As protests over the acquittal of George Zimmerman grew increasingly violent across America and pundits decried the justice system, one person close to the verdict finally spoke out. Juror B37, whose identity remains anonymous, took to the news shows to try to shed light on how the “not guilty” verdict was reached.
Cloaked in darkness, B37 told Anderson Cooper how the jury was hamstrung by the evidence and Florida’s state laws. Unable to “find him guilty of something,” she tearfully explained, “We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards.”
Any intentions toward illuminating the reasons for the jury’s verdict, or to quelling the increase of violent protest, were lost when another fact was revealed: Juror B37 had been offered a book deal, by the same agent who represents the former boyfriend of accused murderer Amanda Knox. The Twitterverse promptly bombed the agent with demands that she rescind the offer (which she did). Juror B37 also released a statement saying, “[Being sequestered] shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public over every aspect of this case… The best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life.”
THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Juror B37. An opportunity to do good was lost in a bad decision.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: In volatile situations, put out the fire, and brush off your own clothes later. Once released from sequester, five minutes in front of a TV would have clued Juror B37 into the fact that this trial has polarized a nation. It’s natural to want to explain the process leading to a shocking verdict. It could even have been helpful, showing how the law works, and doesn’t. Zimmerman, Knox, and others acquitted of high-profile crimes may have no other financial recourse but to sell their stories to publishers, but for an anonymous juror, this seemed self-serving. Everyone wants to be rich and famous, but the needs of the many – in this case, a confused and dismayed nation – must outweigh the needs of the one.