Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's Defender, Named Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year

Image: Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's Defender, Named Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year

Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 02:54 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Mark O'Mara, who won an acquittal for George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida last summer, has been named national criminal trial lawyer of the year by the National Trial Lawyers group.

O'Mara, who since the trial has worked as a legal analyst for CNN, will be honored along with Gloria Allred, who will receive the organization's life achievement award at its annual meeting in Miami Beach this week.

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The Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that O'Mara will next be representing Terry Freeman, a Deltona, Fla. firefighter accused of being a serial rapist.

"We learned in the past how careful you have to be in rushing to judgment without all of the facts," O'Mara told the Sentinel. "Maybe we should wait and withhold judgment until the process does what it's supposed to do."

About a dozen women accuse the firefighter, 32, of violently attacking them at his Orange City home during or, in one case, during a college study session.

Freeman is being held Volusia County Jail, charged on five counts of sexual battery, one count of attempted sexual battery, and one count of false imprisonment. O'Mara told the Sentinel he will represent Freeman, who is being held without bond, in all related cases.

In December, the Sentinel reported that the Florida Bar was investigating an ethics inquiry against O'Mara.

"There were a number of extraordinary and controversial aspects to the Zimmerman case, not the least of which included the existence of an online fundraising website for the defense fund — and the establishment of a website and social media to affirmatively handle the intense press coverage," O'Mara said on his blog.

"Both of these efforts were virtually unprecedented, therefore The Florida Bar had no rules on how to handle such things," O'Mara continued. "I know because I contacted The Florida Bar before launching these initiatives and gathered whatever guidance I could. One thing was clear: If we moved forward with our plans for the defense fund and our online presence, we would be breaking new ground, and that meant taking an extraordinary risk. I concluded that it was worth the risk."

Zimmerman, a former Neighborhood Watch volunteer, was acquitted in July of second-degree murder for shooting Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old in Sanford, Fla.

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