You have been summoned for jury service. Your participation as a juror is just as important as the judge's and the attorney's in the courtroom. Your role as a juror is to get a full understanding of the facts of a criminal case, to evaluate the evidence, and to make an impartial and fair decision. The outcome of a trial by jury relies on you. Therefore, we ask you to discharge your duty with care, honesty, and good conscience. We hope your jury service will be a rewarding, interesting, and positive experience for you.
Our court system strives for fairness to everyone who comes before it, and the core of this fairness is trial by jury. In the Declaration of Independence , Thomas Jefferson listed the fact that the citizens of the Colonies had been deprived of the benefits of Trial by Jury as one of the injuries perpetrated by the King of Great Britain. As citizens of this country, if we are accused of certain criminal acts, we have the right to trial by jury. By the same token, we have the responsibility to act when called upon to serve as a juror. Like the privilege of voting, jury duty is one significant way we can take part in the democratic process. The people of America rely upon jurors for the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As a juror, you will play an important role in the American system of justice. You do not need any special skills or legal knowledge to be a juror. Potential jurors are men and women of good judgment, honesty, and objectivity. The juror needs to keep an open mind and be willing to make decisions free of personal opinions and prejudices. Your public service as a juror protects our Constitutional right to have a trial by an impartial jury. The protection of our rights and liberties is accomplished through the teamwork of judge and jury, who, working together in a mutual effort, put into practice the principles of our heritage of freedom. In a very important way, jurors become a part of the court itself.
Waiting Serves a Purpose
The most common complaint about jury duty is the unexplained time presumably wasted while jurors wait in the Jury Assembly Center . What you may not realize is that your very presence in the Jury Assembly Center ensures that cases are expedited. Without jurors present, cases will be continued or dismissed instead of being resolved.
What might appear to be a waste of time to you is actually time being used by the judge and attorneys working on matters that must be taken care of outside the presence of the jurors. Many things happen "behind the scenes" both before and during trial. The parties may be using this time to discuss and simplify issues. The judge may be hearing arguments on last minute points of law. He or she may be making a ruling on pre-trial motions, termination of discovery issues, scheduling conflicts, and/or whether a jury will be needed or waived. Sometimes the parties are still negotiating and may settle the matter before or even after a jury panel has been assembled. By your presence and readiness to sit on a trial, you may compel the parties to settle the case rather than go to trial.
You should know that we are constantly looking for ways to make the process more efficient without depriving the parties of the rights afforded them under the law. What may at first seem like an inconvenience oftentimes develops into a very rewarding and educational experience. We hope that will be true for you.