Zimmerman will ask Fla. to pay some bills

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 28, 2013 at 12:48 am •  Published: August 28, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman's attorney said Tuesday that he is going to ask the state of Florida to pay for some of his client's non-lawyer legal bills, including for experts, printing and court reporters, and that the price tag could reach $300,000.

Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin. The decision in the nationally televised trial touched off protests across the country.

Since he was found not guilty, Zimmerman is entitled under a Florida law to recoup the defense costs, minus private attorney fees, said his lawyer Mark O'Mara. It also says that any costs already paid can be refunded with the approval of a judge, he said.

"I just think it's patently unfair that the state by overcharging a case they could not prove at trial gets to cost either Mr. Zimmerman, or me, or the donors a whole bunch of money that they're not responsible for," said O'Mara, who also said the defense team has not totaled the expenses yet.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

To receive trial expenses, Zimmerman's attorneys must submit them with the Judicial Administrative Commission, which is the state's agency that reviews them and decides what expenses are reimbursable.

When Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder in the death of her daughter in 2011, the JAC paid more than $100,000 of the expenses incurred during her defense. But it also refused to pay about $12,000 of submitted costs.

The State Attorney's Office has not received a motion on the reimbursement of costs, but if it does it will respond in court, said spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard.

O'Mara, who normally bills at $400 per hour, said neither he nor any of his fellow attorneys have been paid. At O'Mara's rate alone, for 40 hours per week and 16 months of work, his costs would be more than $1 million.

Though he and his fellow defense lawyers took the case pro bono, he said after all the money issues are settled, he'd like to be paid something. State statute on acquittal fees prohibits Florida from paying for privately secured counsel. So any pay for the lawyers' services would likely come from money they are seeking to recoup from prosecutors.