What Will George Zimmerman’s Jury Look Like?

In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have a speedy and public trial by impartial jury in the county where the crime was committed.

Article 1, Section 16, Florida Constitution

For over a year, the issue of race has hung over the George Zimmerman case like a persistent thunderstorm.

And while much has been said about the implications of the verdict on race relations, the elephant in the room has always been about the racial makeup of the jury.

Because as we learned in the Rodney King trial, the race of the jury is ultimately the most important racial issue in a case that is really about race.

Seminole County Demographics

And while we do not know who will be make up the six person jury (and four alternates), we do know that it will be selected from a venire (jury pool) of 500 Seminole County residents.

  • If I am George Zimmerman, I want a jury composed of as many older, conservative, white or Hispanic, affluent, male, homeowners as possible.
  • If I am the prosecution, I want a jury composed of as many young, liberal, black, middle class, female renters (preferably mothers) as possible.

So what might that venire look like:

Age Distribution

According to United States Census Statistics, the age distribution of the Seminole County venire is likely to lean towards the George Zimmerman defense team:

Census Statistics Seminole Florida
20 to 24 years 7.3% 6.6
25 to 34 years 13.1% 12.2%
35 to 44 years 14.3% 13.2%
45 to 54 years 15.9% 14.5%
55 to 59 years 6.5% 6.3%
60 to 64 years 5.4% 5.9%
65 to 74 years 6.3% 9.0%
75 to 84 years 3.7% 5.9%
85 years and over 1.7% 2.3%

Political Identification

According to the Florida Division of Elections Statistics, the political leanings of the Seminole County venire is likely to slightly favor the George Zimmerman defense team:

In the 2012 General Election:

  • 277,376 persons voted
  • 110,567 were Republicans
  • 94,193 were Democrats
  • 72,616 were affiliated to other parties or independent.

Of those people who voted, the racial breakdown was as follows:

  • 191,611 were white
  • 28,531 were Hispanic
  • 25,240 were black
  • 5,469 were Asian
  • 872 were Native American
  • Remainder unknown or not reported

Of Republicans who voted, the racial breakdown was as follows:

  • 88% of Republican voters were white
  • 6% were Hispanic
  • 1% were black
  • 1.5% were Asian

Of Democrats who voted, the racial breakdown was as follows:

  • 54% were white
  • 23% were black
  • 15% were Hispanic
  • 2% were Asian

Finally, of the whites, blacks, and hispanics who voted:

  • 94% of blacks voted Democrat
  • 68% of hispanics voted Democrat
  • 65% of whites voted Republican

Racial Composition

According to United States Census Statistics, the racial composition of the Seminole County venire is likely to appear very favorable to the George Zimmerman defense team:

Census Statistics Seminole Florida
White persons, percent, 2011 65.8% 57.5%
Hispanic persons, percent, 2011 17.7% 22.9%
Black persons, percent, 2011 11.7% 16.5%
Asian persons, percent, 2011 3.9% 2.6%
Multiracial persons, percent, 2011 2.2% 1.8%
Native Americans, percent, 2011 0.4% 0.5%
Hawaiian/Polynesian persons, percent, 2011 0.1% 0.1%

Given these statistics, and all things being equal, we can expect that the venire will be comprised approximately:

  • 329 white persons;
  • 89 hispanic persons;
  • 59 black persons;
  • 20 Asian persons;
  • 11 multiracial persons; and
  • 3 Native American or Polynesian Persons.

Gender Distribution

According to the United States Census Statistics, the gender of the Seminole County venire may lean slightly towards the prosecution:

Census Statistics Seminole Florida
Male (18 and older) 47.8% 48.3%
Female (18 and older) 52.2% 51.7%

Given these statistics, and all things being equal, we can expect that the venire will be comprised of:

  • 239 males; and
  • 261 females.

Homeownership Rates

According to United States Census Statistics, the homeownership rate of the Seminole County venire is likely to lean toward the George Zimmerman defense team:

Census Statistics Seminole Florida
Homeownership rate, 2007-2011 71.5% 69.0%
Multi-unit housing (Apartments), percent, 2007-2011 25.3% 29.9%

Given these statistics, and all things being equal, we can expect that the venire will be comprised of:

  • 358 homeowners; and
  • 142 renters.

Personal Experience

Of the nine trials I have conducted in Seminole County, four have been in front of Judge Nelson and two of those were for First Degree Murder.

Most of my jurors were either educators, engineers, medical professionals, emergency safety personnel, or stay-at-home mothers. The majority of my juries have been white, usually leaning female, middle aged, and parents. I recall having a large amount of small business owners on my venires; but have no memory of whether they were homeowners or not (as the issues were not important to my cases).

While the tangible statistics indicate that whatever venire shows up, it will be favorable to George Zimmerman, my own personal experience corroborates what the statistics tell me I should expect.

Seminole County Conviction Rates

Finally, under normal circumstances, Seminole County is the last Central Florida County you would want to be prosecuted in; given that 93% of all felony defendants are convicted. (Angela Corey averaged a 96% conviction rate, the highest in the state.)

However, these are not normal circumstances. The issues in this case involve a White-Hispanic male, whose neighborhood has experienced a rash of burglaries, and who will be invoking the Stand Your Ground law (a law highly supported by Republicans) against a black male.

Conclusion

Putting political correctness aside for the moment, the demographics of Seminole County are ideal for George Zimmerman and his anticipated Stand Your Ground defense.

It also explains why Mark O’Mara did not think for a minute about seeking a change of venue.

Statistically speaking, George Zimmerman could not ask for a more favorable County from which to pull his potential jury.

Mark O’Mara just better hope that that Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz’s opinion as to why Seminole County would be a bad place to have the trial was wrong.

Because the last thing a primarily white jury would want, is for a race riot to erupt in their county if they should acquit George Zimmerman.

Comments

28 thoughts on “What Will George Zimmerman’s Jury Look Like?

  1. statistics aside, based on your experience with judge nelson, is it possible that by her limiting question input by either prosecution or defense, favor will be weighed more heavily on one side or the other ?

      • Richard, why do you mention the Stand Your Ground law? I think at this point it’s clear that the defense will not be arguing that the Stand Your Ground law applies. O’Mara has said as much – he doesn’t feel that law has any bearing on this case, which he feels is a straight self-defense case.

        • Because it is easier for people to understand than saying “Justifiable Use of Deadly Force,” which is the actual name that should be used. Self Defense, just like SYG, is a shortened nickname.

          So while technically, MOM is correct that the new portions enacted under the SYG do not apply to the GZ case, practically speaking it is irrelevant since the jury will be deciding whether GZ was “justified in the lawful use of deadly force.” i.e. whether he had the right to defend himself, whether he had the right to stand his ground.

      • Can you show some of the decisions that Judge Nelson has rendered that were in favor of the State that were incorrect since you claim that she’s biased?

  2. On a purely “race” level, I tend to agree with your analysis. However, on a “how do people think?” level, I tend to believe that middle-aged white republicans like myself will be vehemently NOT in favor of self-appointed vigilantes arming themselves with firearms, going on patrols, and firing off potentially home-wall-penetrating bullets. I also tend to believe that people with substantial life experience are not going to believe that smoking pot makes youths particularly aggressive (vs. meth for example.) I think that middle-aged white republicans will be pro-law and order, and not only pro- “call the police if you have a problem” but also pro- “do what the 911 operator tells you to do.” I think the jury will feel that George Zimmerman was justified in feeling suspicious about Trayvon Martin and was justified in reporting those suspicions to 911 but that he was not entitled to follow/stalk or to stop and question Trayvon Martin especially after the 911 operator told him NOT to do that.

    • You may be right, but as an aside. The 911 operator never said “not” to do something, the operator said you don’t need to do that. Subtle, but important distinction.

      • Nice website. Numbers don’t lie.

        P.S. Don’t forget to tell the trolls that George was on the NEN call trying to get a officer to where he was at the time he was supposedly stalking Trayvon.

        • Richard, are you serious?

          After George answered in the affirmative that he was following Trayvon, the dispatcher told him that he didn’t need to do that.

          Are you going to split hairs?

          Unless you want to argue that George has an IQ in the single digits everyone knew what the ‘that’ the dispatcher was referring to.

          Hugh, George hung up the phone after he told the officer that he would call him back because he had no idea where he would be…which implies that he was planning to continue following Trayvon.

          Also you missed the fact that no one knows where George was for almost 3 minutes.

      • Richard,

        Question for you ( and I hope this is the right place to ask). How much ( if any) of Zimmerman’s deception at the bail hearing will be permitted?

          • Your comments on a previous thread about why the defense skipped the self-defense immunity hearing, but you blamed some vast conspiracy and the ability to read Judge Nelson’s mind, but you ‘forgot’ to mention that O’Mara would have to put George on the stand since self-defense is an affirmative defense, and during an immunity hearing the defense goes first.

            We know from the second bond hearing that O’Mara doesn’t want George to be cross-examined.

            I thought that I would bring back to your memory since you left that tidbit out.

          • Actually, if you read the post, I specifically state that one of the reasons O’Mara probably did not want the immunity hearing is because the State would have an opportunity to cross-examine George Zimmerman. My exact quote is below:

            Expose[s] himself to further cross-examination by the State and impeachment with varying inconsistent statements in the subsequent jury trial.”

      • Let me begin by complimenting you in general on your blog writings before I move on the the “however” part. : – )

        Actually dispatcher Sean didn’t tell Zimmerman that he did not need to do that, he told him that “they” (the police) didn’t need him to do that.

        And as long as I’m being nitpicky, I’m puzzled by your reference to the Stand Your Ground section of Florida’s Justifiable Use of Force law, since that part is not at issue in this case.

    • Kathryn, Trayvon was in the front lawn a house that was broken into before. Frank Taaffe lived there , so GZ knew that TM did not belong there. It’s not a crime to observe someone walking in a gated community who DOES NOT LIVE there. Witness 8 (trays girl) for the State already said that Trayvon approached George and started asking him questions first. Oh, before you start calling me a racist, I am Latino, therefore i cannot be racist. :)

      • Observe and report, right thing to do, follow armed with a gun, not part of his duties. That’s probably where the Target story comes in, but it’s normally a good idea to take with you some way to pay for those groceries.

        Not identifying yourself is not against the law, however George being the adult, seeking a career in criminal justice, states he mentors children, as a good roll model, it would wise to, and that includes the African Americans in his own community. They have a story to tell also.

        Trayvon had a right to be in the neighborhood, and although George felt like he didn’t need pay rent because his landlord was in forclosure, who of course calls the cops on for trying to collect the rent, had a right to be there until the court ordered him to pay up or hit the road.

        I’m white, so I can’t be racist, oh and my husband is black, and my grandson who we are rasing is American Indian, a quarter hispanic, and a quarter white. I do have an issue with a man with no regrets, who uses God as an excuse to kill.

        • HOAs in Florida are 2nd lien holders & put a lien on the unit once in foreclosure that tenant has to pay the rent to the HOA. The guy trying to collect rent on his foreclosedhome was in the wrong so GZ was right to call. GZ could have been evicted if paid the owner.

  3. Two questions, if I may.

    Will the jury be selected from all over Seminole county or only from Sanford? I admittedly assumed it would be from Sanford only.

    Since you took a look at voters. Will it only be selected from registered voters? Or from the general public.

    ************************************

    Off topic concerning O’Mara’s “mistake”, when he spoke about Trayvon taking a video of friends beating up a homeless guy during the last hearing, a comment he was enormously vague about after the hearing. By now it turned out to be Trayvon taking a video of two homeless guys fighting about a bicycle.

    Exhibit D, probably of one of the motions concerning prosecution’s delays. Letter from September 19, 2012

    Don West, September 19, 2012

    13. Likewise, we asked for any video recording you had of Trayvon Martin that are connected in some way to him watching a fight, refereeing a fight or showed him fighting. You mentioned that you had seen a video connected to him in some way regarding a bicycle. We were previously unaware of anything like that, but later saw a clip taken from his cell phone SIM card that may have been what you were referencing. Please provide any audio recordings or video recordings you have of Trayvon Martin or made by him regardless of their content. Also, in accordance with Brady v. Maryland, provide any information you have regarding Trayvon Martin’s interest in fighting, his knowledge and skill in boxing or fighting and any information showing his interest in mixed martial arts including Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

    Legal business as usal, what do you think? Well we still have Trayvon taking a picture of an under age girl, don’t we? I have to admit, I find this rather sickening.

    • Good question about the registered voters vs all residents. is there a way to find out demographic info pertaining to just registered voters, if only registered voters are used?

    • Jury is culled from the County of residence, not the city. Jurors are obtained from Florida DHSMV records and only limitation is that they are of voting age and have never been convicted of a felony.

    • If such a picture exsists, what we dont know is the circumstances of the picture. Did Trayvon take the picture, who is the girl, did she willingly pose for the picture? I don’t think anyone can pass judgment unless there are facts to go along with the picture. Now if him cousin came forth and stated he had been molesting her starting at the age of six and continued for ten years, and his parents became aware of the situatation, yep I got a problem with that. If this is true, and Georges mother then refers to George as a decent American, alls I can say is I wouldn’t show my face either.

  4. Richard,

    If no witness come forth to dispute that Trayvon did make the first punch, does credability factor in. For instance George states the reason for getting out of the truck is NEN told him they needed an address, and he couldn’t remember the name of the street he was on, so he figured if he went across to the other side that was his street and he could use the house directly accross. NEN did not ask for an address. Why would he get an address and start back to his truck, to give them an address he wasn’t going to be at.
    He states he could see him anymore and NEN asked if he still wanted them stp send an officer. Nope, question was not asked. Then we have the shit he’s running, he wasn’t running, he was skipping, walking quickly away, he walked and came back and circled my truck, are you following him, yeah, I wasn’t following him, I was going in the same direction, and so on.

    And throw in the timeline isssue, his minor injuries, no one colaborates the broken nose story, injuries are not consistant with his story, No injuries consistant with Trayon hitting him, no blood or DNA of George found on Trayvon. How he got his gun story. After he shot Trayvonm the first witness with flashlight story, does not match with Mr flashlight man.

    So lets say the juriors do not believe him, medical evidence does no collaborate his story, and whatever else comes into play, but no one sees the first punch?

    • Assuming the evidence comes out the way you describe (I don’t think it will), it would be up to the jury to decide what they believe or disbelieve.

    • Cash, the problem with the ‘left my car to get an address’ lie is that during the video re-enactment there’s an address right over George’s shoulder. LOL

      It’s going to be very difficult for that lie to fly.

      • Nope it’s not going to fly. As well as that adress to the right, remember he explains the street he lives on goes in a big circle, so if he went to the left and cut across that way, much shorter route.

        FYI, In George’s written statement, signed by Officer Singleton, its says report contains Suspect statement. I would take that refers to George, how interesting that George refers all through the statement as Trayvon being the suspect.

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