Juror Misconduct – Potential Threat in the Parkland School Shooting Trial
May 3, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
As the jury selection process continues for the case against school shooter Nikolas Cruz, there have been more issues with the potential lineup of jurors. On April 26th, 2022, one of the potential members of the jury was seen mouthing threats at Cruz.
The man was removed from the room by bailiffs, who was repeatedly shaking his head and saying “that’s horrible” as he walked out of the courtroom. This happened just as 70 potential jurors entered the courtroom and took their seats. The man, in his 30s, started “mouthing expletives” at Cruz, who had to be protected by the surrounding guards.
Reports indicate that other jurors started to become “excited” and that there was concern about a fight breaking out. According to Broward Sheriff’s Captain Osvaldo Tianga is the head of courthouse security. He commented on the incident: “One instigates and then there are many followers.”
After the man in question had exited the courtroom, he told the security that he didn’t want to cause any problems, however, he became emotional when he saw Cruz in the room and wanted to “curse him out.”
Judge Scherer then had to confer and decided to dismiss the entire panel of potential jurors. Scherer claimed the rest of the group became “belligerent” while waiting for the elevator to take them out of the courtroom and back to the lobby. Several were even noted as getting “mouthy” with the deputies.
After dismissing everyone, a reporter who was nearby claimed that the man who was taken out first had traumatized all the potential jurors. The rest of the group was followed out by the police to ensure they did not associate or say anything with the next group of potential jurors entering the courthouse.
Jury misconduct is not uncommon in the courtroom. Typically the biggest concern with a jury is the access to information from outside of the courtroom. Considering most adults have a cell phone with internet access, people can connect with others through social media or other platforms. However personal conduct can also pose an issue.
According to the Florida Bar, most jurors enter the courtroom only with the context of what they have seen on television, in movies, or on the news. With a skewed view, people may not understand the importance of both privacy and personal conduct while in the courtroom.
In a violent crimes case such as the case of Nikoas Cruz, it makes sense that people may be overcome with emotions. Knowingly going on the jury stand means that individuals will spend the next several months hearing all of the gruesome details of the school shooting—along with hearing Cruz himself go on the stand.
Continuous Issues in Jury Selection
There have been multiple hurdles to cross in the jury selection process for the Cruz case. From the beginning of April to now, multiple jurors have had to be released from potentially going onto the next stages of the selection process.
During one day, several potential jurors were released from getting too emotional. On another day, the Judge had to release the entire room for them saying they would be unable to follow the specific laws to act as a jury. In the most recent of issues, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer had to nullify two weeks of jury selection by starting over the entire process.
This ongoing process just shows how taxing it is to find jurors for such a high-profile case, especially one as violent or as tragic as this one. It also shows how the jury and potential misconduct can affect the process of a court case.
We will continue to cover the Parkland School Shooting case as more continues to unfold.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is imperative that you prioritize reaching out to a skilled defense attorney in your area. Receiving quality legal advice can make the difference between facing severe penalties such as expensive fines and jail time, or walking away free. Going to court can be a stressful situation, so make sure you have a strong legal defense team on your side. Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all over Florida for various crimes. They are prepared to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.
Written by Karissa Key