News Column

George Zimmerman Back in Court

Oct. 19, 2012

Rene Stutzman and Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel

George Zimmerman returns to court this afternoon for a hearing about what to do with Trayvon Martin's school records.

Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson must decide whether to order Miami-Dade school officials to turn them over to Zimmerman's attorneys.

They want to find out about Trayvon's history of suspensions, his grades, attendance record and other things.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda says they're not relevant and has accused defense attorneys of going on a fishing expedition.

Trayvon's parents have denounced the effort, describing it as an attempt to further victimize their son. They plan to hold a news conference outside the Seminole County courthouse before the hearing to talk about that and to raise funds for a political committee they've just created that's designed to donate money to political candidates who support changes to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot Trayvon Feb. 26 in Sanford after calling police and describing the teenager as suspicious.

Zimmerman says he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

Police say the 17-year-old Miami Gardens teenager was serving a 10-day suspension at the time of his death because school officials had found him with an empty marijuana baggie.

The judge will also have to decide what to do with Zimmerman's medical records. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara has already released to the public notes made by a physician's assistant, who treated Zimmerman the day after the shooting.

She wrote that he suffered a broken nose, cuts to his head and back pain.

De la Rionda is asking for more details, a request that O'Mara says violates his client's privacy.

The judge will also hear arguments from an attorney for more than a dozen news organizations -- including The New York Times, CBS News, CNN and the Orlando Sentinel -- who are fighting an attempt by prosecutors to seal defense subpoenas and the evidence they produce.

De la Rionda wants the judge to see all of those things first and decide, item by item, whether they should be made public. That could involve secret hearings.

Media attorney Scott Ponce says that does not comply with Florida's history of open courts nor with how previous appeals courts have ruled on requests to seal information.

Source: (c)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters