Zimmerman Attorneys Among Speakers at Law Review Symposium

Zimmerman Attorneys Among Speakers at Law Review Symposium

Attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West, both central defense figures in the 2013 George Zimmerman murder/manslaughter trial, will be among the speakers at a Feb. 21 symposium, “Florida Self-Defense & Ethical Prosecution in the Wake of the Zimmerman Trial” at Barry University School of Law in Orlando.

The symposium, sponsored by Barry Law Review, will cover topics such as jury selection and perception, ethical prosecution, and several issues related to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.

Other speakers include: former Florida Sen. Steven Geller, former U.S. Marshal Tom Hurlburt, former NYPD Officer Dennis Bootle, and attorneys Ken Rhoden, Diana Tennis, Carey Haughwout, Mimi Smith, Scott Santos, and Cynthia Schmidt.

The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and includes free continental breakfast and lunch. Symposium attendees are eligible to receive 6.5 CLE credits. There is no charge for attendance or CLE registration. 

Please note that seating is very limited.

To RSVP as a guest and register for CLE credits, contact Symposium Editor Nicholas Reider at nicholas.reider@law.barry.edu.


More about the symposium speakers:

Mark O’Mara

Mark O’Mara has been practicing law for 29 years. In 1979, he earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida, and in 1982 he received his J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law. O’Mara specializes in family law and criminal defense. He is Board Certified in both Marital and Family Law and Criminal Trial Law. He is a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and Circuit Civil Mediator. His family law representation includes all areas from child-related matters such as paternity, parenting plan formation, time-sharing, and relocation, to financial matters such as support issues, equitable distribution and modification of existing orders. O’Mara has taught at the University of Central Florida and has hosted several seminars for the Central Florida Family Law American Inn of Court, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, and for the Florida Family Law Practice for Paralegals program. He has served as President of the Seminole County Bar Association and as President of the Central Florida Family Law American Inn of Court. Mr. O’Mara is nationally recognized for his involvement in the 2013 trial of George Zimmerman, in which he represented Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.


Don West

Don West is a veteran criminal defense attorney practicing in state and federal courts. He has been board certified by the Florida Bar since 1987 as a criminal trial specialist and has broad experience representing those accused of white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex offenses, and homicide, including those facing the death penalty. West served as co-counsel representing George Zimmerman in his 2013 trial.  West is a former president of the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a former director of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100. He was the first recipient of the Joseph DuRocher Footsoldier of the Constitution Award.  West is also the former Senior Litigation Counsel for the Federal Defender’s Office and supervisor of its Capital Defense Team. He has continued to live in and practiced criminal defense law out of Orlando, Fla., for more than 30 years.


Tom Hurlburt

Former United States Marshal Tom Hurlburt has served in the public safety arena for more than 40 years. Hurlburt was a member of the Orlando Police Department for 28 years, holding every rank from police officer to chief of police. Upon retirement as police chief, he was appointed Director of Public Safety for Orange County by former Mayor Mel Martinez. In that role, Hurlburt was responsible for the management and overall direction of the Orange County Fire Department, the Department of Corrections, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Drug Free Community Office.  Hurlburt served as Director of Public safety until he was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as the United States Marshal for the Middle District of Florida. He continued to serve in this capacity under President Barack Obama until retirement.  Hurlburt is a graduate of Rollins College, the FBI National Academy, the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston, Mass., and the FBI National Executive Institute in Quantico, Va. He is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum and the recipient of the National Distinguished Leadership Award as well as many other national and local awards.


Ken Rhoden

Ken Rhoden has been a resident of Brevard County since 1975. He attended Brevard Community College, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida in 1983, and then from the Florida State University College of Law in 1985. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1986.Rhoden has nearly 30 years of experience aggressively representing thousands of clients in death penalty, first-degree murder, capital sexual battery, robbery, burglary, drug trafficking, and many other felony and misdemeanor cases. He spent 12 years working in the Public Defender’s Office (Brevard and Seminole counties) and has been an owner and manager of the largest and most experienced criminal and family law firm in Brevard County for the past 15 years.


Mimi Smith

Mimi Smith is the Managing Attorney of the State Farm Claims Litigation Counsel Office in Orlando, Fla., an active litigation firm. She earned her J.D. from the University of Florida, where she also received a B.S. degree in Business Administration. While she has practiced law for more than 22 years, she has only held two jobs. Smith was an Assistant State Attorney at the Orange County State Attorney’s office for more than a decade and has been an insurance defense attorney with State Farm Insurance Company for the past 12 years. She has tried more than 100 jury trials, including criminal and civil cases. Smith has been the Managing Attorney of her firm for the past five years, and currently supervises 29 employees, including 10 attorneys.


Scott Santos

Scott  Santos was an Assistant District Attorney in New York City from 1987 to 1992 — when the city experienced its highest homicide rate. He has investigated homicides and openly disagrees with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as it is written. After leaving the District Attorney’s office,  Santos entered the private practice of insurance defense in New York, before relocating to Florida. He has done various insurance and criminal work, including prosecuting a case against the City of Cocoa stemming from the death of a man who was beaten by police officers and subsequently died.


Steven Geller

Steven Geller served in the Florida House of Representatives for nine years and the Florida Senate for 11 years (1988–2008). When he retired from the Florida Senate, he was the Senate Minority (Democratic) Leader. Geller has received several awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Justice Award, the Lifetime County Advocate Award from the Florida Association of Counties, and many additional awards from interest groups such as teachers, PTA, police, firefighters, municipalities, and disability groups. The “Senator Steven A. Geller Autism Treatment Act” was named for him. Geller is currently a close political advisor to his old college friend, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. As a senator, Geller argued against the passage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in its current form. After the George Zimmerman trial, Geller was interviewed in the national and local media, and has served on various panel discussions focusing on Stand Your Ground.


Cynthia Schmidt

Cynthia Schmidt is the Director of the Center for Law and Policy at the University of Central Florida. She is a faculty member in the Department of Legal Studies and is the Head Coach of UCF’s Moot Court Team. After practicing criminal defense for 14 years, she became an educator, beginning her teaching career at Boone High School in Orlando, Fla.  She has taught the law to high school students and college students for the past 10 years. As an assistant Public Defender, she won the Franklin Graham Award in 1994 for her diligence and passion in defending the indigent. As an educator, she was awarded second place in the nation by the American Lawyers Auxiliary High School Law Related Education Teacher of the Year.  Her most recent work at UCF includes serving as a facilitator for the Blue Ribbon Panel in Sanford, Fla., assessing the strengths and challenges of the Sanford Police Department regarding community relationships.


Dennis Bootle

Dennis Bootle graduated from the FBI National Academy, 146th session. He received his bachelor’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, N.Y. He was employed at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice from 1982 to 1999 as Director of Defensive Tactics Training and an adjunct professor. He held several positions for the New York City Police Department from 1972 to 2006 including Commanding Officer for the Cold Case Homicide Squad in Brooklyn and Staten Island, Commanding Officer for the Brooklyn North Warrant Squad, and Chairman of the NYPD Defensive Tactics Unit. He has studied martial arts for the past 54 years, and is highly regarded in the martial arts community as a Black Belt in several areas of martial arts.


Carey Haughwout

Carey Haughwout has been a Public Defender for Palm Beach County since 2001. She has practiced criminal law since 1983 and is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Haughwout has served at the request of Florida Govs. Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush on the Domestic Violence Clemency Panel and served at the request of the Supreme Court on the committee that proposed minimum qualifications for counsel in capital cases. Her efforts have been recognized with the ACLU Harriet S. Glasner Freedom Award, The Lord’s Place Ending Homelessness Award, the March of Dimes Women of Distinction Award, and the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Professionalism Award. She is a past president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has served on the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, the Florida Bar Criminal Rules Committee, and on a variety of local committees dedicated to the improvement of the system of justice. In addition to the administrative duties of managing a 200-employee law office, Carey maintains an active trial practice of homicide cases.


Diana Tennis

Diana Tennis has been practicing law in Orlando since graduating with honors from the University of Florida School of Law in 1992. After spending two years with the Public Defender’s Office in Orlando, she opened her own firm focusing on criminal defense and family law. She first gained widespread media attention through her pro bono representation of Kenny Taylor, who was wrongfully accused of being “the tourist rapist.” After his exoneration, she was compared in the press to Atticus Finch, the lawyer from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She has been involved in many high-profile cases, including a police shooting death penalty trial; a client who was acquitted of killing her parents; and the acquittal of Caryn Kelly, who was accused of shooting her boyfriend in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood. Diana has provided legal commentary to various local and national media outlets, including Fox News, HLN, Court TV/TruTV’s In Session, and CNN. Until her filing to run for Circuit Court Judge, Diana was the regular legal commentator for Fox 35, covering the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials “gavel to gavel.”