July 21, 2013

The strange case of Zimmerman Juror B37

What were Zimmerman trial lawyers thinking when they seated a woman who used the news only to line her bird's cage?

By DAHLIA LITHWICK Slate

(Continued from page 1)

Both sides tend to be very skeptical of jurors who are particularly eager to serve on high-profile cases. Often they have their own agendas, or are attention-seekers."

What about the odd moment when B37 called Martin a "boy of color"? White said he wouldn't read too much into it. "There's a tendency to over-emphasize what we believe to be the right nomenclature. In the context of the whole paragraph, her 'boy of color' sounded like she was trying to use a dimly remembered correct nomenclature ('of color' in vogue when I was in college), but not remembering the freight of 'boy.' ...

"Sure, you strike people based on really clear examples of nomenclature. As a prosecutor in a hate crime case, I once struck someone who said 'I have no problem with African-Americans or whatever you're supposed to call them these days.' But most people don't live in our terminology-conscious bubble."

Brashers-Krug further noted that jury selection in self-defense cases "tends to reverse the dynamic between prosecutors and defense lawyers." As she sees it, "normally a prosecutor loves law-and-order types, elderly people, people who generally don't feel safe and want the police to protect them from the bad guys.

In a self-defense case, though, that's the defense attorney's target juror."

White also said he isn't really bothered by B37's contempt for the entire media: "Her comments about the media wouldn't have turned my head whatever side I was on. I think it's the prevailing American view, and not uncommon at all. I don't see how it's logical to trust 'Today' and not other sources, but very little of our relationship with the media is logical, and mistrust is healthy."

Watching B37 run rings around her interlocutors raises once again the fundamental question of what we achieve whenever we attempt to seat a juror who knows nothing whatsoever about a high-profile case.

We are left with people who avoid any brushes with policy, law or politics and -- paradoxically -- come to convince themselves (as does B37) that everything they will hear in the courtroom is truth.

 

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