I just got a jury summons in the mail. This is not a new thing for me. It has happened a few times before. The first time was in Arizona. You had to call the night before your assigned date to see if the panel you were assigned to was needed for the day. This happened repeatedly—after the 3rd or 4th time I called the jury selection contact. When they heard I had been reassigned a few times they said I was released from the obligation to serve.
The next time was in Washington state. We had just moved and were in a different county. The summons was from the county we had moved out of and so I replied that we were no longer living in that county, so I was excused. My wife had also received a similar summons and was also excused. Later she got a summons from our new county and had to appear, but was ultimately not picked for a jury.
Several years later I received another summons and ended up reporting for duty. I only served a day and a half because I got weeded out from the jury pool for no stated reason (attorneys for both sides can eliminate a certain number of jury members for no stated reason).
The dates for which I am now summoned are about three weeks away, and again I have to call the night before to see if I am needed. I hope I am and I hope that I am picked for a jury. You might ask “but you have been fortunate to have escaped that duty, why would you want to do it?” First of all, it would be a new experience and I always love those—I am insatiably curious. Second, I can easily take the time off and it would be a nice diversion from my normal work routine.
But the most important reason is it is my civic duty. Just like voting and donating blood, serving on a jury is something I can do to give back to society and keep it growing and thriving. The Constitution guarantees that everyone has the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. How can that happen unless ordinary people like you and me serve as jurors?
Service to the community helps us to live out the purposes of the Constitution’s call to We The People to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, promote the general Welfare, insure domestic Tranquility, and promote the common defense. That is why people sign up for military service or submit to the draft when that is needed. That is why people give of their time, talents, money, and yes, blood, to help those less fortunate. That is why people come out in droves to vote despite the obstacles some others put in their way. And that is why I am eager to serve on a jury—so that someone, somewhere, who has been charged with a crime gets a fair impartial jury trial, by ordinary people who believe that everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. That is one thing that is special about America, and something I am willing to step up and support with my time and effort.
Please consider serving whenever you get that jury summons. It could just make a difference in somebody’s life. Thanks.
Photo by j, Some Rights Reserved
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