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Zimmerman Jury Selection June 10th

Zimmerman Jury Selection June 10th

For live video and coverage for Tuesday June 11th, click here.

This post marks the launch of Legal Insurrections’ comprehensive live coverage of State of Florida v. Zimmerman (1712FO4573).

In addition to the types of comprehensive legal analysis already posted in the course of last week’s pretrial hearings, we are introducing all-day coverage of the trial itself, including a live video feed from the court room and live Twitter feed (embedded at bottom of post) of selected commentators.

Over the course of the day I’ll include brief commentary on significant events as they occur, complemented by more in-depth analysis as developments warrant.

Live Stream Video

(You may hear a brief commercial when you first start it.)

[Video feed removed end-of-day.]

Monday, June 10

Update 5:ooPM:  Done for the day, back again 9AM tomorrow!

Limited Scope of Today’s “Pre-” Voir Dire

CONFIRMED:  the scope of this “pre-” voir dire is intended to be limited solely to matters of pre-trial publicity. 

First Prospective Juror, B12, Being Questioned by State (de la Rionda)

Jury Questionnaire Review

This morning 100 prospective jurors completed juror questionnaires.  These are now being independently reviewed by Judge Nelson, the State, and the defense, at which point they will try to identify specific prospective jurors that have deemed at least initially acceptable to all three.

At 2:10PM, as I write this, there is a bench conference underway, they may be trying to get consensus on first group of prospective jurors for voir dire.

Morning motions

A number of motions were heard this morning, immediately prior to the start of jury selection.

The defense first motioned the court for a continuance on the basis that the State’s slow-rolling of discovery evidence had simply left them unprepared for trial at this time. The additional time required might be a couple of weeks or more—it was hard to tell until they’d had a chance to examine and evaluate the recently delivered discovery, as well as the still to be scheduled deposition of Attorney Crump. The State objected to any continuance, and the Judge Nelson denied the motion. So, no continuance for the defense.

The defense also raised the matter of its motion in limine to restrict the use of certain inflammatory language during the trial. The Court indicated that she was not ready to rule on that motion, but it was agreed that the inflammatory language of concern would at least not be used during jury selection.

Finally, the defense asked if there could be a relaxation of certain rules of evidence, given the State’s delay in delivering, and sometimes completely failing to deliver, relevant discovery. Specifically, they asked that if some piece of evidence became relevant and was admissible except for inadequate authentication, and the defense could prove that authentication could not have been completed because of State’s conduct, that the evidence nevertheless be admitted. Judge Nelson stated she would consider that on a instance-by-instance basis.

Finally, the court described today’s process for jury selection. Another judge was pre-qualifying the entire jury pool, from which 100 prospective jurors would be arbitrarily selected. Those 100 would be given a juror questionnaire. The completed questionnaires would then be reviewed by each counsel. Then each prospective juror would be sent up one at a time for initial voir dire, from which 21 would be selected for full voir dire.  (Voir dire is the process of examining prospective jurors to determine their qualifications and suitability to serve on the jury, and to ensure the selection of fair and impartial jurors.)

Twitter Feed:

(My tweets can be identified as coming from @lawselfdefense.)

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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[…] just launched the start of my all-day coverage of State of Florida v. Zimmerman (1712FO4573) over at Legal Insurrection. In addition to the types of comprehensive legal analysis […]

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That sounds like a fairly good voir dire procedure, but because of the prosecution’s attempts to inflame, the defense should be pushing for voir dire out of the presence of other potential jurors. Perhaps that is what is going on, but I cannot tell from the write-up.
I had a trial in San Bernardino, California, in which my request for a mistrial during voir dire was granted based on opposing counsel’s misconduct during voir dire. An entirely new set of potential jurors was brought in, and the voir dire of each was conducted out of the presence of other potential jurors.

ManinBowlerHat | June 10, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Mr. Branca, I am a bit of a late comer here, so my questions may touch on subjects previously covered. If so, I beg your indulgence.

I am wondering if there have been any previous defense requests for continuance up to this point?

Have their been any such requests by the prosecution for any reason to date?

Is this a capital case? If not, what is the sentencing potential for Mr. Zimmerman should things go south?

Has a civil suit been filed yet against Mr. Zimmerman?

I am led to believe that Mr. Zimmerman was lawfully armed at the time of the matter in question. How long had he been a CCW holder? Did he have any handgun training? If so, what did it consist of? What was his weapon of choice that evening (I know you have said it was a 9mm, but I’d like more data, if possible)? What was the load used in the weapon (both in terms of bullet weight and manufacturer)?

Finally, thank you for taking the time to post this blog. I find it refreshing to get some kind of objective data on a very emotionally charged issue, particularly as it pertains to the laws of self-defense. Having an intelligent, well-versed person taking the time to share his knowledge is gratefully recieved. Just don’t tell your bar association that you are not charging for your legal acumen.

    A lot of questions! I’m listening to the live stream juror questioning at the moment, so I’ll give a quick response now, but it may be a bit vaguer than if I had a few minutes to dig up some facts.

    (1) Continuances. The motion for a continuance this morning follows several earlier such motions by the defense, including another such motion on March 28 and prior. All have been denied by the Court. To my knowledge the State has made no motions for a continuance.

    (2) A civil suit was filed soon after the shooting occurred, and it is my recollection that the housing complex at which events occurred quickly agreed to a settlement.

    (3) Mr. Zimmerman did have a valid and current CCW issued by the state of Florida. A copy of the license is a part of the court record, and it appears to have been issued on 12/17/08 and to expire 12/17/15 (although the copy is very poor), in which case he would have held this license for a bit more than four years at the time of the shooting. Given Mr. Zimmerman’s age at the time of the shooting (28), and the fact that Florida CCW’s issue for a term of 7 years, it is likely that this was his first Florida CCW license.

    The State of Florida requires a demonstration of proficiency as a condition for receiving a CCW, so Mr. Zimmerman would necessary have been required to prove the required level of training.

    The weapon used by Mr. Zimmerman to defend himself was a Kel-Tec model PF-9 pistol, SN: RJY08, in caliber 9mm Luger. The magazine contained six rounds when taken into evidence. The cartridge brass recovered at the scene was stamped as having a 9mm round manufactured by Sellier& Bellot. Four bullet fragments were recovered with a total weight of 115grains S&B manufactures a 115 grain 9mm jacketed hollow-point (JHP) self-defense round (product #: V311422), and this was presumably the round used in this instance.

Thank you, both Andrew and William, for providing this coverage of the Zimmerman trial. I’m finding the Twitter list y’all have set up really interesting as well.

I’ve been a lurker here for a good couple of years – finally decided to go ahead and register for an account!

ManinBowlerHat | June 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Thank you for the speedy replies, Mr. Branca.

I’m surprised that the judge has not allowed ANY continuances for the defense, given the gravity of the charges at hand.

Given the time involved, I tend to agree with your assessment of Mr. Zimmerman being in possession of his first CCW. I take it he was never in the military or a police officer?

“Demonstration of proficiency”? Sounds nebulous. In VA, there was a time when such meant firing 50 rounds at a target at seven yards during a half day class. Would that be a safe approximation for FL in this case?

Given his choice of weapon and ammo manufacturers, is it also safe to assume that Mr. Zimmerman is neither a man of means nor well-versed in firearms, falling more into the “fan” category rather than the serious “operator” genus?

Were two rounds fired or only one? How many rounds struck his opponent? I only ask this because, if memory serves, the PF-9 holds 7+1 rounds.

Thank you again for taking the time to post this blog in general and for brining me up to speed in particular.

    Indeed, it is remarkable, if not outright shocking, that the Court has denied defense motions for a continuance under the circumstances. As one example: the prosecution delivered to the defense a large corpus of previously undisclosed discovery, including thousands of images, less than a week ago,. Defense requested a continuance in order to have a reasonable opportunity to evaluate this newly received evidence as well as (perhaps more importantly) investigate for potentially new legal arguments that emerge from that evaluation.

    FYI, the denial of a motion for continuance reasonably requested has frequently been found on appeal to be abuse of a Court’s discretion, and grounds for vacating a guilty verdict. I guess we’ll have to add it to already fertile grounds for appeal available to the defense.

    George Zimmerman never did military service. He did apply for training as a police officer, but was not accepted (the reasons for this are unknown, but there are many innocuous reasons a person might not be accepted for police training).

    The “proof of competency” required by Florida for a CCW should be read as a “proof of safety” training. One of the accepted forms of training include, for example, the NRA Basic Pistol training course, which focuses heavily on safety and the basics of marksmanship, but typically involves no shooting at all. What Mr. Zimmerman’s possession of a CCW tells us about him has less to do with his shooting skill than it does about his lack of any meaningful history of criminal conduct, which, if it had existed, would have caused him to fail the required criminal background check.

    The Kel-Tec firearms are generally marketed as an affordable and reliable self-defense gun for the “cost-conscious consumer”. A brand-new PF-9 can readily be obtained for between $200 and $300. (In contrast, the ubiquitous Glock 17 in 9mm typically costs between $500 and $600, and a comparable single-stack SigSauer P239 in 9mm costs between $800 and $900.)

    As for the number of shots fired, the evidence indicates only one, based upon the Witness #11 911 recording (which captures the sound of only a single gunshot) and the fact that only the one expended brass was located at the scene.

    You are correct that the PF-9 is 7+1 gun, and a person practiced in the manual of arms for a semi-automatic pistol would normally load 7 rounds in the magazine, rack a round into the chamber, then remove and top off the magazine such that there were a total of 8 rounds in the gun. It is not difficult, however, to understand how someone less practiced might simply load up the mag, insert it in the gun, rack a round in the chamber, and leave it at that. This appears to have been the condition of Mr. Zimmerman’s handgun at the time he was attacked. Really, it is THIS (the failure to properly top off the gun) more than the particular choice of gun and ammo (which could simply be a budget-driven decision) that suggests Mr. Zimmerman is more likely to fall into the “novice” than “experienced” category of handgun owner.

    “Demonstration of proficiency”? Sounds nebulous.

    Via the Department of Agriculture: Acceptable Training Documentation.

    And this is a .pdf of the brochure they send out with your application.

    Just some more resources for you.

    On the issue of training requirements, and particularly the NRA Basic Pistol course, I’ve learned that in 2011 the NRA modified the curriculum of that course to include that the students demonstrate they can fire three 5-shot groups into a 9″ circle, at a range not exceeding 25′, and perhaps as close as 15′. While not an exacting standard, it seems a reasonable one for personal defense purposes.

    Given that Mr. Zimmerman would have taken his required training class well prior to this change in curriculum, however, it is nevertheless quite possible that he obtained his CCW without the need to demonstrate any particular level of shooting proficiency.

Uncle Samuel | June 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

The more I read and learn about Trayvon Martin, the more I am certain Trayvon was murdered by his culture, the culture that has been manufactured and perpetuated by Democrat policies and the likes of Al Sharpton.

These foolish people are guilty of shaping Trayvon’s mindset and that was what killed him.

George Zimmerman was just an innocent bystander, who would have loved to help change things for Trayvon and give him a bright, productive future.

In Chicago, LA or DC, it is likely Trayvon would already be dead of a gangsta gunshot or knife wound or drugs. That was the crowd to which he was attracted.

    cazinger in reply to Uncle Samuel. | June 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    You know what, you raise a good point. I asked someone once, why didn’t Trayvon, if he was scared of Zimmerman, why didn’t he call 911, rather than his girlfriend. Their response was that 17 year olds do not consider police an ally. After thinking about that for a while, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I know a lot of kids that age that would not hesitate to call 911 if they felt threatened. It is a result of their upbringing. If Trayvon was brought up in a manner that taught him that the police were not his ally’s, then that is NOT Zimmerman’s fault. I’d say that is the fault of the people who brought him up.

    And I didn’t want to point this out earlier, but where was Trayvon’s father that night? Trayvon had just been suspended from school and kicked out of his mother’s house. That, to me, warrants at least a grounding, and if I am his Dad, I am staying home (especially on a Sunday) to make sure that he stays in. Trayvon never would have been going to 7-11 on his own, as I would not have let a son who just got suspended for 10 days from school out of the house unescorted for the duration of those 10 days.

    I mean, I hate to go there, but it is the truth.

This is so disheartening when a person has to shoot to save their own life and ends up spending so much time in jail for it. There are laws that are suppose to protect you from this outcome when you are protecting your own life. The injuries to the back of his head should have been enough to prove he had no choice but to shoot.