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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Social Media: Why the George Zimmerman Jury Will Be Sequestered

Judge Debra Nelson reversed herself and has now decided to sequester the George Zimmerman jury based on information stipulated by both attorneys  that the trial would take no longer than 2 - 4 weeks. The process of seating the jury may take longer than the trial.

Sifting out bias and stealth jurors, who pretend not to be biased, has been a laborious process.  Today, June 14, 2013, and Day 5 of jury selection, concludes Round 1. Jury selection for Round 2 will begin again Tuesday and will take a minimum of one more week.

So far, lawyers have been questioning jurors solely about pre trial publicity.  Potential juror B-51 said "I haven't lived under a rock for the past year." Attorney Mark O'Mara said that for the most part jurors were being honest.

But not all of them. Facebook has been used to debunk suspicious testimony. Juror number E7 told the court he had little knowledge of the case.  Lawyers however found a Facebook posting in which someone who looked liked E7 said "I CAN tell you THIS. Justice…IS coming." This person denied  the post was his, but then later admitted it. Social media may actually bring about fair trials and prevent people with hidden agendas from sneaking onto juries.  Jurors who post on Facebook leave a transparent legacy. 

Twenty nine jurors have been selected for Round 2 of questioning and attorneys are seeking a pool of 40 for the traditional voir dire process.   These potential jurors, according to what reporters can see, consist
of 20 women and 9 men.  There are 19 white,  6 blacks, 2 Hispanic l, 1 mixed race,  and 1 Asian-American.  Reporters estimate that 9 jurors are in their  20s-30s.  I expect to see this number reduced as more Facebook profiles are reviewed.

The good news is that this a non capital case and Florida only requires 6 jurors and 4 alternates. That said George Zimmerman faces life in prison.  During sequester, the jurors will not have access to social media and they will be able to concentrate on the issue at hand and not their phones.  A fair verdict should be the outcome of the sequester.

Article first published as Social Media: Why the George Zimmerman Jury Will Be Sequestered on Technorati.

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