June 5, 2013 -- Mere days after arguing that a Florida jury should know all about shooting victim Trayvon Martin's texts, tweets, school suspensions and alleged drug use, a lawyer for Martin's accused killer is seeking a gag order to ban a list of "inflammatory" terms and phrases that he says would prejudice jurors against his client.
Attorney Mark O'Mara filed papers on Monday seeking to bar prosecutors from using the terms in their case against George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager last spring in a suburban townhouse development outside Orlando. Jury selection for Zimmerman's murder trial is set to begin next week.
Among the terms O'Mara wants banned are "profiled", "vigilante", "self-appointed Neighborhood Watch captain", and "wannabe cop" as well as the phrases "He got out of the car after the police told him not to", and "He confronted Trayvon Martin," according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"There is little probative value by the use of these terms and the danger of unfair prejudice to the jury is substantial," O'Mara wrote in his filing.
But just last month, O'Mara argued that jurors should hear similar information about Martin -- in the form of his social media posts.
The lawyer released a load of Martin's text messages to the public, arguing that the Miami teen's posts glorifying fighting and "weed" were relevant to Zimmerman's defense. "If [prosecutors] had suggested that Trayvon is nonviolent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant," O'Mara told the court.
The judge disagreed, saying Martin's alleged drug use, school suspensions, or fights proved nothing and might prejudice jurors. She also put strict limits on O'Mara's use of social-media messages by Martin.
O'Mara's attempts to introduce prejudicial evidence against Martin while fighting similar evidence against Zimmerman could be seen as hypocritical -- or as a lawyer's vigorous defense of his client.
If it's the former, it wouldn't be the first time O'Mara stood accused of hypocrisy in the Martin case. Last month, the defense attorney tried unsuccessfully to get a judge to sequester every potential juror in the case indoors -- as many as 500 people -- arguing that their identities might be revealed otherwise, and they could face retaliation for acquitting Zimmerman of Martin's killing. But as soon as that motion was quashed, O'Mara asked the judge for permission to take the entire jury outside to the scene where Martin was shot.
Judge Debra Nelson noted that if she approved the motion, it would be virtually impossible to keep jurors' identities secret. "I think it's a logistical nightmare," she said. She added that O'Mara's back-to-back motions for an anonymous jury and an outdoor jury trip to the death scene were "disingenuous."