Federal Criminal Lawyer Jennifer Mayer Reacts To Continuance In George Zimmerman Trial

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Zimmerman's defense team issued a motion, which would be accepted, to postpone a docket sounding hearing until October 3rd.

George Zimmerman and his defense team made a decision this week that could delay the beginning of his trial even further. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman and his team moved to postpone Wednesday’s docket sounding until October 3rd, a motion which judge Kenneth Lester jr. accepted. A docket sounding is a routine hearing where the court sets important dates for the upcoming trial.

According to federal criminal lawyer Jennifer Mayer, there are a number of reasons that either side could ask for such a continuation. “You’d postpone a status hearing for a lot of reasons,” says Mayer. “If you wanted to do further investigation, if you wanted to consider a plea agreement, or if your client just needed more time to think over how they want to proceed in the case.”

In terms of what needs to be done for the court to accept such a motion, Ms. Mayer explains that it is typically fairly routine for these types of motions to be accepted as long as the movant has shown good cause. “If there is an investigation that still needs to be done,” says Ms. Mayer, “and you can show the court that you’ve made a diligent effort to complete investigation up until that point, but you simply need more time for reasons outside your control. That would be one example of good cause.”

While this motion will give the defense team more time to organize their defense and conduct investigations, it is not necessarily a no-brainer. Ms. Mayer explains the potential downside of this continuance for the defense team:

“Either side can ask for a continuance,” says Ms. Mayer, “and if they show good cause, the court generally grants it. There is a danger to a defendant asking for a continuance and that is that every defendant has the constitutional right to a speedy trial. When you’re the one who asks for a continuance, you waive that right. If the prosecution doesn’t bring you to trial within a reasonable time, you can raise that as a defense to the charges themselves later one. However, if you’ve asked for a continuance and you are the reason it’s been delayed, you are waiving that defense later on.”

As for the effect of this particular move on the trial at large, or if it constitutes on or both sides showing their hand, Ms. Mayer helps explain its significance. “It means that both sides now have time to do some further investigation. It could also mean that one or both sides are considering making or accepting a plea offer in the case. “

Jennifer Mayer is a Washington, D.C. based white collar attorney. Please contact us for more information about this case and others like it.

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