“The time comes to decide what the message will be. Could it be a message of ‘lie at your peril,’ or a message that’s more forgiving? That’s the calculation,” Coffey says. “And prosecutors are allowed to consider the impact on the public of charging decisions. People are interested in knowing how [Corey] is going to respond to what appears to be a clear cut case of falsity” on the part of the Zimmermans. Indeed, on his legal defense website, O’Mara acknowledged that George Zimmerman “allowed his finances to be misstated in court” by his wife.
As for whether Judge Lester will go after the Zimmermans for misleading not just his court, but him — he took Shellie Zimmerman and George Zimmerman’s parents’ testimony by phone during the bond hearing — the lawyers agree that what the judge does from here on isn’t personal.
“Any judge would be offended” about being misled, Coffey said. “And [Lester's original] decision on bond was the correct one based on the information before him. But he certainly may have made a different decision as to the amount” had he known [about the money in Shellie Zimmerman’s account.
“This is a case in which the judge himself was the victim, in a sense, of the alleged falsity,” Coffey said.
But Coffey and Grieco agreed it’s probably prudent for the judge to leave it to prosecutors to decide what happens next. In fact, Grieco said that if Lester were to appear too punitive, he could open himself up to a defense request that he remove himself from the case, for being biased against George Zimmerman.
Natalie Jackson, an attorney for the Martins, disputes the notion that personal pique would drive any decision by the judge.
“Our legal system is not based on emotions, but law,” Jackson said.