Since the last installment of the seemingly never-ending Zimmerman saga, the news has been relatively light, at least by the general standards of this case. However, there have been a few interesting developments.
I Paint What I See Child; I Paint What I See:
After his acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case, George Zimmerman took up painting, and it appears he actually has a talent for it, not only in execution, but in making a profit as well:
Last month, the former neighborhood watchman listed an original painting on eBay: An 18-by-24-inch canvas featuring a blue, waving American flag with the words, “God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all” emblazoned across it.
The winning bid on it was $100,099.99
Considering Zimmerman’s legal bills, that’s essentially a drop in the bucket, but as always, controversy follows him. This time, as a result of his second painting:
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
And this time his subject is the woman who charged him with second-degree murder: Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.
The painting, a swirl of bright red and yellow, shows Corey with her fingers pinched.
The caption, in all caps, says, ‘I have this much respect for the American judicial system – Angie C.
That’s arguably witty. What’s the problem?
The Associated Press has demanded that George Zimmerman halt the sale of one of his paintings because the news agency says it directly copies an AP photo. [skip]
A letter with the AP’s demands said that Zimmerman’s painting was a direct copy of an AP photo taken at the April 2012 news conference where Corey announced Zimmerman would be charged with murder. It was taken for the AP by freelancer Rick Wilson. The news cooperative asked that any sale be blocked — and that, if there has been a sale, that the AP be paid damages.
The AP sent the letter to Jayne Weintraub, one of a handful of attorneys who has recently represented Zimmerman. Weintraub said she no longer represents Zimmerman but said she will forward the letter to him.
‘George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,’ AP spokesman Paul Colford said in a written statement.
Zimmerman’s art work seems–absent the AP–uncontroversial:
Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences,’ the item description for that painting read. ‘My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors.
In a recent radio interview with Michael Smerconish, Zimmerman’s former attorney Mark O’Mara also commented:
Did you see the story about your former client painting, including an image featuring Special Prosecutor Angela Corey?’ host Michael Smerconish asked.
‘Look, if he’s doing something that calms him down, keeps him out of the public eye, relaxes him, I think that’s a healthy habit to take on,’ O’Mara said.
‘I looked at the art,; he continued. ;It’s an interesting picture, it carries a certain cuteness to me that she has that picture and that quote in it because you know my feelings about the way she handled herself and the ethics of the way the prosecution handled it’s case. Cute clip.
And Then He Did It Again…
He just can’t seem to avoid stepping in it:
George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder last year in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, plans to take up celebrity boxing and is on the lookout for an opponent, the website Radar Online reported.
Zimmerman, 30, linked to the Radar Online report in a post on his Twitter account with the words, ‘Here we go.’
Promoter Damon Feldman is behind the celebrity boxing match, set to take place on March 1, according to Radar Online.
‘Boxing isn’t new to me,’ Zimmerman told Radar Online in an article posted on the celebrity news outlet’s website last week.
Zimmerman began boxing long before the February 2012 incident with 17-year-old Martin that drew national attention, he told Radar Online. The case polarized the nation around issues of racial justice, self-defense and gun control.
Zimmerman’s plans to enter the ring come after he successfully capitalized on his celebrity in December by auctioning a flag painting on eBay, selling the artwork for just over $100,000.
Some of the proceeds from the event would go to an animal rescue charity, Zimmerman told Radar Online, but he declined to name the organization. He also suggested he might not box again after the event.
‘Obviously if I get my butt kicked around, then no!’ he told the website.
Considering that Zimmerman’s martial arts instructor depicted Zimmerman as pretty much hopeless during the Martin trial, it would seem likely that Zimmerman will get his “butt kicked around.” The press will surely take as many shots at him as possible.
One might argue that it would be wise for Zimmerman to maintain a low profile, but on the other hand, he has some celebrity, and that celebrity may be just about the only way he has to make some money at the moment.
O’Mara innocent?! Indeed. Legal Insurrection has the story:
In the aftermath of Shellie Zimmerman’s perjury charges, the Florida Bar opened an investigation into whether George Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara may have solicited her false testimony.
Shellie Zimmerman ultimately accepted a plea offer on the charges, receiving one year probation and no jail time, as reported here at Legal Insurrection: Shellie Zimmerman Plea Deal
Today, the Florida Bar concluded that there was no credible evidence that O’Mara engaged in any such misconduct.
As I’ve repeatedly written, most recently in Update 37.3, there was no evidence O’Mara did anything unethical or illegal. At the time of the hearing in question, he had only recently taken Zimmerman’s case. In addition, the judge, the prosecution–everyone involved–knew that the Zimmermans had an online defense fund account and that it contained a large amount of money. Shelly Zimmerman testified that she did not know exactly how much money was in the account but that her brother in law did, and she told the court he could be brought to the phone. The prosecutor and judge immediately dropped the matter and never spoke with him. The prosecution of Shelly Zimmerman was, as one might expect, another example of abuse of power by Angela Corey, and ended in a settlement that after a year of unsupervised probation, will leave Shelly Zimmerman with no criminal record.
In a recent interview O’Mara spoke about how the Zimmerman case has changed his legal practice:
Answer: The Zimmerman case and the aftermath, I hate to say it like that, have helped my practice without question. I can’t deny that. The idea of having a high-profile case helps because people know you. That notoriety or publicity is both a blessing and a curse, obviously.
Q: Is the curse that some people think you’re a miracle worker?
A: Yes, people have heightened expectations. I’m not a miracle worker. I didn’t turn into a miracle worker because I won a criminal case that, quite honestly, the facts show that I should have won. The fact of the case, I don’t think it ever should have gone to trial. So the idea of winning it isn’t such a miracle.
Q: What about the Florida Bar ethics inquiry related to how you handled the Zimmerman case?
A: It’s being dismissed, and it’s my understanding that’s in the works. I’m not worried about it because I sort of asked them to figure out what’s going on.
At about the same time as the results of the Florida Bar’s investigation were released, Mark O’Mara received some even more welcome news:
More acclaim for Orlando attorney Mark O’Mara. The National Trial Lawyers named him the national criminal trial lawyer of the year.
Based on the Zimmerman defense, Attorney Don West surely is deserving of equal praise, but West was more low-key and quiet than O’Mara, and less in the public eye.
O’Mara has also been picked up as a legal analyst by CNN:
I love it, he told me recently. ‘I never take personal positions on things in my life, in my practice, because I’m representing a client. With CNN I get to look at issues and report on them from a legal background but also my own personal perspective.’
He is under an annual contract with CNN. ‘They’ll let me know if they like me next August or whenever it started,’ he said.
O’Mara said his appearances require a lot of preparation. ‘I get to present my personal view, but it’s also well researched, and that takes time,’ he said. ‘I’m earning my keep at CNN.’ [The pay is confidential, he said.]
As I’ve previously noted, absent any unusual developments, there are still several issues relating to the case I’m following. Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC is still pending. State bar sanctions against Bernie de la Rionda and Angela Corey for their grotesquely unethical behavior during the Zimmerman trial remain a possibility. Mark O’Mara made no secret of his desire to see such sanctions, but I’m not aware that an investigation has been started. And the case of Ben Kruidbos, Angela Corey’s former IT director fired for daring to expose potential wrongdoing by de la Rionda and/or Corey, is ongoing with a civil suit already filed.
As I’ve also previously noted, I suspect most people would be happy to never hear of George Zimmerman again. But for better or worse, he has become a historical footnote, and will always be a subject of discussion, particularly in a racial context, in the future. His name will always be associated with “profiling” and “stand your ground” despite the fact that he did not profile Trayvon Martin and no stand your ground statute was involved in the case. In addition, too many people, including the President of the United States, used Zimmerman as a sacrificial lamb in keeping the fires of racial division burning. At the least, he’ll forever be associated with the term: “white-Hispanic,” being the very first of that “race” to exist.
More as it develops…