Words to choke on
donít believe in our laws."
stunning statement is one believed to be a sure-fire way to get excused
from jury duty. Itís an excuse that should be extremely rare, not
common. Yet, it was offered up several times recently in district court
excuse that should inspire derision, not respect, if used for the sole
purpose of dodging the duty. Conscience is one thing; shirking is
true, the nation has been squabbling over particular laws since the
drafting of the Constitution. Two hundred years later, the squabbling
shows little sign of abating. District court judges regularly see jurors
who say they disagree with certain laws. Thatís to be expected.
one thing to disagree with specific laws. Itís another to disagree
with all of them, while living as a citizen who reaps their benefits. In
the wake of the Sept.11 attack and the war on terror, itís worse than
terrorists operated openly within a society protected by the Bill of
Rights and the Constitution while they plotted and executed an act of
war. They were protected from unreasonable search and seizure. They were
guaranteed the free practice of religion, free speech and due process.
protections were the things the terrorists sought to destroyóthe very
underpinnings of American culture.
ironic, isnít it, that the same Bill of Rights that protects the right
of jury duty dodgers to disagree with the nationís laws is the same
document that guarantees the right to a trial by jury.
never a good time to be on jury duty. It requires potential jurors to
show up when called over a period of months. It requires missing hours,
days and perhaps weeks at work or home. The small stipend paid to jurors
hardly makes up for time lost on the job or at home.
sacrifice extends to others as well. Family schedules may be disrupted.
Small companies may have to scramble to cover the responsibilities of
absent staff members.
sacrifice is small. Post-Sept. 11, Americans realize more than ever that
freedom isnít free. Some give their lives for it. Others give only
their time. Itís little enough given that jury duty is a whole lot
safer than combat duty.
news is that most citizens fulfill jury duty with pride. Most come away
from jury service with renewed faith in the legal system and hope for
the country. Most do the duty, knowing they are doing their part to make
who want to skip out on jury duty should think hard before uttering
"I donít believe in our laws." They are words not to be
uttered in haste. They are words that should choke every American.