National News

'Improper' for officials to slam justice system after Kate Steinle verdict, Mark O'Mara says

Posted December 2, 2017 10:51 a.m. EST

— It's "horribly improper" for politicians to attack the American criminal justice system, a top defense attorney told CNN after President Donald Trump slammed the not-guilty verdict in the case of an undocumented immigrant accused in the shooting death of a California woman.

Jurors in the Kate Steinle case "did what they were supposed to do," Mark O'Mara told CNN's Michael Smerconish, adding that critical politicians should "leave our criminal justice system alone."

"The reality is the system works, and it should not be denigrated by people using it for political back-and-forth" O'Mara said Saturday. "I think it is horribly improper and degrades the process for any politician, be it POTUS, the attorney general or anybody else to come in and attack the system when it works."

Trump this week slammed what he called a "disgraceful verdict" in the Steinle case, which he seized on during his presidential campaign as part of his call for tougher immigration policies.

"The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!" the President tweeted Friday morning in the wake of a jury's acquittal of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times before the shooting.

Also following the verdict, Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned San Francisco's sanctuary city policy.

"San Francisco's decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle," Sessions said.

Steinle's story has been prominent in Republicans' push for an immigration overhaul -- including a bill passed by the House this summer titled "Kate's Law," which proposes harsher punishments for illegal re-entry into the US.