If you think being rich and famous gets you out of jury duty, think again. LeBron James recently revealed via Instagram that he had been summoned to the Summit County Courthouse for jury duty. He posted a few self-portraits and wrote, “Jury duty time. Time to serve my civic duty.”
Although LeBron and the rest of the jury pool were ultimately released (one defendant never showed up and the other agreed to a plea bargain) it got me thinking: In this country, people love to talk about their rights, but what about our duties?
Lots of people complain about being called for jury duty. They try to get out of it, whine about the inconvenience, and bemoan their misfortune. Perhaps they would be good to remember that with all of the rights Americans enjoy, come certain obligations. There are a lot of voluntary civic duties we may perform (voting, running for office, etc.) but we only have 4 mandatory civic duties. We must obey the laws, pay taxes, serve in the military if called (drafted), and serve on a jury or as a witness in court when summoned. Not a bad deal.
We Need You
Juries play an integral role in our judicial system. While the judge rules on issues of law, the jury members are the deciders of fact. They must carefully consider all evidence and determine which witnesses are credible. After all the testimony has been heard, the jury deliberates and then renders a verdict based on the evidence presented and the law, as instructed by the judge.
In a criminal trial, the jury determines innocence or guilt. However, in a civil case, the verdict usually resolves whether a defendant should be held liable for an injury or money damages, based on the plaintiff’s claims. If the defendant is found liable, the jury will determine the amount of compensation owed to the plaintiff.
What you may perceive as a relatively small case could have a profound effect on another person’s life. A civil trial is often the last hope for someone suffering from an accident or other serious injury. A jury’s verdict may determine whether they can pay their bills, keep their home, or have to file bankruptcy.
The next time you receive a summons for jury duty in the mail, remember the trial may change someone’s life. And if you’re still not happy about being selected, just think of performing your civic duty as a small payment for all the rights and freedoms you enjoy.
“LeBron James reports for jury duty in Summit County, but is not selected” by Ed Meyer, Akron Beacon Journal (via Ohio.com), August 8, 2013.
“What to Expect as a Juror” Summit County Court of Common Pleas – General Division