If a lifetime of watching television murder mysteries has taught me anything, it’s that when the defendant hires a lawyer, the first thing that defendant does is stop talking. Stop talking to the cops, to the press, to brilliant detectives, be they Jessica Fletcher or Adrian Monk. Here in the real world, the rules are the same. Theoretically, defendants do this to keep from saying something that could hurt the case and to preserve a clean jury pool. In higher profile cases, add the potential for public relations problems to the mix.
Mark O’Mara, defense attorney for the man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in late February, threw out that playbook last week when he started an official Facebook page for George Zimmerman’s defense. I suppose O’Mara thinks the jury pool’s already dirty, and quite frankly, the case can’t be hurt too much more than it already is. Still, this has the potential for being a PR nightmare when people start finding the Facebook page in large numbers. As we went to press, the page had just over 1,600 likes, but that number will likely balloon over the next week as word of the page’s existence spreads on Stormfront and other racist alleyways of the internet.
The comments on the page are as predictable as they are disappointing. In less than a week, it has already become a haven for the most racist discourse this side of 1964. Here are a few choice comments. They were all left Monday evening on a now-deleted post [dead link] about comment moderation, ironically enough.
Note: The commenter “Justice For George Zimmerman” doesn’t seem to be related to the official Facebook page.
To put it mildly, this Facebook page is a terrible idea. There is no separating public discourse about Zimmerman’s defense from a startlingly bold racist following looking for any reason to justify the killing of an African-American teenager. I’m giving O’Mara an honest benefit of the doubt at this point and assuming he doesn’t share this crowd’s blatant racism, but he’s going to have to hire a few full-time administrators to keep up with the racist garbage on the Facebook page if he has any designs on separating his defense case from it. At least, O’Mara will until the judge in the case shuts the page down, which will hopefully happen in the very near future.
[lead image via The Poet Shazza]