The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is tragic, but whether Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of having committed a murder is an issue to be determined in a court of law - not in a pretrial press conference by special prosecutor Angela Corey.

The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is tragic, but whether Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of having committed a murder is an issue to be determined in a court of law - not in a pretrial press conference by special prosecutor Angela Corey.

 An ethical rule adopted in Florida forbids a prosecutor to make a public statement if she should know that her statement will substantially increase the likelihood of prejudicing jurors before the trial has begun. Specifically identified as unethically prejudicial is for the prosecutor to express her opinion about the strength of her case against the defendant.  No potential juror, hearing Ms. Corey's press conference, could avoid believing that the prosecution has an overwhelming case against Mr. Zimmerman based on a thorough investigation that established "the facts" and "the truth" of his guilt.

Ms. Corey stressed how highly professional her team's investigation had been and claimed that the prosecution is engaged in a "never-ending search for truth and a quest to always do the right thing for the right reason."  Prosecutors are not only a "ministers of justice," she said, but they are "seekers of the truth" and she will "stay true to that mission."

 Having established that she is dedicated to pursuing and establishing the truth, Ms. Corey went on to say that the decision to charge Mr. Zimmerman with murder was not reached lightly.  Only after she was able to establish "the facts" and "the truth" through an "extensive and full investigation" did the "search for justice" for Mr. Martin lead her to charge Mr. Zimmerman with murder.  In addition, her pursuit of truth and justice required Ms. Corey to make sure that Mr. Zimmerman had no viable defenses, such as the Stand Your Ground law or self-defense.

 Florida ethical rules also recognize that the purpose of the criminal law is to vindicate public interests, not private ones.  Specifically, the ethical rule says that "the prosecutor's client is not the victim," but members of the public generally.  Yet Ms. Corey" said that she knows only one category of persons, her "precious victims."   Indeed, she added that "all we know"is justice for our victims.  Accordingly, her first act as special prosecutor was to pray with Trayvon Martin's family.  She also thanked "all those people across this country who have sent positive energy and prayers our way," and she asked them to continue to pray for Trayvon's family and for the prosecution.

 In passing, Ms. Corey acknowledged her obligation to do justice also for Mr.Zimmerman.  But with Ms. Corey's single-minded dedication to "our precious victims," her repeated assertions that truth and justice are on the prosecution's side in this case, and with positive energy and prayers from all over the country supporting her never-ending quest to always do the right thing for the right reason, George Zimmerman has all but been convicted already, without the need for the due process of a courtroom.


Special Prosecutor Angela Corey used her press conference to establish three things.

First, her investigative team is highly professional,  and "worked tirelessly" in a "never-ending search for the truth and a quest to always do the right thing for the right reason."  We are "not only ministers of justice," we are "seekers of the truth," and we "stay true to that mission."

Second, Ms. Corey and her team "did not come to this decision lightly."  Only after they were able to establish "the facts" and "the truth" through an "extensive" and "full investigation"  has "the search for justice for Trayvon ... brought us to this night" (i.e., the press conference announcing the filing of charges).

Third, Ms. Corey would not have filed charges until her team had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman is guilty, and they had eliminated all affirmative defenses, including excusable or justifiably homicide.

Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, cmt.: "Florida has adopted the American Bar Association Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function. This is the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in criminal prosecution and defense and should be consulted for further guidance."

ABA Std. 3-1.4(a): "A prosecutor should not make ... an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication, if the prosecutor ... reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding."  Cmt. to 3.1: "the opinion of the lawyer on the guilt of the defendant, the merits of the case, or the merits of the evidence in the case" is "ordinarily likely to have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding."

Corey:  "We know only one category as prosecutors, and that is a 'V.'  It's not a 'B,' it's not a 'W,' it's not an 'H.'  It's 'V,' for victim.  That's who we work tirelessly for.  And that's all we know, is justice for our victims."  Corey also referred to "our precious victims."

ABA Std. 3-2.1, cmt.:  "The idea that the criminal law ... is designed to vindicate public rather than private interests is now firmly established."
ABA Std. 3-3.2, cmt.: "the prosecutor's client is not the victim."

Corey:  The first thing my team and I did upon being appointed was to meet with Trayvon's family and pray with them.  "We opened our meeting with prayer."  Also, Ms. Corey thanked "all those people across this country who have sent positive energy and prayers our way," and she asked them to continue to pray for Trayvon's family and for her team.  "Remember, it is Trayvon's family that are our constitutional victims...."

At this point, do we need the due process of a trial by jury?  Can Zimmerman receive the due process of a trial by an impartial jury?  Why should anyone care?