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Pretrial strategy in Zimmerman case may have been gambit to assert stand-your-ground in civil suits

Posted Jul 15, 2013 7:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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George Zimmerman’s lawyers may have been thinking about the possibility of a future civil suit when they decided not to pursue a stand-your-ground hearing before their client’s criminal trial.

The defense could have asked a judge to dismiss the criminal case based on Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which allows the use of deadly force when individuals believe their lives are in danger. Florida defense lawyer Diana Tennis tells the Washington Post that the defense may have opted against the hearing in case a judge had refused to dismiss the case, setting up the possibility that Zimmerman could not use the statute to thwart civil liability.

“They took a gambit,” she told the newspaper. “I think they were looking forward.”

Jurors acquitted Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin on Saturday evening.

Zimmerman lawyer Mark O’Mara cited the statute when commenting on Saturday, USA Today reports. "On the civil aspect, if someone believes that it's appropriate to sue George Zimmerman, then we will seek and we will get immunity in a civil hearing,” he said. "We'll see just how many civil lawsuits are spawned from this fiasco."

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