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counting the counties

Casey Anthony’s right to a fair trial includes her right to have a jury of her peer’s to sit in judgment of the crimes she is charged with.

I have always assumed that the phrase a jury of one’s peers was part of the Sixth Amendment “Right to a Fair Trial”.

Nope. Not there.

So, I then figured it must be in the Fifth Amendment, “Rights in Criminal Cases”.

Nope. Not there, either.

So, now I’m curious.  I went in search of answers.  A number of different sources proclaimed that the ideal of “a jury of one’s own peers” is from long ago, reaching back to the 12th century.

I did learn that it was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court decided that this right will be part of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Therefore, it is the Fourteenth Amendment that assures one the right to a jury of “peers and equals” without exclusion.

There is a website dedicated to the US Constitution that contains a page titled: “Things that are Not in the U.S. Constitution”, written by Steve Mount.

He writes:

Today, the American ideal dictates that we are all peers of one another, that regardless of gender, race, religion, social status, or any other division (except age), we are all equal. In this ideal, since we are all peers, a guarantee of a jury of ones peers would be redundant. While some argue with this ideal, it is the most democratic way to approach the subject. Juries need only be impartial, and not made up of one’s peers, else the jury system would be unworkable.

I must say, I very much like that logic and that ideal.  However, Judge Perry, one would think, would have to consider a jury of Casey’s peers, lest he be called out on an appellate issue after the fact.

So, with an ideal in mind of a jury of peers, let’s discuss where Casey’s jurors might come from.

The Case of the Mystery County

Out of pure curiosity, and a love of putting together puzzles, I decided to look at all of the  67 counties in Florida, in terms of demographics, to try and figure out what county would provide a jury of Casey’s peers for her trial.

I am attempting to put together some sort of reasoning around “Jury of One’s Own Peers” and see what I could come up with.   However, it’s anyone’s guess what criteria Judge Perry might be considering when he determines where the Jury for the Casey Anthony case will come from.  One can only assume that he would look at counties with similarities to Orange County demographics.

What similarities will Judge Perry measure?

Chances are he will look at how certain demographics match up.

It seems reasonable that population demographics would come into play. I decided to use district size.   And I will use the Census Bureau’s  demographic information about “Median household income,” and “White persons, non Hispanic” as standards to match and measure.

First, however, I matched counties that meet the district size of Orange County, which has 6 districts. Therefore, I looked at how many out of those 67 counties have at least 6 districts. There are six.

Orange County has 6 Districts

  • Broward has 9,
  • Duval has 14,
  • Hillsborough has 7,
  • Miami-Dade has 13,
  • Palm Beach has 7, and
  • Pinellas has 7.

Next I looked at Median Income from 2009 Census Bureau data (I also included the County seat so you’ll recognize each county).

Orange County’s Median household income is $50, 674

  • Broward County: $51,594 / County seat: Ft. Lauderdale
  • Duval: $50, 660 / County seat: Jacksonville
  • Hillsborough: $49,762 / County seat: Tampa
  • Miami-Dade: $43,921 / County seat: Miami
  • Palm Beach County: $52,807 / County seat: Palm Beach
  • Pinellas:  $45,899 / County seat: Clearwater

Next I looked at the percentages of “white persons, not Hispanic” from Census Bureau data.

Orange County’s White persons not Hispanic: 48.9%

  • Duval:  58.7%
  • Broward: 46.2%
  • Hillsborough: 56.0%
  • Miami-Dade: 17.6%
  • Palm Beach County: 62.1%
  • Pinellas:  77.8%

Based on these six counties, it appears that Broward County is the closest match, followed by Duval or Hillsborough.

Again, it’s not known what criteria that Hon. Judge Belvin Perry will use.

The truth, however, is exactly what Blogger Sherry said about finding a jury of Casey’s peers: “Well, that narrows it down to none – there is no “equal” to Casey that isn’t locked up!”

Oh, ain’t that the truth!

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