Angela Corey’s Checkered Past

Ian Tuttle, National Review, July 17, 2013

Angela Corey, by all accounts, is no Atticus Finch. She is “one hell of a trial lawyer,” says a Florida defense attorney who has known her for three decades—but the woman who has risen to national prominence as the “tough as nails” state attorney who prosecuted George Zimmerman is known for scorching the earth. And some of her prosecutorial conduct has been, well, troubling at best.

Corey, a Jacksonville native, took a degree in marketing from Florida State University before pursuing her J.D. at the University of Florida. She became a Florida prosecutor in 1981 and tried everything from homicides to juvenile cases in the ensuing 26 years. In 2008, Corey was elected state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, taking over from Harry Shorstein—the five-term state attorney who had fired her from his office a year earlier, citing “long-term issues” regarding her supervisory performance.

When Corey came in, she cleaned house. Corey fired half of the office’s investigators, two-fifths of its victim advocates, a quarter of its 35 paralegals, and 48 other support staff—more than one-fifth of the office. Then she sent a letter to Florida’s senators demanding that they oppose Shorstein’s pending nomination as a U.S. attorney. “I told them he should not hold a position of authority in his community again, because of his penchant for using the grand jury for personal vendettas,” she wrote.

Corey knows about personal vendettas. They seem to be her specialty. When Ron Littlepage, a journalist for the Florida Times-Union, wrote a column criticizing her handling of the Christian Fernandez case—in which Corey chose to prosecute a twelve-year-old boy for first-degree murder, who wound up locked in solitary confinement in an adult jail prior to his court date—she “fired off a two-page, single-spaced letter on official state-attorney letterhead hinting at lawsuits for libel.”

And that was moderate. When Corey was appointed to handle the Zimmerman case, Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, a former president of both the American Bar Association and Florida State University, criticized the decision: “I cannot imagine a worse choice for a prosecutor to serve in the Sanford case. There is nothing in Angela Corey’s background that suits her for the task, and she cannot command the respect of people who care about justice.” {snip}

{snip}

But what these instances point to is something much more alarming than Corey’s less-than-warm relations with her peers.

In June 2012, Alan Dershowitz, a well-known defense attorney who has been a professor at Harvard Law School for nearly half a century, criticized Corey for her affidavit in the Zimmerman case. Making use of a quirk of Florida law that gives prosecutors, for any case except first-degree murder, the option of filing an affidavit with the judge instead of going to a grand jury, Corey filed an affidavit that, according to Dershowitz, “willfully and deliberately omitted” crucial exculpatory evidence: namely, that Trayvon Martin was beating George Zimmerman bloody at the time of the fatal gunshot. So Corey avoided a grand jury, where her case likely would not have held water, and then withheld evidence in her affidavit to the judge. “It was a perjurious affidavit,” Dershowitz tells me, and that comes with serious consequences: “Submitting a false affidavit is grounds for disbarment.”

Shortly after Dershowitz’s criticisms, Harvard Law School’s dean’s office received a phone call. When the dean refused to pick up, Angela Corey spent a half hour demanding of an office-of-communications employee that Dershowitz be fired. According to Dershowitz, Corey threatened to sue Harvard, to try to get him disbarred, and also to sue him for slander and libel. Corey also told the communications employee that she had assigned a state investigator—an employee of the State of Florida, that is—to investigate Dershowitz. “That’s an abuse of office right there,” Dershowitz says.

What happened in the weeks and months that followed was instructive. Dershowitz says that he was flooded with correspondence from people telling him that this is Corey’s well-known M.O. He says numerous sources—lawyers who had sparred with Corey in the courtroom, lawyers who had worked with and for her, and even multiple judges—informed him that Corey has a history of vigorously attacking any and all who criticize her. But it’s worse than that: Correspondents told him that Corey has a history of overcharging and withholding evidence.

The Zimmerman trial is a clear case of the former and a probable case of the latter. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, also known as “depraved mind” murder. The case law for that charge, an attorney who has worked in criminal prosecution outside Florida tells me, is near-unanimous: It almost never applies to one-on-one encounters. Second-degree murder is the madman who fires indiscriminately into a crowd or unlocks the lions’ cage at the zoo. “Nothing in the facts of this case approaches that.” {snip}

But that did not stop Corey from zealously overcharging and—the facts suggest—withholding evidence to ensure that that charge stuck.

Still, by the end of the case it was clear that the jury was unlikely to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder; hence the prosecution’s addition of a manslaughter charge—as well as its attempt to add a charge for third-degree murder by way of child abuse—after the trial had closed. “In 50 years of practice I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Dershowitz. It’s a permissible maneuver, but as a matter of professional ethics it’s a low blow.

Corey’s post-trial performance has been less than admirable as well. Asked in a prime-time interview with HLN how she would describe George Zimmerman, Corey responded, “Murderer.” Attorneys who spoke with me called her refusal to acknowledge the validity of the jury’s verdict everything from “disgusting” to “disgraceful.”

{snip}

Meanwhile, those who speak out against her continue to be mistreated. Ben Kruidbos (pronounced CRIED-boss), the IT director at Corey’s state-attorney office, was fired last week—one month after testifying during the Zimmerman trial that Corey had withheld from defense attorneys evidence obtained from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone. Corey’s office contends that Kruidbos was fired for poor job performance and for leaking personnel records. The termination notice delivered to Kruidbos last Friday read: “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.” Less than two months before this letter, Kruidbos had received a raise for “meritorious performance.”

{snip}

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  • Erasmus

    C’mon, Florida. This woman has got to go. What we’ve just witnessed was criminal collusion between this woman’s office, the DOJ[sic] and the Oval Office.

  • bubo

    Well, I’ll say this for Angela Corey. She’s tough. The guy she replaced, Harry Shorstein, was soft on crime. Especially black crime.

    • The__Bobster

      And she’s tough on innocent victims.

      • Erasmus

        Someone needs to tear this gal a new corn chute.

  • The__Bobster

    Corey, a Jacksonville native…
    ________

    I didn’t know Jacksonville was in the Mideast.

    • Guest

      Al Yaka’abduhasanshwarma’villabda, Syria

    • http://www.amren.com/ Michael Christopher Scott

      She was born in Jacksonville, according to her Wikipedia bio. It was her grandparents who immigrated from Syria.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    She sounds like a sociopathic bully to me. Tried to bully Dershowitz though…bad decision. HA HA! Tried to legally intimidate Dershowitz? Woman sounds mentally disturbed…

    And evil, considering how many lives she has ruined or hurt.

    • Erasmus

      For which county did Janet Reno serve as AG?

      Seems sociopathy is endemic to Florida. Rubio, Jeb Bush, Reno, Corey…sociopathy…yes, I’m starting to see a pattern.

      • IstvanIN

        Is Angela Corey married? I am getting suspicious.

      • WR_the_realist

        Excessive heat must be bad for the brain.

  • The__Bobster

    Looking at her past actions, I can’t see why this crazy foreigner hasn’t been fired a dozen times over. Whom is she fellating?

    • redfeathers

      Do you know what her racial/ethnic background is? I wasn’t able to find it.

      • http://www.amren.com/ Michael Christopher Scott

        Syrian, but there are lots of Christians from over there.

        • redfeathers

          Thanks!

  • Greg Thomas

    Why does this woman still have a license to pratice law, much less a job?

    • http://www.amren.com/ Michael Christopher Scott

      I suspect neither will last very much longer.

  • Greg Thomas

    Why does this woman still have a license to practice law, much less a job?

  • IstvanIN

    It sounds like she should have been in prison a long time ago.

  • sbuffalonative

    What a vile, power-mad woman.

  • Big Blue 11

    She will be Holders replacement.

  • din_do_nuffins

    Angela Corey will fail upward. She also represents the ruling elites who work tirelessly to crush your White privilege. How many qualified White men were good candidates for her job and didn’t get it because they were pushed aside to make room for her? She and her entire type aren’t going away or ever losing any power. She is your future. Harden yourself to the coming horrors.

  • RHG

    She’s a petty tyrant, the type of government official the Tea Party people warn us about and both her and that other idiot of a prosecuter are continually trying this case in public and smearing Zimmerman even after they had their butts handed to them. We need an investigation into their unethical behavior in this case.

  • Manaphy

    Republicans like this are the reason why John McCain and Mitt Romney were nominees in the previous two elections, and why Karl Rove and Reince Priebus are party leaders.

  • http://www.paradisegone.com/ r j p

    Asked in a prime-time interview with HLN how she would describe George Zimmerman, Corey responded, “Murderer.

    This is pure judicial misconduct, a judge is nothing more than a mediator and should hold no preconceived notions regarding either the plaintiff or the defendant.

    It seems obvious to me that she is shooting for something bigger and is using this case as a means to appear as an “ally” of blacks in exchange for their votes.

  • 1proactive2

    This Corey character is destined for high office in the federal government under a Democrat administration. She’s the prototype for corruption of office, and abuse of power. Now, where is Florida’s governor in this? Has he moved to fire her after the revelations about her actions?

  • Sloppo

    Well, she’s a really bad prosecutor who either doesn’t know the law or thinks she’s above it. On the other hand, her Syrian heritage gives our legal system diversity strength which is much more significant than the rights of the innocent people she incarcerates, the millions of taxpayer dollars she wastes, or the guilty people who need to be prosecuted but can’t because the courts are tied up with politically motivated show-trials.

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    I’ll be sorry if it comes to a felony investigation (and I admit it looks like it’s going to be necessary as a function of civil liabilities impending which will make a quiet firing untenable) because, depending on outcome, that will mean dozens of Corey’s other cases may be subject to Judicial Review.

    Convicted criminals who deserve to be in prison will be writing appeals based on the apparency of her own trial in the public eye.

    The backlash from which efforts will not be added competence as crossed i’s and dotted t’s in the halls of justice, but PC timidity and tight conformity to rules and regs as fear of personal blowback for pushing cases where a confident prosecutor might win through but might also lose spectacularly. We cannot afford a legal system where the criminal attacks the reputation of his/her prosecutor before the trial begins.

    In this, I confess I am not a real believer in the justice system as it now stands.

    I have seen too many instances where it’s obvious that a felony record makes it impossible for someone who is trying hard to find a real job or affordable housing to get out of a shelter environment where they are -surrounded- by other people with similar problems and less supervision than they had in prison. It leads to torpor or violence, neither of which are good.

    White, Hispanic or Black, these victims of their own mistakes will never escape the lasting social consequences of what they did and this will leave them in a position where walking the narrow path comes with little lighted-tunnel hope.

    Which is why their penchant for continued crime doesn’t seem to change and so lifelong incarceration (which is cruel) cannot be set against a realistic condition of death penalty alternative (which is not) as the ultimate discouragement for habituated criminality.

    I also believe that the amount of funds spent maintaining the dubious title of number one incarcerative society on the planet is ludicrous because inmates must be protected from themselves as much as constrained from the public and that costs. Real Money.
    Which could better be spent on different forms of welfare that acknowledged some people are just not fit for modern society. Before jail time made them outcasts at it’s edge.

    But above all this, it seems to me that having confidence in our legal system is important and we stand to blow that wide open in a way that could just as easily head opposite to our desires for no racial imperative to become a driving condition for ‘more’ justice for certain minorities than anyone else.

    Something which is broken in a way that embarrasses higher Agendas is apt to be seriously ‘fixed’, whether the repair bears any resemblance to what worked before or not.

    I don’t have an answer here because it appears, in hindsight, that the Zimmerman prosecution was not only excessive but stupid in reaching for an unwarranted indictment on the basis of withheld exculpatory evidence and thus losing the chance at a lesser one which perhaps better fit the uncertainties of evidence if not motive.

    I admit I don’t like playing the ‘Z-Man’ elevation game because I don’t believe endorsing Hispanics furthers our cause either and yet I am glad that he escaped unjust prosecution.

    Regardless of this, we need to beware witch hunting that equates judicial failure with instant ‘Nifong her!’ ignominy.

    If only because we all live a little bit in fear of The Law and so could unintentionally be transferring that psychology to an opinion which also aids Blacks looking for excuses as prosecutorial malfeasance being the cause of Zimmerman’s rendered verdict rather than the fact that Trayvon Martin got himself in a position where being gutshot was an earned outcome.

    A large part of me feels that we need to make this go away as efficiently and privately as possible. Clean our own judicial house, behind closed doors, get Zimmerman and the Whistleblower their cash via extrajudicial settlement and move on.

    A lot will depend on exactly how much Corey is willing to fall on her sword or has to be pushed.

  • anarchyst

    Eliminate “qualified immunity” for ALL public officials and you will see a change. It public officials knew that they could be personally sued for their “official” actions, they might be more inclined to behave themselves . . .