Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why The Jury System Works

I have not posted much lately because we have a spate of trials coming up.  I had  to bow out of the photography classes I was taking because my firm has an inordinate number of trials this year.  My last trial was in June 2011 and the case settled after a week of trial.  It is unusual  for my firm and for me to go this long without a trial, and it feels good to get back in the courtroom.

This last week I helped my partner Kristi Kingston try a sexual harassment case.  In two weeks I have another trial, about which I will not discuss hear since the trial is approaching and it is improper to go into much detail on  the eve of trial because I will be picking a jury soon.

I have practiced law for over 30 years,  and I have tried more cases than most civil lawyers.  My first trial was in June 1984 days before I discovered I was pregnant with my now almost 29 year old daughter.  I have learned a lot since then.

On behalf of my clients, I have tried my share of winning verdicts and more than I care to admit of losing verdicts.  I have learned a lot about trying cases since then.  One things sticks with me since day one, though.  Juries usually get it right.  And I have thought a lot about why that is.

Jury service is the only form of real civic duty that people who have not served in the armed services are required to perform in this country.  This country is made up of patriotic people who courageously and diligently serve their country by serving on juries.  Juries are almost always thoughtful, diligent, intelligent.  We hear so much about people wanting to get out of jury service, and many do, but when a person is picked to sit  on a jury, people in our country, especially in this nation's heartland, take their job very seriously.

I am proud to live in a place where people take their civic duty to sit on a jury so seriously.  Americans care about justice and jurors try to and usually do the just thing.  I don't know what it's like in other countries who no longer have or never had the right to have their civil grievances, and sometimes even their criminal accusations, tried by a jury.  I am so impressed by how hard juries work and how important it is for people serving on juries to  render a just verdict of which they can be proud.

I know this may sound sappy, but I am so proud to live in this country because of the diligence and courage of its citizens.  As I said, I have had my share of losses.  I still believe that, uniformly, jurors want to be just, listen to the evidence and the law from the judge, and do their utmost to be just and fair.  It takes courage to be a juror, to speak up and let your voice be heard in the jury room.  We thank our service people for defending this country, as we well should.  But, I want to thank Americans who take days or weeks from their lives and their jobs, in Missouri at $6 a day, to decide the claims of others, whether it be a sexual harassment case, a wrongful death case, or a product liabilities case, and perform their service so honorably.

I know it's cliche, but Americans have the best civil justice system in the world.