Return to Transcripts main page


Stand Your Ground; Woman Sentenced to 20 years for Firing Warning Shot

Aired July 17, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone.

We don't often use words like "stunning" around here. But a new statement emailed to us today from Juror B-37 in the Zimmerman trial is just that, stunning. She's now calling on legislators to change the law that she said tied her hands, virtually guaranteeing George Zimmerman's acquittal. She begins by saying that our 360 exclusive interview, her first and only interview, was also her last. Quote, "Thank you for the opportunity to vent some of the anguish which has been in me since the trial began," she writes. "For reasons of my own, I needed to speak alone. There will be no other interviews."

Then comes the part about the laws and this is really interesting. She writes, "My prayers are with all those who have the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than no guilty in order to remain within the instructions. No other family should be forced to endure what the Martin family has endured."

She's referring to Florida statutes on self-defense and Stand Your Ground which just yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder sharply condemned. More on that shortly.

Juror B37 goes on to clarify reports that she was planning to write about her experience. She writes, quote, "As for the alleged book deal, there is not one at this time. There was an agreement with a literary agent to explore the concept of a book which discussed the impact of sequestration on my perceptions of this serious case, while being compared to the perceptions of an attorney who is closely following the trial from outside the bubble. The relationship with the agent seized the moment I realized what had been occurring in the world during the weeks of my sequestration."

She concludes with a prayer and a plea, quote, "My prayers are with Trayvon's parents for their loss as they have always been. I now wish for me and my family to recover from being selected for this jury and return to a normal life. God bless."

More on her call on, her words, to quote, "modify the laws that left her with no verdict option other than not guilty." She set the stage for it in our exclusive 360 interview so today we went back to her interview to take another listen to exactly what she told us and what we found were some key moments where she's clearly eluding to the difficulties she and her fellow jurors had getting past the letter of the law. Listen.


JUROR B37: The law became very confusing.

COOPER: Yes, tell me about that.

JUROR B37: It became very confusing. We had stuff thrown at us. We had the second-degree murder charge, the manslaughter charge, then we had self-defense, Stand Your Ground, and I think there was one other one --

COOPER: You sent a question out to the judge about manslaughter.

JUROR B37: Yes.

COOPER: And about --

JUROR B37: And what could be applied to the manslaughter. We were looking at the self-defense. One of the girls said that -- asked if you can put all the leading things into that one moment where he feels it's a matter of life or death to shoot this boy or if it was just at the heat of passion at that moment.

COOPER: So the -- that juror wanted to know whether the things that had brought George Zimmerman to that place --

JUROR B37: Exactly.

COOPER: Not just in the minute or two before the shot actually went off but --

JUROR B37: Exactly.

COOPER: Earlier that day, even prior crime?

JUROR B37: Not prior crimes, just the -- the situation leading to it, all the steps. As the ball got rolling, if all that --

COOPER: From him getting -- spotting Trayvon Martin and getting out of his vehicle --

JUROR B37: Exactly.

COOPER: Following, whether all of that could play a role in --

JUROR B37: Determining the self-defense or not. And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law and reading it over and over and over again, we decided there's just no way -- other place to go.

COOPER: Because of the only -- the two options you had second- degree murder or manslaughter you felt neither applied. JUROR B37: Right. Well, because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground. And he had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he's going to have bodily harm, he had a right. And --

COOPER: So even though it was he who got out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin, that didn't matter in the deliberations? What mattered was that -- those final seconds, minutes when there was an altercation and whether or not in your mind what the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?

JUROR B37: Well, that's how we read the law. That's how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.

COOPER: So that was the belief of the jury that you had to zero in on those final minutes, slash seconds about the threat that George Zimmerman believed he faced.

JUROR B37: That's exactly what had happened.

COOPER: So whether it was George Zimmerman getting out of the vehicle, whether he was right to get out of the vehicle, whether he was a wannabe cop, whether he was over eager, none of that in the final analysis mattered. What mattered was those seconds before the shot went off did George Zimmerman fear for his life?

JUROR B37: Exactly. That's exactly what happened. George had a right to protect himself at that point.

COOPER: So you believe that George Zimmerman really felt his life was in danger?

JUROR B37: I do. I really do.


COOPER: Digging deeper now on what Juror B37 said about Stand Your Ground, legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin are here, also criminal defense attorneys Danny Cevallos and Mark Geragos.

So Jeff, she's talking about -- saying that lawmakers need to modify laws and in her words that, quote, left her with, quote, "no verdict option other than not guilty" in order to remain within the instructions.

Does that mean that if Florida was not a Stand Your Ground state, that George Zimmerman could have been found not guilty-- could have been found guilty?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know if it's a guarantee, but certainly the Stand Your Ground law gives a definition of self-defense that is broader than it used to be. It is an invitation to people to use deadly force legally in a way that it might not have been legally -- legal in the past. So, you know, I don't know for sure that it would have been a different result, but certainly, the range of a self-defense defense would have been smaller.

COOPER: But Stand Your Ground was never brought up using those words in the trial and yet, in the instructions to the jury --


COOPER: It was built in.

GERAGOS: And the reason he didn't do -- my guess is the reason he didn't do the Stand Your Ground hearing before hand is that would have -- that would have been collateral estoppel, which means it would have bound him for civil liability. So he's got the option now to do Stand Your Ground in a civil lawsuit, but this -- my first reaction to this interview. This is exactly the reason that you want sequestration because now that the jurors are kind of out of that sequestration, they're getting influenced by everything that's going on around them, whether it's the media and other people.

And now she's going backwards. She's sliding back. And that to me is, you know, I think she should just stand her ground and say, I made my decision and that's it. This looks to me like something -- isn't her husband a lawyer? Looks like something her husband crafted.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But that's the thing about Stand Your Ground. I think that was what everyone misunderstood. Everyone thought because they didn't have that initial immunity hearing Stand Your Ground wasn't an issue. Stand Your Ground is always an issue in Florida, and when they read the jury instructions to the jury and the judge charged the jury she specifically said George Zimmerman had a right to stand his ground if he felt that he was in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm.

In many other states that don't have Stand Your Ground, that instruction isn't given. They have a duty to retreat. They have a duty to sort of diffuse the situation.

COOPER: But, Danny, we actually have a "Digital Dashboard" question which relates to this. This is from Jay Summers on Facebook. It says, "Why did Mr. Martin not have the right to stand his ground?" I mean, do both parties have the right to stand their ground?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Legally, we never reached that question because Trayvon is no longer with us. So it's not an issue. He was -- he's not prosecuted but -- one could ever the argument we would need to change the facts. We would need to change the facts and say George Zimmerman is deceased and if he was, is it possible? Yes, maybe.

I mean, if the facts were different, if they weren't what they are as we know them. But one of the things people -- the thing about Stand Your Ground is that typically it's viewed as an immunity. That's the main usage. It's an immunity hearing before the actual trial. What most people don't know --

(CROSSTALK) GERAGOS: Which means you wouldn't go to trial.

CEVALLOS: Right. Which means not only would you not go to trial --

GERAGOS: Which means it's taken out of the jury's hands.

CEVALLOS: Right, it's taken away from the jury's hands. Had he proceeded to that hearing, he would not have waived that right at trial to argue it. It gets folded into the jury instructions.

What's unusual about Stand Your Ground here is that the jury doesn't have to show work like it's high school. They just come back with not guilty. So the only way we ever really reach how they analyze Stand Your Ground versus traditional self-defense is through interviews like this and that's spotty at best because we're already seeing these jurors, they're getting along, they're not -- they're not seeing eye to eye.

COOPER: There was this "Tampa Bay Times" investigation and -- they found that nearly 70 percent of those who invoke Stand Your Ground go free and that it's being used in cases that legislators never really intended it to be used in.

HOSTIN: That's right.

TOOBIN: Or did they? I mean, you know, I think we can't --


TOOBIN: Divorce this from its political context. Stand Your Ground is part of a group of laws that when the Republicans took over in lots of states after 2010 they passed. It is part of a general belief that gun rights should be expanded, that the Second Amendment has a broad definition and that's -- and that Stand Your Ground is an example of how individuals have a right to use guns to defend themselves.

So, you know, I don't know what legislators -- you know, maybe they don't like all the implications but it was clear when it was passed in Florida and elsewhere that it was about expanding the right to use guns at home.

COOPER: It does seem, again, this "Tampa Bay Times" investigation found that Stand Your Ground, the defendant's claim of Stand Your Ground are more likely to prevail if the victim is black.

HOSTIN: That's right. And I think we should note that whenever there was legislation about Stand Your Ground, law enforcement officials always testified against Stand Your Ground. They are not in support of it. They feel that it really takes the power away from the police and puts the power in the hands of the everyday citizen.

GERAGOS: Right. But to Jeff's point, law enforcement is always pro-gun control, too.

HOSTIN: Yes, yes. So there is that tension there.

GERAGOS: I mean, it's saying --

COOPER: Well now you have Eric Holder talking about relooking and the federal government relooking Stand Your Ground. Is there -- I mean, is there likely --

TOOBIN: Zero. Zero. The Florida legislature which is very conservative, Rick Scott --

GERAGOS: And Eric Holder is not exactly the poster child for the Florida legislature.

TOOBIN: Right. I mean, you know, you're talking about Eric Holder, one of the most disliked members of the Obama administration by Republican legislators. You know, he is an advocate. I mean, it's just not going to happen. It's not going to change because of the politics.

GERAGOS: In fact, him coming out and doing that and saying that to the NAACP in Orlando and that you have right there, that ensures -- I mean, talk about red meat. That ensures that it will never happen in Florida.

HOSTIN: One thing I want to mention is, if you remember the prosecution's closing rebuttal argument, John Guy did say, didn't Trayvon Martin have the right to stand your ground? So to the question that was posed on Facebook, I think that's really been an issue. Many people, they're saying why didn't Trayvon Martin have the right to stand his ground?

CEVALLOS: And in any homicide case, I mean, you always have the argument that one of the main -- at least half of the main witnesses is gone. They are no longer with us. So that's one of the -- that's one of the main complaints of law enforcement is that you don't have that person anymore although you can piece together usually some defendant's statements, if he's given them, which happened here, and use that as evidence against them but they do have a valid point, that their main witness is gone.

COOPER: Do you think this encourages people to -- I mean, if they have a gun in a fight to pull it out and use it?

HOSTIN: I do. Absolutely I do. I think it takes that civility away from us. It almost takes away that humanity that we think let me try to diffuse the situation, let me run away, let me retreat. I think my life is in danger. Let me do what most people do which is flee as opposed to fight.

CEVALLOS: But it's fascinating because even though I agree completely with what Sunny is saying, the way that we are ramping up the mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes is -- puts people on a very precarious position because either you're going to be totally vindicated or, as we're talking about this other case in Florida with the woman who fired a warning shot, you're going away.

COOPER: Right.

CEVALLOS: I mean, and it's a mando -- it can't be --

TOOBIN: But isn't it -- isn't it interesting, though, if you shoot a black kid or a black guy you don't go away so much?



TOOBIN: So, I mean, you know --

CEVALLOS: That's not the statement --

TOOBIN: Yes, yes --

CEVALLOS: But it is -- it's an interesting --

TOOBIN: The risks go down.

HOSTIN: It disproportionately is affecting the African-American community --

COOPER: Right.

HOSTIN: -- as I think more of a --

COOPER: Although the sample size of whites -- of the reverse is very small. So that's something to consider, as well.

We want to talk more about this coming up. Danny mentioned this case of a woman who shot in the air and tried to use Stand Your Ground. We're going to talk about her coming up.

We'll be right back. A lot more ahead.


COOPER: Tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The outcome of the George Zimmerman trial has brought new scrutiny of another case in Florida involving a gun. A case that had a much different ending. In Zimmerman's case, as you know, there's no dispute that he used a gun to kill Trayvon Martin but was found not guilty.

In a woman named Marissa Alexander's case she also used a gun but didn't actually shoot anyone. Just a warning shot into a wall trying to scare off her abusive husband. It a jury took less than 15 minutes to convict her and now she is in prison for 20 years.

Gary Tuchman got the only on-camera prison interview with Marissa Alexander. Here's his report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She walks down the jail hallway in handcuffs. Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She said she was defending herself, standing her ground from a husband who had been arrested before on charges of abusing her.

(On camera): He was arrested for doing what to you?

MARISSA ALEXANDER, SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON: He choked me, he pushed me forcefully into the tub. He pushed me so hard into the closet that I hit my head against the wall, and I kind of passed out for a second.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Her husband received probation after that incident. Months later Alexander says she was in the bathroom at their home here in Jacksonville, Florida, when her husband started pounding on the door. She says he was in a jealous rage over text messages on her cell phone.

ALEXANDER: He managed to get the door open and that's when he strangled me. He put his hands around my neck.

TUCHMAN: Alexander got away from her husband and then made a fateful decision. She could have ran out the front door and escaped, instead she ran into the garage but says she did not her car keys and the garage was stuck so instead she grabbed her gun she kept in his garage.

(On camera): And what did you think he was going to do with it?

ALEXANDER: I thought that, I was going to have to protect myself. I --

TUCHMAN: Were you thinking you might have to shoot him?

ALEXANDER: Yes. I did if it came to that. He thought my weapons at my side. And when he saw it he was even more upset and that's when he threatened to kill me.

TUCHMAN: But how is he going to kill you if you're the one with the gun?

ALEXANDER: I agree. I thought it was crazy, too.

TUCHMAN: But why didn't you run out the door at that point?

ALEXANDER: There was no other way to get out the door. He was right there threatening to kill me --

TUCHMAN: Well, what if you had gone around him to go out the door? Wouldn't your life would have been easier today if you did that?

ALEXANDER: Yes, but the law says I don't have to.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The law she's talking about is the controversial Stand Your Ground law. Instead of running she did what she thought was allowed by law. She believed she stood her ground and fired the gun into the wall. Nobody was hurt but it was enough to scare her husband Rico Gray and he left the house with his two young children from a previous relationship.

Alexander was safe from her husband but not from the law. She was arrested. Her Stand Your Ground defense rejected and found guilty by a jury.

(On camera): Marissa Alexander's husband Rico Gray agreed to do an on camera interview with us to counter his wife's allegations. But a few hours later he made the decision not to do the interview, claiming that going on camera would put his life in danger.

(Voice-over): However, later he sent us an e-mail saying he we would do an interview if he got paid, which CNN does not do but he has already said quite a bit. During a deposition with a prosecutor from the office of state attorney, Angela Corey, and a defense attorney for his wife, Rico Gray acknowledged hitting his wife in the past and said this about the shooting incident, quote, "If my kids weren't there, I knew I probably would have tried to take the gun from her. I probably would have put my hand on her."

Marissa Alexander's attorney then asked the husband what he meant about putting his hand on her. And Rico Gray responded, "probably hit her. I got five baby mamas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one."

ALEXANDER: I believe when he threatened to kill me, that's what he was going to do. That's exactly what he intended to do. And had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here.

TUCHMAN: But later at a court hearing to determine whether Marissa Alexander should get immunity based on the Stand Your Ground law, Rico Gray changed his story saying he lied repeatedly in the deposition to protect his wife, claiming he did not threatened to killer her and testifying, quote, "I begged and pleaded for my life when she had the gun."

The jury deliberated for 12 minutes before convicting her. The Jacksonville NAACP wrote a letter to the trial judge saying Marissa Alexander may not have received justice because of her gender, race or economic status. Some African-American news Web sites are saying much the same thing, that if Marissa had been white, her Stand Your Ground defense would have been accepted and she wouldn't be facing 20 years in prison.

But Alexander will not say if she agrees with that possibility.

ALEXANDER: I'm going to be honest, I'm uncomfortable answering that.

TUCHMAN: For now Marissa Alexander's main hope is that an appellate court agrees to hear her case. She had a baby girl with Rico Gray three years ago. But she only sees her child in photographs. Rico Gray has custody. He's considered the victim. His wife the criminal. ALEXANDER: This is my life I'm fighting for. This is my life and it's my life and it's not entertainment. It is my life.

TUCHMAN: The 20-year sentence is a mandatory 20 years meaning no chance of parole.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.


COOPER: We're joined now by Marissa Alexander's attorney Bruce Zimet, also on the panel, Mark Geragos, Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin and Danny Cevallos.

Bruce, first of all, where does your client's case stand? I mean does she have a good chance of appeal?

BRUCE ZIMET, MARISSA ALEXANDER'S ATTORNEY: It's on appeal right now. We are in the first district of Court of Appeals in Tallahassee. The briefs have been filed and we're waiting for the court to respond to us either with oral argument or with an opinion itself.

COOPER: Mark, what do --

ZIMET: Would expect something probably sometime in the fall.

COOPER: Mark --

GERAGOS: You know one of the most interest things about this case if you read the appellate briefs is not just the Stand Your Ground but the issue that just drives me crazy is she was ordered not to speak about her testimony overnight with her lawyer. The judge actually insinuated themselves into the attorney-client privilege, which I just think is frankly outrageous.

This whole case just shows exactly what we've been talking about for the last three weeks. Angela Corey's office is the one that prosecuted this. I had virtually an identical set of circumstances in California, a case like this. A husband, a wife, the gun went off, one shot, nobody hurt. My gal, however, was very pretty, blonde 40- something-year-old. She did not do one day in jail. And not a single day in jail. She was given straight probation and that was the end of that.

This poor woman in Florida is now doing 20 years and -- but for Mr. Zimet there and Quinn Emanuel doing the pro bono work, and to some degree because of what's happened in the notoriety surrounding Zimmerman, she may actually stand a chance to getting that case reversed.

COOPER: Bruce, do you think the notoriety will help?

ZIMET: I don't think the notoriety is really a factor quite candidly. We're really trying to focus this case just on the facts of what happened in the courtroom in Jacksonville and we really think that we want to separate ourselves from all the political things, all the social things out there because we think on the merits, as Mark said, this case should be reversed.

COOPER: Angela Corey was asked about this by Vinnie Politan on HLN. I just want to play what she had to say.


ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: I heard the other day that someone I think from the NAACP was trashing us for prosecuting Marissa Alexander. Marissa Alexander fired a shot through a wall. On the other side of the wall were two young black boys, younger than Trayvon Martin. They're not victims?


COOPER: Jeff, what do make of this case?


TOOBIN: No, they're not victims. They were not hit by the -- I mean, it's surreal. I mean --

GERAGOS: Well, then she's made them a victim.

TOOBIN: Well, yes, I mean she can --

GERAGOS: She made those --

TOOBIN: She can pretend that they're a victim. I mean, look, I love the American legal system. You know, this is what I do for a living, but you watch a case like this and you just -- I mean, the only response is despair. I mean, I just don't have any great insight. I mean the idea that this case could have been prosecuted successfully, sentenced the way it was it just -- it makes you wish --

GERAGOS: Who's the judge that didn't -- that didn't use -- I mean, you know there are ways to get around these mandatory minimums.

TOOBIN: Right.

GERAGOS: Judges can do that. I mean, they can -- they can strike it. They can -- they can say no. They can act as a 13th juror and you have to wonder who is the judge who said, you know, this is a great idea. This poor woman was getting the hell beat out of her and now she does the one thing she's supposed to do. And mind you, this is not Stand Your Ground off somewhere while she's walking down the street somewhere. She's in her castle. She's in her home.

She's in the garage, you know, which is if somebody had burglarized that, they would have said it first-degree burglary because it's a residential dwelling and she uses the gun to scare them off and they really -- and then some judge thinks it's a good idea to say, you can't talk to your lawyer about your testimony overnight? So I'm going to take away your sixth amendment rights --

COOPER: Bruce, Bruce, why was it so important for your client to fire that warning shot into the wall? ZIMET: To save her life. I mean, this man was a serial woman abuser. I mean, he is a classic person of -- of a person whose battered women his whole life and she knew his history. She knew what he was about, and she thought it was either she was going to get killed or she had to scare him away, and that's what she did.

CEVALLOS: You know, the interesting thing about these mandatory minimums, they take the discretion away from the judge but you know who retains that discretion, the D.A.s So now you're talking -- you have to rely on the reasonableness of the D.A. On a whole, I found that there -- a lot of them are very reasonable, they're willing to de-mandatorized the case in exchange for an offer or plea agreement.

COOPER: And she was offered -- she had a different attorney, I should point out, than Bruce at the time on the first trial, but they were offered a plea agreement, a three-year plea deal, she actually -- she turned it down.

GERAGOS: Three years in prison.

HOSTIN: That's true.

GERAGOS: For trying to save her life.

HOSTIN: But look at the larger picture. The larger picture is this Stand Your Ground law in Florida. I mean, she thought that she had the right to stand her ground --

COOPER: And she's almost served three years at this point.

GERAGOS: Well, yes, she's almost served three years.

HOSTIN: That's right.

GERAGOS: But it's --


HOSTIN: But people talk about Stand Your Ground in Florida.

GERAGOS: See, I don't even know -- I know, they talk about Stand Your Ground and maybe she had it in her mind at the time. This to me is just even more reason why somebody should either disbar or impeach or do whatever they need to with Angela Corey.

Angela Corey is a menace. She can't prosecute.

HOSTIN: I don't think that's fair.

GERAGOS: She can't be -- what's not fair about it? How do you not -- in this case, do you think that that is --

HOSTIN: She's enforcing the law that is on the books.


TOOBIN: Come on. No.

HOSTIN: And that's why perhaps --


GERAGOS: Come on.

HOSTIN: Stand your ground.

GERAGOS: How could you defend her?

CEVALLOS: Prosecutors have that discretion increasingly with this mandatory minimums.

TOOBIN: Yes, Sunny.

HOSTIN: Sure, but that's the law.

CEVALLOS: Increasingly with all -- with the new editions to each criminal code. The -- the plenary authority rests more and more in each prosecutor. So yes, Sunny is right, she's enforcing the law but because they have so much discretion, they couldn't possibly enforce all the laws at all the time --


GERAGOS: I think she was better shooting and hitting him frankly.

CEVALLOS: Yes, she might have been.

GERAGOS: She would have been better off actually aiming at him and hitting him because then you wouldn't have the inane argument that she's making that the bullet went through the wall and hurt somebody.

HOSTIN: And that is -- that is the problem with Stand Your Ground.

COOPER: Bruce, would that have made a difference if she had actually hit him?

ZIMET: You know, we can speculate all over the place on this case and I understand that the social aspect of this, our bottom line is we have a woman in prison for 20 years. There are errors in her trial and we want to correct the imperfections and what went wrong in her case. Bottom line.

COOPER: But, Mark, I mean, you've talked a lot about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

GERAGOS: Correct.

COOPER: Do you think this is an example where race is --

GERAGOS: It's a perfect example. I mean, I -- Bruce, I don't want to get in the way of this and affect your appeal and I know you're trying to be as politically correct as you can. If this was a pretty white woman it never would -- you wouldn't see 20 years, you just wouldn't see it. I mean that's what we've been talking about, what I've been saying, it just wouldn't happen. You're not going to have -- it may be a situation where somebody pulls the trigger on somebody who's a serial beater who beats all of his baby mamas and doesn't hit anybody and she's white and she's doing 20 years. I'd like to see that case. Maybe I'd take it pro bono.

ZIMET: But here's -- but Mark, but Mark, here is the bottom line from our perspective. Whether we agree with you or disagree with you, this woman is in prison. And we have to get her out of prison.


GERAGOS: I'm with you. I'm with you. She should not be in prison. I'm with you 1,000 percent.

TOOBIN: This is the difference between --

ZIMET: And what I -- what I don't want are the social issues to hijack her appeal.

TOOBIN: Right.

ZIMET: That's my concern.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: This is the difference between a lawyer who's just trying to do his job for the case --

COOPER: Right. Which is why I'm not asking Bruce Zimet that question.

TOOBIN: Exactly.


TOOBIN: He's doing exactly what he should be doing --

GERAGOS: And lawyers who are on TV who are --


TOOBIN: But those of us from the outside, I think, are obligated to point out the racial aspects, the social aspects, the prosecutors' incredible abuse of discretion here, I -- it's just appalling.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: It's just so appalling.

COOPER: I'm being very judicious in what I'm asking Mr. Zimet.

TOOBIN: Right.

COOPER: Because I don't want to do anything that impact his case in anyway.

Bruce Zimet, we'll continue to follow this, we appreciate your time tonight.

Sunny Hostin, Danny Cevallos as well. Mark and Jeff are going to stay with us. We want to get their take on some new information about how the sequestered jurors in George Zimmerman's trial spent their time outside of court, everything from a trip to Outback Steakhouse to blowing and movies and interesting details that we've just learned.

Also ahead, after George Zimmerman's acquittal. President Obama issued a statement asking for calm reflection but he hasn't said anything else about the case since. We'll take a look at why.


COOPER: Tonight, we have new details about how the sequestered jurors in the George Zimmerman trial spent their time when they were not in court. Details that really start to fill out a picture of what those six female jurors were doing over those three weeks and really how isolating it is to be sequestered essentially cut off from your regular life.

They spent 22 nights at a Marriott Hotel. They each got their rooms according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. There was also a suite where the jurors ate together and socialized and worked out at the hotel gym and went to movies approved by the court specifically "World War Z" and "The Lone Ranger." They also went bowling and shopping, got manicures, pedicures, watched fireworks on the 4th of July and went out to eat at an outback steak house and the families could visit on weekends.

They also went on a road trip to San Agustin, Florida where they went to the Ripleys Believe It or Not Museum. Joining us again is Jeff Toobin and Mark Geragos. I won't ask about the Ripley's Museum because I am not sure if any of you have been there. It's rare now a days that you actually get a just sequestered.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Incredibly rare. First of all, there aren't that many really high profiled cases and also as you call tell from this, it's just incredibly expensive for the county not just for the hotel rooms, but mostly because the overtime for the all the court officers who have to be with them for all the time. It costs a fortune.

COOPER: How common is it for them to do all these other things?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Very common. I mean, they go out of their way. I remember both during the Peterson case when -- they were not sequestered during the trial but deliberations, which was well over a week and during O.J. one of my clients was the caterer for the group and they could order what they want. They would take it into them and had outings --

TOOBIN: Right, they went to amusement parks, but remember the O.J. Simpson case was months. One of the things that was so interesting, also, we've seen the tension among the jurors. Those sorts of arrangements breed tensions. You know, imagine being stuck with strangers for that long with only having very limited contact with the outside world --

COOPER: A smaller group than normal. It only six people.

GERAGOS: It's only six people so it's hard to pair off and cliques become different and you're forced to be there every day and a high-pressured situation. You're not with your family. It's the least they deserve. The cost factor, I've always thought, that the media should pick that up because generally, the reason you're sequestered them is to keep them isolated from the media. So I always thought if the courts were smart. They would charge for the pool coverage or something like that --

COOPER: I know what you're talking about. I see your lips moving. Easy for you to say -- well, I don't take a position, obviously. Six people, which we learned from B37, when they got into that jury room, they were evenly divided. Three people wanted not guilty and three wanted some charge, two wanted manslaughter, and one wanted second degree murder. I'm interested how they change people's minds one way or the other.

GERAGOS: It's virtually in every case accept maybe the Marissa Alexander when they came back for 12 minutes. In almost every case I've ever tried and when I talk to the jurors afterwards, they are almost always divided initially. When you pick a jury, you're not. It's more jury de-selection. You're looking at who will I get in there that has a strong enough way to drive the case? I call them drivers. There are goats and sheep as one of my clients said.

COOPER: So you want somebody that takes charge.

GERAGOS: Because there is other people that will follow along. So that's how it usually happens. If you can pick that person who is going to be your advocate and as I said last night, you arm them in the closing argument with the arguments they will use with the others, that is generally how the case will unfold and that's one of the reasons you saw yesterday with -- and tonight to some degree B37 adopting the defense's arguments, because that's what they do. They have listened to the same evidence, but it is who can best articulate the arguments that they have given or their side gave them.

TOOBIN: There is nothing improper about jurors trying to influence each other or changing their minds. That's why they call it deliberation. You can have a system where everybody presses a button and majority vote. You know, the interaction --

COOPER: How often is it that there is one holdout? At the end she said there is one person left that wanted a charge against George Zimmerman and that essentially they sort of wore her down in her opinion.

GERAGOS: It's a lot. It's frequent. I see it a lot. I can think of a case in Riverside County where I tried that case twice and it was a hung jury both times, and we were set to do it the third. It happens, I would suspect, I don't have any statistics on this, more often where you have a 12-person jury by the odds of it. Any time you put more than five people in a room, you're going to get different opinions --

TOOBIN: I only had one hung jury as a prosecutor and the interesting thing to me, I could tell by looking at the jury who it was and I was right. It's just there's body language.

COOPER: Interesting.

TOOBIN: You get to know these people in this weird non-verbal way.

COOPER: Interesting, Jeff Toobin, Mark Geragos, guys, thanks very much.

President Obama has been notably silent on the Zimmerman verdict. Up next, we'll look at the line he walks on issues of race and justice.


COOPER: Late word out of Washington on the Zimmerman verdict, a Justice Department official telling us that Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and other DOJ staffers held a conference call on Monday with the national and Florida civil rights leaders. The official is describing it as a listening session. President Obama in the meantime is conspicuously quiet on the verdict letting his attorney general do the talking. Our 360's Randi Kaye explains some of the reasons perhaps behind the relative silence.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Trayvon Martin was killed President Barack Obama was in the mist his re-election campaign. He took nearly a month to comment on the teenager's death and when he did --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If I had a son, it would look like Trayvon.

KAYE: His comment became the story, he became the story.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a president who is very mindful of not wanting to be a lightning rod. He wants to be a facilitator for the discussion. He wants to have the discussion.

KAYE: Which may explain the president's reluctance over the years to weigh into racial issues. Still at times there was no escaping it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.

KAYE: In 2008, when the racially sermons of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, nearly brought down his first campaign for president, Obama delivered this long awaited speech on race.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years.

KAYE: Joshua Dubois was the president's spiritual advisor at the time.

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER SPIRITUAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's a balance between addressing the policy objectives that you have as a commander in chief and also speaking out as an African-American man, as someone who's faced the challenges in his life. It's the dance between the public and the personal and that's what the president has to navigate.

KAYE: A year after his so-called race speech, President Obama found himself in the middle of another race related fire storm. Police arrested an African-American Harvard professor, Skip Gates, in his own home after he showed ID. Listen to what the president said.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it's fair to say number one any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

KAYE: Charges against the professor for disorderly conduct were later dropped. The president tried to smooth things over by inviting the Professor Henry Lewis Gates and the sergeant who arrested him to what became known as a beer summit at the White House.

(on camera): And now with the Zimmerman not guilty verge dividing this country, the president may be struggling once again to find his footing. After the verdict a muted response, nothing on camera, just a paper statement void of any mention of racial tension. The president wouldn't want to be seen as coming down on one side or the other.

(voice-over): But that doesn't mean he won't talk about it in the near future. For now, though, he'll leave decisions about a possible federal case against George Zimmerman up to Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold that post. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: A lot to talk about. With us tonight CNN contributor and "New York Times" columnist, Charles Blow, also Democratic strategist and Obama 2012 pollster, Cornell Belcher. I saw something that the president had said back in 2009. He said, "I'm not somebody that believes in constantly talking about race somehow solves racial tensions. I think what solves it is fixing the economy, putting people to work, people have healthcare and making sure every kid is learning out there."

It's an interesting statement. Cornell, let me start with you. What do you make of it? I mean, do you expect the president to talk more about racial issues? CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I understand that we all sort of want the president to talk more about racial issues, but I also want us to understand by doing so, we are inherently playing into a double standard and that -- so if it encapsulates the problem with race in this country. Look, there were racial issues with George Bush was president and Bill Clinton was president.

So the president make statements, we want the president to ever a presidential statement and go further. So to a certain extent Barack Obama is trapped in this -- in this racial -- in this racial problem where he can't simply be president. He has to be president, but he also has to address issues in the way George Bush had to be president.

COOPER: It's an interesting point that there is a double standard here.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I absolutely believe that. You can't expect this man to solve the legacy effects of 400 years of oppression in five years of being president. It's unfair to him and demeaning for the conversation and the people that work in the issues and in the arena of social justice and civil rights. It's a demeaning position to take to say we have a black president. That changes things. That solves these problems.

No, it doesn't. In fact, you know, the president operates on a national level with federal laws. A lot of these problems exist on local levels, local municipalities on the state level. If you look at where most black people live, which they call the black west, East Texas to the Carolinas, the president lost almost every one of those states, even though most of the black people in those states voted for him.

They are trapped in a local situation that requires local solutions where people have to be on the ground helping to solve those -- the problems that they have and interacting and solving that racial dynamic and smoothing out that racial legacy locally. And he -- he can talk until he's blue in the face. He can't solve that not in five years, not in eight years, whatever.

COOPER: Cornell, by talking about it, while it might satisfy some who want to, you know, see the president out in front on these issues. It also alienates a lot of people that feel he's not the president for everybody, I suppose. You're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.

BELCHER: I think race is to culture what Social Security is to politics. It's a third rail. You touch it at your own risk. Here is the problem, by not having these conversations about race, by not sort of trying to bring this divide together, we have people who are literally dying, I mean Trayvon Martin, his death is a product of our lack of racial understanding.

So at some point, our leaders do have to address it, and by the way, I understand the double standard that I just talked about with Barack Obama, but I'll play into the double standard because at some point we have to have leaders try to bridge this divide and have conversations because we keep kicking this can down the road and literally, peep people are dying because of it.

You have people on the progressive side and African-American community that say he's not doing enough for the African-Americans and he gets attacked for it. On the other side people say he's doing things specifically for the African-Americans and its polarized. Once it is, nothing moves forward.

There is very little conversation that doesn't get muddied up in the muck of racial polarization. If you want to move climate control, banking reform, whatever the conversation, the racial polarization and just makes things harder, but people are dying because we're not having this conversation.

BLOW: But they are more than one leader. There is having a black president which is that he sucks the air out of the room, that his very presence is a double-edged sword. There is the amazing imagery being created of just having him be in the white house in the skin that he's in and his family and his wife and his children and, you know, you can't even measure what that actually means to a population.

On the other side of that, he becomes the black leader but he can't actually talk about it in the way that civil rights leaders would talk about it. So now we expect something from him that he cannot give, and is not fair to ask him to give, but the people who have the voice, who have the years and the decades in the trenches whose work this is have less of a voice. It's a real strange situation that the happening.

COOPER: Interesting. Charles, thank you. Cornell, great to have you on.

A lot more happening tonight, a number of major chain storms refusing to sell the issue with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, how the magazine is responding to the controversy.


COOPER: Following a number of stories tonight, Isha is here with the 360 Bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, "Rolling Stone" magazine is responding to outrage over the cover featuring Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Publishers say they are offering a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens. CVS, Walgreens and Stop N Shop, are some of the major chain stores refusing to carry the issue.

There is no letup in the heat wave gripping the northeast. Temperatures over 90 degrees stretch all the way into Vermont, but add humidity to the mix and it feels more like 110 in some areas.

North Korea is reminding that Panama release the ship loaded with sugar and missiles along with its crew. Panama has formally the United Nations for guidance on how to handle the case. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is suggesting a possible boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if President Vladimir Putin allows NSA leaker Edward Snowden to stay in Russia.

South Carolina's Supreme Court has ruled that Matt and Melanie Capobianco can finalize their adoption of little Veronica. Her biological father tried to use the Indian child welfare act to fight for her custody. Last month the Supreme Court turned him down, the end of a very long chapter for that child.

COOPER: Yes. We had them on the program when the court first ruled. Isha, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. That does it for our edition of AC 360. I hope you join us one hour from now for an AC 360 special report, "Not Guilty The Zimmerman Trial." We'll hear from the juror in her first and last interview. She released a statement today saying she won't do any more interviews and she is really the juror from the Zimmerman trial that's come forward and spoken about her perspective of what happened inside that jury room. A lot of people talking, the national conversation growing.


COOPER: What mattered was those final seconds, minutes, when there was an altercation and whether or not in your mind who the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's how we read the law. That's how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.


COOPER: That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. I hope you join us for that. Thanks for watching.