Florida jury size was matter of state law

Why were there only six jurors in the George Zimmerman trial?

— Sherrill, Phoenix

You need only look as far as the Florida state statutes, Sherrill.

In that state, 12-person juries are used only in cases in which the defendant could receive the death penalty if convicted.

Florida law — specifically 913.10 — states that, "Twelve persons shall constitute a jury to try all capital cases, and six persons shall constitute a jury to try all other criminal cases." This comes from the Online Sunshine website, labeled as "Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature."

The background of the case stems from a 1970 Supreme Court case, according to a June 25 CBS News report. That report cited the Williams v. Florida case, in which it was decided that a six-person jury was an adequate, fair, cross-section of the community.

In case you were wondering, Sherrill, and to make this answer long enough to satisfy our bosses, in Oregon, trial juries in criminal cases are expected to consist of 12 members, unless both parties consent to a smaller jury. The exception to that is in misdeameanor cases, in which the trial jury consists of six persons. You can check it out in ORS 136.210.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story