Don’t Throw Away
One of your first instincts when you receive a jury summons might be to throw it away and pretend like it never arrived. This, of course, is not the best course of action, as shirking jury service is a criminal offense in all jurisdictions, punishable by monetary fines or even jail time. In fact, Los Angeles County has fined hooky-playing residents over $940,000 dollars, and Massachusetts fined nearly 48,000 people $2000 each in 2003. Skipping out on jury service can be costly, indeed.
But it is not merely the risk of punishment that should motivate you to participate. To the contrary, by serving on a jury you contribute to one of America’s central liberties: The right to trial by jury. It is a right that our Founders took so seriously that it is the only one mentioned in all three of our founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It is a right that people have fought and died for since the very beginning of our country. It is a fundamental part of our government structure and the only opportunity for ordinary people to participate in the execution of their laws.