Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Recent Privilege in the Courtroom

Recently, I was chosen as a juror not only for a criminal trial, but for a civil trial as well. 

With all the negativity surrounding our recent presidential election, these trials have been a welcoming distraction as my focus settled on another branch of government—our judicial system.

The criminal trial concluded last week with a not-guilty verdict for two of the three counts that the defendant was charged with. The third count resulted in a hung jury.

In the civil trial, which ended last night, we awarded monetary damages to the plaintiff.

At the beginning of that civil trial, the presiding judge pointed out that a juror is actually a judge. The Bible records this same mindset when Moses took his father-in-law's advice and appointed able-bodied people as judges. (Exodus 18) I had never considered such a notion of a layperson acting as judge in a court of law. 

Serving on a jury is an honorable duty even though many Americans balk at the idea. So, if you ever get called upon for jury selection, please ignore the naysayers. Pessimists who have been summoned usually gripe because the process can be a tedious and long one. My selection for both trials lasted two days, yet I wouldn’t change a thing.

These trials were not the first time I've been called to serve. Over three decades ago, I served on a jury for a murder trial in Texas. And about 15 years ago, I was summoned for service but let go because I knew the District Attorney on a social level. 

Only in the land of the free can justice be determined by ordinary, everyday folks like you and me. Consider jury duty an honor. Consider it an American privilege. And consider it a God-given responsibility.

“When people have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty” - Deuteronomy 25:1 (NIV)