Monday, July 14, 2014

Jury Duty

Today I answered my first ever jury duty summons. Yes, I know, as a stay at home mom, I could have "gotten out of it". But I didn't see it that way. If Matt was unable to work from home from time to time, I would have used that exemption right now. However, he was able and willing to be a work from home dad for me to be able to serve. 

I knew that, if able, I would answer that call. Jury duty has long since been seen as a burden on our society when it is, in fact, a very important civic duty that we should all view with the utmost importance. We have a responsibility to answer that summons in order to be available for selection on a jury, one of our most important and fundamental civil rights. Years prior to the colonization and eventual formation of our country, British citizens were gauranteed trial by jury in the Magna Carta, a unique and unprecedented document that gave citizens rights, binding the government to obligation to the people and not just the other way around. British colonists carried those ideals to the Americas and expected that the waters of the Atlantic would not wash away those basic and inalienable rights. As even the earliest students of American history would tell you, many of these rights were infringed upon and even denied to the colonists leading to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, where our lack of trial by jury is mentioned, and eventually the United States Constitution where it was included in our Bill of Rights. Ensuring that American citizens would have the promise of a jury of their peers and not just a court official or magistrate was just as important to our founding fathers as issues over taxation, the lack of representation in all stages of government, and the famous ascertation that we all have three inalienable rights. So important was a jury trial that it was listed in the grievances against King George and again set forth in the law of the land as the sixth amendment. 

So when I received my summons, it never crossed my mind that I would try to get out of it because I didn't want to serve. In order for this right to be fulfilled, all citizens who enjoy the freedoms and liberties of the country, should fulfill this duty with the honor and dignity that the founders of this country intended it to be. Was serving on jury duty the easiest and most fun way to spend my day? Of course not, there were a hundred other things I would rather be doing. But it was my responsibility to be available to be on that panel, to listen to each side's arguments, and come to the best conclusion that I could. And reporting for duty certainly wasn't the worst way to spend a day. There was a lot of waiting and sitting and had I been selected, I'm sure there would have been more to follow. The system seemed efficient enough for the workers who are merely responsible to herd the available people to their respective areas. 

I cannot speak to the selection process or trial process as I was released just before noon. My ascertation that reporting for jury duty is important and an honor is by no means a testimony of a flawless legal system. My point is merely this, we have been gauranteed a right that many viewed as a privilege and we should take advantage of that privilege by serving and doing our part. 

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