A Nashville prosecutor denies charges in a new report that he has been involved in a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct. John Zimmermann was listed by the Center for Public Integrity as a “recidivist prosecutor” who often has broken legal rules in pursuing cases. The report includes references to mistakes by Zimmermann, including his censure in 2002 after the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a murder case that he prosecuted.
The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville notes that much of the center’s criticism of Zimmermann is taken from a brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by six former prosecutors on behalf of Abdur’Rahman. The brief accused Zimmermann of misconduct, although the state Supreme Court held that Zimmermann’s actions constituted “harmless error” that shouldn’t lead to the reversal of the killer’s conviction. The brief argues that prosecutors withheld evidence showing that Abdur’Rahman’s coat did not contain blood, a point that would have been crucial to the inmate’s defense.
Zimmermann questioned the intensity with which the researchers viewed the Abdur’Rahman case, suggesting they ”were too lazy to look under the covers, to kick up a rock and look under there.” He disputed that he withheld evidence from the defense, and he pointed out that the issue had been thrown out by a federal judge. “It would gall me most to hear that a lab report was withheld and shows that the other guy is the real killer,” Zimmermann said. “But when you find out that he (Abdur’Rahman) confessed, and find out that it is a non-issue… All we’re concerned about is that the right people get punished.”