Barring Trial Witnesses as Spectators is SOP

Why should anyone — particularly George Zimmerman Jr.’s father who is a judge, or was before he retired — be surprised or outraged that witnesses in the trial are barred as courtroom spectators until after they have testified?

“In a statement released by Zimmerman’s family his attorney Don West ‘made it abundantly clear to the jury the limitations the rule of sequestration places upon Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman’s ability to support their son George with their presence. Our parents were in the courtroom and determined to support their son, but the State of Florida prevented them from doing so. George can count on his parents’ and his family’s unwavering and unconditional support, as he has throughout this ordeal, until he is acquitted.’

“Robert Zimmerman, Sr. had mainly stayed out of the media spotlight until recently releasing an e-book titled Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of my Son, George, which attempts to uncover the injustice of his son’s murder trial and labels organizations like the NAACP and the NBA America’s ‘true racists.’

George Zimmerman’s Parents Barred From Courtroom, Trayvon Martin’s Family Allowed To Stay

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/george-zimmermans-parents-barred-from-courtroom-trayvon-martins-family-allowed-to-stay/

“Zimmerman’s family was barred from the courtroom as the state claimed they may be witnesses later in the trial. Under Florida state law, Martin’s family was permitted to sit in the gallery as relatives of the alleged victim. Robert Zimmerman Jr. issued a statement to The Huffington Post on behalf of his family.

“’Mr. West made it abundantly clear to the jury the limitations the rule of sequestration places upon Mr. & Mrs. Zimmerman’s ability to support their son George with their presence. Our parents were in the courtroom & determined to support their son but the State of Florida prevented them from doing so. George can count on his parents’ & his family’s unwavering & unconditional support, as he has throughout this ordeal, until he is acquitted.’”

George Zimmerman Trial Live Updates: Testimony Continues In Trayvon Martin Shooting Case

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/george-zimmerman-trial_n_3495266.html?1372170554&ncid=wsc-dl-cards-readmore

What is surprising to me is that Zimmerman’s attorney indicates that his parents being barred is related in some way to the jury being sequestered. My understanding is that they would be barred even if the jury weren’t sequestered. And if Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, is implying that if the jury weren’t sequestered the jurors would somehow know by media reports or otherwise that the elder Zimmermans were barred from the courtroom and why. If jurors were to learn something like that other than via on-the-record statements made in their presence in the courtroom, they would be violating the trial judge’s admonition to not read, listen to or watch any thing related to the case not presented to them in court.

While the news media have an obligation or responsibility to explain to their consumers why the Zimmermans are barred from the courtroom, I question reporting it as if it were unusual or that the Zimmermans think it’s unfair without  accurately and objectively contextualizing it.

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