Five Questions for State Attorney Angela Corey

By: Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida
By: Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 14, 2012 -

Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida

Angela Corey is the state attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville. She's also the special prosecutor in the case of George Zimmerman, whom she charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. She was tapped for the latter post by Gov. Rick Scott, who also included her on his transition team, as did Attorney General Pam Bondi.

First elected in 2008 and re-elected without opposition in April, Corey "is known for her tough tactics, locking up criminals for long sentences and not negotiating easily on plea bargains," the Associated Press said in one story.

She's also no stranger to the spotlight. Currently sparring with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz over the Zimmerman case, Corey has also been the focus of outrage in Jacksonville for charging a 12-year-old as an adult and for the 20-year sentence of Marissa Alexander, who fired a gun during a domestic dispute.

In this interview, it was agreed, the Alexander case could be discussed since Corey's role in is over, but she declined to discuss the ongoing Zimmerman case.

Even without the Zimmerman case, the News Service of Florida still came up with five questions for Angela Corey:

Q: What's your take on the recent Tampa Bay Times analysis of 192 "stand your ground" cases [which found differing dispositions of similar cases]?

COREY: We, I believe, are pretty consistent – or we have been on my watch. We carefully document the breakdowns. We monitor these very carefully. And we do disposition statements saying why we're not filing charges when someone uses deadly force, whether it's a law enforcement officer, a civilian or anyone who's been arrested. We document why we are or are not filing the charges.

Q: Marissa Alexander pleaded "stand-your-ground" for firing a gun during a dispute with her husband, Rico Gray. Why did she get 20 years under 10-20-Life?

COREY: This law gives prosecutors and police – not "stand your ground," but the affirmative defense of justifiable use of deadly force – and if it's done with a gun, then great discretion under 10-20-Life to thoroughly investigate and review a case. To thoroughly analyze the status of your victim. If they don't live, then where did the bullet enter? How close was it? What was this? What was that? We go through all of that...

So we as prosecutors who know all the facts, all the circumstances – we've subpoenaed their life history, their records, we've looked at the seven-pound trigger pull [in Alexander's case], the this, the that, the other – we've looked at all of it. And then we're able to weigh our need to protect society – and our need to protect, like in Marissa Alexander's case, not necessarily Rico Gray Sr., but our other two victims that everybody forgets to talk about – two innocent children who were shot at.

Q: You've been accused of bias. [Jacksonville Congresswoman] Corrine Brown said she'd never seen an African American in her jurisdiction benefit from invoking "stand your ground."

COREY: We handle them the same way here, without regard to race, creed, color or anything – and without regard to gender. And I'll tell you why. Because if all else is equal, and it was the man firing the gun at a woman standing there with two kids, no one would even blink an eye. So women who want to carry guns – like I do, like several of my female friends do – you want to be trained and carry a gun, then you have to have the requisite responsibility that goes along with that. And then after you've chosen to fire your gun, then you either did it and can prove you did it to save your life, or you should be able to face the consequences.

Q: Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander are exceptionally high-pressure cases. How are you holding up?

COREY: I'm doing great. You know why? We know we're doing the right thing for the right reason. We know that truth comes out in a courtroom. And we're responsible for making sure not only that the truth comes out on behalf of our victim, but that due process is honored on behalf of the defendant.

I'm dealing with another domestic violence murder, this time where the boyfriend killed the girlfriend, and that defendant has asked to meet with me three times – even though right now we're seeking the death penalty on him. He is literally on the record, asked the judge, "Can I meet with Miss Angela Corey?" And the judge goes, "Now, you know she's the prosecutor." And Kevin goes, "Yes, sir, I want to talk to Miss Angela." And I've met with this murderer, literally chair-to-chair, face-to-face – with his lawyer there – telling him what he's up against, why we're prosecuting him, just all sorts of things. Do you really think a murder defendant would want to have a personal conversation with me if he thought we were just railroading him?

Q: What kind of gun do you carry?

COREY: I carry a 38-caliber, only for life-threatening conditions. But remember, now, prosecutors are law enforcement officers. And so we have a lot of danger in this job. We are very big advocates of the Second Amendment….As lawyers sworn to uphold the Constitution, we believe in the Second Amendment. We want people to be able to carry whatever they deem appropriate as long as they are trained, as long as they don't endanger citizens or police officers, and as long as they carry their weapons within the bounds of the law. That's all we've ever asked of anybody. And it's only when they go over the line that we have to prosecute.

NSF: Something tells me you're a good shot.

COREY: I'm a very good shot.


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