Innocent Until Proven Guilty: Jury Duty

Oh no, I just received a notice to report for jury duty in Kings County (Bronx County, New York County, Nassau County, Suffolk County or Westchester County)! What do I do now? I really can’t afford to be away from my job. How can I get out of serving? If you have similar thoughts, you are not alone. Many people have experienced these and similar feelings when they are subpoenaed to report for jury duty. 

Courts need everyday people as jurors: housekeepers, waiters, deliverymen, construction site workers, housewives, retired people, doctors, computer techs, lawyers, accountants, etc.No one is too dumb or uneducated to serve! Without jurors like yourself, people from various backgrounds and diverse employment experiences, justice would never be administered. Each of us uses our common sense everyday to analyze and reason to arrive at decisions that impact our lives. Justice needs jurors willing to bring their individual experiences and simple reasoning skills to Court to help determine the facts of the case and the guilt or innocence of the people involved in a court battle. 

Each one of us, as citizens, has a duty to judge and the constitutional right to be judged by the people in our community, our peers!A plaintiff who brings an action deserves to be fairly compensated for injuries resulting from the carelessness of one who is negligent. After all, we must all be held accountable for our actions, especially when those actions injury another, whether unintentionally or not. It is that concept of accountability that makes our society safer as we force everyone to act responsibly. 

People who serve on juries actually report that the experience is often pleasant and educational.By serving as a juror, you play a critical role in our democratic civil justice system and, in return, you gain a better understanding of how well our system of justice works. 

It is a great way to serve your community; it is a constitutional right and privilege that differentiates the United States from other countries.How fortunate we are to be an integral part of justice, determining guilt or innocence, misfeasance or malfeasancy. The next time you are asked to report for jury duty, please serve. You will find it to be an incredible experience, one of the most important contributions you can make in your lifetime and it will result in a great sense of gratification. 

A jury summons does not mean that you will be chosen to serve.If you absolutely cannot serve on the date requested, you may ask for an adjournment. However, some people who choose to ignore their jury summons may face civil penalties. 

An employer may not penalize an employee for reporting to jury duty and serving even if the trial turns out to be lengthy.Most trials last only a few days and the majority will settle shortly after jury selection. Often your employer will elect to continue to pay your salary while you serve; however, if he does not, you will be eligible for some compensation directly from the court system. 

The dedication that you give to this process is crucial to ensure that the parties receive justice and that disputes are resolved peacefully.If you were a victim of an unfortunate accident and sustained significant injuries resulting in a disability, wouldn’t you want a jury of your peers to show up to Court? Or would you prefer to leave it in the hands of those who can easily give more easily of their time: the unemployed, welfare recipients and retirees? To be fairly judged, the system requires a fair cross-section of society and that is exactly why your participation is necessary. 

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