As you have probably heard, juror “B-37″ in the George Zimmerman trial was going to write a book about her experiences during the trial. However, due to public outrage, much of which was voiced via Twitter, Juror B-37 has decided not to go forward with the book.
Having recently — and proudly — served on a jury (and always been very interested in anything relating to jurors and the jury) I’ve thought a lot about jurors writing books. In this particular case, I think that, at the very least, Juror B-37 did not think her announcement through when she decided to make it immediately after the close of trial. This kind of announcement so close to the end of trial about such a sensitive topic was in poor taste.
That said, I think it’s OK for jurors to write books. While many trials, particularly criminal trials, deal with extremely sensitive events and affect the outcome of individual’s lives, these trials are still open to the public. Many, like the Zimmerman trial, are broadcast on TV. While a juror would be able to offer readers insight into the jury deliberation process of a particular case, that’s really the only original subject matter the book would have. That and the juror’s individual thoughts.
All of the issues are framed during the trial, so if you’ve been following the trial you should have a good idea about what the jury deliberations will involve. A person watching the trial on TV or sitting in the courtroom could choose to write a book on a trial if they really wanted to and add in their opinions formed while watching the case.
Of course, in many instances it would certainly be interesting to see what exactly the deciding factor was in a case that led the jury chose the verdict it did. But I don’t know if I would choose to read a book for this reason.
Finally, while there are sometimes cash advances offered to individuals to entice them to write certain books, writing a popular book is an extremely hard task. There’s no guarantee that the book will sell. If the books does sell, then there arises the ethical issue of profiting off of someone else’s devastation. (Or, if the book doesn’t sell, at least trying to.) But, as I said before, if someone chooses to read a book by a juror, it would probably be because they want to get an insight into that individual’s thought process and the deliberations, not because they want a recap of the events leading up to the trial.
Jurors in other highly publicized and emotional cases have written books. For example, seven jurors in the Scott Peterson trial joined together to write a book about their experiences.
What do you think? Are you OK with jurors publishing books about their experiences? Should there be more rules about this subject?
(Photo: Juror B-37 talks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper)