Today, jury selection begins in the George Zimmerman trial.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, in February of 2012. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense.
As Yahoo reports, jury selection for the highly publicized case will be difficult because of the complex racial undertones of the case.
The Martin family released a statement today about jury selection and the difficulties that may be ahead. “Trayvon’s life was taken unnecessarily and tragically, but we call upon the community to be peaceful,” it read. “We have placed our faith in the justice system and ask that the community do the same.”
There is speculation the defense team will want to load the jury with white republicans who support gun rights—a strategy that is typically uncharacteristic for any defense team.
Defense lawyer Jose Baez talked about the challenges with selecting a jury in such a high-profile case. “It’s a very unique case in that respect, where the general rules that lawyers use are just going to be absolutely flipped upside down,” said Baez. “Because it is such a racially charged case, I think that the clear line is going to be drawn here between African-American jurors and Caucasian and Hispanic jurors.”
Judge Debra Nelson will ensure qualified jurors are not dismissed based on race. However potential jurors who have adamantly announced their opinion about the case via social media, or even participated in rallies, will be excluded. Others may face questionnaires about gun control, law enforcement and race among other things.