When I received not one but two summonses for jury service, I did not know if I should be elated or angry.
Being an honest citizen, I made sure I sent both questionnaires to each of the courthouses and brought both summonses to my employer. What I was surprised to learn, however, was that my employer and co-workers alike seemed to think that serving on a jury was something I needed to avoid at all costs.
Rather than this summons being a privilege to receive, most people seemed to think that serving on a jury is not worth my time, and they rather freely gave me ideas on how to avoid this service rather than celebrate the freedoms that we have in this great country.
All citizens in the United States are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This is a great freedom that people living in other parts of the world don’t get to enjoy.
It took a brand new American citizen to point this out to my co-workers. She clearly stated that the country that she was born in does not have a jury system and she cannot wait to be able to serve on a jury in her new homeland. What has happened to the spirit of American pride that brought immigrants to America to receive the freedoms that this country has to offer?
When the day came for me to report, I found myself selected for a jury of the defendant’s peers. As the facts of the case were off limits for discussion, other jurors also mentioned that their employers were not happy that they too had been selected to serve. Is this the kind of attitude that American employers should be conveying to their employees?
The jury system is just one of the things that make the United States one of the greatest places on Earth to live. Yes, we all have busy lives, pressure-filled jobs, and families to care for. Yet shouldn’t we all be willing to take the time to serve on a jury at least once in our lifetime? No doubt, certain circumstances make this impossible, such as serious illnesses, caring for an infant, or personal experiences that cloud our judgment.
Since I was selected for a jury, I do not have to report on Sept. 30. I was happy to be able to give just two days of my busy life to do this.
It took a new American citizen to open my eyes to realize that serving on a jury is not a chore but a privilege of which we should be proud. We are extremely lucky to live in a country where the legal system regards us as innocent until proven guilty.
Not everyone in the world can say that.