Friday, December 02, 2005

Bush Will Serve on Jury in 2006

George W. Bush has cited scheduling conflicts for not doing jury duty in Waco, Texas at this time. Given his current gig, that's understandable. But he apparently will serve on a jury early next year. The White House has said the President considers service on a jury, when called up, to be a civic duty.

Senator John Kerry apparently agrees. I read recently that Kerry received kudos from his fellow jurors after they'd selected him to serve as foreperson for a Massachusetts trial.

I once served on a grand jury and found it a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting experience. And when you consider it, serving on a jury when called is more than a duty. It's a privilege. For ordinary citizens to serve in this way exemplifies our commitment to government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

One of the best tributes to the American jury system remains Twelve Angry Men. (But where were the women?)


Matt Brown said...

So, what was the case about? And how did you vote?

Mark Daniels said...

A grand jury is the group of citizens who hear a prosecuting attorney's evidence and then decide whether there's sufficient evidence to indict people and if so, what charges to file.

So, we heard evidence in many different cases over a six-month period: from shoplifting to sex abuse, from filing false police reports to embezzling.

We met once a week and typically, decided on whether to return indictments on anywhere between two and six cases each session.

I was actually an alternate, but did get to sit in our sessions several times over the six-month term. In case anybody else couldn't make it, I reported each week at the appointed time.

In a way, the standards of evidence, if you will, are a bit less stringent for a grand jury than they are for the jury in a trial. A grand jury, as I say, decides if enough evidence exists to warrant charging someone with a crime. The jury at a trial must convict only if the evidence presented leaves them without doubt that a crime or crimes have been committed.