Joseph Cotto, 3/31/2015 [Archive]

Zimmerman Prosecutor Feeling the Heat in Florida

By Joseph Cotto

Does everyone remember Angela Corey?

Let's hope so. She was the ringleader of George Zimmerman's botched, and ultimately failed, prosecution. More recently, Corey found fame for seeking to keep threatened wife and mother Marissa Alexander behind bars for decades. Alexander's 'crime' was firing a warning shot in her abusive husband's presence.

While reviewing the condition of Florida jurisprudence, the American Civil Liberties Union's Tanya Greene stated "(w)hat's going on....presents deeply disturbing, systemic, racial dynamics—and Corey's hands are filthy."

That's just for starters.

Corey's predecessor as Jacksonville-area State Attorney is Harry Shorstein. Back in 2013, he explained to me how "law school interns in the office" were reviewed by in-house staff as well as academics, and "(o)ne of the interns reported Corey was abusive, profane, unprofessional, etc. The school called us, I reprimanded Corey.

"Then, Corey called the school and told the Dean the professor should be disciplined for reporting her misconduct, the school called me, I told Corey that was unacceptable and she must apologize to the Dean and the professor.

"Corey refused my direct order. Then she was given another chance, she refused and was fired."

This should have ended Corey's career as a prosecutor. Instead, she was elected to Shorstein's post the next year, after he announced his retirement. Some might wonder how such a thing is possible, but Corey is a Republican, and Metro Jacksonville has been known to reflexively vote GOP.

Enter Wes White.

He is running against Corey in next year's primary. White is counsel for Ben Kruidbos, her office's former information technology director. Krudibos's testimony during one of Zimmerman's pretrial hearings apparently earned him a spot on the unemployment line.

"It is understood that in the course of his duties, Ben discovered evidence that should had been turned over to the defense," Shorstein said. "He took it to a lawyer who turned it over. It is also believed he may have been the one, or with others, who leaked her wrongfully taking $340,000+."

That is in reference to Corey's pension, which she padded under highly controversial circumstances. When Jacksonville's only daily newspaper, the Times-Union, reported on the matter, she had it removed from her press feed.

White tells me that Kruidbos's wrongful termination suit is coming along, slowly but surely. Meanwhile, Corey has faced a state investigation and allegations of civil rights violations by Alan Dershowitz. A February poll from the University of North Florida indicates that 51 percent of respondents dislike her, while 35 percent report the opposite.

"The State Attorney's Office has lost sight of its preeminent obligation - to maintain the Public Trust," White claims. "Office holders who crave and cater to establishing a cult of personality, as opposed to serving the office and position that they hold, have forgotten what leadership truly means."

All of this begs the following question: What is Corey's interpretation of "justice"?

"Let me answer the question this way, I believe true justice is inherently good, that it tracks the rule of law, and that it reflects our constitutional and moral values," White remarks. "It is much, much more than statistically driven, and relentless, self-promotion."

After Corey was appointed Zimmerman's special prosecutor, past American Bar Association head and veteran Florida law scholar Sandy D'Alemberte told Morris News Service journalist Topher Sanders that "(t)here is nothing in Angela Corey's background that suits her for this task, and she cannot command the respect of people who care about justice."

Hard as this might be to believe, what was mentioned here barely scratches the surface of Corey's controversies.

The White-Corey contest deserves to become America's most closely watched local election. Its outcome will impact those of us living far beyond the Jacksonville region. If someone with Corey's track record can get reelected in one of our nation's largest cities, a green light would shine from coast to coast for Mike Nifong-style 'public service'.

Remember that 'justice for all' was never intended to be a mere punchline or campaign slogan.

——-

Copyright 2015 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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