She Botched the George Zimmerman Trial, but Will Angela Corey Get Re-Elected in Fla.?

Race Watch 2016: This series examines the local races that matter, even if they aren’t in the news. In this first installment, we look at Florida State Attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit Angela Corey, famous for losing the George Zimmerman case in the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin.

Angela Corey, Florida state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit
Angela Corey, Florida state attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit Win McNamee/Getty Images

If you live in one of the 10 or so swing states for the 2016 presidential election, about 12 hours ago, you started getting bombarded with zillions of ads.

Whether they’re ads suggesting that Marco Rubio is an absentee senator or ads in which Donald Trump is promising to build a wall against Mexicans or Martin O’Malley is reminding you that he’s still actually running, their goal is to make you think the presidential election is the only important one in the country. But it isn’t.

Throughout 2016, The Root will be running a series called Race Watch 2016, in which we will highlight local races, policies, elections and issues that may not be getting national press but still deserve attention. We encourage you to write, donate and get involved in each of these elections. It may be your district, or maybe not, but whatever happens in these races has an impact on us all. 

What’s the Election?

Florida, like many states, allows voters to elect local state attorneys. State attorneys are incredibly powerful and influential when it comes to issues of justice, jurisprudence and basic maintenance of rights, especially for African Americans. For every Marilyn Mosby who makes the nation exhale that perhaps justice will be done, there are literally hundreds of other state attorneys who don’t take their jobs seriously, who don’t perform their duties with integrity and whom voters should really consider in terms of whether or not they serve their communities.

Who’s Running?

Angela B. Corey, to represent Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit, covering Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.

Corey’s name has faded into history over the last several years as high-profile cases with horrific videos have dominated the news, but her office is at ground zero for some of the most egregiously incompetent trial failures in recent history. Corey’s office prosecuted the horribly mismanaged trial of George Zimmerman, in which both her strategy and the effort of her office to secure a conviction came into question.

Since she was functioning as an objective officer of the court, no one expected her to pull a Chris Darden when Zimmerman got off, but you would have thought she was going to the Zimmerman team’s after-party, given her smirking, glib press conference after the trial. Corey also initially failed to get a murder conviction against Michael Dunn, who shot into a car full of black teenagers at a gas station, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis, because he thought their music was too loud. (Dunn was later convicted in a retrial.)

Despite Corey’s ambivalence or incompetence in pursuing justice for the killing of unarmed black teenagers at the hands of white, cisgender male vigilantes, she seemed to have no problem seeking first a 20-year, then a 60-year sentence against Marissa Alexander, a black woman who fired warning shots to stave off her abusive husband. Corey has one of the lowest legal ratings of any state attorney in Florida, and when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit makes an episode about your shoddy legal work and has to add in a Paula Deen character to hammer home the point, perhaps it’s time for local voters to consider other options.

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