Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Most reasonable people now agree as to how the Zimmerman aquittal verdict should be interpreted. It was predicated on the paucity of prosecutorial evidence in the context of Florida's "no retreat" law on the use of dedly force in self defense. This is as it should be, the rabble-rousung of Rev. Al Sharpton and others, notwithstanding. The prevalence of common sense and reason on this point serves the cause of racial harmony. Consensus of reasonable analysis is an emotionally salving lotion. One factor has, however, received insufficient attention.

The trial was held in Sanford, Florida. That city has an African American population of 40%. The trial jury was composed of six people, all women, five caucasians and one hispanic. Why was there not one African American on that jury?

It is not difficult to understand the defense's motive for desiring such a composition, but intentional exclusion is prohibited by law. Why was the prosecution apparently passive on this point? If the jury pool, from which the jurors were chosen, was similarly devoid of a proportionate share of African Americans, appropriate motions could and should have been made.

A criminal defendant is entitled to be tried by a jury of his peers. Should not a victim in a murder case be afforded similar playing-field-levelling protection? There is no case law by which this is mandated, but the reputation of Trayvon Martin was equally on trial with that of George Zimmerman. The trial judge should have made this the subject of judicial scrutiny.

It is impossible to predict what the outcome would have been had the jury been composed of some African Americans, but the result would have been more digestible.

Trayvon Martin was entitled to a jury of his peers.

He didn't get it.

George Zimmerman did.

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