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Zimmerman Trial Begins With Jury Selection

George Zimmerman's murder trial began with jury selection on Monday, after yet another denied request from the defense to delay the trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys began picking potential jurors to hear the case, in which Zimmerman has been accused of killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, reports USA Today.

As in any murder trial, picking jurors is crucial, and there are several factors that will play into who is on Zimmerman's jury.

Eligibility to Be a Juror

Responding to any jury summons is important, and it could lead to criminal penalties if you don't. But only certain individuals are qualified in to serve as a juror.

Jurors for George Zimmerman's trial must be:

More than 100 potential jurors were expected to report to the Seminole County courthouse on Monday to fill out jury questionnaires, starting a process that will take up to three weeks, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Shrinking the Jury Pool

Both the defense and prosecution will spend the next couple of weeks winnowing down the number of potential jurors to find the half dozen or so that will sit for the trial.

One way in which many jury pools are narrowed is if a juror is either disqualified or exempted from service by being:

  • Pregnant or having child care issues,
  • 70 years of age or older,
  • Employed as a law enforcement agent,
  • A practicing attorney or physician,
  • In a jury less than a year ago, or
  • A convicted felon.

The prosecution or defense may also ask individual jurors questions, in a process called voir dire, and may excuse them based on their answers.

Prohibited Topics and Questions

Although it is very likely that jurors will be questioned about their gun ownership and race, reports CBS News, there are certain areas the trial judge has barred mentioning to a jury.

According to USA Today, the judge agreed to a defense motion on Monday, preventing prosecutors from using loaded words such as:

  • Profiled,
  • Vigilante,
  • Wannabe cop, or
  • Self-appointed neighborhood watch captain.

The result of the several-week course of questioning and choosing members from the jury pool will be six jurors and several alternates for Zimmerman's trial for second-degree murder. In Florida, only first-degree murder cases are heard by 12-member juries; all other cases get six jurors.

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