Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Juror B-37: Opportunity, Means, Motive in the Zimmerman Trial

The strange saga of Juror B37 could become even stranger, now that the Department of Justice has set up an email Tip Line for the events in Sanford, Florida. The email address is:

New questions are surfacing about her in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman murder trial. Did Juror B37 or her husband, an attorney, have the motive, means and opportunity to tamper with the jury?

There is no doubt that Juror B37 was anxious to get on to the jury. "In watching her jury interview, one finds a very concerning pattern. As discussed by legal expert Gail Brashers-Krug, a former federal prosecutor and law professor and who is currently a criminal defense attorney in Iowa:

She really wants to be a juror. She seems to be going out of her way to minimize the disruptive effect of a multiweek trial on her life. Jurors rarely do that. She is also taking pains to avoid saying anything particularly sympathetic to either side. 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."

Opportunity. Juror B37 was making the opportunity for herself.

As Juror B37's story unfolded, we came to understand why a person who consumes no media - except for the Today show - and professed such disdain for the media that her household newspapers went unread, becoming bird cage liners. It was remarkable, then, that this sequestered juror and her attorney husband managed to land a book deal less than two days after the Zimmerman verdict. She announced it nationally the Monday following the verdict on AC360.

Juror B37 was masterful in "how to not know anything about something everyone else knows about" although she was under the false (and prejudiced) belief that there were “riots” after the Martin shooting.

While appearing to be pretty much a blank slate, Juror B37 actually made startling statements in her voir dire.

Gail Brashers-Krug...also jumped back when B37 said, "You never get all the information." "That's exactly what a defense attorney loves to hear," says Brashers-Krug. "That's reasonable doubt, right there. If I were a prosecutor, that would make me extremely nervous about her." She adds that B37’s devotion to animals might raise flags for her as well. "The animal thing is weird. She doesn't know how many animals she has, and she mentions her animals far, far more than her two daughters. She strikes me as eccentric and unpredictable. I never, ever want eccentric, unpredictable people on a jury."

During the nationally televised interview with Anderson Cooper on his AC360 show, Juror B37 described the planned book as "always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband’s perspectives..."

Wait! Her husband's perspective?

That leads to the disclosure that the "sequestered" jury wasn't so sequestered after all, as the Judge allowed unsupervised visits of 2 hours a week, according to Florida's WFTV, which obtained a copy of the agreement the Judge had all the jurors sign. "The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Judge Debra Nelson allowed jurors generally no more than two hours of alone time with visitors once a week."

Juror B37's husband holding a perspective strong enough to co-author a book on the subject? Given unsupervised access during the trial to his wife on the jury? Certainly sounds like there's a possibility that this was more, much more, than a conjugal visit.

Then there's the aspect of how rapidly this book publishing deal was done. According to the Orlando Weekly blog, literary agent Sharlene Martin claimed that B37 had been referred to her "by a high ranking producer at one of the morning shows." That means the juror would have to have established a relationship with a national morning-TV producer, asked said producer to recommend an agent, contacted Martin, and agreed to a deal with her – all within a single Sunday."

Rather an implausible timetable for a single Sunday, unless B37 had someone outside the sequestered jury, like an attorney husband, working to coordinate the tasks of the opportunity. Was B37 acting like a mole inside the jury, confiding trial information to her husband?

And there's a bit more, too, that raises that question. The same Orlando blog notes that Zimmerman's neighbor and friend Frank Taaffe (Twitter's Frank the Tank) appeared on Fox News and HLN on Saturday a few hours before the verdict was read, some insight into the fact that it’s 5 to 1 in favor of acquittal, and the one holdout is now looking at the manslaughter charge."

The Orlando blog continued: "At 2:48 PM on HLN, Taaffe at first merely claimed he was 'very comfortable' in this assessment and 'firmly believe[d]' it was the case; prodded by host Nancy Grace to explain how he had arrived at his belief, he went even further, stating, 'I know it’s 5 to 1.'"


University of Alabama Press Marketing Director J.D. Wilson explained: "Time is of the essence when trying to sell a book dealing with a high-profile case. Wilson said it would have been possible for the book to wind up on shelves as quick as four to six weeks from now and sell up to 200,000 copies. Revenue from the book could have been anywhere from $2.5 million to $4 million.

Juror B37 herself could have received an advance of up to $100,000, he said.

"I think the juror would see a big check really fast," he said. "Then she would just have to finish the book."


As Nathaniel Downes of Addicting summarized the strange saga of Juror B-37:

"We find a juror with their own agenda, who managed to sneak her way onto the jury, with unsupervised access to an element harboring their own viewpoint and opinion, and who aimed to profit off of a non-guilty verdict. She had the means, by having access to her husband unsupervised. She had the motive, by profiting off of a book deal. And she had the opportunity by being on the jury in the first place."


Redeye said...

"The most important fact to know is that the prosecution worked as hard for George Zimmerman as they did for the state of Florida. The prosecution did not challenge the lack of Afro Americans on the jury. The prosecution did not present its own theory of the case; it reacted to Zimmerman’s story of the case.

The prosecution’s case should have been presented on the theory that the wounds displayed by Zimmerman were self-inflicted. Zimmerman inflicted those wounds on himself. Zimmerman knew enough about the law to know he needed such wounds. Such a prosecution theory would have forced the defense to defend against this theory, and it might have caused Zimmerman to testify.

Instead, the prosecution introduced a tape made by the Zimmerman defense. The prosecution should have fought to keep that tape out of the trial. In a just world this prosecutor would be disbarred for malpractice.

The second worst flaw in the prosecution’s case was their failure to challenge Zimmerman’s voice recognition by his friends and relatives. The prosecution needed to recode several voices saying what Zimmerman was alleged to have yelled on the 911 tapes, replay them and ask each of the witnesses to identify the Zimmerman voice.

The third flaw by the prosecution was to bring in a skinny dummy. They should have brought in a live person of the same height and weight as Zimmerman and required that person to pull his gun with Trayvon on top of him. The prosecution should have punctured a heart with Trayvon on top to test blood spatter. If Zimmerman had a broken nose, who repaired it?

Finally, if Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman when he was shot in the heart, why was there no blood of Martin’s on Zimmerman’s clothes? Why was this question not asked at trial?

The justice system worked as it is designed to do. The system exonerated a White man who admitted killing a Black boy. The Justice Department will not bring an action in this case. Just because the man who heads it is Black does not mean he runs it. DOJ is a system that runs the same no matter who is at the top."

~Chip :) said...

Thanks, RedEye, for this additional info and insight. Very interesting, indeed!

Redeye said...

More interesting insight:
August 6, 2013

"Florida law enforcement, from the local police to the special prosecutor overseeing the Trayvon Martin case, did not want to see George Zimmerman convicted of murder and deliberately threw away the case, allowing their prosecution to crumble. A growing chorus of attorneys and analysts who know jury trials and courtroom procedure say this is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the parade of otherwise incoherent missteps by George Zimmerman’s prosecutors."

~Chip :) said...

Thanks again, RedEye, this is just the tip of the iceberg, I fear.

But, knowing what I've uncovered about internal workings, I can readily believe that they "deliberately threw away the case."

It's essential not to confuse the law with justice.