Sunday, February 17,2013
During the brief hearing on Thursday, Judge Nelson assured prosecution and defense that the GZ murder trial will commence on June 10, 2013. She also ordered the Clerk of the Seminole County Circuit Court to mail out jury-service notices to 500 people to create the initial panel of potential jurors from which prosecution and defense will select the 6-person jury, plus alternates to decide the case. BDLR estimated that jury selection will take approximately 2 weeks.
Question: Why so many people?
Answer: Her decision probably acknowledges the nationwide reality that few people outside the judicial system recognize, namely, less than half of the people who receive a summons report for jury service.
For example, in western Washington where I used to practice law, less than a third of the people who receive notices report for jury service and the percentage of no-shows has increased over time.
Although judges could order the police to contact and transport to the courthouse anyone who fails to report for jury service, as was the custom long ago, they no longer issue such orders since the police lack necessary resources to carry them out. Judges have adjusted instead to the increasing percentage of no-shows by correspondingly increasing the number of people to whom they send notices. Although this policy has allowed the courts to continue to provide jury trials, I often wonder if it has adversely affected the jury decision-making process and the quality of its verdicts.
Evidence based jury verdicts that resolve disputes fairly and equitably without regard to race, gender, sexual preference, economic class, religion or national origin promote justice and increase community faith and confidence in the ability of its legal system to restore Ma’at. Confidence in the community can heal and restore community wellness.
Unjust verdicts do the opposite and have the capacity to destroy communities, nations and possibly our mother, Earth.
If you or someone you know has decided or is thinking about ignoring a summons to jury duty, please reconsider the decision in light of the individual and shared responsibility we have to practice Ma’at in our communities.
Jury verdicts always cause effects in individual and community awareness of itself. The butterfly effect of those decisions could end a war or start another one.
Participate in and support our right to a jury trial.