NewsNation | April 12, 2012
>> the first court appearance, it is only of course the beginning of what could be a long legal process . the next step is an arraignment where zimmerman is expected to plead not guilty. he will then be entitled to a hearing where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to support his claim of self-defense. if there is, he will be granted munlt. if not, both sides will start preparing for a trial. joining me now, nationally syndicated talk show host , msnbc contributor michael customsmerconish. we heard he will try to have bond set for mr. zimmerman at a later date. he said in a few weeks. as you pointed out to kerry, in his own words, not wanting this case to be piecemealed. he doesn't want the information being leaked out or made accessible to the media to add to the fuel of the fire that is certainly simmering with this case.
>> and of course, that's understandable from his standpoint. and prosecutors typically aren't trying to fuel the interest of the public or even the media. where he will have a problem will be with the judge if as and when media organizations challenge it. as kerry was mentioning, florida has a very strong public records act. i would be very surprised if this judge decides to keep things under seal. some of this has come up in very high profile cases before, including the michael jackson case . including at times the kobe bryant case which you may recall. and at the end of the day , keeping stuff under seal as was discussed by the defense lawyer won't be nearly so easy later on as it is right now.
>> and we know that when a person is charged with a felony in the state of florida , their conceals weapons permit is automatically suspended. some had wondered about his license, if he is able to get out on bond. that's one fact. what do you make of this court appearance? this is the video for the first time yesterday. we saw him with his head covered. now this man who has been the focus of so much attention is standing there with his attorney.
>> as you've pointed out, it is the first step of what will be a several step process. i happen to think the most critical juncture will be that evidentiary hearing where stand your ground is argued. and as you pointed out, the whole case could disappear at that juncture. and kendall can correct me if i'm wrong but i think it is a more likely than not burden, as opposed to a reasonable doubt. it is less of a burden that needs to be shown for that immunity to kick in. and i think that's really going to be the key sequence.
>> let me get your insight in on that. you've heard the questions being directed to mark o'mara in relation to comments that trayvon martin's mother sybrina fulton's mom made this morning on the "today" show. granted, she and her former husband have done miles and miles of television interviews. we would have to follow up and ask her exactly what she meant by that. you heard mark o'mara saying he wants to question her. what she thinks happened, accident or not. is that relevant? she wasn't there.
>> it's not relevant at all and it obviously has traction in the court of public opinion . inside a court of law you won't hear her put on the stand to talk about her inadvertent statement that it was an accident. we have to recognize, people are exhausted. none of us can imagine what that family has been through or the family of george zimmerman . so of course people will misspeak. we should all be somewhat forgiving of that and certainly no judge is going to punish her by putting an inadmissible comment of an anguished mother.
>> when mark o'mara wants to talk to her, he would not have any reason to question her. help me understand that comment.
>> florida is a very unusual state in the criminal law sense that we have depositions in state criminal proceedings . so he could try to take her deposition. find out what she knows. he could ask her about that perhaps in a deposition. there may an fight whether that deposition would be taken but normally he would have the opportunity to take her deposition prior to trial. the real question will be, he asks her about it and she said i said it. i didn't mean it and it goes nowhere from there. she doesn't have direct admissible knowledge.
>> and again, the heart of this obviously is the evidence and it is what, not what was said. but benjamin crump who is representing the family. let me play what mr. crump had to say.
>> it is real clear from the objective evidence that we know in those 911 tapes, george zimmerman got out and pursued trayvon martin. even against the instruction of the 911 dispatcher. we have always believed that for whatever reasonering confronted trayvon martin when he had been told not to.
>> i've just received a statement from the martin family spokesperson e-mailed to msnbc. and it says, i read it here. earlier today i made a comment to the media that was later mischaracterized. when i referenced the word accident today with regard to trayvon's death, in no way did i mean the shooting was an accident. we believe that george zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood . the accident i was referring to was the fact that george zimmerman and my son ever crossed paths. so now you have this poor family having to explain after doing all of these interviews here because people are so quick to zero in on whatever side they believe.
>> there is more unknown than known in this case.
>> but we know she wasn't there. people know she was not at that scene.
>> but there's such a thirst for information. perhaps we want to rush the process. it was inartfully said and that's probably where it will end.
>> again, one more time for reiteration here. nothing she said in that interview despite what mark o'mara referenced in that news conference can be used in any relevant way in this case, correct?
>> correct. he is truly attempting to use it in the court of public opinion . it won't be admissible in a court of law .
>> back to this stand your ground case which we've talked so much about. i want to play angela corey, the special prosecutor , on fighting the stab your ground cases in florida . let me play her last comments.
>> we fight hard. some of them we've won and we've had to appeal them. or the defense has appealed and we've won it on appeal. some we fought hard and the judge ruled against us. that has happened to prosecutors all over the state. justifiable use of deadly force as we all knew it before stand your grounl was issued was still a tough affirmative defense to overcome. we still fight these cases hard.
>> and we know that the nra has a big conference tomorrow. part of this, if the root is the trayvon martin killing, some of the branches certainly, the stand your ground law. this has become part of the dialogue with this case and the nra and other lobbyists regarding this law. is that fair to blend the two?
>> well, i think it is probably, the net effect of this will be that states will re-evaluate having that on their books all across the country. that might not be such a bad thing. it is unfortune that it has taken an incident like that to have this kind of dialogue. i don't think stand your ground will suit zimmerman if he was the one who provoked all of this. which is why i continue to think whose voice you're hearing calling for help is outcome determinative. i don't think see how george zimmerman can successfully articulate the stand your ground defense.
>> i guess in a more artful way, let me ask. you have people who legally own guns who say progressives, liberals, whomever they choose to point the finger at, are always looking for a way to remove their gun rights and this conversation of the nra being intertwined in this case is wrong. what do you say to those folks who feel like this is another accuse for the liberals to come after them?
>> i'm a firearm owner. i'm sensitive to all of these issues. it has bothered me in the way in the last three years, there have been all these false alarms about how people are coming or the your ammunition. they're coming for your guns and your gun rights . none of the above has hampden.
>> michael and kendall, thank you again. to reiterate the process, what should the audience who are compelled to watch this case be looking for as the next most important move.
>> let's focus on the bond hearing which will be in the next couple weeks. that will be a big deal . it will require the state to some significant extent at least give us a summary of what they think their best evidence is. as well as address some of the issues. that will be a big deal and it will be very interesting.
>> thank you very much. you're hosting "hardball" tonight. we'll be watching for you live. and