Jury Service: Privilege or Burden?

As citizens of the United States, jury duty is one of the only obligations we currently have to serve. Understandably, some view that service as a burden when a jury summons is received and you have responsibilities at work and home. The United States is one of the last countries in the world that guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases. Great Britain abolished the right to a jury trial in civil cases, except libel and false imprisonment, several years ago. The 7th Amendment to the US Constitution secures the right to a jury in civil cases. The right to a jury trial is guaranteed in criminal cases under the 6th Amendment.

One may think that the United States should follow and abolish the right to civil jury trials. Before drawing that conclusion, it’s important to remember the value that system brings to our country. Thomas Jefferson stated that the civil jury trial was a greater tool of democracy than the right to vote – since it placed in citizens’ hands more direct control over their neighborhoods and local communities. The right to a jury trial actually gives citizens control in our democratic system. To eliminate that right would take away the voice of the people.

The right to a jury in both civil and criminal cases is an important right. So important that our founders guaranteed that right in our Constitution. The next time you receive a jury summons, you should view jury duty as a privilege not a burden. It gives you the opportunity to be a part of the justice system.