the news. I saw her last night on MSNBC and this morning on Good Morning America. ON GMA I heard her state that originally she voted that Zimmerman was guilty of second degree murder and that she felt that he was guilty of murder, but the evidence did not prove his guilt. On both shows, she then apologized to Travon's family.
  13. HornHuskerDad

    HornHuskerDad 5,000+ Posts


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