Thursday, February 15, 2007

Judge Greer on jury duty

In the case In re Heritage Propane, Judge Greer of the E.D. Tenn. at Greeneville explains the importance of jury duty to the American way of life.

He says in part:

Described as "the very palladium of free government" in The Federalist Papers, the right to a jury trial is a fundamental part of the American judicial system. All thirteen of the original American colonies adopted guarantees of trial by jury. By the time of the American Revolution, the abridgment of the right to jury trial was among the most grievous complaints of the colonists against George III. The 1787 convention wrote jury trial guarantees into the Constitution (Article III) and the 1791 Bill of Rights repeated the guarantee for criminal cases (the Sixth Amendment) and added one for civil trials (the Seventh Amendment). Free election and trial by jury, wrote John Adams, were the people's only security "against being ridden like horses, and fenced like sheep, and worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like hogs and hounds." Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter in 1789, while serving as Ambassador to France: "Were I called upon to decide whether the people had best be omitted in the legislative or judiciary department, I would say it is better to leave out the legislative."

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