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Day One in the George Zimmerman Trial: Is the Fix in?
George Zimmerman’s bloody, broken nose, in a photo taken the night Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense
George Zimmerman: The real victim. The bloody wounds that Trayvon Martin inflicted on the back of Zimmerman’s head, when Martin repeatedly slammed Zimmerman’s head into the pavement, while trying to murder him (State Attorney's Office)
Would-be murderer Trayvon Martin about a week before George Zimmerman killed him in self-defense
During opening arguments today, Judge Debra Nelson might as well have put a gag in defense attorney Ed West’s mouth.
When prosecutor John Guy delivered his own opening argument, a slow, portentous, pretentious, lie-laden plea to emotion, no one interrupted him. But when George Zimmerman’s defense attorney Don West rose to give his opening, he was immediately met with constant objections from Guy, making it impossible for West to develop any rhetorical rhythm—which, of course, was the point— every one of which Judge Debra Nelson sustained, maintaining in all but the first case that West was saying things he was only permitted to say in his closing.
At one point, after machine gun-style objections, West was so frustrated and hog-tied that he just stood there, unable to speak. Judge Nelson was doing the equivalent of gagging him.
It is customary to grant both sides great latitude in presenting their opening and closing arguments. And the People were granted complete license. But the defense was granted none.
Last month, during George Thomas’ Knoxville Horror re-trial for murder and other crimes against Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, my partner David in TN remarked that Thomas defense attorney Steven Johnson’s opening sounded like a closing. But the prosecution team of ADAs Takisha Fitzgerald and Leland Price respected Johnson’s right to mount a vigorous defense of his client, as did presiding Judge Walter Kurtz. Thus, Johnson was permitted to deliver a closing-style opening, unmolested. Conversely, Judge Nelson and the prosecution are denying George Zimmerman the right to a vigorous defense.