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Summoned for Jury Duty Right off the Street

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I saw this on the news last night (I live in CO) and this one woman was buying stamps on her way to work and got pulled into the mess. I wasn't sure what to make of it. I felt sorry for this woman whose day was obviously interrupted and would not have been had people who had been summoned planned ahead and followed through w/ their "duty" but is this really our duty? I was called and served on a jury for a week back in Houston. It was a violent criminal case and I was more than happy to put the guy away for life, but does the government have the right to force us into jury duty??

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It does seem that one's right to a jury trial implies there must (in the imperative, not the metaphysical sense) be a jury out there.... now does it necessarily have to be drafted? Is there justification for drafting a jury if one cannot be had by any other means?

Does this mean that the right to a jury trial isn't really a proper "right"?

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Well, the "right to a trial before a jury of random untrained coerced citizens" is the same kind of right as the right to an education or the right to clean streets: not one. One does have the right to due process, and that neeed not involve a jury at all, much less a bunch of street people. A better system would involve deciders of fact who actually know what they are doing, both in terms of the alleged events and whether they meet the definition of the crime.

You also have a right to be protected from foreign invasions, and that requires soldiers. It does not follow that the government has the right to force people to be soldiers, and the reasoning "but how else will we get people to work for 50 cents an hour" doesn't count as a valid justification. For the same reason, the government does not have the right to force people to serve as jurors.

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Well, the "right to a trial before a jury of random untrained coerced citizens" is the same kind of right as the right to an education or the right to clean streets: not one. One does have the right to due process, and that neeed not involve a jury at all, much less a bunch of street people.

The government has an obligation to define due process, right? It can, therefore, resort to a system that may involve jury trials.

That said, the government does not have a right to draft jurors any more tha it can draft cops or soldiers. We agree on that. therefore there ought to be a system in place that can obtain enough voluntary jurors. That would involve paying jurors for their time, among other things.

If not enough volunteers can be ontained, then what? Well, first I think the government ought to try a different process. Using magistrates, for example, or smaller juries (say six rather than 12 people).

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The government has an obligation to define due process, right? It can, therefore, resort to a system that may involve jury trials.
Well, maybe. It's a separate matter / fact that (ignorant) jury trials are not really a brilliant way to get justice. Given the alternatives of uninformed juries and informed or professional juries, there would be no justification for the government picking uninformed juries and good reasons to not do so (better justice), then I don't think we can conclude that the government has the right to do the wrong thing. But if it isn't completely and objectively clear that one thing is right and the other is wrong, I would conclude that the government has the right to establish a particular procedure.
If not enough volunteers can be ontained, then what? Well, first I think the government ought to try a different process. Using magistrates, for example, or smaller juries (say six rather than 12 people).
For example. Also, reducing the need for trials by reducing the number of actions considered to be crimes.
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Remember that in the United States a "right" to trial by jury of ones peers is specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights. You can successfully insist on a jury even for a traffic ticket.

Biggest problem these days (once you get past the drafting) is that one side or the other will want a jury of mental retards--and can use voir dire to get it. For example if you have any sort of technical/statistical background and the trial involves DNA evidence that basically proves the guilt of the defendant, you won't actually be on that jury. Counsel for the defense will dismiss you because you will see through the bullshit he will spin.

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Therefore there ought to be a system in place that can obtain enough voluntary jurors. That would involve paying jurors for their time, among other things.

You would need some system to weed out activists who volunteer to serve on juries as a means of pursuing a political agenda apart from justice. The random selection process limits people's ability to self-select themselves into jury pools.

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You can successfully insist on a jury even for a traffic ticket.

Alas, not so. Unless the state in which you are to be tried has a law stating otherwise. States need only provide juries (which may consist of as few as 6 jurors and need not reach a unanimous verdict) for "serious crimes," taken to mean any crime that could potentially subject the accused to a term of imprisonment of six months or more. At least, so it is under U.S. Const. Amend VI. State law may grant a more expansive right to trial by jury.

Amend VII gives the civil right to a jury, but it is also limited. It applies only to legal claims (e.g. for damages) and not to equitable claims (e.g. for an injunction) and only when the amount in controversy exceeds the constitutional minimum of $20. This last requirement is rather meaningless today, as there are no legitimate suits for damages seeking less than $20.

The $20 requirement is not adjusted for inflation. If it were, it would be ~$480 today.

~Q

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You would need some system to weed out activists who volunteer to serve on juries as a means of pursuing a political agenda apart from justice. The random selection process limits people's ability to self-select themselves into jury pools.
That problem exists anyway, since non-response to jury summons is an option. People with such an agenda will appear for trials more frequently and those who think it's a nuisance will dodge more frequently. Actually, having more people with a political agenda could be a good thing, not an bad, if there is balance in the views. Justice is better served by having 6 active minds holding one political view and 6 active minds holding the opposing view, than having 12 dead heads who do not think.
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