Duval County State Attorneys Office Lawsuit After Zimmerman Trial

I will be the first to admit that I was one of those people that could not get enough about the Zimmerman trial.  As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, it captured my attention.  The world focused on Florida and our laws.  Florida’s self defense laws were criticized by some and commended by others.  There were so many different stories about what happened on the night of Trayvon Martin’s death.  There were allegations of ethical violations.  There were racial tensions, not between black and white, but between Hispanic and African American.  This case was a prime example of how fact is more interesting than fiction.

I am a firm believer that we have one of the best legal systems in the world.  Is it fool proof?  No.  Do injustices occur?  Yes, but it is better than any other system out there.  I believe that the Zimmerman verdict was correct based on the evidence presented.  A conviction must be based on evidence.  A person must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The State of Florida did not fulfill its burden, so not guilty should be their verdict.   The jurors followed the law and fulfilled their constitutional duties.

Almost a month has passed since the jury reached a verdict in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  You would think that the attention surrounding this Florida homicide would have passed.  There have been reports that Zimmerman could face civil liability.  Bloomberg reported, “The acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator cleared of Florida charges that he murdered black teenager Trayvon Martin, spurred new calls for a federal civil rights prosecution and suggestions that the youth’s family may bring a lawsuit.”

Jacksonville FL has felt the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial.  The Florida Times Union reported:

“The former information technology director for State Attorney Angela Corey is suing for wrongful termination. Ben Kruidbos sued Corey’s office Thursday saying he was illegally fired in June after he testified that prosecutors did not turn over all information to George Zimmerman’s defense team in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  He is asking for $5 million or more in damages and his job back.  The lawsuit states Kruidbos could not be fired for testifying in a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena. It also argues that the firing was retaliation for his testimony in the Zimmerman case.”

 Based on the Florida Times Union article, “Kruidbos used computer software technology to extract photographs and text messages from the source file in Martin’s cellphone. He was able to recover more information than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement obtained previously.”  Kruidbos created a report with his findings.   He believed that the “lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda might not have turned over [the] report to defense attorneys.”  Because of this Kruidbos’s attorney contacted Zimmerman’s lawyer.  He “learned the defense had not received the report generated by Kruidbos. The defense did receive the source file from the cellphone and used its own experts to extract data.”  Zimmerman’s lawyers subpoenaed Kruidbos and his attorney “during a pretrial hearing on their motion seeking sanctions against prosecutors.”

Kruidbos’ civil attorney is Wesley White.  He stated, “It’s important to understand that we’re not just saying my client was wrongfully terminated…. We’re also saying that the state attorney broke the law.”  This is based on the Florida law that “prohibits firing people for testifying in trials they’ve been subpoenaed to take part in, and that’s what Corey did to Kruidbos, White said.”

The Florida Times Union described Kruidbos’ termination letter:

“The letter firing Kruidbos said he did a poor job overseeing the information technology department, violated public records law for retaining documents and noted he was questioned in March when the office was trying to determine who had leaked personnel information obtained through a computer breach.  It also said Kruidbos was not a lawyer and didn’t have the right to question the ethics and professionalism of the attorneys prosecuting the case.  ‘Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent,’ the hand-delivered letter said. ‘You have proven to be completely untrustworthy. Because of your deliberate, wilful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.’”

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