We don’t know what the Zimmerman jury will decide, but I have long felt apprehensive about both this jury’s size and its makeup (all women).
I have little doubt that the first factor—the jury’s small size (6) is responsible for the second, the unity of gender. Had it been a jury of twelve, there would have been much more likelihood that some men would have made it into the group.
Is this a jury of Zimmerman’s “peers”? “Peers” doesn’t mean the jury has to match the defendant exactly in the demographic sense; we don’t need six Hispanic/white men in their twenties to try him. Apparently, it is enough that there were men in the jury pool from which the jurors were chosen; it is that pool that must represent a cross-section of the community in the ethnicity, age, and gender sense.
And indeed there were men in the jury pool; we know that because two of the four alternate jurors are men. But they don’t get a vote in the verdict decision. The women who do have certain characteristics that are troubling, too, such as this about juror B-51:
When asked if Zimmerman did something wrong by following Martin instead of waiting for police, she said: “Yeah, I guess he did do something wrong.”
There also this, from juror B-37:
During the last round of questioning, she said she had an issue with the type of weapons people are allowed to carry. She also thought weapons’ training was inadequate for people seeking permits. “It should become harder,” she said.
Finally, we have this:
One of the women, the youngest, says she used the shooting in Sanford, Fla., as an example to her two adolescent kids not to go out at night.
Will any of this matter in the end? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. What we know does matter is the ability of these six jurors to listen to evidence, evaluate it, and then apply the law to it in a fair manner.
In this they were not helped by prosecutor John Guy who said, as part of his closing summation:
I don’t have any charts or timelines. I’m asking you to use your heart.
That charge of Guy’s makes a mockery of our system of justice, and it’s hard to believe it isn’t specifically tailored to the characteristics of women vs. men, or at least the general stereotypes that are not true of all women but are arguably true of more of them than of men. It’s not all that unusual for a defense lawyer to make such an appeal, but for the prosecution to do so seems highly unusual and more importantly it violates the prosecution’s duty to present overwhelming evidence of guilt and call on reason rather than emotion in the deciding (“beyond a reasonable doubt”).
And why didn’t Guy have “any charts or timelines”? It wasn’t because he has an anti-chart/timeline fetish. It wasn’t even because he didn’t think the jurors should bother their pretty little heads about it. It was because he was unable to use the facts available to draw up a chart or timeline that favored the prosecution.
Are women actually more ruled by emotion than logic? Darned if I know, although from my own observations of human nature, I suspect it is more common among them, although men are far from immune to the problem.
I saw a comment somewhere that the OJ jury was composed of all women. So I checked, and although that was not true, it is true that although that jury consisted of twelve people, only two of them were men.
There were other interesting anomalies about that jury’s composition: it was composed of 9 blacks, 1 Hispanic, and 2 whites; there were 2 college graduates, 9 high school graduates, and 1 with no diploma; all were Democrats; “None regularly read a newspaper, but eight regularly watch[ed] tabloid TV shows…five reported that they or another family member had had a negative experience with the police…nine thought that Simpson was less likely to be a murderer because he was a professional athlete.”
The OJ jury differed rather greatly from the jury pool from which they had been selected. The pool’s racial composition, for example, was “40% white, 28% black, 17% Hispanic, and 15% Asian.” The final jury was quite different.
One of the inexplicable decisions the OJ prosecution made was to file the case in LA rather than Santa Monica, where the crime had occurred. I have no idea why they did this, but it probably determined the outcome of the trial:
The racial composition of the jury was strongly influenced by the decision of the prosecution to file the Simpson case in downtown Los Angeles rather than–as is usually the case– in the judicial district where the crime occurred– in this case, Santa Monica. Had the case be filed in Santa Monica, the Simpson jury would have been mostly white instead of, as was the case, mostly African-American. With poll data showing that most whites believed Simpson to be guilty and most blacks believing him to be not guilty, the decision to file the case in Santa Monica may have been the biggest mistake the prosecution made. Vincent Bugliosi, the celebrated prosecutor in the Charles Manson case, said the mistake “dwarfed anything the defense did.”
I have been unable so far to find any description of the choices each side has made in the Zimmerman case during the jury selection phase, except that the prosecution unsuccessfully challenged the seating of a couple of the women who ultimately ended up being part of this jury.
At any rate, whoever they are, it’s in their hands now. The length of deliberations so far indicates to me that they are either seriously considering a guilty verdict or might ultimately end up a hung jury. It argues against not guilty as a possibility, although I certainly wouldn’t count that out because jury decisions are notoriously difficult to predict.