Dershowitz to Newsmax: 'Prosecutorial Tyrant' Violated Zimmerman's Rights

Image: Dershowitz to Newsmax: 'Prosecutorial Tyrant' Violated Zimmerman's Rights State Attorney Angela Corey and her assistant state attorneys Richard Mantei (L), John Guy (2nd L), and Bernie de la Rionda (R).

Sunday, 14 Jul 2013 05:21 PM

By David A. Patten

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Famed defense lawyer and Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz is calling for a federal investigation into civil rights violations stemming from the George Zimmerman case — but he says the probe should focus on prosecutorial misconduct rather than on allegations of racial profiling and bias.

Speaking Sunday in an exclusive Newsmax interview, Dershowitz said the jury’s finding that Zimmerman was not guilty of either second-degree murder or manslaughter was “the right verdict.”

He added, “There was reasonable doubt all over the place.”

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Immediately after the verdict was announced, however, the NAACP and outspoken activist Al Sharpton called on the Justice Department to launch a federal civil-rights probe, charging that the case had been racially tainted.

Dershowitz is calling for a civil-rights probe as well. But he contends the person whose rights were violated was Zimmerman.

“I think there were violations of civil rights and civil liberties — by the prosecutor,” said the criminal-law expert. “The prosecutor sent this case to a judge, and willfully, deliberately, and in my view criminally withheld exculpatory evidence.”

He added: “They denied the judge the right to see pictures that showed Zimmerman with his nose broken and his head bashed in. The prosecution should be investigated for civil rights violations, and civil liberty violations.”

Dershowitz said the second-degree murder case should never have gone to trial considering the flimsy evidence against Zimmerman. He also does not believe it was strong enough to be submitted to a jury for deliberation.

“If the judge had any courage in applying the law, she never would have allowed the case to go to the jury,” Dershowitz told Newsmax. “She should have entered a verdict based on reasonable doubt.”

Dershowitz singled out special prosecutor Angela Corey for “disciplinary action.”

He criticized the state’s probable-cause affidavit for not including evidence indicating Zimmerman could have been acting in self-defense, including graphic images of blood streaming from his scalp and nose.

“The prosecutor had in her possession photographs that would definitely show a judge that this was not an appropriate case for second-degree murder,” the Harvard professor told Newsmax. “She deliberately withheld and suppressed those photographs, refused to show them to the judge, got the judge to rule erroneously this was a second-degree murder case.

“That violated a whole range of ethical, professional, and legal obligations that prosecutors have. Moreover, they withheld other evidence in the course of the pretrial and trial proceedings, as has been documented by the defense team,” he said.

Dershowitz described the prosecution’s attempt late in the case to add a third-degree murder charge by asserting the shooting constituted child abuse “so professionally irresponsible as to warrant sanctions and investigations.”

Dershowitz said various legal and bar association organizations could investigate how the state handled the prosecution. He added it could warrant a federal investigation as well.

“I think people’s rights have been violated,” the famed attorney told Newsmax, “but it was the rights of the defendant and the defense team, by utterly unprofessional, irresponsible, and in my view criminal actions by the prosecutor,” he said.

Dershowitz went on to express his opinion that Corey is “basically a prosecutorial tyrant, and well known for that in Florida.”

Dershowitz and Corey have had run-ins before. She contacted Harvard Law School demanding that he be disciplined for voicing his opinion that she had improperly omitted information that could have exonerated Zimmerman.

“Of course, the Harvard Law School laughed at [her complaint],” he said.

As of Sunday evening Newsmax had not received a response to a request for Corey’s reaction to Dershowitz’s remarks. Even after the verdict was rendered Saturday, Corey continued to defend her decision to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

“We charge what we believe we can prove,” she told the media. “That’s why we charged second-degree murder. We truly believe that the mindset of George Zimmerman and the words that he used and the reason he was out doing what he was doing fit the bill for second-degree murder.”

Corey said the case “has never been about race,” but also said there was “no doubt” young Trayvon Martin had been “profiled to be a criminal.”

Although Zimmerman was cleared of all charges, Corey told the media: “This case was about boundaries and George Zimmerman exceeded those boundaries.

Dershowitz tells Newsmax he expects there will probably be a lawsuit filed against Zimmerman for civil damages. He said civil-damage cases require a lower standard of proof that a wrong has been committed, and Zimmerman would not be able to avoid testifying.

But Dershowitz adds: “I don’t know where you’ll find a lawyer who is prepared to bring it, because it has very little chance of success.”

Asked if he expects Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to launch a civil-rights investigation targeting Zimmerman, Dershowitz stated: “I don’t think that’s going to happen, and if it happens, I don’t think it would succeed.”

Dershowitz told Newsmax the prosecutor overcharged the case, and never should have sought a second-degree murder conviction.

“The theory was clearly to charge second-degree murder, and hope for a compromise verdict of manslaughter,” he said.

Dershowitz was careful to add that the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin exposes a need to reform Florida laws.

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He believes the Stand Your Ground law should be changed because it "elevates macho over the need to preserve life." 

He also stated that racial profiling “has to be addressed.”

“I think these vigilante community groups have to be disarmed,” he said. “I don’t think Zimmerman should have been allowed to have a gun.

“He should have been walking around with a walkie-talkie and calling the police,” he said. “It’s the job of the police to investigate and apprehend suspects based on their professional training.”

But the need for future legal reforms had no bearing on the Zimmerman trial, Dershowitz said, and insisted the case should never have reached a jury.

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