Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What if George Zimmerman Gets an All White Jury?

April 27, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Accused murderer of Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman almost certainly will eventually face a jury. And what if that jury is all white? A recent Duke University study showed that all white juries in Florida were more likely to convict a black defendant than mixed ethnic juries. Though George Zimmerman isn’t black, the defense almost certainly will pull out all stops to make the case that George Zimmerman was the real victim and that Martin was the aggressor. In essence this means that jurors will be asked to do a defendant and victim role reversal and put Trayvon Martin on trial.

The massive barrage of digs, innuendoes, and slanders of Trayvon Martin’s character and actions that fateful night has been relentless since the killing. So the rule that black defendants inevitably get the short end of the jury stick will be very much in play in the case against George Zimmerman. That’s where the danger of an all white jury comes in in the Trayvon Martin slaying. It could easily happen. Two years ago a Equal Justice Initiative report found racial discrimination in jury selection is still rampant, even blatant. A Supreme  Court ruling and other court rulings that ban all white or non-black juries have been in far too many cases no more than paper decisions that have had little effect in insuring a diverse jury in cases involving black defendants. The same holds true where blacks have been the victims, and whites or non-blacks the defendants, as is the case with George Zimmerman.

The report found that prosecutors and judges in eight Southern states used a litany of dodges, tactics, and legal ploys to outright exclude blacks from juries, or whittle the number of blacks on juries down. In capital cases, some jurisdictions don’t even go through the legal pretense of trying to get a racially balanced jury. In North Carolina at least 31 current death row defendants were sentenced by all-white juries. A new North Carolina state law, the Racial Justice Act, and a recent courageous ruling by an African-American judge to overturn the death sentence of a convicted black murderer under the act drew national attention to the blatant bias in all white jury decided cases.

The report also found that a racially diverse jury weighed evidence and testimony longer and more carefully, brought different perspectives and life experiences to the deliberations, and made fewer factual errors. These are crucial factors in the rare cases where cops are charged with killing young black or Hispanics. A jury with no blacks, composed of mostly older middle class whites, and non-black ethnics, is much more likely to believe the testimony of police and prosecution witnesses than black witnesses, defendants, or even the victims.

Prosecutors have a big task in trying to overcome pro-police attitudes and the negative racial stereotypes. Two Penn State University studies on racial perceptions and stereotypes, one in 2003 and a follow-up study in 2008, found that many whites are likely to associate pictures of blacks with violent crimes, and in some cases where crimes were not committed by blacks they misidentified the perpetrator as an African-American.

In three major racially charged cases in past years where blacks were the victims either beaten or killed by white cops Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Sean Bell, defense attorneys depicted all three men as the aggressors who posed a threat to the officers. They played up and exaggerated their run-ins with the law to depict young blacks as crime prone, menacing figures. The idea was to subtly and openly play on the prejudices, stereotypes, and negative beliefs of many white jurors toward young blacks.

Even when the victim has no criminal record and poses no threat to officers, the negative racial typecast still kicks in. This was the case when white jurors acquitted the four New York City cops tried for gunning down African immigrant, Amadou Diallo in 1999. They claimed that they feared for their lives.

Legal experts blame the paucity of blacks on many juries not on deliberate racial discrimination, but to the paltry number of blacks in the jury pool, changing demographics (the city is majority Hispanic, Asian and white), and the failure of blacks to heed jury summons.

This begs the issue. It doesn’t much matter how few or how many blacks are in the jury pool, if prosecutors (or defense attorneys when the accused is white and victim black) use a storehouse of challenges, questionnaires, and profiles, to systematically strike blacks from a jury. And sometimes, they don’t even bother with the ploys.

The Dallas Morning News revealed in 2006 that Dallas prosecutors systematically dumped blacks from juries for years. The Supreme Court tossed the conviction of Texas death row inmate Thomas Miller-El based on a Dallas prosecutor’s brazen racial jury sanitizing. Yet prosecutors still try to get as many whites, and as few blacks as possible, on juries.

The George Zimmerman case jury may be fair and impartial. But to pretend that racial bias doesn’t exist in racially charged trials is self-serving and dangerous. His case could again cast an ugly glare on jury race bias.

Written By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

One can find more info about Mr. Hutchinson over at the following site; TheHutchinson ReportNews.

Also feel free to connect with him through twitter; 



4 Responses to “What if George Zimmerman Gets an All White Jury?”
  1. Jose says:

    And yet, Zimmerman has an Afro-Peruvian grandfather, his “white” Father is not his biological Father, and he is a registered Democrat.

    So it is difficult to understand why you race-baiters keep trying to call attention to a non-issue using faulty logic.

    Understanding that logic is not your strength, you should know that the primary reasons Juries are mostly White is because Blacks do not show up to jury duty.

    But excepting responsibility for the failings of so-called Black leadership, who should be concentrating on lowering the crime rate, improving test scores, and asking Blacks to show up to Jury duty (or work, or school for that matter) is a bit too much. Instead let’s ask for another handout.

    Zimmerman’s neighborhood was plagued with theft and burglaries from Blacks, as you said only 11% of the population, but care to look up how much crime is committed by that 11%?

    He’ll go free because he did not murder anybody.

  2. DaTruth says:

    I’m sure Zimmerman will get an all white and Cuban jury one way or another. ZImmerman will a free man soon.

  3. Nicholas says:

    I believe all this attention focused on Zimmerman is justified, but llet’s not forget the part the Sanford Police played in all of this? I think the Sanford Police should be somehow indited for their sloppy handeling of this case from the time the first officer came on the murder scene to the releasing of Zimmerman. Where they giving Zimmerman cover for a possible trial?

  4. James Davis says:

    You Hit The Nail Right On The Head

    The population make-up of Seminole County, Florida which is where the trial will be held, I guess, if another venue is not requested is 11.1% Black and 17.1% Hispanic. The county population is 422,718 according to the last census. The county is Republican, while the city of Sanford, where Trayvon Martin was killed is Democratic. White Republicans have been over the years extensively involved in Sanford politics where Blacks make-up 30% or 16,200 of the population of Sanford which is a city of 54,000 people. This is why there is such acrimony in the city. Blacks in 1983 won in federal court a ruling which required Sanford to elect its city commissioners based on districts, rather than electing them at large. Prior to the 1983 federal ruling, no Black person was on the city commission. As a matter of fact, Sanford’s current Mayor, I am relatively sure is Republican and two of its five commissioners maybe also. So the Republicans actually hold sway on that commission which of course is suppose to address city matters on a non-partisan basis. This is going to be a trial that is going to be racially charged. Surely the defense will attempt to draw jurors from the county, while I assume the prosecution will attempt to draw jurors from the city.

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