Many vow they will take jury duty more seriously after Zimmerman verdict.
The George Zimmerman jury has spoken -- and in giving its not-guilty verdict, reminded the nation of the power of a jury-box view.
In the days following Saturday's ruling, people across the country cheered and criticized the six-women jury's decision. Many took to Twitter and other public platforms to proclaim that, from now on, they'll take their own jury summons more seriously, and also encouraged others to do so.
"If the Zimmerman verdict teaches us one thing, it's that reasonably intelligent people need to stop trying to get out of jury duty," said Pierre Kim, tweeting under @MetroDadNYC.
"There are trials every week in the United States very similar to the Trayvon Martin case," trial lawyer Eric Guster said in a blog entry reprimanding those who avoid jury duty.
"When we are called (for jury duty), we must answer," Malia Cohen, who represents southeast San Francisco on the Board of Supervisors, said during a rally outside San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday evening.
This high-profile Zimmerman trial demonstrated "the power of juries," Andrew Ferguson, author of the new book Why Jury Duty Matters, told USA TODAY. "My hope is that we can use this as teaching moment to show why juries matter and why ordinary citizens matter."
Yet, the jury is still out regarding the actual impact this case will have on those who get summoned.
Jury and legal experts say the high-profile Zimmerman case may spur some who would have avoided jury duty to step up. But at the same time, the complicated legal and ethical decision-making involved in this case may dissuade some people from joining the jury pool.
Big, highly publicized trials like this have the potential to shift views of the jury process "for the positive or negative," says Valerie Hans, a professor at Cornell Law School and jury system expert.
In this case, the six sequestered jurors listened to weeks of testimony and deliberated for more than 15 hours before acquitting Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, shot and killed an unarmed Martin, who is African-American, on Feb. 26, 2012. He claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.
This case, which ignited passionate discussions about race, was a hot topic in the news, on social media and in the personal discussions of Americans. It also opened up a large discussion about jury duty.
But even with all the current attention on the Zimmerman case facts and jury decision, Greg Hurley, a senior analyst for the National Center for State Courts, isn't sure if this trial in and of itself will spur many more people to heed those jury duty notices.
"We roll in this country from one big case to the next," he says.
Public attention to big happenings – such as this trial – is typically fleeting, says Shari Seidman Diamond, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
An event that motivates people to put forth more effort "is hard to come by," she says.
On average, 6% to 9% of people get excused from jury duty, according to 2007 data from the National Center for State Courts, which is a non-profit court-improvement organization. Another 6% to 9% don't respond to the summons or have a "failure to appear."
For those people opting out, Seidman Diamond makes this pitch: "Wouldn't you like to have a juror like you if you were ever part of a case?"
Chris Housel is one person who had avoided jury duty, but is now reformed.
"Note-2-self: never check 'unable to attend' when receiving jury duty summons' by mail EVER AGAIN, ever," she tweeted under her @ObamasGirl handle on July 16.
In a follow-up discussion with USA TODAY, Housel said that she used to view jury duty as "a nuisance" and would justify getting out of it by saying she had to too much to do.
"Today I'm ashamed of ever thinking this way," she says. "No amount of activism or protesting, could give me such a direct voice in the justice system. It sickened me in light of the not guilty verdict, and the current statistics of blacks convicted wrongfully and in prison."
Not only could that revised attitude be good for the legal system, it could be good for people like Housel who decide to embrace their civic duty, Ferguson says.
This jury duty experience is not only "important" to society but also "meaningful" to those who serve, he says.
In many cases, jurors are "able to solve a really hard problem with people they would never talk to otherwise," he says.
In turn, jury duty "can actually be a rewarding experience."