Wednesday, July 17, 2013

UDC School of Law Professor Andrew Ferguson Weighs in on the Role of Juries and Their Verdicts

On Saturday, July 13, 2013, the jury in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman returned a verdict of not guilty for second-degree murder and manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.  After the jury returned the verdict, an expected flurry of news and social media erupted, some in support of the verdict and many others criticizing it.  Given the contentious issues surrounding the case, a vast amount of media attention has honed into the jury and what occurred during the jury's deliberation.  One can hope that the jury deliberation of the Zimmerman trial was similar to the one that took place in the famous stage play and movie, Twelve Angry Men, where the jurors carefully examined all the evidence in their quest for the truth and banished personal prejudices from their deliberation.  On the other hand, many fear that racial biases may have affected the deliberation of the Zimmerman jury that was made up of five Caucasian women and one Hispanic woman.  Whether the deliberation was similar to that of Twelve Angry Men or corrupted by racial bias, many questions remain.

In his article, "The Zimmerman Trial and the Meaning of Verdicts," Professor Andrew Ferguson of the University of the District of Columbia, discusses the Zimmerman jury, the (at the time undelivered) verdict, as well as juries and their verdicts in general.  

Professor Ferguson currently teaches criminal law, evidence and criminal procedure. Prior to his tenure at UDC, Professor Ferguson worked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.  His most recent book, which reflects what the American public is perhaps most interested in following the return of the Zimmerman verdict, is titled Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Action, is a book about jury duty for jurors and those who may serve on juries, the first of its kind. 

In September, 2013 the Criminal Law Brief Blog will be posting reviews by Meghan Zingales and Robby Nothdurft on Professor Ferguson's book:  Why Jury Duty Matters: A Citizen's Guide to Constitutional Action. You can now follow the blog by email so you do not miss the reviews and you can stay up to date with weekly posts.  To read more about Professor Ferguson and a list of his publications click here

Raleigh Mark
Blog Editor, Criminal Law Brief

Left Photo: By VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Right Photo: By ann harkness (Flickr: med-9529.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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