Jury, courts important to civilized society

Justice is blind. It’s always interesting to be called to the courthouse for jury duty. You are ordered by your government to do your duty to your fellow citizens. You may be one of the folks selected to sit in judgment of a complete stranger. I’ve been asked a couple of questions that I find hard to answer in one word, yes or no. 

 

For example, “Is it better to let guilty men go free, than to cause harm to one innocent man?” Well, how many guilty men do you want to set free? Is it one, ten, a hundred, a thousand? Yet however they do the math, what do the victims think about it? Do they think it’s better? If not then who is it better for? Is it better for everyone else in town that has to put up with a bunch of rapists, robbers, murders and thieves running free? There is an old saying that, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” 

Or how about this question: “Do you think the testimony of a police officer carries more weight than that of citizen?” Well, the court thinks so, and it’s obvious the second you walk through the door. Uniformed officers confiscate your property for search, and run you through a metal detector. There are full time Alaska State Troopers working in the court house to protect the court employees from harm. Do you think the Troopers are patted down and searched every morning when they arrive? No, but the witnesses sure are. That’s pretty darned good sign as to who the judge gives “weight” to. 

Justice is blind. That is why the prosecutor who works for law and order, supposedly in the interest of the public, cannot tell you all of the truth in a trial. He cannot tell you about any prior history of an accused person. He cannot say that their criminal history is as long as an Alaskan winter. He cannot tell you that this is the first, second or tenth time this person has been unlawful. Yet, would you drive your car this way, blindfolded? Not able to look behind you, or on your sides, or at the gages on your dashboard. Not able to remember that when you drive unsafely you and your car are in danger. 

A very weighty responsibility it is to be on a jury. You are asked to make blind decisions based on what little information is selectively and perhaps theatrically presented to you. Yet many juries still do fine job of serving justice. 

Your government has a few simple duties. It shall punish those who harm your physical person, and your private property. It must moderate civil disputes, and protect you from foreign invasion. It should leave men free to live their lives, on their own land, in the manner they see fit; as long as they don’t harm others. Punishing to the full extent of the law, those that do harm to others, is absolutely mandatory to maintain our freedom to live in a civil society. 

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