Reuters recently reported that the former Director of Information Technology for the Florida State Attorney’s Office plans to file a whistleblower action in Florida’s Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court against the prosecutors who handled the George Zimmerman case. Those prosecutors are Angela Corey, State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, and Bernie de la Rionda, an assistant state attorney.
CNN reports that Ben Kruidbos was placed on unpaid leave and then fired on July 11 following his June 6 testimony at a pre-trial hearing in the Trayvon Martin case in which he said that Martin’s cell phone contained images of Martin blowing smoke, images of marijuana and deleted text messages regarding a transaction for a firearm and that those images had not been given to Zimmerman’s defense team.
According to Kruidbos, he noticed that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone was missing information in late 2012 or early 2013. Apparently he was able to generate a report that was more than three times the size of the one that prosecutors handed to Zimmerman’s defense team. Kruidbos says he was concerned that defense counsel was entitled to more information, and took his concerns to a State Attorney’s Office investigator and Angela Corey’s assistant prosecutor in the case, Bernie de la Rionda.
Obviously unsatisfied with the response from de la Rionda, Kruidbos then used his attorney, Wesley White, to inform Zimmerman’s team about the missing information.
Defense attorney for George Zimmerman Mark O’Mara corroborated Kruidbos’s version of events, saying: “The only way that we really found out about it … and the only way that we really found out about the intensity of the failure to give us information was when a person from their own office, a whistle-blower, came forward and said, ‘I gave them that information in the middle to end of January’ and we didn’t get it until June 4th.”
The information from Martin’s cell phone was ultimately ruled inadmissible by Judge Debra Nelson because the state successfully argued that there was no way to know whether Martin had taken the photos or sent the texts. But the judge did not close the possibility of imposing sanctions against the prosecutors at the conclusion of the trial. According to Reuters, a ruling from the judge on whether the prosecution committed any Brady violations is pending.
Kruidbos’s attorney told Reuters that the whistleblower suit will be filed within 30 days. We will update you when the suit is filed, which should be within the next two weeks.