Friday, July 18, 2014



A Juror Speaks Out

It's been just over two years since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman, who maintained that he acted in self-defense and within the law, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter, in a case that ignited debate nationwide about race and civil rights.

Maddy, the only juror to reveal her identity and speak out publicly, says that serving on the jury ruined her life. "I lost my job when I came back. I lost my freedom. I had reporters sitting in front of my house," she recalls. "I got a death threat on social media that said I was going to feel the same pain that Trayvon Martin's mother felt."

Maddy claims that as the only minority on the panel, she was treated differently by the five other jurors. "One of the jurors even made fun of the way I spoke," she claims. "I felt pressured when I was in the deliberations. I felt that I was bullied." Maddy continues, "In my heart, I believe that George Zimmerman is guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. The law said he was protecting himself, and we had to follow the law." She says, tearfully, "I just don't want people to judge me, because I didn't kill anybody. I wasn't the one that pulled the trigger."

Onstage, Dr. Phil welcomes Maddy, as well as attorney and legal analyst Lisa Bloom, author of the new book Suspicion Nation; The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It.

"I took this case very seriously, and I feel like it became a mockery, because when I came out of this, it became that I was the bad guy."

"I blame the prosecution and the state of Florida," Lisa says. "In the book, I go through the six biggest blunders they made and, putting it all together, they failed to connect the law and the facts that they had to give jurors like Maddy, who wanted to convict, a road map to conviction." She gives one example of a mistake she believes the prosecution made. "George Zimmerman showed on a videotape that his gun was holstered behind him inside his pants," Lisa explains. "He says he was lying on his back with Trayvon Martin on top of him at the moment when Trayvon saw the gun, reached for it and threatened to kill him. Zimmerman says he had to pull the gun and shoot in self-defense." She continues, "The problem with that story is that unless Trayvon had X-ray vision, there's no way he could have seen through [Zimmerman's] body to a gun holstered behind him."

"Was it difficult to express your opinions in the jury room?" Dr. Phil asks Maddy.

"When I first came in, I didn't see myself as different," Maddy says. "But after three weeks of being there, I could tell that I was different — mentally, physically and emotionally ... I just always felt a discomfort."

Did prosecutors fail to prepare a key witness? "To hear from Maddy that the jury discounted Rachel Jenteal is heartbreaking," Lisa says.


Phil looks at some of the headlines about Zimmerman since the trial. And, how is Maddy doing now?

"Did [the prosecution] make a strategic mistake in not focusing on the racial profiling aspect of this case?" Dr. Phil asks Lisa.

"Absolutely. The reason this case got so much attention was the racial angle," she responds. "The defense was very straightforward about race," Lisa says. "They put a young white woman on the stand who said she'd been the victim of a burglary by one or two African-American men. Simple cross-examination should have been: Do these guys have anything to do with Trayvon Martin?" She continues, "To attribute the wrongs of two African-American men to all African-American men is the very definition of racism."

Lisa explains the concept of implicit racial bias, which she elaborates on in her book. "Most of us think, 'I'm not racist,' right?" she says. "But we do have racial biases. We all walk around with them, because we live in a culture with a lot of negative images of African-Americans, in particular." She stresses that it's important to acknowledge and understand these implicit biases in order to overcome them. "We can move on from it," she says.

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