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Reasonable Doubt Is Central to Zimmerman Verdict

July 15 (Bloomberg) -- A number of years ago, I served on a criminal jury. The defendant, who was African-American, was charged with assaulting a police officer, who was white. As I recall, all of the prosecution witnesses were police officers, and all were white. All of the defense witnesses were African-American, and they corroborated the defendant’s story, which was that no assault had occurred.

The jury consisted mostly of African-Americans. If you asked us whether we believed the defendant had assaulted the officer, I am fairly confident that a strong majority (and perhaps all of us) would have said yes. Although all of the witnesses seemed quite credible, the officers were a bit more so. Moreover, the defense witnesses included the defendant’s friends and family, who could be expected to have a bias in his favor.