CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jury size and the Zimmerman verdict

From Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy:

As I noted in this post, while many states allow six-person juries in misdemeanor cases (or in relatively less serious felony cases), very few allow them for very serious felonies, such as murder, for which Zimmerman is being tried. Only Connecticut and Florida provide for a six-person jury for very serious but noncapital felonies, and only Florida provides for a six-person jury when the offenses is punishable by life imprisonment (with or without parole); Utah apparently provides for an eight-person jury.

Naturally, having a six-person jury rather than a twelve-person jury makes it more likely that the jury will have an unusual demographic mix, such as the Zimmerman jury, which is all female and apparently has no blacks (it apparently consists of five white women and one Hispanic woman). And while such unusual demographic mixes are always possible, and verdicts handed down by such juries are obviously legally effective, it is probably better for the credibility of the legal system — and possibly for its accuracy — for such unusual mixes to be rarer. Using the traditional 12-person jury will likely better accomplish this than using a 6-person jury.

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Do you think the jury size was the only thing that mattered in the verdict? What are your thoughts on the prosecution's witnesses? They were completely contradicting what the prosecution was trying to prove.

Posted by: kandrewcornic85 | Jul 15, 2013 8:25:05 PM

"one Hispanic woman" Hispanic is not a race, but an ethnic group that can be combined with other races. Conceivably one of the jurors could have been "white-Hispanic."

Posted by: John | Jul 18, 2013 5:22:56 AM

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