Tag: Trayvon Martin

Learning from Juror B-37

By Alan Bean

A week ago I wrote two posts related to the composition of the jury in the George Zimmerman case.  In the first, I said that common sense suggested that the defendant would be found guilty of manslaughter.  The prosecution had only Zimmerman’s description of the altercation between the two men to work with and that made Murder 2 a tough sell.  But the fact that none of the six jurors looked like the victim in this story troubled me.  My fear was that the jurors would understand why Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin’s presence in the neighborhood suspicious and potentially dangerous.  A single Black juror would have challenged this identification and argued for another way of reading the story.

My second post (which also appeared in the Associated Baptist Press) argued that the jury, though conscientious and well-intentioned, lacked the social experience and the cultural competency to sift through a blizzard of legal considerations.

Most readers who bothered to comment were unimpressed. Some felt that race had no bearing on this case, so the racial composition of the jury didn’t matter. Others insisted that Zimmerman received what the Constitution guarantees: a jury of his peers.

As Bill Stuntz observed shortly before his death, Black jurors are commonly tried by predominantly White juries who are inclined to side with authority figures like police officers and prosecutors and subject to racial bias. (more…)

Zimmerman case reveals flawed jury selection process

By Alan Bean

A jury comprised of five white women and one Latina has acquitted George Zimmerman on all charges.  This outcome was largely determined by the way we select juries in America.

Imagine that two women who looked like Trayvon Martin were part of the deliberation.   Can you imagine an acquittal under those circumstances?  I can’t.

In an earlier post I argued that a jury of women who look like the accused would have a hard time finding him guilty of anything.  I wasn’t suggesting that these women were overt, old-school racists who love the Nigrah . . . in his place.  I was simply suggesting that they would find it hard to identify with the victim.

Zimmerman should have been convicted of manslaughter because, for no discernible reason, he saw an unarmed back adolescent as a threat and, contrary to instructions from law enforcement, decided to pursue him.   (more…)

The Zimmerman jury worries me

By Alan Bean

By the time you read this the jury in the George Zimmerman trial will likely have rendered a verdict; but as I write, deliberations are just underway.

And I’m worried.

I have seen too many all-white juries in the course of fifteen years of advocacy work and they invariably get it wrong.

Poor, young,  black defendants are perceived as a threat by most white jurors and this perception often overrides all other considerations.

I have no desire to see George Zimmerman spend the rest of his life behind bars; nor would I be particularly upset if the jury convicts the defendant of the lesser charge of manslaughter.   (more…)