Are 6-member juries sufficient in Fla.?

Rep. Randolph Bracy moving to change law

Published On: Jul 23 2013 04:45:45 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 23 2013 06:31:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, some are questioning whether six-member juries are sufficient enough when determining guilt or innocence. It seems when it comes to juries, Florida is an outlier.

Across the United States, 12-member juries are used in all felony cases. Not in Florida. A 1970s state law only requires a six-member jury.

“When somebody stands to go to prison for the rest of their life or for 30 years, I think a 12-person jury is important,” said Tom Powell, former president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

In the recent George Zimmerman trial, six women were used in the case. Only one was non-Caucasian. Zimmerman was eventually acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Rep. Randolph Bracy has been drafting a bill that would change the state law. His proposal would require 12 jurors in felony trials.

“They have more people and more opinions,” said Bracy.

Currently, the only time a 12-member jury is used in the Sunshine State is for capital punishment cases and when the state tries to take over someone's property.

“This is part of our trial court system. I think it needs some changes,” Bracy said.

Florida is one of two states with six-member juries. The only other state in the country is Connecticut.

Supporters are concerned money will keep the law the same.

“There, no doubt, will be a fiscal impact. You have to call more jurors if you have a jury of 12,” said Powell.

Currently, jurors are not paid anything for the first three days of a trial. After day three, they are paid $40 per day.

Florida first started using six jury members in 1967 in non-capital cases.