Zimmerman Jury Has Question on Manslaughter

Update: The jury has ordered in dinner. The parties and judge agreed the judge will respond to the jury's question as follows:

The court cannot engage in general discussion but may be able to address a specific question regarding clarification of the instructions regarding manslaughter. if you have a specific question please submit it.
What this means: The jury had a question on manslaughter and wanted to ask the judge about it. The jury didn't specify what question they had. The parties submitted case law about the extent to which a judge can meet with a jury to answer questions about the law. They agreed upon a response which tells them they to submit a more specific question and the judge will try to answer it.

See original post below: If the jury is following the court's instructions, their consideration of manslaughter means they have rejected Murder 2 but it does not mean they have considered or rejected self-defense. They may or may not have gotten to self-defense yet. [More...]

Court is in session. The jurors have a question on manslaughter. The lawyers argued over how to respond to the question. The judge recessed for 30 minutes. She's may want to research or consult with someone on the appropriate response.

If the jurors are following instructions, it means they have rejected Murder 2 because the instructions tell them not to consider manslaughter unless they have rejected Murder 2.

In considering the evidence, you should consider the possibility that although the evidence may not convince you that George Zimmerman committed the main crime of which he is accused, there may be evidence that he committed other acts that would constitute a lesser included crime. Therefore, if you decide that the main accusation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you will next need to decide if George Zimmerman is guilty of any lesser included crime. The lesser crime indicated in the definition of Second Degree Murder is: Manslaughter

The talking heads are wrong that the question means they have rejected self-defense. That's one possibility. But they also may have rejected Murder 2 on the state of mind element alone, without having to reach self-defense. If so, they would move on to a consideration of manslaughter before getting to self-defense.

Just because O’Mara told them to work on self-defense first, they aren't bound by what he tells them. The way the instructions are written, the jury may think it first should decide whether the elements of Murder 2 or Manslaughter were met before moving to self-defense.

It seems like common sense after reading the instructions as a whole that since self-defense prevents a conviction on either charge, they should consider it first. I certainly wish the instructions were written that way. But they are not.

A literal reading of the instructions says: First first decide if GZ killed TM. If yes, then consider the circumstances and decide if it is Murder 2, Manslaughter or whether the killing was excusable or resulted from the justifiable use of deadly force.

The instructions refer to Justifiable Use of Force early on, but they don’t instruct how to decide the issue of Justifiable Use of Force until page 12, which is after the Murder 2 and Manslaughter instructions.

The instructions first tell the jury:

In this case, George Zimmerman is accused of Second Degree Murder.

A killing that is excusable or was committed by the use of justifiable deadly force is lawful. If you find Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, you will then consider the circumstances surrounding the killing in deciding if the killing was Murder in the Second Degree or was Manslaughter, or whether the killing was excusable or resulted from justifiable use of deadly force.

Nor does this mean the jury is divided. It could just be they don't understand the manslaughter instruction so they haven't yet decided if it has been proven. If after the judge answers their question, they decide it has been met, they would then move on to self-defense. If they find he acted in self-defense, they would then be directed to find him not guilty.

That the jury has moved passed Murder 2 does not mean they have rejected self-defense. It is one possibility -- the other is that they are determining whether the state proved either charge before getting to to the issue of self-defense.

Also, the news is now flashing the manslaughter statute instead of the manslaughter instruction. The judge did not give the culpable negligence instruction. There is only manslaughter by act. Manslaughter by act is a necessarily lesser included offense. Culpable negligence is not. The manslaughter instruction reads:

To prove the crime of Manslaughter, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Trayvon Martin is dead.
2. George Zimmerman intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide:

Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence.

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon George Zimmerman, or to commit a felony in any dwelling house in which George Zimmerman was at the time of the killing.

Had the jury been on manslaughter by culpable negligence, which it was not, the instruction would have included:

I will now define “culpable negligence” for you. Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence. But culpable negligence is more than a failure to use ordinary care toward others. In order for negligence to be culpable, it must be gross and flagrant. Culpable negligence is a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.

The negligent act or omission must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others. Culpable negligence is consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.

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    I have jury duty this week (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:39:37 PM EST
    in a courthouse reopening for the first time after a major electrical fire, a week ago.  We cannot count on air conditioning or WiFi -- the building connected to it reopened too soon, so people were left literally in the dark and trapped on elevators -- and we will have no cafeteria or vending machines.  We may be donning masks to get to the few floors reopening for makeshift courts, as the cleanup will continue -- as will the dust, noise, etc. -- for weeks to come.  

    The jury assembly room also cannot be the usual one, so we may not have enough seats, for all we know. (And I will be coping with nicotine withdrawal, for the crankiest juror award.)

    As you can imagine, I could not countenance that commenter's swipes at this jury, sequestered for almost a month now.  I hope that I have to put up with the conditions in our courthouse for a week, and I do not expect to have the whole country waiting to attack me for whatever I decide to do.

    Wow...do you already know you have to go (none / 0) (#63)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:46:28 PM EST
    every day?

    We're warned of that, yes (none / 0) (#64)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:50:34 PM EST
    as, adding to the joy, there is a backlog, because of the courts being closed all of last week.

    It could have been worse.  

    At first, the plan was to have the jurors scheduled for last week also show up this week.  They now have been excused -- and they include my governor.  And thank the goddess for that, as I would have just had to tel him what I think of him.

    And I think that my contempt of my fellow juror could have landed me in contempt of court.


    But would not a few days in jail be worth (none / 0) (#89)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:42:49 PM EST
    it for the chance to tell off Scott Walker ,"The goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin" - Charles Pierce

    Hmmmmm. (none / 0) (#92)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:57:10 PM EST
    And Charlie Pierce is being kind.

    Sonny, who shall otherwise (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by MKS on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:01:13 PM EST
    remain nameless, has said on CNN that Judge Nelson let another jury deliberate until 3:00 a.m.

    So, the Judge will apparently let them go for as long as they like.

    over at CTH (none / 0) (#75)
    by friendofinnocence on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:07:57 PM EST
    Someone posted a tweet that says wrt that case in 2010 at 03:00 she called a mistrial.

    Maybe the better course (none / 0) (#86)
    by MKS on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:36:34 PM EST
    is to have the jury stop for today and come back fresh tomorrow.....

    She drives people pretty hard. (none / 0) (#76)
    by magster on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:08:42 PM EST
    Interesting verb choice, as (none / 0) (#80)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:22:24 PM EST
    she is "letting the jury drive this," according to one of the better commentators on CNN.  He (you knew it couldn't be Sunni) says that in this, as we have seen throughout, the judge makes clear that the jury is her paramount concern (my words).

    And now that the jury has the case, they finally set the calendar and clock, too.

    (I do agree that this judge drives the lawyers hard, and perhaps -- from what we saw and heard -- unreasonably so.  But she kept couching her dismissal of the lawyers' concerns as secondary to those of the jury, sequestered for weeks now.)


    the judge wouldn't keep the media and (none / 0) (#87)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:38:30 PM EST
    lawyers while they deliberated -- unless there was a strong expecyation they were about to finish.

    The local TV pundits seem to think the jury (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:32:30 PM EST
    would follow O'Mara's advice and decide self defense first, but of course they did not have to do that at all.

    The legal pundits are not laymen (none / 0) (#2)
    by cboldt on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:36:59 PM EST
    I agree with Jeralyn.  The jury may have decided to take the instructions page by page, in order, as presented.  They don't know the law like the pundits do, so won't naturally gravitate to the (perfectly legitimate) shortcut.  They don't know the shortcut, they don't know the law.

    Trust the pundits at your own peril.  They are just speculating to fill time.


    Absolutely true. (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:42:04 PM EST
    And they also act surprised to build excitement, or so it seems.

    they also are sitting in a studio (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:42:54 PM EST
    and probably don't have the instructions or statutes in front of them.

    Also, I personally think the self defense (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:45:49 PM EST
    question is the harder one to answer. They might think they  won't have to get that far.

    Pure speculation of course.


    Jeralyn, do you think the manslaughter instruction (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:39:44 PM EST
    is where the defense's request (that was refused) for the instruction that 'following is not illegal' or words to that effect would come into play? One of the local pundits was suggesting that, but I did not follow his reasoning.

    No. Whether he was (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:44:22 PM EST
    committing an illegal act pertains to whether he can avail himself of stand your ground. He had no duty to retreat if he was not committing an unlawful act and had a right to be in the place he was attacked.

    Ah, thank you. That makes sense. (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:46:51 PM EST
    Please move to Orlando and be a pundit here if we keep getting these widely covered trials!

    If the jury is considering SYG... (none / 0) (#67)
    by unitron on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:54:26 PM EST
    ...then we've really got a problem, don't we?

    For them to consider whether a defendant, who the defense argued was in no position to be able to retreat, did or did not have a duty to retreat means they're considering a scenario or scenarios nothing like what the defense said happened.

    Of course the prosecution version is basically "We don't know from Witness 8's testimony exactly who physically started things, so just assume Zimmerman did because he was a wannabe cop out to get this kid".

    Could the jury be looking for some middle ground where they reject "Martin struck first and I was trapped on the ground" and they reject "Just assume the defendant started it out of ill will"?

    What does that leave them with other than speculation?


    Are the exact jury questions (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:49:01 PM EST
    in the public domain?

    Here you go (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:50:41 PM EST
    Questions (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:52:13 PM EST
    Not instructions...

    Oh you mean (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:53:41 PM EST
    What they actually asked?

    Seems the lawyers and judge (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:54:56 PM EST
    Don't understand the question

    Kathi Belich, WFTV @KBelichWFTV
    They are trying to figure out whether the jury has a question about the law or the instruction and specifically what. #Zimmermanon9

    I assume any communication from the jury is in (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:10:57 PM EST
    writing and signed by the foreperson.

    Oculus, I just read in FL (none / 0) (#46)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:00:19 PM EST
    per a FL lawyer, ANY juror can ask a question of the judge so that juror doesn't have to get the others to agree to it.

    That may explain why the question was vague. (none / 0) (#54)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:31:37 PM EST
    the judge said it's part of the record (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:21:22 PM EST
    but the news has so many pundits talking if it was read publicly I didn't hear it. By the time I switched to the commentary free live feed on the computer instead of the TV, they were passed that point.

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#51)
    by Aunt Polgara on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:23:45 PM EST
    I'm so happy that I am able to contribute just a bit here for all of the good, factual comments I have read throughout this trial. You have done a yeoman's job keeping the threads on track! I really do appreciate it.

    To find every bit of trial testimony and other goodies, go to this site on youtube.


    I wondered (none / 0) (#14)
    by DennisD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:55:17 PM EST
    if they were going down the page but isn't that a strange way to do things? Why look at M2 or manslaughter if you feel self-defense was justified? Anyone know if this is how juries work in self-defense cases or does it vary?

    Yes (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:57:39 PM EST
    But then again, why put the self-defense instruction as the last thing after murder 2 and manslaughter? Odd indeed..

    it does sound counter-intuitive (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:59:27 PM EST
    since it applies to both charges, but because it's an affirmative defense, the judge and/or pattern instructions think it's best to state the charge and then say if its been proven, then decide the affirmative defense.

    The state has two burdens here: It must first prove the crime, and also disprove the affirmative defense.

    By analogy, compare the stand your ground immunity statute and the use of stand your ground as a defense to a murder charge at trial. When raised on its own by a motion to dismiss before trial, even if not argued or decided until at trial at the end of the state's case, SYG is not an affirmative defense but a bar to prosecution or conviction.

    Had Zimmerman moved to dismiss the charges based on the immunity statute before trial, there would be no need to consider whether the state had proven murder or manslaughter. Of course, if raised before trial it would be decided by this judge, and the defense would have had the burden of proving it applied by a preponderance of the evidence, and this judge would never have granted it. But the example may help illustrate what an affirmative defense is and why the jury is not instructed to consider it first rather than first considering whether the crime has been proved. You don't need an affirmative defense if the crime hasn't been proven.

    In another post months back, I wrote about the Diodata case where the defense made a motion to dismiss under the statute the week before jury selection and waived his right to a pretrial hearing on it. Instead, at the end of the state's case, he asked the judge to rule on it and also separately asked for a motion for judgment of acquittal. Separate motions, separate rulings. One was immunity, one was based on self-defense as an affirmative defense at trial.

    So it seems the jury is taking the courts instructions in this case very literally, and first considering whether the killing constituted a crime before getting to the question of whether the affirmative defense applies, in which case the killing would be justified and not unlawful.

    Sounds as* backwards to me too. And maybe the jury is doing its own thing. But if it is, then it's not following the instructions literally, but considering them as a whole.


    Thanks. It does make sense (none / 0) (#52)
    by DennisD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:24:12 PM EST
    in that a jury, not acquainted with procedure of any kind, would want to be careful and go through what is presented to them in order. I know O'Mara suggested they go to self-defense immediately but why would they listen to him rather then the judge and her instructions.

    Could You Explain Further? (none / 0) (#56)
    by RickyJim on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:32:44 PM EST
    I couldn't follow your explanation, Jeralyn.  I thought there is no affirmative defense consideration in this case because all that means (in Florida) is that the defense must present a tiny bit of evidence that the justifiable (and I guess also excusable) homicide instruction be included in the jury instructions.  The seems to have been settled before the testimony began since JN read that part of the instructions then.  

    If the jury asks, "Can we check both the manslaughter and not guilty lines?", it will confirm my theory about these instructions.


    That would be a "mell of a hess." (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:35:29 PM EST
    Thanks for the explanation (none / 0) (#69)
    by Darby on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:57:14 PM EST
    Although it does make me nervous.  I don't think anybody disagrees with the manslaughter charge though.  I mean Zimmerman killed Martin no question. Ie manslaughter is a given.  

    Can a killing... (none / 0) (#70)
    by unitron on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:58:27 PM EST
    ...be both a crime and justified and not unlawful?

    I'd have thought it'd be a crime unless justified and not unlawful.


    One pundit (think on CNN) has been stating (none / 0) (#17)
    by Cashmere on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:03:36 PM EST
    that the jurors may be going through the instructions as if it is a recipe (not sure if that was a slam on an all female jury), but it could be that they are taking one paragraph at a time, being very thorough, so as not to be criticized for their decision.  Even though O'Mara repeated numerous times that if it is self defense then there is reasonable doubt, the jurors may opt to focus on the instructions as opposed to what one of the attorney states.  I predict that they have not gotten t the last page yet where they will focus on self defense...  but who knows.

    I've heard before (none / 0) (#22)
    by DennisD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:21:15 PM EST
    that women are generally more methodical then men in how they approach problems, that they tend to use the "recipe book" method.

    Real men don't need instructions. (none / 0) (#30)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:33:03 PM EST

    That's why my beautiful wife frequently has to bail me out when assembling the kids Christmas toys.  :(



    My concern (gut feel) (none / 0) (#16)
    by Buckeye on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:00:54 PM EST
    is that the jury believes that GZ getting out of his truck was the cause of TM death, which is manslaughter.  They would be wrong and not following the law.  This could be where the defense losing the hearing about not getting into jury instructions that following someone in a car or on foot is not unlawful could be a deal breaker.  

    Jeralyn, you never ended up making a prediction or answering my question as to whether or not the jury could reach a "compromised" verdict of manslaughter.

    Curious about how your guts have knowledge of (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:25:25 PM EST
    6 women you don't know. Where are you getting these ideas?

    maybe (2.00 / 1) (#59)
    by TeresaInPa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:39:40 PM EST
    from the whole disappointingly illogical left side of the blogosphere which includes most of our friends and relatives? Also the media etc...
    When you see that many people being that crazy, it's hard to believe the jury might not be also.

    Probably from TV, Ruffian (none / 0) (#29)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:33:01 PM EST
    That's where I got mine. I've not seen but maybe one talking head lawyer, in the past three weeks, not say that the jury may come up with "but you shouldn't have gotten out of your car so we have to find you guilty of something" and they're left with manslaughter.

    They ALL say it (that I've seen and you know I've seen too much, lol)


    Wow, they are really saying that? (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:52:57 PM EST
    Explains a lot!

    Sorry about your mom. That is really hard. I don't blame you for finding a distraction :-) Maybe there is a better one after this!


    Whatever will you do post verdict? (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:34:46 PM EST
    Read! I have lots of books on my (none / 0) (#34)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:38:02 PM EST
    Kindle. And I've got to work up my nerve to go to my mom's. I've not been there yet to do a single thing and I have to do it somehow. She died in December and her condo is just sitting there like she left it April 8, 2012 when she fell.

    Then...football! I'll be around here talking football trash with BTD (not really, his team is better than mine).


    oops, meant to add (none / 0) (#32)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:35:24 PM EST
    If that many people think it, why shouldn't that poster also think so? Everyone I know does. "Maybe not Murder Two, maybe not manslaughter, but something"? And their choices are so limited.

    I don't think if they come back with manslaughter (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:13:30 PM EST
    it means it's a compromise verdict. It is a rejection of the defendant's self-defense argument. And also a rejection of the state's theory of ill will and hatred.

    Without self-defense, there's really no way to avoid a manslaughter conviction. All that it requires is that Martin be dead, and Zimmerman intended to commit the act (shooting him) that resulted in his death (which is not the same thing as intending to kill him.)

    Zimmerman has never argued he didn't intend to shoot Martin. He's argued it was self-defense and he had no other means of protecting himself.

    The jury can reject murder 2 for one of two reasons: Either the state failed to prove one or more of the elements (such as ill will, hatred) or it found the shooting justified and not unlawful due to self-defense.)

    If they reject murder 2 for the state of mind element, they are told to move on to manslaughter. If they reject it for self-defense, there is no need to move to manslaughter because self-defense is a defense to both.

    So a guilty verdict on manslaughter means they didn't believe self-defense. I don't think that's a compromise, I think that's a rejection of both the state's theory of ill will and the defense version of self defense.


    Now I'm really confused... (none / 0) (#74)
    by unitron on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:07:45 PM EST
    So do they get to manslaugter by deciding that Zimmerman thought he was acting in self-defense so it's not murder, but that his fear that triggered the self-defense wasn't actually reasonable?

    They get to manslaughter by a. rejecting (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:29:56 PM EST
    Murder 2 because they don't find the ill will or hatred.  Then  b. rejecting self defense because they don't find lethal force was justified.

    My gut feeling as well... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Cashmere on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:06:33 PM EST
    They want to find him guilty of "something".   They should be clear that following is not illegal, but I predict they are not.  If they knew this will likely be "30" years, I doubt they would be considering it.  So frustrating.

    O'Mara told then (none / 0) (#25)
    by DennisD on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:22:30 PM EST
    in closing that following is not a crime.

    DennisD (none / 0) (#49)
    by Aunt Polgara on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:13:36 PM EST
    As I recall, BDLR also told them in his closing that getting out of his truck, etc. is not illegal.

    The Instuctions are an Outrage (none / 0) (#18)
    by RickyJim on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:04:16 PM EST
    It seems like common sense after reading the instructions as a whole that since self-defense prevents a conviction on either charge, they should consider it first. I certainly wish the instructions were written that way. But they are not.

    Thank you Jeralyn.  I have been complaining about the instructions from the start when JN read the Justifiable Homicide part before testimony started.  I consider instructions like these a violation of due process.  I am particularly annoyed that the connection between the Not Guilty check mark and the explanations of Justifiable and Excusable Homicide in the instructions was not pointed out precisely.  

    I had the same reaction (none / 0) (#21)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:12:05 PM EST
    from reading through the first several pages, and only then getting to the self-defense instructions.

    TalkLeft has made me so smart that I realized that made the instructions an illogical path to follow.

    (I mused about setting up a syllabus or a grading rubric that way, and then having to deal with many questions from students for weeks and weeks to follow -- and possibly also inviting grade appeals.  Well, now we see the jury has questions.  And it's interesting to hear a commentator note that in one her jobs in a federal office, a very common cause for appeal was: jury instructions.)


    I'm stunned... (none / 0) (#24)
    by scooterdoo on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:21:28 PM EST
    I am stunned that six adults would ask such a vague question. Clearly, the judge would need to get the defendant's attorneys in court, the defendant back into court, the prosecution team into court, then read the vague question, then allow the attorneys and prosecutors to research case law, then the judge rule on the response... which would obviously be little more than, "What do you mean? What are you trying to ask?"

    The manslaughter instruction is pretty ... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by magster on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:39:48 PM EST
    convoluted. For 6 people not trained in the law, I don't begrudge them asking for clarification, especially with the fate of someone on the line.

    Might not be all six (none / 0) (#28)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:28:09 PM EST
    Might be one with a question that she could not understand in the instructions, and the others could not answer to her satisfaction. We had that happen more than once in the jury I was on. Based on that experience I am surprised it does not happen more often.

    true, but... (none / 0) (#33)
    by scooterdoo on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:35:47 PM EST
    The jury Foreman should have asked the confused person to articulate the issue she is confused on. I don't see how  any reasonable adult can expect any meaningful clarifying response to the vague question, "May we please have clarification on the instruction for manslaughter?"

    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:43:29 PM EST
    and was reminded of questions or emails from students asking me to "explain the syllabus."

    Uh, some of my syllabi are as long as those jury instructions.

    So, then I have to prepare for half an hour in my office or a series of emails, back and forth, to coax the specific question from the student.  Grading formula?  Grading scale?  Schedule of readings?  Rubric for assignments?  Prep for tests? Reasons for exceptions or extensions, which do not include two weeks for destination weddings or spring preseason baseball in far better climes?

    As I recall, looking at the instructions yesterday, there are many points under "manslaughter."  Perhaps there needed to be another page, though, on "how to ask the judge for instructions, citing page, sub-point, etc."


    Love your last line (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:49:14 PM EST
    maybe that is what is needed.

    Who knows how it was arrived at? Maybe we will hear at some point.


    Well (none / 0) (#55)
    by Towanda on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:32:37 PM EST
    I finally created a form like that for students online to ask questions.  Agonizing as it can be to try to coax a specific question from a student in person, in office hours -- it takes about half an hour per student, after their process of edging in the door, removing the backpack, dredging through it for the syllabus, hemming and hawing and politely asking how am I and my family and the weather and more (and then reverse the process for thanking me, repacking the backpack, donning it, edging out the door, etc.) -- the process can be even more elongated by email.  The students who ask such vague questions also tend to not check email often, so the next question can come days (and a few hundred emails in my mailbox) later, and the next days after that, and . . . thus, the form.

    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:40:27 PM EST
    Sounds like my reverse process for asking questions at work. I spend an inordinate amount of time crafting the perfect precise question....and my boss still gives broad answers that last 20 minutes and never get to my point.

    Sunny... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:26:48 PM EST
    I know you're probably right that it's manslaughter, and though I don't agree, I also predicted the same, please quit saying (for an hour and fifteen minutes):

    (Her order)

    1. They've thrown out self-defense
    2. They've thrown out Murder Two
    3. They're stuck now on manslaughter because they
       have a question

    My answer to 3, is why? If they've thrown out one and two, their only option is 3) manslaughter and we'd have the verdict.

    Ugh, I agree it will be, but her logical thinking is badly flawed and not one of the people, including lawyers, has corrected her. The only other option is hung jury, but that's not in her "order".

    We just don't like her (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by TeresaInPa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:59:50 PM EST
    accept it and she won't bug you so much.  
    I am kidding, but I would like to know what her angle is.  

    Ok TV pundit in FL (none / 0) (#36)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:43:04 PM EST
    says justifiable/excusable is separate from the self-defense, so there are three differnet defenses to it, though they don't spell out the felony committed against you in the instructions.

    She said it AGAIN, about the 30th (none / 0) (#38)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:43:43 PM EST
    time. They agree. omg

    Predictable (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by friendofinnocence on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:54:46 PM EST

    If someone told Sunny Hostin the jurors had ordered pizza for dinner, she would say it is a sign they are ready to vote guilty.

    I am so glad I have no idea who Sunny is (none / 0) (#50)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:19:28 PM EST
    Haha! (none / 0) (#53)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:26:17 PM EST
    One of the most beautiful black women in the world. Seriously and seriously smart on other analysis I've seen her give on CNN. I've always liked her, though I only see her on CNN, not HLN.

    She's just way too invested in this case. She looks likes she's shaking if the lawyers on AC don't agree with her (which they don't). This group of lawyers for the weekend do, except for Mark Nejame who doesn't agree. He thinks if it's manslaughter it IS a compromise verdict because the country is so split on the case. But, he said that's the way the system works and that's ok.


    Is she any less invested than most (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by Anne on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:13:56 PM EST
    of the people in this and other Zimmerman threads who have read and listened and watched and researched everything associated with this case, to the point where many of them won't even tolerate an opinion that doesn't mesh with the conclusions they've reached?

    This is not meant as a shot at you, Teresa - as involved as you've been, you've been able to maintain an openness and civility that has made it possible to discuss the case with you.


    Ah, ty, Anne (none / 0) (#82)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:23:19 PM EST
    She is maybe a little, which this part is understandable - she's gotten close to the Martin family. I totally understand that, but wish she'd tone it done just a tad while on TV because the other lawyers tell her to and I don't want her to come off looking bad or silly. I mean when she was the only person who thought BDLR was wonderful in his closing, she's not being objective.

    She went to Notre Dame Law so she has to be very smart, in addition to knock out beautiful. I DO like her. I've been picking on her and that's not fair, so I'll stop. I think I'm part obsessed, part bored in general and just "typing out loud".


    I broke down and turned on CNN (none / 0) (#81)
    by ruffian on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:22:59 PM EST
    She certainly is beautiful. Have not had it on long enough to judge beyond that....

    Did enjoy the anchor trying to get the reporter at the courthouse to get some kind of paranormal sense of what was about to happen.


    I'm starving waiting on these (none / 0) (#83)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:26:49 PM EST
    people. I can't imagine how tired that jury is. I'm off to make strawberry muffins (from a box).

    I saw what you're referring to. Everyone (including me) trying to guess.

    She's doing great now and yes she's a beauty.


    This is it (none / 0) (#39)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:45:59 PM EST
    Right at the top of manslaughter instruction (and separate from the later self-defense one)

    "George Zimmerman cannot be guilty of manslaughter by committing a merely negligent act or if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide:"

    (My bold won't work)

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#60)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:39:48 PM EST
    I know you don't give a lot of credibility to FL talking heads just because they happen to live in FL (I think you hinted that?), but Richard Hornsby doesn't disbelieve the 5-1 for not guilty, one has question on manslaughter.

    He said they didn't read it in court (with jury there I think?) the way they normally do and it could have been part of the note. He thinks that's why John Guy looked so upset.

    Just passing along FL lawyer gossip for a TH that's probably wrong. He said there's no gag order for anyone who saw it.

    please don't post gossip here (none / 0) (#62)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:42:06 PM EST
    or a lawyer's reading of tea leaves.

    Oops! Ok, can you delete my next (none / 0) (#66)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:52:22 PM EST
    question, though in it I didn't quote him, but a Jacksonville paper. Sorry, won't do it again!

    J, it was on Fox tv (none / 0) (#68)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:56:19 PM EST
    National one, not local (the rumor). Should I quit discussing tv commentary? I'm sorry if I didn't know that rule or preference.

    ?? He also said 10-20-Life (none / 0) (#65)
    by Teresa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 07:51:26 PM EST
    does NOT apply to manslaughter so I looked it up and this article says a lady who fired a warning shot at her abusive husband got a mandatory 20 year sentence and if she'd actually killed him, her sentence would be as little as time served for manslaughter. So I'm confused on the 30 years now???

    "The "10-20-Life" statutes exclude manslaughter from any minimum sentencing requirements, Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel confirmed. That means if Alexander had actually killed her husband or one of his sons and been found guilty of manslaughter, she could have instead gotten as little as time served. Caliel said manslaughter should be added into the statutes." (quote thingy not working)

    Link thing not working for me either. I'll link it when it comes back. Have you guys covered this and the article quoting lawyer is wrong?

    Jer (none / 0) (#73)
    by TeresaInPa on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:02:44 PM EST
    thank you.  I was finding this so confusing.  I was on the jury for a murder case and it was no where near this complicated.  But then there was no self defense element.

    I was on a DUI jury a few years ago. (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by magster on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:13:27 PM EST
    Ridiculous prosecution. We voted to acquit in 5 minutes. The guy was sleeping drunk legally parked in the passenger seat with his keys on the floor. Said he thought he was too drunk to drive so was sleeping it off. How it got to trial I'll never understand.

    For anyone hitting f5 without checking... (none / 0) (#79)
    by magster on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:20:48 PM EST
    main page, Jeralyn just posted "Verdict????" post, and that reporters are moving towards courtroom.

    what does F5 do? (none / 0) (#88)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:39:10 PM EST

    Refreshes the Screen (none / 0) (#90)
    by CoralGables on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:44:10 PM EST
    smh. and you run a popular internet site?! (none / 0) (#91)
    by magster on Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 08:48:04 PM EST