Wednesday, June 19, 2013
We have completed liveblogging the 8th day of jury selection.
Bernie de la Rionda spent the day teaching and indoctrinating the panel of 40 prospective jurors (PJs) with the legal foundation of the case that he will present to them in opening statement. Judging by their reaction, he succeeded in building rapport and trust.
The defense has a big mountain to climb tomorrow.
Bernie used a mixture of one-at-a-time voir dire as to the entire group and then switched to what we used to call the Donahue Method after the former TV host, Phil Donahue.
We would never have been allowed to conduct a classroom style multiple-hour education of the panel regarding legal principles as Bernie did.
Judges instruct on the law, not lawyers.
Voir dire means to question.
During his initial questioning of the panel, he asked each individual juror how long they had lived in Seminole County and Florida, their marital status and children, and what they liked to do with their spare time.
Then he used the Donahue Method to question the panel of 40 as a group on the following subjects:
1. Knowledge of the defendant, lawyers, court personnel and witnesses to be called;
2. Familiarity with TV programs about forensics, cops and the law;
3. Difference between direct and circumstantial evidence;
4. Whether anyone was arrested and prosecuted for a crime;
5. Victims of crime, particularly violent crime;
6. Experience with Neighborhood Watch programs;
7. Whether anyone believes they have the right to take the law into their own hands;
8. Whether anyone believes any person by reason of wealth, education, employment, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, language or dress should be treated differently under the law;
9. Whether anyone has been a witness before or served on a jury;
10. Member of law enforcement or knows someone who is;
11. Whether anyone has medical experience or knowledge;
12. Owns a gun, has a license to carry concealed, NRA membership;
13. Whether people who own guns have a responsibility to learn how to use them;
14. Whether anyone is a fitness freak or trained fighter or been in a fight;
15. Whether anyone has special knowledge or training in cell phones, phonetics, linguistics, or DNA testing; and
16. Whether anyone would not be able to look at gruesome photographs for their evidentiary value.
No one was excused today although I believe 2 PJs should be excluded for financial and familial hardship, especially since the trial is expected to last 2-4 weeks and the jury will be sequestered. Both are Hispanic.
B-29 is a married mother with 8 children at home. The oldest is 22. She works as a CNA. She is juror #2 in the box and would be replaced by B-51, a retired white female from Oviedo with a dog and 20-year-old cat. Knows a good deal about the case, but said “I’m not rigid in my thinking.” She moved to Florida from Atlanta and was the Director of a call center for 1,200 employees.
P-67 is an auto mechanic whose job might not be there after the trial. He is 22nd on the list of 40.
The defense will voir dire tomorrow starting at 9 am EDT.
If the defense has not completed questioning the PJs by 2 pm, Judge Nelson will excuse them for the day in order to resume and complete at least the evidentiary portion of the Frye hearing. The prosecution will be presenting one rebuttal witness, Tom Owen.
I doubt she will be ready to issue her decision at the conclusion of the hearing, so look for it early next week, probably Monday.
I will see you all tomorrow morning at 9 am EDT.
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