There was a hearing today in the State v. George Zimmerman case in Florida. Numerous motions were considered and ruled upon and overall, it was a successful day for the State. Here is a short run down of most of the issues the Court ruled upon and how it ruled:
~The Court ruled that potential jurors are to remain anonymous during jury selection and will only be referred to by number and not by name. Additionally, the media cannot take pictures of any potential jurors during the selection process. Lastly, the potential jurors will not be sequestered during jury selection.
~The Defense wanted the opportunity to bring out evidence regarding the delay in Zimmerman's arrest. In other words, the Defense wanted to bring in, or hint at, the fact that there was a significant delay in Zimmerman's arrest and ultimately the arrest was due to public outcry or some other type of pressure. The parties are not allowed to bring this up in opening statements.
~The parties cannot refer to the fact that THC (the active ingredient in Marijuana) was found in Martin's blood during the opening statements. Whether this evidence is ultimately admissible will be determined at a later time in trial.
~The Defense wanted to be able to bring out certain things about Martin's “character.” The Court ruled that evidence regarding Martin's: school suspension records; previous use of Marijuana; fighting history; comments in social media; false gold teeth and text messages; were not allowed in opening statements or in the trial. However, if the State opens the door to Martin's character, the Defense can then ask the Court for permission to bring this information into the trial.
~Zimmerman's self serving statements cannot be mentioned in the opening statements and they cannot be raised in trial unless any objections to it are overruled. Basically, this keeps Zimmerman's words and comments from coming into trial without him testifying. You see, if his words/comments come in without him testifying, the State cannot cross examine him on them. Self serving means comments that he made that helps his defense.
~The Motion to compel Shellie Zimmerman to testify was granted.
~ The Defense cannot ask for “jury nullification.” This means the Defense cannot, in any way, shape or form, ask the jury to ignore the law and do whatever it wants to do.
~ Most interestingly, Judge Debra Nelson denied the State's motion for a gag order. The State was concerned about the Defense team's statements to the media and believe those statements taint the jury pool. As such, the State asked the Court to issue an order prohibiting any statements to the public. The Court denied the request.
I will keep you updated with developments in this case as we go along so stay tuned and comment with any questions you may have!