Skip to comments.George Zimmerman Seeks Anonymous Jury
Posted on 05/10/2013 5:20:36 AM PDT by Uncle Chip
Lawyers for George Zimmerman today filed a motion asking the jury in his upcoming trial over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin be anonymous. The motion is here.
It's pretty unusual for a defendant (as opposed to the prosecution) to ask for an anonymous jury (sometimes called an innominate jury.) Will the state object? In at least one case, that of an outlaw motorcycle gang, the state defended a judge's discretion to order an innominate jury. (An innominate jury is one in which all information about the jurors is disclosed to the parties, with the exception of the jurors' names, addresses, and exact place of work. Some courts use the term "innominate," instead of "anonymous" because anonymous connotes a "clandestine, forbidden, and obscure" jury panel.)
Among the factors that may warrant an anonymous/innominate jury in Florida is where "extensive publicity that could enhance the possibility that jurors names would become public and expose them to intimidation and harassment."
O'Mara is careful to request that the names and personal information not be withheld from the state and defense team. This is because if after the trial, it turns out a juror lied about their background, the defense might be held to have had an obligation to conduct background checks on prospective jurors. These checks can be done in real-time in the courtroom. Or, where an advance jury questionnaire is used, ahead of time. What can the lawyers check in real-time? They can use Westlaw or Lexis to check credit ratings, criminal records, and other personal information. They will check social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to get insight on potential jurors.
Another reason these checks are necessary are to protect against "stealth jurors" who will lie to get on the case, particularly to profit from it afterwards.
O'Mara's motion heavily relies on the constant prejudicial media barrage fostered by the Martin family lawyers, joined in by public figures.
He's also asking that the prospective jury panel be sequestered during voir dire. He has previously said he expects jury selection to take at least two weeks.
In related news, the state filed a motion to continue to depose Shellie Zimmerman. The motion is available here. Her lawyer intervened during her initial deposition and asserted her fifth amendment privilege. He also said she had not been endorsed as a witness, with which O'Mara and Don West agreed. The state claims O'Mara did endorse her (it refers to his witness list, where she does not appear as a named witness) and even if he didn't, it has a right under another statute to depose her.
How is it possible that the defense says it did not list her and the state says it did? The state says it listed her as a potential witness, after which the defense filed a witness list that included (the standard refrain) that it reserves the right to call any witness identified through States discovery not otherwise disclosed herein. I'm no expert on Florida deposition rules (Florida is one of the few states that allow pre-trial depositions in criminal cases) but I think it's an incredible stretch to claim the defense, by reserving its right to call a witness named by the state (whom the state could decide not to call) is a listed defense witness.
Nor does the state explain why Shellie Zimmerman, who is separately charged with perjury from her statements at George's initial bond hearing, would not have a 5th Amendment right to refuse to testify at a deposition even if the state did have the right to seek her deposition. It's not necessary that the state ask her questions about the perjury case for her privilege to apply. It's enough if her answers to any questions posed at the deposition could be used against her in the perjury case, or potentially expose her to a new and different charge. My opinion: State fail on this one. I just wonder why Shellie's lawyer initially agreed to the deposition and didn't invoke her 5th Amendment rights at the outset. Had he refused to make her available citing her 5th Amendment rights, the state would have had to issue a subpoena and he could then have filed a motion to quash.
Defendant’s Motion for Anonymous Jury:
STATE’S MOTION REQUESTING COURT TO COMPEL SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN TO TESTIFY AT DEPOSITION
Didn’t Obama already say he is guilty?
Just another nail in Florida’s coffin. Are there any honest people left in government anywhere?
Smart move. Anonymous jurors can actually return a real verdict (ie not guilty) without fear and intimidation. We all know just how much pressure the msm and others could and would put on them. The msm and the left are heavily invested in the narrative they created to support their agenda. They can’t let a little thing like truth and justice get in the way.
If the jurors are anonymous, knowing their identities would be somewhat secured, they could give an honest verdict without the threats of reprisals if they acquitted him. I see this as a smart move. From the evidence, they should acquit.
Even Superman doesn't say "truth, justice, and the American way" any more, but I miss that phrase.
I would fear any jury of any kind from the state of FL. People there so often are unable to fathom truth.
The state's trying to get themselves an OJ jury, or in the alternative a frightened one. The defense is working to prevent that. The defense also does a nice job in its brief of building a case for appeal.
Indeed. The Jodi Arias trial went on so long that HLN started a regular show in the evenings about it. Part of the show — for no good reason IMO — was to have one of their reporters pick a juror and describe him/her.
You know the prosecution in this case will want to put the squeeze on these jurors in any way possible. I can well imagine that we’d soon wake up one fine day and see some article in the local paper offhandedly mentioning what car a particular juror of a particular description happened to arrive in that day.
You mean that the same journalists who expressed no interest in knowing anything about DeeDee/Witness 8, and still don’t, might actually want to know everything about the anonymous jurors???
What you say is very true but... knowing the DA in control down there... how long do you think it will take for some leftist prosecutor to leak their names and addresses.
What’s really ironic, is that the reasons they are giving to depose Shelly are the same reasons that O’Mara and West are giving to depose Crump (knowledge of facts apart from any protected information), yet the prosecution fights against the Crump deposition, but for the deposition of Shelly. Can you say hypocritical?
Applause to the Zimmerman defense team. A brilliant ideas, and one deeply embarrassing to the state and its reprehensible allies like Benjamin Crump who sought and still seek to railroad Zimmerman through illegal means.
Hopefully these scoundrels like Crump will still get caught trying to coerce and intimidate the anonymous jury, which would seem to be true to form for them. It would be a joy to see him wearing county pajamas and facing disbarment.
Crump’s affidavit claiming that the silent areas in the Witness 8 tapes were truly silent and just areas where he was considering what to ask next has been contradicted by the ABC audio tapes that show he was not only conversing with her, but arguably coaching her. In addition to having his witness’s credibility evaporate if his involvement is detailed, he’s trying to avoid being placed under oath in order to avoid the possibility of a perjury trap.
There’s new defense responses to his and the state’s filings in the writ of mandamus proceeding now up on the gzlegalcase site. It’s their usual quality product.
Quite ironic. But I suspect that BdlR contrived that irony deliberately to payback or coerce the Defense for its pursuit of Crump. “You set a perjury trap for Crump, we’ll do the same on Shelly Zimmerman.”
I hear you on a prosecution attempt to get even, but Crump doesn’t have either charges pending against him (i.e., the right against self-incrimination), nor does he have spousal privilege. It was a VERY weak attempt to get even. Crump expressly waived privilege, has facts relevant to the case (how Witness 8 was identified and coached, as well as the so-far unsupported “facts” he went on TV to expound upon), all Shelly has would be hearsay, she wasn’t there, nor did she have any involvement with the fact witnesses.
BdlR seems to have a weak character; he knows what he is doing is immoral and is doing it anyway. Is it conceivable that he honestly thinks GZ is guilty of anything other than stupidity? Such persons should never be in positions of public authority; who knows what injustices he has meted out to poorer, less known defendants. My hope is that the citizens of Florida will demand an investigation of this prosecution, and reform its system of injustice. As a minimum, the State should not be allowed to indict someone on felony charges without a Grand Jury.
I am close to reaching an ironic conclusion about Witness 8: she is a perfect witness for the Defense (not 100% there, because we don’t know what is in her Defense deposition, etc.). I suspect that her testimony was developed by Natalie Jackson, through trusted surrogates (Francine?), used to maintain deniability and gain W8’s confidence. Crump was probably kept out of this loop so that he can say he doesn’t know if deposed (thus the whole “Interview” charade, with media witneses, as if he was hearing it all for the first time). W8’s narrative is a fabric of some truths, with anything that put Trayvon in a bad light trimmed away, then some outright lies stitched on at the end to make it look like GZ confronted TM, rather than the other way around (note that none of her comments are dialog-specific except when she claims GZ said “What are you doing around here?”). W8 has sworn in her State Depo that TM had reached Brandi Green’s residence, well before the fatal encounter. W8 cannot explain how it was that TM just didn’t go inside, but ended up far away from Brandi Green’s, without revealing that she lied or omitted critical facts previously. If the Defense examines her properly, they can discredit her credibility overall, but use her status as the State’s star witness to corroborate GZ’s story about his whereabouts, and show that TM who initiated the confrontation. GZ obviously intended to watch and report only — why else did he called the police and arrange to meet them at his vehicle? The State would be forced to attack their own witness.
The State is gasping for breath at this point.
I gave up a lot of interest in this story when Zimmerman’s attorney decided not to try SYG immunity. It doesn’t matter how the trial goes now, without civil immunity Zimmerman is financially ruined and I can’t bear to watch.
Mara sold him up the river for a mess of pottage.
What is the sense in filing for an immunity hearing if the judge has told you month after month in her adverse rulings that she is not going to grant anything favorable to the defense much less immunity. You have to present your case first and the prosecution gets to see it and can sandbag evidence and that makes thing worse for you at the subsequent trial. O’Mara made the right decision on the immunity hearing — given that they are in front of a hanging judge.
Yep -- and I can't wait for Nelson to rule on BDLR's Motion to depose her. For her to order the deposition of Shellie while at the same time protecting Crump would be doubly damning -- especially with a writ in front of the DCA.
This is not on-thread, but I have been wondering how common it is in Florida for the State’s Attorney to indict someone for murder directly, bypassing a grand jury. Do you recall any discussion of stats about this when the indictment was first made? I bet it is a rarity.
Jurors for this trial might presume that there had to be evidence against GZ to get this far. They need to be disabused of that notion, and given to understand that the State knew a grand jury would never indict GZ for defending his life. Since there is no logical explanation, anything BdlR tries to sell will just deepen the hole. The jurors need to be angry with the State for putting GZ and them through this farce.
No I don’t know. But this case is certainly proof that all such cases should first go to a grand jury first bypassing the wallabies.
The Motion to visit the scene should be interesting especially now that the defense has some cell tower ping logs on Martin’s phone. Those logs will likely show that Martin never went to the “mail thing” as DeeDee claimed — another infamous DeeDee lie.
Note in this walkthrough that GZ parked at the clubhouse and TM just walked right by. He didn’t go there at all. I’m sure the cell tower ping logs will show that — and more.
One way or another I think this tape will be entered into evidence. Meanwhile the prosecution has nothing but spends its time harrassing Shellie.