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Why Zimmerman Juror B29 Believed in His Guilt But Still Voted to Acquit

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 7/31/2013, 11:58 a.m.

The certainty though is that decisions made when jurors are browbeaten to reach a verdict that they don’t agree with pollute the judicial process. They make a mockery of the notion that jurors reach verdicts in trials solely because the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, or because the defense has shredded the prosecution’s case to the point where it appears the defendant is either outright innocent or at the very least deserves to be acquitted based on the lack of evidence.

A defendant then is entitled to a verdict that reflects a juror’s genuine belief about their innocence or guilt and not a verdict that’s based on pressure or simple expediency.

Judges play a big part in how juries ultimately decide a case by simply making it clear in their charge to the jury that a juror should not vote for a verdict that he or she does not truly believe is correct, and that a juror is under no obligation to go along with a decision just because a majority of jurors agree on a position. How forcefully that admonition is conveyed to jurors is subject to huge question, and the Zimmerman trial is no exception to that.

Zimmerman got several benefits in his trial. One was that he was found innocent. The other was that the prosecution did not prove its case. But the biggest benefit was that even when juror B29 thought he was guilty and should have been convicted she still voted to acquit.

In the end, juror B29 was no different from countless other dissenting jurors in countless other trials who succumbed to juror pressure. The pity is that she succumbed in this trial.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.