Zimmerman: How to Select a Jury Despite the Child Molestation Allegation

Let us assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that we are representing George Zimmerman and we are going to start selecting a jury to try this case tomorrow morning.

To keep it simple, we are going to focus on W9’s allegation that GZ sexually molested her multiple times during a period of 10 years that began when she was 6 and he was 8. The allegation is unlikely to come up at trial, but lots of people know about it and it might prejudice jurors against him.

This is what she said:

The sexual abuse consisted of digital penetration of her vagina and fondling.

She ended it when she was 16 and later told her parents. Her parents told his parents.

She was discouraged from reporting the crimes to the police and did not do so until after he was arrested for shooting and killing TM. When the police asked her why she waited so long (10 years) to report the crimes, she said it was the first time she felt safe.

Our client denies that he ever sexually molested her or anyone else.

We do not know if the allegation is true, but we do know that her tape-recorded statement was available to listen to over the internet and her story was broadcast all over the world and discussed by media pundits.

We know that many, possibly all of the people in the jury pool, have heard or read her story.

What do we do?

First, let’s back up. We would have spent the past week developing a juror questionnaire. A section of that questionnaire covered pretrial publicity.

We would have prepared a short summary of the case telling the prospective jurors the names of the defendant who is White/Hispanic and the alleged victim who is Black, the date and location of the incident, a brief statement of what allegedly happened, and a statement that the defendant has admitted shooting the victim to death, but claims he did so in self-defense when the victim attacked and attempted to beat him to death. The victim was unarmed and the incident was extensively reported by the media and discussed over the internet.

Each prospective juror was then asked on the form, if they recalled anything about the incident, and if so, to write down everything they could recall about it.

Then they were asked if they had formed an opinion about the case and, if so, what it was (i.e., guilty or not guilty), whether they had ever expressed it to anyone, and how often they had expressed it.

They also were asked if they had ever argued with anyone about the case.

After the jurors reported to court, they were instructed to fill out the form. They identified themselves by juror number, rather than name, and told the forms would be destroyed after the case.

They also were instructed that they had to be truthful and sign and declare under penalty of perjury that the information they provided was true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.

The forms were collected and copied. The prosecution, defense, and the judge each have a set.

We have reviewed our set. We set aside all of the jurors who have no recollection of the case and sorted those who do into two categories: those with opinions and those without.

Now, we aside everyone without an opinion and sort those who do have opinions into two categories: those who believe the defendant is not guilty and those who believe he is guilty.

Since we are representing the defendant, our category of best jurors will include everyone who said he was not guilty.

We are not interested in this group at this time, so we also set them aside

Question: Why do we do that?

Answer: Because jury selection is a process of choosing the prospective jurors we want to eliminate. The final product will be whomever is left after each side eliminates the prospective jurors they do not want. There is a limit to how many prospective jurors we can eliminate, however, so we have to choose carefully.

Therefore, we are going to focus on the category of prospective jurors who believe our client is guilty and rank them according to how strong their opinions are and how much they know about the case.

Those with the strongest opinions based on the most knowledge of the case will be our targeted set of prospective jurors to eliminate. Some portion of these prospective jurors will have commented to the effect that the defendant is a child molester.

We will want the judge to excuse these people.

Individual voir dire: We will question the prospective jurors individually out of the presence of the others to avoid infecting the others with prejudicial information.

Challenges for Cause: We have an unlimited number of challenges for cause. To successfully challenge a prospective juror for cause (i.e., persuade the judge to excuse the prospective juror), we have to show that the prospective juror cannot be fair and impartial.

Establishing that the prospective juror believes our client is guilty is only half the battle. The critical question is whether we can persuade the prospective juror to admit that his or her opinion is so strong that he or she cannot honestly presume our client is innocent.

Peremptory Challenges: We have a limited number of peremptory challenges. When selecting a 12 person jury, each side gets 6 peremptory challenges. Unlike a challenge for cause when we have to convince the judge that the prospective juror cannot be fair and impartial, with only one exception we do not have to provide any reason to support or justify a peremptory challenge. This is why there is a limitation on the number of peremptory challenges.

Exception to the Rule: Neither side can use peremptory challenges to systematically exclude prospective jurors based on race, gender, or religion.

Basis for this exception: To stop the routine prosecution practice in the South of using its peremptory challenges to disqualify all Black prospective jurors in cases where the defendant was Black. Since then, the prohibition has been extended to apply equally to the defense and to cover gender and religion.

What this exception means for us: We cannot use our 6 peremptory challenges to systematically exclude Blacks from the jury.

This does not mean we cannot exclude some Black people, but we have to have a reason unrelated to race and we had better be consistent in excluding White prospective jurors for the same reason.

If we do not, our peremptory challenges will be denied and we will likely be held in contempt of court.

How do we get a prospective juror to admit he or she cannot be fair or impartial?

Answer: We start by asking the prospective juror to explain why he or she believes they can disregard their opinion and presume our client is innocent.

If the prospective juror mentioned the child molester factor, get it out on the table and ask them how they could presume our client innocent, despite believing he is a child molester.

When they finish their explanation, ask them if they had to vote now, without having heard any evidence, what their verdict would be.

The typical response will be, “I can’t do that.”

Why not? you respond.

“Because I don’t have any evidence upon which to base a verdict.”

“Would you want the prosecution to introduce evidence to prove its case?

“Yes, of course.”

“How about the defense. Would you want the defense to introduce evidence to prove self-defense?”

Would you want the defense to introduce evidence to prove he is not a child molester?”

“Yes.”

“What happens if the defense doesn’t change your opinion?”

“I would vote guilty.”

At this point, you thank the prospective juror and say, “Your Honor, I respectfully challenge the prospective juror for cause because he has demonstrated that he cannot presume my client innocent and he would expect us to change his opinion that our client is guilty.”

The prosecution would be permitted to attempt to rehabilitate the prospective juror.

If successful, the judge would deny the challenge for cause and we would have to use one of our precious peremptory challenges to excuse him.

One down, five to go.

If unsuccessful, the judge would excuse the juror for cause and we would still have our 6 peremptory challenges.

In this manner, we would proceed through the panel of jurors until we have passed 24 jurors for cause, plus 3 for 1 alternate. (Total: 27)

If both sides exercise all of their peremptory challenges, there will be 17 left.

If both sides exercise their 1 peremptory challenge each against a potential alternate juror, there will be 12 jurors left, plus one alternate.

Key points to remember:

1. Sort the prospective jurors according to the order in which you want to get rid of them.

2. Keep asking open ended why-type questions and follow-up on the answers.

3. Every time you fail to get a potential juror excused for cause, you will have to use a peremptory challenge to get rid of them.

4, You have only 6 peremptory challenges.

68 Responses to Zimmerman: How to Select a Jury Despite the Child Molestation Allegation

  1. TruthBTold says:

    Aussie wrote,

    “A case might go on for weeks. The “little payment” won’t do much for someone whose mortgage and family food depend on a much higher regular salary (which his employer won’t be paying for a say 3 month trial).”

    I am aware of this and was in no way trying to make it like jury duty is living high off the hog. To this and to the rest of your post, thanks.

  2. Patricia says:

    Wow, Professor!

    In the Simpson case, whose blood was planted, how did they get the blood to plant, and where was the blood planted?

    And I want to know what happened to the faithful Akita.

    Did OJ have him destroyed (because he went for OJ’s throat when he saw OJ after the murder)?

    Comment on the signature “evidence”: soaked leather gloves always shrivel up when they dry out. Would never fit ANYone. Dried leather must be “massaged” by your fingers, inch-by-inch, back into its normal malleability.

    Of course you can’t man-handle evidence. So the prosecution should have discarded this stupid idea. But they were Californians, so what would they know?

    Should have hired an old Eskimo as a technical advisor

  3. TruthBTold says:

    Professor,

    What are your thoughts on Jury Consultants? Is this a fairly new field. The first Jury Consultant that I ever heard of was Jo Ella Dimitra (pretty sure that to be her name) from the O.J. Simpson trial. Thanking you in advance.

    • I have worked with jury consultants on big cases and found their contributions regarding community demographics, exposure to prejudicial pretrial publicity and target issues to use in identifying “good” and “bad” jurors for the case to be enormously helpful.

      Jury consultants have been around for many years.

      By the way, your reference to the OJ trial reminds me that I have been meaning to disagree with everyone who has dismissed the OJ acquittal as a race driven verdict.

      The rest of my comment is not directed at you.

      It was not a race driven verdict.

      I was a DNA consultant to Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld prior to that trial. They won that trial by proving beyond any doubt that the LAPD had planted blood evidence in order to convict OJ.

      The jury did what it was supposed to do under the circumstances and acquitted OJ.

      To assume that a Black jury acquitted him because he is Black is to make a racist assumption that denigrates and disrespects the members of that jury and the excellent job that Scheck and Neufeld did.

  4. jd says:

    I’m not so sure GZ denies the sexual misconduct allegations. He didn’t deny them when interviewed by Sean Hannity. And AFAICT he has not been asked about the alleged meeting with the cousin and her parents, where she claims he gave a curt apology.

    I admit however that I have not made a full study of this issue, due to the “ick” factor. His lawyer seems to want to make a point that GZ was still 17 at the time the cousin claims he was 18 and she 16. If none of this ever happened, what’s the point in making that claim?

  5. Dennis says:

    It is difficult for me to believe that someone can support Zimmerman after looking at the evidence with an open mind. The evidence shows that Zimmerman pursued Martin on foot and tried to detain him.

    No evidence on Zimmerman’s head to indicate his head was smashed into the concrete.

    No evidence on Martin’s hands of multiple MMA style blows to Zimmerman’s face.

    Every time Zimmerman opens his mouth he spits more lies and contradictions against his original version of what happened.

    There is no motive for why Martin would attack Zimmerman out of nowhere.

    There is a motive for Zimmerman following and detaining Martin after police dispatchers told him not to. He originally claims that he thought Martin was dangerous then completely contradicts that statement in his latest interview. He also claims to have got out of his car only because he needed to verify the street to tell the dispatchers where to send police. That townhouse complex is very small. There is no way he didn’t know the street names when he claims to patrol that complex all the time. He also claims that he never heard of the Stand Your Ground law. When you apply for a concealed weapons permit you are given paperwork that explains all of these statutes that apply to self-defense. He most certainly heard of the Stand Your Ground law before and if I am not mistaken he even stated “Stand Your Ground” in a sentence once one of the witnesses arrived on the scene.

    How can you believe someone that can’t tell the truth regarding the shooting of an unarmed teenager?

  6. Patricia says:

    Professor, “Whonoze” is a “him” and very knowledgable on recording technology and “all things sound.”

    Seems to have quit writing his blog at the end of June, which is a darned shame, because he brings clarity to science so that even the layman understands.

    Much as Leatherman does in the legal arena.

    We need all the specialists we can get. Just hope the prosecutors have talent as good as is showing up in cyberspace!

    • aussie says:

      whonoze has been around a bit at bbclist.com, which also has a lot of timeline material. Haven’t seen him for about 2 weeks though.

      There are lots of timelines there. None of it is on a spreadsheet, because they keep branching off on different speculations.

  7. Digger says:

    Dang! Not being a mathematician, I hate being unappreciated!

  8. Patricia says:

    Continuing to examine the incident, is anyone (other than the prosecution and maybe MOM’s staff) maintaining a vertical time-line chart covering the six minutes and 28 seconds – from the initial connection to 311 (the non-emergency number, or NEN) to Officer Tim Smith’s arrival on-site?

    Parallel to that would be witness statements on one side and GZ’s various statements on the other.

    Entered would be physical evidence with forensic analysis, EMT reports, etc.

    Timeline per SPD Chris Serino report:

    At 7:11:12 GZ calls 311

    At 7:13:36 dispatcher states “We don’t need you to do that.” and
    GZ responds “OK.”
    (Thus we know no contact yet between GZ and TM.)

    At 7:15:23 GZ call to 311 ends.
    Unknown what GZ is doing from
    7:13:36 to 7:16:43, from GZ’s “OK”
    until 911 records screaming.
    Time elapsed is 3 minutes, 7 seconds.

    At 7:16:43 Neighbor calls 911 to report screaming (GZ&TM fight)

    At 7:17:20 911 records gunshot (thus, 37 seconds of screaming)

    At 7:17:40 Officer Tim Smith arrives, 20 seconds after gunshot.

    I’d like this examined:

    1) do I have that timeline correct?

    2) do we focus on the 3 minutes, 7 seconds? Do we assume no GZ/TM physical contact until after GZ ends 311 call? (I assume so.)

    3) is the physical contact limited to the time AFTER the end of of the 311 call, until gunshot? That would be one minute, 57 seconds.

    4) the one minute, 57 seconds includes at least the 37 sconds of 911-recorded screaming, within close proximity to victm’s final location.

    5) so the “search + pursuit + claimed “head banging,” “punching,” “smothering” and hand-to-hand combat and possible screaming prior to first 911 call, over a 50 ft. distance = one minute, 20 seconds.

    Could one of the Professor’s avid scholars, or the Good Professor himself, check this out … is this math correct?

    I am looking for the time frame in which to place GZ’s own statements of ambulation, surprise encounter, knock-down, TM asphyxia attempt on GZ, GZ strugglle to remove head from sidewalk, drawing gun, aiming, etc.

    Many thanks, scholars and scribes!.

    • I’d like this examined:

      1) do I have that timeline correct?

      2) do we focus on the 3 minutes, 7 seconds? Do we assume no GZ/TM physical contact until after GZ ends 311 call? (I assume so.)

      3) is the physical contact limited to the time AFTER the end of of the 311 call, until gunshot? That would be one minute, 57 seconds.

      4) the one minute, 57 seconds includes at least the 37 sconds of 911-recorded screaming, within close proximity to victm’s final location.

      5) so the “search + pursuit + claimed “head banging,” “punching,” “smothering” and hand-to-hand combat and possible screaming prior to first 911 call, over a 50 ft. distance = one minute, 20 seconds.

      Could one of the Professor’s avid scholars, or the Good Professor himself, check this out … is this math correct?

      I am looking for the time frame in which to place GZ’s own statements of ambulation, surprise encounter, knock-down, TM asphyxia attempt on GZ, GZ strugglle to remove head from sidewalk, drawing gun, aiming, etc.

      Your numbers correspond to mine.

      His story doesn’t add up, does it?

      • Patricia says:

        Well, reading the Orlando Sentinel reports and the lack of response to requests for clarification & correction, and reading WhoNoze’s valiant efforts to get clarity on this issue, it looks like we are all stuck with the simplistic timeline Serino entered.

        I am presuming/hoping that the prosecution can get the correct times entered in a document available to both the public and the defense before the trial starts.

        I sensed this should be checked out — and the explanation that hitting the “enter” key determines the start time — was a real eye opener.

        Anybody got further input into what time span was available for GZ to undergo the “life-threatening punishment” he claims, included in the 50 ft. “rolling attack”?

        And is 50 ft. corrrect?

        Thanks, y’all.

        I appreciate the website’s very precise contributors!

    • PYorck says:

      Unfortunately it is likely that the first part is not correct. Serino used the time when a record of the incident was created in the police computer system instead of the actual start time of the call. Because of that the other time stamps in that call are off accordingly. The conflicting start times are mentioned in this article: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-05-21/news/os-trayvon-sanford-police-timeline-20120521_1_special-prosecutor-angela-corey-timeline-investigator-chris-serino
      There is additional evidence of this mistake in the official documents, but I can’t find the thing I am looking for right now.

  9. TruthBTold says:

    *raising hand* @ Professor,

    Your blogs are active, so perhaps you forgot to answer my earlier question and I hope that I made myself clear. Re-posting below. Thanks.

    I understand what you wrote, but just to make sure I am clear on one point you said this “We set aside all of the jurors who have no recollection of the case.” I know that not guilty would be our (for the sake of this discussion) target jurors, but those with no recollection are they potentials or set aside as disqualified? If it is the former, should we have concerns about an individual(s) that stated having no recollection of this case? Thanking you in advance

    • By setting aside I meant setting them aside on this one issue.

      We need to go through this sorting process for the entire panel on each of the important issues we identify in the case.

      The prospective jurors who have no recollection of this case may be good or bad for our client relative to other issues.

      Overall I would keep a chart of the prospective jurors relative to each important issue identified and a chart that combines everything so that I can intelligently and rationally identify the prospective jurors I need to get rid of.

      Therefore, neutrals on one issue, such as negative pretrial publicity, including knowledge of the child molestation accusation, might be positives, neutrals or negatives on other issues.

      In the end we are looking to get rid of the prospective jurors with the highest negative scores overall.

      Make sense?

  10. crazy1946 says:

    Professor Leatherman, Could a person with a personality like Zimmerman seems to have, charm and lie his way onto a jury? If so how often do you think that members of the jury actually have their minds made up before the first witness is called? Last but not least, can a juror who is discovered to have been guilty of having bias in his vote cause a case to be overturned, after the verdict? I will admit that you individuals that deal with this on a regular basis, have a lot more to deal with than most of us have ever realized! My hat is off to you!

    • Dennis says:

      I wouldn’t think that many people would lie to get on the jury. Most people don’t want to do jury duty in the first place and will lie their way to the point that they are eliminated during jury selection. I was called for federal jury duty a couple of years ago but I was eliminated. I would have liked to have been seated on the jury because it was a very enlightening experience.

    • lynp says:

      George Zimmerman has about as much “charm” as a rock.
      What do kids do when they don’t want to be touched by another kid, like 6 and 7, do? Yell, “get off me” and push at them as she did at 17, having gone voluntarly to George’s house to meet him, alone.

      • TruthBTold says:

        @lynp,

        I do not understand your post.

      • KA says:

        Lynp,

        You do not have a clue about sexual abuse victims do you?

        Your post shows a complete lack of knowledge about what responses a sexually abused child/teen female would have. You do not understand the desire to keep family together, to “change” the situation through irrational “magical” thinking, the shame involved with being part of something you know is wrong, whether you controlled it or not…develop some empathy and then come back and address this issue with appropriate empathy and insight.

        • TruthBTold says:

          Thank you KA. I didn’t understand this person’s post, but I did detect that this individual was trying to be funny or whatever. This is a sensitive subject for me and I really try and ignore the ignorance and focus on engaging in dialogue with sensible, well-rounded, and intellectually healthy people. *smh*

  11. martingale says:

    I think there’s a strong case for manslaughter and a weak self defense claim there. I also think there is a weak case for 2nd degree. Do you care to back up your opinion?It boggles my mind that someone who has looked at the evidence would think Zimmerman has a legitimate case for self defense.

  12. Loree says:

    @Leatherman
    According to your post, we come up with just questions for jurors who we want in the box for GZ? Is that correct?

    • Hi Loree,

      Here’s a long winded answer that I hope everyone will read because it adds important information to understanding the juror selection process that we call voir dire.

      The answer to your question is “no.”

      Jury selection is all about identifying and using the questioning process to eliminate the prospective jurors whom you want to eliminate.

      Put another way, by questioning and eliminating prospective jurors for cause and exercising peremptory challenges, the prosecution and defense generally eliminate the prospective jurors whom their opponent would like to seat on the jury.

      The people who survive the questioning process,which we call voir dire, are the people whom neither side wanted to eliminate.

      Voir dire proceeds in an orderly fashion questioning one juror at a time.

      After the panel of prospective jurors is escorted into the courtroom, each is assigned a number by randomly drawing a number out of a bowl. You might be #1 and I might be #2, etc, until every prospective juror on the panel has a number.

      The questioning begins with #1.

      Prosecution questions you until they challenge or pass you for cause. If they challenge you and the challenge is successful, you will be excused. If the challenge is denied and they have no more questions, the defense will question you until it challenges or passes you for cause. If you are passed for cause, they will move on to question me following the same process with the prosecution going first.

      Peremptory challenges are exercised after each member of the panel has been questioned and either excused for cause or passed for cause.

      You might reasonably expect the prosecution will use a peremptory challenge to eliminate you since they unsuccessfully challenged you for cause.

      Given my background, I would be unlikely to make it onto any jury in a criminal case because the prosecution would fear that I would influence the jury to vote not guilty and would use a peremptory challenge to eliminate me.

      That would be a mistake if this were jury selection for the Zimmerman case.

      Under this scenario, both of us would be eliminated by the prosecution using 2 of its 6 peremptory challenges.

      The defense likely would have wanted me on the jury because of my background (unless the case was the Zimmerman case and they had read this blog), but they would have realized the prosecution would eliminate me so they would have been polite but not questioned me at length because they would have realized that it was a waste of time.

      This example illustrates the danger of lawyers making general assumptions regarding how prospective jurors might vote based on their race, gender, religion, age, ethnic background, marital status, sexual preference, education, occupation or economic class. Nevertheless, lawyers make these kinds of mistakes all the time.

      RULE: Lawyers must exercise care to avoid using a peremptory challenge to excuse a prospective juror who, if they knew more about them, they would realize the juror would have voted for their side.

      Keep in mind that a judge must grant a challenge for cause, if the prospective juror admits the he or she cannot follow the jury instructions (i.e., the law) or fairly and impartially decide the case due to bias for or prejudice against a party to the case. Otherwise, the challenge must be denied.

      Hope this helps to understand the process.

  13. Loree says:

    follow

  14. CherokeeNative says:

    What’s the saying? If they are too dumb to figure out how to get out of jury duty, then they are going to be too dumb to be able to follow even the simplest theory and evidence of the case before them. Through the years we have disempowered and “dumbed down” the jury. Not only have we limited what can be argued to the jury and micromanaged them, but the process has become less an effort to remove jurors with apparent biases and more a fishing expedition for jurors predisposed in favor of one’s side. It has degenerated into a speculative and reductive search by each side for ignoramuses with a prescribed set of presumed biases. Through juror questionnaires, preemptive challenges and jury consultants, we can actually empanel a jury of citizens too dumb to sort this stuff out, or, worse yet, be misled by defense attorneys to the point of being brainwashed into rendering cosmically ridiculous verdicts. Indeed, if the nature of a case is such that the prosecutor wants smart jurors, chances are that the defense lawyer will want to get rid of them. And vice versa. The result will often be a jury like the one that acquitted Casey Anthony or the one that acquitted O. J. Simpson, which included not one college graduate and not one regular newspaper reader. We all know that O’Mara will be doing everything possible to keep Black people off the jury, while trying to retain the extreme right racists that makes up a large part of GZ’s donors. A lawyer will never admit to acting on the basis of race, but he/she can almost always articulate (or concoct) race-neutral reasons (or pretexts) for striking particular jurors. Do we really want a jury that is too lazy to keep up with the news in their own county or state, or who is too biased to truly examine the evidence? We need to revamp our jury system towards keeping intelligent, highly educated, well-informed people on the jury panel. Smart people will analyze the case. They will take the words “reasonable person” and actually try to think about them. The evidence against GZ “is strong” in my opinion – my only worry is that our jurors will be too lazy, too dumb, or too biased to be able to see that. My hopes are that it is “God’s plan” to put GZ in prison for a very very long time.

    • Dennis says:

      The law says the jury should be unbiased. Unfortunately, that is not really the case for the prosecution or the defense.

      The prosecution would love to have jurors that strongly believe in GZ’s guilt even before the trial.

      Likewise, the defense would love to have jurors that believe in GZ’s innocence.

      The prosecution intentionally made W9’s molestation accusations public to taint the jury pool even more against GZ.

      Likewise, O’Mara is also letting his client speak publicly and spit lie after lie in in a desperate PR campaign

      • TruthBTold says:

        “The prosecution intentionally made W9′s molestation accusations public to taint the jury pool even more against GZ.”

        I don’t believe this to be accurate. The judge ordered the release in accordance with the Sunshine Laws. Actually, I think both sides did not want this released. I really don’t believe that the prosecution wants to or needs to do anything in an attempt to taint the jury pool.

      • Dennis,

        This statement is not true:

        The prosecution intentionally made W9′s molestation accusations public to taint the jury pool even more against GZ.

        The judge ordered the prosecution to release W9’s two tape-recorded statements.

        This statement is misleading:

        Likewise, O’Mara is also letting his client speak publicly and spit lie after lie in in a desperate PR campaign

        GZ appears to be calling the shots and there isn’t anything O’Mara can do except object and tag along while attempting to perform damage control or withdraw from the case. I don’t know him, so I do not know what he is thinking, but I doubt that he supports what GZ is saying and doing.

      • ajamazin says:

        “The prosecution intentionally made W9′s molestation accusations public to taint the jury pool even more against GZ.”

        O’Mara blamed the prosecution, but George disagreed and insisted it was God’s plan.

    • TruthBTold says:

      “What’s the saying? If they are too dumb to figure out how to get out of jury duty, then they are going to be too dumb to be able to follow even the simplest theory and evidence of the case before them.”

      An ignorant, ridiculous, and silly statement. Not to be cheesy, but jury duty is part of the fabric of our rights and functions of our adversarial system. First, it is a bit more difficult to get out of jury duty now. Second, once served an individual is not called again until another 6 years, and there is a little payment. So, I don’t get why it’s such a hardship in a lot of cases. Don’t know if I agree with revamping the system for only “highly educated people, etc.,” and I am most certainly don’t agree with calling people dumb and stuff. Interesting post.

      • CherokeeNative says:

        You are allowed your opinion, as I am allowed mine – and I, sir, disagree with you in more ways than one. No one said it was not a part of “the fabric” of our judicial system. It is just that it needs to be brought into the 21st Century. And, yes, it is quite easy to get out of jury duty.

      • aussie says:

        A case might go on for weeks. The “little payment” won’t do much for someone whose mortgage and family food depend on a much higher regular salary (which his employer won’t be paying for a say 3 month trial).

        A small business/self-employed person can’t afford to take even 3 days off. But he can claim to be highly prejudiced against one side or another and thereby get out of having to serve.

        There are plenty of reasonably educated people not working (on age or disability pensions for example) who’d probably be happy to serve more than once in 6 years.

  15. ed nelson says:

    point: [“GZ sexually molested… “].
    8. The allegation is unlikely to come up at trial, but lots of people know about it and it might prejudice jurors against him.
    italicize: //> “Hey Gorgie, did you quit finger fuk’n your little cousin… when you were like… all of eight years old.. yet?”//<. IE: (Did you Stop beating your wife yet pal?) that's the old "red herring trick."
    ________________
    This socio/psyco/path personage… will walk, cause he's got the backup, and like OJ, that is the way it rolls, like all things in these remainders of time… !
    __________________
    Just kiddi'n around, I don't got a horse in this race!

    • Zhickel says:

      Glad you are ‘just kiddi’n’ because I’m starting to find your posts slightly offensive.

      * * * * *

      On the subject of finding jurors who have no recollection, prejudices or bias, I believe this will be possible because not everyone views this case through the prism of intense internet scrutiny and the resultant emotional attachment to the outcome.

      • ed nelson says:

        That was kind of offensive, but my point was that something done in childhood, something alledged and unvarified to have been done, well, should that be dredged up to pile on to the poor fool, when he gets his 15 minutes of fame… or infamy?

        ****
        I don’t especially like to comment on an active case where it is probable that there can be even a tiny bit of influence on any part of it, brought even by those who, if completely divorced from any prejudice for or against the outcome, which I don’t have, honest.

        I hate to see lives wasted and would refrain from all comments, other than that so many are jumping in, and so that is all.
        ****
        The term I used was a little crude, sorry, I retract it.

      • Zhickel says:

        ed nelson

        Appreciate your retraction.

        I agree that the molestation accusations should never have been made public. As FL said a post or two back, ‘You can’t unring a bell’.

        The selection process has a reasonable number of checks and balances as FL describes it. Let’s hope they are sufficient to eliminate irrationally emotional and/or biases jurors.

  16. TruthBTold says:

    Professor,

    I understand what you wrote, but just to make sure I am clear on one point you said this “We set aside all of the jurors who have no recollection of the case.” I know that not guilty would be our (for the sake of this discussion) target jurors, but those with no recollection are they potentials or set aside as disqualified? If it is the former, should we have concerns about an individual(s) that stated having no recollection of this case? Thanking you in advance.

  17. Justkiddin* says:

    I am dragging my comment from the last post. Hope you do not mind. I have horrible timing, I posted right after you put this post up.

    I thought in Florida they only seated six jurors unless it was a murder 1 or death penalty case? I’m not sure guess I am asking you. There is no doubt in my mind they can seat a jury. Yes a lot of people have commented and followed this case but there is just as many who have not commented or followed. I just pray Florida has all of their village idiots locked up for this trial. Probably should not say that but for the life of me I never could figure out why the jury for Ms. Anthony never deliberated. Well imo they did not do any discussing of the facts.
    (comment from last post) I have been out all day and I come back to some really great comments.
    The big flashlight did belong to Z. He told LE it did not work however the police turned it right on with no problem. I did read that information in one of the document dumps.
    So I have a question for you sharp people. The 13 year old boy walking his dog. His first statement he told LE he heard someone groaning, he only saw the one person on the ground. He said it sounded like they fell and broke their leg. Could Z have hit the tree and fell on his lying ass? Anyone else remember this statement? If so did they give the location of where he thought this happened because in my very old age I do not remember.

    Now I will try to keep this brief. GZ parked by his friends like he said. That is how TM is checking him out. TM is walking that way to go home. I believe TM ran down that street. I think he hid and I believe GZ ran after but instead of going back to his vehicle he went down the street farther, realized TM was behind him and turned to chase him. Maybe the struggle started before the dog walk. TM ask why are you following me, a small struggle TM gets away. Maybe he swung a branch and busted that freak in the face. This really pissed Z off (boy sees him down) he gets up chases him down, jumps on TM’s back. The fight for TM’s life begins and then the gun shot. I have no clue if this is what happened but it does not add up that Z went to the other street and it makes no sense the struggle started at the dog walk unless they ran down the road first and when Z lost him TM doubled back thinking he would get away when nut case realized TM was running again.

    • Yes, I believe you are right about Florida only using 6 jurors, but everybody else uses 12 for felony trials.

      Anyway, the principles of jury selection are the same.

      Just cut the peremptory challenges in half to three apiece.

    • aussie says:

      I think TM hid in one of the gaps between rows of houses. GZ, not seeing him on the path, DID go through to RVC to check TM had not gone through there. Then he returned through another gap between buildings onto the doggie path just when TM came out of HIS gap, thinking it was safe to do so.

      The “coming over to check me out” could not happen at Taaffe’s house. The time needed from there for TM to walk to the doggie path would have been 2 minutes AFTER the shooting. To fit the with call timing, it had to be when GZ was parked about half-way on the east-west section of TTL.

      Calling the innocent defendant a freak nutcase is NOT going to get you onto the jury.

      • Justkiddin* says:

        LOL, Point taken. I shall refrain from calling him that if I am called upon. I doubt that would happen I am miles away from Florida. Thanks for clearing up the timeline. When you get old like me you will realize time is not that important, waking up above ground is important. :/

      • PYorck says:

        aussie, I think your scenario with the gaps is interesting and would explain a lot, but there is one detail that doesn’t seem to fit easily. That’s the little flashlight found at the T. Of all the things you can lose in the dark a lit flashlight attached to your car keys is among those that you are most likely to pick up unless you have very urgent other business. Had GZ lost it before ever encountering TM I don’t think he would have abandoned it. I guess it is possible that he never noticed, but that would be at least a little surprising. Of course there may be an additional twist that explains it.

      • aussie says:

        PYorck that’s a summary of a much bigger theory.
        The gaps (unpaved paths) would be the southern ones, the chase from there goes north (witness to this). They argue at the T (witnesses to this) with some grappling, (this is where GZ loses the key/light) and chase back southward again (witnesses to this also). The serious wrestling starts close to the final shooting spot (witnesses to various stages of the fight).
        I believe DeeDee’s “get off get off” is close to the shooting spot on the way north; phone, iced tea and large flashlight get dropped here before going to the T. After the T argument TM runs south, not elsewhere, in order to recover his phone (to call help).

        • I am not seeing any gaps between the townhouses.

          I’m just seeing two long buildings containing townhouses that used to be called apartment buildings. The buildings are oriented in a N/S direction and parallel to each other. The back sides of the buildings face each other across an open lawn bisected by a sidewalk that runs N/S between the buildings paralleling them.

          I don’t see any obvious places to hide. However, it was raining and dark that night and the only lighting in the grassy area behind the buildings was the occasional patio light and light spilling out from rooms inside the building. Not much light, in other words.

          Perhaps TM could have pressed his back against a building and melted into the dark shadows with his dark hooded sweatshirt while he was talking to Dee Dee.

          I don’t know where he was but I do not believe he was any farther south than the location where his body was found.

          Here’s a link to an overlay of a Google Earth Satellite view and the Total Station showing the location of various items in the debris field.

          Thanks to JD for preparing it.

          I’m thinking GZ ran into a branch of a tree hurting his nose and scratching his face. The tree is next to the location of Item 1, the key chain and flashlight.

          Where do you think TM was located?

    • JK, I also responded to this topic on the previous post, which relates to what you have written. “The 13 year old boy walking his dog. His first statement he told LE he heard someone groaning, he only saw the one person on the ground.”

      I actually think that Austin did, in fact, see Mr. Zimmerman on top of Mr. Martin. He said he only saw one person who looked like he had fallen and hurt himself. If two people are on the ground with one on top, a person at a distance would only see the back of the person on top, not the one on the bottom. Everything that Austin says points toward Zimmerman being on top JUST PRIOR to the gunshot, IMO.

      • aussie says:

        They could be on their sides, face to face, too. Someone behind would only see one of them. A number of witnesses only saw “one person”

  18. aussie says:

    And this is where, having better things to do with the next 4 weeks or 4 months, I decide I don’t want to be on the jury (fancy that, the jury pool was so tainted they had to go as far as Australia to seek potentially fair jurors).
    “…if they had to vote now, without having heard any evidence, what their verdict would be…”
    A: I’ve already seen the evidence, heck I’ve written some of the evidence, I’d have to vote guilty.

    Can people get away with such blatant attempts at getting out of jury duty?

    • Dennis says:

      I had a friend who at jury duty told the judge that he would not convict anyone unless they had them on video committing the crime. I bet the prosecution eliminated him first.

      • masonblue says:

        Actually, the judge probably excused him for cause without waiting for the prosecution to assert the challenge because the prospective juror’s statement, in essence, was a refusal to follow the jury instructions, which jurors are required to follow.

  19. You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine, and I do not see any evidence that supports GZ’s claim of self-defense.

    And I have examined the evidence in detail.

  20. TruthBTold says:

    This comment is with respect to those individuals who have no recollection or claim unawareness of the case. Although in theory, this type of person would be a good juror, it would raise red flags to me because of the publicity of the case and I would be concerned about their motives for wanting to be seated. However, it may depend on how far away the trial is from the time it became national.

    About a year and some change ago, I was called for jury duty and the case in which I was questioned, was personal injury/slip and fall case (snow and ice on subway stairs or floor). I could actually see how could have possibly been a good juror for both sides. For the plaintiff’s side, my mother suffered a back injury from a fall on her job, but from a defense standpoint my professional history includes working in civil litigation for defense med mal., and personal injury firms. Needless to say, I was let go.There’s a method to the madness. Ha!

    • Plaintiff’s counsel excused you with a peremptory because of your defense work.

    • aussie says:

      Neither side likes “experts” on the jury. They will bring in their own experts, thank you very much, and the jury should be a bunch of the defendant’s peers who can be swayed by big words and smoke and mirrors.

      I was kicked out on my only jury call for having too much court experience — just as witness in several similar cases. For both sides. (Though the side I was on won each time, I told them that).

      • TruthBTold says:

        LOL @ experts. Yeah, I remember both plaintiff and defense counsel asking me a great deal of questions especially, when I revealed my mom having slipped and fell but particularly, plaintiff’s counsel asking me more in-depth, if you will, questions once my defense work was revealed. It is not an exact science in my opinion, but they have a job to do to the best of their abilities, so I didn’t take it too personally lol. I know who I am and my mindset, so it’s okay.

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