Liberal Law Prof: Zimmerman Case 'Should Never Have Been Brought in the First Place'

Susan Jones | July 15, 2013 | 4:55am EDT
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Harvard Law Professor and Defense Attorney Alan Dershowitz. (AP File Photo)

( - "You know, this is a case that should never have been brought in the first place, certainly not as a second degree murder prosecution," Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told CNN's "State of the Union With Candy Crowley" on Sunday.

Dershowitz said George Zimmerman was put on trial because "there was political pressure on the governor, and he appointed somebody (special prosecutor Angela Corey) who had the worst reputation in Florida for overcharging. And she did exactly what she was supposed to do; she overcharged. She charged second-degree murder in a case where there was reasonable doubt written all over it."

According to Dershowitz, "Everybody had to have a reasonable doubt about who struck the first blow, about who yelled 'Help me! Help me!', about who was on top and who was on bottom."

Dershowitz said prosecutors are guilty of misconduct, for "willfully and deliberately" withholding evidence, such as photographs showing Zimmerman's head and nose injuries.

"They tried to pull one over on the judge," he said. "And then, all through the course of the pretrial proceedings, they withheld additional exculpatory evidence."

Speaking on the "Mike Huckabee Show" on Fox News, Dershowitz went event further, saying that Corey's behavior "bordered on criminal conduct."

"She submitted an affidavit that was, if not perjurious, completely misleading. She violated all kinds of rules of the profession," Dershowitz told Huckabee.

"Halfway through the trial she realized she wasn't going to get a second degree murder verdict, so she asked for a compromised verdict, for manslaughter. And then, she went even further and said that she was going to charge him with child abuse and felony murder. That was such a stretch that it goes beyond anything professionally responsible. She was among the most irresponsible prosecutors I've seen in 50 years of litigating cases, and believe me, I've seen good prosecutors, bad prosecutors, but rarely have I seen one as bad as this prosecutor."

Asked by CNN's Candy Crowley if he thinks there is enough evidence there for the Justice Department to move forward on a civil rights complaint, Dershowitz said, "I do not."

"I think this is a fairly traditional case of self-defense. It's a horrible tragedy. It reflects the racial divide in our society. There is no reason this young man should have been killed. Mr. Zimmerman may have been morally at fault for racially profiling and following him, but under the law of self defense, if he was on bottom and he was having his head banged against the pavement and was in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm, he had the right to respond the way he did.

"If there is going to be an investigation, it should be just for the racial profiling and the following, it shouldn't be for the events that led to the death, because then every case of self-defense will be turned into a federal case. And that's not what the civil rights law was intended to do."

Dershowitz said the family of Trayvon Marton could consider a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman, where the standard of proof is lower.

"Whether or not they could prevail in a civil case is highly questionable," he added. "The jury in this case didn't render of verdict of innocent, they rendered a verdict of not guilty. And it could have just been based on the presence of reasonable doubt. So we don't know for sure."

Dershowitz said the trial shows that problems of racial profiling and racial division still exist in this country, the the Zimmerman case "provides a good opportunity to have a debate anda dialogue.

"It's just that the criminal courtroom is not the right place to have that debate. And the jury was the only institution I think in this case to have said essentially, 'We're not interested in what's going on outside on the streets. We're interested in applying facts and the law and coming to a verdict.' And that's what they did here."
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