April 11, 2012

George Zimmerman's Lawyer's Dadaist Press Conference


Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. Attorney in Miami, said it is unusual for attorneys to hold a news conference to explain why they no longer are representing a client.

“The lawyers have every right to withdraw, but it’s highly unusual, and it will be controversial, for counsel to describe their client’s erratic behavior,” said Coffey, who is now in private practice. “In the court of public opinion, the press conference was not helpful for George Zimmerman.” — Zimmerman’s lawyers withdraw from Trayvon Martin shooting case (Detroit Free Press)


These photos make a good case for why Washington, and other big cities, are filled with communications and PR consultants. With George Zimmerman’s legal status in limbo, and nobody running the show, this press conference/photo op with Zimmerman’s limbo lawyers offers one of the stranger collections of otherwise standard press conference images I’ve seen in a while.


In this day and age, the way scenes like this are so carefully optimized, we’re conditioned to expect every person and element in the background has his/her/its place and meaning. Here instead, it’s like the event on the lawn in Sanford served as some kind of cosmic magnet pulling in elements — the power fist; the young Black gentleman with the shirt “singing out”; the maybe-injured, maybe not-injured white guy (maybe random bystander? maybe there for tech support?) on the rolly cart; presenting a Dadaist mashup of symbols sort-of resonant with the case.

It goes without saying (though, curiously, we hardly ever state it here) that top-flight wire photographers are highly trained to look for and capture anything novel that takes the physical action and scenery of a story informed by the political and cultural facts and personalities involved to deliver the stickiest visual fodder for both eye and brain. In this case, these lawyers basically winging it, this is what came out in the blender.

Is there really nothing here to take away, though? With the State’s self-defense law at the heart of the ambiguity surrounding Mr. Zimmerman, maybe it’s fair to say this collection of elements actually well captures Florida as a political oddity.

(photos: Joe Raedle/Getty Images. caption 3: Hal Uhrig, right, and Craig Sonner, former attorneys for George Zimmerman, speak to reporters during a news conference to announce that both attorneys had quit as Zimmerman’s legal representatives in Sanford, Fla. , Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Zimmerman is a neighborhood watch volunteer who authorities say fatally shot an unarmed teenager. The men said have withdrawn as his counsel because they haven’t heard from him in days and he is taking actions related to the case without consulting them.)

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Michael Shaw
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