Late last week word broke that the jury had been finalized in the George Zimmerman second degree murder trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. While the news means the start of the trial is fast approaching, it also sparked more debate. Of the six members of the jury, all are women and only one is a person of color. In a case where race may prove to be a key factor, the makeup of the jury, which was whittled down from a pool of 40 potential candidates, is interesting to say the least.
When asked about the lack of Black jurors, George Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, responded:
“..Look at the questioning. If they are going to have an opinion rather than it just be a knee jerk reaction, to tell me that you’ve watched the process, tell me that … you just watched us talk to every juror, that you listened to [prosecutor] Mr. De La Rionda when he did his questioning yesterday and you’ve listened to me do my questioning today. You go down the list which was random and see how it happened.”
O’Mara added that “the state struck the first Black juror and then we got our six.” He continued: “I had questions about two Black jurors on their ability to be fair and impartial and we talked about that. That’s been I think now put on the record when it comes to my thoughts and the judge agreed that they were race neutral reasons. So while people can look at it and have this reaction: there’s no Blacks on the jury, there’s no this, or there’s no that, tell me we did something wrong in the process and I’ll agree with you. If you look at this process and I’ll agree with you if you look at the process and say it was done fairly than the result was fair.”
Attorneys for Trayvon Martin’s parents issued a statement after the jury was chosen, saying:
“This case has always been about equal justice. Equal justice under the law is not a Black value or a White value. It’s an American value. With the makeup of this jury, the question of whether every American can get equal justice regardless of who serves on their jury panel will be answered. We expect the jury pool to do their duty and be fair and impartial. We firmly believe that when these jurors see the overwhelming evidence that will be put before them in the coming weeks, they will find George Zimmerman guilty of murder on the night in question.”
While some may feel that the racial makeup of the juror may sway sympathy towards Zimmerman, but there’s another factor that may level the playing field. A majority of the jurors are mothers, which could relate to the idea of losing a child. Regardless of the racial background or family status of the six individuals charged with hearing this high profile case, their job is to weigh the facts equally and make a fair decision without any personal bias. In a matter of weeks we will see how this all plays out.
Opening arguments in the trial began today and you can click here to watch the live stream.