But Aames soon went into bankruptcy, and for three years nobody was paid. Zimmerman’s attorney got sick and retired.
The case was dead for over a year until two days before Zimmerman’s arrest this past April, when Pantas filed a status update to the court saying that he recently learned through the bankruptcy trustee that in July 2011, Zimmerman was paid the full $18,000.
“No fees were deducted, and Mr. Zimmerman retained the entire amount of the check,” Pantas wrote.
His court update was filed a day before two lawyers who had been defending Zimmerman on the murder charge publicly quit. The two dropped the case when, among other things, they learned Zimmerman had launched a website soliciting donations separate from the legal defense fund the attorneys were creating with Zimmerman’s dad.
The lawyer who handled the overtime case said he never got paid for the 100-plus hours his firm billed for the case. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Pantas said Zimmerman did what anyone else would have done: He cashed the check.
“It’s up to the bankruptcy trustee who they pay and who they don’t pay,” Pantas said. “I had health issues and had better things to worry about. What’s the point of being bitter?”
He stressed that other associates of his now-defunct firm handled the case, and he has no recollection of Zimmerman.
“I don’t remember the guy at all, and I don’t even know if I ever met him,” Pantas said “I don’t want to remember him.”
State corporation records show the company Zimmerman sued is no longer in business.
Prosecutors handling the case declined to comment on whether they think the matter would be relevant at Friday’s bond hearing.
Trayvon Martin’s family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said the incident underscores what Judge Kenneth Lester wrote when he first revoked Zimmerman’s bond: Zimmerman “does not respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process.”
“I think a $10,000 sanction is huge; they don’t sanction you for nothing,” Crump said. “I think it should be taken into consideration by the judge, because this has to do with whether he is going to appear in court when he is supposed to.”
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 killing. Zimmerman has claimed self defense.
His case became so controversial that when Zimmerman turned to the Internet for online donations, people contributed over $200,000. But Zimmerman didn’t tell that to the judge at his bond hearing, and so his bond was revoked, and his wife was charged with perjury.
His current lawyer, O’Mara, said he didn’t find out about the money raised on the web until days after Zimmerman was granted bail.
In his court ruling earlier this month, the judge said the state’s evidence in the case is strong, and Zimmerman’s chances for bond are hurt not so much because of the money, but because a past arrest and a domestic violence injunction weigh against him.
“Mr. Zimmerman’s failure to disclose to the court the existence of the donated funds at the initial bail hearing was wrong,” O’Mara wrote, “and Mr. Zimmerman accepts responsibility for his part in allowing the court to be misled as to his financial circumstances.”