Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.

O’Mara -“The client always calls the shots,” his lawyer, Mark O’Mara said Thursday.

George Zimmerman. Photo by Seminole County Sheriffs / Wikimedia Commons.


One of the most contentious issues in the field of criminal defense is how to handle the difficult client.

Many lawyers are like Mark O’Mara and devote their efforts to assisting their clients to make informed decisions. I have seen some lawyers, for example, ask a jury to sentence their client to death because that is the outcome the client desired.

I have seen too many people change their minds after being sentenced to death, so I decided long ago to refuse to facilitate a client’s desire to commit suicide.

For some reason, I have had more than my share of difficult clients where we disagreed on strategy and desired outcomes. I refused to allow the client to drive the bus over a cliff and, if it came down to irreconcilable differences, I moved to withdraw.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I think he needs to withdraw because there is basically nothing he can do at this point without potentially placing himself in danger. GZ is not going to listen to him anyway, so he might as well get out of the case. He needs to recognize that his dreams of fame and fortune have turned to dust. There is not going to be any money for him and he needs to get out while the gettin’ is good.

Now, back to the question of who should call the shots.

I firmly believe the lawyer has to call the shots with input from the client, obviously. According to the rules of professional conduct, the client only gets to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty and whether to testify or not testify. The rules provide that the lawyer has the responsibility and the duty to make the other decisions using independent professional judgment in the best interests of the client.

In my professional opinion, O’Mara is abdicating that responsibility when he says the “client calls the shots.” Having said that, I do not believe that he would have succeeded in getting control of GZ, if he had attempted to do so. He certainly cannot do it now.

Regardless whether a person believes GZ is guilty of murder in the second degree or not guilty by reason of self-defense, I believe everyone needs to realize that GZ is a volcano waiting to explode, despite no trial date having been set. The pressure, anxiety and fear will only increase geometrically as the case gets closer to trial.

Ask yourself if you would show up without your lawyer dressed in a tee-shirt and jeans to meet Barbara Walters and her film crew to do an interview for her show, The View, and at the last possible moment try to change the deal to get ABC to pay for a month’s lodging in a hotel with a security detail.

Think about that. Who does something like that?

Consider also that he reactivated his website (therealgeorgezimmerman.com) Thursday after his disastrous interview with softball pitcher Sean Hannity on Wednesday night , after basically complaining that the website that O’Mara established for him was,

(1) failing to correct distortions and falsehoods published by the media (even though his games to hide the internet donations and his contradictory and false statements have been the source of most of what has been reported);

(2) failing to get his message across; and

(3) failing to raise enough money to fund his lifestyle, security detail and pay his lawyer’s fees.

This is crazy behavior that does not bode well for the future.

I believe he is going to crack before too long as he realizes that his support is evaporating and he sees the bills rising and the walls closing in. I believe he may take his own life, commit suicide by cop, or he may take the life of another who pushes his button.