The defense attorney in the George Zimmerman murder trial who is under investigation by the Florida Bar vowed that he had done "nothing wrong" in creating an online defense fund and believes his example will pave the way for other high-profile cases.
Mark O'Mara said on his website that he had actually triggered the inquiry
before the trial by contacting the bar to seek advice on the "proper way to manage a defense fund and an online presence" while defending Zimmerman against a second-degree murder charge for the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.
The lawyer who told Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show"
on Tuesday that Zimmerman is using his artwork as therapy to help him move on with his life, said that he was aware that the trial would be too costly for Zimmerman and that by soliciting donations online he'd be able to give his client the best defense, rather than having him declared indigent.
The "open investigation" was postponed by the Florida Bar until after the trial, and O'Mara said that he's "certain that matter will be closed shortly, and that the conclusion will suggest that we handled these new and novel approaches in an appropriate and ethical way."
He added, "Not only have I done nothing wrong in regards to how we managed the defense fund and the online presence for the Zimmerman case, but I think we also set the standard for how these matters should be handled in future high-profile cases that warrant such measures.
"The Florida Bar has an opportunity to provide some leadership by crafting official policies on how social media can and should be used in legal cases, and I hope to be a part of that process.
Very soon another case will erupt onto the national stage, and I hope the lawyer in that case can look at how we managed the press in our case as an example of how to do it right."
Zimmerman, a former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer, was cleared of the second-degree murder charge in July. O'Mara, whose firm charges $400 an hour, has since maintained that he and his co-counsel Don West have not been paid for 6,000 hours of work. He's no longer representing Zimmerman, who has revealed in a court filing that he's $2.5 million in debt, according to NBC News
Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has been investigated for domestic violence allegations brought by his ex-wife Shellie Zimmerman, although no charges were filed. He was also accused by his ex-girlfriend Samantha Scheibe of threatening her with a gun, but she later recanted her claims.
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