Jody Airas is a 32 year old California woman who is on trial in Arizona for the premeditated murder of her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander. She has acknowledged shooting him and stabbing him 27 times but is claiming self defense – it is a death penalty case.
Her trial began in January 2013. Today is March 23rd. Many of the HLN TV lawyer and psychologist-type pundits and some in the media have been complaining that the trial is taking too long and is a burden on the jurors.
One of the tenets of our Constitution is that “the accused” in criminal cases are allowed a jury of their peers to decide their guilt or innocence. And one of the important responsibilities of being an American citizen is to serve on a jury if asked. Being on a jury is hardly a hardship. It may well be inconvenient for one’s pursuit of happiness, but a hardship?
Hardship is being in the Army and going on a 12 month deployment to Afghanistan. Hardship is being away from your family and friends for 12 months. Hardship is living in difficult and dangerous conditions 24 hours a day. Hardship is getting shot at and the fear of being ambushed or stepping on an IED. Hardship is getting a life-changing wound that requires long hospitalization, surgeries, and life-long care. Hardship is having to kill other humans and then having to live with the nightmare of war the rest of your life. Hardship is being the spouse of someone on deployment and not knowing if they will return and wondering if your children will ever see their father or mother again.
The next time you are asked to serve of a jury say “gladly!” and make whatever arrangements you need in order to make that small sacrifice to keep our democracy strong. The next time you hear the media complain about a trial “taking too long” and its impact on the jurors, remind them that there is a responsibility part of freedom and ask them what they do to keep the country strong. And the next time a friend tells you they were called for jury duty and are trying to get out of it, tell them to read Marcus Latrell’s book, Lone Survivor, before they say “no” to jury duty. Or Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, or Against All Odds by Armando Valladores.
Jury duty is only one of the many small “sacrifices” each American citizen needs to make when the opportunities arise in order to keep this nation strong and thus free. Jury duty is not only not a burden, it’s a privilege and educational experience. To serve on a jury is to help maintain law and order without which we would not be free.