Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Freedom and Duty

A couple of weeks ago I got a summons for federal jury duty.   Whenever one gets such a notice, everyone's reaction is almost always the same:  "Ugh!  Is there any way you can get out of it?"  I have to admit that my first reaction was one of annoyance.  Receiving such a notice means that my life will be disrupted.  With federal jury duty it is even more inconvenient as one is on call for six months.  However, I immediately felt guilty about my response.  Partly because I have served on juries in the past and I know it isn't really that disruptive.  Secondly, I realized that should I ever find myself on trial, I would want people like me to be seated in the jury box.  Finally, I know that our legal system cannot function without citizen participation.

After this past weekend's celebrations and discussions about Independence Day and all that it means, coupled with the controversial jury verdict in the highly publicized (and televised) Anthony trial, I got thinking about what it means to be a juror.  Since I don't have a television and, more importantly, because I wasn't on the jury in the Anthony case, I have no way of knowing whether or not justice was served in this particular case.  What I do know is that this is the system that our founders gave us.  When we are accused of certain crimes, we have a right to be tried by a jury of our peers.  And as citizens, we have the duty to serve on juries.  Freedom in this country means both privileges and responsibilities.  I think many of us forget the part about responsibilities.

I wonder how many of those who were most vocal in declaring the freedoms of our nation or those who cried foul over the verdict in the Anthony case would cheerfully and gratefully receive a jury summons.  And would do everything in his or her power to make sure to fulfill that duty.  Or would they be like many of us, desperate to find a way to avoid such an inconvenience?

1 comment:

Deanna said...

I've only been called for jury duty once, many years ago when I had a nursing infant and was excused. I've always wished I'd be called again. My husband has served and during his time he was the foreman on two rather important trials, including one for murder. After they were over and he could talk about them, I found the whole process very interesting.