Outrage is growing over the jaw-dropping statement by Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey that George Zimmerman, acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin, is still a “murderer.”
Renowned civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV that Zimmerman has reason to launch a defamation of character case against Corey.
“Clearly he is somebody who was acquitted by a jury on the grounds of self-defense and she shouldn’t be going around second-guessing the jury verdict and calling him a murderer,” the veteran Harvard Law professor said.
“He probably has a defamation action against her. She has no immunity as a prosecutor for appearing on television and if I were his lawyer I would think seriously about bringing a defamation lawsuit against her.”
On an interview taped after Zimmerman’s acquittal Saturday and airing Monday night on CNN’s Headline News program “HLN After Dark,” Corey is asked for a word that comes to mind for the former neighborhood-watch volunteer.
“Murderer,” she says after several seconds of silence.
Other noted legal experts also expressed their disgust at Corey’s remark, agreeing with Dershowitz that it could spur legal action by Zimmerman.
“That is shockingly inappropriate, unethical conduct by a prosecutor. And frankly, she might very well be sued for it—and properly so,” noted criminal attorney and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan told Steve Malzberg.
“Prosecutors get immunity when they’re acting within the scope of their employment as prosecutors. But appearing on a TV show doing a word association game is not going to give her immunity. Now that’s really stunning.”
Dershowitz, who has defended such clients as Claus von Bulow, Mike Tyson, Patricia Hearst and Jim Bakker, said the violence-free response to the verdict was thanks to the “really excellent behavior” of the Martin family.
But, he added, that if it had gone the other way, Corey would have to be blamed.
“If there had been violence, she would be responsible for it because she raised expectations,” he said.
“She got a second-degree murder charge, she basically told the judge that there was a case here for second-degree murder and there was never a chance of getting a verdict in this case.”
He said the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder should not pursue a federal civil-rights violations case against Zimmerman.
“This is not an appropriate use of Justice Department authority. It’s now been turned into a political football,” Dershowitz said.