5 books from jurors who cashed in on their court cases

A George Zimmerman juror is looking for a book deal. Precedent points to it being terrible

George Zimmerman
(Image credit: AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank)

One of the six jurors in the George Zimmerman trial has reportedly decided that she wants to become an author. The subject of the book, according to Reuters, will be why the panel had "no option" but to find Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

The book "could open a whole new dialogue about laws that may need to be revised and revamped to suit a 21st-century way of life," said Sharlene Martin, president of Martin Literary Management. The woman, identified by court order only as juror B37, reportedly grew up in a military family and has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. She will write the book with the help of her husband, a lawyer.

Could juror B37's memoir have an impact on our national conversation about race, gun control, and other issues? Judging from these past books written by jurors, we're going to vote no.

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1. Hazel Thornton, Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror

The 1993 trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were sentenced to life in prison for shooting their wealthy parents with shotguns in their Beverly Hills mansion, became a media sensation thanks to the emergence of Court TV, which debuted a few years earlier.

The press attention apparently convinced a publisher that this book, described as a look at the "riveting emotional testimonies, the deluge of minutiae, and the unpleasant graphic evidence" of the trial, was a good idea. Used copies of Hung Jury are currently available on Amazon for a penny each.

2. Michael Knox, Private Diary of an O.J. Juror

This courtroom confessional, written with the help of National Enquirer columnist Mike Walker, was actually released before the trial was over, thanks to the fact that Knox was dismissed early for lying about his criminal record.

"Based on the evidence I've heard and seen — particularly the strong blood evidence — I'm leaning toward a verdict of guilty," wrote Knox, whose views were obviously not shared by the remaining jurors.

3. Amanda Cooley, Carrie Bess, and Marsha Rubin-Jackson, Madam Foreman: A Rush to Judgment?

The O.J. Simpson trial was so big it apparently needed two books written by former jurors. While panned by critics, the curiously titled Madam Foreman: A Rush to Judgment? could shed some light on how Simpson was acquitted.

"They interpret 'reasonable doubt' as any doubt whatsoever, and their reasoning is pocked with logical inconsistencies," read the review in People. "This book should be marked Exhibit A in the argument that those who deserve most credit for springing Simpson were his jury consultants."

4. Greg Beratlis, Tom Marino, and five others, We, the Jury: Deciding the Scott Peterson Case

Yes, a grand total of seven jurors decided to write a book about the trial of Scott Peterson, who is on death row after being convicted of murdering his wife, Laci Peterson. If you're looking for a light beach read, you might want to pick something else. A brief excerpt from the book description:

One of Scott Peterson's jurors contemplated suicide. Another joined a self-help group, desperately seeking equilibrium. Another walks along the San Francisco Bay on her lunch hours, thinking of Laci Peterson. Others are in counseling and on antidepressants... But none regrets sending the Modesto man to death row.

5. Dennis DeMartin, Believing in the Truth

Here is some advice: When writing a book about your experience as a juror, don't include information that could get you sent to a trial of your own. That is what happened to Dennis DeMartin, who served on the jury of the vehicular manslaughter trial of polo mogul John Goodman.

In his 32-page self-published book, DeMartin recounts downing three vodka drinks before jury deliberations to gauge the level of Goodman's intoxication when he allegedly smashed his Bentley into the car of 23-year-old Scott Wilson. That, and a host of other offenses he detailed in the book, eventually led to Goodman getting a new trial and DeMartin facing charges of indirect criminal contempt.

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Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.