Daily Updates

July 17, 2013

Zimmerman juror offers sole window into verdict

The Florida woman was cloaked in shadow, yet her appearance on CNN made her the public face of the jury that acquitted George Zimmerman of murder and manslaughter barely 48 hours earlier. She was at times inarticulate and self-contradictory during prime-time interviews Monday and Tuesday, but she is the sole real window into the two days of private deliberation that produced a very public verdict, whose announcement was viewed live on television Saturday night and triggered large demonstrations across the country.

Juror B37, a middle-aged white resident of Seminole County and the mother of two adult children, appeared on TV as a silhouette, hungry enough for publicity to sit across from Anderson Cooper but cautious enough to demand the anonymity afforded by CNN and the court — pending a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing on the release of jurors' identities to the public.

The public has tried to glean meaning from what she told Cooper — that Zimmerman's "heart was in the right place," that things "just went terribly wrong" — and everyone from pundits to Twitter trolls have condemned her statements as misbegotten or racist. (Four other jurors emphasized Tuesday that B37 did not reflect their views.) And in the visceral reaction to one juror speaking out, it's possible to feel the tension in the American system of trial by jury: People want juries to do so much more than they are empowered or supposed to do.

That desire might be rooted in the colonial role of juries as a bulwark against British rule, says Douglas Green, who lectures on jury selection and serves as president of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

"The right to a jury trial was fundamental to the colonies because they wanted to resist the authority of the crown," Green says. "The reason people object when they hear these verdicts is because of this colonial perception of a jury as standing up for what is 'the right thing to do,' " not for what is the correct, case-specific application of a certain law to a certain body of evidence.

Text Only
Daily Updates
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • In Other News, April 19

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014