If you support capital punishment, perhaps this isn’t all that alarming. But there seems to be a strong correlation between jurisdictions that send a lot of people to death row and jurisdictions where we later discover a lot of prosecutor misconduct and troubling flaws in the criminal justice system. Here’s a passage I wrote last year about Duval County, one of the counties in Corey’s jurisdiction:
Corey’s indictment of Zimmerman was widely criticized by defense attorneys and legal scholars. One prominent critic was Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. According to Dershowitz, Corey responded to his criticism by threatening to sue him, to sue Harvard University, and attempting to have Dershowitz disbarred. (She has threatened to sue other public critics as well.) She has also been accused of withholding exculpatory evidence in the case, then firing the IT worker in her office who exposed that evidence.But Corey has a controversial history beyond the Zimmerman-Martin case. She’s the prosecutor who won a 20-year prison sentence for Marissa Alexander. The 31-year-old Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault with a [deadly] weapon after she fired a warning shot from a gun at her abusive husband. A state appeals court granted Alexander a new trial in September. Corey won a similar conviction against Ronald Thompson, a 65-year-old man accused of firing warning shots into the ground as some teenagers attempted to force their way into a home belonging to his friend. She has also received criticism for charging a 12-year-old with murder for beating his 2-year-old brother to death, then attempting to try him as an adult.Duval County was where 15-year-old Brenton Butler was wrongly charged, tried, and ultimately acquitted in the beating deaths of two tourists. His story is the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Murder on a Sunday Morning.” In 2007, Chad Heins was finally cleared of the 1994 murder of his sister-in-law after serving 13 years in prison. Billy Joe Holton may well also be innocent of the 1986 murder for which he was convicted. Last year a judge re-sentenced him to time served plus probation, allowing him to go free. His attorneys are still working to exonerate him completely, over objections from Corey’s office.Florida also has an odd tradition of electing its public defenders. The current head public defender for the district that includes Duval County is Matt Shirk, a guy who ran on a platform of cutting funding to the office [and] billing indigent defendants who are acquitted for legal services, and was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police (an odd endorsement for a public defender). One of Shirk’s first acts was to fire a large portion of the office staff, including the attorneys who had worked to expose the innocence of Brenton Butler.
Corey also isn’t much of a fan of the First Amendment.
Corey’s misdeeds in the Zimmerman trial were mostly buried under all the racial and political fallout from that case. There were even criticisms that she wasn’t aggressive enough. That’s unfortunate, because there’s compelling evidence that her conduct in that case is consistent with her conduct in the day-to-day cases that don’t attract attention from the gun debate, the race debate or the national media. And the people on the receiving end of that conduct are more likely to look like Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis than Michael Dunn.