Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Yes, Black Life is That Cheap: The Defense in the George Zimmerman Trial Begins With a "Knock Knock" Joke

The opening arguments in the George Zimmerman murder trial began with a devastating argument by the prosecution and a joke by the defense which reduced Trayvon's Martin's death to comedy.

The prosecution was locked, loaded, and playing for keeps:

Casino, one of my favorite movies, has a great scene where Robert Dinero described an easily hustled and tricked slot manager as a dumb white man.

I am torn.

George Zimmerman's defense appears to be incompetent.

But, are they throwing the opening moments of the trial in order to play a deeper game that will pay dividends for Zimmerman with the jury later on?

I am befuddled. What do you good folks think about the opening forays in the Zimmerman murder trial? I am not an attorney. Nor, have I ever served on jury. I am mighty curious about the thoughts of those of you who possess experience and expertise on these matters.


The Sanity Inspector said...

One interesting thing I read about the trial is that the prosecution will not have the support of the police--something of a rarity in a murder trial.

Daniel Goldberg said...

I am no expert on jury psychology, nor did I do anything by way of trial work (I practiced appellate law, which is a kind of litigation but is different in many crucial ways from trial work). But one thing to bear in mind is that if we could just substitute our reactions for those of a particular jury, no one would care much about voir dire.

(Obviously, it's the opposite: jury selection is literally everything, which is one reason appellate lawyers are often involved in voir dire, because they can help strategize ways to bring about reversible error and to preserve it for appeal).

So while you and I might have a given reaction to the joke, it's probably unsafe to extrapolate anything like that reaction to this particular jury.

More than that, can't say!

Daniel Goldberg said...

In a high-profile case like this, I would be shocked if opening statement was not vetted and scripted. So much in a trial is unpredictable, but arguably the opening of the prosecution is one of the less so. But again, not a trial lawyer, so could be way off.

The Sanity Inspector said...

I'm sure they can. It's just that their testimony will not support the prosecution's case. The police initially declined to charge him, remember

Steve-o said...

Correct. They can be compelled to testify, but in my experiance compelled testimony always comes across as such to the jury. And the decision to initially decline charges will almost certainly come in.

chauncey devega said...

it is a show, is it not? thanks for the insight.