The Eleventh Circuit is the second youngest federal court of appeals in the country. It was created in 1981 when Congress removed Alabama, Georgia, and Florida from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and placed them under the umbrella of a new appellate court. (For this reason, Fifth Circuit cases decided before 1981 remain binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit.) Because the United States Supreme Court hears so few cases, the Eleventh Circuit is effectively the court of last resort in these states, and has the final word in all areas of federal law. For most of its history, judges appointed by Republican Presidents have held a majority among the Eleventh Circuit’s members (when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Republican-appointed judges held a 7-5 majority). In addition, the party of each nominating president only partly explains the court’s composition, because some judges appointed by Democrats have ruled with a conservative judicial philosophy, at least on certain issues. The result is a body of law that tends to limit the rights of those who most depend on the fair provision of justice—employees and consumers, criminal defendants, victims of discrimination—and that favors wealthy and more powerful litigants.
The court’s membership also has a striking lack of racial diversity. Although 25% of people who live within the Eleventh Circuit are African American (more than any other circuit), the court has only one African American judge, Charles R. Wilson. In fact, Judge Wilson’s predecessor, Judge Joseph Hackett, is the only other African American to ever sit on the Eleventh Circuit, and he had been reassigned to the court at its creation in 1981. That means that Judge Wilson is the only African American ever appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, and that the Eleventh Circuit has precisely the same number of black judges now, in 2014, that it did over 30 years ago.
In the Eleventh Circuit, the President has nominated three people so far to fill the four current vacancies: Robin Rosenbaum from Florida, and Jill Pryor and Julie Carnes from Georgia. Jill Pryor was nominated in February 2012 to a seat that has been empty since 2010, but Georgia’s Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, have withheld their support and stalled her nomination. Julie Carnes, a U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia, was first appointed to the federal bench by Republican President George H.W. Bush. Her elevation to the court of appeals is part of a nomination package that includes four nominees to district court vacancies in Georgia, and that would reportedly let Jill Pryor’s nomination move forward. Some advocacy groups, along with members of Georgia’s Democratic congressional delegation, have argued that this package lacks sufficient diversity (only one of the six nominees is African American), and have publicly criticized some of the district court nominees for their records as state judges, legislators, and lawyers. The fourth vacancy, for which there is not yet a nominee, is an Alabama seat that opened when Judge Joel Dubina took senior status last year.
…The predicted future expenses include the Zimmerman’s living expenses and private security as the first two items on the page. A bit further down the page, under the heading “Case Related Expenses” it clearly says “Mr. O’Mara and Mr. West have not been paid for their services. Money has been used to pay rent on office space, for IT support, for staff dedicated to the case.”
So by his own admission Zimmerman did not use the Legal Defense Fund donations to pay his attorneys. He spent the majority of the money on living expenses for himself and his wife, who was just paid more than $4,000 for one months living expenses out of the defense fund money. Wow. Here’s a question: Did Zimmerman’s lawyer drop him because he’s a bad client with a bad history that just keeps getting worse, or did he drop him because he’s collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for his “legal defense” and not bothered to pay him a dime?
George Zimmerman has been taken into custody in Central Florida after an incident involving a gun with another person at the home of his estranged wife’s parents.