In this week’s video we’re addressing the many questions people are asking about George Zimmerman’s request to the State of Florida to pay his court costs. Watch the video or read the full transcript below for answers.
Hi. I’m Lisa Bloom for Avvo.com.
George Zimmerman, through his attorneys, is asking the state of Florida to pay him over $200,000 for his legal costs associated with his trial. A lot of people have questions about this, so let me see if I can answer some of those questions.
First of all, is this for his legal fees? Is this for his legal team, Mark O’Mara and Don West, who we saw advocating for him at the trial? The answer to that is no. It’s not for attorneys’ fees. It’s simply for the costs of litigation, which I’ll explain in a minute. In fact, his attorneys have said publicly they have not been paid one penny for their representation of him. Had they been paid at their customary hourly fee, they say it would have been between one to two million dollars in attorney’s fees, but so far they haven’t been paid anything.
So what is the money for? Well, the money is for court costs, things like expert witnesses, depositions, filing fees, travel for the expert witnesses, administrative fees, things of that nature. It’s hard to imagine, but during a trial, especially a high profile trial, those expenses can add up, and the defense team says it’s now over $200,000.
One question I have is what about George Zimmerman’s defense fund? You may remember that some witnesses during the trial testified that they donated money – $20, $100, $5,000 – to George Zimmerman’s defense fund. Well, where has all that money gone? We’ve heard that it was over $300,000 by January of 2013. I would assume by now it’s probably over $400,000 if not more. Where has all that money gone?
Well, we don’t know exactly the answer to that, but we know that a lot of the money has gone for living expenses for George Zimmerman and his wife Shellie. They never went back to their home. They say that they were constantly subjected to death threats and so they had to live in an undisclosed location, and of course, like any of us, they had living expenses associated with where they lived.
I’m interested in seeing whether the court or the prosecution pushes back in response to this fee request from George Zimmerman to say, “Well, what happened with all of that money?”
You may also recall that Shellie Zimmermann, George’s wife, testified at a bail hearing in 2012 that they didn’t have any money. She since then has been accused of perjury for failing to disclose the significant amount of money that was in that fund.
So bottom line is George Zimmerman, because he was acquitted under Florida law, because he was found not guilty, he is entitled to reimbursement of his costs, and the court I would expect is going to award him those costs. But they have to be reasonable. So the court is going to go over them, audit everything that the defense submits on his behalf, and probably award him some amount of money, but not the full amount that he asks for.
I’m Lisa Bloom for Avvo.com.