Allegations that juror in Zimmerman trial 'planted' by defense

Zimmerman Trial Juror B37, who went to press and signed a book deal but then backed out, is alleged to have Zimmerman connections Photo: CNN screenshot

WASHINGTON, July  16, 2013 There is new speculation that one of the juror’s in the controversial George Zimmerman murder trial of Trayvon Martin may have been planted on the jury by the defense.

Juror B37, a middle aged woman who was among the five white women and one Latina on the jury that acquitted Zimmerman of Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter charges, gave CNN’s Anderson Cooper insight into jury deliberations during his AC360 show yesterday.

Word spread quickly about the exclusive interview. Citizen journalist researchers began to comb past video of the trial and easily discovered footage of Juror 37’s questioning by lawyers ahead of jury selection. Immediately,  many began to wonder how a woman, who referred to Trayvon Martin as a “boy of color,” clearly acknowledging race as an issue in the trial, and who referred to peaceful Sanford, Florida demonstrations calling for Zimmerman’s arrest two years as “riots” could get on the jury.

Within those same hours, Juror B37’s  literary agent Sharlene Martin, who procured deals for Amanda Knox and was the agent for OJ Simpson’s book “If I did it”, announced she would be seeking a deal for Juror B37.

George Zimmerman smiles when learns he has been acquitted Saturday.

A few hours later, ardent Twitter advocates of the like of Genie Lauren put up a petition on Change.org and convinced Martin to withdraw her representation offer and for Juror37 to back out of the deal.


SEE RELATED: Prosecutor Angela Corey under fire for tactics in Zimmerman trial


And she did. Martin backed out, then released a statement  via Twitter from JurorB37 announcing she has decided to not write a book after alll.

In rapid quick fire action, citizen journalists who thrive in social media, possibly connected Juror B37’s husband, who is a lawyer, to George Zimmerman’s father. The allegations are unsubstantiated however.

The findings raise the question of jpossible ury tampering in a complex case that has captured the minds of many across America.

Zimmerman, a volunteer self-appointed night watchman in the community where Martin’s dad and step mom live, scoped the teen walking home from a convenient story after picking up candy and iced tea and pegged him as a criminal, possibly one of those responsible for a series of robberies weeks before. Zimmerman disobeyed 911 dispatch officers’ commands to stay in his vehicle, got out of his car, followed Martin anyway and eventually get into a physical altercation with the boy which ended with a bullet through Martin’s heart.

There are pro-Zimmerman supporters who have said race has had nothing to do with this case.

Their position could be plausible.

There are over 800,000 black men in prison today. Media images, your nightly news and national reports about crime and gang violence often involve black men.

So of course when George Zimmerman saw a guy in a hooded sweatshirt walking through his community which had recently been burglarized he was suspicious.

If one agrees with that, then Boom! They have accepted why and how race crept into the matter and how it did so very early on from Zimmerman’s first actions.

Zimmerman had no idea whether Trayvon was among the 1.4 million young black males in college or with college degrees, but given his limited contact and biased perceptions of black males, Martin in a sweatshirt with a hood in a dark rainy night looked like the typical black thug and Zimmerman didn’t want “these guys” to get away with it again.

Zimmerman had no idea about any other aspects of Martin’s background, occasional weed smoking or getting in trouble a few times in school, which some have used to sort of suggest Martin deserved his fate.  Neither did Zimmerman know Martin enjoyed skiing, horseback riding and was a quiet laid back average kid.

Zimmerman’s judgment to follow Martin could have been based on the superficial alone: his clothes and race.

Someone who would not think a black kid in the dark in chinos and a hoodie automatically spelled criminal may not give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt on his claim of events as to what happened that night.

But those who do will more likely believe the only version of the events available: That Martin attacked him first, as Zimmerman alleged; That Martin told him he was going to die tonight, as Zimmerman alleged. That there were minutes, about 4 precious ones available, when Martin could have run home or away, as Zimmerman alleged.  They will believe that each party could have walked away, as Zimmerman alleged.

Those agreeing with Zimmerman’s superficial initial assessment may be more likely to agree with Zimmerman’s allegations of what happened.

Those who do not,  may be more likely to hone in on Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel who said she heard Martin say “Get off. Get off” to Zimmerman right before their phone call cut off. That version of events paints the story of Zimmerman as the physical aggressor. They would doubt that Martin, who was simply trying to go home, would double back and attack a large adult man following him in the rain.  They would not fall for the claim of Zimmerman, who had taken self-defense martial arts courses, was over 200 lbs, over 30 pounds heavier than Martin, yet cried being overpowered by Martin and then successively punched while mounting him on the ground.

They would believe that Zimmerman’s version of events might have been fabricated to save his skin– which it apparently did.

Martin is not here on earth any longer to give his account of that fateful night. The entire case was presented based on circumstantial evidence, uncertain eyewitness accounts and Zimmerman’s word alone. Thus, the case could have been lost on a lie.

…or on a plant who told Anderson Cooper last night that she believed Zimmerman was fearful for his life, that his “heart was in the right place” the night he killed Martin, but that he didn’t use “good judgment” in confronting the Florida teen. She bought Zimmerman’s account that Martin threw the first punch, that Trayvon got mad about being followed and then turned and attacked Zimmerman. She said the jury never deliberated whether race played a factor into why Zimmerman followed Martin.

Juror 27 she even admitted that Zimmerman might have gone “too far”. If that was indeed her perception, then she essentially conceded on national television that Zimmerman might have been unreasonable or perhaps unjustified in his decision to use fatal force.  It should also make some uncomfortable to hear her suggest that she didn’t quite understand the jury instructions.

But none of that would even matter if her job, as some are claiming, was to get on the jury and secure Zimmerman’s freedom. Clearly from the interview, Juror 37 had made up her mind before deliberations even started.

On the first vote, she revealed, three jurors voted for Zimmerman being guilty and three not guilty.

Juror B37could have played a role in convincing the other hold outs to join the three wanting to acquit Zimmerman.

And if it is indeed true as some unverified reports are alleging that her husband has connections to George Zimmerman’s father, her eagerness to go to the media first and to pen a book deal first could have just provided ample breeding and starting point for the Department of Justice’s forthcoming investigation.

Well played, Juror B37. Well played. 

 


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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site Politic365.com while authoring her own influential blog JenebaSpeaks.com which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. JenebaSpeaks.com focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
 
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
 
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
 
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

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