Since juror B-37 sat down for an anonymous interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night and explained why the jury she served on decided to acquit George Zimmerman, commentators have observed that she displayed a conspicuous amount of “sympathy” for the defendant. On Tuesday, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joined the chorus when he suggested that it was clear to him that juror B-37 may have never been open to the prosecution’s arguments. Curiously, in spite of the fact that he conceded the prosecution made their case against Zimmerman in a number of suboptimal ways, he decided not to critique the prosecution for improperly vetting the suspect juror during the selection process.
“Listening to this interview last night, it just seemed to me like everything the defense said went right into this juror’s brain and she just completely agreed with their theory,” observed CNN host Jake Tapper.
“She certainly did,” Toobin agreed. “Every time there was an inference that could be drawn, every time there was someone you could believe and someone you could not believe, she believed the defense version.”
Toobin remarked that, in spite of B-37’s conversational knowledge of the evidence in the case, she appeared to him to be “primed” – a loaded term when applied to juries.
He later went on to display shock over B-37’s deference when asked if she felt sorry for Trayvon Martin. The juror replied to that question by saying she felt sorry for both Martin and Zimmerman. “I mean, Trayvon Martin is dead,” Toobin exclaimed. “George Zimmerman was inconvenienced.”
Toobin concludes by noting that B-37 probably voted the correct way given how proceedings developed, but “her degree of sympathy for George Zimmerman was really striking to me.” He added that she was probably a strong juror for the defense “right out of the box.”
This CNN panel seemed to dismiss the notion that B-37’s opinion may have evolved over the course of proceedings. Toobin explicitly says that B-37 was likely to be so predisposed to believe the defense’s version of events from the beginning. Maybe, just maybe, the defense’s arguments swayed her thinking. But let’s presume that B-37 was always at least somewhat prepared to side with the defense over the prosecution from the start. If so, this is yet another failure on the part of the state.
If the prosecution did seek to have B-37 removed, or was unable to counter a defense challenge to allow her to serve on the jury, it is another story. Apparently, however, the prosecution was successful at removing an African-American juror for the offense of being a “Fox News watcher,” so you can chalk the inclusion of B-37 on this jury to being unable to win every battle.
It is curious, though, that Toobin seemed disinterested in including even a mild critique of the prosecution in his commentary when implying that B-37 was not an honest and dispassionate juror.
It is their job of the state during selection to remove potential jurors believed to be partial. An honest appraisal would compel any neutral commentator to note that this is yet another example of the prosecution failing to deliver – but perhaps their task was an impossible one from the outset.
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