Unjury Duty

December 18, 2008 Pivotal Labs

Recently, one of the Pivots was called out for that civil duty of jurification. That is, he was called to sit and decide on trial.

Now, my only interaction with juries thus far has been to watch depictions of them in media, but while many seem to speak about trying to get out of this duty, I think I’d consider it an honor. It seems to me that being the victim or accused in a crime is a time of extreme need – we know that it has happened that the wrongly accused have been found guilty, and likewise, that guilty have gone free – and while no system is perfect, one of the few protections against these outcomes is the presence of a discerning, unbiased jury.

As such, I’m glad to know that a Pivot was out there, doing their civic duty, and I’ll be happy to do the same if the occasion arises. But the interesting thing which came out of this were his requests at Standup one morning: that there’s a duty non-jurors have to jurors over the time of the trial. Which is,

  • not to ask about the trial: Jurors are asked not to speak about a trial to protect the decision-making process from undue influence. There are strict rules about what evidence is admissible in a court-room, to protect one side or the other from presenting faulty evidence such as hear-say. Discussing the trial introduces the risk of improper influence, and it’s best to respect the process by leaving the subject aside.

  • not to joke about the trial: Trials range from the frivolous to the truly weighty, and jurors are sometimes asked to shoulder an intimate knowledge of event not discussed in polite company. Also, the consequences of a jurors decision are serious and not to be belittled. It’s best to avoid making light of the situation.

So keep these in mind, the next time a friend or colleague serves on a jury; it’s a serious act for which they deserve your deference and respect.

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