Professor Provides Insight on Zimmerman Trial
Web Editor - Published: July 8, 2013
“A really good opening is a really good story,” Professor Jules Epstein said of the importance of opening statements in a recent USA Today article just before the start of the Florida trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Epstein – who is the Director of Widener Law’s Taishoff Advocacy, Technology and Public Service Institute – has lent his expertise on trial advocacy and criminal law to several media outlets for articles about the case, which continues to capture national interest. Zimmerman is on trial for the February 26th, 2012 shooting of Martin in a case that has brought attention to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

In the wake of Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the case, Epstein discussed possible effects of the defense’s aggressive cross-examination for a Huffington Post article, saying that the long cross-examination may ultimately hurt defense attorney Don West more then help. West’s cross-examination attacked Jeantel’s credibility.

Epstein observed that the jury’s perception of her credibility might not be a zero-sum situation, however, telling the Huffington Post, “There is no automatic rule that says a juror must disbelieve you because you lied about something. People lie to us all the time but we still believe them about other things. It didn’t help her, how badly it hurt, I don’t know. I will say it hurt a lot less badly in a long examination than it would on a short one."

Epstein also commented on jury selection for the New York Times article “6 Female Jurors Are Selected for Zimmerman Trial.”

In the accompanying video from before the trial’s start, Professor Epstein discusses elements to watch for.

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