Recently the importance of jury duty was broached in the Rants and Raves column. Appropriately it was pointed out that not only should intelligent and involved citizens not seek to avoid this duty, but rather should want to be a part of this system so vital to our democracy.
There are those countries where a judge or a panel of judges alone will make decisions on guilt or innocence as opposed to a jury of one’s peers.
Our system is somewhat unique in that we do employ the peer concept.
And yes, we have all heard people ask,“How can I get off jury duty?”
Perhaps the best way to put this in the proper perspective is to imagine that we or someone close to us have been accused of a crime. Would we want to know that a lot of intelligent, upstanding citizens were trying to avoid jury? Wouldn’t that scare us?
Some see it as a great inconvenience. Well, democracy is not secured by convenience but by serious design which often involves sacrifice.
What if we woke up one morning and discovered that our peer jury concept had been replaced by a single judge or a small panel of judges? The jury system is just one facet of allowing us ownership in our democracy.
Let’s not treat it lightly or take it for granted. By embracing the peer jury concept as a responsibility and an integral part of our democracy, we confirm that we believe in it and while it may have its flaws, it’s better than all the rest.