I have been a staunch advocate for patriotism. There is something special about America and the people that make up this unique nation. Part of this uniqueness is the individuals that make up the country and part of this uniqueness is the laws that make up the countries legal system. One very exceptional aspect of America is the right of a trial by jury and the nature of the jury being made up of a cross section of the population. Also unique to the American judicial system is the method of calling or “seating” a jury.

All my life I have been surrounded by the American Legislative and Judicial systems; however it was not until last week that I was an active participant in the jury process. I have never considered having myself recused from jury duty. I was called only one other time and then would have served but the trial was cancelled the day before jury selection so I waited ten years before being called again.

Jury duty is an obligation of the citizens of our nation and it is this obligation to participate that has made and kept our country strong for over two hundred years. It is also the obligation of the businesses in the country to sacrifice, just as employees do, and provide wages to employees during jury duty. This is not a law and should not be a mandate from government; instead it should be a reinforcement of our nations processes by business .

It has been stated that jury duty is second only to military service as the most important sacrifice a citizen can give to the country. Being a juror goes much farther than determining the guilt or innocence of a person or company. The decision to be a juror reinforces the tenants of our country that every man is guaranteed a fair trial and the decision of the innocence and guilt of a person will be determined by peers of the defendant. Participating in the jury process in the United States is not an option but is instead an obligation by the common citizen to insure that our government remains strong and fair.

There is no Perry Mason nor CSI or Law and Order when it comes to true jury selection. The actual process to select a jury for a trial is quite complex and can take quite a bit of time to insure a fair and impartial jury is selected. Additionally, the instructions and quick education of the jury pool as to the laws that are being reviewed are very well organized. The legal councils and the judge realize that jurors are not lawyers, do not read legal journals but instead need a clear understanding of the laws that have allegedly been broken. This was done with both professionalism but with a clear understanding of the limitations of the jurors at the trial I was sitting in. There was no intent to intimidate the jury and the lawyers and the judge displayed a kind and gentle approach to the explanation of the process that was about to take place in the courtroom.

Prior to entering the courtroom one could hear mumblings and grumblings about having to be called for duty. Then when a person from the pool was called and was seated in the jury booth a transformation seemed to take place. There were no complaints and potential jurors took a different view. Stories of hardships associated to jury duty changed to affirmation from the potential juror that they will do whatever is required to be able to serve. Those that were selected seem to sit a little straighter, seemed a little prouder and appeared to be ready to carry out the duties of the political system.

I was not called to serve on the jury but was prepared to do what was required to serve the local courts and reinforce the laws of the land. It was rewarding to see the other individuals carry out their obligation to our great nation.

Next week we will explore juries in other countries. Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, Russia and the Far East will be examined.

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