Goal Achieved of 40 Prospective Jurors for Full Voir Dire

Today marked an important achievement at this step of the preliminary voir dire of prospective jurors–the desired 40 candidates have been selected for advance to form full-length voir dire, enabling things to progress the next stage of jury selection.

Judge Nelson dismissed the jurors who did not make it through the first round of questioning.  For those wondering, my quotes notes (subject to correction) indicate that the following prospective jurors are progressing to full voir dire:

B12, B29, B35, B37, B51, B61, B7, B72, B76, B86, E13, E22, E28, E40, E54, E6, E73, G14, G29, G47, G63, G66, G81, H18, H29, H35, H6, H69, H7, H81, H86, I19, I24, I33, I44, K80, K95, M75, P67,  I5.

We’ll be posting a compilation of our notes for each of these 40 in post coming soon.

The announcement of the successful candidate jurors having been announced, we saw a relatively rare appearance by Prosecutor Angela Corey, when she stepped to the front of the court room and directed the courthouse personnel in arranging the chairs for the jurors tomorrow morning.

Robert B. Hirschhorn, Jury Consultant

As an aside, this seems as good a time as any to introduce the Legal Insurrection family to the defense teams jury consultant:

Robert B. Hirschhorn is an attorney and a nationally recognized expert in jury and trial consultation. He is a co-author of Blue’s Guide to Jury Selection, which is currently available from Thompson-West Publishing. Mr. Hirschhorn has been a jury consultant since 1985. In 2005, he selected juries that returned more than $750 Million in verdicts. Those cases include Lexar v. Toshiba (breach of fiduciary duty; $461 Million) and Ernst v. Merck (1st Vioxx litigation; $253 Million). He has also assisted lawyers in many high-profile criminal cases including State of Florida v. William Kennedy Smith (sexual assault charges, not guilty verdict), State v. U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (ethics charges, not-guilty verdict), and State v. Robert Durst (acquitted of murder charges). Mr. Hirschhorn has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, Court TVCNNDateline NBC48 HoursNightline, and many national radio programs. He lectures nationwide to lawyers and judges on the art of jury selection.

The prosecution is certainly sparring against one of the best in his field.

And now to today’s notes re: the prospective jurors voir dired today.

Prospective Juror H81

H81 was in his 50s and perhaps of mixed race.  He is a regular viewer of MSNBC, stated eloquently that, “The [evidentiary] rules of the court protect the presentation of the facts.” He was well aware that there are reasons why certain evidence is excluded and accepted that he would have to set aside information he knew outside the court.

During his questioning by the prosecution it was discovered that he involved in two cases related to a homeowners association that is currently listed in Judge Nelson’s docket, perhaps as part of a legal team for those cases.  Judge Nelson asked him whether that would impact his deliberations in this case and he said “no.” Although there were early reports that he had been dismissed he was later present among the jurors to continue to the next round.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror H69

H69 was a possibly Hispanic woman who likes to read the Wall Street Journal and gets her information from almost nowhere else.  She said she recalls so little about the case that she didn’t even remember the names Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman until she came to jury duty.She remembers seeing the faces of both Martin and Zimmerman on TV screens on occasion and recalls a friend saying the media misrepresented Trayvon’s age when they used old images.

Other than this one conversation she says she recalls absolutely no other mentioning of the case with family or friends. A rare find indeed for a juror.

H69 happily announced she is pregnant with her first child, a baby girl. She is extremely concerned about sequestration and says it would be very emotionally difficult for her family, who she says packs the room at her sonogram appointments, to miss such a long period with her.  Later, though, she said that she could be sequestered so long as she still had an acceptable amount of contact with her family.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror H86

If H69 was relatively uninformed about the case, H86 has practically lived under a rock. A white woman in her 20’s, H86 just bought her first TV two weeks ago.  She doesn’t remember any specific pictures of Zimmerman and Trayvon, recalls no recordings, and says the case has been brought to her attention “maybe 5” times. This includes the 15 second news blurbs during commercials on TV.

What little exposure she did have to the case on the media she further discounted because of perceived media bias. She recalled that 6 months earlier a friend of hers had been falsely portrayed in a news story, and this apparently left a lasting impression.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror I5

I5 is a black man in his 50’s who watches CNN.  He watched HLN briefly but switched away after deciding they were “out of control” and like to “glorify” the news for their own interests. He said their way of reporting the news is “not right.” He commented that HLN seemed to have prosecuted Zimmerman before he had his day in court.

Although he doesn’t prefer the channel his wife often switches to the local FOX station. He admitted, to laughter, that she’s the one that’s in charge of the remote when they’re watching together. He doesn’t have an opinion yet on the case, stating the now-standard, “how can I decide if I don’t have all the facts?” reasoning based on his aforementioned wariness of the media’s reports.

While he was aware of the protests, he didn’t think they were helpful or even appropriate.  He wasn’t aware whether or not Zimmerman had been arrested at the time of the protests, and instead inferred the intent of the demonstrators of hyping up the case generally, which he thought could cause problems and wasn’t likely to help.  He felt that they should “let the [legal] system do it’s job.”

Being African American West made a particular effort to drill in on the racial components of the media exposure.  I5 was pretty firm.  He wasn’t convinced there was a racial aspect of the events that night because he hasn’t seen any definitive evidence of it.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror I14

I14, a white man in his very early 20s, is one of the youngest jurors interviewed, being a junior in high school when the shooting occurred the same grade as Trayvon Martin.  His actual questioning was exceedingly boring, with only a few semi-interesting notes, such as the fact that he gets his news from AOL, whose readership is traditionally retired and older.

His affect was flat and unengaged, and his comments about his friends’ thoughts on the case were substantially more muted than that of the other prospective juror who was in high school at the time of the shooting. Whereas that juror had lengthy descriptions of the Pro-Trayvon and Pro-Zimmerman “camps” at his school, Juror I14 had very little to say on the matter. When asked what percentage of his friends were “pro-Trayvon” he responded “maybe 70 percent.” He also expressed the belief that Zimmerman had done something wrong by “following” Martin.

Following I4s questioning by the defense there was an extended bench conference involving several papers, some appearing to be printouts of Facebook posts. He was dismissed shortly thereafter.

[DISMISSED]

Prospective Juror I19

I19 is perhaps the most overtly pro-Trayvon juror to pass through to the next round. A woman in her late 20’s, at the height of the media scrutiny she was inclined to think that Mr. Zimmerman would go to jail, and hasn’t changed her view since.

Still, she says that she can keep an open mind in the case and has had very little pre-trial publicity exposure.  Interestingly, her mother loves being part of juries, is fascinated by legal cases, and is a bit jealous of her daughter’s summons.

I19’s big issue is whether she can handle sequestration.  She says she has recurring bills that she cannot pay if she doesn’t work. She is also hard pressed to find a person who could easily help her, stating her mother doesn’t make much money and her grandparents are on a fixed income. Still, she has a plan to ask both her employer and her family for help and get back to the court tomorrow with the results.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror I24

I24, a middle-aged white female with grown children, followed the case at first but eventually “just tuned out.”  She heard a report early on that Zimmerman was not injured and learned later that he was.  She cites this as one example of why she doesn’t trust the media.  She said that it’s sad how the media reports what they hear first, then apologize if it’s incorrect, but the damage from the initial report is done.

She also recalled how the first news reports made it seem obvious that Martin was an “innocent young man,” but as time went on it became clear that wasn’t the case.

She summarized the case for the prosecution in the most empathetic way, showing she understood the true emotional difficulties of the situation.  She said, “a young man lost his life and another man is fighting for his life.” and “no one is a winner in this case.”


[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror I33

I33 is a white male in his 50’s or 60’s who watches FOX news. Described as a “folksy kinda fella” from one of the journalists in the court room, I33 “lives in the middle of nowhere” and has a rural flare. When asked if he uses social media he replied, “I just learned how to use email.” Mr. West welcomed him to the 21st century with general laughter and even a smile from Judge Nelson.

I33 knows an average amount for most jurors selected for questioning.  He knows Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin got in a fight, but doesn’t know why, remembers a few pictures from the case, and knows there was a 911 call but doesn’t think he’s ever heard it.

Due to a car injury I33 is not able to work regardless of whether he is sequestered, so the hardship for him is far less than many others.

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

Prospective Juror I44

Apart from watching MSNBC (and CNN), none of I44’s testimony would lead you to believe he was a liberal. A hispanic man in his 40’s, I44 has 3 children ages 1, 10 and 12. Convinced that the news is too negative and depressing he does not allow it to be on around his kids in the house.

While I44 hasn’t formed an opinion, six of his friends are pro-Trayvon.  When asked whether he would worry about how his friends would react to him acquitting Mr. Zimmerman, I44 said that if he loses a friend because he made the right decision, “so be it.”

[PASSED TO GENERAL VOIR DIRE ROUND]

At that point the court recessed until 9AM tomorrow.

Well, that’s it for today’s coverage of day seven 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!