RJ and NM_NM: nice find and IANAL.
I think the more interesting discussion would be how police departments/municipal governments could plan to respond to “social change organizations that seek to harness advocacy campaigns to news stories”.
The “success” of such groups, as evident in this case, suggests that future events will try to be run on a parallel course, and that is visible in current news in Florida. I don’t think the leadership in Sanford ever got ahead of the news cycle or were able counter the unsubstantiated claims from the unfriendly press. The city leadership’s delay in seeking to obtain more certain information was likely perceived as stalling by the public based on the inputs from the unfriendly press. This gave more credence that the Sanford leadership had something to hide in the process. I think the only option the Sanford leadership really had was to schedule the grand jury inquiry much earlier, and force those involved to put their evidence (or lack thereof) on the record. That would have included Julison, Crump, W8/RJ as well as the remainder of TM’s family. As I understand the Grand Jury process, they would not have had legal representation while providing testimony, which may have been interesting as well, because it would have limited Crump’s role as the spokesman.
I think the grand jury might have answered some of the more puzzling parts of this case, such as the following (though I believe the grand jury proceedings are sealed so we would not be aware of the answers):
1. Resolution of the widely claimed but doubtful interaction (? meeting/ ?telephone conference) on the night of the event between the senior police leadership and GZ family.
2. A more precise timeline for W8/RJ from being identified up to the full accounting for the initial interview, including a complete and audible copy of that first interview by Crump/Julison.
3. A better understanding of the “what, when, where, how and why” of TM’s trip to Sanford, and his activities for the several days before the incident.
4. More information on TM’s school history was than revealed in the trial.
A Florida grand jury in March 2012 should have been able to sort out the facts of the case, as compared to the claims that were presented repeatedly in the press without much critical assessment. The grand jury would have been able to assess the credibility of W8/RJ and SF, the two prosecution witnesses with the closest ties to TM. They also could have assessed the credibility of the various witnesses from the townhouses on the night of the event. At least I would hope they could sort those out, because 6 Florida jurists in July 2013 were able to do that, with some help from the defense team.
The grand jury option would have put the prosecution in an interesting position. The prosecutor allegedly has the ability to “indict a ham sandwich” through the grand jury process (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_juries_in_the_United_States
retrieved 20140227); however in this case, the prosecution (before Corey et al) might well have considered a “no bill” to be reasonable since it supported their assessment of the case. The grand jury option may have offered a much earlier endpoint for the case without much downside given the eventual outcome and the multidimensional costs of the case. (http://www.nysun.com/editorials/zimmermans-bill-of-rights/87790/