Jesse Jackson’s massive blunder
Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters briefly explains (emphasis added):
Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Jesse Jackson condemned the Zimmerman verdict as a “tremendous miscarriage of justice.”
It is a mark of Jackson’s misconception of just what constitutes justice that chief among his complaints was that Trayvon Martin was denied a jury of his peers because there were no African-Americans or men on it.
But — as Jackson is apparently unaware — the Constitution provides that it is the accused, not the possible victim, who is entitled to an impartial jury (in fact the Constitution nowhere speaks of a jury of peers).
Jury of one’s peers
Putting aside Jesse Jackson’s error, here’s a summary of what “a jury of one’s peers” actually means:
jury of one’s peers n. a guaranteed right of criminal defendants, in which “peer” means an “equal.”
This has been interpreted by courts to mean that the available jurors include a broad spectrum of the population, particularly of race, national origin and gender.
Jury selection may include no process which excludes those of a particular race or intentionally narrows the spectrum of possible jurors.
It does not mean that women are to be tried by women, Asians by Asians, or African Americans by African Americans.
And a bit more here:
In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court held that juries need not represent a cross section of a community, but merely must be drawn from a pool that is representative of the community (Holland v. Illinois, 493 U.S. 474, 110 S. Ct. 803, 107 L. Ed. 2d 905).
In 1991, it forbade prosecutors to use their peremptory challenges to exclude potential jurors on the basis of race (Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 111 S. Ct. 1364, 113 L. Ed. 2d 411).
And LegalZoom.com explains:
The 6th Amendment guarantees the accused the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.
The phrase “jury of one’s peers” is not included in the Amendment, however, the courts interpret peer to mean equal, i.e., the jury pool must include a cross section of the population of the community in terms of gender, race, and national origin.
The jury selection process must not exclude or intentionally narrow any particular group of people.
A jury of one’s peers does not mean a black defendant must be tried by an all black jury or a female defendant must be tried by an all woman panel.
The objective is to select an impartial jury from a randomly selected juror pool who will be fair, listen to the facts of the case, and render a just verdict based on the evidence
The six jurors
In case you’re interested in knowing about the jurors in the George Zimmerman trial, here is a list and brief description of each from the FoxNews website:
B-51 is retired, not married and doesn’t have kids. She has lived in Seminole County for nine years. She has worked in real estate and run a call center where she said she had experience resolving conflicts. When asked if Zimmerman did something wrong by following Martin instead of waiting for police, she said: “Yeah, I guess he did do something wrong.”
B-29 recently moved to central Florida from Chicago. She enjoys watching the “Real Housewives” on television and works as a nurse on an Alzheimer’s section of a nursing home. She said she hadn’t paid much attention to the shooting. She said she has been arrested, but her case was disposed of. It’s not clear why she was arrested or exactly what happened to her case, though she said she was treated fairly. She is married and has several children. A prosecutor described her as “black or Hispanic” during jury selection.
B-76 is a white woman who has lived in central Florida for 18 years. She manages rental properties with her husband of 30 years. She has two adult children, including one who is an attorney. She is involved with rescuing animals in her free time. During jury selection, she said she had been the victim of a nonviolent crime. “Everyone deserves a fair trial,” she said.
B-37 is a white woman who volunteers rescuing animals. She is married to an attorney and has two adult children. She said she and her husband used to have concealed weapons permits. During the last round of questioning, she said she had an issue with the type of weapons people are allowed to carry. She also thought weapons’ training was inadequate for people seeking permits. “It should become harder,” she said.
E-6 is a white woman who is married and has two children. She has worked in financial services and has lived in Seminole County for two years. She is active in her church and involved with her children’s school. During jury selection, she said she didn’t know the facts of the case well.
E-40 is a white woman who works as a safety officer and recently moved to Seminole County from Iowa. She describes herself as a football fan. During jury selection, she said she had been the victim of a nonviolent crime.