Photo: myFOXOrlando livestream
Does an attorney have the right to discuss material facts of a case in the media?During a nearly three-hour hearing, Forida prosecutors argued they don’t, while George Zimmerman’s lead attorney Mark O’Mara defended his constant social and traditional media presence.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda all-but called Mark O’Mara a media narcissist Friday afternoon in a hearing live streamed on myFOXOrlando when he asked the court to ban O’Mara from continuing to argue the case in the court of public opinion.
O’Mara not only operates a press website for the case but tweets, updates Facebook often, and regularly meets with reporters to give them news on the case.
Zimmerman, who sat completely still and showed absolutely no emotion during the lengthy hearing, is facing second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
“We feel that there needs to be some way the court should fashion some kind of order to deal with this problem,” de la Rionda argued, saying that O’Mara’s behaviour is essentially bypassing the objectivity of the media — which the state says it feels is completely entitled to report on the case — and plant his own story in the minds of a potential jury pool.
“It’s not just the defendant’s right to get a fair trial, it’s the state’s right to get a fair trial,” de la Rionda said. Where do we stop? Where do we have the ability for both sides to get a fair trial without commentary by counsel?”
Unsurprisingly, O’Mara took a decidedly different view of the situation.
He encountered such an unprecedented media storm as well as tidal wave of anti-Zimmerman public opinion he said he had to take the revolutionary step of creating a website to battle the misinformation that existed about the case.
About 200,000 people have visited the case’s website in the six months it’s been in existence and of those, less than one half of one per cent are people who live in the area — meaning next to no potential jurors are reading the site, and the case hasn’t been compromised, according to O’Mara.
Attorneys for various media outlets, including The Orlando Sentinel, also opposed the state’s request for a gag order.
Judge Debra Nelson is expected to issue a decision about the gag order on Monday.
O’Mara also continued his argument the state hasn’t been transparent with its evidence and isn’t sharing everything it has.
The state claims it has followed the rules of discovery to a T, but the court said if O’Mara is still unsatisfied he can draft a court order compelling the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to turn over whatever he thinks is missing.
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