UNITED STATES—I have a bone to pick with our legal system; a bone that I’ve had for quite some time. It all revolves around the issue of jury duty. I know it’s the civic duty of the American citizen to partake in the legal system and to learn the ins and outs of the court system.
However, can someone truly say that you can have an unbiased jury for all cases? It’s a question many will say yes to, it’s a question many will say no to. It’s difficult to comprise a jury that will be fair and balance in most criminal cases that have garnered media glitz on the Internet, radio and television.
Recent news was announced this week about the impending trial of George Zimmerman who shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense as he claims. There have been countless stories and theories on what really took place that night, but the one person who could perhaps shed light on the case, Trayvon Martin is dead.
The media blitz on this story has the public sphere already leaning towards one party vs. the other. So the possibility of finding a fair and balanced jury who has no idea about this case is slim to none. Unless you don’t read the paper, watch the news, listen to the radio or visit the Internet, you know about this case. This is just one tale of a high-profile cases that have encountered problems picking a suitable jury for the case.
Jury duty is a process that many American citizens dread. Getting that letter in the mail indicating that you’ve been summoned to jury duty is never a fun site. The great thing about jury duty is at some point we all are chosen. Yes, even the high profile celebrities that we adore are called into the courtroom as well. Anyone that is a registered voter is more likely to be summoned for jury duty, but in my case it appears I’m a popular candidate. I can’t share with you how many times I’ve been summoned for jury duty since turning 18, its almost scary.
Not only have I been summoned for local jury duty, but also state and federal jury duty; all within the same year! That’s crazy right. I first found myself summoned several years back and I had to show up to city hall and wait in a room to be chosen. Luckily for me I never got called, I did however lose out on work that day because of my civic duty.
A few years later, I was summoned for federal jury duty. Trust me I did everything in my power to try to get out of it, heck I was an undergraduate in school and I couldn’t get out of jury duty. Even after honestly admitting to the judge that I thought an individual’s fate being determined by a group of fellow peers was problematic.
People looked at me like an enemy of the court, but I was stating my honest opinion. A lot of people are being forced to appear for jury duty, without a care in the world for the case. So what does that mean? Imagine if several people of a jury could care less if the person is found guilty or not guilty. Imagine someone controlling your fate that could care less about the evidence, they’re willing to vote the way everyone else votes so they can get this ‘thing’ over with? Quite alarming isn’t it?
How am I aware of this? I was apart of a jury where some of the members felt that way. Their biggest concern was to get things over with as soon as possible and it hit me. We’re talking about someone’s fate; how can you be so careless with something that is life changing? You can’t, but the troubling factor is our legal system has not yet discovered a way to deal with troubling jurors. Of course, you can always have alternate jurors, but whose to say they won’t encounter the same problems.
Another problem with jury duty is the crappy pay that jurors receive. For an eight hour day, you only make about $50 bucks; are you kidding me? It’s a joke for some, you can either take what the courts give you or you can get what you’d earn if you were scheduled to work. For some being stuck around legal jargon for a few hours isn’t a fun day, but what can you do. Jury duty is apart of every American’s civic duty, but there are indeed problems within the system that must be fixed. We cannot allow the fate of people to be placed into the hands of others who can care less what the outcome is.
By Trevor Roberts