Suspicion Nation Interview with Publishers Weekly, “And Justice For All”

by Wendy Werris

In summer 2013, civil rights attorney and legal analyst Lisa Bloom covered the trial of George Zimmerman—who was accused of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.—for NBC. Halfway through the proceedings, Bloom had an “aha” moment that planted the seed for her forthcoming book, Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (Counterpoint, Feb. 26).

“I started to notice there was a great deal of very powerful evidence in the case that the prosecutors weren’t arguing,” Bloom says. “One of the most important pieces of evidence came from Zimmerman’s videotaped reenactment for the police, where he states that Trayvon saw his gun, holstered behind his right hip, and reached for it during their scuffle, which is why Zimmerman shot him.” But Bloom, who reviewed the evidence and watched each day’s proceedings during the trial, realized that it wasn’t possible for Martin to have seen the gun—because it was holstered behind Zimmerman, who was lying down and also wearing a shirt and a jacket. “I watched this over and over again and thought, how did they miss this? And what else are they missing?” Bloom says.

It turns out they were missing plenty—so much so that when Bloom flew home after Zimmerman’s acquittal, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. “I really couldn’t let it go,” she says. “A lot of people feel this case was an injustice, but they’re told that the jury system played out and the man was acquitted. But I’m here to say it was an injustice, and from a lawyer’s view inside the courtroom, I can show you what happened—how, by the last week of the trial, the evidence went in one direction, and the prosecution in another.”

Bloom has been a civil rights lawyer since 1986, and she has covered trials for CNN, the Today Show, and MSNBC for nearly 20 years, in addition to having her own show on Court TV. She says she wrote the Suspicion Nation in less than four months, working around the clock. “I wanted to do it right away, while this issue is still very much pressing in people’s minds.” Bloom’s book includes a great deal of new information, which she uncovered after interviewing Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantell, who testified during the trial, as well as one of the jurors on the case, who told her about what went on in the jury room. “My book has a lot of behind-the-scenes information, and it’s going to surprise a lot of people about the evidence that was there and that the prosecution missed,” Bloom says. “The state of Florida bungled the case from prosecutor to closing arguments to judge.”

It was natural for Bloom to take up civil rights law when she graduated from Yale law school. Her mother, attorney Gloria Allred, is a lawyer known for representing celebrity clients and taking on women’s discrimination cases. Her father, Peyton Bray, was “a hippie radical until his last days—a great, fierce independent thinker and the smartest guy I ever knew,” Bloom says. “He would give me books about anarchy inscribed, ‘To Lisa, Smash the state! Love, Dad,’ when I was 12 years old.” Bloom’s law practice in Los Angeles focuses on domestic violence, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination cases. The Bloom Firm includes four attorneys—“all of them women,” she says with a smile.

The corporate law route never appealed to Bloom. “There are plenty of lawyers happy to do that who are well paid,” she says. “I wanted to do something I believed in and cared about. I wake up every morning and I’m excited. We go up against fleets of lawyers with their investigators and publicists, so we have to be smarter and more nimble. But we can beat them, and we do.”

Suspicion Nation also delves into the issue of racial profiling in the U.S. “It runs rampant in our system,” Bloom says. “Also, our lax gun laws mean there are too many people like Zimmerman who have guns and use them with little accountability.” As part of her research, she visited the scene of the Martin shooting, in Sanford. While there, she began to question another aspect of Zimmerman’s defense: he said that Martin banged his head repeatedly on the concrete, prompting him to shoot the teenager in self-defense. “Trayvon’s body was found on the lawn, a substantial distance from the concrete. That negates part of the self-defense story. Zimmerman’s head injuries were not consistent with his head repeatedly hitting concrete.”

In her book, Bloom recounts several incidents similar to the Martin shooting that have occurred since then. “And those are just the ones that have gotten publicity,” she notes. “Racial profiling is everywhere. It doesn’t just happen in Sanford, but also in Michigan and Wisconsin and New York City. A lot of this is reminiscent of trials from the civil rights era in small towns in the South, where a white person kills a black person and walks.”

Bloom is passionate about finding ways to prevent more crimes—and trials—like Zimmerman’s. “We need more black prosecutors, for one thing,” she says. “Only about 5% of them are black. Prosecutors are more powerful than judges: they decide whether to charge a person or not, what to charge the defendant with, which plea bargains will be offered, and how sentencing is determined.”

Suspicion Nation also suggests that judges should reconsider how they give jurors instructions before each trial. “For instance, a judge could say, ‘Most of us, including myself, are [racially] biased in one way or another. Set aside these biases while you’re serving on this jury. Change the race of the person on trial in your mind and see how that affects your judgment.’ ”

Suspicion Nation is set to be published on the second anniversary of Martin’s death, and it will be the first book about the Zimmerman trial. “The Trayvon Martin case is iconic, one that people will be studying 30 years from now,” Bloom says. “And as I discuss in the book, [the verdict] was almost preordained. I wanted there to be something on record that explains what happened and why it went wrong. This was different from a lot of cases I’ve covered—much bigger than just these two guys on that dark night in Sanford, Fla. It really had struck a nerve.”

6 thoughts on “Suspicion Nation Interview with Publishers Weekly, “And Justice For All”

  1. I have just watched you on MLP show. You have the right take on the current subject (Stand your ground). I hope I am not being redundant here.?? I believe one might like to look at these cases from another view point. What if I didn’t want to fight against the “Stand your ground” law in that state and yet I had to represent the state in this matter, more then once now.!!
    How would I go about trying, but not too hard to win.??
    Who ? would I (if in charge) pick to prosecute the case.??
    I have now seen this play it’s self out twice now and have come to the same end result. I could not believe the lack of passion.
    I am a 68 yr old white male, and I hardly have the words too describe the lack of interest by the Florida AG, ADA, assistant junior associate to the manager of meaningless tasks, assigned to these cases.??? Thanks for your insight and time.
    Rodney B.

  2. I always believed Zimmerman was lying, and one big factor that led me to that conclusion was the fact that he and his defense team made a big issue of his head being bashed into the concrete over and over again – even going so far as dropping a huge chunk of concrete on the courtroom floor. Yet Zimmerman was not IMMEDIATELY taken to the hospital for a CT scan to check for possible bleeding on the brain? Did he even have a concussion from this repeated pounding? Head injuries are not to be taken lightly, as the symptoms might not become apparent till later.

    • Please refer to the on-scene bloody nose photo of George Zimmerman in the police car (the one where the camera is so close it magnifies the size of his nose) …

      Why didn’t the Prosecution explain the gravitational phenomena that GZ purported to (of being punched and straddled) ?:

      Q: What position would a person have to be in to have blood flow from the nostrils to the tip of the nose?

      A: Full vertical upside down (i.e.: dangling from their toes)

      The EMS Report (Mucous Membrane NORMAL) and page 3 of the Physician Asst’s Report document that there was NO blood in Zimmerman’s nostrils. The minor bleeding was exterior and from stippling — concentrated residue blast imbedded in the tip of his nose. To have the residue cause bleeding the gun had to be EXTREMELY close — recoil close. Zimmerman shot with his non-dominant RIGHT hand and the gun recoil hit the RIGHT side of his nose bridge. DNA evidence shows that Zimmerman’s blood was found on the grip of his gun.

      So, there goes half the “brutal assault” out the window and Zimmerman’s self-serving story about a broken nose while refusing to have an x-ray taken or an ENT check. As for the head injuries that didn’t require a single suture, the Physician Asst’s testimony:

      O’MARA: If you saw those wounds, would you clean them off and put bandages over them?

      FOLGATE: I would likely have them cleaned and if the patient desired, I would put a bandage over them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bandaged, but there would be no problem with doing that to keep certain debris out of the area.

      Brutal assault?

      I had posted this earlier along with some other “stuff” I’ve noticed about the Zimmerman trial … as comments to the following article:

      • I’m having trouble posting this elsewhere, so I’ll post it here:


        Paid expert Di Maio’s whole “bombshell” testimony was to state that Trayvon Martin had to be on top of Zimmerman because, based on the gunshot wound forensics, Trayvon’s hoodie was “PULLING AWAY” from his body at the time of the gunshot.

        It was “pulling away”, but not because Trayvon Martin was on top leaning over George Zimmerman.
        No, it was George who was on top:

        Zimmerman was straddling TM. He fired his gun and receives minor stippling wounds to the tip of his nose which then bleed downward mostly toward his lips. But from his nose tip, a drop falls onto the hem of Trayvon’s UNDERshirt (which, when upright, would have been under the zipped hoodie, but Trayvon is not upright — he’s on his back). The location of this blood is documented by the DNA Analyst Anthony Gorgone (Stain A on TM’s undershirt). For the blood to fall on the exposed hem, Trayvon’s shirt and hoodie would have to be pushed up (bunched in his chest area) as Zimmerman straddled him. Add the can of ice tea in TM’s pocket to the equation and you have fabric being “LIFTED OFF” the site of the gunshot.

        This accounting matches the DNA evidence, the minor injuries to GZ and all witnesses who (except for the non-credible John Good) placed Zimmerman on top with TM on the ground screaming for help.

        It’s not the first time “paid expert” forensics pathologist and gunshot expert Dr. Vincent Di Maio has been accused of tailoring his testimony for those that paid for his services. He testified for the DEFENSES in the Phil Spector and Drew Peterson murder trials. How can a gunshot expert not mention the gunshot stippling to George Zimmerman’s face?? How can he only repeatedly mention a scenario where TM is on top and leaning and the hoodie is “pulling away”???? It’s no surprise to learn that some are calling for Di Maio’s license to be revoked.

        Also: Please google “George Zimmerman boots police station photos”. George has grass clippings and water staining up the toes and tops of his boot only -> none on the heels of the boots.

  3. Thank you for writing “suspicion nation”. Zimmerman was telling the truth, just not the whole truth. There were inconsistencies in his story line like the position of the gun holster, or the head injuries inconsistent with the number of hits he claimed he received.
    The most important piece of evidence was written by George Zimmerman himself in his police narrative.
    George revealed what really happened that night. Yes, Trayvon Martin pummeled him. Trayvon Martin went from fleeing the scene (GZ “shit he is running!”) to attack because Zimmerman approached TM with gun in hand. And he took the gun out when he got out of his car. Read between the line and he revealed that in his police statement.
    He is a right fighter who became punitive. Trayvon was killed for no other reason than Zimmerman enforcing his personal standards onto others.

  4. There are so many things the prosecution did not address. Banging the head repeatedly(20-30 times per GZ) on the pavement and only two minor abrasions, no stitches required, no concussion ever confirmed. Why didn’t prosecution show photos of people who’ve had their heads smashed on or by a hard surface/object? The broken nose myth. The broken nose was never confirmed, but was repeatedly mentioned in the trial as fact. Why didn’t prosecution point this out or point out that GZ never went to a doctor for his injuries (he only saw a PA in order to get clearance to go back to work) debunking life threatening injuries? The getting out of the car to find the address when the address was on the house next to where he parked. Plus he stated when he was out looking for the address that he walked down this way, but didn’t see him (Trayvon) suggests he was looking for Trayon and not address. Why didn’t prosecution hit on this? The seeing and reaching for the gun story could’ve easily been debunked with an in-court demonstration. And the whole timeline? Why didn’t the just run a side-by-side comparison of the actual phone call and GZ’s next morning reenactment (plus his written statements) to dispel his preposterous stories?

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