"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to succeed or triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
I was summoned for jury service recently. This was my first time to be summoned where I did not have to defer. I appeared with an eclectic and diverse group of individuals in my county in NC.
I was amazed at the process and impressed with the responsibility of fulfilling this constitutionally appointed task. I realized something a friend said to me about this process. He said that, when considering the collection of people who could sit in judgment of me for a crime, I would hope reasonable and normal people would make the effort to serve. After this experience, I agree.
The selection and querying process was interesting. The accused was seated in the room as prospective jurors were asked questions. The accused's presence certainly added to the weight of this duty. As we neared the end of the first day, the judge gave somber instructions about listening only to the facts presented in the courtroom. It was then in open court, I spoke up.
Earlier an event occurred in the jury holding room. It was well before we were even going to head in to see if we would be selected. The jury handler made a comment to help us know what was upcoming. She mentioned the type case we would get and that the accused was a repeat offender with 3-4 previous charges. She intimated it would not be a long case.
Her statement was unfair to the accused; it prejudiced minds about the individual. I knew I could not keep silent. So I spoke up in court as the judge gave these somber instructions. I asked the judge if what we heard from his staff about the case prior to our arrival in the court room should have bearing. Obviously, it did.
The judge dismissed the jury pool and called me into the court room again to give answer his questions. The next day, he released all the jurors.
The next day, when I arrived, I met with the judge again and then later again with the jurors in our pool. He dismissed us with gratitude. He explained the process must always be fair to both sides. He personally expressed gratitude for my courage to stand up for the sake of justice. The accused will have his day in court. He will be given an opportunity to defend himself before an untainted jury. Justice will be served that day, as it was this day.
A college professor in that room told me on the way out, "Sir, all of us heard what you heard, only you had the courage to stand up and say something. Thank you for your courage.”
I realized the significance of a quote, attributed to Edmund Burke (18th century British statesman), "All that is necessary for the forces of evil to succeed/triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." I am glad that I said something in that courtroom.
If you have an opportunity to serve, do so. Do it with vigor and vigilance. It is an honor.