Jury duty is your chance to be part of the legal system. Your chance to be part of the solution. Think about it. Most of the “big cases” go to trial and are decided by a jury. People are responsible for those huge verdicts and those not guilty verdicts.
Now I’m not saying that jury duty is glamourous or even interesting. In fact, it can be very boring. You show up and have to wait until jury selection. In jury selection you are asked questions about yourself that, in some cases, can be personal. During the trial you have to sit and listen to hours of testimony. The monotony of the trial is only interrupted by trips to the jury room so the lawyers can argue. You do get out of work- but that may add to your headaches because work may pile up or your time may be unpaid. To add insult to injury, the pay you get being a juror may not even cover parking.
But jury duty is a vital part of our justice system. Now, there are problems with the legal system. They start with unreasonable clients. Add unprofessional lawyers. Mix in some judges who won’t make proper decisions and a media with an agenda. Finish it off with a jury with a mind of its own and there’s your recipe for injustice. Most cases don’t have all these ingredients. In fact, I’d venture to say most cases have none or only one of these ingredients. But it just takes a couple of cases with these ingredients to give a justice system a black eye.
In fact, many of the “problems with the legal system” are more in perception than in reality. We’ve got a pretty good system. One reason for the system’s success is because people like you participate in jury duty. It’s a civic duty, like voting. It’s your part of the legal system. It’s your way to insure that the system works. So when you get that jury duty notice, think of it as your opportunity to make a positive difference rather than a stroke of bad luck.
This article is meant as general knowledge and not meant to substitute for legal advice on specific issues. If you have a question, please call Doug McClanahan at (919) 861-0693.