I had no idea Florida had such a civilized law system, but people are treating it as if it were some kind of scandal. The state of Florida now owes George Zimmerman an amount ranging between two to three hundred thousand dollars. As the Orlando Sentinel opines and reports:
“George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin, plans to ask the state of Florida to cover $200,000 to $300,000 of his legal expenses, his attorney told the Orlando Sentinel Monday evening. Because Zimmerman was acquitted, state law requires Florida to pay all his legal costs, minus the biggest one: the fee that goes to his lawyers. That includes the cost of expert witnesses, travel, depositions, photocopies, even that animated 3-D video that defense attorneys showed jurors during closing argument that depicts Trayvon punching Zimmerman. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said Monday that he would soon prepare a motion, asking Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to authorize the payments.”
Maybe, instead of pretending this is news, they should have asked why the prosecutor took actions that obviously risked costing the Florida government so much money?
Zimmerman is a Florida taxpayer. His government made false accusations against him (according to the jury) and attempted to consign him to a cage for all or most of the rest of his life on the basis of that accusation. Without skilled and knowledgeable counsel, we all know Zimmerman would have been put in prison (where, by the way, he may have cost the Florida taxpayer more than what he is demanding now). Zimmerman was held hostage by the state of Florida. They threatened him, and the jury has ruled that they threatened him without cause.
So it is nothing but just that the state of Florida must repay Zimmerman’s defense. According to the Sentinel, the prosecution out-spent the defense by at least 3-1: $902,000. The real question is: Why isn’t every state, as well as the Federal government required to abide by the same rule? In most states, and in Federal court, the prosecution can destroy an innocent man’s life even if he doesn’t cave into threats and make a false confession in order to gain a lesser sentence.
During the Reformation, when John Calvin was the pastor to the city of Geneva and advisor to the city government, the notorious heretic Servetus came into the city under an assumed name. Historians disapprove of what the city did to Servetus (which was exactly what any other city, Catholic or Protestant, would have done to him at that time). But what is interesting is that the man who identified Servetus for who he was had to spend the night in jail with Servetus, until his identification could be confirmed. For all their real and imagined faults, the city rulers knew they could not risk allowing false accusers to speak without bearing risks.
The state of Florida, for obviously political reasons, decided to prosecute George Zimmerman for murder. They should now pay the financial damage. I expect they will fight to not pay the defense attorney anything. I suspect they want to discourage future defense attorneys from defending their future targets.