Today the Court continued its preliminary questioning of prospective jurors, moving through seven candidates by the end of the day.  As was the case yesterday, questions were limited to how much exposure the prospective juror had to the case through the media and other channels, as well as how that may have impacted their opinion of the case

Dismissed Zimmerman juror escorted from courthouse after trespassing

Perhaps today’s most interesting news happened outside the court room. Juror E7, since identified by media sources as Jerry P. Counelis, who was dismissed from the jury pool on Wednesday for apparently misleading the court, was back at the court house today. We’ve done a separate write up just on Mr. Counelis, so if you’re interested in more just click the link in the header above.

Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of my Son, George

Another unexpected bit of news today was the release by Robert Zimmerman, George’s father, of an e-book entitled as in the header above, covering the travails of his son through the current crises. I’ve downloaded a copy to my Kindle, and will comment as soon as I’ve had some time to “flip” through it.

 

Housekeeping:  Frye hearing, juror

Before getting into the heart of jury questioning, Judge Nelson sought to resolve some housekeeping matters.   As has been the pattern, she first asked Zimmerman to stand, and than inquired if he was present for, and satisfied with, his counsel’s handling of jury selection.  (Interestingly, she was prompted by the State to place this question to Zimmerman, and thanked them for the reminder.) He said that he was.

Next she asked the State and defense when they were prepared to wrap up the Frye hearing left uncompleted last week.  Both sides seemed caught off-guard, being completely focused on the jury selection process.  The prospect of completing the Frye hearing on Saturday was raised, but the State quickly put in that they would be unable to appear that day.  Judge Nelson appeared irritated at the lack of preparedness to deal with the matter decisively, and after some give-and-take–mostly the Judge Nelson giving and the lawyers taking, as is the nature of such things–there was a lengthy bench conference.  The outcome of this is not known, but my sense is that we can expect the Frye hearing to wrap up sometime next week.

Finally, she released a group of 23 prospective jurors who had “survived” to the next round of voir dire.  They were told to return to court next Tuesday, and admonished to not discuss or research the case in the meantime, nor access any news about the case.  Of the 23, 19 were women, 4 were men, and three of the group were black.  Talk around the court house is that both sides want to bring 40 prospective jurors into the next round of voir dire, in anticipation of heavy attrition.

Prospective Juror G29

A 30-something black woman, G29 is a fan of the Philips Phile on 104.1 in Orlando, a liberal talk radio show that had Al Sharpton on while he was in town.  Like nearly all jurors that have made it through the questionnaire round she says she does not have a firm opinion of the case and is willing to set it aside any knowledge of it that isn’t presented in court.  Her recollection of the event was more slanted than the other jurors, recalling that Mr. Martin “went to go buy something from the gas station and Mr. Zimmerman perceived him to be a threat so he got out of his car and started harassing him.  He thought he was perhaps racial profiling, that’s where I got the whole race thing from. ”  She recalled that the Facebook comments she saw were “favorable to Mr. Martin.” She said she had no problems being sequestered for the duration of the trial. She also affirmed that she would base her verdict on the evidence presented in the court room. Interestingly, it was then revealed that she had posted her summons to appear for jury service on her Facebook page. When asked why, she simply said, “it was just something to do.” She also mentioned that she’s lived in Seminole county for only the past 8 months. She recalled the shooting being described as either murder or an accident, and did not mention hearing self-defense as a possible explanation.

Prospective Juror G47

An early 20’s white male  wearing a collared shirt and vest, G47 was unemployed at the time of the event but since began working at a restaurant, which promoted him to assistant manager just one work day before his jury duty began.  Despite this, he takes considerable ownership of his job, calling the cooking equipment there “his” and referring to “his employees.” He struck this observer as rather pretentious, and not someone I would want to be sequestered with for four weeks or more. Humorously, G47 conditioned many of his statements with such phrases as “not really,” “probably,” and “for the most part.” Each time it caused West to pull up short and dig in, resulting in an experience not particularly enjoyable for anyone involved. West was apologetic, but determined. Somewhat disturbingly, G47 suggested that the “defense might have to prove Zimmerman’s innocence,” but also claimed to not yet have arrived at an opinion on the case.

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Prospective Juror G63

Another young man in his 20’s or early 30’s, G63 is currently unemployed and of “mixed race,” being parts German, Philippino, Chinese, and Spanish.  Despite having a few minorities in his ancestry he does not believe race is a factor in this case. G63 has also formed no opinion of the case, and can offer little knowledge of events or subsequent proceedings.  He did recall looking up “Stand Your Ground” but was unsure if that was before or after he became aware of this case.  He also mentioned the Castle Doctrine and self defense law in general, though when asked could not remember any details of any of these concepts. He knows the case inspired some debate about “gun law,” and he recalls hearing that someone high up in the criminal justice system had been fired for mishandling the case by not promptly arresting Zimmerman.

Lunch Recess

Prospective Juror G66

A retired white female from Chicago, G66 had a great mid-east accent and the courtesy, openness, and kindness to go with it.  Often joking with both lawyers and laughing aloud, she still made sure to add a “sir” to every no or yes response. She indicated that she watches the news every day, and that she wrote the whole timeline of what happened on her questionnaire. She recalled seeing a picture of Martin with his hoodie on, and feeling sorry for him. She said she also felt sorry for Zimmerman when she say his injuries. Her recollection was that a neighbor called the police to report a “scuffle, and then she heard a shot.” Supporting the speculation that she based this recollection on having heard the Witness #11 911 recording, she said he heard the screams on the 911 call but has not decided who she thinks it is. She said she would base her conclusions on the facts in evidence at trial, and that she had not yet formed an opinion either way. She indicated that she could manage the issue of sequestration.

Previously dismissed E7 is escorted off court house property around this time.

Prospective Juror G81

An African American male in his 30’s or 40’s, who lives less than 1/2 mile from the scene of the shooting and often brought his kids to play in a park just across the street from the complex.  A complex political character, he listens to both Ed Schulz of MSNBC and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. G81 portrayed the two sides of the case uniquely, saying his friends saw it either as a “tragedy” or “typical” depending on which side they were on.  He recalled that Martin looked 14 or 15 in the photos he saw. When asked to expand on this, he pointed to the fact that too many African American males die violently each year in this country, and have since the days of Jim Crow and even slavery. G81 also saw the case not just from whether Zimmerman “did the right thing” but whether the Stand Your Ground law in the state was a good law.  On how the media portrayed the episode he said “At first it was a shock that a young man was shot and it was permissible here in Florida.”  He thinks the case will be decided based on whether Zimmerman properly met the limitations of Stand Your Ground.

Prospective Juror G87

G87 is a white woman who works at a school very close to the scene of the incident, likely at Bentley Elementary School across the street.  She recalls things that perhaps someone only close to that location would, such as tour busses arriving to offload people to go to a memorial for Trayvon that included teddy bears and balloons. She recalled seeing photos of Zimmerman showing that ‘there were cuts on the back of his head.” She noted that this was her first time as a prospective juror, and humorously added that “it’s been spectacular.” After her questioning she was permitted to leave, and it seemed was most likely dismissed.

Prospective Juror H6

A white man in his 30’s or 40’s, H6 is also described as “big.”  He was rare in describing the media as slanted toward Mr. Trayvon early, but becoming less biased as time went on. He began to doubt the narrative that Mr. Zimmerman was at fault when he saw the pictures of him with injuries to his face and head. He sais he hasn’t formed an opinion about the case, and recalls hearing that Zimmerman called the police to report that Martin was “someone suspicious.” He also recalled hearing Zimmerman on the non-emergency call to the police and thinking that “he sounded like he was concerned about his neighborhood.”

At that point the court recessed until 9AM Monday, June 17.

Well, that’s it for today’s coverage of day five of the Zimmerman trial. Be sure to check back in then, as well as during the weekend to see if any news occurs during the interval.


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense” which shows you how to successfully fight the 20-to-life legal battle everyone faces after defending themselves (second edition shipping in June – save 30% and pre-order TODAY!).  Many thanks to the Professor for the invitation to guest-blog on the Zimmerman trial here on Legal Insurrection!