Skip to comments.George Zimmerman Is Destined for a Hung Jury
Posted on 04/21/2012 3:29:09 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Not only will it be impossible to find a jury without preconceived opinions in the Trayvon Martin caseit will be impossible to find one that will convict, says Mansfield Frazier.
An editor I used to work for had a favorite saying: Predicting the future is usually as easy as stating the obvious. In the upcoming trial of George Zimmerman, the obvious is this: theres little, if any, chance to avoid not only a mistrial, but a series of them if the state continues to reindict him, which it has the right to do and no doubt will, but with the same result over and over again.
At some point in the future, after endless retrials, it will seem as if this caselike the racial discord that will cause it to hang around our nation's collective neck like an albatrosshas always been a part of American life, like Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell, or the Washington Monument.
The problem for the Florida legal system is that at this juncture, the case really isnt about points of guilt or innocence that a jury can make reasoned decisions on. The case has become a referendum on the Stand Your Ground law and, more importantly, a referendum on the thorny issue of race in America. How to bridge the chasm that divides the races in America (which, amazingly, seems to both widen and narrow at the same instant in this country) is not only a question we dont have the answer to, its a question we dont even like to ask.
However, the case at hand is forcing our handit quite simply wont allow us to duck the issue of race, at least for a while. Whether this is a good or bad thing is yet to be seen. Will this forced confrontation of racial attitudes help to solve our national problem, or will it only be made worse?
Voir dire is the process whereby attorneys from both sides get to ask potential jurors questions. Under Florida law six jurors (not 12) will hear the case against Zimmerman. In the states code of criminal procedure, the section that outlines the grounds for challenge to individual jurors for cause (Section 913.03) is the longest and most detailed by far, and for good reason. All criminal-defense lawyers (and prosecutors, as well) know cases can be won or lost during jury selection. In addition to striking a juror for cause, each side has six preemptory challenges, which means a potential juror can be dismissed without a reason being given. After Jim Crow laws were abolished, these preemptory challenges were the tool used to keep blacks off of juries.
But all-white juries are a thing of the not-too-distant past, and theres no way to impanel a jury in the case at hand that doesnt have at least one or two blacks on it. And with Floridas liberal use of cameras in courtrooms (unless the judge rules them out in this case or instructs that the jury not be shown), everyone in the country is going to know who is sitting on the jury, and therein lies the rub.
The facts of this case, no matter if they are for or against Zimmerman, ultimately will have very little to do with the outcome. Jurors, when it comes to voting on guilt or innocence, are most likely going to break down along racial lines. Try as they might to be good citizens and follow the instructions of the judge to put their personal feelings aside and make a decision based only on the facts of the case, the odds are that they will deadlock. This is not to say they are weak people; rather, it indicates how strongly race factors into decisions in American life, and its hard to see how this case will be an exception. Jurors are not superhuman.
Because of this, no matter how many times the state puts Zimmerman on trial, the outcome will probably be the same: a hung jury. Few, if any, whites in the South are going to want to be forever known as a member of a jury that voted to convict Zimmerman, and conversely, no black is going to care to be known as the person who voted to acquit him. Its a recipe for deadlock.
Talk is already circulating of a change of venue, but a change to where? The moon? Theres no place in the country where potential jurors havent heard about the case, and most folks (black and white, rightly or wrongly) have already formed opinions that by now are virtually intractable.
Besides, the cult of celebrity worship thats developed in this country virtually assures that the good folks in the state of Florida, who are about to participate in what promises to be the most high-profile court case of the century so farperhaps even eclipsing the Casey Anthony trialare not about to let their shot at fame (and a potential book deal somewhere down the line) slip through their fingers. There will be no change of venuebet on it.
This trial will afford us the opportunity, albeit by way of force, to deal with the skeleton of race thats been hanging in the national closet for centuries. How well or badly we use it is really up to us.
To condense your point even further; it would appear that George Zimmerman carries himself with respect for himself and others and Trayvon Martin appears to have had contempt for himself and others. I won’t recite the examples that lead me to that conclusion because we’ve all read about them by now.
If Z did that, he'd be out in 2 months. Unfortunately, it would be feet first.
It would be like Nixon going to China. But of course with B-ho being about at the level of the dirt on RMN’s shoe leather, it won’t happen.
it is immunity from arrest (to prevent agenda prosecutors who have personal issues with citizen self defense. Like the present prosecutor)
the law also provides specific immunity from civil suit. This was done as tort reform. It cut the legs out from under the slap suits from brady campaigners and the relatives of criminals victimizing a person for the second time.
It is a good law. It is hated by the criminal class and the tril lawyers.
there is no civil suit allowed as a matter of law.
unless the race baiters can tamper with the jury there can be no dollar pay out.
we are also forgetting this may never reach a jury.
(btw foxnf had a witness demonstrating the position of zimmerman and how he was being beaten. (back on grass, head on corner of concrete) AND he demonstrated the shot was an upward shot that went up front and out the back.
combine that with the investigator’s smart alec testimony then the prosecution becomes more and more suspect)
has anyone ever been in this judge’s courtroom and observed his demenor?
some judges punt everything over to the jury so they don’t have to make hard choices.
The fact she withheld evidence is a serious problem for her. She has an affirmative duty to disclose.
As the judge observed, it is a very thin file. Most of the paperwork is from media outlets.
If it's a matter of law, the judge is going to rule and can't punt. If it's a matter of fact, the judge should be 'punting' to the jury except for situations where, as a legal certainty, it's appropriate to rule. If there's a question of fact that must be determined to reach a decision and that fact isn't known to a legal certainty, then the jury of the defendant's peers should be determining the fact.
I'm frequently not happy with 'facts' as determining by a jury but I'd be less happy with a system where a judge (a federal judge with tenure for life, or a judge elected based on how the public perceives he or she rules) decides the facts based on his or her prejudices. And a large percentage of judges do have prejudices. That's how judges develop reputations after time on the bench. Pro-corporation. Anti-drug company. Don't believe the testimony of law enforcement officers/do believe the testimony of law enforcement officers. Harder on rapists; treat rapists the same as other defendants; believe women of flexible character had it coming, etc.
We have juries for a reason - and there are times when a defendant waives his or her right to a jury for a reason. I've served on two juries and been the chairman both times - both rape of a minor by a family member. I was stunned at how serious the jurors took it once the door to the jury room closed. People who had been kids and prima donnas in the jury box and during the trial poured over facts and testimony, and conflicting evidence. They were willing to deliberate more than a day and not rush things so everyone could talk and a new opinion could filter through the group. Almost swore I heard the Battle Hymn of the Republic playing in the background.
Dancing Itos to be replaced by the
“Ballet of the Angela Coreys?”
(Disney Dancing hippos to be replaced by a blob?)
ah but stand your ground was passed to prevent juries from making an emotional choice to in essence prevent a criminal prosecution but still throw a defendant to the civil trial attorney sharks.
If a finding on stand your ground is always going to require a fact finding then no judge will ever have to make a hard choice and it will always be punted to the jury when it should have been decided as a matter of law.
I am now wondering if this would be a matter that would allow an interlocutory appeal. (appeal before the final conclusion of the case)
Running out the door and would have to research it later - but my understanding is that the issue of whether Florida Statutes 776.012 or 776.041 (the SYG and SYG if aggressor provisions) are applicable are subject to interlocutory appeals.
And you're clearly right. On the determination of whether those provisions of Chapter 776, the legislature has pulled the decision from a jury and made it a judicial decision.
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