ORLANDO, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s murder trial is over — but not the legal wrangling.
Moments after the six-member jury found that Zimmerman did not commit a crime when he killed Trayvon Martin, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson told the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer: “You have no further business with the court.”
But Nelson has two issues yet to decide: how long to keep juror names a secret and whether to fine prosecutors for behavior that defense attorneys say was unethical.
Two other judges are overseeing separate civil cases spawned by the shooting, one by Zimmerman, who accuses NBCUniversal Media of defaming him, and one by his former bodyguards, who allege he owes them $27,000.
There also is the perjury case pending against Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie.
Here are details about what to expect:
• JUROR NAMES
The identities of the six women who served as Zimmerman’s jury are a secret, thanks to an order by the judge.
How long they will remain so, however, is an open question.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara initially asked that their names be kept under seal permanently, but after more than a dozen media companies — including The Orlando Sentinel — objected, Nelson rejected that request.
She signed an order ruling that their names would remain secret during the trial. O’Mara, however, asked that that be extended for six months.
“This should be a sufficient amount of time for any community passions to cool, should an acquittal occur,” he wrote in a motion filed June 25, after the jury was sworn in and had begun hearing evidence.
Protests began as soon as the verdict was read, and in the week since have spread across the country.
Four of the six jurors, still anonymous, issued a statement Tuesday saying, among other things, that they wanted their lives to remain private.
They also distanced themselves from juror B-37, who appeared on CNN last Monday and Tuesday and defended Zimmerman and the jury’s decision. She also signed with a literary agent but quickly backed out of that deal after being harshly criticized on social-media sites and seeing news reports about protests.
How much longer their names will remain private is unclear, but it is not an issue that media companies are expected to abandon. While jurors were deliberating July 13, an attorney for the Sentinel sent the judge a letter asking her to hold a hearing before making a final decision.
A debate over whether prosecutors should be sanctioned for allegedly failing to give defense attorneys damaging evidence from Martin’s phone provided some riveting moments just before the trial began.
Defense attorney Don West was on the witness stand June 6 testifying about what happened and was being cross-examined by Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, the lawyer West accused of malfeasance.
“We caught you hiding the information and confronted you about it, and you never gave it to us,” West roared.
Moments later, when O’Mara tried to call de la Rionda to the witness stand, the prosecutor refused.
“Your honor, I’m not going to subject myself to … I think that’s improper; I object to it,” de la Rionda said.
O’Mara then suggested prosecutors may have committed “direct criminal contempt,” prompting the judge to halt the hearing, move on to another matter and say she would take it up after the trial.
She is expected to set a hearing soon.
The defense earlier had called as a witness a co-worker of de la Rionda’s, Ben Kruidbos, then-information technology chief for Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. He said de la Rionda had looked at photos Kruidbos had discovered on Trayvon’s phone — including pictures of pot plants and a handgun — in February.
Defense attorneys argued that they had not received them until a few days before the trial began June 10. Kruidbos was later fired, according to reports.
De la Rionda says he did nothing wrong because he gave defense attorneys the source file to Martin’s phone, which contains all the data on it — including the photos — in code.
With the trial over, many who follow the case are speculating about lawsuits yet to be filed: Will Martin’s parents sue Zimmerman? Will Zimmerman seek damages? But two suits are already pending and will likely ramp up soon.In one, Zimmerman is suing NBC News alleging defamation.
He accuses the organization of splicing together two separate portions of his call to police the night of the shooting to make it seem as if he had blurted out that Martin was black. In reality, Zimmerman was merely answering a question from the dispatcher.
The suit also accuses the network of falsely reporting that during the call, Zimmerman used a racial epithet.
“Defendants pounced on the Zimmerman/Martin matter because they knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalizing and manipulation, a racial powder keg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs,” the suit says.
NBC fired back in February, stating in a court filing that “there is no legitimate basis for Zimmerman’s claims against these defendants, who fairly and accurately reported about a news event that has captivated the nation.”
In a separate suit, former bodyguards for Zimmerman are suing him, his wife and O’Mara, alleging they failed to pay $27,000. O’Mara expressed surprise when told of the suit, noting the Zimmerman defense had already paid the company “over $40,000.”
The defense lawyer is scheduled to be deposed Aug. 28, according to a recently filed notice.
Zimmerman’s 26-year-old wife, Shellie, is accused by Corey, the special prosecutor, of lying at her husband’s April 20, 2012, bond hearing when she testified that they were broke.
In fact, in the days just before that hearing, she had helped transfer half of the $130,000 in donations that had come flooding in from people wanting to help her husband, according to prosecution records.
Months ago, defense attorney Kelly Sims and Assistant State Attorney John Guy agreed to wait until George Zimmerman’s murder trial was over to move forward with the perjury case.
No trial date has been set, but a routine hearing to discuss scheduling is set for Aug. 21. Shellie Zimmerman, a nursing student nearly done with her training, contends she is not guilty.
If convicted, she faces a maximum of five years in prison. But that is unlikely, given that she has no previous criminal record.