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The right to trial by jury is the cornerstone of our democracy and is crucial to the legal system in the United States. There is no other part of our government, or government anywhere in the world, that is so open to the public, where ordinary people participate in such significant decisions.
While sometimes criticized, the jury system performs the difficult and essential task of making a well-researched decision and rendering a verdict. The jury process ensures the fairness of the American legal system and that justice is delivered by our government. Here are a few reasons we should feel good about our own vital contributions to serving jury duty:
1. Citizenship. Our country is special in that it believes in trial by jury, which relies on everyday citizens to power our legal system. With this important function on our shoulders, Americans should really embrace this duty as a matter of civic pride.
2. Freedom. Because the American legal system places so much faith in citizens chosen to serve on a jury, being a juror should be considered an honor. In essence, the government assigns jurors the responsibility of protecting our most precious freedoms: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
3. Teamwork. Jurors decide facts while the judge tells them the law. A judge determines how the law is applied, but a juror helps decide the facts. A jury panel digs deep for answers by evaluating evidence, and ultimately makes a fair and impartial decision based on those facts.
4. Knowledge. Whether we are chosen as jurors and sit through weeks of intensive proceedings, or simply experience a day jury service with our fellow citizens, the process of jury duty is educational and reminds us that America is set apart from other nations by its system of justice. We not only learn about our legal system, courts and local judges, but we learn about ourselves-our sense of pride, our leadership style and our tolerance.
So next time you get that call for jury duty, don’t immediately go into panic mode. Consider the valuable contribution that you can make to society-and yourself.