George Zimmerman Jury Selection Update (Day 3)

It's Day Three of jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial. We have llive-updating of Days 1 and 2 and this morning at the Forums. Comment threads are here. Diwataman has a list of questioned prospective jurors (by number, gender, race.) [More...]

There will be 6 jurors chosen and 4 alternates. According to Florida Criminal Procedure Rule 3.350, each side gets 10 peremptory challenges for the chosen jurors and an additional peremptory challenge for the alternates. The parties can only challenge the alternates with their one peremptory for that purpose (they can't use an unexercised peremptory challenge from the main panel on the alternates.)

Thus far the jurors are only being questioned on their exposure to media and whether they have formed opinions and can set them aside. Sometimes the questioning veers into a discussion of security fears, race or whether sequestration (which the Judge has not yet decided on) will be a hardship.

The jurors being questioned are those who answered a certain way to a specific question on the questionnaire. It appears the questin was about exposure to pre-trial publicity and those being questioned come from the subset that said they can put what they've heard and read aside and/or haven't formed an opinion. The lawyers agreed on which ones from this subset should be questioned. The others, those who replied they had a fixed opinion which wouldn't change were excused without questioning.

After each juror is questioned, the parties approach the bench so either one can make a challenge for cause. The judge rules but does not announce how she ruled. Although today, one potential juror was dismissed right after questioning by the state's attorney. He had insisted murder is murder, even in self-defense, and said he didn't know if he could put that view aside if the court instructed the jury differently. There was no need for defense questioning -- the parties approached the bench and he was done.

According to the Herald, 73 potential jurors have been dismissed so far. All but 2 were dismissed without questioning. 100 jurors are being summoned each day. That means roughly 24% (71 of 300) either said they had a fixed opinion that couldn't be changed or had some other reason for not serving. (Most hardship and ineligibility excusals were determined in advance by another judge. They didn't have to show up at all.)

The court administrator says when 30 prospective jurors have been passed for cause on the pre-trial publicity issue, they will move into the second phase which is the actual voir dire on all topics. They will be questioned as a group. I wonder if they don't need 32 prospective jurors for the second round. If all 20 peremptory challenges were used on the main panel, they would need 26. If both sides used their alternate peremptory challenge in choosing the four alternates, they would need 6. 26 plus 6 is 32.

There is no publicly available written order on how the process is occurring. The issue of admissibility of voice/speech expert testimony has not yet been resolved.

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    The Atlantic questions legality (none / 0) (#1)
    by SuzieTampa on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:43:00 PM EST
    In the Atlantic's coverage of the jury selection, a writer has suggested that the defense's recent disclosures might be illegal. This seems a pretty risky comment for a mainstream publication to make.
    And then there's the layer of the jury influencing that has gone unspoken, may be illegal, and is nonetheless undeniable: Zimmerman's defense team has continued to leak stories about Martin's character, his history of "violence," and his marijuana use to the press.
    I would hardly call disclosing information to the court "leaking."

    It's the press (none / 0) (#3)
    by cboldt on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:46:16 PM EST
    It's what they do.  I don't think the reporter's mistakes are actionable by O'Mara.  By now it seems a good number of people are aware that the press is misleading at best.  They can go ahead and sink their own boat.  I'll help sink it, where I can.

    Maybe some excitement (none / 0) (#2)
    by cboldt on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 04:43:20 PM EST
    Seems that E-7 may have lied to the court.  Stealth juror got caught with facebook posting that he ultimately admitting was his.

    So, will the court or the prosecutor do anything about it?  Or is this sort of misleading activity acceptable?

    This is the post (none / 0) (#4)
    by ackbarsays on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:02:50 PM EST
    It is believed that this is the comment he made (they were not supposed to have gotten this far if they'd made any comments on social media, I think, so it's clear that he lied if this was indeed his posting):

    .....In Sanford...& I CAN tell you THIS. "Justice"...IS Coming!...& I'll tell you why. The ONLY reason this corrupt City Police dept. was stonewalling was because since they KNOWINGLY worked with this Self-appointed "Neighborhood Watch" Security...& KNEW he carried a weapon...They knew they AND the Homeowners Association were Liable for HUGE $$$ damages in court...MINUTES after the shooting occurred. But with the noise WE made...it couldn't be covered up. I only hope the Feds go farther than just THIS case in investigating This "Police Force". The Seminole County "Justice' System needs an ENEMA...& they just MIGHT GET one!


    Potential jurors lie all the time (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:30:43 PM EST
    mostly to keep from getting on the jury.

    He made it in some small-time press (none / 0) (#6)
    by cboldt on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 05:55:01 PM EST
    Trayvon Martin justice group member tries to get onto George Zimmerman jury - NY Daily News

    [Nelson] She asked if he posted something to the "Coffee Party Progressives" Facebook page March 21. ...

    The man said yes, and then was dismissed from the jury.

    According to its Facebook page, the Coffee Party Progressives is a group "dedicated to seeking justice for Trayvon Martin."

    Among the comments were some believed to be from juror E-7, who made incendiary remarks about Zimmerman and police in Sanford, Fla., where Martin was shot.

    E-7, Missed On Forum Updates (none / 0) (#7)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 03:33:55 AM EST
    I think E-7 was questioned after B-87 and before E-13.

    That would mean he fell through the cracks of the updates on the Forum.


    Martins in front of the bench (none / 0) (#8)
    by friendofinnocence on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:13:56 AM EST
    The Martins and their attorney gave a statement in the courtroom denouncing someone who said Trayvon would be alive if he didn't have a "street attitude".

    Shouldn't there be a mistrial have been called immediately, or is the presumption of guilt so pervasive in the system that things like this are now OK?  If Martin is presumed to be a "victim", then it follows that Zimmerman is presumed to be a murderer.  They are selecting the jury, and the trial hasn't even started.  Doesn't the court think the Martins broadcasting Zimmerman is guilty from inside the courtroom might sway some jurors who haven't even been called in yet?

    I am appalled by this.

    Why? (none / 0) (#9)
    by Yman on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:35:46 AM EST
    I have no idea what courtroom you're talking about, but this didn't happen in front of the prospective jurors.

    Crump was responding to a statement on Fox News by former New York City police detective Harry Houck, who said that Trayvon Martin "would be alive today if he didn't have a street attitude."  Houck doesn't have the first clue what he's talking about and Crump was right to respond to Houck's character assassination.


    Didn't the court set aside an empty (none / 0) (#10)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:44:40 AM EST
    courtroom for media interaction with family members - on both sides?  If I remember correctly, both the Martin and Zimmerman families and/or their representatives have spoken from this room, so if there was video of the Martins making these comments from inside a courtroom, I think that's probably where it was done.

    Don't know - maybe (none / 0) (#11)
    by Yman on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:57:16 AM EST
    That would make sense, but I haven't really been following the proceedings.  To me, unless you're an active participant in a case, jury selection is only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry.

    (A Google search seems to confirm the use of a separate courtroom for press conference - makes sense, given the media interest in this case and the fact that many court houses just don't have available rooms large enough for press conferences - apart from court rooms.

    But (as I'm sure you know) there's no way any statements like these would be permitted in front of prospective jurors.)


    prospective jurors (none / 0) (#12)
    by friendofinnocence on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:13:36 AM EST
    Prospective jurors have already been selected and are at home waiting to be called to the courthouse.

    And? (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Yman on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:55:07 AM EST
    You expressed outrage (and a demand for mistrial) because this was done "in front of the bench" and  "in the court room".  My point was that this was not done in front of the jurors who were being interviewed, and if your objection is to any press conference anywhere, the location is irrelevant.

    If your point was that both sides should not make any statements to the media that could be heard by prospective jurors watching TV at home (internet, newspaper, etc.), I might agree.  The problem is: 1) the 1A provides for free speech/press, 2) the court has addressed this issue and refused to issue a gag order, 3) this was (apparently) being done in an empty courtroom provided specifically for this purpose, 4) both sides have made statements to the press since prospective jurors were notified, both in an out of the court room.

    Your real objection seems to be the content of this statement.  Otherwise, you would be equally outraged by O'Mara's false statement (in the court room and broadcast to prospective jurors who were already notified) about the video on TM's phone.  In this case, the Martins were perfectly justified in denouncing Harry Houck's attempt to rationalize the killing by attacking TM.


    objection (none / 0) (#14)
    by friendofinnocence on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:04:23 AM EST
    My objection is this is a self-defense case, yet the "victims" and their civil attorney - who have already made money off of this case - are allowed to stand in the courtroom, in front of the flags, and complain that someone, somewhere, said TM's death was caused by his own actions.  If the jury finds that to be true, well, gosh - the Martins aren't "victims" after all.

    IF the jury finds ... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Yman on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:31:59 AM EST
    IF the jury finds that Martin's actions were caused by his own actions, it does not mean the Martins' aren't victims.  It means the state will not have met their burden in prosecuting GZ for the crimes of which he is accused.

    Either way, the Martins' criticism of this clueless, Fox News analyst's statements are entirely justified.  He blamed Martin's death on his "street attitude" - something he has no way of knowing.  His family was perfectly justified and right in criticizing his statement, and their response isn't remotely grounds for a mistrial - whether they were made in an empty courtroom and in front of flags, or anywhere else for that matter.

    I'm limited to 4 comments on Zimmerman threads, so I'm done, but IF Zimmerman is successful in his suit against NBC, I'm sure you will be equally outraged by his "making money off of this case".



    it's amazing how you read minds (none / 0) (#18)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:36:49 PM EST
    and know what motivates other people's comments. You could have your own TV reality show. You do realize that the Martins don't have a side here, right? They are not part of the prosecution. This trial isn't about them and it is not really about their son. Sadly he is gone. This is Zimmerman's trial and he is presumed innocent at this point. Crumb and his behavior are mostly out of line and out of place.

    It's a temporary label for convenience (none / 0) (#15)
    by cboldt on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:30:17 AM EST
    Zimmerman is defendant.  The other party is victim.  It doesn't have any "real" meaning outside of the legal process, it's just a way to distinguish the parties while the legal case sorts out.

    Of course, in the real world, people are making hay with the legal label and inviting people to assign real world significance to it.  "If the law says Martin is the victim, then Zimmerman is guilty" sort of leap.


    'The Victim' (none / 0) (#16)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:31:37 AM EST
    In a homicide case, the accused is called 'the defendant' and the deceased is called 'the victim', whether the defendant claims justification or makes some other defense. I think this is general, not something special to the Zimmerman case.

    It bugged me at first too. I've learned to think of it as a term of art.


    Catch Us Up, Please (none / 0) (#19)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 01:28:47 AM EST
    Does anyone have a link to video or transcript of what the statement said, and also of the statement being denounced?

    Houck and Crump on Houck (none / 0) (#20)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 07:30:22 AM EST
    Fox Harry Houck Trayvon Street Attitude | Mediaite

    She was talking about the Skittles that he had, and the Coca-Cola that Trayvon Martin had. That doesn't look good for the defense because he's injecting something into their minds, like, this is a little kid with candy walking around the street. Listen, Trayvon Martin would be alive today if he didn't have a street attitude. That's the bottom line.

    Trayvon's Parents Hail Jury Process but Warn of Media Excess | BET

    "Yesterday, former NYPD detective Harry Houck commented to FOX that Trayvon would be alive today if he didn't have a street attitude," Crump said at the press conference. "This comment is reprehensible and extremely reminiscent of the victim blaming rhetoric we saw a year ago."