By Matt Horn
July 23, 2013
Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman some are questioning whether six member juries are sufficient enough when determining quilt or innocence.
Across the United States 12-member juries are used in all felony cases. Not in Florida, a 1970’s state law only requires 6-member jury.
Former President of the Florida. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer
Tom Powell said, “When somebody stands to go to prison for the rest of their life, or for 30 years, I think a 12-person jury is important.”
In the recent George Zimmerman trial – six women were used in the case. Only one was non-Caucasian. Zimmerman was eventually acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Representative Randolph Bracy has been drafting a bill which would change the state law; his proposal would require 12 jurors in felony trials.
When asked why there should be an increase in the number of jurors in felony trials Representative Bracy said, “They have more people and more opinions.”
Currently the only time a 12-member jury is used in the Sunshine State is for Capital Punishment cases and when the state tries to take over your property.
“This is part of our trial, court system. I think it needs some changes,” said Representative Bracy.
Florida is one of two states with six-member juries, the only other state in the country is Connecticut.
Supporters are concerned money will keep the law the same. According to Powell, “There no doubt will be a fiscal impact. You have to call more jurors if you have a jury of 12.”
Currently jurors are not paid anything for the first three days of a trial. After day three, they are paid 40 dollars a day.
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