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Zimmerman jury instructions -- save them!

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
If you go to Fox News and click the Zimmerman trial jury instructions, you'll get an Adobe PDF doc that I highly recommend saving for future reading.

Regardless of the trial or guilt or innocence or any other factor, these jury instructions are gold!

They contain a very clear and easily understandable summary of self defense laws, definitions of 2nd degree murder and of manslaughter per Florida statute, but easily applicable to any other place.

Of course each situation is different and each state's laws are different. But this document has some excellent points to ponder, things we should all have in mind if we ever contemplate using deadly force in self defense.

Replies

  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    RULES FOR DELIBERATION

    7. Your verdict should not be influenced by feelings of prejudice, bias or sympathy. Your verdict must be based on the evidence, and on the law contained in these instructions.


    I saw a similar line the last time I served on a jury. The judge told us that we are forbidden from aquitting the defendant even if we believe the law is unjust.

    This is the court attempting to prohibit jury nullification.
    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Regardless of the court's opinion (judge's prejudice) a jury has the final say about a law's application to a specific case. Judges don't like that, and they will do everything within their power to intimidate jurors and prevent them from exercising the power the constitution gives them.
    Jerry
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    So in your case this was a directed verdict for some reason or another. Those are fairly rare.

    Now I have been instructed that we were forbidden from acquitting JUST BECAUSE we thought a law was unjust. That's known as "jury nullification" and although juries often get instructed about that, they still render an occasional nullify-style verdict.

    But your instruction was different, being told EVEN IF you thought the law unjust and therefore you were essentially being given a directed verdict of guilty, which is very different from JUST BECAUSE. Yours was therefore a "directed verdict" case. I'd be interested in hearing what the circumstances were -- usually they're given from the bench on civil suits in which defendants have already plead guilty in criminal, or something else. Or sometimes in highly technical cases such as lawsuits over bad construction codes, etc. Interesting stuff.

    But the pullquote you posted actually says neither. It is essential to our legal system and totally correct, that the jury cannot render its verdict based on outside info, only on the info presented in court. That reference has nothing to do with a jury considering a law just or unjust, for whatever reason, the directed verdict that your jury received, or the standard instruction that most other juries receive to avoid a jury nullification verdict.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I actually enjoyed jury duty, gave me a break from work. And I was paid regular for my absence by my company.

    Not getting paid for being absent from regular work or losing revenue if you're self employed, this really hampers getting quality jurors from the pool. I've always thought that all jurors should be required to be comped per their normal pay rate or comped per their self-earnings rate. That would help ensure a better group of jurors.

    Lots of time I'd get dumped during voir dire. Being a high-tech person, programmer or engineering consultant for offshore or whatever, often either the defense or prosecution wouldn't want me, as I'd be pretty analytical about evidence and they knew it, not easily swayed by emotion. So depending on which side planned to use emotional appeals, they'd cross me off the list.

    Naturally if picked, I'd bring out the scythe for anybody guilty. Last time I served, felony assault, we gave the guy 40 years. That gave him at least 20 to sit and think about it.

    Anyway, Cali, your opinion of the general instructions? I thought they were excellent and a good reference document for self defense-minded people.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Of course, Teach, the constitution is deliberately vague about jury verdicts, only stating trial by peers.

    But jury nullification (finding a verdict regardless of evidence, mostly innocent but sometimes guilty) has been around for ages. Show trials are all this type, like those the Nazis conducted. In those cases, of course, juries convicted regardless of innocence. Modern "jury nullification" is usually finding the defendant innocent in face of evidence (OJ Simpson).
  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    I actually enjoyed jury duty, gave me a break from work. And I was paid regular for my absence by my company.

    Not getting paid for being absent from regular work or losing revenue if you're self employed, this really hampers getting quality jurors from the pool. I've always thought that all jurors should be required to be comped per their normal pay rate or comped per their self-earnings rate. That would help ensure a better group of jurors.

    Lots of time I'd get dumped during voir dire. Being a high-tech person, programmer or engineering consultant for offshore or whatever, often either the defense or prosecution wouldn't want me, as I'd be pretty analytical about evidence and they knew it, not easily swayed by emotion. So depending on which side planned to use emotional appeals, they'd cross me off the list.

    Naturally if picked, I'd bring out the scythe for anybody guilty. Last time I served, felony assault, we gave the guy 40 years. That gave him at least 20 to sit and think about it.

    Anyway, Cali, your opinion of the general instructions? I thought they were excellent and a good reference document for self defense-minded people.

    I also enjoy jury duty. I've sat on three criminal cases. One conviction, one hung, and one aquittal. The aquittal was a man facing 98 years for rape, kidnapping, ADW, and several lesser charges.

    The case that I was referring to was a simple assault case. A 19 year old raised his fist to another adult teen but didn't actually hit him. If convicted the kid was facing up to three years. A female juror verbally stated, "Three years for this? He didn't even hit the other boy." The judge did not want the possible penalty to influence our decision. We convicted and the judge gave him 90 days and probation.
    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Jury nullification is nothing new. It has its roots in English Common Law, and was used to good effect by early American colonists. Judges don't like it, but it is both Constitutional and legal. The jury has always been the most powerful entity in the courtroom, to the chagrin of the judges and lawyers.

    Here's a good article on it:

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/jury+nullification
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Good reference, tenn, thanks. And you're right, jury nullification goes back to early English common law, on which ours is based (much of Europe is based on Napoleonic code).

    Re. Cali's jury case I'm guessing that the judge's instruction was "IF" and not "EVEN IF" because the "even" restricts the verdict to a guilty one regardless, or most likely, the judge misspoke and didn't mean to say "even".

    One civil case I was on jury with, a gal fell and sprained her back on some water on the factory floor and she was asking for money. Okay, we thought that was fine. Then the judge instructed us that unless we could prove otherwise, we were required to give the woman monthly payments instead of a lump sum, by some clauses in Texas civil injury law, that was read to us and it was quite clear. The woman had an estranged low-life thug drunken hubby who was always taking her money and we also thought if a lump sum were awarded, he'd take it all but a monthly payment into her bank would be better.

    We also were asked to award her full disability payment of, like, $200k, but her own testimony was that she was now working full time again at a different place. So we cut the award down a bit and gave her partial dis.

    After what we all in the jury thought was a reasonable verdict, balanced -- just because a company has insurance doesn't mean we should bleed that sap dry -- and believe me, we discussed this and everyone on the jury thought we'd done a good job. Well, afterward, the claimant's lawyer came by the jury room and told us that he'd "lost" the case because of our decisions. Well, several of us launched at him. I told him that if he'd presented a better case maybe we'd have rendered a stronger judgment. That we followed the judge's orders on no lump sum, that we all thought the hubby would drink or whore the money away if a lump sum anyway, and that since the woman was now working full time we could not award 100% disability, duh. Shyster lawyer and he got an earful, believe me. We'd worked hard as a jury to provide a smart and fair verdict, he could take a flying leap at a rolling donut, his coming along afterward and picking at us because we didn't give him all he wanted. Jerk.
  • MississippiBoyMississippiBoy Senior Member Posts: 819 Senior Member
    I bet the bar association would've had a field day with him, if you'd reported him.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    I would say there's some Jury Nullification going on in almost every trial. Sometimes it costs one side or the other justice. If the Judge tells the Jury (Which should actually go without saying) that the defendant is innocent til proven guilty and the burden of proof of guilt is on the prosecution, the burden of innocence is NOT on the defendant. In other words before you vote for a guilty verdict, the prosecution should have to prove to the jury the defendent is guilty. The only time the defendant should have to prove anything is if the prosecution comes up with false evidence. There are people on the Jury Panel that have their decision made up ahead of time with complete disregard to these instructions, and injustice is ripe for the happening. Too many people just don't see this. This is the law of the land. there's good reason for it. Not many other countries systems have these checks and balances in government that help protect the individual from injustice. It's better to let the guilty walk than to convict the innocent. People aren't perfect and stuff happens, but it doesn't make it any more palatable to the victim of injustice.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I bet the bar association would've had a field day with him, if you'd reported him.

    It wasn't worth the effort. He was a typical shyster, taking cases and charging the client a percent. He was just miffed that his big score wasn't forthcoming.

    Final analysis however was that the woman got 80% of what she asked for, only in monthly payments. We tried to be fair to both parties. Just because a corporation (it was Levi-Strauss) has lotsa dough was no reason to unfairly give it to other people.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Excellent comments, snake. thanks
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned Posts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Not guilty. It's gonna get bad in the city.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Not guilty. It's gonna get bad in the city.

    I could be wrong, often am, but I think not much violence this time around.
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