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.
Zimmerman said "is he dead?" while Martin was under a yellow tarp? I didn't know that! Wow! I don't even know what to say to that kind of stupidity!
This may only suggest Zimmers was in shock. I should think that the realization one has just shot a man dead would render one a temporary zombification of oneself.
This brings up a point that has bothered me (I have mixed feelings about this whole incident and I don't agree that it's a slam-dunk).
For weeks after the killing, ALL the news media pix I saw were of this little harmless looking teenager. Not once was a recent picture of Martin in any source I saw. Obviously it would be hard to argue necessary self defense against this harmless little kid. In truth the perception created by the media was (deliberately?) biased. For better or worse, at the time of the fight Martin was a physically adult, good sized male. That does not necessarily change everything, but it does affect the self defense context.
And the fact that he was a minor does not mean he was not a potential threat. A good chunk of gang related killings are done by minors.
We don't know for sure what happened that night, but *IF* Zimmerman is telling the truth about his head being banged on the concrete... that is attempted murder ... plain and simple. Do you wait till he succeeds before defending yourself?
No, you don't wait till he succeeds, but fist fights without weapons happen all the time. And don't forget, the dispatcher told Zimmerman to wait for the police. He stalked the victim and accosted him. I cannot see how self-defense applies. If Trayvon had survived and Zimmerman filed a civil suit for damages, he would have been poured out of court -- if Florida still recognizes the common law defense of assumption of the risk. There are ways around that defense. To a certain extent, the law is an ass, and it is riddled with exceptions to the exceptions, but I must suspect that if only one juror is holding out for, say, manslaughter (from the beginning I did not think murder would fly), I would be willing to bet that it is Zimmerman's following of Trayvon that is the point being argued in the jury room.
Interestingly, the IT director for the state was fired, He had charged (somehow I missed that earlier) that a big chunk of the material (some of it not very flattering) he had extracted from Martin's cellphone did not appear in the discovery materials handed over to the defense.
Looks like there is more to this saga...
The Medical Examiner stated that there was no indication that there was more than one impact with the concrete. She further testified that Zimmerman's injuries were trivial. While I don't believe 2nd degree murder is appropriate, 2nd degree manslaughter certainly is .
One of my favorite parts is Zimmerman's story that Martin gets in his face and he (Zimmerman) looks down to get his phone out of his pocket. When he looks up again, Martin punches him in the face! First of all, who needs to actually look at his pocket to retrieve a phone? Second, who takes his eyes off someone who's in his face? Zimmerman's story (stories, rather) is a shambled mess. And, frankly, if I'm innocent (even though I shot an unarmed man), no lawyer could keep me off the stand.
I could. There is no faster way to get convicted than for the accused to take the stand. Prosecutors try dozens if not hundreds of cases in their first few years. They go to seminars to learn how to trip up defendants who insist on testifying. There was little point in taking the stand since, contradictions and all -- and none of the contradictions were harrowing for the defense -- Zimmerman told his story in interviews he gave to police. Why take the stand and allow the State to trip you up on cross? The jury is given an instruction that they are not to take your failure to testify as evidence of anything, and in any case, Zimmerman's lawyers asked each and every potential juror if they could follow that part of the court's charge.
I always hope that the defendant, if I think he/she is guilty, will look guilty in the eyes of the jurors for not taking the stand.
I just don't see that happening in this case because the State introduced several police interrogations with the defendant and although he contradicted himself on some points, he told his side of the story in that way. I think the jury will be sophisticated enough to know that sharp as the prosecutors were, Zimmers would be cut to shreds on cross, so these same jurors can consider that without violating the court's admonishment to not consider the failure to testify for any purpose. And BTW, I want to quit referring to this creepy cracker as Zimmerman because a great American had that surname before he changed it to Bob Dylan.