I've seen a tsunami of headlines by the mainstream media this past week about how George Zimmerman has allegedly waived his right to a pre-trial "Stand-Your-Ground" hearing, and speculation on their part that this is yet "another" sign of how desperately week his self defense case is.
As usual, the mainstream media have it completely wrong, on every count.
First, Zimmerman didn't waive anything, he simply let a tentatively assigned date for the hearing go, so the court knew it could use that date for other purposes. He's still free to make a motion for the pre-trial hearing at a later date (subject, as always, to the judge's discretion, but Judge Nelson in the video I've seen certainly seems favorably inclined to such a motion). The actual trial isn't scheduled to begin until June 10. (In the same video one case see the prosecution flailing desperately to have the record reflect some kind of "waiver" by Zimmerman on the issue, but the judge clearly shuts that down.)
Second, the prosecution doesn't seem to really know what it's talking about. Although they refer to the pre-trial hearing as a "Stand-Your-Ground" hearing, there is no such thing under Florida law. Instead, the pre-trial hearing is to ascertain whether Zimmerman qualifies under Florida's self-defense immunity statute. If he does, the charges against him would be immediately dismissed (and, incidentally, he would be immunized against civil claims, as well). When the prosecution can't keep its statutes and pre-trial hearings straight, it doesn't exactly make me think they've got the upper hand on the defense.
Third, there are good strategic reasons why the defense might wish to delay the pre-trial hearing or even to wait until the actual trial to make a motion for self defense immunity, so any such delay or even a "waiver" of the pre-trial hearing does not mean the defense is necessarily weak. For example, it's pretty common knowledge that the prosecution has been "slow-rolling" the defense on discovery matters, and when that's the case it's usually in the best interests of the defense to delay as long as possible, so that they can collect as much discovery as possible, before the "shooting" part of the legal battle begins.
Anyway, I was just completely astonished at how badly the mainstream media had read this thing (although I know I shouldn't have been, it's not like they get much else right, and they want Zimmerman to be found guilty so bad they can taste it), and I thought it might be worthwhile to throw in some informed two-cents, for those who are interested.
For those interested in the legal details backing up everything I've stated above, feel free to take a look at my blog entry on it, which includes all relevant cases and statutes, and even some video of the judge smacking down the prosecution. The blog post can be found here: <a href="http://lawofselfdefense.com/l7pvC" target="_blank">Has Zimmerman Waived His Right to a Pre-Trial "Stand-Your-Ground" Hearing? Learn the Truth.</a>. (Or just use the direct link: http://lawofselfdefense.com/l7pvC