Zimmerman Jury to Be Sequestered, Judge Rules

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 14, 2013 12:10 PM

George Zimmerman's jurors will be sequestered for the duration of his murder trial, the presiding judge has ordered.

Judge Debra Nelson expects Zimmerman's trial for second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin to last two to four weeks, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Jury selection began Monday.

No jurors have yet been seated in the case, but when the six jurors and four alternates are chosen to serve, life as they know it will come to a screeching halt.

When Are Jurors Sequestered?

Typically, jurors are allowed to go home when court is not in session. On rare occasions, however, jurors are sequestered or kept together to prevent outside influence.

This happens in high-profile cases that garner significant media attention in order to protect the defendant's right to an impartial jury.

It's also a way to protect jurors from harassment, threats, or actual violence from non-jurors who want to influence the outcome of the case.

When jurors are sequestered, they are usually put up in a hotel near the courthouse where they cut off from the rest of society. They have limited access to television, newspapers and the Internet. Even their contact with family members is limited. Their only contact with the outside world is controlled by the presiding judge.

Some Outside Contact Allowed

For Zimmerman's sequestered jury, the court will likely arrange for the hotel to remove the TV, phone, and Internet connection from jurors' rooms, according to one attorney at the trial.

Legal analysts say hotels even take the Bibles out of jurors' rooms, Jacksonville's WTLV reports.

While it might seem like an involuntary opportunity to explore how our forefathers lived, chances are the jurors will have some modern entertainment. In Casey Anthony's trial, for example, the jurors were sequestered but could still pay bills over the Internet, watch preapproved movies, and even play video games. The court also arranged side trips to allow for some fresh air.

So it's kind of like summer camp, except without the fun.

If you cherish your alone time, this is your worst nightmare. sequestered jurors are unified moving units. They go everywhere together. If one juror goes out for a cigarrete break, the whole gang joins you, reports WTLV.

To make sure jurors comply with the judge's rules, bailiffs are placed on each of the juror's floors in the hotel.

All of this can cost the state quite a pretty penny. For example, it cost the state of Florida $350,000 to sequester the jury in the Casey Anthony trial for 43 days, reports WTLV. Zimmerman's jurors, however, aren't expected to be sequestered for quite that long.

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