Judge Debra Nelson

I was a senior in high school when the O.J. Simpson verdict came down. I was in a classroom in Indiana, everybody was watching on television. After the verdict was announced, the first thing I heard was my white teacher saying “bulls**t.” The next thing I heard was a bunch of black people screaming (I went to a pretty diverse high school). Then, basically, all the black people started streaming out of class. Nobody went back to school that day. I found my cousin. We high-fived. At that moment, I really believed that a racist cop had planted blood evidence to frame O.J.

Of course, that’s not what I think happened now. I think O.J. murdered those two people in a jealous rage, got caught and thought about killing himself, didn’t, then hired the best lawyers in the country, and beat the rap.

Still, I’m happy he got off. I know that is a controversial thing to say. It’s not really normal to be “happy” when a guilty person evades justice, unless you’re watching a mob movie. But I think Mark Fuhrman was a racist cop, and I think the O.J. case went a long way towards showing state prosecutors that basing your cases on racist cops is a bad thing. The state knows that putting blatantly racist people on the stand isn’t the best way to get a conviction. I’m willing to suffer the injustice of a guilty man going free to make the larger point that racist cops are not credible witnesses.

And so as I sit here, watching the news and reading Twitter accounts of people who are just “happy” that George Zimmerman was acquitted of any wrongdoing in the death of Trayvon Martin, I’m forced to wonder what “larger point” is being serviced today by the release of a man who shot an unarmed teenager to death?

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George Zimmerman has been found not guilty.

UPDATE (10:16 p.m.): Here are more details and commentary on the Zimmerman trial verdict.

What if this the last ‘reasonable man’ you ever saw?

Like many Americans, I’ve spent the last 24 hours seriously considering the physical and scientific evidence available to support or refute the contentions being made in one of the greatest television events of our time. I’m talking, of course, about Sharknado. Would a tornado carry sharks miles inland, and could those sharks be stopped by a chainsaw-wielding Ian Ziering?

Of course, if they had hired a black actor to kill great white sharks, he’d be on trial for murder now.

Based on our traffic numbers, a lot of you want to talk about the George Zimmerman trial. As closing arguments wrap up today and the case goes to the jury, let’s talk about the legal standards in play. What will the jury actually be trying to decide? We’re talking about the legal standards in Florida, so you know it’s going to be interesting…

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Judge Nelson is tired… of your sh*t.

Your Honor, we’ve been working very long hours.

So have I!

– an exchange between Mark O’Mara, one of George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, and Judge Debra Nelson, after a 12-hour day in court. When defense attorney Don West piped up to say he didn’t think he could “physically keep up this pace much longer,” Judge Nelson gathered her belongings in a huff and left the courtroom, ignoring him.

(Keep reading to see video footage of the incident in question.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “George Zimmerman’s Lawyers Too Exhausted To Go On, But Judge Is Too Pissed To Care”

Judge Debra Nelson charged through a string of motions in a pre-trial hearing this morning, including a ruling that the case will actually go to trial on June 10 as scheduled. The defense had sought a delay because apparently a one-witness case was too difficult to prepare in a mere 16 months or so.

But the real action revolved around the evidentiary rulings. Most of the rulings were pretty straightforward. A little, too straightforward.

What I mean is that most of the evidence at issue was so obviously prejudicial that the only purpose served by attempting to introduce the evidence is to take advantage of press coverage to poison the well of potential jurors…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Makes Obvious Rulings In Trayvon Martin Case”

* Oh my God, Debevoise & Plimpton is dropping its entire trusts and estates practice. Was the economy the cause? What about the eight soon-to-be-unemployed lawyers? And most importantly, what would Josh Lyman’s father think?! [DealBook / New York Times]

* Major props go out to everyone at O’Melveny & Myers for hitting an all-time high in terms of both profits per partner ($2.06 million) and revenues per lawyer ($1.1 million). Here’s hoping the bonus situation reflected those incredible numbers. [Am Law Daily]

* We probably should’ve known when Pepper Hamilton acquired the Freeh Group back in August that exciting things would happen. Say hello to Louis Freeh, the firm’s new chair. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Are we supposed to be surprised that the Millennials who are considering applying to law school are more self-confident than those who preceded them? They’re all special little snowflakes! [National Law Journal]

* If you’re taking the LSAT on Saturday, here are some tricks to keep yourself focused. But don’t worry, it’s only one of the most important tests you’ll ever take. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Sorry, George Zimmerman, but even though you’re poor, your trial isn’t going to be delayed. Perhaps Judge Nelson made this announcement to serve as a poetic birthday present for Trayvon Martin. [Orlando Sentinel]