He mentioned it to a client whose computer he was working on yesterday, and the client immediately began commiserating. My husband responded with, “I’m actually looking forward to it.”
His summons actually came at a pretty good time for him. Since he works for a school, his summer hours are a little more flexible, and we already took our big summer trip, so he didn’t have any other pressing obligations that would prevent him from fulfilling his duty.
Most people immediately react with groaning and frustrating when they receive jury summons, and I think that’s unfortunate. Because without juries, our system of justice wouldn’t be what it is.
Here in the good ol’ US of A, we have one of the most fair, comprehensive systems of justice in the world. Is it perfect? Of course not. Do people slip through the cracks? Yes. Get wrongfully convicted? Absolutely.
But it’s still better than most other places.
Imagine living in a place where you’d get your hand cut off if you were even suspected of stealing. Where you’d be stoned or publicly flogged for breaking a religious rule. Where a single magistrate could decide your fate, based on whether he liked your attitude, or how much your friends (or enemies) were willing to bribe him? Where law enforcement was expected to shoot first and ask questions later? Despite the bad reputation our police have gotten lately because of bad cops abusing their power, we still have a system in place to hold them accountable.
A trial by jury ensures that, at the very least, you get to be heard. You get to tell your side. You get to present your evidence. And a whole group has to agree, based on the evidence presented, whether you’re innocent or guilty. It’s not one person’s word, one person’s attitude that day, one person’s prejudice. It’s a whole group of unrelated peers deciding together.
And that makes it better.
Perfect? No. But pretty good.
So, the next time you get jury summons, imagine you’re the one on trial. Do you want the people deciding your fate to be angry, bitter at having to be there, bored, distracted? Or do you want a jury who is willing to listen to what you have to say, to hear your side and understand you?
Or imagine you’re the victim. Do you want the person who attacked you or stole from you or murdered your loved one to get off because the jury was too tired to care? Too annoyed with having to show up to want to listen to the evidence and really understand how you’ve been wronged? To let the perpetrator off the hook because they sympathize for some unknown reason? Or do you want the jury to really pay attention so they rightfully convict the person who committed wrong against you?
Then, be that person. Be grateful you live in a nation where the judicial system is set up to give you a fair chance, and be grateful that you get to be part of someone else getting justice.
Embrace jury duty. Embrace the chance to participate in one of the best and fairest systems.
And enjoy the day off from your regular life.