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It makes sense to me that if you believe in “we the people” that this has to start from a base of trust. It appears to me with all of the voter ID initiatives taking place in this country that Republicans/conservatives are having a problem with “we the people”. “We the people” can be trusted to participate in the free market, participate in this Democracy, and to not only be responsible citizens to bear arms but to sell and purchase arms at unregulated gun shows.

Yes, “we the people” can be trusted in all of these human endeavors but we cannot be trusted to vouch for another citizen or participate in a court room out our back door in a state court as a member of a jury.

If we believe in “we the people” then does not that have to start from a base of trust? If we believe in “we the people” then should not “we the people” be trusted to participate in one of the fundamental institutions of free men, the American justice system?

The founding fathers evidently believed in “we the people”. The founding fathers understood that Democracy was no Wal-Mart because Democracy sometimes is not efficient but then again that is not the goal of Democracy.

We forget the origins of America. America was a creation of those people that wanted to escape from religious persecution in Europe. The British North American colonies sprung up from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics,  that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society. This conviction rested with the belief that there was one true religion. Religious majority groups who controlled political power punished dissenters.

No, this is not about religious persecution but we tend to forget the origins of America and we seem willing to give it away for our “bright shiny trinkets”. We seem all to willing to give it away for security. We seem all to willing to give it away in pursuit of the “wal-martization” of Democracy.

So I ask you this, do you trust “we the people”?

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I heard it again. A Republican/conservative talking about the wisdom of the American people and in the same breath talking about capping medical malpractice payouts because the American people are to dumb to sit on a jury in a local STATE court house out their backdoor deciding how they want to orient society in their state.

Well, he did not really say the American people were to dumb to sit on a jury. He was talking about those damn lawyers. Those damn lawyers with their magic wands and fairy dust casting his spell on those wise Americans sitting on the jury.

You see, when you graduate from law school you have two tracks. You can become a corporate lawyer or a trial lawyer. If you become a trial lawyer you are handed a magic wand and fairy dust. If you are a corporate lawyer all you get is tons of money, putting them at a big disadvantage.

So let me see if I get this right.

The system has a lawyer for the plaintiff, the pied piper with his magic wand and fairy dust, and a lawyer or lawyers for the defendant and their tons of money. There is one judge, the referee, and twelve citizens called the jury, the wisdom of the American people. Each side tells their story and presents their facts, unlike talk radio and cable news. When each side has completed their arguments and presented all of their facts the judge tells the jury the laws that must be applied when deciding the case. The jury then moves to deliberate the case in private amongst themselves.

Yes, I can see where this Republican is coming from. I can see the stupidity of  the collective wisdom and judgment of its citizens. Scary stuff, this “we the people stuff”. Why do we even let these pinheads and idiots participate in Democracy if they are not capable of sitting on a jury in a local state court out their back door?

It is time to bring in the Federal government to settle this matter and take these rights away from the states and its citizens.

I will be the first to admit that our justice system is not perfect nor is it efficient but what other system is there that each of us has access to out our very backdoor. There is no other system closer to us then our courts; a system that is a core value of what it means to be an American living in this Democracy. The jury system is part of the soul of America. It is a system with the beauty of simplicity and the power of the wisdom of ordinary people. It is this same wisdom that Rep. Spencer Bachus talked about in his recent debate about health care reform. The simple beauty of juries involves the following.

The system has a lawyer for the plaintiff and a lawyer or lawyers for the defendant. There is one judge, the referee, and twelve citizens called the jury. Each side tells their story and presents their facts. When each side has completed their arguments and presented all of their facts the judge tells the jury the laws that must be applied when deciding the case. The jury then moves to deliberate the case in private amongst themselves.

It is the jury that the Republicans, the US Chamber of Commerce and big business are really complaining about, the common man, you and I. Do they not believe we are not capable of making decisions about how to live our lives, that we are not capable of governing ourselves, that we are not capable as fully informed citizens to make decisions about the conscience of our community? Is this what we believe? I would argue otherwise.

Our Founding Fathers recognized the collective wisdom and judgment of its citizens and also understood that each of us unconsciously seeks those bits of information that confirm our underlying intuition. This is why the founding fathers gave us a system that allows for dissent. This confrontation forces us, the majority, to interrogate our own positions more seriously.

Yes, the jury system is not perfect, but neither is any institution that man creates and participates in because we ourselves are fallible. Given all of its imperfections the jury system is a microcosm of the very Democracy that men and woman have died for through our history. Yes, again I will say the jury system is not perfect but it is ours.

  • A jury is made up of local citizens who are in the best position to evaluate how the conduct at issue compares with the standards of the community in which they live.
  • The jury system is spontaneous, it is not known in advance preventing any undue influence on the members of the jury.
  • Jurors are not paid by either side.
  • Jurors complete their service and return to their private lives when the trial has ended. Judges are often on the bench for many years leaving them vulnerable to influence.
  • While it may be easy to find one judge that is out of touch with the community, it is much harder to find a jury of citizens that will come to an outrageous result.

So I ask you, what other place is there to better discover the truth and render justice? What other institution in this country does the common man have access to then a court out his backdoor?

The Founding fathers wanted to create a framework that would allow society to orient itself through dictates of conscience. This framework forces each of us into a communal process of finding the truth, an approach to truth that is experienced. An approach to truth that is more than dogmatic belief or a truth inferred from logical arguments. Are these principles and values something that we truly believe in our hearts as the best approach to society?

America is a nation formed by a set of ideals. America is composed of ideas of freedom, liberty, independent thought, independent conscience, self-reliance, hard work, and above all justice. It is a country that was formed from the injustices thrust upon the people and yet we want to deny ourselves the opportunity to seek justice, to seek the truth.

That is the strength of our Democracy, the people and our access to the courts out our backdoors. The ultimate power of the people can be found as close as the nearest court house. If our laws start to deny society this process of truth then the law is in danger of becoming no less a tyrant. Our founding fathers understood this which is why they gave us this tool of Democracy, the jury system. Are we to deny the wisdom of our fathers?

Is society ready to deny this father? When does it become OK when the life of another is more important than my son? I am told that allowing people to sue medical device manufacturers would harm innovation, innovation that would allow someone to live a better more productive life. My son is not living any life, better or productive. Is this my price for society’s innovation? Who makes that decision? Is it the politically influenced FDA commissioner or maybe the political appointment of Supreme Court Justices?

I will conclude with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, a powerful statement about the soul of America. “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education.”

Judges have more knowledge of the civil jury system than anyone.
In a recent survey:

  • Ninety-one percent believe the system is in good condition
    needing, at best, only minor work.
  • Only 1 percent of the judges who responded gave the jury
    system low marks.
  • Judges have great faith in juries to solve complicated
    issues.
  • Ninety-six percent said they agree with jury verdicts most
    or all of the time.
  • Nine of 10 judges said jurors show considerable understanding
    of legal issues involved in the cases they hear.

Source:
Dallas Morning News and Southern Methodist School of Law survey of federal trial judges in the United States, its territories and protectorates – over 900 judges. About 65% (594) of the federal judges responded. Allen Pusey, “Judges rule in favor of juries: Surveys by Morning News, SMU law school find overwhelming support for citizens’ role in court system,” Dallas Morning News, May 7, 2000.