Attorneys for George Zimmerman were back in Seminole County court Thursday, this time taking up Zimmerman's civil lawsuit against NBC, whom he claims portrayed him as racist in reports following the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.
It's been nearly a year since Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in July 2013. He did not appear in court Thursday, but an attorney from Philadelphia was on hand to argue that the lawsuit should move forward, despite NBC's motion to throw out the suit.
Zimmerman filed the lawsuit in December 2012, saying NBC aired an edited version of the call he made to 911 right before his confrontation with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The actual 911 call, made the night of Feb. 26, 2012, went as follows:
George Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining, and he's just walking around, looking about.
911 Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
But a version of the audio aired by NBC trimmed that dialogue to just Zimmerman saying:
This guy looks like he's up to no good … He looks black.
The network ended up firing three producers.
Still, attorneys for NBC argued Thursday that the First Amendment protects their reporting, because the reports aired about a month after the shooting, and by that time, George Zimmerman was already a "public figure."
None of the three attorneys representing NBC Universal would comment following the hearing.
Judge Debra Nelson, who also presided over Zimmerman's criminal second-degree murder trial, is now considering whether to throw out the rest of George Zimmerman’s defamation lawsuit against NBC Universal.
Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled Thursday Zimmerman could not continue to pursue damages against a reporter formerly with an NBC Miami station, because that reporter was not legally notified of the suit ahead of time. Zimmerman sued NBC before his criminal trial last year, accusing the network of airing several reports he says were edited to portray Zimmerman as racist.
But attorneys for NBC want the entire suit dropped, arguing Zimmerman was considered a public figure when the reports aired, and they are protected under the first amendment.
The judge is expected to make a ruling within the next few weeks.