I woke up this morning and saw a lot of posts on my Facebook news feed talking about the Duval County State Attorney, Angela Corey. As a Jacksonville criminal attorney, I wanted to see what it was about. Ever since the George Zimmerman case, I have been seeing Angela Corey’s name in the papers. The article that was circulating on Facebook today came from the Miami Herald. The article discussed a meeting at the First Coast Tiger Bay Club in which Angela Corey was a speaker. It is not usual for a Duval County prosecutor or Jacksonville criminal lawyer to speak at a function. This occurs on a regular basis. Sometimes, the attorneys are educating the public on a certain subject matter. Other times, they are discussing an issue.
The First Coast Tiger Bay Club sent out a newsletter about the January meeting. The newsletter stated that Angela Corey and Bernie de la Rionda would be discussing the Zimmerman trial and other criminal justice issues. However, the Miami Herald’s headlines focused on one issue, “The Zimmerman prosecutor says she does read the news.” While I was not present at the meeting, I do read the news on a regular basis. I enjoy posting local articles on this Jacksonville Attorneys website and the 20 Miles Law Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers website. The Miami Herald article explained the headline:
“The state attorney who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin says she doesn’t read newspapers and doesn’t think the public should know any details about a criminal case until it goes to a jury. Angela Corey of the Jacksonville-based 4th Circuit Court discussed her news preferences and her opinions on Florida’s open-government laws during an address Friday to the First Coast Tiger Bay Club…. According to the Times-Union, Corey was asked about a recent New York Times article about a police investigation in St. Johns County. Corey said she had not read the article because she doesn’t read any media. ‘I don’t read any newspapers,’ she said. ‘My people tell me what I need to know.’ Corey also said that media should not be allowed to report on high-profile cases because they publish details that are never heard by a jury, such as text messages in Zimmerman’s case that were reported by several news outlets but never presented as evidence. ‘The public doesn’t need to know anything about a case before it goes to trial,’ she said.”
Corey is correct. The jury should not be predisposed about cases. The jury should be neutral. However, I do not agree with her statement. There is the jury selection process. This helps Jacksonville attorneys find a neutral jury. As a Jacksonville Florida resident, I want to know what is going on. I enjoy opening my laptop and reading headlines. I enjoy watching the news at night. I like to be informed. I do not want to ignore the news. If I end up on a jury, I will be honest and tell the lawyers that I have read the articles and that I have formed and opinion. I hope that other potential jurors will do the same. The attorney for George Zimmerman made a similar comment. He stated, “As long as we have an effective jury selection process, which we do, it shouldn’t be a problem for someone to receive a fair trial.” Also, “Florida law also allows prosecutors to argue to a judge for some information not to be released to the public.”
I believe that Corey is entitled to her opinion on the laws. She did not say something “wrong” but merely stated how she feels about a Florida law. She should not be criminalized for her feelings. Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys are entitled to do the same. People do not always agree with my opinion. The important thing is that even if we do not agree with a law, we follow it. For instance, even if you think marijuana should be legal, it is still illegal and you should follow the law. Otherwise, you will end up with a Jacksonville possession of marijuana charge.