Recently, I found myself in quite an unfamiliar place for a trial attorney…inside the Middlesex County Jury Assembly Room, reporting for jury duty. Many are surprised to learn that lawyers are not exempt from jury service.
As an attorney, I may not get picked to actually sit on a jury. Would another trial attorney want a peer as a member of their jury selection? Consider that while watching legal shows on television I challenge attorneys when they don’t object, or make the wrong objection, or even when their trial strategy seems silly or too contrived. Would either side want to be second-guessed by an attorney sitting in their jury?
What intrigued me most about our great judicial system while inside the assembly room was to see the demographic stew collected for one reason; to render a verdict at trial. The phrase “jury of their peers” sounds quaint, trite, and a little old-fashioned, but it is one of the bedrock principles of our Constitution and our way of life. Trial by a jury really is a right specifically codified by our Founding Fathers as a basic human right in the Constitution. When you thank a service member or a veteran for their service, trial by jury is one of the rights you are thanking them for.
So, as much as I don’t want ME on a jury because I’m not sure I could ignore my training and experience, I want YOU on my jury, because you render justice to my client, or to a crime victim. A jury is quite powerful, holding attorneys accountable to do our jobs. If I don’t properly prove my case, my client loses. If a prosecutor can’t prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury ensures that an innocent suspect goes free. By serving on a jury, citizens are truly fulfilling a civic mandate and a Constitutional obligation; and for a brief moment, help to govern our country. For that, I thank you.
Written by Larry Kroll, Attorney At Law, March 2018