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UPDATED 6/24/13, 12:08 p.m.:
Opening statements in the George Zimmerman trial have already had some interesting moments. The craziest moment, though, was the defense literally making a knock-knock joke about the jury:
George Zimmerman who?
All right. Good. You’re on the Jury.
This “joke” is a huge insult to the jury.
The defense seems to be implying that the jurors are idiots and the only reason they are there is because they don’t know Zimmerman.
As a defense attorney, you must be careful to never insult a juror. Words and actions must be carefully made. That was a clear insult and the defense will have to attempt to rebound from that gaffe in order to gain the jury’s trust again.
The first opening statement was made by the prosecution who laid a great foundation for their case stating the following:
1) Trayvon Martin was young, slim, and unarmed
2) Zimmerman was more slender than he is now; Zimmerman attended a martial arts gym
3) The only wounds on Trayvon Martin were the gunshot wound and one wound on his left hand. Martin was right handed.
4) Zimmerman was told to not follow the young man and wait on police.
Quite simply, if Zimmerman followed instructions from the dispatcher, the incident would have never happened.
Watch the live stream of the Zimmerman case here.
The jury selected for the George Zimmerman (pictured) trial is an all-female jury. The six women will hear the evidence and deliberate to give a verdict to decide Zimmerman’s fate for the death of Trayvon Martin. With this trial, Zimmerman may not have the best people listening to his case to get a not-guilty verdict. For example, having an all-female jury may create some high hurdles for Zimmerman’s defense team. The defendant’s goal is to have a jury become sympathetic to Zimmerman’s position so that they can most likely see the circumstances similar to the way Zimmerman supposedly did. In the case of the death of Trayvon Martin, White or Hispanic men of higher income levels would probably be the preferred choice for the Zimmerman defense team since they may be less sympathetic to the young Black teenager who was killed in this upper income neighborhood.
From my experience in dozens of self-defense jury trials, some women are much tougher than men when the claim is self-defense, especially since an unarmed teenager was killed. For example, when women are told a scenario of self-defense, many say, “Shoot someone in the leg to hurt them instead of killing someone,” even if the intruder is in their own home. If that is the mentality of any of these jurors, Zimmerman may be in trouble because Zimmerman shot to kill.
The one element missing from the jury are the presence of Blacks.
In this case, none of the jurors who have been selected are Black — not even one of the four alternates; this is one major element of the jury pool that does not help the prosecution.
In order to prevent a conviction, the defense needs only one juror to not vote guilty, which will cause a hung jury. When a jury is hung, which is also called a “deadlocked jury,” the case may be deemed a mistrial and then the case can be tried again or the prosecutor may choose to dismiss the charges.
Hopefully there will be a definite conclusion to this case.
Latest Development: Judge Rules On 911 Tapes
On Saturday, Judge Debra Nelson issued a ruling that the experts will not be able to testify about the identity of the voices on the 911 tapes. This is a blow to the prosecution’s case because the prosecution had experts prepared to testify that the voice heard screaming for help was the voice of young, unarmed Trayvon Martin. The tape may be admitted as evidence, though, and then the jury can consider it in it’s entirety.
If so, the jury will have the responsibility to determine if the screaming voice is Zimmerman’s or Martin’s. Nevertheless, neither side will be able to call experts to testify in reference to which voice was Martin’s or Zimmerman’s, but the tape will be played.
That recording will probably be a highlighted piece of evidence in this trial to show Zimmerman was the aggressor.
The sounds of the screaming voice calling for help, which was obviously that of Trayvon Martin and not Zimmerman, will pull at the heartstrings of the jurors. The thought that an unarmed teenager was screaming for his life and the result was him being shot to death, may be one of the strongest pieces of evidence in this case, especially with an all-female jury. I would expect the tape of the screaming voice to be used in the opening (if allowed by the judge) and closing in order to leave a lasting impression with the jurors.
Watch Attorney Guster discuss the George Zimmerman trial here:
Eric L. Welch Guster is founder and managing attorney of Guster Law Firm in Birmingham, Ala., handling criminal and civil matters, catastrophic injuries, criminal defense, and civil rights litigation. Mr. Guster has become a go-to lawyer for the New York Times, NewsOne, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Black America Web, and various radio programs about various court issues and high-profile cases.
Follow Guster on Twitter @ericguster.