The very controversial trial of George Zimmerman began this week with jury selection. The defense for George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 12, 2012, sought to have the trial delayed citing the prosecutions failure to timely turn over evidence to the defense. Circuit Judge Deborah Nelson denied the defenses request and 100 potential jurors were brought in to begin selection. George Zimmerman is being charged with second degree murder for allegedly following an unarmed Martin through an apartment complex and fatally shooting him after an alleged physical dispute.
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What Does This Mean?:
During pre-trial activities, both the prosecutor and defense attorneys exchange requested information, documents, videos, etc. to adequately prepare for a trial. This is called the “Discovery” phase. In some instances, one side may or may not fully cooperate with the sharing of this information and may or may not strategically stall in handing over information that may be used as evidence in a trial. The attorneys for Zimmerman claimed that the prosecution did just that and sought to delay the start of the trial so they may prepare further based upon new information provided. The Judge did not agree with the defense, denied their request, and the trial has begun with jury selection. Jury selection is extremely important as these are the people who will hear the case and ultimately decide the fate of George Zimmerman.
How Does This Affect You?:
Discovery happens in both criminal and civil cases that are litigated in the courts. This includes, but is not limited to, the exchanging of documents (i.e. – medical reports, phone records, bank statements, etc) and depositions of witnesses (i.e. – questioning witnesses before trial about a particular event so you know what their testimony will be in court). It is during this phase that all information should be shared so each side may fully prepare for trial and also to determine if an actual case or cause of action exists. It is time consuming and can become very costly.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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