Ahmaud Arbery Case Trial Coverage by Andrew Branca: Day 3 - CCW Safe National | CCW Safe Weapon Liability | CCW Safe Defense Attorneys
Ahmaud Arbery Case Trial Coverage by Andrew Branca: Day 3

Posted By: Justin Collett

The opinions and statements made in this article are solely those of Andrew Branca and do not represent any position or opinion of CCW Safe. We chose to share this content in order to provide some insight to the trial process. 


Arbery Case Day 3 Wrap-Up: Juror Concerned Media Leaking Identifying Information


Welcome back to our ongoing coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case, in which defendants Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan are being tried for murder and other charges in the shooting death of Arbery.  I am, of course, Attorney Andrew Branca, for Law of Self Defense.


Today the court proceeded with jury selection, or voir dire, in the case, with the goal of empaneling 12 jurors and 4 alternates.  Although Judge Wamsley presiding over the trial had initially expected jury selection would take no longer than two weeks, the unexpectedly slow pace of voir dire in these first few days has led him to become concerned that jury selection could, in fact, take longer than that.


Key Findings from General Voir Dire


Of particular note from today’s general voir dire:


Nearly 60% of today’s prospective jurors indicated that they had already formed or expressed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.


Nearly half (47%) of today’s prospective jurors had formed a negative feeling about one or more of the defendants.


Nearly 70% of today’s prospective jurors owned firearms kept within their household.


About 37% of today’s prospective jurors had obtained non-military training in firearms.


Substantial majorities of today’s prospective jurors believed that people of color are treated fairly by the police particularly (68%) and the criminal justice system generally (79%).


Nearly half (47%) of today’s prospective jurors indicated that they had circumstances at work or home that would diminish their ability to focus their full attention on the trial if called to serve as jurors.


Juror Concerned Media Leaking Identifying Information


Also notable today was that at the start of the defense general voir dire, one of the jurors expressed concern that apparently members of the media were releasing some very specific details about the jurors, such as the names of colleges from which they had graduated--information that might be used by others to identify the jurors.


Judge Walmsley indicated that he'd been made aware of this kind of thing happening, had spoken to the media to clarify the importance of the anonymity of the jury, and reassured them that their anonymity would be maintained.


Well, OK, then.



Third Group of “20” Prospective Jurors


Today’s was the third group of prospective jurors put through the selection process, with each group nominally numbering 20 people.


Today’s voir dire process mirrored that of yesterday—a fresh group of 20 prospective jurors were brought in for general voir dire this morning (although one was immediately dismissed for medical reasons, leaving a group numbering 19).  \


General voir dire is occurring in a room other than the courtroom, to best accommodate the relatively large size of each group of prospective jurors.  We’ll share our notes and video of the general voir dire proceedings with you here. 



After general voir dire was complete, the court moved back to the courtroom, where individual voir dire involving questioning of prospective jurors one at a time was undertaken.  As was the case yesterday, while broadcast cameras provide video of the defendants and defense counsel during individual voir dire, the audio is muted, so there’s little to be learned from these individual voir dire broadcasts.


Once again today’s general voir dire was a four stage process, with welcoming remarks and a few questions from Judge Walmsley, then extensive questioning by Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, more succinct questioning by Defense Counsel Jason Sheffield, and finally closing remarks and cautions by Judge Walmsley, after which the court transitioned into individual voir dire.


Before we dive into the individual details of today’s voir dire, however CCWSAFE


Judge Walmsley Welcomes and Questions Prospective Jurors



As one would expect, Judge Walmsley’s opening remarks to the prospective jurors today was essentially identical to his remarks from yesterday.


It was here that a substantial majority of the prospective jurors (60% of them) indicated that they had already formed or expressed an opinion of guilt or innocence of the accused.


Here are Judge Walmsley’s four general voir dire questions to the prospective jurors, and their numbered responses:


Judge: Any of you related by blood or marriage to any of defendants or Ahmaud Arbery? No one.


Judge: Have you formed or expressed opinion of guilt or innocence of accused? #152, #150, #156, #146, #161, #164, #167, #170, #172, #175, #176 (11 total, 60%))


Judge: Any prejudice or bias in mind either for or against accused? #150, #172


Judge: Is your mind NOT perfectly impartial between the state and accused? #146, #150,

#152, #156, #158 (5 total)


At that point he handed over general voir dire to the State, in the form of Senior ADA Linda Dunikoski.


Senior ADA Linda Dunikoski



Once again, ADA Dunikoski took about 40 minutes to work through roughly 80 questions identical to those she asked yesterday, as well as to read through a lengthy list of prospective witnesses to see if any were known to the panel.  There were no particularly notable responses, individually or collectively, to the State’s questions. 


Anyone not live in Glynn County? No one.


Anyone under 18? No one.


Anyone convicted of felony, not had rights restored? No one.


Indictment returned June 2020, anyone sit on that grand jury? No one.


Anyone here who is POST certified LEO with arrest powers? No one.


Anyone 70 or older and does not wish to serve on this jury? #156, #148.


Anyone here full-time student enrolled and attending classes? No one?


Anyone here full-time caretaker of child under 6 and no other care possible if on jury? #146


Anyone here full-time caretaker of elderly or handicapped? #139


Anyone here difficulty understanding English? No one.


Anyone have difficulty hearing? #139, #156


Hearing issue, add #148


Anticipate trial to last through November 19, Friday before Thanksgiving.  If have non-work personal conflict, e.g., open heart surgery next week, want to know about that now. #152, #143, #172, #175, #176


Anyone related by blood or marriage to current Brunswick DA Keith Higgins? No one. Anybody personally know him? #150.


Related by blood or marriage to former DA Jackie Johnson? No one. Know her personally?  #138, #161.


DA assigned to this case, Cobb County DA Flynn Brody--related by blood/marriage or know personally? No one.


Anyone know us three prosecutors? No one.


Any opinion on last year's election where DA Johnson defeated by new DA Keith Higgins. #150, #152, #167.


Need to double check above numbers.


Any questions about why Cobb County assigned by GA AG? #152.


Unable to give state fair trial because we are not from Glynn County? No one.


Anyone related to former Glynn County ADA George Barnhill, prosecutor, or his son, Barnhill Jr.? No one.


Atlantic circuit DA Durden? No one.


Anyone know Sheffield or Rubin, defense attorneys? No one.


Know Laura or Frank Hogue, defense attorneys? No one.


Keven Gough, local attorney, defense attorney? No one. Worked with him, know of him? #158, #170, #172.


Know any of the defendants? #161


Know Ms. Amy Elrod? #172, #175


Know Lee McMichael, Greg's wife? No one. Lindsey McMichael, Greg's daughter? No one.


Did anyone know Ahmaud Arbery? #146, #161


Know Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones? No one.


Markus Arbery Sr, Ahmaud father, #164, #172


Markus Arbery Jr., brother? No one.


Anyone previously served on jury, to verdict? #148, #152, #170, #143, #172


Any of you foreperson? #152, #170


Of five of you, jury able to reach verdict? All of the five, except juror #170 one time did reach verdict second time did not.


Anyone serve on any grand jury? No one.


Anyone know Judge Walmsley? No one.


When notified of jury duty, linked to web site, were some court documents on this case there, if you looked, need to let us know now. #152


Served in military? #150, #143, #158, #176


Prior law enforcement training or experience? #143, #158, #167


Close personal friend or relative involved in law enforcement. #140, #146, #152, #160, #164, #167, #172, #176


Experience in the field of social work? No one.


Work experience in counseling, psychology, psychiatry? No one.


Experience in legal field, lawyer, paralegal, assistant in legal firm? No one.


Experience in criminal justice system, worked probation department, mentored at a prison, etc. #167


Related or close friend who worked in DA office. #146, #158, #167


Anyone with medical training? No one.


Related or close friend who is criminal defense attorney? #158


Anyone personally knows an attorney who works within criminal justice system, prosecutor or defense attorney? #150


Anyone had a notable bad experience with law enforcement? #150, #167


Notable good experience? #146, #150, #138, #167


Notable bad experience with a prosecutor? No one.


Good experience with a prosecutor? #158


Convictions for crimes--like DUI or more serious. Not traffic tickets.


Have you ever been arrested or convicted? #140, #150, #170, #176


Close friend or relations who have been convicted of DUI or more serious?  #139, #140, #146, #148, #150, #156, #164, #167, #175, #176


Anyone here falsely accused of crime, involved police or not? No one.


Close friend or relative falsely accused of crime? #150


Being the victim of a crime--anyone here feels they've been victim of a crime against their person? Violent crime. No one.


Close friend or relative victim of violent crime? #139, #150, #152, #172


Any of you witnessed a crime in progress? #139, #140, #143, #158, #167


Ever taken a cell phone video of crime in progress? No one.


Burglary and home invasion--ever been victim? #139, #156, #164, #170


Close relative or friend victim of burglary or home invasion? #139, #152, #175


Ever had to call 911 to report a crime? #139, #140, #164


Ever had to give statement to law enforcement re: a crime? #139, #140, #143, #164


Anyone ever been a sworn witness at trial? #140, #152, #158, #170


Ever taken it upon self to investigate a crime? #158


Know anybody who has done so? #158


Do you know anybody else in the room, other prospective jurors present? #172, #164, #158


On Monday, showed up at courthouse, recognize people you knew? #138, #140, #146, #148, #161, #164, #172


Do you or someone in household own a firearm? #139, #140, #143, #146, #150, #156, #158, #160, #161, #164, #167, #170, #176


13 of 19 own a gun. (68%)


Carry a gun for job? #139, #143, #148, #167


Non-military training in firearms? #139, #140, #143, #156, #158, #167, #170


Have you lived in Glynn County less than 5 year? #139, #156, #175, #176


Currently reside in Scitilla Shores neighborhood? No one. Previously? No one. Particularly familiar with neighborhood? #146.


Live in Royal Oaks neighborhood? No one. Previously? No one. Familiar with? #172.


Familiar road Boykin Ridge, Fancy Bluff neighborhood? Live there? No one. Previously? No one. Familiar with. #146, #164, #172


Religious, moral, ethical conviction would prevent you from passing judgment on someone else? Can't decide guilty or not guilty? #172


Private reason for not being able to arrive at verdict? No one.


Anyone here who does NOT belong to any social, fraternal, or religious organization? No professional association, no bowling league, etc. Nothing like that. #138, #139, #150, #167, #176


Do you have relative or close friend ever been arrested and thought circumstances were police or criminal justice system didn't treat that person fairly? #152, #175


Relative or close friend arrested for kidnapping or false imprisonment? No one.


Relative or close friend arrested for shooting someone? #158


Relative or close friend arrested for murder? #164


Judge Walmsley will give you law in this case, anyone feel they will not be able to follow law? No one.


Anyone here who WANTS to serve on jury? No one.


Having completed her questioning of the prospective jurors, ADA Dunikoski turned the pool over to the defense.


Defense Counsel Jason Sheffield



It seems that defense counsel Jason Sheffield was selected from among the greater group of defense attorneys to ask their general voir dire questions on behalf of all them (although, technically speaking, he represents only Travis McMichael).


It is notable that Sheffield again introduced Travis McMichael as “former Coast Guard,” without objection from either State prosecutors (they had objected forcefully the first time this was done), nor objection from the court.  Accordingly, I expect this will be done in every general voir dire.


Sheffield’s questions elicited several of the more notable findings from today’s general voir dire, including:


Nearly half (47%) of today’s prospective jurors had formed a negative feeling about one or more of the defendants.


Nearly 70% of today’s prospective jurors owned firearms kept within their household.


About 37% of today’s prospective jurors had obtained non-military training in firearms.


Substantial majorities of today’s prospective jurors believed that people of color are treated fairly by the police particularly (68%) and the criminal justice system generally (79%).


Nearly half (47%) of today’s prospective jurors indicated that they had circumstances at work or home that would diminish their ability to focus their full attention on the trial if called to serve as jurors.


Sheffield’s questioning of the pool took about 18 minutes, asking about 20 questions identical to those he asked yesterday.


Recognize Travis McMichael, formerly of Coast Guard?


How about father Greg McMichael? #161, previously mentioned.


How about Bryan? #161, again.


Have you formed a negative feeling about the defendants?


Negative feeling about Travis McMichael? #148, #150, #152, #156, #167, #164, #170, #172, #176


Negative feeling about Greg McMichael? #150, #156, #148, #164, #167, #170, #176


Negative feeling about Roddy Bryan? #148, #150, #156, #164, #167, #170, #172, #176


Negative feelings about defense lawyers generally? No one.


Anyone have NO firearms in home? #138, #148, #152, #167, #168, #172, #175


Ever supported a political candidate because they intended to LIMIT gun rights in any way? No one.


Anyone oppose laws that allow people to carry guns on person in public? No one.


Ever participated in any demonstrations or marches related to social justice movement, either prior to or after shooting in this case? Signs, etc.? No one.


Sheffield: Have you participated or supported in any way the BLM movement, very important movement in our country and community, even if just in thoughts or prayers or funding, signs, bumper stickers, anything like that. #156, #143, #146, #164, #167, #172


Ever been denied opportunity because of ethnicity or race? Job, access, membership, whatever. No one.


Ever been falsely accused or placed under suspicion because of ethnicity or race? No one.


Anyone feel old Georgia state flag, 1956-2002, was a racist symbol? No one.


Anyone agree POC not treated fairly in criminal justice system? #148, #150, #172, #176


Now, about police, generally, believe that police generally treat POC and white people differently or unequally? #148, #150, #156, #164, #167, #176


Psychology--anyone feels that psychologist or psychiatrist could find mental illness in just about anybody? #150, #152, #139, #167,


Anything happening at work or home that would diminish your ability to focus full attention while serving on this jury? #138, #139, #140, #146, #152, #164, #172, #175, #176


Any mental, visual, hearing, physical impairment keep you from comfortably sitting for long periods of time? Be distracted as a result? #139, #156, #164


Lastly, any general concern that after this case could suffer some kind of consequence that would cause you to have a tough time serving on this jury, in some way service on this jury would create problems for you in your life. Hope everybody understands what I'm saying. That this particular case could cause you to have problems in your life afterwards?


No one.


After the defense had worked through its questions, the proceedings were returned to Judge Walmsley.


Judge Walmsley Closing Remarks and Cautions to Prospective Jurors



Judge Walmsley informed the prospective jurors that they’d take a short recess and then transition into individual voir dire in which they would be questioned separately to follow up on these and other questions.


He cautioned them that until he instructs them otherwise that they were not to discuss the case amongst themselves or others, not to search out information about the case, not visit the neighborhoods involved, none of that.  Further, if anyone approaches them about the case, or is discussing the case within their hearing, they are to notify the court.


And with that the court recessed, to come back into session a short time later with individual voir dire.


Individual Voir Dire: No Useful Coverage


As noted, individual voir dire is broadcast without sound, so that broadcast is of little use for purposes of analysis.  Basically the broadcast of individual voir dire consists of video of this scene, without sound, for hours:




Presumably local journalists will be reporting the bare facts such as how many jurors were dismissed and how many seated, and we’ll share that information with all of you as it comes our way.


OK, folks, that’s all I have for you on these jury selection proceedings today.


Until next time:


Remember


You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.


Know the law so you’re hard to convict.


Stay safe!



--Andrew


Attorney Andrew F. Branca

Law of Self Defense LLC



Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. Nothing in this content establishes an attorney-client relationship, nor confidentiality. If you are in immediate need of legal advice, retain a licensed, competent attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.


ANDREW BRANCA

Attorney Andrew F. Branca is in his third decade of practicing law, specializing in self-defense law of the United States, where he is an internationally recognized expert.  Andrew has contributed in this context by the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many others, including nationally syndicated broadcast media.  Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show The Best Defense and contributor to the National Review Online.

Andrew is a former Guest Instructor and subject matter expert (SME) on self-defense law at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy at Quantico and the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor member, an NRA Certified Instructor, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.  Andrew teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country.

In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School Debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting on self-defense law.



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