Posted on June 25, 2013 Opening statements began this morning shortly after 9 a.m. day one of State of Florida v. Zimmerman trial in Seminole County Florida Criminal Justice Courthouse/Center, Sanford Florida with the State of Florida Prosecution team and the Zimmerman defense attorneys laying the foundations for their theories of the case, and then explaining just what each theory would show
As I observed the voir dire, jury selection, process last week in the Trayvon Martin murder trial I was struck by the repeated statements of some prospective White jurors that African Americans marched in Sanford before we knew all of the facts. I do not recall a prospective African American making a similar statement. My reply to this broad brush accusation is African Americans marched in Sanford because we had enough information, as in enough is enough.
As I sit here in my law office, I'm catching a few glimpses of the preliminary proceedings in the George Zimmerman trial. I am familiar with some of the key players in the case. Periodically, I represent criminal clients in Seminole County, Florida. The courthouse is located in Sanford. Sanford is about thirty miles from downtown Orlando where my office is located. I have appeared before Judge Nelson two or three times. She strikes me as a no-nonsense, knowledgable and fair judge. I have also interacted with Marc Omara before he became George Zimmerman's lawyer.
The purpose of the jury selection process, ostensibly, is to choose individuals that are impartial and who will be able to weigh the evidence and to make a reasoned decision based upon the evidence presented during the trial. In reality, each side is looking for jurors that are receptive to their theory of the case. Normally prosecutors attempt to select persons that are older, law and order oriented and conservative in their philosophical perspective. Defense attorneys typically prefer jurors that are open minded, perhaps younger and who may possess a higher level of education than the average person. Admittedly, these are broad generalizations and each case is fact specific, but generally these are the default starting positions of each side. But, the strategies are reversed in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. In this case the ideal juror for the state is a person who is younger, more educated and more open minded.
Before Barack Obama won the nomination for President of the United States in November of 2007, the racial attitudes in this country for Blacks were, 'let's try to get along while we move forward at a steady pace.' Our goal was to steadily improve the education of our youth as well as improve our economic situation by gaining better employment and creating companies and therefore jobs and opportunities for ourselves. We planned to get involved with government and politics and make laws that were fair to all but specifically did not hinder us.