Regarding The New George Zimmerman Defense Fund and Thank You Cards

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The Miami Herald used the headline "George Zimmerman to sell autographs to pay expenses," to describe the policy of the New George Zimmerman Defense Fund of sending signed Thank You Cards to individuals who donate.

For those who look for opportunities to criticize George, we understand that the idea of sending Thank You Cards might be seen as an attempt to sell signatures to gain donations. To those who wish to criticize and ridicule, go right ahead. However, that is not George's intent. It is presumptuous to assume that George's signature is a valuable enough commodity to be an effective motivator for people to donate. Rather, what we hope motivates people is the ever increasingly undeniable conclusion that George is simply not guilty. He only did what he had to do to protect himself from an attack by an unknown assailant; a young man who broke George's nose, bloodying it, and then got him on the ground and smashed his head into concrete, causing more injury.

George has expressed a desire since the beginning of this ordeal to thank those who have supported him, not just financially, but also those who have offered their kind words and prayers, and he has wanted to send Thank You Cards for some time. The defense team has had reservations about allowing it -- partly because we anticipated it would be interpreted in this way. Now the time has come to stop acting like George is the person portrayed by those who have manipulated the facts and the media, and to be true to the innocent person George is.

If the publicity surrounding the Thank You Cards raises people's awareness of George's need for the funds to hire experts and investigators to present the truth at his trial, and results in more donations to the Defense Fund, the support is welcome. George Zimmerman is innocent and should never have been charged, and there is nothing inappropriate about raising money to fund the defense of an innocent man.

George has been the target of a coordinated public relations attack designed to create the false impression that George shot Trayvon Martin because of racial bias, instead of self-defense -- a public relations campaign perpetrated with the intent to manipulate the media and prejudice the citizens of this country against George through misinformation and emotional appeals. If a voice is raised with concern over profiteering, it should be tempered by two premises. Firstly, George and his family have been devastated by this event and left broke and displaced from their homes. That is a tragedy that should not be visited upon anyone who has yet to be convicted of a crime. It is the ultimate injustice when it is perpetrated on an innocent man. Secondly, if profiteering is a concern, that analysis should begin with those who crafted the misinformation blitz and racially charged rhetoric, shouted with reckless disregard for the truth, the result of which has been significant financial gain, not ruin. We speak not of the Martin family, who have suffered the tragedy of losing a son; we speak of the family's handlers and attorneys.

State's 9th Supplemental Discovery (Redacted by Defense)

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In our “Update on Media Policy For the Zimmerman Defense” we established that our policy is to post “ALL public documents associated with the Zimmerman case, including motions filed by the defense and State, as well as orders filed by the Court.”

Our first opportunity to follow through on this policy has met with a challenge. On Thursday, November 8, the State filed the State's 9th Supplemental Discovery which included the names and addresses of several witnesses. By including these witnesses names and addresss, the State was out of compliance with the Order to Unseal Court File, dated April 23, 2012, which says "the Court file is unsealed and the names and addresses of witnesses agreed to by the State and Defense will be redacted until further order of the Court;" and with the Order on Matters Addressed at April 27, 2012 Hearing, dated April 30, 2012, which states that "documents containing protected information should be filed in redacted form for the public record and in unredacted form under seal for in camera review."

While the State’s 9th Supplemental Discovery is already public, we will not post the unredacted version on our website as doing so compounds the State’s error and would violate the spirit of the Court order. Therefore, we have blocked out the names of witnesses that should have been redacted on the copy of the State’s 9th Supplemental Discovery on our website. While we intend to maintain our recently announced principle of posting “… ALL public documents…” we will further maintain discretion in this regard, when its exercise is appropriate, such as here.

Update on Media Policy for the Zimmerman Defense

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The only post the defense team has made on the website since the State’s Second Motion for Gag Order dated October 18 was an article entitled “Zimmerman Defense Invites Public Scrutiny of Media Policy.” Otherwise, we had effectively suspended our digital media campaign out of respect to the Court while the Second Motion for Gag Order was under consideration.

On October 29, Judge Nelson entered her Order Denying State’s Second Motion for Gag Order, in which the Court states, “Upon review of the exhibits attached to the motions and memoranda and exhibits introduced at the hearing, there has not been an overriding pattern of prejudicial commentary that will overcome reasonable efforts to select a fair and impartial jury.”

We interpreted Judge Nelson’s ruling neither as an endorsement of nor as a concern with our digital media presence. We maintain our position that managing a digital media presence is a necessity considering the high profile nature of the Zimmerman case, especially in light of the intense negative media coverage Mr. Zimmerman received as a result of the relentless, coordinated public relations campaign mounted against him.We will continue our digital media policy as we defined it in our article entitled “Why Social Media For George Zimmerman,” where we identified seven goals for our digital media campaign. Moving forward, we may change the emphasis of our campaign to goals that we have not focused on heavily so far. Should that be done, we will maintain our principle of transparency by outlining those changes on the website.

On June 20, we updated our goals, in regards to Disputing Misinformation, to include posting public documents associated with the case. We received a number of responses to our article “Zimmerman Defense Invites Public Scrutiny of Media Policy” which noted that, while we have been posting some of the public documents associated with the case, we have not posted all public documents associated with the case. The criticism is that by being selective about what we post, we are effectively editorializing with our decision of omission or inclusion.

From now on, we will post ALL public documents associated with the Zimmerman case, including motions filed by the defense and the State, as well as orders filed by the Court. We will file Notices of Deposition; however, we will continue to maintain the previously guarded privacy of certain witnesses, and will not post the names of witnesses being deposed unless their names have been previously disclosed by the State. These witness categories include law enforcement officers and witnesses who have voluntarily disclosed their identity to the media.

Here are links to case documents filed since our last post:

Zimmerman Defense Invites Public Scrutiny of Media Policy

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Monday morning we sent this email to a person who has offered support to the defense, and since then it has been widely circulated on the web:

All this week we'll be preparing to defend ourselves against the State's renewed motion for a Gag Order. We're confident that everything we've posted, and everything we've said publicly is proper and well within our rights, but we know that on Friday, the State is likely to find the most questionable thing Mark's said and present it to the Court. I'd like to ask if you and other supporters could help us scour the web and, strange as it may sound, send us links to the most potentially questionable statements we have made during this process. Again, we're confident ALL our statements are easily defendable, we just want to know what we're likely to have thrown back at us.

Although we originally intended for the message to be private, we feel the message is sound, and since it has been made public, we extend the invitation to anyone who has an interest to participate: send us a link to any statement the defense has made publicly about the case that you think is inappropriate.

When we set our communications policy, we knew we would be under intense public scrutiny, and we are confident the whole of our efforts will stand up to that scrutiny well.

You can submit links via the commenting below, or you can tweet a link and reference the @gzlegalcase handle.

Defense Files Motion to Schedule Standing Hearing to Address Discovery in the Zimmerman Case

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On Friday, October 12, 2012, The Zimmerman defense team filed a Motion to Schedule Standing Hearings to Address Discovery and Other case Management Issues or in the Alternative to Request Assignment of a Senior Judge to Manage Discovery.

The Motion outlines issues the defense has had in receiving complete discovery from the State, explains how discovery requests may become more contentious as the defense moves forward with the discovery process, and suggests a solution for managing these unique discovery challenges.