Why Does George Zimmerman Have An All-Female Jury?
The jury in the second degree murder case for George Zimmerman, 29, was finally selected yesterday, and the jurors have two notable demographic traits: all are women, and all but one are Caucasian. Though these facts could be coincidences, the long and deliberate jury selection process suggests not. Even then, legal experts are largely divided over what the breakdowns mean for the case.
Zimmerman is charged with the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February of last year. Zimmerman claims he acted in self-defense; he followed Martin through a neighborhood in Sanford, FL, and claims Martin attacked first and slammed his head against the ground.
According to USA Today, the “unusually involved” jury selection process began with 211 jury questionnaires, which were narrowed down to 58 people questioned about their exposure to the case, which were then narrowed down to 40 people for “traditional juror questioning.” From that group, six jurors and four alternates were chosen. (Two of the alternates are men.)
Speculation over the all-female, mostly-white juror has produced contradictory interpretations, and admittedly falls back on stereotyping. Speaking to the Miami Herald, successful Casey Anthony defense attorney Jose Baez said women would side with Zimmerman over the issue of self-defense. But another Florida defense attorney said the women’s “maternal instincts” would point their sympathies to the teen-aged Martin.
At least four of the six jurors are mothers, including the one woman who has been identified as black or hispanic.
Baez also added that the defense won a big victory by limiting minorities on the jury (though potential jurors are not supposed to be dismissed based on race). The case has inflamed racial tensions in the community and nation: Martin was black, and Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.
In prior moves, the defense has indicated that it intends to portray Martin as a violent “thug,” and likely considered this during jury selection.
However, based on the brief jury bios, the women largely shared another quality outside of race and gender: they have not followed the case in the news, and don’t have many preconceived notions about it.
What do you think about the Zimmerman jury?
[Image by AP]