Why Should You Serve Jury Duty? FYI!
Let us get something perfectly clear, whether you serve or not is your choice. However, serving jury duty is a rewarding community obligation to help the judicial system provide a fair trial for all its citizens. It can be an inconvenient pain and it doesn’t pay for the time you sit to be called but having available a healthy pool of jurors help keep the system honest and fair for those facing a trial.
Recently, I received a summons to serve my civic duty. I was elated, to say the least, because I had been called before but for medical reasons could not serve. This year I was able to serve in Baltimore City. I arrived early to register. Shortly thereafter, the jurors were paid for our service even though we hadn’t done anything. I believe it is the idea of knowing my viewpoint on a case is relative in a decision to affect someone’s life. It’s the American way! But not every juror is chosen.
Ironically, most people get the temptation to discard a jury duty notice. But the court is implementing a system to curtail such behavior. In the old system, you received the questionnaire and mail it back to build the pools system. In the new system, you are assigned a pool right from the beginning. The court is able to track people way more better than before. If you didn’t fill out the questionnaire, they know.
For some reason, jury duty kind of has a bad reputation. People get angry about receiving jury duty summons. But think about this, “What if someday you need a jury? What if an accident occurs and they want to hold you accountable and you need your peers to help you. We know that jury duty is disruptive to your life. But think about this, “it’s really a pretty minimal disruption in the scheme of things.” Don’t think you will never need a jury of your peers because life happens.
Jury Duty is a Community Obligation
The system suffers when you do not respond to the call of jury duty. The reality is it’s not in the court’s best interest in tracking people down. And judges are electable and accountable to the public, so sending out fines to those who don’t respond is avoidable. I’m not saying to ignore your summons. It’s unlikely you will be penalized, but it can happen. In some counties, sheriff deputy’s are a little more aggressive for not showing up for jury service.
Consequently, for most people, jury duty is a pain because their employer doesn’t pay while on leave for serving. But in most government agencies, as long as employers are given reasonable advance notice, employees are entitled to take time off to serve as a juror to appear at trial. I served two (2) consecutive days just for the jury selection.
Serve when Jury Duty Calls!
Back then, the presiding judge had a simple word of advice.” Don’t judge the defendant on his size, ethnicity, tattoos or appearance, or even on his previous criminal record. The jury’s decision rest on the evidence of this case only.” How simple could many of our arguments about politics or even household duties would be if we could focus exclusively on the evidence at hand and not on presumed motives or even intentions?
Every step in the judicial system is essential, due diligence in compiling relevant evidence and compelling witnesses takes time. Rushing to judgment is easy but coming to a fair and thorough verdict takes work and it should.
Circumstances arise in our lives that can take a confused occurrence to a prison pipeline. But whether you are ever guilty or not for the crimes one is charged, it is for the jury to decide. Life choices and their repercussions may not be fair, but a jury system goes out of its way to be fair. The system, as Thomas Jefferson stated, is under trial as much as any defendant.
So, the next time a jury summons comes to your house, take the time out to respond and help keep the judicial system fair and honest for all citizens. A trial by jury is the right of every person in the United States. It is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Essentially, that right to a jury trial requires that persons summoned to appear and participate. This is why you should serve!