Orlando attorney Mark O’Mara, who took on George Zimmerman as a client in one of the nation’s most racially-charged and high-profile murder trials and won his acquittal, is now the subject of an ethics complaint for how he handled the case.
Few details are available, including who filed the complaint and what allegations O’Mara is facing, but the Florida Bar today confirmed that its staff is investigating a complaint and has made no determination as to whether it’s one for which O’Mara should face possible discipline.
O’Mara could not immediately be reached for comment.
It’s become clear over the past several months that his relationship with Zimmerman has soured and O’Mara has worked to distance himself publicly from the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer.
Twice in the past three months, when police were called to the scene of a domestic dispute involving Zimmerman, O’Mara has announced that he would not represent Zimmerman should any new criminal charges be filed.
Zimmerman became a household name shortly after he killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, during a confrontation in Sanford Feb. 26, 2012, a homicide that set off civil rights rallies in Sanford, across the country and beyond.
O’Mara, a respected $400-an-hour criminal defense and divorce attorney in Orlando, volunteered to represent Zimmerman at no charge a few weeks later.
O’Mara discovered a short time later that Zimmerman and family members had created a legal defense fund, one that would eventually generate more than $400,000 in donations, money that now appears to have all been spent.
Once he learned about the fund, O’Mara made clear that he hoped but did not expect to be paid for his work on the case.
Zimmerman’s trial ended in Sanford July 13 when a six-woman Seminole County jury acquitted the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer of second-degree murder.
During its lead up, O’Mara and West complained about the conduct of prosecutors, especially Bernie de la Rionda, accusing him of hiding evidence. De la Rionda lodged a similar counter-claim with the trial judge, Debra S. Nelson in Sanford, but she has taken no final action on either set of allegations.
The Florida Bar reported today that neither de la Rionda nor co-counsel John Guy currently face ethics complaints related to the Zimmerman case.