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Zimmerman: The Trial Begins…

The jury is selected in the Zimmerman case. Hopefully, the jurors will be fair and follow their oaths. The State of Florida must, if it can, prove George Zimmerman guilty of second degree murder or a “lesser included offence”, such as manslaughter, by proof beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.

I do not believe that the second degree murder charge was appropriate. At best, Mr. Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter. And, the State may have a difficult time proving manslaughter.

Jury selection is a critically important phase of the trial – perhaps, the most important.

Remember, the State’s case is presented first by the prosecutor, called an Assistant State Attorney (in Florida). After each witness is called by the prosecutor, the defense attorneys cross examine the witness. Once the State concludes its case, the defense presents its case, although the defense does not have to present any evidence. The “burden of proof” is solely on the State.

There will be many motions, objections and rulings by the court (the judge) during the trial. I will discuss them in future blogs. Hopefully, I will answer some of the questions you may have.

A big question is whether George Zimmerman will “take the stand” (testify) in his own defense. Remember, every person charged with a crime ( a defendant) has the absolute right to “remain silent” during his or her trial. It is often wise for the defense to”rest” without the defendant testifying. The defense often raises a “reasonable doubt” by questioning the State’s witnesses.

In the Zimmerman case, if I had to guess, I think that George Zimmerman will testify in his own behalf. In self defense cases, defendants often testify.

The decision whether to testify is the defendant’s. if a defendant chooses not to testify, he need not give reasons nor an explanation. A defendant never has to prove his innocence!

As you follow the case, think about the strategy of the defense as the State witnesses are questioned. How are the defense lawyers attempting to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors? Observe Mr. Zimmerman as he sits at counsel table. How does he look? How does he behave? The jurors will be looking at him every day. How is he dressed? How does he interact with his lawyers and his family? How does he react to the witnesses while they are on the witness stand being questioned?

Be observant and imagine how the jurors may be feeling. I hope the trial will be interesting to you as you see justice being played out – hopefully.

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