In this paper I am going to explain whether ethnicity influences courtroom proceedings and judicial practices, and give some examples of ethnicity-based jury nullification, a sanctioned doctrine of trial proceedings wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented of the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. It espouses the concept that jurors should be the judges of both law and fact.
Ethnicity in court is an important factor depending were your venue of court is located, and the jurors selected to the court. If in a court room there are jurors that are all white and are jurors for a case involving a white man that killed a African American man, may cause the jurors to listen to the white man case rather than the African American individual. In some cases if the white man story is little probable to happen the jurors will then have to take more time and listen closer to both of the stories. Jurors are told when in court that they have to judge by the facts and not by preferences in ethnic groups or color of skin, some do listen some do not take any facts they just prefer to select the person who is less guilty or if they see a similarities in themselves with an offender.
One example of a preferred jury was a case that took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Stanford, Florida, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American high school student. George Zimmerman, a 28 year old Hispanic, was the neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place. Martin and Zimmerman where in a confrontation while martin was walking thru the gated community while on the ground Zimmerman shot Martin killing him. When officers arrived on scene they took Zimmerman into custody and attended his injuries, then questioned for five hours.
Under the state law of Florida it is legal to defend yourself while being under attack and you are able to use lethal force. Zimmerman stated that martin was reaching toward Zimmerman’s gun but no evidence was found. The jury decided that Zimmerman was not guilty, there was controversy in this case because martin was a young black kid who dressed different and was judged by that. The jury I believe looked at Martin as a bigger threat than Zimmerman.
In this case a young black male was judged incorrectly by people who saw him as kid that was not going on the correct path, and on the other side they see a person who was keeping a watch on his community and keep them safe. Some people just see a Hispanic male getting away with murder and a African American kid who was killed harshly. For this case 5 of the 6 jurors were considered white and 1 mixed race, in this county were the case took place in Florida only 10 percent of the population are African American.
Even though when selecting a jury there is people who make sure there are no bias selection of jurors, sometimes jurors when in court change their minds because they relate to the case or because some similar situations have happen to that juror or a close relative. When jurors relate to cases it starts to become a bias situation, for example if a case of a women that was beaten by a husband because of infidelity, some jurors if women will take the women side and will maybe go against the husband. Otherwise if the jurors are mostly men the men will tend to reduce sentence or even find a reason to liberate the husband accused of beating his wife due to infidelity.
When facing a court case such as the famous case of Rodney King the jurors gave a harsh punishment to the police officers not because they were bias, but because the footage of the people who are there to serve and protect were acting like animals and very unprofessional. In this situation the jury were mainly concerned that these officers that were in duty to serve and protect the community can act so savagely, in this case there was a clear bias situation the jurors were not looking at the officers as heroes because they took down a man that was drugged up, the jurors saw the police beating a man that was defense less and without any help.
There will always be all sorts of bias and sometimes racism inside of the court room, jurors are chosen the best as possible but sometimes it just is not enough to sentence a case correctly. Jurors have the responsibility to give the case to the innocent person and to help the judge make the correct decision, but sometimes jurors make mistakes and are guided by their emotions and not the facts, when that happens the case becomes a bias case and usually in favor of the person the jurors think is innocent.
In my opinion jurors should be taught and learn on how to use the facts to see all the details of the case, jurors should also be taught different types of classes on looking at all the evidence in favor and not in favor, the jurors should also take in mind that the person being sentenced also have families and deserve a fair opportunity on their criminal case. The diversity on the juror stand should be always permitted I believe there should not be more Whites or Blacks or Hispanic jurors there should be a fair amount of jurors for all ethnicities this will bring a balance and a fair judgment of all the cases in court. This will bring more fairness and belief to the court system and will help the judges job easier and trust the people of the juror stand. To conclude, jurors should be a very great help for criminal cases but they always have to judge with intelligence and with fairness.
Courtney from Study Moose
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