Every time I have been called to the courthouse for jury duty I have been released, only a couple of times making it so far as the venire, or jury pool in a particular case, but asked few questions and informed I was not wanted. Lawyers have to explain to venire persons time and again that just because the attorneys, or one of them, feel the person would not make a "good" juror in that particular case does not mean they would not be a "good" juror in some other case. Illustrations often include such things as saying that the defendant is employed as a telephone salesperson and if the venire, like the defense lawyer, dislikes being interrupted for telephone solitications, then they, both the lawyer and the venireperson, probably would not make a "good" juror in that particular case.
Attorneys also tell the venire that they are "not trying to pry into your personal life," though they cannot honestly tell them they will not pry into their opinions. However, when they do this, lawyers find ways of framing their questions designed to coax from the potential juror their "feelings" about this or that, their "thinking on it," &c., hoping to embarrass no one but at the same time seeking a rather candid answer that reveals biases or prejudices. Wisely, in the George Zimmerman trial now entering the defense presentation in Florida, the jurors were all questioned individually outside the presence of the other members of the venire. This is a greater guarantee of honest responses, free of intimidation or peer group influences. Had I been among those on the venire, sworn to speak the truth, I probably would not have made it out of this preliminary interrogation.
When I learned that Zimmerman was planning on relying on the defense of self-defense based upon Florida's stand-your-ground law (itself very problematic for me), I thought, He's got to be kidding! That was because I had heard his 911 call with its crypto-racist remarks and his refusal to do what the dispatcher told him when Zimmerman said "Yeah" in response to the question, "You're not following him are you?" Zimmerman became the stalker and aggressor. To me, this is manslaughter at a minimum. Although I rather doubt the prosecution can hang a murder conviction on Zimmerman, the jury's failure to return a guilty verdict on the lesser included offense of manslaughter will be very troubling.
Lest it be said that because I would be reluctant to vote for a verdict of murder, I might be a "good" juror for the defense. Not so. There is another reason why I could not hope to be fair and impartial toward Mr. Zimmerman.
The Hannity interview.
Zimmerman went on Hannity, bad enough in and of itself given that jackass of a host, and told the Fox News audience that his shooting of Trayvon Martin's -- the teenager's death -- had been "God's plan."
That's right. God killed Trayvon, not George Zimmerman. But if God had a plan to kill Trayvon Martin, why did God not prevent the killing? If Zimmerman had remained in his car and obeyed the dispatcher, would that have been God's decision? Unwittingly, Zimmerman became on the Hannity show an object lesson in the truth of Epicurius's observation that God cannot possibly exist if he is anything like he is most often described -- as both good and as omnipotent. God could have kept a 17-year-old boy with a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea alive that night, but he did not. God put a gun into the hand of George Zimmerman and sent him forth to take a human life. This is the God of the Old Testament on steroids, slaying indiscriminately for reasons that cannot often if ever be described as "good."
No, I did not belong on George Zimmerman's jury. And I am glad I do not live in that county in Florida, for if I did, and if called to a venire, I would not be remotely tempted to fake an open mind in order to get on Zimmerman's jury. Nothing I have heard so far suggests to me that this defendant is a scoundrel and should be punished.
No, booklover, I think you misunderstood me. I meant that I had no business being on Zimmerman's jury: I had already formed an opinion of his guilt without hearing any admissible evidence. A lot of stuff we hear in the media is not admissible in court. That is as it should be. I could explain the reasons but it would take some time and I am not sure you would agree in any case. But without a fair and impartial jury (and I could NOT be fair and impartial toward this man) Zimmerman could not get a fair trial. As for god being on our side, recall that Lincoln, at the very least an agnostic, said that he was weary of his own generals and their troops claiming God was on their side -- because that was what the rebels were saying, too. Which dovetails with Gandhi's famous quote about eye-for-an-eye justice: "Soon, we all will be blind."
James, don't we all form an opinion based on what we see and hear, regardless of the source? We judge people every day, even as we pass them on the street, and we MUST - it's tantamount to our survival. I served once on an armed robbery case and immediately (unavoidably, I think) formed an opinion based on the appearance of the accused and the victim. However, I listened attentively to the evidence and to the defense's argument. Deliberating with my fellow jurors was fascinating. I saw opinions change in that little room, and some that didn't. My point is that I suspect you would be a very good juror. You're honest and thoughtful, which is what we should expect of all jurors in all cases.
That said....in the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman - GUILTY!
But, wait, Vitomama, you vote guilty when the defense has not rested. What if there is a surprise witness at the end of their case who takes the stand and says, "I was afraid to come forward before, but I live in the condos there and was coming around the side of the building and saw it all, and I can tell you unequivocally, Trayvon was beating up on George and George had no choice but to shoot him." Still vote guilty?
James, my last line was a bit of fun.
"He is a racist" Really? What proof do have of this? There are only two instances of race being mentioned by Zimmerman.
Dispatcher: Okay, and this guy is he White, Black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks Black.
Zimmerman: Yeah, now he's coming towards me.
Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.
The first is answering the Dispatcher as best as he can tell at the time. The secound is updating the dispatch and confimring that in fact he was a black male.
Couple these remarks with the statements about "punks" and "these assholes always get away" and racism is an inescapable conclusion for those of us who have been exposed to it all our lives. Your argument is well taken but not convincing for me.
"for those of us who have been exposed to it all our lives" - I'm curious what you would assume my life experience is concerning racism.
Here is where I'm coming from concerning the case. First, I practically live in a vacuum when it comes to TV (I hate it.). I became aware of the case by hearing a group of co-workers talking about how they should just kill Zimmerman. That was a year ago when no real facts were known and the media was spinning it as 28 year old White-Hispanic shot an unarmed 17 year old black boy. In the last year I remained in my TV vacuum and have only read a few headlines on Yahoo news. Fast forward a year. I've watch a little over 82 hours of RAW footage of the case. (Just confirmed it on my YouTube account). Here is the channel I watched : http://www.youtube.com/user/thecount/videos
The verdict was not a surprise and I would dare say it wouldn’t have been to any freethinker had they watched the entire case.
I’m shocked only a few YouTube channels published the case in its entirety and the views per video were between 1000-4000. This tells me that very few people cared to refine their understanding of the case and wanted to stick with the 17 year old black boy was shot and someone has to pay mentality.
I understand that not everyone has time to watch the case in length. But I urge anyone in an area that has rioting and racial tensions to watch the trial.
In the context of the call I do not see how you could definitively say he was being racist. There is no doubt he profiled Trayvon but to inject racial profiling is reckless. Neighborhood watch programs revolve around profiling of actions, people, and the environment. How else do you come to conclude that something is suspicious? He didn’t even know his race until several minutes into the non-emergency call when Trayvon walked closer to Zimmerman’s car. So to suggest that he called non-emergency because he was black is also reckless.
The rest leading up to the shooting I’ll leave alone for know. My main point is that this was not and should not be characterized as being a racial incident.
Zimmerman could have stayed out of it. He could have notified local police by radio and shadowed Trayvon Martin while his backup arrived on site. But he didn't. He wasn't qualified to do what he did, yet he did it anyway.
And here we are.
That was my point in the main.
He could "shadow" him but not follow him?
It's not illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Florida--though I wish it was. If you bought a gun because you think crime is so rampant that you need one for self-defense, why would you go anywhere without it? (I do not own a gun myself.)
It's not illegal to follow anyone in any state--though it is creepy and irritating. It is not legal to assault someone for following you.
I teach in a historically black university, and it is an article of faith among my students that they are followed a lot by police and/or security, particularly in stores; true or not, it's really a sore point with them.
The police dispatcher said, re: Zimmerman following Martin, "we don't need for you to do that." Not really a command. He certainly could have clearer and more emphatic.
There had been 11 or 12 break-ins in the previous 15 months in that neighborhood, and Zimmerman had stopped one in progress by calling the police and then watching the burglars, young black men wearing hoodies.
Hoodies were popularized by gangs, drug dealers, and petty criminals because they make it harder for victims, witnesses, and cops to identify someone. They have, like "gangsta rap" and "street cred," become closely associated with black youth culture. A rapper named Fifty Cent became rich and famous because he was shot nine times.
Zimmerman didn't use any racial slurs. "Punks" and "assholes" come in all colors.
I think this case boils down to the ten or fifteen seconds of scuffling that led to Martin's death. No one saw it. The recorded 911 call by the neighbor contains several cries for help. Who was it? The Martin family says it was Trayvon Martin, though his father first said he didn't know. The Zimmerman family and friends say it was Zimmerman. The voice is high pitched, which indicates that it might belong to someone young. Or someone scared.
Zimmerman did have a broken nose and some bloody lumps on the back of his head, consistent with his account of having his head banged into the sidewalk. The whole point of "concealed carry" and "stand your ground" laws is to authorize citizens to use deadly force in situations that would cause a "reasonable person" to think his or her life is in danger. Personally, if someone is on top of me and banging my head into a sidewalk, I would think my life was in danger. So would you. IF that's the way it went down.
There aren't very many facts in the case, so all of us, jury members, TV viewers, whatever, are in the position of trying to guess Zimmerman's motives and/or biases, and Martin's personality. Both men had a right to be where they were, doing what they were doing, right up until the fight started. Neither one knew if the other was armed, so who started it?
I'm glad I'm not on the jury, too. They are either going to imprison an innocent man or let a killer go free, and whichever one they choose will be, at best, a semi-educated guess.
As many fights as you've been in (and I assume you've been in at least one), have you really ever feared for your life? Really? I have a hard time imagining that you can't roll yourself out of a situation, but you can manage to pull your gun out of your holster and shoot someone. And I'm pretty convinced that Zimmerman knew by that time that Martin was not armed. The defense chose not to enter toxicology reports for a reason. I wish the jury could know that Martin had trace amounts of THC in his blood. If I was Prosecution, I would have strongly considered entering it in rebuttal. The fact is, Zimmerman pursued, FORCED an outcome, and then claimed self-defense. I'm very conservative in many ways, but that's just NOT acceptable.
In law school, we were taught that it is never acceptable to do what mobsters always say they do: "If the guy slugs you, use a knife; if he produces a knife, you use a gun; if he uses a gun, you...." In other words, it is not self defense to escalate the violence. One is only permitted to use such force as is being used against you. I don't think fists and guns have any equivalence at all.