Let us be honest—most Americans absolutely hate serving as jurors. It is inconvenient, takes up way too much of our precious time, can be extremely boring (unless you get assigned to an exciting case, of course), and so on and so forth. However, if we did not have the type of judicial system which allowed for the concept of “jury of our peers,” could our government still be considered a democracy? While I do not have the answer, the point is we actually do need juries and juries need us.
According to lawyer and author, Jeffrey Abramson in his book “We, the Jury”, there are two types of juries—deliberatively and representative. Deliberative juries are “recruited from a cross section of the community” (pg. 10). They will disagree with one another, argue during deliberation, and offer various perspectives representative of their emotions and views. Representative juries are basically those which may believe they personally serve as agents of a specific gender, race, culture, or status. Their viewpoints serve as bastions of the communities from which they come or from those they best identify with. While Abramson offers his opinions on which groups are best for the social perspective, I found it interesting that many of us have either never served on a jury or perish the thought that we may be called to do so.
When I lived in the Midwest several years ago, I had been called to participate in this civic past time on several occasions. Each time, I dutifully went. However, the last time I had to appear, I went before the judge to advise him that my husband (now my ex-husband) was preparing to leave for active duty that evening and I needed to be at the base when he left for his overseas tour because he was going off to war. The judge was very understanding and allowed me to leave. Prior to that particular incident, I always reported as assigned, but I was never chosen to actually serve. Every time I ended up spending eight hours waiting to be called and never was. I remember departing the courthouse on those occasions dispensing a huge sigh of relief as I left the building.
Although time has marched on and I no longer live in the Midwest, I would be lying if I said my view has changed. I still do not look forward to the possibility that I may in fact could be called to serve as a juror. I have the same complaints as those I listed above, but what is worse is that I hate feeling the way I do now! I have the privilege of being an American. I live in a country where you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. My country says I have a right to freedom of speech and to a jury trial where I am judged by a jury of my peers. Yet, I hate jury duty and the thought of having to judge someone else scares me beyond belief. However, I consider myself a good citizen, I believe in equal justice for all, and if I am called, I will serve…whether I like it or not.