The Illusion of Juror Sophistication

Like most people on juries, the six jurors thrown into the Zimmerman trial were totally unprepared.

American jurors, totally untrained in the legal system, are led to think they are more intelligent and sophisticated than they are. Alone, they are capable of some independent thought. Forced into a room with others, they are a disaster. Although states select potential jurors differently, they are usually drawn randomly from a list of driver’s licenses or lists of registered voters. They are average people, a cross-section of Americana, people content with their lives, unencumbered and blissful, just the type of people lawyers want judging their trials because most people lack the sophisticated skill sets of reasoning and logic needed to be a juror.

Lawyers often decide which jurors to use in a trial based on the potential juror’s perceived lack of ability to think logically. A lawyer once told me that he always chooses jurors with strong religious beliefs because “a person who believes a man can walk on water can be talked into anything.” The job of a lawyer is to manipulate the way a person thinks.

The jurors thrown into the George Zimmerman murder trial were tossed into a situation, as are most jurors, for which they were totally unprepared. They went from quiet, average lives, to supporting stars on the latest reality show. The defense attorneys outlined their parts in the show. They were to play rational, intelligent, sophisticated, impartial, and concerned citizens. Without realizing it, they played their parts perfectly.

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