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Jury Duty – A first hand account

April 26, 2010

In the United States, we are said to have the privilege of having the right to trial by a jury of our peers.  This past week, I was summoned to serve on a jury as an alternate.  As this was my first encounter with actually having to show up for jury service (as opposed to just calling in), I found the process quite interesting and enlightening.  First of all, the term “jury of your peers” is thrown around quite loosly.  When the defendants attorney asked if I would want me as a juror on a case – I could honestly answer yes, I would want me as a juror.  What he failed to ask was would I want to have several of the other jurors on what would be considered a “jury of my peers”.  My first observation was that really, very few people actually want to serve jury duty – I only know of one exception in the group of 43 potential jurors who were summoned for this case.  Second, I noticed that very few of the potential jurors upheld the admonitions of the court.  First, the attire was to be respectful to the court.  Several of the jurors showed up in sweats or jeans – not exactly showing deference as I was taught.  Second, very few jurors “held their tongue” when we were outside of the courtroom.  And thirdly, the potential jurors who really didn’t want to be on the case, made it painfully obvious that they were not in any way inclined to set aside any feelings to be able to perform what many call your “civic duty”.

So what did I take away from this experience?  Well, if jurors are said to be the “heart of the judicial system”, I think that those of us who are educated and understand what the forefathers of our country had in mind when setting up such a system, should, when given the opportunity to serve on a jury, take it as truly an opportunity and not a burden.  We should do what we can to help the systems continue to succeed as best they can. 

Finally, let me leave you with this cartoon from Making It Productions – It may help you understand next time you hear someone has waived their “right” to a jury of “their peers”…

Regards,

Pam
www.statusnotquo.com

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