I had a juror who was “Too Dedicated”

“Court Case Friday”

Jury Service – Duty and Sacrifice

Very few jurors try to get out of serving in my court – because of the patriotic speech I give.

I explain that trial by a jury of peers is the worst form of trial – except all others.  I talk about the horrors of trial by combat, trial by ordeal, and trial by ruler/judge.

I remind jurors that we must make certain sacrifices for our freedoms, like voting, paying taxes, and obeying the law. Jury duty is one of those sacrifices.

I point out the hundreds of thousands of Americans made the ultimate sacrifice, by giving their very lives, for the freedoms we enjoy.

I conclude by informing them that some judges never ask jurors about hardship. For example, one of my colleagues is a decorated Marine Vietnam War hero who presided over a yearlong murder trial.  I asked him how he handled the hardship excuses. He announced: “I never ask about hardship.  When 55,000 Americans were drafted and died in the jungles of Vietnam, no one asked them about hardship!”

My Super-duper Overly-conscientious Dedicated Juror

I once had a juror who was “too conscientious” – if that is possible.

On the morning before the last day of trial, a woman juror telephoned my clerk.  The juror explained: “I am in the emergency room at Hoag Hospital.  The doctors insist on doing emergency gall bladder surgery.  I told them, ‘I can’t because I am on a jury duty.’ The surgeon is standing by.  Would you put Judge London on the phone, so he can tell the surgeon to postpone the operation because I need to go to court?

I got on the phone with the woman and the surgeon. I praised her dedication. I reminded her that we had alternate jurors who were eager to serve.  I promised that I would use her example of dedication in my jury speeches.  I advised that although I am a legal expert, the surgeon is a medical expert, there to protect her health and life, and that we should defer to his judgment.  She agreed.

Norman Rockwell, cover of The Post, 1959


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