Every time I have been called to the courthouse for jury duty I have been released, only a couple of times making it so far as the venire, or jury pool in a particular case, but asked few questions and informed I was not wanted. Lawyers have to explain to venire persons time and again that just because the attorneys, or one of them, feel the person would not make a "good" juror in that particular case does not mean they would not be a "good" juror in some other case. Illustrations often include such things as saying that the defendant is employed as a telephone salesperson and if the venire, like the defense lawyer, dislikes being interrupted for telephone solitications, then they, both the lawyer and the venireperson, probably would not make a "good" juror in that particular case.
Attorneys also tell the venire that they are "not trying to pry into your personal life," though they cannot honestly tell them they will not pry into their opinions. However, when they do this, lawyers find ways of framing their questions designed to coax from the potential juror their "feelings" about this or that, their "thinking on it," &c., hoping to embarrass no one but at the same time seeking a rather candid answer that reveals biases or prejudices. Wisely, in the George Zimmerman trial now entering the defense presentation in Florida, the jurors were all questioned individually outside the presence of the other members of the venire. This is a greater guarantee of honest responses, free of intimidation or peer group influences. Had I been among those on the venire, sworn to speak the truth, I probably would not have made it out of this preliminary interrogation.
When I learned that Zimmerman was planning on relying on the defense of self-defense based upon Florida's stand-your-ground law (itself very problematic for me), I thought, He's got to be kidding! That was because I had heard his 911 call with its crypto-racist remarks and his refusal to do what the dispatcher told him when Zimmerman said "Yeah" in response to the question, "You're not following him are you?" Zimmerman became the stalker and aggressor. To me, this is manslaughter at a minimum. Although I rather doubt the prosecution can hang a murder conviction on Zimmerman, the jury's failure to return a guilty verdict on the lesser included offense of manslaughter will be very troubling.
Lest it be said that because I would be reluctant to vote for a verdict of murder, I might be a "good" juror for the defense. Not so. There is another reason why I could not hope to be fair and impartial toward Mr. Zimmerman.
The Hannity interview.
Zimmerman went on Hannity, bad enough in and of itself given that jackass of a host, and told the Fox News audience that his shooting of Trayvon Martin's -- the teenager's death -- had been "God's plan."
That's right. God killed Trayvon, not George Zimmerman. But if God had a plan to kill Trayvon Martin, why did God not prevent the killing? If Zimmerman had remained in his car and obeyed the dispatcher, would that have been God's decision? Unwittingly, Zimmerman became on the Hannity show an object lesson in the truth of Epicurius's observation that God cannot possibly exist if he is anything like he is most often described -- as both good and as omnipotent. God could have kept a 17-year-old boy with a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea alive that night, but he did not. God put a gun into the hand of George Zimmerman and sent him forth to take a human life. This is the God of the Old Testament on steroids, slaying indiscriminately for reasons that cannot often if ever be described as "good."
No, I did not belong on George Zimmerman's jury. And I am glad I do not live in that county in Florida, for if I did, and if called to a venire, I would not be remotely tempted to fake an open mind in order to get on Zimmerman's jury. Nothing I have heard so far suggests to me that this defendant is a scoundrel and should be punished.
This is interesting Loren. You may recall that O.J.'s attorneys played the race card quite liberally. The State blew it when they failed to set venue in the place where the murder happened, Beverly Hills. A conviction might be had there. Instead, they chose the inner city. An almost all-black jury, seething from revelations that the top cop investigator, in conversations with a writer, had used the N word repeatedly, then denied it on the stand, spent little time acquitting. Would the result in the Zimmers trial have been way different had venue been changed to some heavily black county (if there is such a thing) in Florida. Frankly, I am beginning to think that this case was lost in jury selection. The woman on Anderson Cooper is blithely unconscious of her own racist attitudes.
I think you've found exactly the problem. The prosecution seems to have been... misguided, at the least, in their selection.
Now that it is all over I'm hearing on TV that at least one person on the witness stand (and possibly even the jury) was asked "what do you think was in Trayvon Martin's mind that day?" Why in the hell did the judge allow this? What mindreader could answer, and especially for a dead man? Maybe we are seeing now why Florida allowed this particular judge. It's very sad. Wake up, America! Trayvon Martin could have been anyone's son that day.
What was on his mind? I think Trayvon was thirsty, with maybe a touch of a sweet tooth ... and if he had been white, Zimmerman wouldn't have thought twice about him.
It's a shame that Florida,unlike Texas, does not allow appeals by the State. Those prosecutors might be able to get a reversal based on the court's ruling that they could not refer to "racial profiling," only to "profiling." This latter makes no sense. Anyone could be profiled; in fact, it happens all the time on the U.S.-Mexico border. Racial profiling also happens all the time in New York City at Bloomberg's orders. If you walk about Manhattan with dope on your person, you are 100X more likely to be busted than a white person, or so I am told. In other words, black = doper, or dealer. When the judge limited the prosecution to "profiling," the State had to change strategies, perhaps explaining why they made so little of Trayvon's race.
Of course Zimmers is a product of miscegenation, so he is not all-white himself, having a white dad and South American (Peruvian, I seem to recall) mother. But note that while the prosecution did not mention race, the defense did, one of the attorneys for Zimmers asking Trayvon's lady friend if it was not racist of Trayvon to refer to Zimmers as "a creepy cracker." But the most absurd statement of all came from the witness interviewed by Anderson Cooper. She said that the result would have been the same had Trayvon been a member of any race, including yellow men, red men, &c. (she rattled off all manner of races). Yet we know that there had been a series of burglaries in the area, all involving blacks. Zimmers told the dispatcher twice that the suspicious person he was following was black. He also said that "these assholes always get away," the implication being that this particular black was NOT going to get away. But the Cooper interviewee also said, with reference to the lady friend, that she didn't understand "their language." She knows nothing about African-Americans, which essentially means she is basically a racist herself.
@Dennis, Loren: That definitely should have prompted a common objection as to speculation.
That juror on Anderson Cooper also said Zimmerman's "heart was in the right place." SERIOUSLY??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can't help but notice that four other jurors in the Zimmerman case have distanced themselves from those remarks. Someone apparently opened their yap a bit too wide!
I wonder what the jurors who disagreed with her think now that they have had time to quietly and calmly rethink their position.
Zimbardo and Milgram revealed, years ago, that USA citizens tend to be followers, even when detrimental to their own good.
Zimbardo; The Stanford Prison Experiment,
Milgram; Psychology: Electric Shock Experiment,
I wish I could find the training films by Kurt Lewin about leadership styles and the ability to propagandize others. Here is a TED talk by Zimbardo who based his work on the ideas of good and evil formed by Lewin who was a Jewish survivor. After WW II he studied how good people could become evil.
"Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) was a German-American Psychologist often referred to as the father of social psychology. Most psychologists of his time period argued whether it was nature or nurture influenced behavior. In contrast, Lewin believed that human behavior was a product of the interactions between nature and nurture. He also believed that the present was an important factor, rather than emphasizing the past."
Key Figures & Theories,
I am gratified to hear other attorneys on TV saying the same thing I have, that the talking juror's prejudices probably led her to go all out to persuade those voting for conviction to change their votes. She claims they held out, but if that is so, why wasn't it a hung jury? Also, other lawyers are saying there need to be some reasonable restrictions on jurors profiting from their service, one suggesting a six month moratorium on publishing anything, although speaking out should not be prohibited as it would offend the First Amendment. It is a good thing that this one juror went on the air. We now have insight into the jury deliberations and know that at least four others of the six disagree with some of her statements. Hopefully, their objections include her remarks indicating she thinks it is OK for a white man to hold his ground, but not for an African-American to do so.