CLICK HERE FOR LIVE COVERAGE OF THE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12

(Note: Link goes live when Court goes into session.)

Today the Court continued its preliminary voir dire of prospective jurors, moving through 11 candidates before recessing right at 5PM.  As was the case yesterday, voir dire was limited in scope to matters involving pre-trial publicity.

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Thoughout the overall voir dire process both the State and the defense will each have the ability to strike an unlimited number of jurors for cause (meaning some conflict of interest or other reason they are deemed to be unable to be fair and neutral), but each side has only 10 peremptory challenges (that is, each side can strike 10 jurors without having to give any reason whatever).  We can expect each side to husband its peremptory strikes carefully, but one also never knows if the juror whom you peremptorily strike today will look wonderful compared to the prospective juror who is next in line.

At the lunch recess a spokesman for the Court announced that 41 potential jurors had been dismissed as of Monday.  Apaprently  40 of these were dismissed based upon their responses to the juror quesionnaires, and the final dismissal was the humorous older gentleman with the bad hearing from yesterday (“I’d rather B30 than be 65.”)

It was striking today, as well as yesterday, at how effectively the juror pool has been poisoned.  Many of the prospective jurors recall Martin as a “boy” or “child,  rather than the robust 17-year-old 6-foot-plus football player he was, and others recall how Zimmerman had “chased him down,” a perception with absolutely no evidentiary foundation.

Now, to a quick replay of today’s preliminary voir dire:

Prospective Juror B7:  My Father Thought Zimmerman Could Have Avoided Fight

The first juror was B7.  He described how his father felt that the fight between Martin and Zimmerman had been avoidable, that Zimmerman had instigated the fight, but perhaps not to such an extent to constitute murder.  He recalled that Zimmerman had “chased” Martin.  He expressed concern about potential backlash from friends and family if the verdict was unpopular.  He also said he would be very concerned if juror anonymity was violated.  Both the State and defense took considerable time in questioning By, suggesting they both had substantial concerns.

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Prospective Juror B35:  African-American fan of Shaun Hannity & Bill O’Reilly

Next up was B35.  Later described by television commentators as an African-American man, he said that he watches the national FOX station for his news information.  In particular he said he watched Hannity at night, sometimes also O’Reilly—later he referred to them as “Shaun” and “Bill.”  He expressed resentment that the whole affair had been made into a “racial thing.”  He also recalled hearing that Zimmerman had “chased Martin down.”  He emphasized again that maybe both Zimmerman and Martin were at the “wrong place at the wrong time,” and that he didn’t think it was racially motivated.  He recalled that NBC had tampered with the recording of Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to police to make it sound as if Zimmerman, rather than the police, had been concerned with Martin’s race.  He said he did not approve of AL Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Jr. “saber rattling”.   He recalled the TV news saying that Zimmerman claimed he was screaming for his life, and that Zimmerman claims he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him.  B35 noted that all his friends and family are pro-Martin, and that he’s alone in not yet forming an opinion.  He also spoke of recalling seeing pictures taken at the jail of Zimmerman’s head injuries.  “When I saw the scars, I thought he got a pretty good beating, that it was a rough fight.”  He also recalled seeing the photos of Trayvon as a young boy.  When questioned by West, B35 said that he “can count on one hand the number of people he knows who have not yet made up their mind,” and that he thought that the people who believed that Martin was killed simply for “walking while being black” were wrong.

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Prospective Juror B37:  3 dogs, 4 cats, a parrot, crow w/ one wing, two lizards . . oh, and two daughter

Next up was B37, a female.  She had a humorous degree of disdain for the press, indicating that her only “use for newspapers is for the parrot’s cage, that’s a better use than reading,” and that the “newspapers are just not truthful.”  She recalled rioting in Sanford, people picketing, lots of news media, when the case first began to receive heightened attention.  Her recollection of the event was that “an unfortunate incident happened,” and indicated that she had “not formed an opinion.”  When asked directly whether she trusts the media, she responded, “I do not.”  She said that she had many pets, including 3 dogs, 4 cats, a parrot, a crow with one wing, and two lizards.  Also, two daughters.  When asked about here recollection of the victim, she indicated that he was a “boy of color,” in his late teens.  She recalled that Zimmerman had been involved in a scuffle, late at night, and a “boy” had been killed.

Prospective Juror B51:  Fact that Zimmerman “didn’t wait was a problem”

Next up was B51, described by reporters as an older white woman.  She indicated that she recalled some basic facts about the case, including that Zimmerman was in Neighborhood Watch and had a gun permit.  Unusually, she also indicated that she was a newspaper reader.  She indicated that she had not formed an opinion about the case.  She said she found the case “sad” on both sides, and that the loss of life is always sad.  She expressed surprise that the neighborhood watch in Zimmerman’s neighborhood was so active and organized.  When asked if Zimmerman had been doing something wrong being in the Neighborhood Watch, she said, no, “he was doing what he was supposed to be doing.”  She also recalled reading that Zimmerman had been told not to follow Martin, that the police “asked him to wait . . . I’m thinking he didn’t wait was a problem . . . he didn’t wait.” Asked by West if she thought Zimmerman had done something wrong, she responded, “No. Perhaps he did.  Yes,” for not waiting on the police.  She indicated that she is open to changing her mind if presented with contrary evidence:  “I’m not closed minded.”  She was aware that some people felt that Zimmerman was not arrested quickly enough, and that’s why the police chief was replaced.

 Prospective Juror B55:  College student, would have to cancel summer trip to Dubai

The first post-lunch prospective juror was B55, described as a young woman in her 20s  who appeared “child like” to observers.  She said  she found out about the case on Facebook, where she got the bulk of her news information..  She recalls hearing that an African-American had been wearing a hoodie.  She indicated she knew little about the case, and wasn’t interested because “it doesn’t concern me.”  She is a college student who just finished her summer classes, and may be planning a trip to Dubai or India in late June (which trip would obviously not be happening if she were impanelled).

Prospective Juror B2:  Dismissed after 5 minute bench conference

Next up, only briefly, was juror B2.  Described as a middle-aged woman she went straight to the bench and spoke with Judge Nelson and the attorneys in private.  After about 5 minutes she was dismissed without questioning.

Prospective Juror B65:  Asked about recordings, responded “What recordings?”

B65 was the next prospective juror, described as an African-American woman in her late 30s.  She indicated that she heard about the case in her church, her primary source of news, and that her pastor led prayers for the Martin family.  She says she has lived in Sanford for 16 years and heard the name Zimmerman for the first time yesterday.  She has no internet, no cable TV, and can’t recall hearing much about the case.  She also had not seen a picture of Zimmerman until yesterday, but recalled seeing Martin’s picture on T-shirts at church.  She said she did not know what Trayvon looked like nor how old he was.  She was aware that Trayvon “was the one who got shot.”  When asked if she had heard any of the recordings from the case, she answered, “What recordings?

Juror B86:  “Raising my kids alone wasn’t the problem, ex-husband was the problem”

The next juror was B86, described as a white woman in her 30s.  She’s an actual newspaper subscriber who said that it was “kind of hard not to follow the case, it’s everywhere.”  She described how she felt the “media blows things out of proportion.”  She also recounted that her kids had joked about the skittles Trayvon had been carrying at the time.  She recalled hearing that Zimmerman followed Martin even though police told him not to, and that the teenager was shot in a scuffle.  She also recalled seeing the bloody Zimmerman picture, stating that “it looked like a broken nose,” and as if “something severe happened.”  She also recalled that the photo showing the injuries had not been shown until “much later.”  She recalled hearing the 911 recording and thinking that she couldn’t tell who was screaming, Zimmerman or Marin.    She recounted how she had heard that Martin had been suspended from school, because she herself was involved in school disciplinary matters.  She is unwilling to say that she can guarantee that she can put the fact of the suspension out of her mind.  When questioned by O’Mara she said, “Yes,” she would be OK with deciding the case based solely on the evidence at trial.  Asked about raising her now-adult kids she responded, “They weren’t the problem . . . the ex-husband was.”   She also mentioned that her son was in town only for a couple of months in the summer and being sequestered could be difficult.

 Prospective Juror E6:  “Neighborhood watch could be either a good or bad thing.”

The next prospective juror introduced a letter change, being identified as E6.  She was described as a white woman with a  blonde ponytail who appeared nervous.  She said she heard about he case on the local news about when the shooting happened.  She indicated that she saw “a headline here and there,” but didn’t’ follow the case closely.  She told the State that she always takes the news “with a grain of salt”, and that she was confident she could judge the case on the evidence.  She said she has two children, 11 and 13, and that she would not allow them to “walk around at night.” West questioned E6 for the defense.  She said she was working full-time when the confrontation occurred, and didn’t recall any pictures from right after the shooting.  She said she didn’t particularly follow this case, and that “I’m not one to just sit in front of the TV.”  She was aware that Zimmerman had been a neighborhood watch person, and when asked said she thought that neighborhood watch could be either a good or bad thing.  She did recall seeing a picture of Zimmerman’s bloody face, “just the one basic picture, the same picture I think they always flash.”  She also said she’d heard the recordings of both Zimmerman’s non-emergency call and the Witness #11 911 call.  She said she didn’t have an opinion about who might have been screaming on the 911 call.  With regard to the expert witnesses on speech recognition and speaker identification, she recalled that “there was nod determination made, something to that effect.”  She also was dismissive of the news, saying “I don’t put much stock to what’s in the news, it’s so speculative,” and that she can accept limiting the verdict to evidence presented at trial.  When questioned by West she said that she used the case as a lesson for her kids to be careful, to not give a “false impression.”

Prospective Juror E40:  Most quickly questioned of the day (except for B2)

Next up was prospective juror E40, described as a middle-aged white woman, perhaps in her 60s.  She was living in Iowa when events occurred, and the matter wasn’t big news in Iowa.   She said she “just didn’t have time” to follow the case, because she was too busy at work.  She was aware that “somebody was a teenager.”  O’Mara questioned for the defense.  She indicated that she would keep fellow jurors focused on the evidence and the judge’s rules.  She said that she didn’t watch much news, but that her default news station is NBC.  Defense then wrapped up, making E40 one of the most quickly completed prospective jurors of the day.  There was a sense that the lawyers for both sides were becoming fatigued.

Prospective Juror E54:  Receives the “Best Informed Juror of the Day” Award

E54 was the next prospective juror, described as a  white male probably in his 50s, and a “dead ringer for Oliver Stone.”  He recalled Zimmerman phoning the police to report a suspicious person.  He also recalled that there was a later 911 call.  E54 appeared to be by far the best informed juror of the day.   He knew that Zimmerman had not been arrested right away, and that he was eventually charged with second degree murder.  He also knew about the protests at the time, but says he “lost interest in it.”  He expressed wonder at why there were protests when the police apparently though there was no reason to even charge Zimmerman, and assumed that new evidence must have been developed which led to Zimmerman’s later arrest.  He said he thought about joining a protest because of Zimmermans’ arrest.  [Editorial comment:  No jury for you!]  He then said about the protests that, “it turned out to be a good thing, I guess, because we’re trying to learn the truth.”  He recalled that the protests started off as local people, then national people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Jr. got involved.  He said he watches TV for his news, primarily the national ABC network.  E54 observed that his son dresses in the same way Trayvon was described as dressing, and he used the event to talk to him about the shooting, “just to be careful, people who wear that outfit can be misconstrued.”  He recalled Zimmerman’s injuries and that Zimmerman had been “attacked.”  De la Rionda jumped on that disclosure, clearly concerned about the word “attacked” to describe Martin’s actions against Zimmerman.  West questioned E54 for the defense.  He affirmed that he would base his verdict on the evidence produced in court.

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At that point the court recessed until 9AM tomorrow, after the usual warnings to prospective jurors not to watch the news or discuss the case.

Well, that’s it for today’s coverage of day two of the Zimmerman trial.  Be sure to check back in right when Court goes back into session tomorrow, shortly after 9AM.


Andrew F. Branca is a MA lawyer with a long-standing interest in the law of self defense.  He authored the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense” (second edition shipping June 22–save 30% and pre-order TODAY!), and manages the Law of Self Defense web site and blog.  Many thanks to the Professor for the invitation to guest-blog on the Zimmerman trial here on Legal Insurrection!

 

 
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