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Why Jury Service Is Important
Jurors perform a vital role in the American system of justice. The protection of our rights and liberties is largely achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury who, working together in a common effort, put into practice the principles of our great heritage of freedom. The judge determines the law to be applied in the case while the jury decides the facts. Thus, in a very important way, jurors become a part of the court itself.
The most common complaint about jury duty is the unexplained time presumably wasted while jurors wait in the Jury Assembly Room. What you may not realize is that your very presence in the Jury Assembly Room ensures that cases are expedited. Without jurors present, cases will be continued or dismissed instead of being resolved.
What might appear to be a waste of time to you is actually time being used by the judge and attorneys working on matters that must be taken care of outside the presence of the jurors. The parties may be using this time to discuss and simplify issues. The judge may be hearing arguments on last minute points of law. He or she may be making a ruling on pre-trial motions, termination of discovery issues, scheduling conflicts, and/or whether a jury will be needed or waived. Sometimes the parties are still negotiating and may settle the matter before or even after a jury panel has been assembled. By your presence and readiness to sit on a trial, you may compel the parties to settle the case rather than go to trial.